When you purchase auto insurance in the state of Pennsylvania, you are given the option to select either full tort or limited tort on your policy. When presented with this decision, many people are inclined to choose the limited tort option because it translates into a cheaper premium. However, a staggering number of individuals don’t realize how their tort selection affects their rights if they get into an accident.
Full tort preserves your right to bring a claim for pain and suffering if you are injured in a car crash. There are no limits to what you may bring suit for, whether it be simple whiplash or a more complex nerve injury.
Selecting limited tort on your policy does just what it sounds like – it limits your right to sue for pain and suffering. There are a few exceptions to the limited tort option, but generally, if you have limited tort you will not be able to bring a claim for pain and suffering unless you are “seriously injured.” Pennsylvania cases are harsh in their definition of serious injuries; sometimes, not even multiple broken bones will get you over the limited tort barrier.
The tort option you select is also binding to all of your resident relatives. Although the definition of “resident relative” varies by the language in your automobile policy, it generally refers to any person related to you by blood, marriage, or adoption and living in the same household. This includes your spouse, children, grandchildren, aunts, uncles, and cousins. Your tort option follows your resident relatives everywhere they go – whether they are driving your vehicle, a passenger in your vehicle, or even if they are a passenger in a friend’s vehicle.
As Harrisburgpersonal injury lawyers, we often hear from injured people that we can’t help. Unfortunately, it is because they had selected limited tort. The tort option applicable to your policy at the time of your accident is the tort option that will apply to your case. If you do not have full tort at the time of an accident, you cannot change your policy to full tort and have it apply retroactively to the accident.
It is important to select full tort on your auto insurance policy so that you can retain your right to bring a claim against any responsible parties if you are injured in a car crash. If you have limited tort, we strongly urge you to contact your insurance agent and request to change it to full tort.