Auto Insurance, “No-Fault” vs. “At-Fault

Auto Insurance, “No-Fault” vs. “At-Fault

Automobile insurance is mandatory in most jurisdictions in the United States. It is designed to provide coverage for the risk of financial liability as a result of an auto accident. The states that do not require a motorist to carry car insurance are Virginia, New Hampshire, and Mississippi. Virginians that do not have auto insurance must pay an uninsured motor vehicle fee to the state, while New Hampshire and Mississippi have the option of posting a bond.

After an accident, it is usual to determine who is at fault. With traditional insurance the driver determined to be at-fault is the one who will pay damages to the other driver. The alternative is “no-fault” insurance also known as personal injury protection. With this type of coverage, the insurance company of each of the drivers involved pays for their own insured’s damages, regardless of who is at fault for the accident.

There are twelve states, including Puerto Rico, that have no-fault auto insurance laws. Five of those states, Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Michigan, and Florida are no-fault with “verbal thresholds.” The remaining seven states, Hawaii, Kansas, Utah, North Dakota, Minnesota, Massachusetts, and Kentucky use the “monetary threshold.”

Thresholds are boundaries within which a person’s injury must fall before that person can bring a civil action against the “at-fault” motorist for his damages. These thresholds are either “verbal” or “monetary.”  Verbal thresholds mean that the motorist can only sue for those damages received in an accident that fall within a certain category that includes permanent disabilities, whereas monetary thresholds mean that the motorist’s medical costs must exceed a certain dollar amount, or his injuries must be serious enough for that motorist to sue.

Three of these states allow the motorists a choice of no-fault or at-fault insurance. New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Kentucky motorists may retain the right to sue for any injuries related to any auto accident that they are involved in.

New York is a No-Fault Auto Insurance State With Verbal Thresholds

If you are a victim of an auto accident in New York, your second step is to contact an experienced personal injury attorney. Your first step is to seek medical attention for any injuries you may have received. If your injuries fall within the category considered by New York State law to be within the “verbal threshold” you may qualify to file suit for those injuries. The list of injuries that fall within this category include:

  • A significant disfigurement injuries;
  • A bone fracture;
  • Permanent limitation of use of a body member or organ;
  • Significant limitation of use of a body function or system; or
  • Total disability the lasts for at least ninety days.

Caveat:  No-fault rules apply to personal injuries only. If your injuries include property damage as well, you may file a civil action against the at-fault motorists for those costs.

After an auto accident, whether you live in an “At-Fault” or “No-Fault” Jurisdiction, you will need the expertise of an experienced personal injury attorney. Please contact us today, by phone at 1-888-900-7034, or take advantage of our online case evaluation form to schedule your initial case review.


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