On Court Radio: Limited Tort and Full Tort Car Insurance — What You Need to Know
By Dean I Weitzman, Esq. on January 7th, 2012
When you buy car insurance in Pennsylvania, one of the first questions an insurance agent will ask you is whether you want “limited tort” or “full tort” coverage.
It’s actually one of the most important questions an insurance agent can ask you and one that most people probably don’t spend enough time to consider.
So what are the limited tort and full tort options all about? They are all about determining your future legal rights if you are ever injured in a motor vehicle accident. The consequences of your answer to the question are huge.
They’re so important that they’ll be the featured topic at 7 a.m. Sunday, Jan. 8, on “Court Radio” with your host, attorney Dean Weitzman, of MyPhillyLawyer. “Court Radio” show is simulcast live every Sunday morning on Philadelphia’s WRNB 100.3 FM and on Magic 95.9 FM in Baltimore. You can listen live to WRNB 100.3 or to Magic 95.9 live via streaming audio on the Internet.
Here’s what you need to know about full tort and limited tort coverage:
Limited tort coverage means that if you are involved in an accident, your medical bills and related expenses will be covered, but you will give up your rights to sue for such things as pain and suffering unless the accident and injuries are extremely severe. What is severe? The law describes that as a “personal injury resulting in death, serious impairment or body function or permanent serious disfigurement.” If your injuries are this severe, then you can sue as though you had full tort coverage. There are several other exceptions for that allow you to sue for such damages, even if you only have limited tort coverage. They include when the other driver is convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs during the accident, if the other driver intentionally caused the crash or if their vehicle is registered in another state.
Full tort coverage means that you are not subject to any such artificial limitations in your right to sue. If you are seriously injured in a car accident caused by another driver, then you can sue for damages including pain and suffering by right.
So why is limited tort coverage offered?
It allows you to save money on your vehicle insurance because the premiums are lower since they subject the insurance companies to lower risks. That’s the benefit that most insurance agents will describe when you talk with them about coverage.
The problem is, limited tort coverage may save you money but it is penny wise and pound foolish.
Full tort coverage means that you can maintain broader rights to sue for damages, not just for serious impairment of a bodily function. That means that you can recover damages for your injuries and losses while also retaining the right to sue for pain and suffering damages based on your injuries and long-term prognosis for physical and mental recovery after a serious vehicle accident.
When making this decision for you and your family, these are the kinds of things you need to think about – before you are ever involved in a vehicle accident.
Insurance is a function of what you can afford. It’s a gamble. Do you pay for the best coverage in case something happens, or do you pay less for lesser coverage and then hope you don’t need the better coverage?
You can shop around for insurance from different companies but they will suggest limited tort coverage because they can show you lower, more attractive rates. That makes it look like you are saving money. And sadly, that’s why most people will choose the limited tort option and then limit their rights to sue.
If you are pondering this kind of decision, take the time to discuss it with a lawyer to find out how this decision will truly affect you and your family and household. Here at MyPhillyLawyer, we’d be happy to talk with you about this important decision so you can reach the best decision for your needs.
It’s a tough call but one that you have to take very seriously so that you don’t willingly give up your legal rights just to save a few dollars.
When looking over insurance coverage for your vehicles, know what you are buying and know what protection you will have for yourself and your family.
Don’t skimp when it comes to your legal rights and your future when it comes to auto insurance coverage.
We didn’t even discuss other vehicle insurance decisions in this blog post, including the need to choose coverage to protect you from underinsured and uninsured motorists and the importance of having insurance coverage limits that far exceed the minimum monetary coverage mandated by each state. Those will be topics for future posts here.
Take the time to consider all of this very carefully.
It’s much more important than you might realize.
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