Limited Tort vs. Full Tort: The Most Vital Topic for PA Drivers


As a Pennsylvania resident, you need to be aware of regulations that could affect your right to recover from a car crash. One of the most important topics that Pennsylvania drivers should be aware of is the difference between limited tort and full tort coverage-specifically, how these coverage types affect your ability to fight for compensation.

The Pennsylvania commonwealth has carried out major changes to auto insurance laws to reduce the high number of lawsuits over car accidents. The state has passed a law that requires every PA driver to have personal injury protection insurance (PIP), which covers medical bills for injured drivers regardless of who is at fault. This regulation is meant to reduce the number of lawsuits suing for pain and suffering, which helps lower insurer costs.

This has led insurance companies to offer a full tort or limited tort coverage that affects an individual’s ability to file a lawsuit in court for the damages.

So, what coverage should you get: full tort or limited tort?

What Is Limited Tort Car Insurance?

Limited tort car insurance is a type of coverage that limits the policyholder's ability to sue for pain and suffering after a car accident, unless the injuries meet a legally defined threshold of "serious injury." This threshold typically includes significant impairments that have a substantial impact on one’s daily life. However, even with limited tort, you can still recover economic damages such as medical expenses and lost wages.

The primary advantage of selecting limited tort coverage is the reduction in premium costs. By choosing limited tort, policyholders agree to waive their rights to claim non-economic damages (like pain and suffering) in exchange for a lower insurance premium. This option can be financially appealing to many drivers who are looking to save on their car insurance costs.

Serious Injury Threshold

The definition of a "serious injury" under limited tort coverage can vary, but it generally includes injuries that result in death, significant disfigurement, or serious impairment of body functions. If an injury falls under this category, the limited tort restriction is lifted, and the injured party can seek compensation for pain and suffering just as if they had full tort coverage.

Exceptions to Limited Tort Limitations

There are several exceptions where a policyholder with limited tort coverage may still pursue claims for pain and suffering without meeting the serious injury threshold.

These exceptions can include:

  • If the at-fault driver is convicted of DUI at the time of the accident.
  • If the at-fault driver is operating a vehicle registered in another state.
  • If the injured party is a pedestrian or cyclist at the time of the accident.

Limited Tort vs. Full Tort Insurance in PA

In Pennsylvania, car insurance options significantly influence your ability to pursue compensation following an accident.To put it simply, drivers that are insured with full tort coverage have the ability to sue for all damages resulting from a car crash, whereas drivers with limited tort coverage have award limits when filing a suit. In both policies, drivers are only able to present a case if they were injured in an accident and were not at fault. Victims with full tort coverage can file a lawsuit to cover all damages-such as pain, suffering, medical charges, and property damage.

In return for waiving some of your rights to sue negligent parties for damages after a serious car accident, the insurance company offers a lower premium.

Is Full Tort Insurance Worth It?

Limited tort coverage offers you savings on your premiums…but is it worth it? Likewise, is paying for full tort coverage worth the expense?

Limited tort coverage provides for medical costs; however, you’ll be left with few other options should you be injured in a car accident. Medical bills only cover some of the losses from a car crash-leaving survivors in serious financial trouble if they’ve waived their right to sue. Filing for pain and suffering often helps survivors cover vital expenses that don’t fall under medical care, such as lifetime disability accommodations, loss of income or earning capacity, and more.

Full tort coverage allows you to fully recover all that you’ve lost from the party responsible. While it isn’t as affordable as limited tort coverage, it provides one important benefit: peace of mind. While car insurance helps protect people financially from most car accidents, it often isn’t enough to help a person recover from serious accidents caused by the negligence of someone else. Having full tort coverage can give a person the chance to recover all losses associated with a car accident, giving them lifelong financial stability if they need it.

In our opinion, full tort insurance is always worth it. “What if I never need it?” you might ask. We can only hope we’re all that fortunate. The real question is, what if you need full tort coverage…and you don’t have it? For us, we’d much rather pay the higher premium for full access to our right to recovery.

If you have experienced pain and suffering damages from an automotive accident, contact our personal injury attorneys today to help you develop a case against the party responsible.

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