No Fault Accident States: Why You Still Need A Lawyer
No-fault insurance is very useful injury protection should you be involved in an accident. However, there is no protection for vehicle damage under no-fault laws. Minor injuries are usually covered by the injured party’s insurance company, but serious accidents may be settled differently. The persistent variation from case to case demonstrates, what appears to be a simple case can still require a lawyer. Ultimately the court must determine which party is accountable outside of no-fault applicability and in these cases it’s important to have someone who can help you understand your options.
Personal Injury Protection
Personal injury protection, also known as PIP, allows injured parties to turn to their own insurance provider first, for medical coverage. In most states, the maximum coverage for PIP is $10,000 for first-party coverage. However, some states such as Michigan, have increased the cap to $1 million in cases of very serious injury. Large PIP awards are always defended vigorously, even though first-party coverage should obviously apply. An attorney’s assistance is undoubtedly helpful in negotiations, where an insurance company may attempt to limit the amount of your claim.
Vehicle Damage Claims
No-fault protection doesn’t extend to property damage. This liability belongs to the negligent party, and the determination of fault is made by the court. The victim’s attorney files the claim against the driver at fault and his insurance company. Additionally, injuries exceeding any PIP caps are assessed to the negligent driver. This is significant in states with very low PIP maximums, as considerable medical bills can be accrued rather easily, even with an injury that can be recovered from quickly.
Courts often determine that there are multiple negligent parties in an accident, for instance manufacturing companies that may have installed faulty parts that malfunctioned during the accident. Percentages of fault are also assessed in many accidents, and liability coverage caps vary in different categories; depending on the fault level, age, and policy type of the negligent driver.
For example, a New York accident lawyer will tell you, the state of New York has a $50,000 cap on expenses, but in Minnesota the cap comes to $20,000. Negligence is generally determined by the law of vehicular control and the official accident reconstruction report. Proving negligence is incumbent on the plaintiff’s counsel. A multiple respondent cases requires an experienced and effective accident attorney who understands how to determine parties at fault in a complex case.
Punitive Damage Awards
Punitive damage awards do not apply under no-fault coverage. However, auto accident cases that actually go to trial can be awarded damages based on the level of harm caused by the negligent parties. Also important to understand is that car owners can also be held liable should someone have an accident in their vehicle, and may be accountable for punitive assessments. Courts don’t normally apply punitive damages in adjudication, as settlement is often done to avoid trial and the punitive possibility. This is especially true in wrongful death claims, as the respondent’s insurance company can offer damages extending up to the insurance coverage cap.
In a wrongful death or serious injury situation it’s important to retain an attorney who is experienced in calculating a damage award. Fighting no-fault coverage can put a victim in an adversarial legal situation with their insurance company, which simply adds to the grief of an already contentious situation. Regardless of no-fault coverage laws in your state, it is always best to have an accident attorney for proper settlement of your case.
Genoa O’Brien is a freelance writer and forwards this advice on no-fault insurance laws. If you have been involved in an accident of any type, hiring a New York accident lawyer can help you get the compensation you are entitled to.
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