No Fault Auto Insurance Lawyers

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No Fault Auto Insurance

Liability laws determining who pays for damages in an auto accident differ from state to state. Approximately half of the states in the U.S. have adopted "no fault" liability laws that make everyone involved in the car accident responsible for their own damages. In many states there are exceptions to these laws when someone sustains a serious personal injury or property damage exceeds a specific amount. Other states in the U.S. have "at fault" liability laws that require the person who caused the car accident to pay damages for all parties involved.

Special Rules for No Fault Policy Holders

Almost half the states have some form of no-fault auto insurance, also called personal injury protection. (See "Automobile Insurance FAQ.") In general, no-fault coverage eliminates injury liability claims and lawsuits in smaller accidents in exchange for direct payment by the injured person's own insurance company for medical bills and lost wages regardless of who was at fault for the accident. No-fault coverage often does not apply to vehicle damage; those claims are still handled by filing a liability claim against the one who is responsible for the accident, or by looking to your own collision insurance.

No Fault Insurance

Although some states still don't have this beneficial insurance, No Fault is mandatory in most states.  It pays medical expenses for you and your family, the passengers in your vehicle, and any pedestrians you may injury in an accident.  The insurance is paid out regardless of who was at fault.  (It does not cover property damage of any kind.)  The medical benefits of a no-fault policy are sometimes called Personal Injury Protection.

In mandatory no-fault states, lawsuits seeking compensation for pain and suffering are permitted for injuries meeting a certain threshold, the definition of which may vary considerably from state to state. States with "monetary" thresholds require the victim to demonstrate that his damages exceed a specific dollar amount in order to access the tort system to obtain human pain and suffering damages. States with "verbal" thresholds permit such lawsuits only if the injured party can demonstrate a normatively defined level of injury, such as "serious and permanent."

Finally, eight states utilize hybrid systems, in which "no-fault" coverage supplements the required third party liability insurance.  In these "add-on" states, there are no limits on lawsuits. All present no-fault systems permit recourse to the courts against at-fault drivers for payment of economic losses in excess of the no-fault benefits.

The mandatory no-fault states are: Colorado, Florida, Hawaii, Kansas, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, North Dakota, and Utah. Twelve jurisdictions have hybrid no-fault systems: Arkansas, Delaware, District of Columbia, Kentucky, Maryland, New Jersey, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, and Virginia

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Last Modified: 05-20-2011 01:43 PM PDT

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