Most states in the United States are split into two sections when it comes to car insurance: no-fault and fault. This determines how insurance is handled after a wreck involving two or more vehicles. There are twelve states that are no-fault for auto insurance. The remaining states have some type of fault system.
No-Fault vs Fault States
In a no-fault state, the fault of the accident is not initially considered regarding insurance. Both parties involved must file with their individual insurance companies in order to receive compensation for damage and injuries that arise. This doesn’t mean the at-fault driver will not be held accountable, however. Drivers who cause accidents can still face the same lawsuit risks and legal penalties as they would in a fault state. They could also see a rise in car insurance premiums.
In fault states, the driver declared at-fault for an accident is responsible for paying for all damages. Insured drivers who cause an accident must file with their insurance company to cover damages and injuries done to all parties directly caused by the incident.
Comparative fault is not a separate category. Instead, it is part of most fault states. Comparative fault is a rating system to determine the amount of responsibility each driver has for the accident. Within comparative fault, there are three subsections: pure contributory negligence, pure comparative fault and modified comparative fault.
Different Types of Comparative Fault
Pure Contributory Negligence
This system is the least used out of all three comparative fault systems. Used only by the District of Columbia and four states, this rule states that a party cannot recover damages even if they are only 1 percent at fault for the damage. So even if one party is found 80 percent at fault, the other damaged party may not recover anything. They may also held accountable for the remaining fault of 20 percent.
Pure Comparative Fault
This rule is recognized by Alaska, Arizona, California, Florida, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, New Mexico, New York, Rhode Island, South Dakota and Washington. This rule allows at-fault parties to recover damages at a reduced degree.
Modified Comparative Fault
This rule is the most common in fault states. The 33 states that recognize this rule are Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Wisconsin and Wyoming.
These states differ on the details of this rule. Modified comparative fault essentially decides fault on a scale based around the 50 percent mark. The first twelve of these states rule that damage cannot be recovered if the party is 50 percent or more at fault for the accident, and those that are 49 percent or less at fault can receive a reduced amount. The other 21 states go based off 51 percent, which means parties that are 50 percent or less at fault may recover damages while those 51 percent or more at fault cannot.
This does not mean you will not receive compensation after causing an accident.
Fault only refers to compensation from another party. If you cause an accident in Texas, for example, you may seek compensation from the other driver if you are 50 percent at fault. If you are 51 percent or more at fault for the accident, however, you must file for compensation with your own insurance company or pay for the damages and medical expenses out of pocket — rather than receiving compensation from the other party. In cases of disputes regarding compensation, both parties should seek a legal solution.
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