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Determining Fault — Why It Matters In Both At-Fault And No-Fault States

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After a car accident, one of the first questions that many people want to answer is who is responsible. Determining fault is an important step for anyone who is injured or who has damaged property — even if you live in a state with a no-fault insurance system. Why? Here's what you need to know about liability in both no-fault and at-fault systems. 

1. Fault in an At-Fault Insurance State

Most states require that the at-fault party in an auto collision pay for damages and injuries. While these are colloquially called at-fault states, the legal term is tort states. A tort occurs when someone causes harm or injury to another person through negligence or intentional acts.

At-fault insurance states stipulate that the insurance coverage of the at-fault party or parties cover all the related costs — including reimbursing other carriers who may have already paid some expenses for their own covered clients. Unfortunately, this also leaves victims at the mercy of whatever insurance policy and limits the at-fault driver has — assuming they have insurance at all. 

In at-fault insurance states, victims are allowed to sue the at-fault parties with few limitations. Some of the only limitations are in states that bar victims from suing or that reduce their damage awards if they were partially liable themselves. 

2. Fault in a No-Fault Insurance State

Living in a no-fault insurance state makes things more complicated. First, you must carry insurance that pays for your own injuries. In many cases, you may not be permitted to sue the at-fault parties for covered expenses until you reach the limits of your own insurance. These policies also often only pay for a percentage of expenses. 

If your insurance doesn't cover all your costs, you then proceed to the civil litigation stage. In most cases, you can sue the at-fault driver for things like out-of-pocket expenses. Some states also allow victims to sue at-fault drivers without limits. Others may allow you to sue the driver only if you have highly significant injuries. 

Where Can You Find Help?

It's easy to see that determining fault is a vital component in receiving the maximum compensation for your accident. Whether you need to sue someone to get basic costs covered or you must pursue them when your own insurance runs out, never be fooled into thinking that fault doesn't matter. 

Finding the right liable parties and proving they were at fault in court, though, can be difficult. Get help by meeting with an experienced personal injury attorney in your state today. 

Contact a law firm like Maxwell Law Firm to learn more.