How Are No-Fault States Different From At-Fault States?
In the United States, each state handles car accident cases differently. This in part explains why some states have adopted “no-fault” laws while others have chosen to stick with the traditional tort system. Whether a state is a fault state or an at-fault state will determine how a car accident case is resolved. To know how no-fault states are different from at-fault states, read through the sections below.
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What Are No-Fault States?
In no-fault states, parties to a car accident will file claims with their own auto insurance providers for damages, regardless of who caused the accident. Another distinguishing quality of no-fault states is that motorists are required to have personal injury insurance (PIP) in addition to their auto insurance.
However, even in an at-fault state, you can still sue an involved party for damages, provided you meet the threshold for this. You will also need underinsured and uninsured motorist coverage in addition to your auto insurance, as without these add-ons you may be on the hook for expenses if you get in a car accident with an uninsured or underinsured motorist.
What Are the Pros and Cons of Living in a No-Fault State?
Pro: Simpler Process
Regardless of the specifics of the car accident, you have to file a claim with your own auto insurance provider. This is simpler because there’s no interacting with another driver’s insurance provider. In the case of a multi-car accident, you would have to be available to multiple insurance providers. Still, fault will be relevant, and you will be compensated in accordance with how much fault you bear for the accident. Involved insurance companies will work together to determine where fault lies.
Pro: More Coverage
You’re required to get PIP coverage, and this can ensure you’re more protected in the event of an accident. However, some may look at this additional requirement as an expense.
Pro/Con: Damages Are Capped
You won’t be saddled with sky-high restitution payments, as a plaintiff can only seek damages up to the at-fault party’s policy limit. That being said, if you’re the one seeking damages, you’ll find yourself in the unfortunate situation of not being able to get enough to cover all expenses. See why damages being capped can be a pro and a con?
Con: Premium Rises Regardless
Your premium will go up even if you’re not at fault for the accident. However, the increase is considerably smaller if you’re not at fault (~ 12% vs. ~ 48%).
Con: Not Much Room for Negotiating
Your coverage max is what your insurance provider is looking to avoid paying, and even this may not be enough to fully compensate you. Therefore, you may have to settle for a total compensation figure below the policy max, which could be disappointing if you’re looking to receive maximum compensation for injuries sustained during the car accident.
What Is a Fault State?
A fault state follows the traditional tort system i.e. car accident victims sue each other for damages in accordance with how much fault they bear. Most of the states in the U.S. follow the fault system. Fault states are different than no-fault states in several respects, and these differences can be viewed as pros or cons depending; how you view these differences will largely be influenced by how much responsibility, if any, you bear for the accident.
What Are the Pros and Cons of Living in a Fault State?
Pro: No Deductible
If another party is responsible for the accident, you may never have to file a claim with your insurance provider. This way, you would avoid a premium increase and other fees.
Pro/Con: No Damages Cap
Since there’s no cap for how much a car accident victim can seek in damages, you could sue and get enough to offset all expenses related to the accident. But on the other hand, this could be negative if you’re the one who bears fault, which is why this is listed as a pro/con.
Pro/Con: Not Required to Get PIP
Not getting PIP will make your auto insurance cheaper. However, if you get in an accident, you’ll only be able to sue for property damage; you won’t be able to sue for injuries, which will probably be costlier than vehicular damage.
Do You Need Additional Coverage in Fault States?
In a fault state, it’s wise to get additional coverage. With this, you won’t have to worry as much if you get in a car accident and it’s determined you bear a degree of fault. That’s because if you’re sued for damages, your additional PIP will cover up to the policy limit. Without this, you would have to pay out of pocket. In fault states, drivers are only required to have auto insurance, and in some states even this isn’t required.
Additionally, it’s wise to have uninsured and underinsured motorist insurance no matter what kind of state you live in, considering there are a lot of uninsured and underinsured drivers on the roads, especially in fault states.
Do You Need to Hire a Car Accident Lawyer in a No-Fault State?
Whether you’re in a no-fault state or a fault state, hiring a car accident lawyer is a good move for a number of reasons. They will negotiate with your insurance provider to make sure you are fairly compensated for injuries sustained during the car accident. They will also take care of the evidence-gathering process and other crucial processes while you focus on recovery. The quicker you recover, the quicker a settlement can be reached.
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