If you live in one of the 12 states across the United States that has a no-fault law in place for car accidents, you may be confused as to what this means and you may also be unsure exactly how to file a no fault car accident claim. Having a no fault insurance policy does not mean that no matter what there is no one at fault for the accident. Rather, it means that the insurance company will compensate you for your economic loss, even in cases where you are at fault. Typically, under an at-fault system, the insurance company or court determines how much compensation each party in the accident will receive based on the percentage of fault placed on each person involved, but this is not necessarily the case under a no fault system.
Understanding No Fault
There are two major types of no fault systems that exist:
- Of all of the states that have no fault insurance laws in place, not one has what is known as “pure no fault” statute. Pure no fault means that no matter what, once the insurance company compensates you for your economic loss, including injury and property costs and lost wages. You are not ever entitled to sue the other party involved in the accident for any “pain and suffering” based compensation, even in cases of death
- What these 12 states do have, however, is known as “modified no fault” systems. Modified no fault sets a designated limit on when you can say, based on either a numeric threshold or a verbal threshold. In some states, for example, in order for an individual to file a law suit against the other party in the accident, there must first have been a designated amount of compensable loss assessed to the filing party. If the medical expenses, property loss, and lost wages do not amount the limit set by the state, the individual retains no rights to file a lawsuit against anybody. In other states, if your injuries fall within the legal definition of "serious," then you can sue.
The Rules for Filing a No Fault Car Accident Claim
If you are in a car accident and your state has no fault rules, the first thing that you need to do once an accident occurs is to call the police. The insurance company will typically require that an official police report is provided before any claim for compensation will be accepted. You will be able to acquire a copy of the police report anywhere from 3 to 7 days after the accident. This police report will contain accident site evaluations done by the officer, witness interview statements, and provide vital information to the assigned claims adjuster.
Your insurance company as well as the state also have additional rules and procedures, including strict timelines for when paperwork related to the accident must be filed. In some states, you have only 30 days to file a no fault claim or your claim can be barred, so do not hesitate to contact your insurance company immediately following the accident to request the proper claim forms.
In no fault states, it is important to contact and have a consultation with a personal injury attorney that specializes in no-fault insurance claims. No fault proceedings can be a difficult to untangle if your claim should be denied, so having an attorney to represent you will always help greatly.