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Limited tort, PA no fault insurance, and the insurance company. Can auto accident victims prevail?

Limited tortWhy is my insurance company responsible for my medical bills when the other driver was at fault?

Pennsylvania is a no fault insurance state. Regardless of whose fault the accident was (yours or the other driver’s) – your insurance company will pay for certain benefits.

Can I still file a claim if I have limited tort car insurance?

Because you have somewhat discounted insurance, your right to sue for certain damages is limited if you selected limited tort insurance. Of course, there are always exceptions. If your claim does not fall under one of the exceptions set forth below; you will be prevented from filing a lawsuit for your pain and suffering. However, limited tort insurance does not prevent you from filing a lawsuit to recover certain expenses, such as wage loss that you incurred as a result of injuries sustained in the accident caused by the fault of another driver. You may also be entitled to recover other out of pocket expenses related to your automobile accident.

Below is a list of automatic exceptions where you can recover money for your pain and suffering, even if you have a limited tort insurance policy.

Exceptions to Limited Tort

  • The driver who was at fault is registered out of state.
  • The driver who is at fault is convicted of DUI.
  • You were a passenger in a commercial vehicle such as a taxi, bus, or tractor trailer.
  • You were on a motorcycle.
  • You were a pedestrian.
  • Your injuries are considered a serious impairment to a significant bodily function.

What are First Party Benefits? First Party Benefits are the insurance benefits you purchase to protect you, your household members, and passengers in your vehicle. These benefits include coverage for reasonable and necessary medical treatment resulting from a car accident and income loss if you are unable to work as a result of injuries suffered in a car accident.

Contact Ostroff Injurt Law to learn about the complexities of auto accident insurance and your rights.

What kind of injuries qualify for compensation even with limited tort?

Injuries incurred during your auto accident must be considered a serious impairment of a significant bodily function. Unfortunately, juries in counties across Pennsylvania are not consistent in the way they decide whether an injury is serious enough to overcome this limited tort requirement. Generally, if your injury required you to have surgery, it will be serious enough to overcome limited tort in most of the counties in Pennsylvania.

It is harder to determine whether injuries that do not require surgery will overcome limited tort. This is a complex question, one you should discuss with an experienced auto accident lawyer, as it is often based on each victim’s situation. The impact on your specific job, the length of time your injury lasts, and the degree of pain from your injury are just some of the many factors that need to be discussed and considered with the help of a knowledgeable attorney like Jon Ostroff and the attorneys at Ostroff Injury Law.

-What is the Pennsylvania Motor Vehicle Financial Responsibility Law? The MVFRL defines your rights when injured in a car accident. What rights do you have? Every insurance policy covering motor vehicles must provide medical coverage for at least $5,000. The following benefits must be available for purchase but coverage is not mandatory:

Reasonable medical and rehabilitation up to $100,000

Extraordinary medical and rehabilitation with coverage limits from $100,000 to $1,000,000

Income loss benefits to include 80 percent of actual loss of your gross income

Death benefit up to at least $25,000 paid to the insured’s personal representative

Funeral benefits of $2,500

What’s the difference between limited tort and full tort insurance? Full tort coverage gives you the unlimited right to sue for automobile-related non-economic damages such as pain and suffering caused by the carelessness of another driver. Limited tort coverage allows you to sue for these damages only if you suffer a serious injury.

Who pays your medical bills?

  • If you own an insured motor vehicle, your insurance company will pay your medical bills. Your insurance company should not increase your premiums if the accident was not your fault.
  • If you do not own a motor vehicle, but you live with a relative who does own a motor vehicle, then their insurance company will be responsible for your medical bills. Their insurance company should not increase their premiums if the accident was not their fault or your fault
  • If you do not own a motor vehicle and don’t reside with a relative who owns an insured motor vehicle, then the insurance on the vehicle you are driving, or a passenger in, will be responsible for your medical bills.
  • If there are no owned or insured motor vehicles in your household, and no insurance on the vehicle you are a passenger in, or you were a pedestrian or bicyclist, then the insurance on the vehicle at fault is responsible for your medical bills.

-Can I recover money if I was injured as a passenger in a car with a driver that was at fault? What if I’m related to the at fault driver of my vehicle? If you were injured as a passenger and the driver of your car was at fault, you can recover money against their insurance company. Insurance is intended to protect you, or any family member, from being injured by any driver, even if that driver is a member of your family. In reality, your case is much more between you and your insurer then it is between you and your family member, or whoever it was that was driving the car you occupied.

Since you are in charge of whether to accept a settlement offer or not, you are also in charge of whether to accept a settlement if it means not going to court, or even filing a lawsuit, against your at fault friend or family member. At Ostroff Injury Law, most of our cases are settled without ever having to file a lawsuit.

If my car was not insured on the date of the accident, can I still get some benefits?

If the car you drove is owned by you and registered in Pennsylvania but not insured at the time of the accident, Pennsylvania will impose certain penalties on you. While you cannot obtain any medical benefits from any auto insurer, if you have health insurance, you can submit your medical bills to your health insurance company.

As a further penalty, you will be treated as if you selected the limited tort insurance option, so please read our discussion above as to when you can recover for your pain and suffering. There are exceptions to limited tort that may help you.

If you have no health insurance, a competent personal injury lawyer may be able to arrange for your doctors to wait to be paid until you get paid for your pain and suffering claim.

If you don’t own a motor vehicle, or are uninsured and another operator was at fault, your medical bills will be the responsibility of the other vehicle’s insurance carrier.

Even if you have an uninsured vehicle, it’s still possible that a competent personal injury lawyer can get you the medical care you require, can get your medical bills paid, and can obtain a recovery for your pain and suffering.

These are complex issues and having an attorney from Ostroff Injury Law in your corner is the way to go.

Never trust your insurance company or any insurance company to give you all of your options.