When a client comes into our office to discuss a car accident case, one of the most important questions that we need to determine is what type of insurance coverage do you have? Limited tort vs Full tort? The answer we get is usually, “I don’t know” or “I have full coverage” or some variation on these, but understanding the difference between full and limited tort is significant and important. Often times clients only learn the difference after they are involved in a car accident, but then its too late – understanding the full tort vs limited tort election before purchasing your insurance is paramount. By examining the full tort vs limited tort debate from the perspective of a Philadelphia car accident attorney will help make this topic a bit clearer for people purchasing or looking over their auto insurance policy in Pennsylvania.

So what’s the difference between limited tort vs full tort auto insurance?

The major difference between full tort coverage vs limited tort coverage is that, limited tort coverage only allows a person injured in an auto accident to recover their out of pocket medical bills, wage loss, automobile repair costs, and other actual monetary loss; whereas a person with full tort coverage, regardless of the extent of the injury, can bring  a claim for pain and suffering, so long as the accident was not their fault. When a person chooses the limited tort coverage, they limit their right to pursue damages in a personal injury claim for pain and suffering and other similar damages, even if they were not a fault for the accident.

There are exceptions to the general rule that allows a person with limited tort coverage to bring a claim for pain and suffering where the injuries they sustained in the accident were “serious”, but “serious” is subjective and left undefined. There are other enumerated limited tort exceptions that can be used to help you recover for pain and suffering, but again you need to be “lucky” to fit your car accident into one of these exceptions. The real problem becomes that insurance adjusters and insurance defense lawyers will argue that almost every injury is non-serious, and would not qualify for the limited tort exception, in order to limit the rights of personal injury victims to recover. While we all can gather that this is a disingenuous argument, it is the first line of defense and is made in almost every single limited tort car accident case.

Our firm has successfully handled many limited tort car accident cases, fought the biggest insurance companies on the definition of “serious injury” and won, but nonetheless it is always a battle.

Why do people choose limited tort?

So you may ask yourself, why would anyone choose limited tort? The simple reason – its cheaper. The cost savings that insurance companies offer when electing limited tort are there to entice consumers who often believe that an accident won’t happen with them behind the wheel. This type of thinking is oftentimes “penny wise, pound foolish”.  Electing limited tort coverage will allow you to recover costs like medical bills related to the injury at the time of the accident, it’s impossible to anticipate the long-term health effects of an accident on your body.

Often we see what initially looks like a mild back injury, turn into a herniation down the road. Having ongoing problems from an accident can affect your everyday life, from home to work, but for which you may not be able to recover if you had limited tort coverage. When you are shopping for a new auto insurance policy, or are looking over the terms of your current policy – understanding the difference between your rights with a limited tort versus full tort election is key.

What’s the verdict?

To give you the best rights our team of Philadelphia area car accident lawyers always recommend purchasing full tort coverage. We understand that sometimes the economics make that simply impossible, that is why it is important to shop around for auto insurance coverage. Many times we have seen insurance companies offer full tort at a significant discount when doing a thorough search of all the auto insurance carriers such as State Farm, Geico, Progressive, All State, NJM, among others. When you choose limited tort through companies such as Omni, Cure, The General, you may save money in the short run, but will limit your rights for recovery if you are injured in an accident.