When you’re shopping around for a car insurance policy that fits your lifestyle and your budget, there are a lot of different coverage options that can impact your decision-making. Though many of the available options may seem like unnecessary costs upfront, your choices can have serious consequences if you get into an auto accident down the line.
Tort policies can seem complex initially, but understanding how they’re used and what they cover is essential for ensuring you’re appropriately compensated in the event of a car accident. In this post, Erie Injury lays out everything you need to know about full and limited tort policies.
Understanding Tort Law and Coverages
Before you can decide what type of car insurance policy is best for you, it’s critical to understand the basics of tort law. Tort law is the legislation that protects and compensates people who have been injured by an act of negligence, recklessness, or intentional wrongdoing. It also covers those who have been harmed by unsafe or defective products.
A tort, then, is an act or omission that causes injury or harm to another person or persons in a way that suggests some amount of liability. Typically, torts are separated into three distinct categories:
- Intentional torts: suggests purposeful wrongdoing that causes harm or injury to a person or their property
- Negligent torts: harm caused by a failure to follow rules and procedures that have been put in place to prevent or reduce instances of injury
- Strict liability torts: direct harm caused by the use of a defective or malfunctioning product
Tort insurance is a popular system of auto coverage and spans 38 states, including Pennsylvania. Within this system, at-fault drivers are responsible for paying damages and medical costs for the other party via their liability coverage. Depending on the policy, damages covered under tort law can include:
- Vehicle damage
- Lost wages
- Medical bills
- Pain and suffering
- Potential future costs
Tort policies run counter to the no-fault system, which requires drivers to purchase insurance for themselves and any passengers in the car. Additionally, drivers who carry no-fault policies must hold liability coverage for any damages done to other drivers, their passengers, or vehicles.
What is Full Tort Coverage?
In Pennsylvania, full tort coverage means that, if injured in an accident, you can sue the at-fault driver for all damages, including non-monetary ones. Typically, full tort comes with the additional option to sue for pain and suffering.
Of course, extended coverage means a slightly higher monthly premium, but not by much. With a six-month policy, full tort ranges from an additional $80 – $115 spread over the course of that period. That said, the monthly difference in cost is actually just a few dollars.
Though it can seem enticing to forgo full tort coverage in favor of a lower monthly premium, you could be missing out on tens of thousands of dollars in the case of a serious car accident.
How is ‘Pain and Suffering’ Calculated?
Pain and suffering—the legal term for physical and emotional stress caused by an injury—is calculated by a lawyer after an accident to ensure fair compensation. There are two main ways to calculate pain and suffering; the multiple method and the per diem method.
- Multiple method: After all medical bills are finalized, the total dollar amount is multiplied by a factor of 1.5-5. This range leaves space to account for the nuances of the accident, including the degree to which the other party was at fault, severity of injuries, and more.
- Per diem method: This kind of calculation assigns a dollar amount to each day a person is injured and multiples that amount by the number of days the injuries persist.
In these instances, having a lawyer work through your case is essential for ensuring fair coverage. Insurance companies will work hard to deny pain and suffering compensation, so having a seasoned professional by your side can help make sure you don’t fall victim to an unfair payout.
What is Limited Tort Coverage?
Limited tort coverage generally does not allow an injured person to sue for pain and suffering. Instead, drivers can only sue for pain and suffering if the sustained injuries or harm were severe. Some examples of when limited tort would likely cover pain and suffering include:
- Permanent disfigurement
- Serious impairment of bodily function(s)
Essentially, limited tort only covers money lost as a direct result of the accident. In this situation, both parties’ legal teams and insurance companies diligently track funds to come up with the exact repayment plan. Settlements typically result in an exchange of exact dollar amounts relative to any medical bills or vehicle damages.
Which Option is Best for Me?
Though it may be tempting to opt for limited tort coverage and save yourself a few dollars on your monthly auto insurance premium, you could be losing out on tens of thousands of dollars (if not more) in the long run.
Full tort coverage is the only way to ensure you are compensated at the highest possible amount in the event of a car accident. Particularly, if you care for any dependents, are the primary source of income in your household, or undergo serious emotional damages as a result of an accident, full tort coverage can ensure that you are adequately paid to relieve some of the undue burdens.
Consult a Tort Lawyer Today
If you’ve been injured in an accident, contact a lawyer immediately to better understand your policy coverage and what options are available to you. Hiring a trusted professional will not only give you the peace of mind that the compensation you’ll receive is fair, but it will give you the freedom to focus on healing while we handle your case.