What Is the Difference Between No-Fault and At-Fault Insurance?

Whether your auto insurance is governed under a no-fault or at-fault policy will have an impact on how your claim is handled after a car accident. The type of fault involved can also affect the compensation you might receive for your injuries.

The key differences between no-fault and at-fault insurance involve a victim’s rights to sue for damages and who pays for the injured party’s damages. If you have been injured in a car accident, an experienced car accident lawyer can explain your insurance options and pursue compensation for your injuries. 

What Is No-Fault Insurance?

What Is No-Fault Insurance?

Several states require drivers to carry no-fault insurance, which is intended to cover expenses for the driver and any passengers involved in an accident – whether the driver was responsible for the crash or not. No-fault insurance, generally also known as Personal Injury Protection (PIP), covers medical costs up to the limits of the driver’s policy, minus any deductibles. 

In a no-fault insurance state, each driver in an accident will pursue coverage through their own insurer, no matter who caused the accident. One goal of this type of insurance is to speed up the claims process and get financial assistance to an accident victim sooner. 

However, no-fault insurance limits how and when an injured driver can sue the other for damages. In many cases, a crash victim can only file a lawsuit if their damages exceed coverage limits or are severe and life-altering. 

What Is At-Fault Insurance?

In an at-fault insurance state, accident victims can take legal action against the responsible driver after any collision. They may do so by filing an insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit.

If liability is shown, the at-fault driver’s insurance company can be required to pay the victim’s medical bills, property damage, pain and suffering, and other costs due to the crash. 

How Do You Prove Fault in a Car Accident Lawsuit? 

In a no-fault insurance state, you do not need to prove negligence and liability against the other driver (unless you are eligible to escape the no-fault rules and pursue additional compensation).

In an at-fault state, however, the claimant or plaintiff must show evidence that the other driver was responsible for the accident. 

To prove negligence in a car accident lawsuit, a plaintiff must establish the following four elements: 

  1. Duty of care. The other driver must have had some duty of care to follow the rules of the road and protect the safety of other drivers. 
  2. Breach of duty. To demonstrate negligence, the other driver must have failed to follow the reasonable duty of care to others and acted in an unsafe manner. In a car accident case, this can involve failing to stop at a signal, speeding excessively, making an unsafe maneuver, or driving while intoxicated. 
  3. Causation. There must be a causal connection between the other driver’s breach of duty and the injuries suffered by the plaintiff. If another driver or multiple drivers were involved, this weakens the case against the defendant. 
  4. Damages. The breach of duty and related accident must have caused damages to the plaintiff. Damages can include economic damages, such as medical bills or lost wages. They can also include non-economic damages such as pain and suffering. 

Whether you are filing a personal injury claim through insurance or a civil lawsuit, it is essential to keep track of your damages as you recover from the accident. An experienced car accident lawyer knows how to itemize and present damages to the insurance company or through the court process to collect a settlement that helps you move forward. 

If you have been injured in a car accident, the physical, emotional, and financial stress can make recovery difficult. Curiel & Runion Car Accident and Personal Injury Lawyers can help you focus on your personal recovery while proving fault after a crash. 

Contact our team to schedule your free consultation and take the first step toward compensation for your injuries.