An ordinary day in Pennsylvania consists of around 350 reportable traffic accidents, averaging 15 crashes per hour. Of this, a little over 200 are injured, and 1 fatality occurs every 7 hours. In 2018, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation estimated the economic loss due to car crashes to be over 26 billion dollars, or around $2000 for every Pennsylvania citizen.
Automotive insurance is complicated and anyone attempting to recover from injuries and other damage related to a traffic accident should have an adequate understanding of the nuances of their insurance coverage. In Pennsylvania, one has the option of choosing a full tort insurance policy, or a limited tort policy. Each of these policies has their unique pros and cons, and will alter your ability to claim recovery for injuries caused by negligent drivers. If you were involved in a traffic accident with a commercial vehicle or a tractor-trailer, it is possible that you may have some confusion surrounding the types of tort recovery and how that may impact your recovery if an accident were to happen. Read more from our Philadelphia personal injury lawyers.
What is Pennsylvania’s Full Tort Insurance?
In Pennsylvania, when deciding on your auto insurance, you have the option to select either a full tort or a limited tort policy. Both full tort and limited tort allow an injured plaintiff—who is not the primary cause of the accident—to seek financial compensation for economic losses. Such economic losses include medical expenses, lost income, property damage, or other out of pocket costs, such as damage to personal property like laptops or clothing due to the accident.
The fundamental difference is that full tort insurance policies allow complete coverage—both economic and noneconomic—for all of the damages and injuries resulting from the accident, while limited tort essentially limits the coverage solely to economic loss. That being said, there are several exceptions in which a person that purchased a limited tort policy will meet the criteria for full tort, primarily cases in which the injuries sustained are serious enough to be classified as a ‘serious injury’ under Pennsylvania law. Nonetheless, it should be noted that proving a serious injury is often complicated, and some that select a limited tort policy may feel that their injury was serious enough to recover compensation for the pain and suffering, and still may be denied.
One of the benefits of a limited tort policy is that it is less expensive, thus lowering your insurance premium for years. An individual can save up to 15% off their annual premium by choosing a limited tort auto insurance policy. However, the trade-off is that you largely give up your right to receive reimbursement for any pain and suffering you may experience as a result of a careless driver. Unlike that of accident victims with limited tort, those with full tort insurance have the right to sue for all damages, including pain and suffering. Some examples of pain or suffering that qualify for coverage include the loss of life’s pleasures or the inability to continue one’s hobbies or activities as they normally would be able to. As compared to limited tort, full tort covers a wide range of non-economic losses without having to prove that their injuries meet the criteria of a “serious injury” under Pennsylvania law.
Under Title 75 §1705, full tort coverage is defined as the unrestricted right for you and the members of your household to seek financial compensation for injuries caused by other drivers.
The injured driver involved in a traffic accident who is not at fault can sue for the pain and suffering regardless of the extent of their injuries. They are entitled to financial compensation under their full tort policy, without having to prove their injury qualifies as a serious one. When considering which type of tort recovery is good for you and your family, it is important to be aware of the pros and cons of each type, so that you can make an informed decision. Below, we will describe in more detail some of the benefits that a full tort policy offers.
What are the Benefits of Choosing a Full Tort Option?
In order to own and register a motor vehicle in Pennsylvania, you must first demonstrate that you are financially responsible. The reason for this is that you would need to show that you would be able to cover the damages that may have been a result of your actions during an accident. Thus, most states including Pennsylvania require that you have basic liability coverage in order to operate a vehicle.
There are a couple ways that you can certify to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation that you are able to cover the damages, should an accident happen in which you are partly or fully responsible. Most people do this through purchasing motor insurance. Depending on the severity and particular details of the accident, you can pay up to $5000 for damage to someone else’s property, up to $15,000 for one injured person or accident fatality, and up to $30,000 for more than one injured person or fatality. These are the minimum liability limits that your automotive insurance policy would cover. On the other hand, some people can certify to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation that they are financially responsible without purchasing insurance. They do this by making a certification that they have enough money to cover the damages in the event of an accident. Given that most people do not have large enough amounts of money saved in their bank accounts, many prove financial responsibility by purchasing insurance that covers personal injury claims.
Pennsylvania is unique in that you have the option to purchase either a limited tort or a full tort policy. Imagine a scenario in which you were injured in an accident, and it was determined that you were not at fault. In attempting to recover from the accident, you may have to pay for fees related to medical attention you had to receive—anything from ambulance rides to doctor check-ups to medical tests. You may also have had to miss work for a given amount of time, resulting in lost wages as a direct result of the accident. Additionally, there may be damage to your car or other valuables. Full tort insurance and limited tort insurance will both cover these fees and other economic damages. However, the benefit of full tort is that it will go beyond this, and cover non-economic damages as well. A full tort coverage plan may provide compensation for the physical pain and suffering that you may have experienced. Bearing in mind that pain and suffering injuries can sometimes feel more detrimental, this is the primary benefit of full tort insurance.
After experiencing a traffic accident, you may be under a great deal of stress. Recovering from injury is often a hard adjustment, and having full tort auto insurance may offer a higher degree of security and make the process of returning to your normal life a little easier. This is the advantage of a full tort policy, despite the fact that the insurance premium is more expensive.
Questions about Full Tort Insurance? Call Our Truck Accident Attorneys Today
If you were in an accident and you have questions about your insurance coverage or the insurance coverage of the other driver(s) involved, it may be wise to contact a team member well versed in the legality of motor insurance. Call the Philadelphia car accident lawyers at the Reiff Law Firm at (215) 709-6940 for a private no-cost consultation or send us an email and we will get back to you.