Question: What is "full tort" and "limited tort" and what is the difference between the two?
Answer provided by Jimmy C. Chong, Esq. from the Chong Law Firm:
As a personal injury attorney, when I ask a potential client who has been in a car accident if he or she has full tort or limited tort coverage, the response I receive most often is: "I have full coverage." There is a huge difference between full tort and full coverage, which I will briefly explain below.
Full coverage typically refers to whether you have liability coverage and collision coverage. If you do not have full coverage, you have liability coverage because it is required by law. This will cover you if you cause a motor vehicle collision. In other words, if you are negligent and cause an accident, your insurance will pay the damages of the injured party to the extent of the injury or policy limits. Collision coverage is different in that this coverage will pay for repairs or replacement of your vehicle if it is damaged in a collision with another vehicle or object. There is also comprehensive coverage, which covers repairs or replacement for a stolen car or damage caused by hail, vandalism or anything that is not a collision.
Full tort and limited tort, however, are different. The above-mentioned coverage will protect your vehicle but full tort will protect yourself when in a motor vehicle collision. When a person purchases insurance, he/she automatically has full tort coverage but can elect limited tort coverage for a lower premium and is required to sign a waiver stating that he/she is selecting limited tort coverage. Essentially by electing limited tort, that person is giving up his/her right to sue for personal injury damages unless the injuries are severe and meet the limited tort threshold when injured in a motor vehicle collision resulting from another person's negligence. This means that the injured person's injuries must be serious or permanent which include "death, significant deformity or impairment of a body function." This is a very high threshold to meet, and thus many individuals who carry limited tort coverage cannot recover injury for his/her personal injuries, even when it is clear the other driver was at fault. The only recovery a limited tort individual can recover are economical injuries such as medical bills and lost wages but no "pain and suffering". In other words, if you have limited tort coverage and you are injured due to another's negligence but that injury is not a "serious injury" (even if you have months of physical therapy or chiropractic treatment) you may not recovery a penny for pain and suffering.
More about this Montgomery Bar Association member-panelist (bio provided by this attorney prior to publication):
Jimmy Chong is a solo practitioner who is admitted to the bars of Pennsylvania, Delaware and New Jersey and in the District Courts of Washington DC, Delaware, and the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. He has offices in Wilmington, DE, Lansdale, PA and Philadelphia, PA. He focuses his practice on personal injury law but has handled a variety of other types of law including business transactions, landlord tenant law, contract law and criminal law. Mr. Chong has been rated by Super Lawyers, the National Trial Lawyers Association and the National Association of Distinguished Counsel. He is presently a member of the Board of Directors at Penn Asian Senior Services and has served as a member of the Board of Directors and Chairman for the Korean American Association of Greater Philadelphia. He has acted as general counsel for the Korean American Grocers Association of Philadelphia. He earned his JD from Widener University School of Law which is presently known as Delaware Law School. He earned is BS in Business Management and BA in Economics from Bucknell University while earning the Bucknell Scholarship all four years he attended the university. He was born and raised in the State of Delaware but now resides with his family in Montgomery County, PA.
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