When you are purchasing motor vehicle insurance, the insurance carrier should offer you the choice between the full tort option (known as zero threshold option in New Jersey) and the limited tort option (known as the verbal threshold in New Jersey). There is a much bigger difference between the two options than just a larger annual premium when you select the full tort option.
The limited tort option is the cheaper choice and people often take this option based on that face alone However, in the event you are involved in a motor vehicle accident and suffer an injury, the limited tort option, in both Pennsylvania and New Jersey, only allows you to sue for and recover money for your economic damages, such as out-of-pocket expenses for medical bills and property damage or to recover money for lost wages due to time lost from work as a result of your injury. With the limited tort option, if you are injured in an accident that was not your fault, you are unableto make a claim for pain and suffering unless you are able to overcome a statutory threshold. In Pennsylvania, you must prove you have suffered a "serious" injury, but the term "serious" is loosely defined and difficult to establish. Pain alone will not overcome the threshold. The injury must affect your life in a very significant manner. In New Jersey, you must prove that you have suffered a permanent injury, which may be established with the certification of one of your treating physicians, but many doctors are reluctant to certify a person is permanently injured. Furthermore, the physician's certification does not guarantee you will recover for your pain and suffering. The problem with the limited tort option is a vast number of the most painful injuries suffered in a motor vehicle accident involve soft tissue injuries, such as spinal disc protrusions and herniations. Most individuals with these injuries are unable to recover for their intense and long endured pain.
The full tort option allows you to recover for your economic damages along with your pain and suffering, provided you are not at fault for the accident. There are no thresholds to overcome with regards to the severity of your injury.
Now that you understand the basic differences between limited tort and full tort coverage, besides just their price difference of your monthly premium, be sure to weigh the options carefully. A dollar saved now may leave you in an unenviable situation later.
If you would like more information regarding your motor vehicle insurance coverage, call Winegar, Wilhelm, Glynn & Roemersma, P.C. now and a qualified attorney will be glad to discuss the basics related to auto insurance coverage. Additionally, if you have suffered personal injuries as a result of a motor vehicle accident, call our office now at (908) 454-3200 and an attorney will outline your rights under the law and evaluate your potential claim(s).
The foregoing is a general discussion of the law and is not intended to be construed as legal advice. If you have a specific question, please contact our office to speak with an attorney.