Pennsylvania Limited Tort Option and Its Ultimate Impact on a Driver’s Ability to Sue

January 6, 2014


In an effort to provide less expensive automobile insurance, the Pennsylvania Legislature created the Limited Tort or limitation on lawsuit option for policies issued to PA drivers.  In exchange for these lesser premiums, an insured who elected the limitation on tort threshold option and has been involved in a motor vehicle accident may only advance a personal injury claim if they suffer “serious bodily injury” as a result of the accident.  Pursuant to the law in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, an individual who elects the Limited Tort option is precluded from pursuing an action for any non-economic loss except where serious injury occurred, 75 Pa.C.S. § 1705(d). “Non-economic loss” is defined as “pain and suffering and other nonmonetary detriment.” “Serious injury” is defined as a “personal injury resulting in death, serious impairment of body function or permanent serious disfigurement.”

In Pennsylvania, there are several exceptions that convert limited tort coverage to full tort coverage, relieving the injured person of the burden of having to satisfy the limited tort threshold. These include:

  1. The other driver is convicted of (a) driving under the influence of alcohol, or (2) a controlled substance, or (3) accepts A.R.D., a program generally applicable only to first-time offenders;
  2. The other driver committed an intentional act that caused the injuries;
  3. The other driver was operating a vehicle registered in a state other than Pennsylvania;
  4. The other driver had no insurance.

Accordingly, a Pennsylvania driver’s rights to advance a lawsuit for an automobile accident is severely limited when he or she elects the limited tort option for their auto coverage.

Cliff Bidlingmaier is a partner at Kardos, Rickles, Hand, & Bidlingmaier. He concentrates on Personal Injury matters, Civil Rights cases, Criminal Defense, Municipal & District Court Cases, and Domestic Matters.

If you have been injured in an automobile accident, or any other type of accident, contact Cliff at  215-970-2755 or 609-989-7995 and learn your rights and options. 

Article Written by Clifford D. Bidlingmaier, Esq.