When purchasing auto insurance, many consumers do not know what different coverages they need to protect themselves nor do they understand what benefits their policy can provide to them if they are injured in an accident. At a minimum, all drivers should be aware of the difference between “full tort” coverage and “limited tort” coverage.
A motorist who selects “full tort” coverage retains the right to recover economic (reimbursement for medical expenses and lost wages) and non-economic damages (pain and suffering) for injuries suffered in an accident against the driver who caused an accident (or his insurance company). In contrast, subject to some exceptions that are beyond the scope of this article, a person who chooses “limited tort” coverage waives his/her right to recover non-economic damages (pain and suffering) for injuries suffered in an accident.
Most people do not think about the tort option they have selected on their auto insurance policy until after an accident occurs. However, by that time it is too late. You can not retroactively change your tort selection on your auto policy. If you are injured in an auto accident and you have “limited tort” coverage in effect, you will not be able to recover any damages for the pain and suffering you endure against the driver who is at fault for causing the accident (or his insurance company).
The cost difference in policy premiums between “full tort” and “limited tort” is usually not very substantial. Based on statistics regarding auto accidents, all drivers are exposed to a very real risk of being involved in and injured in a car accident. Therefore, in order to protect yourself to ensure that you can recover damages for all of the injuries you may suffer in an auto accident, you should check your auto policy coverages today. If you do not currently have “full tort” coverage, call your insurance agent and instruct him/her to switch your coverage to “full tort” immediately. It may be the smartest money you ever spent.
By: John P. Finnerty, Esq.