New York City Personal Injury Law Blog
The Effect of “No Fault” Laws on Your Personal Injury Case
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there were 32,675 people killed in motor vehicle crashes on US roadways in 2014. Injuries were suffered by an additional 2.3 million people the same year.
According to annual national road crash statistics, there are more than 37,000 motor accident deaths in the country and an additional 2.35 million suffer injuries or disabilities. The US spends $230.6 billion per year on road crash costs, which is an average of $820 per person.
If the no-fault system is used in your state law for car accident cases, you may have limited option options for a personal injury claim. If you live in a no-fault state, the procedure and potential outcome of any auto accident personal injury case is impacted by no-fault laws. The statute is likely to limit your potential sources for damage recovery, and it restricts your ability to bring a lawsuit as well.
No-Fault Law Limits Potential Recovery Sources
No-fault laws are in effect in about a dozen states at present. They put severe limitations on potential sources of financial recovery after an auto accident.
No-fault law’s guiding principle is that the law requires all drivers to insure themselves against potential injuries and damages caused by an auto accident. This is why your own insurance company is your first and legally-preferred recovery source if you have suffered injury in a motor accident in a no-fault state. You may file suit against another party to recover damages only if you meet certain statutorily specified conditions.
Whether you have been suffered injury or your vehicle sustained damage in an auto accident, you are required by no-fault law to first collect from your own insurance company. You must collect through a “Personal Injury Protection (PIP) claim”. There is a minor exception to this rule which is in the form of “mini-tort” statutes.
A “mini-tort” claim is a statutorily defined claim that is paid by the other driver’s no-fault carrier. Under the law, the mini-tort claim amount payable is usually somewhere between $500 and $1,000. You may be required by your insurance company to file a mini-tort claim as a matter of course, even if the mini-tort amount is lower than your damages. In most cases, the proceeds of the mini-tort are then deducted from any payout your insurance company makes.
No-fault laws are designed to lower the number of lawsuits filed in state court for auto negligence. When payouts are statutorily mandated, placing conditions to restrict your ability to file a lawsuit and requiring insurance, auto negligence claims do not overrun courts.
Non-fault claims are not allowed to have non-economic damages, and this is one major reason why such legislation is supported by insurance companies. Suits can be brought and non-economic damages can be collected only in the most serious and life-altering cases. Recovery for your economic damages, lost wages, medical expenses, and documented costs for repair and replacement, is effectively limited.
No-Fault Laws can Expedite Recovery
No-fault laws are restrictive, but they do serve a purpose. Your own insurance covers you if you sustain minor injuries or simply total your vehicle with no injury at all. A lawsuit is not as adversarial as an insurance claim. Additionally, compared to the court system, the turnaround time for your claim payment is much faster. Although certain aspects of your claim may be disputed by insurance companies, the fact is that the system works well, especially when it comes to recovering damages after a minor auto accident.
If you or a loved one is injured in a car accident and you live in a state that requires PIP, you should seek the help of a personal injury lawyer at Rosenberg, Minc, Falkoff, & Wolff of RMFW Law at 212 697 9280.
Give us a call. We know this arena. We know how to build strong cases and we know a winning case when we see one. What do you have to say?