Full Tort vs. Limited Tort Coverage

The type of insurance you have could affect your claim after a car accident resulting in injury. In Pennsylvania, there are two types of auto insurance. These are full tort and limited tort coverage.

In this article, we will cover what a tort is and the differences between full and limited tort coverage.

Full tort coverage is always preferable. But, limited tort coverage is not as limiting as you might expect. Even if you can only afford limited tort coverage, do not assume that your case is worth less than it is.

What is a Tort in Personal Injury?


A tort is a legal term that means an act that causes injury or damage. For example, if you were rear-ended and suffered a spinal injury as a result, that act would be a tort.

Almost any time someone causes an injury to another person, there is a tort. You also may have heard the term “intentional tort” before. This is when the harm is intentional rather than the injury resulting from an accident.

If another motorist crashes into your car in a fit of road rage, that could be an intentional tort. But, regardless of what kind of tort has injured you, your auto insurance should have you covered.

The only question is: How covered are you?

What Is Full Tort Coverage?

Full tort coverage allows you to sue for both economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages include medical bills and lost wages. Non-economic damages include pain and suffering.

Some injuries can have life-changing effects. Your home or vehicle may need modifications to fit your new lifestyle. Your relationship with your spouse and family may never be as it once was. And you may not be able to enjoy the same activities you once did.

With full tort coverage, you can seek compensation for these impacts on your life. While it is the more expensive option, it is worth the price if you get injured in a car accident.

Many car accident injuries do not reveal how serious they are until weeks, months, or even years later. What seemed like a minor back injury at the time can develop into something much worse with time. Full tort coverage is a form of long-term financial protection.

What Is Limited Tort Coverage?

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Limited tort coverage only allows you to sue for economic damages. These are your medical bills and lost wages. That means, generally, you are unable to seek compensation for pain and suffering.

Restricting your pain and suffering compensation might not sound so bad at first. But, this is often where long-term compensation comes from. Being injured is expensive. You don’t want to limit your available compensation if you can help it.

Of course, some people choose limited tort coverage because it is what they can afford. If this describes your situation, you may be wondering if you have any other options.

The good news is that even with limited tort coverage, all hope is not lost. There are exceptions to limited tort coverage. In some circumstances, you may still be able to seek damages for pain and suffering.

Exceptions to Limited Tort

There are 7 major categories that exceptions to limited tort coverage fall under. With all these exceptions, pain and suffering damages may still be within reach. This is why you should never give up before talking to a lawyer about your case.

1. Product Liability: Was the crash or your injury caused by a defective product? If so, you may have a product liability case, which could bypass your limited tort coverage.

Liquor Liability

2. Drunk Driver: Was the crash caused by a drunk driver? If so, you could be able to seek pain and suffering compensation.

3. Uninsured Driver: Was the crash caused by an uninsured driver? This could also allow you to seek pain and suffering damages.

4. Out-of-State Vehicle: Was the vehicle that caused the crash registered outside of Pennsylvania? This is a huge opportunity for victims to seek non-economic damages. Many drivers from Delaware, New Jersey, and Maryland come into Pennsylvania for work.

5. Passengers in Non-Private Passenger Vehicles: What is a private passenger vehicle in Pennsylvania? It is a vehicle with 4 wheels that is not used for commercial purposes. Passengers in non-private passenger vehicles can seek pain & suffering damages after an accident.

This includes injured passengers of:

  • Public transportation
  • Rideshare vehicles (taxis, Uber, Lyft)
  • Rental vehicles
  • Motorcycles

6. Pedestrians and Cyclists: Limited tort coverage does not restrict pedestrians and cyclists. Non-economic damages are available to pedestrians and cyclists injured by motorists.

7. Serious Injury: If your injury is “serious,” then you may be able to claim pain and suffering damages. Courts determine the seriousness of injuries on a case-by-case basis.

Hire an Experienced Pennsylvania Personal Injury Attorney

The type of car insurance you have could affect your personal injury claim after an accident. While full tort coverage allows you to seek non-economic damages, limited tort coverage generally does not.

However, there are 7 major exceptions to the limits placed on claims with limited tort coverage. Even if you do not have full tort coverage, that does not necessarily mean that you cannot sue for pain and suffering.

Contact the personal injury attorneys of Donaghue & Labrum today. Our experienced team of lawyers can help you determine what your options are after a car accident injury.