What Is a No Fault Auto Accident?
Car accidents are more complicated than they initially look. Besides taking care of things like going to the doctor and filing insurance claims, you must also keep in mind the policies and laws of the state in which you reside, and how they affect your case. One consideration in particular is fault and no-fault auto accidents, and how they affect your ability to settle.
What is a no-fault auto accident?
The first thing you need to know is that fault in a car accident case is largely determined by the state where the accident occurred. Because these laws are complicated, it’s best to connect with a personal injury lawyer to determine how best to proceed.
States either operate with a fault or no-fault system with regards to auto insurance.
What’s the difference between fault and no-fault auto insurance systems?
Fault systems are how most states operate, which is also known as tort liability. Insurance companies pay out damages in accordance with each party’s amount of fault in an accident.
As insurance companies always have their own best interests in mind, the settlement you were hoping for may not be what you get. This is where it becomes incredibly important to consult with a personal injury lawyer.
In no-fault systems, proof doesn’t have to be submitted against either party to receive medical damages from an insurance company. A lot of states are adopting this policy because tort liability is expensive and takes a long time to come to a conclusion. Also, it’s not always clear whose fault an accident actually was.
In a no-fault system, a person’s insurance company will pick up medical expenses through insurance, however, a party cannot sue another party for additional damages. For example, pain and suffering or emotional distress would not factor into these cases.
However, the same policies still apply regarding vehicular damage. Fault does factor into how insurance is paid out. Even in a no-fault system, you can still file a lawsuit against a driver. Whether you live in a fault or no-fault state, it still makes sense to consult with a personal injury lawyer regarding your rights and settlement possibilities from the vehicular damage side of things.
Exceptions can be made for lawsuits in no-fault states when injuries meet a certain threshold and cost to the victim. Thresholds are defined by certain serious injury descriptions, or monetary values associated with hospital bills after an accident.
States with serious injury thresholds include: Florida, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania.
States with monetary thresholds are: Hawaii, Kansas, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Dakota and Utah.
An additional complication in the law regarding auto accidents is add-on no-fault insurance. This option allows a person to purchase optional coverage in personal injury circumstances. Things are further complicated by the fact that these add on coverage plans pay out benefits to an injured party (regardless of who caused the accident), but a driver can still sue for injuries or pain and suffering related to the accident.
As of this writing, there are only four states that offer plans like these: Arkansas, Delaware, D.C., and Maryland.
A final complication are states where drivers get to choose a policy based on no-fault or a tort-based system, in which a policyholder still has litigation rights for compensation. These states are: Kentucky, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania.
As of right now, there are about a dozen states that allow no-fault auto accident claims: District of Columbia, Florida, Hawaii, Kansas, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, and Utah.
If you’re confused yet, you’re not alone. Depending on the state in which you reside, there may be multiple laws and policies that apply to a car accident you may be a part of. You owe it to yourself to seek professional help instead of wading through the laws on your own and possibly getting burned when you misinterpret them.
Whether you live in a fault or no-fault auto accident state, get in touch with a personal injury lawyer to consult about the specifics of your case. Each local “Attorney Big Al” offers free consultations when you call 1-800-HURT-123. Learn more about the firm and the cases it handles on the website Hurt123.com.