Since 1997 | Your Pittsburgh Law Firm
Your Pittsburgh Law Firm
November 8, 2022

Choose Full Tort, Not Limited Tort, Every Time for Pennsylvania Auto Insurance

What is the difference between full tort and limited tort insurance?

The difference is that limited tort insurance costs less (saves you about 15%). However, it also largely restricts injured victims from receiving any non-economic damages, except in very limited circumstances. The choice, while not overtly obvious, can be dangerous.

PA Limited Tort Insurance: Less Costly but Dangerous

If you select limited tort insurance, you will pay about fifteen-percent (15%) less in premiums. This generally amounts to less than a dollar, or even fifty cents a day ($15-$30/month).

However, in exchange for electing limited tort insurance, you agree to waive very important legal rights. Specifically, you agree that you cannot recover ANY money for ANY of the following non-economic damages:

  • physical pain
  • emotional pain
  • stress
  • mental anguish
  • embarrassment
  • humiliation

These non-economic damages are crucial if you want to try to pursue or settle a lawsuit for a car accident in Pennsylvania.

It can be easy for people to think that they will never be in an accident, and if they are, then they won’t sue. But even if you want to negotiate a settlement with an insurance company, having a limited tort policy can kill your case.

PA Full Tort Insurance: You Keep all of your Legal Rights

Under full tort insurance, a person may recover all damages that can be proven in court. Under limited tort insurance, parties cannot sue for “non-economic loss” unless they suffer a “serious injury” or fit within one or more narrow legal exceptions.

Basically, there are two categories of harm for which you can seek monetary compensation under Pennsylvania law.

  1. Economic loss: (actual out of pocket losses: lost wages, medical bills, and property damage).
  2. Non-economic loss: (refers to physical injuries and even mental and physical discomfort, pain, and suffering).

What is a serious injury?

Recovering for pain and suffering in the eyes of the law

full tort vs. limited tort

Unless you are “seriously injured” you cannot recover for pain & suffering.

Limited tort insurance does have an exception for serious injury. Serious injury is defined as a personal injury resulting in:

  • death
  • serious impairment of body function
  • permanent serious disfigurement (broken bones, severe scarring).

Unless your accident involves these serious injuries, or perhaps is alcohol related, you are waiving your legal right to recover what the law typically allows.

The decision to save a few dollars per month now on limited tort insurance can affect you for life.

How Limited Tort Insurance Can Really Hurt You for Life

An example of why you should choose full tort insurance

 full tort vs. limited tort insurance

Suppose you choose limited tort coverage. In reality, why wouldn’t you? It costs less and most insurance agents do not take the time to explain the importance of it to potential customers.

Let’s say you are driving with your spouse and children. Your car is rear-ended by a person texting and eating lunch at the same time. The other driver apologizes and admits the accident was their fault, and their insurance company admits responsibility for the accident immediately.

Your injuries include a bruised chest-wall and whip-lash to your neck and back. All of your injuries are to the soft-tissue of your body. As a result you miss 3 weeks of work, and have about $5,000 in medical bills.

Before the accident, you had an extremely active life which included sports, playing with your children, and other outdoor activities. Over the next 2 years, you suffer everyday stiffness, aches, and pains in engaging in the most basic of daily duties. Doctors tell you that you will likely develop severe arthritis in your neck and back as you age.

If you chose limited tort insurance, you are limited to recovering only the total of your medical bills and lost wages. That’s it. You will not be allowed to receive any compensation for your pain and suffering. Worse, you have zero negotiating power with the insurance company.

Money will never ease the physical pain you suffer from a car accident. However, fair compensation can make life at least economically bearable. We have witnessed too many injured people who have chosen limited tort and are suffering financially for their decision.

The decision to choose full tort insurance over limited tort insurance really is not a decision at all. If you have been involved in a car accident and are looking for justice, get in contact with Flaherty & Fardo LLC. We offer free consultations and can help you take steps in getting the justice you deserve.

Shawn T. Flaherty, Esq.

Shawn Flaherty is the founding partner of the Pittsburgh law firm Flaherty Fardo. He has over thirty (30) years of experience in litigating cases in both the state and federal courts in Pennsylvania in a variety of civil litigation matters. He focuses on car accidents and personal injury lawsuits.

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