There are currently 12 states in the United States that operate with no fault insurance laws. If you live in Florida, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Hawaii, Kansas, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Dakota or Utah, it is important that you familiarize yourself with the basics of no fault auto insurance and the specifics of your state and insurance policy. The basic premise behind no fault laws is that if you have minor injuries from an accident, your insurance will cover the injuries in order to prevent unnecessary lawsuits and delays in payment. However, more serious injuries may still result in a liability claim, in which case you may need the help of a lawyer.
No Fault States May Have Verbal or Monetary No Fault Limits
In most states that have no fault laws, once the seriousness of your injuries reaches a certain threshold, you are eligible to take actions against the person whose fault the accident was. This can include submitting a liability claim to their insurance or suing the driver directly if they are uninsured or under-insured. The limits that you must reach are set by the state and are either verbal or monetary. For example, some states require that your injuries meet certain descriptive thresholds in order to be deemed serious enough to engage liability insurance while other states simply have a monetary value you must reach.
If you are close to reaching the verbal or monetary limits set by the state, you may want to discuss your case with a lawyer to determine if there is a possibility for engaging liability insurance.
No Fault Does Not Cover Pain and Suffering Or Other Non-Physical Harm
No fault insurance policies, often called PIP (Personal Injury Protection) do not usually pay for pain and suffering or other psychological issues related to the accident. They also may not cover lost wages or opportunities. This means that if you do not reach the threshold in your state, you will likely only be compensated for your physical injuries.
However, once you reach the threshold and can make liability claims, you can also be compensated for psychological and social losses. For this reason, it is important to thoroughly document the extent of your suffering due to the accident in every sphere of life.
Most Insurance Policies Work Under the Laws of the State Where the Accident Took Place
Most insurance policies are set up so that they automatically adjust to the laws of the state where you are driving. For example, if you are insured in California you most likely do not have PIP. However, if you drive into Utah and get into an accident, your insurance will likely cover your injuries as if it were a no fault policy. This also applies to instances when the minimum coverage in your home state is less than the minimum coverage in a state you are driving in temporarily.
However, if you get in a serious accident in a no fault state when you come from a non-no fault state, you should talk with a lawyer about your options for getting your medical bills paid.
In Some States Personal Injury Protection Will Extend to Pedestrians and Cyclists
If you are in an accident in a no fault state and both drivers are injured, it is likely that your PIP will cover your injuries and the other driver's PIP will cover theirs. However, if you are in an accident with a pedestrian or cyclist, then your PIP will likely cover their injuries as well as your own, without regard to fault. However, the pedestrian will not be able to make claims for pain and suffering unless they reach the same threshold for injuries that a driver or passenger has to reach.
If you are seriously injured in a no fault state, you may want to talk with an auto accident lawyer to better understand your options beyond your PIP.