Choosing auto insurance in Pennsylvania: Limited versus Full Tort option

Pennsylvania Law allows someone who is purchasing car insurance for a Pennsylvania vehicle to choose between “Limited” or “Full” Tort. It is one of the most important decisions you can make when deciding the options on your insurance policy.

The option between Limited and Full tort became law in Pennsylvania in the late 1980s in an effort to curb rising car insurance rates. A limited tort option is always less expensive than the full tort option, saving one 10 to 15 percent on premiums.

The full tort option is the way all insurance used to be. Under full tort, if you are involved in an accident, you can sue for “pain and suffering” even for the most minor injuries. Pain and suffering damages compensate a person for the pain and suffering that may occur as the result of an automobile accident. These type of damages can sometimes amount to hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars, depending on the severity of the injuries sustained.

Under the limited tort option, you give up the right to sue for pain and suffering, except you suffer “serious bodily injury.” Serious bodily injury is defined as a personal injury resulting in death, serious impairment of a bodily function or permanent serious disfigurement.

There are four exceptions to the “serious bodily injury” requirement.

1. The other driver is convicted of (1) driving under the influence of alcohol, or (2) a controlled substance, or (3) accepts ARD, a program generally applicable only to first-time offenders;

2. The other driver committed an intentional act that caused the injuries;

3 The other driver was operating a vehicle registered in a state other than Pennsylvania; or

4. The other driver had no insurance.

Driver should be very cautious when choosing their tort option. The 10 to 15 percent savings on your premium may result in a short term gain, but the long term effects generally outweigh the short term gains.

A recovery of only $5,000 represents 50 years of premium savings on the cost of an average automobile policy.

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With more than 40 years of combined experience, the personal injury attorneys at Fellerman & Ciarimboli strive to provide the best service to clients in Philadelphia, Northeast Pennsylvania, and throughout the Keystone State.

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