One issue frequently discussed in our office and with our clients who have been involved in motor vehicle accidents is the issue of tort options. The value of your case may vary greatly depending on which tort option you select with your insurance carrier – full tort or limited tort.
Both full and limited tort options allow individuals who have sustained injuries in an automobile accident to bring a suit for unpaid medical bills, property damage and loss of income. Where the difference lies is when an injured party claims pain and suffering as part of his/her lawsuit.
Full tort coverage gives insureds the ability to sue in court for all damages, including pain and suffering in situations where the injured party is not at a fault and regardless of the extent of his/her injury.
Limited tort coverage “limits” the ability to sue for pain and suffering unless the injuries suffered are considered “serious injuries” as defined by the standard auto insurance policies in Pennsylvania. “Serious injury” is defined as death, significant deformity or permanent impairment of body function. Many times even permanent injuries are not considered, by insurance carriers, to be “serious injuries” if the consumer is not dead, disfigured or crippled. Oftentimes, insurance carriers will have a blanket policy to deny claims filed by an insured who has chosen the limited tort option.
If you have never suffered a serious injury, it is easy to underestimate the need for pain and suffering compensation. Pain and suffering includes physical, mental, and emotional injuries resulting from an accident. The value of pain and suffering varies in each case and depends on the specific injuries involved, though the amount recovered can be significant.
You cannot predict if you, or those covered under your insurance policy, will be involved in an accident. Full tort options tend to be more expensive than limited tort policies. However, in the event of a serious accident resulting in severe injury, a full tort option may be worth the extra investment.