Car Accidents in No-Fault States
Car Accidents in No-Fault States
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A complicated mess is a good way to describe a car accident. First, you experience the shock of being in an accident. Then you go through all the motions. Exchange contact information and file claims. Tend to your injuries and get your vehicle repaired. It’s a lot to handle, both mentally and emotionally.
But things can get even more complicated. Normally, whoever causes the accident is considered “at-fault.” The at-fault driver covers the cost for the injured party. This includes medical wages, lost income, and so forth. It’s a relief for the injured person. But it’s a nightmare for the at-fault driver. Their insurance premiums increase to make up for all the expenses.
But not everything related to car insurance is black and white. Some states are “no fault” states. No fault means that neither drivers are considered at-fault. Fault isn’t even determined. Were you in an accident? If so, you’ll file a claim with your insurance company. They’ll cover all of your costs, to a certain extent. Different rules apply if you were in a car accident in a no-fault state.
Were you the victim? Your insurance company will still handle it in-house. At least, up to a certain degree. Your policy will state if there is a limit. What happens if you reach that limit? Then, the other driver’s insurance company will be contacted. You’ll file your claim against them, but only at that point. They’ll be asked to cover the rest of your expenses.
There are only a dozen states that have no-fault car insurance coverage. You can opt out of no-fault coverage or pick choice no fault coverage in a couple states. Let’s look at each state and how their laws work.
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States With No-Fault Policies
In the state of Florida, these are the minimum coverages that everyone must have.
- $10,000 bodily injury per person for each accident
- $20,000 bodily injury for every person for each accident
- $10,000 in property damage liability
- $10,000 for personal injury protection
If you exceed any of those numbers, you’ll file a claim against the other driver.
The $10,000 personal injury protection requirement might be lifted. There has been some debate on this topic in the Florida legislature. Insurance premiums are very high in Florida. This is because of the required $10,000 personal injury protection. But as of right now, it is the legal minimum.
There’s a major downside for car accident victims in a no-fault state. They have diminished ability to sue the driver who hit them. Your own insurance premium might go up, even though you were hit. There’s no cushion for you.
But you’ll appreciate the law if you caused the accident. You’ll have diminished responsibility. You might still be sued. But that’s only if their injuries or damages exceed what their insurance covers.
Kansas is another no-fault state. These are the minimum requirements:
- $25,000 for bodily injury for each person per accident
- $50,000 for bodily injury for each person for each accident
- $10,000 for property damage liability
- $25,000 and $50,000 in uninsured and uninsured motorist bodily injury coverage
- $4,500 basic personal injury protection for each driver or passenger
You must exceed $4,500 before you hold the other person responsible. At that point, you can file a claim or sue the other party.
While Kentucky has a no-fault law, they give drivers a “choice no-fault.” This means that you can opt out of the law and immediately file a claim against a driver who hits you. Do you want to opt for “choice no-fault”? You’ll submit a special form with the Kentucky Department of Insurance. Each family member on your insurance policy will need to buy guest PIP coverage. If they are in an accident with you, they’ll be protected, too.
Have you decided to stick with Kentucky’s no-fault law? Kentucky’s PIP minimum is $10,000. You can choose a higher PIP if $10,000 doesn’t give you enough peace of mind. Do your injuries exceed $1,000? Did the accident result in a broken bone? If so, you may sue the other driver. These are the policies for no-fault accidents.
Hawaii is another no-fault state. Their minimum coverage is as follows:
- $20,000 in bodily injury per person for each accident
- $40,000 for bodily injury for all persons in an accident
- $10,000 in property damage liability
- $10,000 in personal injury protection
The following coverages are not required:
- Underinsured motorist
- Uninsured motorist
Hawaii requires everyone to have $10,000 in personal injury protection. If you exceed $5,000 in injuries, then you may file a claim against the other driver. But if your total expenses are under $10,000, the other driver won’t pay a dime. There is an exception to this: if your injuries involve permanent loss of a body part. Or, if you are disfigured as a result of the accident.
Keep this in mind. If your injuries exceed $10,000, you’re still required to get all medical treatment. You must do this before suing the other driver. For this reason, keep medical documentation of everything. You’ll be prepared if you decide to sue later on.
Here are Utah’s minimum coverage requirements:
- $25,000 minimum for property damage
- $65,000 minimum for bodily injury
- $15,000 minimum for the other party’s property
- $3,000 minimum personal injury protection
The personal injury protection in Utah is meant to cover minor injuries. If you are severely wounded, you may sue the other party. A T-bone or side-swipe accident could be severe enough if you have bodily injuries. But an accident like a fender bender would be a no-fault accident.
