Getting into an accident is stressful and when you aren’t at fault for the collision, you may think the other driver needs to pay out the damages. However, for those who live in no-fault states, that isn’t actually the case.
What is a No-Fault State?
A no-fault state is one where there does not need to be a determination of fault or liability in order to resolve a claim. In the case of a car accident, drivers in no-fault states must have personal injury protection (PIP) insurance policy.
This means that if the driver is involved in a car accident, they do not go after the at-fault party’s insurance to recover losses. Instead, the driver’s own insurance will pay for medical expenses, regardless of who caused the collision.
The benefit of being in a no-fault state is that the involved parties utilize their own insurance coverage, saving time and resources.
However, there are issues with no-fault states such as the cost of PIP coverage.
Knowing if you are in a fault or no-fault state is as easy as a Google search; however, some states follow a no-fault or fault system meaning drivers can decide which coverage they have, ultimately changing the guidelines of liability coverage if involved in a car accident.
The ten states that follow a true no-fault system include:
- New York
- North Dakota
However, there are states that utilize a modified version of the no-fault system. These include:
- District of Columbia
- New Jersey
Furthermore, some states allow you to add a no-fault policy as an add-on to your insurance.
How Does Living in a No-Fault State Impact Me After a Car Accident?
If you live in a no-fault state and are involved in a car accident, you will file a claim with your insurance company–not the at-fault driver.
In a no-fault state, it’s important to know that not all damages are likely to be covered under your policy such as pain and suffering and other non-economic losses. However, you may be able to move outside of the confines of no-fault statutes if your injuries are so severe that it exceeds the statutory thresholds.
In general, no-fault, PIP policies cover losses related to:
- Medical bills
- Lost wages
- Burial and funeral costs
It is important to know that each policy will have set amounts that the driver can recover losses up to.
In addition, if you have property damage as a result of the collision, you can seek compensation from the at-fault party.
Who Pays in The No-Fault Accident?
In general, each party pays for its own damages in a no-fault state car accident. However, there can be exceptions.
In the case of severe injury, and if certain conditions are met, the victim may be able to sue the other driver. Further, the at-fault driver’s insurance may cover some of the cost for the other driver’s vehicle, similar to an at-fault state. This, however, can become dependent on the amount of liability coverage carried.
Keep in mind that if both parties share in the fault, the insurance companies will also be able to determine that. In some cases, having legal representation will also help in establishing fault and liability.
What Type of Insurance Do I Need In Pennsylvania to Protect Myself After a Car Accident?
First and foremost, know that you must have insurance prior to getting behind the wheel–not once an accident has already occurred.
In Pennsylvania, you do have the option to not engage in the no-fault system. This is known as “choice no-fault”. Under this system, drivers can decide if they want a full tort or limited tort policy.
Full tort policies allow the driver to sue regardless of the injuries sustained whereas, under the limited tort policy, you can only sue if you have suffered serious impairment, disfigurement, or death. In addition, under a limited tort policy, you can only sue for medical bills, but not pain and suffering. However, there are some exceptions to limited tort policies.
At the bare minimum, PA drivers must hold coverage for:
- Bodily injury: $15,000 for injury to one person and $30,000 per accident
- PIP: $5,000
- Property damage: $5,000
Because of Pennsylvania’s complex system, the percentage of the fault also comes into play when it comes to filing a lawsuit after a car accident.
Pennsylvania utilizes the comparative negligence law which means that if you are 51% at fault for an accident, you cannot recover damages from the other driver. If you are less than 50% at fault, you can collect damages adjusted by the percentage of fault you hold.
I Live In A No-Fault State But The Other Driver Was At-Fault, And My Losses Exceeded My Policy. What Can I Do?
The parameters of your policy ultimately determine how much compensation you will be able to recover from your own insurance following a car accident.
In cases where your injuries are so severe that you maximize what you can recover, you may be able to seek a third-party lawsuit for the accident or file a personal injury case against the at-fault driver.
To strengthen your case to be able to pursue additional compensation, following the accident, be sure to:
- Secure a copy of the police report
- Get a quote for the property damage to your vehicle and personal property
- Keep a record of all medical treatment and long term health needs
- Record all accident-related expenses
- Keep a log of missed work and estimated wage loss in the future
- Do not accept a settlement before meeting with an attorney
These cases are complex. Having an attorney by your side can make all the difference.
How Can Munley Law Personal Injury Attorneys Help Me After a Car Accident?
If you or a loved one have been hurt in a car accident, Munley Law Personal Injury Attorneys can help you understand the nuances of being injured in a car accident in a no-fault or choice no-fault state. We work with car accident victims by negotiating with the insurance companies, calculating the damages you sustained, understanding the long-term ramifications from your injuries and how that impacts your earning potential and quality of life, and in serious cases, we will represent you in court.
Not all car accidents require legal representation, but if you were seriously injured, were not at fault for the accident, or have had your claim denied by the insurance company, Munley Law Personal Injury Attorneys can help. Further, if you have exceeded the limits of your insurance policy, the Munley Law Personal Injury Attorneys car accident attorneys have helped car accident victims file personal injury lawsuits to recover compensation for:
- Medical bills
- Rehabilitation and physical therapy
- Long-term care
- Lost wages
- Lost earning capacity
- Pain and suffering
- Wrongful death
If you or a loved one have been hurt in a car accident in a no-fault state, know that you have options to recover your losses. For a no-obligation, free consultation, contact the car accident and personal injury lawyers of Munley Law Personal Injury Attorneys today by calling 570-209-5514 or by completing our online contact form.