On our recent appearance on Truth About Trucking Live, we were asked about “No Fault” automobile insurance and how it impacts the rights of truckers injured in highway accidents.  This is a common question that deserves an answer.

Most states follow a traditional fault based automobile insurance models.  In these states, your state mandated liability insurance is required to pay covered damages only in the event you were at fault in causing the injuries.  In that case, the damages are paid to the other driver injured in the accident.

Your automobile policy typically would not pay you damages for an accident you cause, unless you purchase collision coverage that would cover the damage to your car.

In “No Fault” states, the law requires your automobile insurer to pay you for medical care and lost wages resulting from automobile accidents without proof of who was at fault.  So, even if you were 100% at fault for causing the accident, your insurance company would be required to pay your medical expenses and lost income up to the covered amount.

In addition, in a “No Fault” state, you are usually restricted in the right to seek recovery for medical expenses and lost income through the civil-justice system for losses caused by the party at fault.

Massachusetts was the first state to require no fault insurance coverage in 1971.  There are now twelve states that have some form of mandated no fault insurance: Florida, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Hawaii, Kansas, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Dakota, and Utah (along with Puerto Rico).

The idea behind no fault car insurance is that when someone is injured in an accident, they can be reimbursed and get the medical treatment they need without having to determine who is liable for the accident. This is intended to more quickly compensate injured drivers for losses because it eliminates the sometimes long litigation process that comes with the fault based “tort” system.

No state follows a purely “No Fault” scheme.  All states place some limits on the applicability of no fault coverage.  For example:

  • All states limit the applicability of no fault coverage to the payment of medical expenses and lost income.  The coverage does not include pain and suffering damages.
  • Many no-fault systems allow injured drivers to recover under the no fault provisions of the policy only for medical expenses and lost wages that are not covered by other available first-party insurance benefits, such as the injured person’s health insurance.
  • All “No fault” states allow injured drivers to sue the party at fault and recover their full damages if certain thresholds are met.  The threshold can be monetary, or descriptive, or a combination.  The monetary thresholds usually provide that the injured driver can sue the party at fault to recover their full damages when his or her medical expenses exceed a certain amount.  The descriptive thresholds usually relate to the seriousness of the injury, such as broken bones, severed limbs, etc. If you have one of these serious injuries and your damages exceed the no fault policy limits, you will be able to sue the party at fault to recover your full damages.

In some states, no fault insurance is not required, but insurance companies must include no fault coverage as an option.  If you select this coverage, you will be charged an additional premium.

Auto insurance laws are different in every state.  If you have been injured in a highway accident, you should talk to an attorney about the applicable insurance and other laws.  We would be happy to talk with you about your claim free of charge.  You can contact us at 417-323-2889 (417-323-2889) or email us at [email protected] or contact us on Facebook or Twitter.