Yes, you can sue after a car accident in no-fault states. Each of the 12 no-fault states allows drivers to sue for damages if their injuries are particularly severe or if their medical expenses surpass a certain amount, though each state has its own threshold. If you do not meet the lawsuit threshold for your state, then you cannot sue the at-fault driver.
When You Can Sue in No-Fault States
Threshold for Filing Lawsuit
Loss of important body function, permanent injury, permanent scarring or disfigurement, or death.
Medical expenses exceeding $10,000; or permanent loss of body function, permanent disfigurement, or death.
Medical expenses exceeding $2,000; or permanent disfigurement, fracture, loss of body part, permanent injury, permanent loss of body function, or death.
Medical expenses exceeding $1,000; or fracture, permanent disfigurement, permanent injury, or death (if the policyholder has not rejected limits on the right to sue).
Medical expenses exceeding $2,000; or loss of body member, permanent disfigurement, loss of sight or hearing, fracture, or death.
Serious injury, permanent disfigurement or death.
Medical expenses exceeding $4,000; or permanent disfigurement, permanent injury, disability for 60 days or more, or death.
Loss of body part, significant disfigurement or scarring, a displaced fracture, loss of fetus, permanent injury, or death (under a "limited right to sue" policy).
Medical expenses exceeding $50,000; or dismemberment, significant disfigurement, fracture, permanent loss or significant limitation of use of body organ; disability for more than 90 days, or death.
Medical expenses exceeding $2,500; or dismemberment, permanent disfigurement, disability for more than 60 days, or death.
Serious impairment of body function, permanent disfigurement, or death (under a "limited tort" policy).
Medical expenses exceeding $3,000; or dismemberment, permanent disability or impairment, permanent disfigurement, or death.
In Kentucky, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, drivers can choose to opt-out of the no-fault system. In that case, the limitations on lawsuits no longer apply. To learn more about the laws in no-fault states, check out WalletHub’s no-fault insurance guide.
The no-fault states for car insurance are Florida, Hawaii, Kansas, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, and Utah. In the 12 no-fault states, each driver’s car insurance provider pays their own medical claims after an accident regardless of who was at fault.
A no-fault insurance system limits the ability of drivers and passengers to sue for additional compensation. Drivers in no-fault states can sue for injuries only if they are determined to be “severe” – the legal definition of which varies from state to state. No-fault rules only apply to injuries, however. Property damage claims in no-fault states are still paid by the at-fault driver’s liability insurance.
Special Types of No-Fault States
"Choice" No-Fault States
Of the 12 “pure” no-fault states, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Kentucky are the only ones that give drivers an option to choose between buying a no-fault insurance policy and a traditional auto liability insurance policy.
"Add-on" No-Fault States
District of Columbia
Besides the 12 no-fault states, some “add-on” states have auto liability insurance laws that are a blend of the no-fault and at-fault insurance systems. These add-on states are not considered to be true no-fault states by the Insurance Information Institute because they do not restrict or place limits on a driver’s right to sue for additional compensation.
Finally, at-fault states follow a tort system, which assigns responsibility for an accident to a driver or drivers. At-fault states also allow injured parties to sue negligent drivers for injuries, as well as pain and suffering, without restrictions. Most U.S. states are at-fault states.
Insurance Rates in No-Fault States
Drivers who live in one of the 12 no-fault insurance states can expect to pay more for auto insurance than those in at-fault states. Insurance fraud is more common in no-fault states, given that claims are paid regardless of who was at fault, providing an incentive for some individuals to exaggerate the extent of their injuries. Those heightened rates of fraud, combined with mandatory PIP insurance, raise costs for auto insurers, which are passed on to consumers.
It should be no surprise that the three most expensive states in WalletHub’s Cheap Car Insurance Study – Michigan, New York, and New Jersey – are all no-fault states. So if you live in a no-fault state or will be moving to one, be sure to compare quotes so that you can get an auto insurance policy that fits your needs and your budget.
In a no-fault accident, each driver’s insurance pays for their own medical bills, regardless of who caused the wreck. No-fault states require drivers to have personal injury protection (PIP) insurance in order to pay for their own injury-related expenses, including hospital bills and lost income.
A “no-fault” accident is a wreck that takes place in a state with no-fault laws. However, no-fault laws only apply to injuries, so at least one driver will still be deemed responsible for the crash. That at-fault driver’s … read full answerproperty damage liability insurance will cover damage to the other drivers’ vehicles. If the at-fault driver doesn’t have liability insurance, then you can use uninsured motorist or collision insurance to repair or replace your car.
On the other hand, if you cause a no-fault accident, you will have to use your collision insurance or pay for the damage out of pocket. Your liability insurance won’t pay for your own vehicle repairs.
When you are not at fault in an accident, the other driver’s car insurance typically pays for your expenses. If it takes a while to determine fault, you can file a collision claim with your insurer, which will then try to recover the cost of the claim and your deductible from the at-fault driver’s insurer. In most states, you should file injury claims directly with the at-fault driver’s insurer, though no-fault states require you to use your own insurance to pay for medical bills.… read full answer
If the at-fault driver does not have insurance, you can file a claim with your own uninsured motorist (UM) insurance, if you have it. Depending on your policy, you might also have underinsured motorist coverage (UIM), which applies if the other driver’s liability limits aren’t high enough to pay for all the damage.
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