Unfortunately there is no right answer to the question of Full vs. Limited Tort. Like many items, services, and investments you purchase, it is a matter of how much discretionary money you want to spend and what your tolerance for risk is. The best way to decide what and how much auto insurance to purchase is to understand exactly what the options mean and how they protect you and your family. A commonly under-valued insurance choice is the Full Tort Election.
While your insurance premiums may be lower, rejecting Full Tort and selecting Limited Tort significantly limits your and your family members’ rights if one of you is injured in an accident that is another driver’s fault. If you elect limited tort, you must prove you suffered “a serious injury” before you will be compensated for pain, suffering or other non-economic damages. Serious injury is defined by the Pennsylvania Motor Vehicle Financial Responsibility Law as “death, serious impairment of body function or permanent serious disfigurement.” A common mistake in selecting the Limited Tort Election is appreciating how serious an injury must be before you recover for the pain and suffering caused by the injury. Examples of some injuries Bucks County courts have found NOT to be serious include: torn meniscus (knee cartilage) requiring arthroscopic surgery; fractured skull with five-day hospitalization; and tibia (leg) fracture with a several month recovery period. Virtually all knowledgeable legal professionals agree that the premiums saved in electing the limited tort option are not worth the rights you give up. If you can afford it at all, select the Full Tort Election.
There are similar risks to consider when electing other auto insurance coverages including but not limited to First Party Medical Limits, First Party Wage Loss Coverage, Underinsured Motorist and Uninsured Motorist Coverages, Liability for Bodily Injuries, and Liability for Property Damage. It is important to carefully discuss your options with a knowledgeable professional who thoroughly understands the various coverages and who clearly explains what you are really buying (or perhaps more importantly giving up) in making your selections.