North Dakota requires the following minimum insurance:
- $25,000 bodily injury per person per accident
- $50,000 bodily injury for all persons per accident
- $25,000 property damage liability
- $25,000/$50,000 uninsured motorist bodily injury
- $25,000/$50,000 underinsured motorist
- $150 per week/$30,000 maximum basic personal injury protection
North Dakota makes it difficult to sue the other driver. This no-fault state requires similar coverage to other states. You may only sue the other driver if you pay $2,500 or more in medical expenses. A permanent disability or disfigurement that goes unresolved for 60 days also qualifies. You’re justified in suing the other driver if this applies to you.
North Dakota allows its residents to sue for:
- medical costs
- lost earnings
- pain and suffering
So, if your accident was severe, you’ll easily max out what your personal injury protection covers. Then, you’ll file a claim or sue the other driver.
Minnesota requires the following coverages:
- $30,000 bodily injury per person per accident
- $60,000 bodily injury for all persons per accident
- $10,000 property damage liability
- $25,000/$50,000 for uninsured motorist liability
In Minnesota, collision, comprehensive, and personal liability coverages are optional. The more property and assets you have, the more coverage you’ll want to have. Were you negligent behind the wheel? Did another person die? You could lose your property or assets to pay the other party.
You must have the following minimum coverage in the state of Michigan:
- $20,000 in bodily injury coverage for each person per accident
- $40,000 in bodily injury coverage for every person per accident
- $10,000 for property damage liability
- $20,000/$40,000 for uninsured motorist bodily injury
- Unlimited personal injury protection with a $0, $300 or $500 deductible
Uninsured motorist coverage is not required but comes highly recommended. You’ll need to fill out a form rejecting it to meet the state’s requirements. Collision, comprehensive, and personal liability are also optional.
Michigan’s no-fault law might be nearing its expiration date. Since 2018, legislators in the state capitol have worked to do away with this system. If this happens, the cost of an accident will be litigated in state court. State legislators have formulated a plan. They want injured drivers to sue the other party for everything.
Pennsylvania requires the following coverage:
- $15,000 bodily injury per person per accident
- $30,000 bodily injury for all persons per accident
- $5,000 property damage per accident
Unlike most of the other no-fault states, Pennsylvania does not require:
- Personal liability protection
- Uninsured/underinsured motorist insurance
The laws in Pennsylvania are strict. You have the “choice no fault” law here. But you still must go through your insurance company first. Did you break a bone? Are you paralyzed? Did you get a concussion? What about another serious injury? If you answered “yes” to any of those questions, you were “seriously injured.” You’ll have an exemption and be able to sue the other driver.
New Jersey requires the following coverage:
- Bodily Injury (BI): $15,000 per person / $30,000 per accident
- Property Damage (PD): $5,000 per accident
- Personal Injury Protection (PIP): $15,000 per person / accident
- Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage (UM/UIM) : $15,000 per person / $30,000 per accident
New Jersey allows drivers to choose between no-fault and choice no-fault insurance. Your options depend on what insurance company you go through. New Jersey also has the serious injury clause. The following injuries qualify as “serious.”
- Loss of a fetus (miscarriage)
- Displaced fractures
- Significant disfigurement
- Significant scarring
New York’s car insurance requirements are as follows:
- Bodily Injury (BI): $25,000 for BI / $50,000 for death per person per accident.
- $50,000 for BI / $100,000 for death per 2 or more people per accident
- Coverage for other people’s injuries
- Property Damage (PD): $10,000 per accident
There are far more pedestrians than drivers in New York. Subways, trains, and trams are the most common kinds of transportation. But there are drivers, so these are the New York laws.
- $20,000 bodily injury per person per accident
- $40,000 bodily injury for all persons per accident
- $5,000 property damage liability
$8,000 personal injury protection
Massachusetts law allows you to sue the other party under the following conditions:
- Your medical expenses exceed $2,000.
- You are disfigured.
- You have a broken bone.
- You lost your eyesight or hearing.
Each state’s requirements vary. But the general principles for each state are the same. Your injuries must exceed a certain amount to sue the other driver. “Severe injuries” are the exception to the no-fault rule. But “serious” truly does mean “serious.” Losing a pregnancy, breaking a bone, losing your vision or hearing, etc., are what qualify as severe.
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