Fault vs. No-Fault Car Accident Insurance Claims

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After an car accident, the medical bills, property damage, lost time from work and other impact can take a serious financial toll. Depending upon the state in which you live, you may be limited in your choices for filing an injury claim against the other party involved.  Some states have adopted “no-fault” laws that restrict the right to sue unless certain criteria and thresholds are met.  Following is a discussion about these criteria, the states which currently employ no-fault laws, and the differences between no-fault and fault auto accidents:

No-Fault Thresholds

In order to file an injury claim against another person or party after being involved in an auto accident, you may need to ensure your injuries are either severe enough or require a certain amount of monetary compensation according to your state’s laws.  This means that unless your injuries are considered severe enough, you may not be able to be compensated for your injuries. 

This level of severity is determined either by verbal confirmation from a medical professional, a minimum number of days disabled, or a minimum total of medical costs associated with the injury.  The original purpose of these laws was to prevent frivolous personal injury claims and thus help to reduce the costs of auto insurance.

States with No-Fault Laws

The following states currently have active no-fault auto accident laws:

Monetary thresholds:

  • Hawaii
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Massachusetts
  • Minnesota
  • North Dakota
  • Utah
  • Verbal thresholds:
  • Florida
  • Michigan
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • Pennsylvania

Fault auto accidents are simply the opposite of no-fault, which allow one or multiple parties to be responsible for all of the injured party’s damages, particularly the medical bills incurred.  Comparative Negligence will also play a part in fault and no fault cases, which means that different parties maybe responsible at different degrees for the injured party’s damages.  For example, a drunk driver may be at fault for the accident, but the individual who served them the alcohol may also be found at fault. 

When an accident occurs in a no-fault state, the injured party’s medical bills must be paid by his/her automobile insurance companies.  To be compensated for the injuries one receives in an auto crash, the injured person will not be successful unless the threshold for severity is surpassed.  In both New Jersey and Pennsylvania injuries must be relatively significant and permanent in order for an injured party to receive money damages for their physical injuries.  What is a significant and permanent injury is to be defined by the medical doctors who treat the injured victim: not the insurance company.  Conversely, the laws of fault states allows any and all parties to sue and countersue for any and all damages or injuries, regardless of the severity experienced from a vehicle crash.

Retain Legal Counsel

If you’ve been involved in a car accident and have suffered personal injury’s (physical or psychological), wage loss, medical bills, damage to your car or other out of pocket expenses consult an attorney immediately who is familiar with your state’s laws and requirements.  You may risk forfeiting your right to claim damages without a professional to help guide you in determining the true value of your injuries.  Don’t let your auto insurance company tell you that you cannot bring a claim!  Have a personal injury attorney advise you of your rights.