Often personal injury client’s contact our law firm who believe that they are covered by their full tort selection on their own auto insurance policy only to come to find out that they are bound by the limited tort selection of the driver of the vehicle they were a passenger in. For an in depth understanding of limited tort insurance coverage vs. full tort insurance coverage, please see our free copy of Purchasing Auto Insurance in Pennsylvania on our resource page.
In Pennsylvania, the Motor Vehicle Financial Responsibility Law states that where more than one private passenger auto insurance policy is applicable to an insured and the policies have conflicting tort options, the insured is bound by the tort option of the policy associated with the private passenger motor vehicle in which the insured is an occupant at the time of the accident if he is an insured on that policy and bound by the full tort option otherwise.
This scenario usually occurs when passengers in a car or truck are injured in an auto accident. Let’s look at two examples that have very different outcomes depending on the tort selection of the driver of the vehicle that was involved in the auto accident. In first example, the driver of the car selected full tort coverage. Full tort coverage simply means that an auto accident victim may pursue personal injury damages from the at-fault driver and potentially her own insurance through an underinsured motorist claim. The passenger in the car at the time of the accident selected limited tort coverage on her own car. While stopped at a stop light in State College, the driver and passenger are rear ended by a large truck. Both the driver and the passenger sustain personal injuries in the rear end car accident. Because the driver of the car that the passenger was riding in selected full tort insurance coverage, the passenger in the vehicle under Pennsylvania law is considered full tort. This means that the passenger in spite of selecting limited tort insurance coverage on her own vehicle is considered full tort and may pursue a personal injury claim against the at fault driver of the large truck that rear ended them at the stop light in State College.
Let’s now look at the same set of facts, i.e., driver and her passenger are stopped at a red light in State College and are rear ended by a large truck. In this example we will reverse the auto insurance tort selections, so that the driver of the car now has limited tort insurance coverage and her passenger selected full tort insurance coverage on her personal car. In this example, both the driver and her passenger may not seek personal injury damages in the rear end car accident from the at fault truck driver because the driver selected limited tort insurance coverage. These two examples highlight the importance of having full tort insurance coverage and how selecting limited tort insurance coverage can affect more than just you, it also affects all of your passengers who may be injured in a car accident and may have catastrophic consequences for seriously injured car accident victims.
Understanding the difference between limited tort and full tort insurance coverages often involves complex and confusing areas of the law and we invite you to contact the lawyers at Rehmeyer & Allatt today if you have sustained personal injuries in a car accident for a free case evaluation.