How does no-fault car insurance work after a car accident?
If you live in one of the states that follow some variation
of a no-fault car insurance system -- that’s the District of Columbia, Florida,
Hawaii, Kansas, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New
York, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, and Utah -- you’ll need to play by a
different set of rules if you’ve been injured in a car accident (no-fault rules
don’t apply to vehicle damage claims).
You’ll need to turn first to your own car insurance policy (usually
known as personal injury protection or PIP coverage) to get compensation for medical
treatment and lost income stemming from the accident, up to a certain limit. It
doesn’t matter who
caused the car accident (they don’t call it “no-fault” for nothing). For
minor injuries, that’s usually the end of the story; your claim is resolved
with your own insurance carrier. Plus, you can’t get non-economic damages,
which includes compensation for pain and suffering.
But if your claim meets the threshold in place in your state,
either because your injuries are serious enough or because you’ve incurred
medical bills above a certain dollar limit, you’re allowed to step outside of
the no-fault system and file a liability insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit
against the at-fault driver. The specifics depend on the no-fault laws in your
state, but at this point you’re typically able to recover the full spectrum of personal
injury damages, including pain and suffering.
by: David Goguen, J.D.