The chances are that if you drive, you will be in a car accident at some point during your life. The average driver has three to four car accidents in their lifetime. Car accidents are nearly impossible to avoid. The period following a car accident can be a stressful time for a driver. Having to deal with insurance companies who make more money but not paying claims can be frustrating. That is why you should have all the information you need before you start the process of filing an insurance claim for your accident. Today we are going to take a look at what the difference is between at-fault and no-fault car accident. We will also discuss what you need to know before you have an accident.
What Is an At-Fault Accident?
If you are at-fault in a car accident, it means that you caused the accident. If you are 51% or more at-fault for an accident the insurance company or police, you are considered to be the responsible party. When you are in a single car accident, you are more than likely at-fault. Police and insurance companies consider factors like ice on the roadway and hitting a pothole avoidable. So if you slide off the road and hit a tree, chances are it will be your fault.
The party that is at fault in the car accident is responsible for the damage to both vehicles. This means that your insurance policy will cover both your car and the person’s with whom you were in the accident with. In many states, know as “Tort states” the at-fault driver is responsible for the medical bills for the other party as well. However, there are 12 states where this isn’t the case. Florida is a no-fault car accident state. We will discuss in more detail exactly what that means in a little bit.
In Tort states, the system they use is all based on percentages. If you are responsible for 70% of the accident, you are responsible for 70% of the damage. Each state has a different way to determine the percentages in an accident. Also, the at-fault driver is responsible for any pain and suffering the accident causes.
What Is a No-Fault Car Accident?
A no-fault car accident usually refers to the medical costs associated with a car accident. In no-fault states, such as Florida, no matter who is at fault, your insurance policy pays for your medical costs. Every auto insurance policy has a personal injury protection limit. The limit of this portion of your auto insurance is $10,000. Your insurance covers any medical bills up to that $10,000 figure. However, there are exceptions to this rule.
- Permanent Injuries: If the injuries are severe enough, Florida allows a person to sue for damages. The state has a threshold that the injuries must meet to qualify as permanent injuries. These laws include but are not limited to scarring or disfigurement, loss of important bodily functions, and death. Accidents that do not result in permanent injuries but cause more than $10,000 in medical bills can also result in a lawsuit. The family of someone that has died in a car accident can also sue for wrongful death.
- Uninsured Motorist: The no-fault car accident law in Florida only protects those that carry the minimum amount of insurance the state requires. Anyone that is driving without insurance opens themselves up to a lawsuit if they are the at-fault driver in an auto accident. Many drivers choose to carry uninsured motorist coverage for situations such as these.
- Out of State Accidents: Florida’s no-fault car accident laws only apply to accidents that happen within the state of Florida. If you are in a car accident in another state, their laws will apply instead.
What System is Better?
Just like anything else in life, there are pros and cons to both systems. In Tort states, there are much higher court and legal fees associated with auto accident claims. There is also more protection for the driver that isn’t at fault. States with no-fault car accident laws have much lower court costs when dealing with insurance claims and settlements. Therefore, the driver ends up with more of the money from his or her claim. The only drawback is that it can almost feel like you are being punished for something that wasn’t your fault in the first place.
What Should You Do After an Accident?
The process after an accident is the same no matter the state laws governing auto accidents. Here is what you should do:
- Make sure everyone is safe.
- Call the police.
- Contact an experienced Florida car accident attorney. You’ll want to do this before filing a claim with your insurance company. Remember that it is the insurance companies job to pay out as little as possible. You need someone on your side that can help you get what you deserve.