In the United States there are 12 states that are considered no fault car accident states. These states fall under the no fault insurance system. What this means is that your insurance provider will cover all of your damages, whether you or the other driver was at fault. This only applies to a certain limit. See below a list of all no fault car states in the USA.
- New Jersey
- New York
- North Dakota
For more information regarding no fault insurance states, you can read a great detailed summary here.
Frequently Asked Questions:
What does no fault mean?
If you are in a car accident, you may have heard something about a ‘no fault accident’ or ‘no fault insurance.’ What does this mean?
Approximately 12 states currently have what is called a ‘no fault’ system of various sorts. These states include FL, HI, KS, KY, MA, MI, MN, NJ, NY, NK, PA and UT.
No fault insurance means that your own auto insurance company will pay for some or all your damages, including property damage, medical bills and lost earnings, up to a certain amount that varies by state. Even if you were not at fault for the accident, no fault means your own insurance will cover your damages, but again, only up to a certain amount.
Every state with no fault has different rules. Some require your own insurance to pay up only to $3000 or $5000; you then could make a claim or file a lawsuit against the other party for any additional damages. Some states, such as KY and PA, give you the choice to opt out of the no fault system when you buy auto insurance.
A no fault insurance claim may also be called a personal injury protection or PIP claim. This is where you make a claim with your own car insurer for payment of your medical bills, lost wages and other out of pocket damages after an auto accident. Note that you cannot make a pain and suffering claim against your own insurance; if you wish to do that, you may go outside the no fault system and file the claim or lawsuit against the other driver.
If you are in a no-fault state, it is a smart idea to carry more than the minimum level of insurance. If you are in a car accident with serious injuries, even if it is not your fault, you could have a large medical bill and lost earnings that your own insurance may not cover all of because you did not purchase enough insurance. Yes, you can file suit for the rest, but this takes weeks and months, while getting benefits from your own insurance policy is generally much faster.
How is responsibility determined in a “no-fault” state?
Auto insurance for most states is based upon the concept of fault. If the accident happens in a ‘fault state,’ then the person who caused the accident usually is responsible for paying for repairs, medical costs, pain and suffering, etc. for the injured party.
However, there are some states that are ‘no fault.’ This means that no matter who is at fault for the accident, your own insurance policy will pay for your damages, including medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, loss of future wages, etc., up to a certain point.
There is no responsibility determined for an accident in a ‘no fault’ state in most cases because each party’s own insurance policy pays for their damages.
That said, there are cases where you can go outside the no fault system and still file a claim against the other driver. For example, if your medical bills are above a certain level, your state may allow you to file a claim or lawsuit against the other driver. A common number is $3000 – if your damages go above this amount, you may be able to file a claim.
Another factor regarding no fault claims is that you cannot make a pain and suffering claim on your own policy. So, if you want to do so, you will need to file the claim against the other driver if your medical damages rise to a certain level.
So, there are many cases where responsibility for the accident in a no-fault state does not occur. But if your damages rise to a certain level and include pain and suffering claims, then you will rely upon the insurance and/or legal system to determine the other party was at fault for the accident and allow you to claim damages from their policy.
How does no fault auto insurance work?
There are about 12 states that have a no-fault auto insurance system. These states are Florida, Hawaii, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Pennsylvania and Utah. No fault insurance means your own auto insurance policy will pay for some or all of your medical bills and lost earnings if you are in a car accident. In most cases, your policy will pay for your damages even if you were not at fault for the accident. Most no-fault auto insurance claims are made through your policy’s personal injury protection plan. This is mandatory coverage in most no-fault states.
In most claims in a no-fault state, you will file your auto accident claim with your own insurance company. However, there are exceptions. You cannot make a pain and suffering claim against your own policy. You can only go after this type of compensation from the at fault driver, IF your medical bills rise to a certain level, or your injury is determined to be serious. In these limited cases, you may be allowed to go outside the no fault rules for your state.
For instance, your state laws may not allow a personal injury claim against the other driver until your medical costs go over $3000, or if you have a serious injury such as a broken bone. The purpose of these rules is to try to streamline auto accident cases, particularly small claims.
For instance, if you are in a car accident and have $7500 in bills and the other driver is at fault, you may be able to go outside the no fault system, if your injury is ‘serious’ according to state law. This might include a broken bone, disfigurement, permanent limitation or full disability for 90 days. This needs to be determined by a doctor.
