How to File a Car Accident Claim in a Fault or No-Fault State
A majority of states are fault states, but more than a dozen have no-fault laws for auto insurance and accidents. The main difference between the two is the person to blame for the crash in a fault state is the one whose insurance pays for the damages for both parties, but a no-fault state doesn’t assign blame, leaving both parties’ insurance providers to pay for their individual damages with certain exceptions. Whether you live in a fault or no-fault state, the first actions you need to take following a car accident are seeking medical attention, filing a police report and contacting your insurance provider.
No-Fault States & Caps on Recoverable Damages
No-fault states typically have a limit on the amount of medical expenses, lost wages and vehicle repair costs you can recover from your insurance company. Additionally, if your claim is denied, there’s often a medical bill minimum that must be reached before you can file a personal injury claim. If your injuries are catastrophic such as a brain or spinal cord injury, you could also be eligible to file a claim. No-fault states use this law to move accident claims through the system quickly, and courts spend little to no time determining who is to blame for the crash.
Fault states don’t have this minimum. Blame is assigned to the driver who directly caused the accident. This fault can also be given in percentages such as one driver was 70 percent at fault for causing the accident, but the other was driving distracted and found to be 30 percent at fault. This division then impacts the way in which you recover damages from insurance. Usually, the driver with the highest percentage must pay a portion of the other party’s expenses.
While auto insurance in a no-fault state may settle your claim quickly and pay for your injuries and vehicle damage, you likely will be left paying a portion of the bills for an accident that wasn’t your fault.
An Out of State Accident in a No-Fault or Fault State
No-fault and fault laws are fairly easy to understand and moving through the process is streamlined as much as possible, but these laws become complicated when an accident occurs out of state. For example:
- You live in a no-fault state and carry no-fault insurance, but a non-resident carrying fault insurance crashes into your car: This situation depends on whether the non-resident’s insurance has filed compliance with no-fault states. If so, no-fault laws apply, but if not, he or she is exempt from no-fault law and can then sue you for damages such as pain and suffering.
- You’re traveling outside of your no-fault state and have an accident in a fault state with a local resident: Here’s where car accident claims become particularly tricky. You cannot file a suit against the other driver unless there was a death, catastrophic injury or disfigurement, but he or she can sue you for damages.
Car accident claims are often difficult to navigate, especially when you’re dealing with out of state accidents. The best way to determine what you’re entitled to following a car crash is to consult with a personal injury attorney.