This article is about car accident injury claims. (Go here to learn about the most common car accident injuries.)
Does Your State Have A Fault or A No-Fault Car Accident Injury Claims System?
The first thing you have to learn is whether the state where you were injured has a no-fault or a fault system for resolving car accident injury claims.
As of the time I am writing this, these 12 states have no-fault systems . . .
(The states with an asterisk (*) beside them are “choice states,” which means that drivers in those states could have either fault (called “tort”) insurance coverage or no-fault coverage, depending on what they chose when they purchased their insurance.)
How Does A No-Fault Car Accident Injury Claims System Work?
Under a no-fault system, your insurance company pays for your economic losses, but only for your economic losses. They do not pay you for pain and suffering. You can only make a claim against the at-fault driver for damages including pain and suffering if your claim meets a certain test, called a threshold.
How Does a Fault Car Accident Injury Claims System Work?
In the other states, the driver at fault – the driver who caused the accident – pays for the injuries he caused. Actually, his insurance company pays (up to his policy limit) if he had insurance.
The at-fault driver or his insurance company must pay for (1) your financial losses and (2) your “non-financial losses.”
Financial losses normally include medical bills and lost income but can include other financial losses such as the cost of traveling to and from medical appointments and the cost of hiring someone to perform services you couldn’t do while you were injured, such as cleaning your house or mowing your lawn.
To be able to recover for your financial losses, you must document them and prove that they are a result of your car accident and not something else. Normally, the cause of your injuries is obvious from the facts. However sometimes, such as when there is a “gap” in your treatment, the insurance company Bad Guys will challenge the losses after the interruption in treatment and claim that they were not caused by your car accident. When this happens, you should get your physician to state her medical opinion that your car accident caused the later treatment, if that is the case.
Non-financial losses, which usually go by the shorthand name “pain and suffering,” include such things as physical pain, mental anguish, disfigurement, inconvenience and loss of consortium. This last item, loss of consortium, recognizes the common sense notion that when one member of a “marital team” is injured, there may be effects on the other team member.
Determining the amount of money that has to be paid to compensate you for your pain and suffering is the tricky part of an injury claim.
Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a universally accepted auto accident pain and suffering settlement calculator?
There really isn’t such a thing, but you can click here to learn more about how to calculate a pain and suffering settlement.
What is Add-On No Fault?
Just to confuse you a little . . .
There are 11 states that have fault systems for compensating injury victims, but also have “add-on” no-fault. In the following states, you can make a fault injury claim against the driver who caused the accident and you can make a no-fault claim against your insurance company under your no-fault coverage, usually called Personal Injury Protection (PIP) . . .