What is Tort Insurance?

Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison

The term tort insurance is frequently used to describe a type of auto insurance that people may purchase in some jurisdictions. Tort laws cover civil wrongdoings that result in the harm of another person. Tort auto insurance provides coverage in the event that a person injures or kills another party in a vehicle accident. Many jurisdictions have limited tort insurance, which limits the types of injuries for which the holder of the insurance can sue; other areas have full tort insurance, which does not include such limitations. There are, however, many jurisdictions that do not have limited or full tort insurance; such places are often referred to as no-fault jurisdictions.

Tort insurance covers injury to another person in an accident.
Tort insurance covers injury to another person in an accident.

Tort insurance provides coverage in the event that the holder is sued for injuring or causing the death of another party. With tort auto insurance, a person who is in a car accident may sue the party who caused the accident for medical expenses as well as other damages. In some cases, the at-fault party may even be responsible for compensating the injured party for pain and suffering.

In jurisdictions that have tort auto insurance, there are usually two types a person may obtain: full tort and limited tort. Full tort insurance is basically coverage that pays claims for damages and injuries caused by the at-fault party in an accident. It may cover the injured person’s medical bills as well as lost wages. With full tort insurance, the at-fault party may even be liable for the injured party’s pain and suffering.

As the name implies, limited tort auto insurance limits the holder's right to sue in the event of a car accident. While the holder of this type of insurance may have his medical bills covered, he is usually prohibited from suing the at-fault party for pain and suffering. Additionally, this restriction remains in place regardless of whether or not he is the driver of the car — limited tort insurance limits a person’s right to sue even if he is a passenger in someone else’s car. It may even limit the person’s right to sue on behalf of his children.

There are some exceptions to the lawsuit restrictions placed on those with limited tort auto insurance. In the case of an extreme injury, a person may retain his right to sue for pain and suffering. For example, if a person loses a limb or suffers severe scarring as the result of an accident, he may be able to sue for pain and suffering despite having limited tort insurance. Other exceptions may apply as well.

Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison

Nicole’s thirst for knowledge inspired her to become a wiseGEEK writer, and she focuses primarily on topics such as homeschooling, parenting, health, science, and business. When not writing or spending time with her four children, Nicole enjoys reading, camping, and going to the beach.

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