Full tort and limited tort automobile insurance
Full tort and limited tort automobile insurance options were instituted by the state of Pennsylvania in an attempt to decrease the number of pain and suffering lawsuits in Pennsylvania courts. Concerned about the high rates of automobile insurance, Pennsylvania enacted a requirement that driver’s select either limited or full tort on their automobile insurance policies. The idea was an attempt to reduce the number of ‘pain and suffering’ claims, thereby reducing insurance company payouts and ultimately reducing insurance premiums.
In Pennsylvania, insurance companies offer full tort coverage which gives covered individuals the ability to sue in court for all damages, and limited tort coverage which “limits” the ability to sue only for economic damages and not for pain and suffering.
Limited tort coverage is less expensive, so it is appealing to consumers as a way to save on their insurance premiums. However, limited tort only saves people approximately 15% in premiums annually. By choosing limited tort, people give up the ability to sue for “pain and suffering” unless the injuries suffered are considered a “serious injury” as that term in defined in the standard automobile insurance policy in Pennsylvania or another exception applies. “Serious injury” is defined as “a personal injury resulting in death, serious impairment of a bodily function or permanent serious disfigurement.” As a result, most consumers who elect “limited tort” believing it is reasonable to only make a claim for “pain and suffering” if their injury is serious, do not realize that most insurance companies do not consider even permanent injuries to be “serious injuries” if the consumer is not dead, disfigured or crippled. For example, insurance carriers will deny claim for “pain and suffering” where the injured victim has suffered a herniated disc or even broken bones. Moreover, many of the big insurance companies have blanket policies to deny all “limited tort” claims regardless of the type of injury.
The personal injury attorneys at Rankin & Gregory have plenty of experience in handling both full tort and limited tort cases.