Many individuals in the United States are able to rest comfortably knowing that they’ll be compensated by another person’s insurance if that individual causes them to be involved in an auto accident. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case in some states. States that have “no-fault” laws actually make it difficult for injured victims to recover fair compensation, but luckily, there are sometimes ways to get around these laws.
What are No-Fault Laws?
No-fault laws exist in a minority of U.S. states, but those who live in those states are bound by them. These statutes basically say that a person’s own personal auto insurer will cover the normal special damages that they incur during a car accident. This typically includes medical bills and property damage. The laws also restrict the instances in which an individual can actually seek out damages against another driver.
While no-fault laws mean that a person won’t have to go through the trouble of a lawsuit to be reimbursed for medical bills and property damage, these statutes do still present a few problems. General damages, such as pain and suffering, aren’t paid by a policyholder’s insurance company. Because of this, individuals in no-fault states may end up with less reimbursement than they would in other states.
Are Lawsuits ever Allowed?
Fortunately, there are often instances where an individual in a no-fault state can still bring forth a lawsuit against a negligent driver. As mentioned, general damages aren’t typically covered under no-fault policies, but an injured driver can often still bring forth lawsuits to recover these types of damages. There are still limits on this ability, though; some states, for instance, require medical bills to reach a certain threshold before a suit can be brought forth.
Other states, such as New York, allow civil suits if a person’s injury is considered serious enough. This often means suffering a permanent disability, disfigurement or death. In a tragic 2009 accident in New York, for instance, a driver was on the wrong side of the road and collided head on with another vehicle. The families of the three men killed in the accident could likely bring forth a lawsuit against the negligent driver’s estate due to the seriousness of their injuries. Retaining a NY auto accident attorney for this case would be vital.
What to do after an Accident
It’s important to contact police immediately after being involved in an accident in a no-fault state. This is because, even in these states, negligence must be proven if a civil suit is allowed. After doing this and seeking medical attention, the injured party should immediately find an attorney to help them build a case.
The reason that attorneys are so essential in no-fault states is because of the thresholds that must often be met to allow a civil suit. Attorneys in these states know the legal landscape, and they can help prove that an injury meets the standards to warrant a lawsuit. Additionally, they can help with claims involving other general damages, including pain and suffering, and thus help ensure that their client is fairly compensated.
No-fault laws are meant to ease the burden of civil torts on a state’s judicial system, but this is sometimes done at the detriment of an individual’s right to recover compensation. Luckily, a person who has an experienced attorney at their side will stand a good chance of recovering both the typical damages provided in no-fault states and additional damages that they are likely entitled to. While no-fault states make it more difficult to be fairly compensated, they don’t make it impossible.
Lisa Coleman shares what no-fault law is and how it can affect a person’s injury claim, and how a local and experienced auto accident attorney can legally help. She recently viewed online how the Perecman Firm, P.L.L.C., an experienced NY auto accident attorney group, is equipped to counsel and represent a client who has been involved in a serious accident within the NYC area, including head-on collisions.