Auto insurance in Pennsylvania is classified into two different categories one is Full Tort and the other Limited Tort. These choices were implemented by Pennsylvania with the aim of decreasing lawsuits for pain and suffering in the state courts.
The implementation emerged after the concern expressed over the high premiums for automobile insurance. Pennsylvania endorsed compulsory “Personal injury protection” personal injury protection (PIP) insurance with the express aim of trying to lower lawsuit numbers in relation to auto accidents. PIP insurance includes coverage for medical expenses of drivers who were involved in an auto accident whether they were the one who caused the accident or not. The intent behind the creation of PIP insurance was to reduce lawsuit numbers for pain and suffering’ or what is sometimes termed ‘loss’ lawsuits which, in turn, reduce payouts by insurance companies and in the longer term reduce insurance premiums.
People who now buy insurance in the state of Pennsylvania are characterized as either under Limited Tort or Full Tort. The definition of tort in the legal sense means “civil wrongdoing”. Under civil law, this means that if a wrongful act takes place a damages claim can be pursued by the person who has been injured.
In Pennsylvania, all insurance companies make provisions for Full Tort insurance coverage which provides those who take out this option coverage which includes the right to sue for all the range of damages. Individuals can also choose Limited Tort for coverage which, in fact, limits the individual the ability to file a claim against a driver for pain and suffering who has driven negligently. Limited and Full Tort coverage are applicable in events where the driver or passengers have been injured in an accident that is not the fault of the driver. The victim is given the choice of suing the at-fault driver in court for any medical bills that have not been paid, any property damage, income loss, pain and suffering.
Limited Tort insurance is not as expensive, so consumers may opt for it so that they can save on insurance premiums. This choice saves around 15% annually in payments for premiums. The Limited Tort choice means that consumers have to forfeit their right to file a claim against the negligent driver for “pain and suffering”, if they have the misfortune to be seriously injured in an auto accident. Sometimes, in a Limited Tort claim, it is possible to recover small amounts when filing a lawsuit for any injuries sustained but only if they are serious.
The state of Pennsylvania has its own definition for “serious injury” which is when the injury causes a fatality or there is a seriously restricted use of the person’s body functions, or total disfigurement. Regardless of the amount of pain involved, injuries that will heal are not taken to be “serious” injuries in a court of law. Back and neck strains and sprains, like whiplash, fractured or broken bones as well as head injuries are not normally serious enough in a court case covered by Limited Tort.
If a person selects the Full Tort choice, victims retain their full rights to file a claim or lodge a lawsuit when an accident and injury take place. The Full Tort premium coverage is normally 12%-20% greater, but the buying of Full Tort coverage means the insured person retains their rights to take legal action if they encounter an injury in an auto accident.
If you have been injured in a car accident and it was not your fault, make an appointment for a free consultation at our law offices here in Pennsylvania. We successfully deal with claims for clients who are insured both under Limited Tort and Full Tort.