You may have heard of terms such as fault states and no-fault states. When it comes to car accident liability, these terms can make a big difference as they determine who’s at fault. Laws can vary considerably from state to state and the law related to an accident is of course dependent on which state it occurred.
The majority of states in the United States follow a fault-based system of car insurance. The insurance companies will examine the case and after determining each party’s culpability, compensation will be awarded accordingly. Unfortunately, insurer’s don’t often agree with the client’s claim and the client’s lawyer is forced to file a lawsuit for remaining damages such as lost income, medical expenditure and even emotional damages such as ‘pain and suffering’.
Some states prefer the no-fault system when dealing with accident liability. This is primarily due to the fact that the fault-based system has led to expensive and drawn-out court cases trying to determine culpability. In no-fault states, the motorist does not have to go about proving that the other party was at fault, prior to being awarded compensation for personal injuries. The insurance carrier will take care of medical expenses and lost income. But in relation to property damage, i.e. damage to the vehicle or its contents, compensation is determined based on fault. Even if the accident takes place in a no-fault state, this part of the case will be handled just like it would be in a state with the fault-based system.
The injured party generally cannot sue the other driver in a no-fault state for emotional distress or pain and suffering. However, if the accident liability claim exceeds a monetary or verbal threshold, then the victim can sue for bodily injuries. In states that use the monetary threshold, medical expenditure must exceed a specified dollar amount. In states that use the verbal threshold, injuries need to be either severe enough (such as disfigurement, bone fracture or permanent disability) or expressed in terms of how long the person will be disabled. Some states adopt both thresholds, which allows the injured person to file a suit if either threshold is met.
A lawyer with experience in dealing with automobile accidents can help you determine your rights based on the laws present in your state and how they affect your claims.