Having a car accident can be an extremely stressful time. Not only are one or more parties likely to be injured, but there could be a loss of earnings associated with the injuries, and there will be damage to vehicles and potentially other people’s property. When accidents occur, it can be a minefield trying to sport out insurance claims, with insurance companies often battling against each other and the victims in order to try and pay out as little as possible.
Some states are designated no-fault states. However, many people do not understand exactly what this term means and how it can affect their chances of a successful claim for injury or damages. Here we are going to take a look at what no-fault insurance means for accident victims.
What is no-fault insurance?
No-fault insurance can be an incredibly confusing subject because some states are considered no-fault states, and others are not. For a foreigner hiring a car in the USA for the first time, it can be utterly baffling, so it is important to understand the term and what it means for you. Basically, no-fault insurance, also known as personal injury protection (PIP), is a form of insurance that means that accident victims can claim compensation directly from their own insurance provider rather than have to go through the hassle of contacting the other party. It does not matter who is at fault, and the idea is that having this type of insurance means that there are fewer personal injury lawsuits.
What is not included?
As with many insurance policies, there are always going to be exemptions, and PIP has its fair share. In Hawaii, for example, it is worth hiring a personal injury protection lawyer because there are a number of exemptions such as damage to either car involved in the accident or other people’s property. Injuries to the occupants of the other car are not covered, nor are passengers in your car provided that they are not named on your policy. Given that you must have a minimum of $10,000 worth of cover in Hawaii, it can soon get expensive to insure all your passengers. So, this is where it is worth consulting with a lawyer to ensure that you have all the coverage that you need, and also so that you get the compensation that you deserve if you are in an accident.
What does it cover?
There are three main categories of costs that PIP will cover: medical costs, death benefits, and loss of wages. In most states, PIP will cover up to 80% of medical expenses from a licensed care provider, providing that there is evidence to back this up, and up to 60% of wages will be covered for the period that you are unable to work as a result of your accident. It will also protect you while you are seeking medical attention for your injuries, so a prolonged hospital stay does not mean that you will be left out of pocket. In the unfortunate circumstance that a life is lost in an accident, then PIP will pay out for the cost of funeral or burial expenses to the survivors of the deceased.
Can I claim if I’m at fault?
The simple answer is yes, though there are exceptions. The whole idea of PIP is that it doesn’t matter who is at fault. So if you cause the accident, you can claim against your own insurance provider for damages, as outlined above. The only exceptions are if you were driving under the influence of drink or drugs.
So, if you cause an accident and are injured, make sure you seek medical attention asap, as, without a medical certificate, you will not be able to claim for your injuries. Don’t forget that if you injure the other vehicle’s driver, they will be dealing with their insurer when seeking compensation because the beauty of PIP is that you only have to deal with your own insurer.
As we have learned, no-fault car insurance is compulsory in some states, such as Hawaii, whereas it is not in others. The idea is that if you have an accident, you can claim for damages related to injuries, loss of earnings, or death from your own insurance provider without having to go through the long, drawn-out process of contacting the 3rd party’s provider.
Though you cannot claim for anyone else’s injuries, your policy will also become void if you are under the influence. If the accident were your fault, your provider would still pay out. So, the moral of the story with no-fault insurance is to check the status of the state you will be driving in long before you get there.