Most automobile owners understand that they are required by law to purchase some type of insurance to help cover any accidents that they cause. What drivers may not understand, however, is that the type of insurance they purchase may limit the amount they can recover in a lawsuit over an accident - even if it was caused by someone else! This counterintuitive principle is described in the insurance industry as “limited versus full tort.” 

“Tort” is a legal term, describing a harm done to a person that gives the victim the right to recover their damages. When a person has suffered serious bodily injury, for example in a car accident, the law gives the injured party the right to sue not only for the cost of their medical and auto bills, but also for their pain and suffering endured after the injury. 

This is where the principles of limited and full tort come into play. When a person purchases insurance, they are given the option of buying either “full” or “limited” tort coverage. The limited coverage, of course, is slightly cheaper. The catch, however, is that a person with limited tort may not sue to recover for their pain and suffering, even if the accident was completely caused by someone else, unless they suffer a “serious injury” as that term is defined by the law. The law states that“serious injury” is death, serious impairment of a body function or permanent serious disfigurement. 

In other words, the driver who caused the accident wouldactually be protected by the injured driver’s decision not to purchase full tort coverage. If you have “limited tort”, you may still recover for unpaid medical bills, property damage and lost wages. But, even if a person is disabled because ofan accident, it still may not be considered a “serious injury” that would enable the insured to pursue a claim for pain and suffering.

There is no question that everyone works hard to keep all their fixed costs as low as possible, and purchasing limited tort coverage may appear to be an attractive way to save money on car insurance. The money a person saves, however, is unlikely to be enough to protect them in the event they are seriously injured in a car accident and cannot sue for pain and suffering. Therefore, it is advisable to make every effort to purchase full tort automobile insurance, thus protecting you and your family from the damage of serious accidents in the future. 

 If you or anyone you know has been in an automobile accident and could benefit from compassionate yet zealous representation, then contact the Mizner Law Firm at (814) 454-3889 or by email at