Tort law is defined as the body of rules governing harm, injuries, or losses caused by one person to another party. It generally covers injuries of a physical nature, but may also include harm of different natures such as emotional distress, trespassing, or damage to one’s reputation. In most tort cases, the party responsible for the injuries, known as the “tortfeasor," will be required to pay monetary damages to cover their losses.
However, before the tortfeasor can be held liable for damages, it usually must be proven that they are at fault in some way. A tortfeasor can become liable either through an intentional act, as in an assault, or through a breach of duty.
What Is a Tort Law Alternative?
The term “tort law alternative” usually refers to what is known as “no-fault recovery.” As mentioned, recovery in a tort claim is usually based on the liability of the tortfeasor. However, under no-fault alternatives, the ability of the victim to recover is based on factors other than the tortfeasor’s liability.
Two examples of no-fault recovery are no-fault auto insurance and strict liability. Strict liability is actually included under tort laws. Therefore, it is not really a “tort law alternative” in the same way that no-fault auto insurance is.
No-fault auto insurance is the most common form of tort law alternative. In a no-fault insurance arrangement, the injured party is actually limited in their ability to file a lawsuit against the party that caused the accident. The victim will not be allowed to seek compensation in court, except in very serious cases.
Instead, each party’s insurance company will pay for any losses associated with the accident. If a party was at fault in the accident, their insurance company will then raise their insurance premiums in response. Not all states allow no-fault insurance for auto accidents. Recovery for accidents occurring in such states will usually be based on negligence claims.
Which States Allow No-Fault Insurance Policies as an Alternative to Tort Recovery?
The following states have some sort of provision that allows no-fault auto accident insurance policies:
- New Jersey
- New York
- North Dakota
Each state is different when it comes to when no-fault insurance applies. They may use different standards and factors in evaluating the accident and in measuring insurance premiums. Also, some states may actually allow an injured party to be compensated, but this is typically reserved for serious accidents and injuries.
In the past, many other states originally adopted no-fault insurance policies. However, many of these states have repealed their no-fault policies and have returned to a traditional tort recovery system. Thus, the interplay between tort law and tort alternatives is continually changing as the needs of society evolve.
Do I Need a Lawyer?
If you have been injured in a tort, you may wish to consult with a personal injury lawyer. Even if you are located in a no-fault jurisdiction, you may need assistance in filing your claim with an insurance company. Personal injury are equipped to handle no-fault insurance claims, and can handle any disputes between parties or between insurance companies.