In order to make more profits and pay out fewer claims, the automobile insurance industry pushed for and created “limited tort,” which limits or prevents recovery of certain damages. Limited tort means “limited recovery of damages” or “limited recovery to sue.” Limited tort restricts your rights to recover for certain injuries or damages such as pain and suffering. Allowing consumers to select “limited tort” was passed into law to amend the Pennsylvania Financial Responsibility Law in 1990.
How Do You Know if You Have Selected Limited Tort?
Limited Tort is an option on your insurance policy that you must select by signing a waiver. If you do not sign this waiver and make the choice of limited tort, you remain on full tort. The policy declaration page issued for the automobile policy will then indicate that the limited tort coverage has been issued with a limited tort election. There should then be a slight premium discount.
The Auto Insurance Company Must Prove You Signed A Waiver to Choose Limited Tort
Section 1705 of The Pennsylvania Motor Vehicle Financial Responsibility Law requires your insurance company to send 2 notices to the named insured on the policy to select a choice of tort option. If you (or the named insured) do not return a choice within 20 days of either of these notices, you are presumed to have selected full tort. Therefore, if you are involved in an auto accident, even if your declaration page of your insurance states “limited tort,” the insurance company still must prove that you signed a waiver.
In dealing with car crashes and motor vehicle accidents in the Philadelphia area and South Jersey, our firm always sends a request to the insurance company requiring them to produce a copy of the signed waiver for limited tort. Sometimes they are not able to produce the waiver, and then it can be argued that you are not bound by “limited tort,” but you have full tort.
Are Other Family Members Bound by Limited Tort?
Under Pennsylvania law, “resident relatives” of the insured named on the policy are bound by the limited tort option selection as long as 4 conditions are met:
- They do not own their own car or motor vehicle in their name;
- They are not named as insured on their own insurance policy;
- They live with or reside with you (the named insured);
- They are related to you (the named insured).
Some examples of people who may be bound by your choice of limited tort, include: children living with you; a spouse living with you; a brother or sister living with you; parents or stepparents living with you; grandparents residing with you; aunts or uncles and more distant relatives in some cases residing in your home.
Questions About Pennsylvania Limited Tort?
At The Pearce Law Firm, we are experienced lawyers handling car accidents in the Philadelphia area and suburbs, including New Jersey. We will personally review your auto insurance policy with you. We know how to make the insurance company prove you signed a waiver and gave you proper notice.
Also, there are many exceptions to get around the limited tort option and still allow you to recover pain and suffering damages. If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident, call (215) 557-8686.