What are the No Fault States?
No fault states are states which automatically pay your medical bills, lost income and other personal injury related expenses, regardless of whether you caused a car accident. Nearly half of the states have some form of no fault car insurance policy. Below you can check the table to see if you live in one of these states.
|District of Columbia||North Dakota|
Getting Money For Injuries After a Car Accident
If you are severely injured after a car accident, chances are that your no fault insurance policy will not pay for all of your medical bills. In addition, your no fault auto insurance policy would not compensate you for any pain and suffering you experienced after your car accident.
If you want more money from the insurance company, you have to check when does your state allows you to file personal injury settlements.
Several no fault states have requirements on when you can actually file a car accident claim. Some states only allow you to start an auto accident settlement , if you have a serious injury. These states have what is known as an “injury” threshold.
(Several states also have a “cash” threshold. In these states, you can start a car accident claim if your medical bills are over a certain limit.)
The following states have an injury threshold:
- New Jersey
- New York
What is Considered a “Serious” Injury?
Each no fault state has a slightly different version of what it considers a “serious” injury. However, certain injuries generally fall under the “serious” category. These type of injuries include:
Bone fractures: Some states require the fracture to be to large bones, like your arm or leg. These are known as “weight bearing bones”. Other states are willing to consider smaller breaks as serious injuries ( ex: chipped or cracked bones.)
Permanent Injuries: These type of injuries cannot be corrected through surgeries (ex: damages to your neck, spine or back).
Disabling injuries: This type of injury shows that you have lost some (but not complete) functionality in a certain body part. For example you suffered a back injury and now you are unable to bend and lift heavy objects. You injury has limited your range of motion but you can still move around.
Typically a disabling injury has to show that it is interfering in your daily life and that loss of functionality is preventing you from doing some kind of work.
Permanent disfigurement: This refers to any disfigurement which is visible. For example, scars, broken nose, lost finger tips, burn marks etc.
Some states also include the length of time of an injury in their descriptions. This means that your injuries must last for a certain number of days before it is considered it a “serious” injury.
Under New York no fault state insurance law, you have a serious injury if you suffered:
- Permanent loss of use of a body part, member, or function.
- A permanent or significant limitation of a use of a body part or member.
- Injuries that lasted more than 90 days during the first 180 days after your car accident.
How to Show That Your Injuries are Serious
Typically, every no fault state’s definition of a “serious” injury is vague and subjective. For example, some states don’t use the term “disabling permanent injury” in their insurance policy. This means you are allowed to file a car accident claim even if your injuries might not be considered “severe” in another state.
For example, you can break a bone in your finger that will now remain crooked. Having a crooked finger might not be considered as “severe” as losing your hand, but you may still be able to pursue a personal injury settlement for your pain and suffering.
So the best thing you can do is to carefully review the language that is used in your no fault state’s injury threshold requirements. Since the descriptions can be interpreted in many ways, you should see if you can create an argument in your favor.
Whether you interpretation is valid or invalid can be a question of negotiation with the insurance company. This is where it is important that you understand the seriousness of your injuries and How to Negotiate Auto Accident Settlements.
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