Pennsylvania drivers are given two options when selecting auto insurance coverage. They must chose between Limited Tort or Full Tort coverage. Depending on which option you choose your ability to recover damages, if you are involved in an auto accident, could be restricted. Limited Tort, with less expensive premiums than Full Tort, provides limited coverage as its name implies.
Limited Tort coverage restricts a person injured in an automobile accident to only recover measurable damages such as out-of-pocket medical bills, wage loss, auto repair costs, and other actual monetary loss. This restriction prevents an injured party from recovering non-monetary damages such as pain and suffering unless specific exceptions are met. These exceptions include:
1) whether you suffered from a serious injury; a serious injury is defined by the courts and often inconsistently applied. It is typically defined as a personal injury resulting in death, serious impairment or bodily function, or permanent serious disfigurement. However, a serious injury is not always clearly defined or proven. Serious injuries that require life saving treatment easily meet this requirement, but the majority of injuries that differentiate a serious injury from a non-serious injury are less clear;
2) the other driver is convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance or accepts an ARD program;
3) the other driver committed an intentional act which caused your injuries;
4) the other driver was operating a vehicle registered in another state; or
5) the other driver has no insurance.
Full Tort coverage has no such restrictions and it is not necessary to meet any of the exceptions specified in Limited Tort. Regardless of the extent of the injury, an individual can make a claim for pain and suffering, so long as the accident was not their fault. Thus, an individual with Full Tort coverage can automatically assert a claim for all of their losses, not just the monetary “out-of-pocket” costs.
When purchasing or renewing your next automobile insurance policy, it would be a good idea to discuss the election you currently have on your policy with your insurance agent. Although limited tort coverage covers monetary costs like medical bills, its hard to anticipate the long term effects an accident can have on your health. What starts out as a non-serious injury, may over time continue to get worse and cause pain that may have a significant impact on your life and prevent you from performing your job. Under limited tort, because the injury may not be classified as “serious”, you would not be able to fully recover all of your damages.
Remember, your choice of auto coverage not only affects you, but the protection of your family members who are covered under your auto policy. This coverage choice not only applies to your own car, but if you are a passenger in someone else’s car or even as a pedestrian.
The Thistle Law Firm is experienced in handling both limited tort and full tort auto accident claims. If you have been involved in an auto accident and have questions about what coverage you have, and your ability to bring a claim and make a recovery, the attorneys at the Thistle Law Firm are here to take your call at 215-568-6800.