woman holding neck and calling car insurance after car accident

Full vs. Limited Tort in PA & What To Know About This Car Insurance

Imagine you’re driving to work one morning when out of nowhere, another vehicle collides with yours in a car accident. You’re startled, and your car has sustained considerable damage. Thankfully, you’re okay except for a few minor cuts and bruises. As you exchange insurance information with the other driver, you realize you’re unsure of the nature of your car insurance – specifically, whether you have car insurance that includes full or limited tort in PA.

This information is really important because it determines your rights to compensation for the accident. With full tort, you can make a claim for pain and suffering without any limitations, but with limited tort, you might only have this right if there’s a very serious injury. It’s a moment of uncertainty that emphasizes how crucial it is to understand the details of your insurance policy before anything happens.

In this blog post, we will discuss what both full and limited tort coverage is for car insurance, what the advantages and disadvantages are, and how to decide on what tort insurance is best for your family.

What is Full Tort Insurance in Pennsylvania?

Full tort coverage for auto insurance in Pennsylvania is a level of coverage that entitles you to full compensation rights in the event of an accident. This means you can recover all damages caused by an accident, including those for pain and suffering, medical bills, lost wages, embarrassment, and other non-economic damages. It offers a broader scope of protection compared to limited tort insurance.

However, this extensive coverage comes at a higher premium through your insurance company, making full tort more expensive than the limited tort option. Regardless of the severity of injuries from a car accident, if you have the full tort option, you have the unrestricted right to pursue a claim against the at-fault driver.

What is Limited Tort Insurance in Pennsylvania?

Limited tort coverage in Pennsylvania is auto insurance that restricts the insured’s right to recover certain damages, such as those for pain and suffering, in the event of an accident. Essentially, choosing limited tort means you are giving up the right to make a claim for certain types of damages, such as those caused by pain and suffering unless you suffer a serious injury as defined by Pennsylvania law.

This serious injury threshold is a high bar to meet and typically means life-altering injuries. However, medical expenses and other quantifiable losses are recoverable, regardless of injury severity. While there is a cost savings with limited tort, it is important to remember that this option may limit your legal recourse in the event of an accident.

What Does Pennsylvania’s No-Fault System for Accidents Mean?

Pennsylvania is a no-fault state for accidents, meaning that regardless of who is at fault in a car accident, each party’s full tort and limited tort auto insurance coverage is responsible for their own medical costs.

This system is designed to lower the number of lawsuits for minor auto accidents, allowing for quicker payment of car insurance claims in these no-fault states. However, it’s important to understand how this system interacts with the choice of full tort vs. limited tort.

It is important to note that under Pennsylvania law, all motor vehicles need to carry specific liability insurance. Whether it is a commercial vehicle or a car used to commute to work, all should carry the following amounts in liability coverage:

  • A minimum of $15,000 for the injury or death of a person in an accident
  • A minimum of $30,000 for the death or injury of more than one person in an accident
  • A minimum of $5,000 for property damage of another person

No-Fault Systems & Full Tort in PA

If you have chosen full tort auto insurance, the no-fault system doesn’t limit your rights to sue the at-fault party to seek compensation for non-economic damages like pain and suffering. You have full tort rights to pursue a claim against the other driver, regardless of whether your own insurance company has already covered your medical bills.

No-Fault & Limited Tort

However, if you buy car insurance with limited tort in PA, the no-fault system becomes more crucial. Since you’ve waived your right to sue for certain types of damages, your tort insurance is usually your primary source of compensation.

However, if you sustain serious injuries (as defined by Pennsylvania law), you can step outside of the no-fault system and sue the at-fault driver for serious impairment, regardless of your limited tort policy. This is where the interaction between Pennsylvania’s no-fault system and your chosen tort option can have legal implications and prevent you from getting fair compensation for your injuries.

Advantages of Full Tort Coverage

The main advantage of having full tort coverage is that it gives you comprehensive protection and allows you to make a claim for the impactful non-economic consequences of being injured in an accident—pain and suffering, emotional distress, loss of life’s pleasures, and the stress and inconvenience of it all. With full tort insurance, you have the freedom to seek compensation for these types of damages, in addition to vehicle damage, medical bills, and lost wages.  

This means that even if your injuries do not cause serious injury or impair your bodily function in some way, you still have the right to fair compensation for the pain and suffering you’ve endured.

Being able to make a claim for all the types of damages permitted under the law can bring you peace of mind and financial relief after an auto accident. Having full tort coverage can also protect you against any potential future medical issues, such as physical pain or emotional issues, arising from this automobile accident that may not be immediately evident.

Disadvantages of A Policy With Limited Tort in PA

Image of yellow background, with a white car being hammered by a judge’s gavel

Choosing between a limited or full tort policy might have you scratching your head, but it’s important to consider the downsides before deciding on limited tort in Pennsylvania.

When weighing your options for full tort and limited tort policies, one major issue with limited tort is that you are waiving your rights to make a claim for non-economic damages like pain and suffering. Unless your injuries are really serious according to Pennsylvania law, which essentially is defined as having lost the use of a body part, you may not be able to seek compensation for these types of damages.

Even if your injuries exceed or meet this threshold, proving the severity of your personal injury resulting from the accident can be a tiring and difficult process. It often involves a lot of medical records and expert testimony, making the whole process of proving complex and challenging. As the injured party, you might end up in lengthy personal injury legal battles and have to pay a lot of upfront costs.

Additionally, the limited tort option under your automobile insurance might not give you enough compensation after an accident. If you have significant injuries, such as permanent disfigurement or pain that disables any body function, you might find the compensation inadequate to cover all the suffering and hardship you’ve been through.

Let The Westmoreland Injury Lawyers Fight For Your Right To Compensation After An Accident

If a reckless drunk driver or uninsured driver caused an accident that left you injured, we can help at Westmoreland Injury Lawyers. Serving the greater Greensburg, PA area, our experienced law firm has many years under our belt helping those who have been injured in an accident. Schedule a legal evaluation with our team today, and learn how we can help get you the compensation you deserve for your injuries.


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