One question that can make a tremendous difference in your personal injury case is the type of insurance coverage that you have. If you do not know what you have, or do not know the difference in policies, now is the time to learn before you are in an automobile accident with insufficient coverage.
In particular, Pennsylvania requires insurance providers to offer consumers a choice between purchasing full tort coverage and limited tort coverage.
Difference between Full Tort and Limited Tort Insurance
When deciding on the type of automobile insurance coverage to buy, it is important to understand the difference between having full tort and limited tort. Both offer separate resolutions to what you are entitled to receive after a collision.
Essentially, the difference between both coverages is with full tort coverage, you can assert a pain and suffering claim after an accident, regardless of the extent of your injuries. This is only effective if the accident was not your fault.
On the other hand, limited tort coverage only allows you to recover out-of-pocket expenses for lost wages, medical bills, car repairs and any other actual monetary loss.
Full Tort Insurance Policies
Full tort automobile insurance policies allow a person injured in an accident to receive full compensation for all damages incurred.
These damages will include:
• Lost wages
• Medical expenses
• Car damage
• Pain and suffering
Having full tort coverage also means you will not be forced to demonstrate that your sustained serious injuries from the accident before recovering money for pain and suffering. Since no threshold exists that must be met first, have full tort coverage allows you to automatically assert a claim for losses beyond standard out-of-pocket expenses.
Obviously, this type of policy gives you more potential to receive a significant compensation award related to the car accident.
Limited Tort Insurance Policies
Buying a limited tort coverage policy is less expensive than the full tort in terms of premiums. However, this cheaper policy could cost you more than what you are saving after being injured in a car accident.
Typically, limited tort insurance policies do not cover all damages that are usually associated with an auto accident. As the policy holder, you are literally limited in the amount of recovery you can receive following an accident.
General damages and pain and suffering are not covered under this type of policy. You are not allowed to sue for anything other than serious non-monetary damages. However, if you have suffered serious bodily injury, you might have a chance to recover more under limited tort coverage.
Exception to the Limited Tort Insurance Coverage Rule
When you are not at-fault for a car accident, a reasonable expectation is to be fully compensated for any physical and monetary injuries you sustained. However, buying a limited tort insurance policy prevents this from happening with one exception.
Limiting in its scope, this general rule has an exception if your injuries are deemed serious. You may have a right to pursue a pain and suffering claim. Not all serious injuries are clearly defined or proven.
In most cases, what differentiates a serious injury claim from a non-serious claim is not always clear. Obviously, when your injuries require life-saving treatment, those would be considered serious as defined by the law. In these instances, full recovery for pain and suffering is allowed.
Exceptions that apply to serious bodily injury claims under limited tort are the other driver is convicted of:
• An alcohol DUI
• Driving under the influence of a controlled substance
Other reasons for a valid claim include:
• The other driver was driving a vehicle that is not registered in Pennsylvania
• Your injuries were caused by an intentional act
• The other driver involved in the accident does not have insurance
Additionally, when the other driver accepts a program that is usually applicable to first time offenders, you may have a valid pain and suffering claim.
Review Terms before Buying a New Insurance Policy
When it is time to renew your current auto insurance policy, this will be the perfect time to review the terms of your existing policy to ensure you have adequate coverage. Even though you can recover medical bills that are related to the auto accident injury with a limited tort policy, it is not easy to anticipate whether you may have long-term health problems from the injuries.
For example, you might have an initial diagnosis of a non-serious back injury. Over time, however, you may continue to have pain or be inconvenienced because your back is not performing properly.
Such ongoing problems could not only interfere with your home life, but they could also prevent you from performing certain job functions. Serious issues like this can affect you livelihood and reduce your quality of life. You will not be able to recover enough compensation to replace lost income.
Having full tort insurance means paying a slightly higher premium, but you also receive broad access to being compensated after an accident. You effectively surrender important rights in a personal injury claim with limited tort insurance.
Keep in mind that full coverage and full tort insurance are not synonymous terms. To have full tort on your policy, you must ask for it specifically. All members of your household are covered.
Contact Full Tort vs Limited Tort Insurance Lawyers
If you have suffered injuries after a car accident that was caused by someone else, contact a lawyer with our firm today. We offer a free consultation to guide you through this challenging time.