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Pennsylvania's Limited Tort: When You Can Sue For Pain And Suffering (Part B: Serious Impairment Of Body Function)

In general, if you have limited tort on your car insurance policy, you will not be able to sue for non-economic damages, i.e. pain and suffering.  However, there are exceptions to the rule as discussed in Part A of this article.

If none of the exceptions apply, the injured person can seek non-economic damages if he can prove that he sustained a "serious injury," which is defined by Pennsylvania Motor Vehicle Financial Responsibility Law (MVFRL) as "[a] personal injury resulting in death, serious impairment of body function or permanent serious disfigurement."

Though death is not an ambiguous term, "serious impairment of body function" and "permanent serious disfigurement" are.

Serious Impairment of Body Function

The standard in determining whether an injury resulted in a serious impairment of body function hinges on 2 questions:

1. What body function was impaired because of the injuries?

2. Was the impairment of the body function serious?

The focus on the above 2 questions is not about the injuries themselves, but about how the injuries affect a particular body function. 

Further, in determining a serious impairment of body function, the effect of the injury on a specific victim must be considered.  For example, a broken finger may not present a significant impairment to the average person, but it may be a significant impairment to someone who needs to use fine motors skills for work such as a concert pianist.

Help After Being Injured in a Car Accident

If you feel that you sustained an injury resulting in a serious impairment of body function, it is vital that you speak to a Pennsylvania car and truck accident lawyer because what constitutes a serious impairment varies with each case.  Each injury is different and affects each individual differently.  Feel free to contact our lawyers for a free consultation.

Related PA Limited Tort Car Accident Articles

*Published: August 12, 2012

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