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Limited Tort – A Bad Deal

By Joyce Novotny-Prettiman, Esq.

Lower car insurance premiums may sound like a good idea. Statistics show that over 40 percent of car insurance consumers are opting for “limited tort” coverage in western Pennsylvania; however, as the saying goes, there is no such thing as a free lunch. While it is true that you may save money if you select limited tort, you should realize what you are giving up by choosing limited tort rather than full tort coverage.

What does a personal injury claim involve? First of all, it is not designed to make you rich. In fact, the law does not permit this to happen; the law attempts to get you back to where you were before the accident happened – to make you “whole” again. A lawsuit generally allows recovery for pain and suffering, the loss of life’s pleasures, lost wages and unpaid medical bills. How much is this process affected by limited tort? Drastically!

Limited tort is a choice you make that limits your legal options after an auto accident. Limited tort prevents you from collecting for the inconvenience, stress, discomfort, and pain and suffering caused when you are injured in a car wreck. For example, with limited tort, where a motorist has run a red light and crashed into the side of your vehicle, and you have been absolutely without fault, you may not receive any compensation for months or even years of lingering injuries, inconvenience and stress.

The most common scenario we see is where someone has limited tort coverage and the question is whether a body function is seriously impaired. While this sounds simple, statistics show that judges and juries have ruled against limited tort claimants in most cases where the question has been submitted. The following are two actual cases where injuries were determined NOT to be serious enough to move a person past the limited tort selection:

  • Arthroscopic knee surgery, three months of physical therapy, reduced range of motion, pain on walking and standing for long periods, and one month of missed work
  • Broken collarbone and wrist, lacerations and bruises, but all lifting restrictions removed six weeks post accident

So many of our clients who have lost months out of their lives due to injuries and have continuing health problems because of injuries they sustained in a car accident say to us, “That is not how I thought limited tort worked. I did not understand what I was giving up when I chose limited tort.” The few hundred dollars per year you save on limited tort now may prevent you from recovering thousands of dollars later for a lingering lifestyle-changing injury.

Moral of the story: Always choose full tort; never agree to limited tort coverage. If you choose limited tort, we may not be able to help you or your loved ones make a claim for anything beyond economic losses.

At QuatriniRafferty, we can help you with questions about your auto insurance coverage. To review your auto insurance coverage or inquire about a car accident, please email a Pennsylvania car insurance attorney today, or call us at 724-837-0080 in Greensburg or toll free at 888-534-6016.

For more information on Pennsylvania auto insurance, please visit our Car Accidents Information Page.

For more information on auto accidents, please visit our Motor Vehicle Accident Information Center.

Related articles on Pennsylvania auto insurance & auto accidents:

Flexible Insurance Coverage

Beware – All Registered Vehicles Must Be Insured

Required Auto Coverage