Features of the “limited tort” option are that you basically forfeit your right to sue for pain and suffering, loss of life's pleasures, embarrassment, inconvenience, and all other types of non-economic damages unless you suffer a “serious injury.” Of course, “serious injury” is an injury which causes death, serious impairment of a body function,or permanent serious disfigurement.
Keep in mind that courts and juries in Pennsylvania have said that the following are not considered “serious impairment of body function”:
1. Two fractures in the left foot (Lalena v. Murray, CCP Berks, Dec. 21, 1995.
2. A compression fracture of the lumbar spine (Kennedy v. Beckley, Pa. Super, No. 02335, Phila., 1994).
3. A fractured skull (Davies v. Roshong C.P. Bucks, September 4, 1996).
When you choose limited or full tort, you bind or commit all those covered underyour insurance policy (e.g. your spouse and your children).
Even if you have chosen limited tort you still retain the right to bring a claim for economic damages, such as unreimbursed earnings and unpaid medical bills.
If you choose the “full tort” option you retain all rights to sue for all of the non-economic damages which include pain and suffering, etc. in all cases. You also provide maximum protection for you and all those bound by your selection of a tort option (e.g. your spouse, your children, and in some cases, passengers in your car) against a negligent, uninsured or underinsured driver.
How do you decide if the cost savings will justify the selection of limited tort?
You can do a comparison of insurance premiums fairly easily utilizing Progressive Insurance's computerized analysis which allegedly shows the least expensive premiums. To do so, you must get online and enter the coverages from your current declaration page to see what the three least expensive premiums would be according to Progressive Insurance in your location. If it is any indication of how insurance company employees really feel about the limited tort option, you should know that I am not acquainted with any insurance adjuster since the beginning of my practice who has selected limited tort on their own policy. If employees of the insurance companies are usually choosing the full tort option and paying extra money for it, you know they think it is worthwhile. I can tell you from many years of law practice that I have never consulted with any limited tort insured who was pleased to have selected limited tort once an accident has actually occurred. Don't be a “hindsight as 20/20 of insurance customer.” Realize that there is a fairly good likelihood that at some point you will be in an accident and you don't want to sacrifice your rights.
For more information on Car Accidents visit the Worthington Law Group website.