Part I – Pennsylvania Auto Insurance – Full Tort Vs. Limited Tort

I have been asked repeatedly both by students in my Chester County People’s Law School program, and by clients at my law office, whether their particular auto insurance policy has the proper coverage. Most people are still woefully uninformed as to what car insurance coverage are available to them and what they have purchased through their insurance companies. This two part blog post incorporates two car insurance articles that Steve Karp and I prepared last year regarding full tort and limited tort; underinsured and uninsured coverage, and auto insurance stacking.

Full Tort Vs. Limited Tort Car Insurance Coverage Explained

When you purchased your automobile insurance, did you really know what you were buying or, more importantly, not buying? Pennsylvania drivers are permitted to purchase less than full car insurance protection. This type of coverage is referred to as limited tort automobile coverage. When one chooses limited tort  car insurance, he or she gives up the right to sue for pain and suffering as well as other non-economic damages unless it is determined that the person sustained a “serious injury.” Although there are some other limited exceptions, the main exception to the rule deals with the seriousness of the injury.

Limited Tort Car Insurance is NOT Recommended

Many people believe that by choosing limited tort auto insurance they are only giving up their right to sue for small or insignificant car accidents. They somehow don’t believe that this restriction will apply to them, if it is they who are injured. As bad as an injury may be to the injured victim, injuries such as chronic neck, lumbar or other back injuries are not usually considered serious by the courts. To qualify, the auto accident injuries usually must cause a serious or permanent impairment of body function, death or disfigurement.

People injured in car crashes cannot circumvent the strict provisions of their auto policy by claiming that they didn’t really understand what they were signing. Once you sign it, you are bound! Those rights you give up cannot be recovered.

Coverage Cost Difference

The cost differential between full tort and limited tort coverage in your policy in is not substantial for most people. It is the difference between buying a half of loaf of bread and a full loaf. Please give careful consideration to the type of insurance you purchase because after the car accident is not the time to read your policy to see what coverage you may or may not have.

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