Automobile Insurance - Right To Sue
When you purchase motor vehicle insurance from your insurance agent, you must choose one of two options. The options are “full tort” or “limited tort.” If you had elected the “full tort option” under your automobile insurance policy, you are entitled to file a lawsuit against the negligent driver who has caused you personal injuries in an automobile accident. What is a tort? A tort is a legal wrongdoing – something more than ordinary rudeness, but less serious than a crime. Negligent driving of one’s automobile causing a two-car or three-car accident is considered a tort under Pennsylvania law.
If you choose the full tort option, you retain the right to file a lawsuit against the negligent driver who caused a motor vehicle accident resulting in personal injuries to yourself. Personal injuries generally result in some kind of pain and suffering, and you might experience permanent or other limitations of your daily activities. Loss of life’s pleasures translates into money damages by way of a settlement or a lawsuit.
On the other hand, if you choose the “limited tort option” you can sue only for actual economic losses you have sustained that are not covered by your own automobile insurance or other hospitalization coverage. The only way under the limited tort option you can sue the other negligent party, is if you have sustained a personal injury resulting in death, serious impairment of a body function or permanent, serious disfigurement. Other exceptions to the limited tort option are that you still may recover for pain and suffering if the other negligent driver was drunk, was driving an out-of-state vehicle, was uninsured, or the other driver injured you intentionally.
General Liability Insurance for Motor Vehicles
How much insurance coverage should you have on your motor vehicles, not only to protect your family, but also to protect yourself against general liability? Pennsylvania law requires a minimum of $15,000.00 general liability coverage for each of your household vehicles. General liability is coverage that is available in the event you are negligent in driving your automobile, and as a result of your negligence, you injure either a pedestrian or a driver or passenger in another vehicle.
An example would be your failure to see a red traffic light, and as a result of your failure to stop, you broadside another vehicle, seriously injuring the driver. The injured party is incapacitated and unable to work for several months. The driver hires a personal injury lawyer, and shortly thereafter, you receive a letter from the lawyer stating he represents the driver who was injured as a result of your negligence.
If you purchase only the minimum coverage in Pennsylvania of $15,000.00, the damages that may be awarded to the injured party could very well surpass $100,000.00. Such minimum coverage would be woefully underinsured; and therefore, you could be facing personal liability. If you own real estate, it might be liened in the amount of $85,000.00, and your property could be sold to satisfy the $85,000.00 judgment.
Your insurance agent should be able to assist you by making recommendations of the appropriate amount of general liability insurance to protect you, your family and your real property.
OWM Law is very proud to announce that two of our attorneys have been named "Rising Stars" by Pennsylvania Super Lawyers Magazine and www.superlawyers.com. Ryan A. Costello, Esq. was named to the Rising Star list in 2010, and Kathleen M. Martin, Esq., a Certified Elder Law Attorney (CELA), was named as a 2011 Rising Star. Please see the attached press release.
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David A. Megay, Esq. and James C. Kovaleski, Esq., speaking at SCORE business planning seminars on 9/12/11 and 11/7/11 (contact SCORE at 610-327-2673).