Full Tort vs. Limited Tort Car Insurance
How your coverage could sink your case
Many people don't realize until they have been injured in a car accident that their own automobile insurance can seriously limit the value of their claim for injuries, even when the accident was 100% the fault of another driver.
In Pennsylvania, we are required to choose between two coverage options on our auto insurance policies that relate to bodily injuries, those are Full Tort and Limited Tort coverages.
In our experience, clients who have chosen the Limited Tort option express that they opted for Limited Tort coverage because they didn't really understand the limitation of the coverage and they were attracted to the lower premium offered for Limited Tort coverage.
The reason the Limited Tort option is offered at a lower premium is that it explicitly states that if you are injured in a car accident due to the negligence of another person, you cannot seek compensation for non-economic damages related to the injuries incurred in the accident from the at-fault driver's insurance. Non-economic damages include pain and suffering, scarring and disfigurement, and loss of life's pleasures.
It seems absurd that your own insurance policy can dictate what you can recover from a third party's insurance company, but that is the law in Pennsylvania. Ultimately, by selecting the Limited Tort option, you are agreeing that if you have suffered an injury that will cause you lifelong pain which prevents you from participating in hobbies or other passions that you enjoyed prior to the accident, or you suffer a scar that is a permanent deformity to your body, the at-fault driver's insurance carrier will not have to compensate you for those elements of your loss.
The result is that you may only be compensated for medical expenses and lost wages incurred as a result of the accident.
It is important to note that even if you have selected the Limited Tort Option, there are certain exceptions that will allow you to be treated as having Full Tort coverage. It is imperative that you consult with an experienced personal injury attorney when you have been injured in an automobile accident so that your claims can be properly evaluated and investigated in order to maximize the potential jury verdict award or settlement value of your case.