Even though the concept of “limited tort” has been in constant litigation since its inception in 1990, who is bound by the limited tort option continues to be litigated, as evidenced by the Pa Superior Court’s opinion published on July 30, 2013 in the case of McWeeney v. The Estate of Strickler.
This case involved the unsettled issue of, whether a person who is named as a driver on an insurance policy, is also bound by the owner of the policy’s selection of limited tort. In this case, the fiancé of the owner of the policy was a resident of the same household and named as a driver on the policy. Therefore, the trial court reasoned that she was also a “named insured” or, as a permissive driver, an “insured” who was bound by the limited tort selection of the owner of the car.
On appeal, the Superior Court reversed the trial court and held that under the plain and unambiguous terms of the Pa. M.V.F.R.L. the fiancé is not a “named insured” nor is she an “insured” under section 1705 of the Pa. M.V.F.R.L.
Therefore the Superior Court held that she is not bound by the limited tort selection and reversed the trial court holding. The Court further went on to state that the PA. M.V.F.R.L. in section 1705(f) limits the people who are considered bound by the limited tort selection and the permissive driver is not one of them.
By the way, as most of you know by now, all Pennsylvania motorcycle accidents are considered to be “full-tort” per the definition set forth in the PA. M.V.F.R.L.
A vehicle can only be “limited-tort” if the vehicle they own has 4 wheels and is considered a “private passenger motor vehicle”.
A New Jersey motorcycle accident can be “verbal-threshold” (New Jersey’s version of limited-tort) unless the injuries fall into 1 of 6 exceptions set forth by the New Jersey legislature. Most of these exceptions are very obvious such as death or dismemberment, but a displaced fracture also qualifies as does a “permanent restriction of a bodily function”.