Stay Protected
Linda Shick, partner in Naftulin and Shick P.C., advises drivers to ensure that they have adequate insurance long before an accident occurs
by Glori Gayster

The decisions one makes when selecting insurance coverage can lead to life-changing outcomes. Linda M. Shick knows this fact better than most.

“While there is no map for every situation nor a one-size-fits-all policy, individuals and their families need to be sure they are protected,” says Shick, attorney and partner with Naftulin and Shick P.C. of Doylestown. “As a personal injury attorney, I have seen the way accidents of any kind can change someone’s life in the blink of an eye. Clients should work closely with a skilled lawyer to review their insurance policies and make sure adequate coverage is in place.”

Naftulin and Shick P.C. focuses solely on personal injury law, and its attorneys have more than four decades of experience fighting for the rights of people who have been injured due to the negligence or carelessness of another person or company. Shick emphasizes, “It is all we do, and we understand the life-altering impact of a serious injury.”

Those who have never been injured in an accident, or known someone who has, might not realize the amount of pain and suffering one can endure. From short-term strains and sprains and broken bones to chronic pain and long-term disability, the effects can change the course and quality of one’s life.

According to Shick, people often think the term “full coverage” means they are fully protected for every possible harm or loss they may suffer. This could not be further from the truth.

“Under Pennsylvania law, if you choose ‘limited tort’ auto-insurance-policy coverage, rather than the ‘full tort’ option, individuals give up the right to receive compensation for pain and suffering under certain circumstances if injured in a car accident,” Shick explains. “Many do so to save money or may be disillusioned about the likelihood of being in an auto accident. The truth is such a choice may be far more costly in the end.”

Keeping One’s Rights
“Limited tort” coverage is just that—limited—and it means that the insured and their family members covered under the policy cannot receive compensation for pain and suffering in many cases. This sacrifice in full protection not only affects accidents within one’s own car but also affects the insured who is injured as a passenger in someone else’s car.

There are some exceptions when individuals who select “limited tort” are still able to receive compensation for pain and suffering. Shick details these limited and very specific circumstances: “Limited tort will cover those who sustain a serious impairment of a bodily function, significant disfigurement or death. Individuals are also deemed to have ‘full tort’ coverage if they are a passenger in a commercial vehicle or if the other party is from out of state or is convicted of a DUI.”

For these reasons and more, selecting a policy with “limited tort” coverage should not be considered. Shick adds, “By choosing ‘limited tort,’ an insured driver is giving away their rights and their family members’ rights before the accident even happens. The few dollars saved in the premium is not worth it if one of your children is hurt in an accident.”

Choosing “full tort” is just one consideration in buying car insurance. “Individuals can be hurt in a motor vehicle accident by a negligent driver through no fault of their own,” Shick explains. “If the other driver is underinsured or uninsured, the injured individual must turn to their insurance carrier for compensation.”

Shick recommends that individuals protect themselves and their families by purchasing underinsured and uninsured motorist benefits as part of their policy. By doing so, people are protecting themselves—and not just protecting themselves from the “other guy.” When the “other guy” doesn’t have adequate coverage, the injured party can make a claim for compensation under those provisions of the policy for which they are paying premiums. In these challenging economic times, it is not unusual to find that the other party has not purchased adequate coverage.

If in a motor vehicle accident, individuals should seek assistance from an experienced personal injury attorney—one who is able to review the accident facts and has a deep understanding of the available insurance benefits.

Taking Initiative
Not all accidents are motor-vehicle related. Individuals also need to protect themselves, their families and their assets at home. Specifically, homeowners insurance will cover losses to property and goods within the home as well as the exterior premises. It will also protect the homeowner if a guest or other individual is injured on the property.

Renters insurance is equally important for tenants, yet it is often overlooked. Although sometimes required by landlords, such insurance can protect individuals against a loss of property due to theft and fire. It can also provide coverage if a guest or neighbor falls down or is injured by a biting animal on one’s property.

For those with significant assets, umbrella coverage policies are a viable option. They vary from one to the next based upon the individual or family but most often they provide additional coverage in excess of the automobile, homeowner and other applicable policies in the event of a catastrophic loss.

No matter the type of insurance, Shick reiterates the importance of proper and adequate coverage. “Clients shouldn’t wait until they’re in an accident to find out their insurance coverage is not sufficient,” she says. “They need to be proactive and prepared in the event of a loss.”

Naftulin and Shick, P.C.
40 East Court Street, Doylestown
Phone: 215-348-5455 / 800-560-3388


Glori Gayster is a freelance writer based in South Jersey.
Kim Billingsley is a freelance photographer based in Doylestown.