If you have been involved in a motor vehicle accident, the difference between full tort and limited tort insurance coverage is a big one. Tort coverage is one of the first topics that we discuss with clients and prospective clients when they come into our DuBois or Brookville office for a free and confidential consultation to discuss a personal injury claim resulting from an automobile accident. In most instances, we find that many injured people either (1) do not know the difference between full tort and limited tort coverages, or (2) do not know which tort coverage they selected when purchasing their automobile insurance policy. The difference, in most cases, is very significant.
In Pennsylvania, insurance companies offer their customers several options when selecting automobile insurance coverages. One major option is: do you want full tort coverage or limited tort coverage. It is very important to know the difference between the two options when making your decision. If you are involved in an auto accident, and you select full tort coverage, then you are permitted to pursue and recover money for all of your injuries, which includes non-economic injuries and damages – i.e., pain and suffering, mental and psychological anguish, inconveniences, loss of enjoyment of daily life activities, etc. However, if you select limited tort coverage, you forfeit and lose the ability to pursue and receive compensation for these non-economic damages. This is a significant limitation.
Typically, insurance companies offer small and insignificant discounts on monthly insurance premiums for your selection of limited tort coverage. While the selection of limited tort coverage can seem appealing at first, because it could immediately save you a few dollars on your monthly premium payment, choosing limited tort coverage may cost you significantly, both financially and legally, should you or a covered family member ever be involved in an automobile accident.
The Pitfalls of Limited Tort Coverage
Limited tort coverage permits a person injured in an automobile accident to only recover for out of pocket medical bills, wage loss, automobile repair costs, and other actual monetary or economic losses. In other words, if you select limited tort coverage, you are giving up your right to pursue damages in a future personal injury case for pain and suffering and other similar damages before an accident ever occurs.
There is a limited exception to this general rule, which permits a person with limited tort coverage to pursue a claim for pain and suffering and other non-economic damages that are sustained in an automobile accident, if the person sustained bodily injuries that are deemed “serious.” Serious injuries, however, are not always clearly defined or easily established. Under Pennsylvania law, the term “serious injury” is generally described as “a personal injury resulting in death, serious impairment of body function or permanent serious disfigurement.” In the majority of cases, however, difficulty arises in differentiating between a serious injury and a non-serious injury – which is anything but clear under the law.
The Benefits of Full Tort Coverage
At Zwick Law, we highly encourage and recommend that all Pennsylvania residents and drivers maintain full tort coverage on their automobile insurance policies. The small amount of money that you could save on your monthly insurance premiums with limited tort coverage is slight compared to the costs that you could incur if you are involved in a vehicle accident.
In many cases, injuries that result from an automobile accident are not completely known until weeks, months, or even years after an accident. Health and medical complications often arise well after the accident and – without full tort coverage – you could be left responsible for treating injuries that resulted from a motor vehicle accident that were not your fault. Full tort insurance coverage is one of the best forms of protection for your future and the future of cherished family members. If you are involved in a serious automobile accident, it is very likely that you will lose more than you may have saved in reduced monthly premium payments.
So, when the time comes to purchase a new automobile insurance policy, or when you have an opportunity to review and change the terms of your existing policy with your insurance agent, discuss your tort coverage selection with your agent. The bottom line is, if you want to ensure that you have preserved your right to pursue the full extent of your injuries and damages in a personal injury claim after a vehicle accident, you should make sure that you have full tort coverage on all of your automobile insurance policies.
For questions relating to full tort and limited tort options, please contact Matthew R Zwick, partner of Zwick Law, at (814) 371-6400 or firstname.lastname@example.org, to schedule a legal consultation. At Zwick Law, we’re always here for you.
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