PA Tort Laws: Limited versus Full

Michael L. Saile, Jr.
Car Accident Attorney in Bucks County Pennsylvania

When drivers purchase auto insurance in Pennsylvania, it involves a few important decisions.  Bucks County personal injury lawyer Michael L. Saile, Jr. explains that in addition to your coverage limits, you must opt for either limited tort or full tort. You might think you are saving money by choosing the less expensive limited tort option over the full tort option, but in the end, that decision could cost you more money. There are significant differences between the limited and full tort options, so it is important to be fully informed on both laws.



The Realities of Limited Tort

In Pennsylvania, state law says that with a limited tort auto insurance policy, you basically give up the right to sue for pain and suffering you've endured due to an accident caused by another driver. This means that if you or anyone in your family suffers an injury as a result of a PA car accident, the only thing you can sue for is compensation as it pertains to medical bills, loss of wages, or anything else that has tangible value.  The only time someone with a limited tort option can sue for anything other than monetary damages is when they are considered "seriously" injured.  PA state law defines being seriously injured as:

  • having a permanent disability,
  • having permanent disfigurement or
  • death.

Because many consumers view insurance premiums as a nuisance expense, the lower price of the limited tort option may seem attractive to drivers buying auto insurance in Pennsylvania. However, you may end up regretting your decision to forfeit your right to sue if you or a family member are seriously injured in a Bucks County auto accident.



There are Exceptions

As noted above an insured motorist carrying limited tort can often recover for damages if they are deemed seriously injured. There are six other exceptions to the limited tort law as well:


  • If you were driving a motorcycle at the time of injury.
  • If you were a pedestrian at the time of injury.
  • If you were a passenger in a commercial vehicle at the time of injury.
  • If the driver responsible for the accident has been convicted of drunk driving (DUI).
  • If the driver responsible for the accident was driving a vehicle not registered in the state of Pennsylvania.
  • If you suffered injuries that hinder a significant bodily function.



Full Tort Advantage

Pennsylvania's full tort option has no limitations on what you can sue for after an accident. Some of the non-economic damages you can sue for when you have full tort include:


  • Pain and suffering
  • Physical disability - (the degree of disability is not stipulated by law)
  • Emotional damage
  • Loss of lifestyle and enjoyment of life

Keep in mind, though, that while you have the right to file suit for all of these damages, it does not mean you will be awarded the damages.


The Benefits of Talking to an Injury Lawyer


All PA accident victims - regardless of whether you have limited tort or full tort - are encouraged to contact a local injury lawyer to discuss filing a claim for any and all damages you may be entitled to. Do not assume you have no recourse just because you have limited tort.  While a full tort policy provides you with greater protection and more rights, an experienced car accident lawyer will explore every avenue, including any exceptions that may be applicable in your case, then work with the injurance company to secure you the best settlement possible in your injury claim.  The Bucks County personal injury lawyers at Saile & Saile LLP know that the options of full tort and limited tort can be confusing. For more understanding of the issue, visit our informative website or call us today at 215-860-5800.