Posted in Car Accident on February 13, 2020
Determining who is at fault in a car accident is the first step toward recovering compensation for your injuries. However, some states do not allow accident victims to pursue compensation based on liability and fault – and this can have a significant effect on your recovery.
Which states follow fault and no-fault based insurance laws? With the help of data visualization firm 1Point21 Interactive, we constructed an interactive map for a state-by-state breakdown of each region’s fault systems.
Fault vs. No-Fault States
All states in the US follow two primary systems regarding compensation:
- A fault-based system allows injured plaintiffs to pursue compensation from any parties who were at fault for the accident.
- A no-fault-based system means that fault does not bear significance in seeking compensation; injured parties are required to seek compensation through their own personal insurance.
In the United States, fault-based insurance laws are much more common compared to no-fault laws. Texas is one of 38 states plus the District of Columbia have a fault-based system, and only 12 states are no-fault states. Of these 12 states, many have unique laws that can make requirements and details vary greatly from state to state.
It’s important to note that these laws regarding fault and no-fault only serve to guide the recovery process for any damages resulting from bodily injury or harm, such as medical bills. Any property damage that occurs as the result of a car accident generally follows basic at-fault procedures when seeking compensation.
Three No-Fault States Share a Unique System
Of the 12 no-fault states, three of them – New Jersey, Kentucky, Pennsylvania – employ a unique “choice no-fault” system regarding car insurance. In this configuration, drivers are given the option to choose between a fault or a no-fault policy for their insurance. Once they choose, this option is locked in until the next time they choose to renew or re-enroll in a new policy.
In New Jersey and Kentucky, if a driver does not willfully choose an option, they are locked into a no-fault policy. In Pennsylvania, however, the default is a fault-based policy.
No-Fault Insurance States and PIP Requirements
|District of Columbia||Fault||No||N/A|
|Kentucky||Choice No-Fault||Yes||Monetary; $1,000|
|New Jersey||Choice No-Fault||Yes||Verbal|
|North Dakota||No-Fault||Yes||Monetary; $2,500|
Personal Injury Protection Insurance is Required in No-Fault States
Because drivers in no-fault states must turn to their personal insurance policy in order to seek compensation, all policyholders in these states are required to carry personal injury protection (PIP) insurance.
Standard liability insurance only covers the medical bills and costs associated with the injuries of another party in an accident. PIP insurance ensures that you yourself have an avenue for recovery when you are injured in a car accident, regardless of who is at fault.
Thresholds Allow Drivers in No-Fault States to File Lawsuits
It is important to note that, in the United States, there is no “pure” no-fault state. An individual injured in an accident still may be able to file a claim against an at-fault party if they fulfill specific requirements or exceed specific limits. These are known as thresholds, and they fall within two categories:
Also known as “serious injury” thresholds, these are terms that are used to illustrate the serious injuries suffered in a car accident. Common terms that apply may include:
- Catastrophic injuries
- Wrongful death
- Injury leading to permanent disability or disfigurement
All no-fault states have a verbal threshold – but only five have strictly verbal thresholds: Florida, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania.
Monetary thresholds are more straightforward – a dollar limit to medical expenses must be met or exceeded in order to qualify. Typically, these generally follow the limits set forth by a state’s PIP coverage, but state laws cap these limits as well.
Seven no-fault states have a monetary threshold, along with a verbal threshold: Hawaii, Kansas, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Dakota, and Utah.
Determining which fault-based system your state uses and how to recover compensation can be a stressful experience – especially if you’re trying to do this in the aftermath of a serious car accident. Further state-specific provisions can further complicate matters and pursuing compensation within these parameters can be confusing. Additionally, even if no-fault states do not completely bar injured parties from filing lawsuits, the process for pursuing such claims can be incredibly complicated and scrutinized.
If you or a loved one was involved in a serious car accident, it’s highly recommended to seek legal representation to help you through the claims process. A qualified attorney may be able to help you answer any questions about the next steps following an accident, while also guiding down the right path for pursuing and recovering compensation.