Many drivers make some serious mistakes when selecting their automobile insurance policy, especially when not electing to carry uninsured motorist coverage. They insure themselves sufficiently when it comes to paying someone they might injure; however, they decide to choose the less expensive option of limited tort coverage, which is entirely different than insurance coverage. Full coverage is not the same as full tort overage, and we have seen clients lose hundreds of thousands of dollars for that mistake. Before explaining the entire scope of these provisions pertaining to full tort vs limited tort coverage, a little history in Pennsylvania law is in order.
In 1990, the Motor Vehicle Law in the state of Pennsylvania gave consumers the option to select either full tort coverage or limited tort coverage with regards to their personal automobile insurance policies. Generally speaking, the limited tort coverage option is cheaper than the full tort option. Naturally, people like to save money especially today. However, as a Pennsylvania personal injury attorney, I can say the decision to purchase full tort coverage, if affordable, is well worth the difference in cost.
Also, the mistake that "full coverage" is the same as "full tort" coverage must be corrected. Full coverage, protects your car, pays your medical bills and the pain you may cause someone else if you are at fault; however, full tort coverage allows you to keep your right to make a claim for pain and suffering money whether your case is small, medium or large. However, if limited tort coverage is selected, you are waving extremely valuable rights to be compensated for certain injuries.
If you are injured under a limited tort policy, the lower cost of your premium essentially revokes your right to claim and obtain fair compensation for pain and suffering following a personal injury car crash unless you suffer an injury so severe that you are permanently affected in your work and household responsibilities. This is a high standard to prove and percentage wise not many are able to do it successfully in court or settlement.
According to figures from the state of Pennsylvania, there are well over 90,000 automobile collisions resulting in injury annually. Of these automobile accidents only a small number actually qualify as a serious injury, yet thousands of people in these accidents could have qualified for $10,000, $30,000, $50,000 or more if they had only purchased the full tort option rather than save a few hundred dollars when they bought their insurance.
Even if you purchased limited tort, you may however, be able to get around your selection and receive a full tort compensation for your injuries if you are injured 1) as a pedestrian 2) by a drunk driver 3) by an out-of-state driver or 4) if you are in a commercial vehicle such as a bus, cab, rental car or company car.
At Lowenthal & Abrams, we examine every injury case carefully to see if we can help our clients get around limited tort. One interesting way to qualify for full tort is simply by not owning a car! That's right, since limited tort is an option that waives a legal right unless someone signs that right away, he or she still has it. So if you live in a household where you have not signed for limited tort (such as where there is no car in the household) you have full tort and can bring a claim for pain and suffering even without a permanent disabling injury.