In Pennsylvania, you have two options for auto insurance. You may choose full tort or limited tort insurance coverage.
According to the Pennsylvania General Assembly, limited tort coverage restricts your ability to sue after an auto accident to only economic losses. Full tort coverage, on the other hand, allows you to sue for economic and non-economic losses. If you fail to make a choice after the deadline for your policy, then your default will be limited tort coverage.
Economic vs. non-economic
Economic losses include all the damage to your vehicle and expenses related to your physical injuries from an accident. You can claim medical bills, repair bills and lost wages. All out-of-pocket expenses you incurred due to the accident fall under this category. Anything you can come up with a direct dollar amount for is an economic loss.
Non-economic losses would include pain and suffering. There is no direct dollar amount you can attribute to this type of injury, so it is largely up to the court to decide.
You may gain full tort rights in circumstances where there is a serious injury or if there are other circumstances present. The law allows full rights if the other person did not have auto insurance, was driving under the influence of a controlled substance, was driving an out-of-state vehicle or caused the accident with the intention to hurt him or herself or others. You also have full tort rights if the accident results from a defect in your motor vehicle for which the manufacturer or seller is liable. Lastly, if you are riding in a commercial vehicle, you retain the full tort rights.