Here in Melbourne, Florida, we deal with a law that makes Florida in its entirety a “No Fault” state. This means that each driver is required to carry PIP insurance, but that medical bills and the like are not decided by the fault of the accident. Each respective driver’s insurance covers the driver and his/her passengers. However, in other parts of the country, if you get into an accident, you may not be so lucky. Vehicle damages and medical bills can swamp you if you are found at fault in a personal injury lawsuit. What dictates finding fault in an accident?
Who is at Fault?
Accidents are accidents, plain and simple. It’s rare that someone intentionally runs into another person, and in cases like that, the at-fault driver is pretty clear. For most everyday accidents, tough determining fault can be challenging. In a “fault” state, it is extremely important to determine the at-fault driver so that their insurance company can pay reparations to the other party for lost wages, medical bills, car damages, or pain and suffering.
Insurance companies generally decide who was at fault based on several accounts. Their decisions then go to court to assist if there are any personal injury lawsuits taking place. Your attorney will know who was deemed at fault if it was not obvious at the scene of the accident.
Your insurance company (as well as the other party’s) will look at negligence on both party’s parts. Some states use comparative negligence, some use modified comparative negligence, and others will use contributory negligence.
Comparative negligence allows an insurance agency to deem partial fault to both parties, making it X% one driver’s fault and Y% the other. This is helpful for a personal injury attorney. This allows your lawyer to ask for reparations only on the part that was your fault, rather than having to pay their bills completely. It is a good option to decrease the amount you would potentially have to pay.
Modified comparative negligence is slightly different in that it limits how much you can ask for through the other driver’s insurance. For example, if you are not under 50% at fault in some states, you can’t ask for your losses.
Finally, contributory negligence is an all or nothing kind of deal. If you are even 10% at fault, you are not allowed to ask for damages. Unless you are completely blameless, you are stuck.
Be sure you know the laws of the states you travel to, just to be safe in case of an accident! Which option you fall under will be determined by state, generally speaking. Your insurance will take that into account and do what it can to protect you. However, if you are at fault, be prepared to deal with the consequences. They will for the most part depend on the police report that is filed in order to determine fault. For this reason, try not to admit that you are at fault while at the scene. It is challenging to refute that later on if it in fact was not completely your fault.