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What to Consider When Choosing Limited Tort vs. Full Tort

When you purchase auto insurance in Pennsylvania, you have the choice between a less expensive “limited tort” option and the more expensive “full tort” option. But before you decide solely on price, you should fully understand the consequences if you get into an accident.

The biggest consideration is damages you might not be able to recover if you opt for limited tort. Both options allow you to recover your economic losses: medical bills, lost wages, and other costs of your injury. But only the full tort option allows you to sue for noneconomic damages, such as pain and suffering, loss of quality of life, loss of enjoyment of life, and so on, for any injury you sustain.

Imagine that you get into an auto accident and strain your neck. You have to wear a cervical collar, undergo traction, limit your activities and then perform rehabilitative exercises for a period of weeks. Finally, your treating physician declares you are 100 percent recovered, even though you still have some occasional pain and discomfort. Then you find out your “full recovery” bars you (under your limited tort policy) from recovering any compensation for your pain and suffering over those months.

With a limited tort policy, you can only sue if you have a “serious injury,” which the law defines as “death, serious impairment of body function or permanent, serious disfigurement.” But, if you had the full tort policy, you could have recovered for your pain and suffering. There are other exceptions that will allow a limited tort policyholder to sue for pain and suffering. According to Title 75 § 1705 of the Statutes of Pennsylvania, you can still exercise full tort rights if:

  • The at-fault driver is convicted or accepts ARD for DUI related to the crash.
  • The at-fault driver is operating a motor vehicle registered in another state.
  • The at-fault driver does not have the required insurance.
  • The at-fault driver intended to injure himself or others.
  • Your injuries were caused by a defect in the motor vehicle.
  • You were a passenger in something other than a private passenger vehicle.

A victim’s pain and suffering can be substantial even when the harm does not reach the statutory threshold for a “serious injury.” All Pennsylvanians must make insurance purchases in their own best interests, based on their personal finances. But this is an area where pennies in savings upfront can deprive you of many thousands of dollars later.

If you are injured in a car crash in western Pennsylvania, Rudberg Law Offices, LLC can help you get the compensation you deserve. Call us at 412-488-6000 or contact our Pittsburgh office online to schedule a free consultation.

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