Ask An Attorney: Selecting Automobile Insurance

In Pennsylvania, the area of automobile insurance is defined by the Pennsylvania Motor Vehicle Financial Responsibility Law. This goal of this law was to have all drivers in the state covered by automobile insurance while also keeping the costs of insurance low to aid consumers. In order to contain costs, consumers are allowed to choose the type of damages that they can pursue against other drivers who cause harm through their actions. This choice is called the “full tort election.”

The full tort election is a very important decision made by consumers when they purchase automobile insurance. Automobile insurance companies must allow consumers to choose between a full tort option or a limited tort option. In short, if a consumer chooses the full tort option, then that party will be allowed to pursue non-economic damages against another driver without having to establish that they have suffered a serious injury. Non-economic damages are comprised mainly of pain and suffering damages. While the full tort option is slightly more costly then the limited tort option, it does allow an injured party to pursue litigation against other drivers much more easily.

Many consumers choose to purchase the limited tort option when buying automobile insurance because it is cheaper then the full tort option. This is not a wise choice. If a person has the limited tort option, then they can not sue for non-economic damages, namely pain and suffering, unless they establish that they have a serious injury. According to Pennsylvania law, it is not easy to prove a serious injury. A serious injury can be shown through many factors including, missing an extended period of work, numerous surgeries, permanent scarring, permanent disability, and etc. These hurdles are not easy to overcome and they often preclude a legitimately injured party from pursuing a claim for all of the damages that they have sustained. As such, Northsiders should definitely choose the full tort option to better protect themselves and their families.

If you have any issues that you would like discussed in the next issue of the Northside Chronicle, please click here to contact Matthew Gailey through our website or give me a call at (412)223-6712.

Originally published in “The Northside Chronicle,”  April 2017 edition.

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