Assignment of responsiblity for compensation for injuries in a car accident depends on the laws of the state where the accident happens. In a no-fault insurance state, neither driver in an accident is considered responsible and each driver submits a claim to his or her own insurance company. Florida, Kansas, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and some other states all have some form of no-fault insurance laws. No-fault insurance is difficult to understand and the law is different in each state that offers this insurance. If you have been in an accident, it is important that you consult a personal injury lawyer with experience in motor vehicle accidents to discuss your state's laws and how they may affect your right to be compensated for your injuries and vehicle damage.
A No-Fault Insurance System
Any vehicle insurance system that requires all drivers to purchase insurance for their own injuries and limits a driver's ability to sue another driver is a "no-fault" insurance system. If you are involved in an accident under a no-fault insurance system, it doesn't matter who was responsible for the accident, your insurance company will compensate you for you injuries, up to your coverage limit. Other drivers involved in the accident will be compensated by their own insurance companies.
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Under a one-hundred percent no-fault insurance system, drivers would be completely compensated for injuries by their own insurance companies and no driver could ever sue another driver. Currently, however, no states use a 100% no-fault system. States that use no-fault insurance policy systems use a blend of no-fault systems and standard systems, where the responsible person pays for compensation for injuries. All of these states permit lawsuits in some situations.
The requirements for the type and amount of no-fault insurance vary from state to state. Some states allow an injured person to sue if their injuries are severe, while lawsuits depend on the total dollar amount of the injuries in other states. In many modified no-fault systems, insurance companies compensate the injured person for economic damages to the insurance policy limit, but the injured person can sue for non-economic damages greater than a certain amount. Economic damages are tangible costs, such as medical costs and wages lost because of time away from work. Non-economic damages are more intangible and may include consequences such as loss of enjoyment of life and serious, permanent scarring or disfigurement. The amount of non-economic damage that must be suffered before an injured person can sue differs from state to state. If you have been in an accident in any no-fault state, it is important to consult with a personal injury lawyer experienced in motor vehicle accidents to examine your state law.
Some states, such as Pennsylvania and New Jersey have a choice no-fault insurance system. Under this system, drivers choose whether they want to be insured under a no-fault plan or whether they want to keep some of the standard responsibility rights to sue under a modified no-fault plan. If drivers choose the no-fault plan, they cannot sue other drivers for non-economic damages, but they also cannot be sued. If drivers choose the modified no-fault plan, then they can sue other drivers, but they can be sued as well. A personal injury lawyer experienced in no-fault insurance motor vehicle accidents can help you sort through these complicated issues, whether or not you are in a no-fault state.
A No-Fault Insurance Policy
If you are insured in a no-fault state, that part of your motor vehicle insurance is usually called Personal Injury Protection. The items covered under a Personal Injury Protection package varies from state to state, but generally, compensation is available for most costs related to an injury, including medical costs, lost wages, loss of services, funeral expenses, and death benefits. Other types of compensation are usually not covered by no-fault insurance, including pain and suffering, emotional distress, and inconvenience. Additionally, medical expenses or lost income above established maximum is usually not covered. Other insurance may be needed to cover physical damage to vehicles.
A one-hundred percent no-fault insurance system may simplify compensation for motor vehicle accident injuries, although no states currently have 100% no-fault systems. Instead, no-fault systems vary greatly from state to state and these systems can be very confusing. An experienced personal injury lawyer can help you make decisions in order to get the appropriate amount of compensation.