When someone gets into a car accident, the person responsible for the accident is liable to the other for injuries or damages caused. However, liability laws determining who pays for damages in an auto accident differ from state to state.
Approximately half of the states in the United States have adopted "no fault" liability laws. No fault liability laws presume that everyone involved in a car accident is responsible for their own damages.
No fault insurance indemnifies insureds for losses by their own insurance company, regardless of fault. However, many states provide an exception to no fault liability laws when a person sustains a serious personal injury or property damage exceeds a specific amount. By contrast, states that have adopted at fault liability laws require the person who caused the car accident to pay damages to all parties involved.
Special Rules for No Fault Policy Holders
As stated above, no fault insurance indemnifies insureds for losses by their own insurance company, regardless of fault. Half of the states offer no fault auto insurance, also called personal injury protection.
In general, no fault coverage exempt individuals from the usual liability if they cause injury in an accident. No fault coverage covers bodily injury of the insured and the insured’s passengers caused by a car accident, regardless of which party would be liable under traditional at fault liability laws.
No fault insurance 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 fault. No fault coverage typically does not apply to vehicle damage; those claims are handled by filing a liability claim against the one 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 insurance is mandatory in most states. It pays medical expenses for you and your family, the passengers in your vehicle, and any pedestrians injured in an accident. The insurance covers these costs and is paid out regardless of fault. (It does not cover property damage of any kind.) Medical benefits of a no fault policy are sometimes called Personal Injury Protection.
In mandatory no fault states, claims seeking compensation for pain and suffering are permitted for injuries that meet a certain threshold. This threshold amount varies from state to state. States with "monetary" thresholds require that the claim amount reach a specific dollar amount in order to obtain relief. States with "verbal" thresholds require that the injured party can demonstrate a normatively defined level of injury, such as "serious and permanent."
Finally, eight states utilize hybrid systems. Hybrid systems provide that no fault coverage supplements the required third party liability insurance. For these states, there are no limits on lawsuits. All present no fault systems permit claims and recovery against at fault drivers for payment of economic losses in excess of the no fault benefits.
Twelve states that currently have no fault insurance laws are: Florida, Hawaii, Kansas, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Pennsylvania and Utah. A personal injury attorney can help you review your claim for injury in an auto accident.
Should I Contact a Lawyer?
If you have been involved in an automobile accident and have suffered injuries, you should contact a personal injury lawyer. You may also need a lawyer’s assistance if you are unable to resolve an issue with your insurance company.