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June 17th, 2016

Philadelphia Car Accident Law – Limited Tort and UIM/UM Claims (Part II)

Part I of this article discussed the definitions of UIM/UM, limited tort and limited tort exceptions.  Part II of this article will discuss whether limited tort exceptions apply in UIM/UM claims after a PA car accident.

Limited Tort Exceptions Do Not Apply to UIM/UM Claims

Unfortunately, limited tort drivers in PA may not file UIM/UM claims to recover non-economic damages, i.e., pain and suffering, even when there are limited tort exceptions.  This is what the PA Supreme Court held in Rump v. Aetna Casualty (Pa. 1998).

In Rump, a limited tort driver was injured in an accident.  The at-fault driver was uninsured and operating a vehicle registered in Minnesota.  As a result, the limited tort driver filed an uninsured claim with his own insurance company to recover non-economic damages.  However, the driver’s insurance company denied the claim arguing that the driver was not eligible to recover non-economic damages because he did not suffer a “serious injury” as defined by PA’s Motor Vehicle Financial Responsibility Law (MVFRL).

The driver claimed that he was entitled to recover non-economic damages because he fell within the two limited tort exceptions set forth in §1705(d)(1) of the MVFRL, i.e., the at-fault driver was uninsured, and the vehicle was registered in another state.

However, the Supreme Court of PA ruled that the exceptions set forth in §1705(d)(1)(i) – (iv) do not apply in UIM/UM claims due to the limiting language in another section of the MVFRL.  Thus, even though there were limited tort exceptions that would allow the limited tort driver to recover non-economic damages in a third party action, those exceptions would not apply in UIM/UM claims.

However, the court pointed out that the limited tort driver could still file a UM claim if he suffered a “serious injury.” In general, when there are no applicable limited tort exceptions, injured limited tort drivers may seek non-economic damages if they sustained a “serious injury.” The MVFRL defines a “serious injury” as “[a] personal injury resulting in death, serious impairment of body function or permanent serious disfigurement.”

Thus, if the limited tort driver in Rump suffered a “serious injury,” he would have been able to file a UM claim to recover non-economic damages.

Help After a Philadelphia, PA Car Accident

If you or a loved one was injured in a car accident and have questions about limited tort, call the Pennsylvania and New Jersey car accident lawyers at Laffey Bucci D’Andrea Reich & Ryan.  Our lawyers always offer FREE consultations. (866) 641-0806

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Page last updated: October 7, 2016