The courts have been revising this definition since 1990 when this option became available. The truth is that it is not clear at all exactly what a serious impairment to a body function is and the definition seems to change from case to case. For that matter, what is a permanent “serious” disfigurement? Is a dark inch-long scar on my arm a serious disfigurement? Maybe not because I am not a fashion model. If the scar is on my face, but it is only ½ inch long and partially hidden by my hair, even this may not be a serious disfigurement! If I have a knee injury requiring surgery, this surely must be considered a serious injury, right? Not necessarily if your job is sedentary and you are a couch potato with no physical hobbies. You can see how difficult it can become to evaluate the “seriousness” of an injury. Why subject yourself to that type of analysis if you don’t have to? By choosing limited tort you subject yourself to the possibility that you will receive no compensation for pain and suffering even though you feel your injury is serious! Limited Tort is a terrible coverage and every cent you pay for full tort is worth it, even within the City limits of Philadelphia where the price differential for full tort is far greater than the suburbs. If you wish to have more information on this coverage, please contact my office. Worthington Law Group will send you a brochure published by the Pennsylvania Association for Justice (previously called the Pennsylvania Trial Lawyers Association) which explains why you need full tort coverage.
Well, what if you selected limited tort before your accident? Will you still have a case? This is something that we would have to evaluate thoroughly. The most important thing that you can do before you call an attorney is to locate your “Declarations Page” from your auto insurance policy. The Declarations Page is the first page of your policy and shows all the insurance coverages and premiums you paid for each in itemized form. Any attorney you speak to will need to see not only the Declarations Page, but eventually the full policy to determine what coverages apply to you. Remember, you are the one who has purchased these coverages on behalf of yourself and any relatives living in your household who do not have individual policies of their own. You make the choice of limited tort or full tort for your spouse, children and any other relative living in your household who does not have a separate insurance policy.
There are several exceptions or “loopholes” to get you out of limited tort, but they only apply in certain limited circumstances. Your specific facts and circumstances will need to be discussed with the attorney, and you will have to provide a copy of your declarations page and insurance policy to evaluate your specific situation. Suffice it to say it is far more complicated under most circumstances if you are a limited tort insured, and this is not a coverage you should select, regardless of the fact that “full tort” coverage is more expensive.
Why would your insurance agent sell you Limited Tort when the company would make more money by selling you Full Tort coverage? They know when you come in to buy your auto policy, you want to pay as little as possible to get the coverages required by law. The last time you bought auto insurance, did you ask the agent to explain at length the significance of the coverages you have selected? Of course not! The explanation is boring and complex and you are busy. Most people say to their agent “just give me the insurance I must have by law and give me the best price”. The agent then shows you a form showing how you will save hundreds of dollars by getting Limited Tort which is perfectly legal and you sign wherever they ask to get the job done. You have your mandatory auto insurance, the agent gets a nice renewable premium every year and everything is great…until you get into an auto accident and find out your insurance is not what you thought.