Full vs. Limited Tort & Your Right to Sue After a Car Accident

You’re injured in a car accident and the other driver is at fault. Can you sue for injuries as well as pain and suffering? That answer, as explained recently in an article in Forbes Advisor, depends upon two things: (1) where you live and (2) whether you have full or limited tort insurance.

Torts are a legal term, describing an instance where an action caused harm against another person. A car accident where one driver injures another is an example of a tort.

Torts in Pennsylvania

In America, there are 38 “tort states.” That means the driver who is at fault will pay for the damages and injuries to others, including vehicle damage, medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering. Typically, this happens through that driver’s car insurance.

Pennsylvania is what is known as a “no-fault state.” That means a driver who was injured or had a vehicle damaged in an accident would submit a claim to their own insurance company to cover medical expenses and vehicle repairs. Additionally, those drivers may be able to sue the at-fault driver, depending upon the type of tort insurance that they selected.

Full tort versus limited tort insurance.

  • Full tort insurance means that you have no restrictions against suing the other person. You can sue for injuries as well as prolonged discomfort, anxiety and pain and suffering.
  • Limited tort insurance costs less, but also restricts your ability to sue. With limited tort, you cannot sue for pain and suffering. You can only sue for severe issues, such as the loss of limb, permanent disfigurement, an injury that prevents you from working, or serious impairment. You also may sue if medical bills reach a certain dollar amount.

There are exceptions where you can sue even if you have limited tort insurance. For example, you can sue if you’re hit by an at-fault driver who is (a) convicted of DUI, (b) driving without insurance, (c) operating a car registered in another state, or (d) intending to injure themselves or others. You also have full tort rights if you are injured as a passenger in a taxi, bus or other commercial vehicle.

Motor vehicle accident injury cases can be complex. Talking to a leading Pennsylvania car accident attorney may help you understand your legal options. Contact us to set up a meeting at no cost to you to learn more.