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Understanding Limited Tort Insurance in Pennsylvania

Posted Scott B. Cooper on Nov 08, 2013 in Car Accidents

Since 1990, the Motor Vehicle Financial Responsibility Law has been the primary legislation governing car insurance in Pennsylvania. The law set up a no-fault insurance system, which means that your own insurance will have the primary responsibility for paying for your losses after any incident.

In order to make sure that everyone is protected against the risks of the road, Pennsylvania law requires that every driver purchase liability insurance coverage. The policy must be worth at least $15,000 for one individual and $30,000 for all individuals hurt in an accident caused by the insured driver.

In addition, any vehicle owner is required to buy at least $5,000 in insurance for first party medical benefits. Those benefits will pay the medical bills for the driver if he is hurt in any car accident—regardless of who may have been at fault.

Given how expensive medical care can be now, the amounts of insurance required by law are quite low. It’s probably in the best interests of most vehicle owners to purchase coverage with a higher payout value, and also to invest in special insurance to cover expenses if they are hurt in an accident caused by an uninsured or an underinsured driver.

But the most important choice a driver and vehicle owner must make is between full tort and limited tort insurance coverage.

A “Torte” Is a Type of Cake. This Is Something Different.

A “tort” is a law-school term for an injury done to someone through the careless behavior of another. When we’re considering car insurance, a tort refers to any of the losses and injuries that result due to the negligent or reckless actions of the person at fault for a Pennsylvania auto accident.

Both full tort and limited tort insurance provide coverage for economic losses after an accident—regardless of who was at fault. If you were in a Pennsylvania auto accident, your own insurance will pay these benefits to you—up to the limits of your policy—for such things as:

  • Medical expenses such as health insurance co-payments and deductible amounts.
  • Any income you lose as a result of missing time from work while recovering.
  • The cost of repairs to your vehicle.
  • The value of personal property that was in the car and damaged in the accident.

Full tort insurance will also provide compensation for non-economic losses; limited tort insurance will not. Pain and suffering is probably the most important category for non-economic losses, but there are many other types of “detriments” that cannot be easily assigned a cash value.

Limited Tort Coverage and Your Ability to Recover From Your Losses

Limited tort insurance doesn’t only alter the automatic benefits you get from your insurance; it also limits your legal options for filing a lawsuit.

If you are covered under a limited tort policy, the insurance adjuster may tell you that you’re not allowed to sue for non-economic damages. That’s not necessarily true. Commonwealth law has carved out several specific exceptions that will allow you to recover non-economic damages even if you have chosen limited tort insurance.

At Schmidt Kramer, our Harrisburg car accident attorneys have secured millions of dollars in settlements and awards on behalf of limited tort clients who were injured due to the negligence of someone else. We know the exceptions that can get out clients the relief they need regardless of their insurance choice 10 or 20 years earlier.

If you want the advantage of Schmidt Kramer looking out for your interests, call us today at 717-888-8888 or 888-476-0807 to schedule a free, confidential case review and to order a free copy of our essential brochure, Who Pays the Bills When You Are Injured in an Automobile Accident?