Question: I was in a car accident on Kelly Drive by the Art Museum in Philadelphia. I hurt my back and need to get extensive treatment. I have limited tort on my auto insurance. The driver who caused the accident was drunk and does not have car insurance. I purchased uninsured motorist (UM) coverage and tried to make a UM claim with my car insurance company to recover pain and suffering damages. I was told I can’t file a UM claim because I have limited tort. Then a friend told me that because the other driver was drunk, limited tort would not apply and I should be able to file a UM claim. Is that true?
Answer: Pennsylvania car accident and insurance laws can be very confusing, and it is important you consult an experienced car accident lawyer to inquire about your legal rights.
In general, if you have limited tort on your auto insurance policy, you cannot sue for pain and suffering damages. Your friend is correct that there are exceptions to the limited tort rule. One of them is if the at-fault driver is convicted or accepts ARD for driving under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance. The other exceptions are if the driver:
- was operating a vehicle registered in another state;
- failed to maintain financial responsibility (was not properly insured for the accident); or
- intended to inflict self-harm or injure another person.
However, all of the above exceptions do not apply to UIM/UM claims. They only apply to liability claims. It is important to note that there is one limited tort exception that does apply to UIM/UM claims. That exception is if a limited tort driver/passenger suffers from a “serious” injury. Therefore, a limited tort driver who suffers from a “serious” injury may file a UIM/UM claim in order to obtain compensation for pain and suffering.
Related Limited Tort FAQ: PA Car Accident Law – Does Limited Tort Apply to Pedestrians in a Philadelphia Car Accident?
In your case, you would not be able to get the benefit of full tort by applying the DUI exception in a UM claim UNLESS your injuries are “serious.” Therefore, depending on the severity of your injuries, you may be able to file a UM claim due to the “serious” injury exception. We would need more information regarding your injuries and treatment in order to properly evaluate your case. It is best that you contact our office to schedule a FREE consultation, and our PA & NJ car accident lawyers who have extensive experience with limited tort and UIM/UM claims will answer all of your questions and concerns.
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Page last updated: October 7, 2016