Can You File A Personal Injury Suit For A Car Accident In A No-Fault State?
If you live in one of the twelve states with no-fault automobile insurance, that complicates the process of personal injury lawsuits. But just because the state doesn't consider one party to be at fault in an accident doesn't mean that there's no recourse if you were injured in an accident.
The system of no-fault automobile insurance was put into place to limit the number of automobile accident civil suits, with minor accidents being resolved through insurance claims and only more serious accidents going to court. If your accident was serious, you may still be eligible for both economic damages (like medical expenses and lost wages) and non-economic damages (like pain and suffering or aggravation of prior injuries).
But how do you know if your accident was "serious" or not? That varies from state to state, and consulting an auto accident attorney is the only way to be sure. But generally, there are a few ways that states determine the seriousness of an accident.
Using a monetary threshold is the simpler way of determining the seriousness of an accident. Utah, North Dakota, Minnesota, Massachusetts, Kentucky, Kansas and Hawaii all use this type of threshold. Basically, it means that the normal medical expenses resulting from the accident must reach a certain dollar amount.
Like with many aspects of personal injury law, there is still great variation from state to state. Some states will accept medical bills as evidence; others require the testimony of a doctor to prove your treatment was necessary. And the specific amount of the monetary threshold also varies from state to state.
A few states – Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Michigan and Florida – use a more vague threshold that is not based on a dollar amount. Instead, these states have language in their laws that describe what types of injuries would be considered "serious" – death, for example, is always considered a serious injury. Permanent disability or disfigurement are also usually considered serious, as is loss of a limb.
However, the language varies from state to state – some even consider a fractured bone to meet the threshold. Since it will be up to your attorney to argue that your injuries meet the law's definition, consulting an attorney is the best way to know if you've met the requirements in an injury threshold state.
If you live in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, or Kentucky, there's another thing to consider: whether you chose to get no-fault insurance. Unlike the other nine no-fault states, these three states allow drivers to purchase no-fault insurance or traditional insurance. If you purchased traditional insurance, then the no-fault threshold won't apply to you; your rights are like those in at-fault states.
If you believe your accident was serious, according to these factors, you could be eligible to file for a personal injury lawsuit. Consult with an auto accident attorney if you think this is the case.