What Limited Tort Insurance Coverage Means for an Injury Claim in Pennsylvania

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Practice Areas: Auto Accident

For drivers with automobile insurance in Pennsylvania, the options they choose on their policy can impact the claims process if an accident injures the policyholder or another covered person.

In Pennsylvania, vehicle owners may select either a “limited tort” or “full tort” option on their insurance policies. Their choice directly affects their right to seek financial compensation if they sustain injuries in a crash.

What is full tort insurance coverage?

Full tort coverage is generally the more expensive of the two policy options. However, choosing full tort gives a covered individual the unrestricted right to file a lawsuit against the negligent driver who caused his or her injuries. In other words, the injured person may seek financial compensation for all medical and out-of-pocket expenses in addition to pain and suffering and other non monetary damages related to the injuries.

What is limited tort insurance coverage?

Selecting limited tort insurance coverage usually means the policyholder will pay a lower monthly premium. However, in the event of a car accident that causes injuries, this option restricts the kind of financial compensation the injured person may seek. Those covered under a limited tort policy option may seek recovery for medical bills and other out-of-pocket expenses related to the injury. They cannot seek compensation for pain and suffering and other non monetary damages.

Are there exceptions to limited tort?

Pennsylvania law recognizes specific exceptions that will allow a person injured in an auto accident to recover full financial compensation for their injuries, even though the victim chose limited tort coverage.

An individual covered under a policy with limited tort may still be able to obtain full compensation if one or more of the following circumstances are true:

Serious Injury: The victim sustained a "serious injury" as defined by his or her insurance policy, which generally refers to a serious impairment to a significant bodily function.

Motorcyclist: The victim was riding a motorcycle during the crash.

Commercial Vehicle Passenger: The victim was injured as a passenger in a taxi, truck, bus or other commercial vehicle.

Pedestrian/Bicyclist: The victim was injured as a pedestrian or while riding a bicycle.

Drunk Driver: The driver who caused the crash was driving under the influence of alcohol and is subsequently convicted of a DWI.

Out-of-state Registration: The at-fault driver was driving a car registered in a state other than Pennsylvania.


Injured individuals with limited tort coverage frequently face a complex and difficult claims process if they want to seek non monetary compensation – even if one of the above exceptions applies to them. It’s helpful to speak with an attorney who is particularly experienced with vehicle accident injury cases involving limited tort policies. Read more about why PA Limited Tort Doesn’t Always “Limit” Your Recovery.