Full vs. Limited Tort Auto Insurance Coverage


Hello. My name is Julie Slabinski and I’m
an attorney with Gibbel Kraybill & Hess. In this brief video I’ll explain the
differences between limited tort and full tort coverage in your automobile
insurance policy. Most drivers are aware that in order to drive lawfully in
Pennsylvania, they must have auto insurance; however, many drivers may not
know what coverage their insurance provides, or perhaps more importantly,
what it doesn’t provide. One important area of auto insurance is the tort
option. A tort is a legal term that means civil wrongdoing. In an automobile
context, tort is the legal remedy that allows you to be compensated if you are
injured in an accident that was not your fault. Tort coverage on a policy applies
only to bodily injury and not damage to your vehicle. There are two types of tort
coverage in Pennsylvania: limited tort and full tort.
The key difference between the two is whether you may recover financially for
pain and suffering. “Pain and suffering” is a legal term that accounts for a broad
array of injury, including emotional or non-tangible injury such as aches, soft
tissue injuries, depression, minor scarring, or temporary physical
conditions like bruising. If you have full tort coverage, it means that you can
recover for economic damages like medical bills and wage loss, and for pain
and suffering. But if you have limited tort coverage, it means you can only
recover for economic damages except in very limited circumstances. In practical
terms, this means that if you’re injured in an accident and are forced to pay
medical bills or miss work as a result, you are likely to collect less money and
damages if you elect limited tort coverage. However, limited tort coverage
is less expensive, thus it’s appealing to many drivers because it means a less
expensive premium. A common real-life scenario may help illustrate the
differences. Joe opted for limited tort coverage because he wanted to save money
and didn’t think of himself as the type of person who would sue for pain and
suffering. Unfortunately, Joe was injured in a car accident that was not his fault.
He breaks his foot and has a minor strain in his lower back. All of his
injuries are attributable to the accident. His foot heals quickly but his
back pain gets worse and prevents him from working. The insurance company has
determined that Joe’s back injury doesn’t constitute a serious injury
under the law. Joe quickly learns that because he has limited tort coverage, the
insurance company will only pay his out-of-pocket medical costs and some of
his lost wages. Joe finds that his back pain is severely
limiting all aspects of his daily life and is worried because the insurance
company is refusing to pay for the long-term impact his injury will have.
Joe’s situation demonstrates the risk of limited tort coverage and why it is so
important to discuss both tort options with your insurance agent. I hope you have
found this information useful. Thank you for watching.

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