Since the inception of the new limited tort law twenty-seven (27) years ago, the epidemic of plaintiffs burdened by the threshold has spread thought Pennsylvania. When the legislature enacted the statute, thousands of Pennsylvanians thought they could save money on auto coverage premiums and flocked to their insurance agents to buy limited tort policies. Little did they know that the “cheaper” policies were actually poison. The limited tort law, while suggestively beneficial to the consumer, has actually left thousands of Pennsylvanians without the resources to recover fair compensation for auto accident injuries. The insurance companies have been able to exploit limited tort to deny rightful payment to these victims. In the end the carriers are the ones saving money, not the consumer.
Despite what the carriers would have you believe, this limited tort epidemic is not isolated to the larger urban areas like Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. The truth is that limited tort affects Pennsylvanians in all sixty-seven (67) counties and the carriers are taking advantage in every single one of them. This is not just a Philadelphia or Pittsburgh problem. It’s a Commonwealth-wide problem. Our clients in Philadelphia, Allegheny, and every County in between have been fed misinformation about the benefits of buying a limited tort policy only to be ignored by their carriers when they need insurance coverage the most. No matter your client’s race, gender, ethnicity or county of residence, the carriers treat limited tort plaintiffs in the same unfair manner, denying fair compensation where it’s deserved.
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The devastating effects of limited tort have found their way into communities all over Pennsylvania. It would be naïve to think that by practicing in a rural county, you will not have clients burdened by the devastating effects of limited tort. The threshold knows no bounds. And neither do the insurance companies. Whether you practice in Philadelphia, Allegheny, Potter or Elk County, it’s time to fight back. The next time a limited tort client walks in your door – and she will – don’t ignore her the way that the insurance companies have ignored her for the past three (3) decades. Take on her case and force the carriers into the Courtroom where they can no longer hide behind the “serious impairment” threshold. By litigating limited tort cases in any and every Courtroom in Pennsylvania, you can force the carriers to decide between fairly compensating your client or putting their fate in the hands of the jury.
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The unfair treatment and undervaluation of limited tort cases has become the culture of the auto insurance industry in Pennsylvania. It is our jobs then, as plaintiff’s lawyers, to change the culture. The best, and only, real resource to push that change is the almighty jury. By turning away limited tort clients, or settling their claims early just to avoid expensive litigation, you are just telling the insurance company that your case is weak and your client doesn’t deserve her day in Court. The carriers can and will continue to deny your clients access to the Courtroom unless you do something to change the way they operate. The Courtroom is the only battleground in which our clients have a fighting chance. To force the change you want, put your limited tort case in suit and let the jury hit the carriers where it hurts.
Limited tort affects injured victims in every county and every community throughout Pennsylvania. Somewhere along the timeline of your career, no matter where your practice, you will be forced to decide whether or not to fight for one of these victims or dismiss them just as the insurance companies have over and over again. Stand up and fight. Not only will you change the life of that one client, but you will change the lives an entire populous of injured victims who were legislated out of the Courtroom twenty-seven (27) years ago.
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