Can you sue for a car accident if your state is a no-fault state?
For the most part, you cannot file a lawsuit against the other driver in a no-fault state. This system has been set up in 12 states to limit the number of personal injury claims. You usually must file your claim with your own insurance company to pay for your lost wages and medical costs.
However, most at fault states do allow lawsuits against the at fault driver if the personal injuries meet a certain threshold; note that the definition of this threshold will vary by state. The injured person can usually file a lawsuit against the other driver if the claim is more than a dollar amount – $3000 is common – and/or the injury is determined by a doctor to be serious. In most states, this means that the injury must involve the loss of use of a body part, disfigurement, bone fracture or permanent disability. Some states feature both, so you can sue if the claim meets either standard.
For example, states with a monetary threshold for filing a lawsuit are HI, KS, KY, MA, MN, ND and UT. States that have a serious injury threshold are FL, MI, NJ, NY and PA. The choice states are KY, NJ and PA.
Keep in mind that if you want to file a lawsuit against the other driver, you will need to be seen by a medical professional in many cases to determine if your injuries are serious enough to warrant filing suit. Or, you will need to prove that your medical costs and lost wages are more than a certain dollar amount.
Because of the different laws in each state regarding personal injury protection, whether you can sue or not will always depend upon the no fault law in your state. The best idea is to talk to a personal injury attorney who is well versed in your state’s no-fault insurance laws.
Will a car accident in a no fault state have different payouts than in other states?
If you live in a no-fault state, the laws will affect the amount of any potential personal injury compensation owed as a result from a car accident. In a no-fault state, the general law is that all drivers are to insure themselves. In the case of an auto accident, if you are injured and have damages to your vehicle, the source of compensation owed will come from your own insurance provider. Payouts will be different in a no-fault state due to the insurance coverage you have chosen. It is possible you can file a lawsuit against someone to recover damages if certain criteria are met. No- fault insurance covers the medical expenses under your PIP policy. The policy will cover inconvenience, disfigurement and punitive damages. Drivers are required to have no-fault insurance in order to have the following coverage:
- Personal injury protection: Covers medical expenses and pays as high as 85% of wages lost for up to three years.
- Residual liability: Protection from being sued by others (with the exception of special circumstances).
Can you sue for pain and suffering in a no fault state?
No-fault states are tricky when lawsuits are involved. Certain criteria must be met in order to sue. This is to prevent any fraudulent claims that may be attempted to file. For instance, if you are experiencing any minor, soft tissue injuries such as whiplash, it is not viewed as a serious enough injury and will not meet criteria for a lawsuit. In a no-fault state it is highly unlikely that you will be compensated for non-economical damages including pain and suffering. Although you cannot sue for pain and suffering from an injury caused by a collision, you can still receive compensation from your PIP (Personal Injury Protection) for medical expenses as well as wages lost during recovery time. Every State has different laws and some have loopholes that allow you to collect compensation for pain and suffering through a monetary threshold. This means that your medical costs for your injuries must exceed a specific dollar sum.
How long does a not at fault accident stay on your record?
When you become involved in a traffic accident regardless if it was your fault or not, your auto insurance rates will increase. Numerous drivers are uninformed as to how long an accident will remain on their record or falsely believe there are no options to reform their record. Over time the accident on your record will be lifted and insurance rates will go back to normalcy however, the accident will remain on your record for 3 years starting from the day of the accident. Now, in order to keep insurance rates from skyrocketing, you have options such a defensive driving courses. You will be paying extra out of pocket to take such course however, this will help insurance rates from increasing. Other factors that go into determining how insurance rates will fluctuate will be influenced on your past driving record. If this is your first accident with minimal damages, some insurance policies have accident forgiveness and will not punish your first offense.
Does no fault insurance cover car damage?
If you live in a no-fault state you are required to have no-fault insurance. So what does no-fault insurance cover? Every policy is different and every State is different, but generally they all follow the same guidelines. Unfortunately, most States exclude property damage and are typically not covered. This means that damage to your vehicle and damages to the other parties’ vehicle will not be covered. Although property damage is not covered by no-fault insurance, there are other opportunities for coverage. If you would like property damage coverage, it is likely you will need to purchase a separate coverage for collision damage. In the unfortunate event you become involved in an accident and sustain damage to yours or the other parties’ vehicle, it would be wise to have collision insurance coverage in order to make a claim with your own insurance company to be compensated for the damages.