Understanding The Difference Between Fault And No-Fault

Posted on: 27 January 2016

If you were in a car accident, then you might be thinking about filing a lawsuit. However, that might not necessarily be your best option, since your situation might not even qualify as valid grounds for a lawsuit. To help you get a better idea of whether an insurance claim or a lawsuit is right for you, here is an introduction to the legal concepts of "fault" and "no-fault":

What does fault mean in the context of an auto accident lawsuit?

If you live in a fault state or if your accident happened in a fault state, then you have a wide array of options available to you. You may make a claim with your insurance company or you can make a claim with the other party's insurance company. If you feel that your insurance won't give you the amount of money that you want, then you can file a lawsuit against the other party.

If it does come down to a lawsuit, then you should be aware of the possibility of a settlement, which could greatly expedite the process.

Then what is "no-fault"?

In contrast to fault states, no-fault states severely restrict your options. You can't generally file a lawsuit, so you will need to use insurance to get your compensation. The general idea is that insurance claims are much faster and more effective in no-fault states, getting you the money that you need quickly.

The standard of proof is lower, which means that you don't need to prove that the other party was responsible for your injuries and financial burdens. Instead, your claim will generally be granted and all of your economic damages will be covered, ranging from lost wages to medical bills.

What if your insurance won't cover serious injuries like an amputation?

Fortunately, there is one key exception in no-fault states, and that is when your injuries are extremely severe. If you were paralyzed, disfigured, or experienced a drastic change in quality of life as a result of your accident, then you can actually file a lawsuit.

Due to the rather subjective nature of this exception, it's best to talk to a lawyer before you commit to a lawsuit. You'll want to know whether your specific case fits these criteria and just how much money you stand to gain. In some cases, an insurance claim might be much easier and more reliable, since you can't be sure that you will win a lawsuit. Contact a law office, such as Kaston & Aberle, for more information.