Limited Tort Horror Stories

patient with crutches in a hospital

With Limited Tort, You're Risking More than You Know

To nearly everyone we speak with, we constantly emphasize the importance of choosing full tort coverage on your car insurance policy. We've been working with injured clients for a long time – over 35 years – and we've heard too many sad tales about car accident victims being denied payment for their pain and suffering.

For a minor increase to your monthly premium, you can make sure you and your loved ones are protected. Choosing full tort can make a world of difference – keeping your car accident from turning into a total nightmare. Check out the following stories to understand what you might be giving up with limited tort.

A Single Mother Couldn't Collect for Pain and Suffering

A young mother called our office after a particularly bad car accident. She had been injured and was unable to work, but the insurance company wouldn't pay for her bills. They told her that the injuries she sustained weren't "serious" enough. Because she chose limited tort, there was no legal action we could take to recover money for her pain and suffering.

With tears in her eyes, she explained her situation. She was a single mother, hard working and determined, and had to provide for her child. With the car accident and subsequent injury, she was unable to recover anything for her pain and suffering, because her limited tort coverage prevented her from getting the money she needed.

Saving a Few Bucks Just Isn't Worth It

A gentleman called our law firm after his accident. He was the cousin to a local judge and grew up in a family of lawyers and doctors. He'd selected limited tort on his car insurance policy and was furious that he couldn't collect money for his pain and suffering.

The woman who hit him had selected full tort, and he believed that her insurance should pay for his pain and suffering. Since Pennsylvania is a state that recognizes "first party benefits" – in other words, your own insurance pays for your pain and suffering – there was nothing legally we could do for him.

He asked us to use his accident as a "test case" to overcome the tort option. Unfortunately, the law is clear, and we were unable to take his case. We asked him why, with so many family members practicing law, he chose limited tort for his policy. He simply responded, "Because it saves money."

He Never Knew the Difference

After his insurance agent assured him he'd be able to sue for "serious" injuries, this man chose limited tort because he didn't know the difference. When he called our law firm, he explained that he was injured in a car accident.

We told him that his injury would have to be deemed "serious," and – more often than not – this was difficult to prove. He was very upset, saying that had he known, he would have chosen full tort. He couldn't recover any money for his pain and suffering, and he was forced to miss work for several months.

A 9-Year-Old Accident Victim Can't Collect Compensation

A mother called us about an auto accident involving her 9-year-old son. While the woman was unharmed in the accident, her son had suffered injuries. The accident had happened two months prior, and he was still experiencing neck and back pain. The doctors weren't able to identify what the exact injury was and were simply medicating his symptoms.

When we asked her what type of tort option she had selected for her car insurance policy, she quietly admitted that she had limited tort. "Why should it matter," she asked. "He's just a child. He can't even drive." Unfortunately, her son was unable to recover money for his pain and suffering.

Limited tort applies to everyone on your policy, including your children. Under law, her son is considered a "resident relative," who is defined as a blood relative, legally adopted child, or anyone insured on the policy and living within the same house.

Get Your Questions Answered – It's One Click…That Quick!®

For more information on the difference between limited and full tort options, visit our Full Tort vs. Limited Tort webpage. It'll help define what's covered and which option is best for you.

Don't forget, you can change your policy at any time – but it's too late to help if you wait until after an accident. To change your policy, it's as easy as picking up the phone and calling your insurance agent.

If you're still curious about Pennsylvania car insurance, visit our recommended car insurance coverage page.

This guide is not a complete summary of the Pennsylvania Auto Insurance Law. It is designed to highlight certain important features of this law and should not be considered legal advice. Everyone has different insurance needs. If you have any questions concerning your coverage, please contact your insurance company representative.