What You Need to Know About Full Tort vs. Limited Tort Car Insurance

April 13th, 2018

By Dean I. Weitzman, Esq.


When drivers buy car insurance in Pennsylvania, they have the option of choosing from two kinds of coverage – limited tort, which covers a driver’s medical treatment and related expenses, but not pain and suffering – or full tort, which maintains their rights to sue for pain and suffering in all cases.

The decision about which coverage to purchase is one of the most important a driver can make.

On its face, limited tort coverage can allow drivers to save money on their 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 up front, but it is penny-wise and pound-foolish.

With limited tort coverage, drivers give up their 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 still sue the other driver 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.

full tort and limited tort

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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.

I talked about this topic in a recent MyPhillyLawyer Court Radio broadcast, where I reminded listeners that full coverage auto insurance is not the same thing as full tort coverage. Full coverage protects your car loan and car and gives you coverage for comprehensive, collision, theft and other risks, but no coverage for your injuries. That’s where medical payments and uninsured motorist and underinsured motorist coverage come in and should be procured when you get your policy.

If you have limited tort you are essentially telling every other insured driver that if they strike your car and injure you, unless the injury is very serious you will give them a free pass from having to pay you damages for pain and suffering.

That’s limited tort in a nutshell.

Limited tort and full tort options 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.

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 likely 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.

It’s a tough call but one that you must 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.

Full tort coverage is the right decision to make to preserve your legal rights.

We here at MyPhillyLawyer stand ready to assist you with your legal case if you or a loved one is ever seriously injured in any kind of vehicle incident anywhere in the United States. We pledge to make sure that you and your family get the compassionate, dogged and experienced legal representation that you deserve and expect from a professional legal team which works hard to uncover every fact to bolster your case and maximize your damage award.

We represent the families of victims who die in such tragedies as well, to ensure that their families receive every penny of damages that they are eligible to receive.

Call MyPhillyLawyer at 215-227-2727 or toll-free at 1-(866) 352-4572 anytime and our experienced, compassionate, aggressive team of attorneys and support staff will be there for you and your family every step of the way as we manage your case through the legal system.

When Winning Matters Most, Call MyPhillyLawyer.


Listen to Court Radio every Sunday at 7 a.m. with me, attorney Dean Weitzman of MyPhillyLawyer, on Philadelphia’s Old School 100.3 WRNB, Boom 103.9 or on Praise 107.9 WPPZ FM. Listen to Court Radio online or on the radio every week for the latest on legal topics and to get answers to your legal questions. In addition to addressing the topical issues of the day, we’ll answer caller questions on a wide range of legal issues.

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