How to Handle a Car Accident in a No-Fault State

In the U.S. 48 of 50 states require that drivers have auto insurance. Regardless of where you live auto insurance is a must for a number of reasons, including financial security.

The rules and regulations surrounding auto insurance vary from state to state. It’s something most people never think about unless they’re getting coverage for a new vehicle or they get into a car accident. The insurance laws can have a huge bearing on how accidents are handled, especially if you’re in a no-fault state.

Safe driving helps you save on your auto insurance and avoid costly collisions, but sometimes accidents just can’t be avoided. If you get in an accident in a no-fault state here’s what you need to know.

No-Fault State Explained

First things first – what does no-fault state mean? The term refers to 12 states that have some kind of no-fault insurance option. In some states like Michigan no-fault insurance is required while in others it’s optional.

With no-fault coverage it doesn’t matter who’s at fault for the accident because your personal injury protection (PIP) will cover the costs of medical treatment. Your PIP also covers medical treatment for passengers and some states’ policies cover lost income from being unable to work.

However no-fault insurance doesn’t cover:

  • Damage to your vehicle (this is covered by collision coverage)
  • Damage to other vehicles (this is covered by property damage liability coverage)
  • Damage to other people’s property (this is covered by property damage liability coverage)
  • Medical expenses that exceed the no-fault policy limitations

No-fault automobile insurance is the minimum requirement in some states, but additional coverage is highly recommended. At the very least consider adding collision coverage.

3 Essential Steps to Take After a Car Accident

In a no-fault state you don’t have to worry about establishing who was to blame, but you still have to protect yourself. No matter what type of auto insurance you have there are a few steps everyone should take after a car accident.

Call the Police

Even if no one is hurt it’s best to call the police. The police will create a report, which can help establish all of the specifics like when and where the accident happened. This type of documentation can make the insurance claims process easier.

If someone is injured or there is major damage the police can help secure the area and make sure emergency personnel get to the scene as quickly as possible.

Get the Other Driver’s Information

Even though your insurance is covering most of the costs it’s best to get the other driver’s information. Your insurance company may need it for their own records and there is a possibility the other driver isn’t insured. Make sure to get:

  • Name
  • Phone number
  • Insurance policy number
  • Drivers license number
  • License plate number

In no-fault states who was at fault for the accident can still come into play. If that’s the case you’ll need all the information above.

Take Pictures of the Damage

Some insurance providers can get the repair process going simply by receiving pictures of the damage. Pictures also serve as further documentation for your insurance records.

Dealing With an Injury in a No-Fault Car Accident

Most minor injuries are usually easier to deal with in a no-fault state because it’s so straightforward. There’s no haggling over who’s to blame and which insurance company should pay for the medical treatment. Your insurance covers the cost, and you can move on with your life.

Problems arise when you or a passenger suffers a serious injury. PIP coverage has its limitations. You also can’t get pain and suffering damages. Injuries that cause long-term symptoms like chronic back pain and neck pain will also have to be covered by the injured party.

If you have a serious injury and weren’t at fault for the accident you may have to file a personal injury lawsuit against the other driver. However, this option isn’t available in every state. If a personal injury lawsuit is possible you could potentially recover complete coverage, including pain and suffering.

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