One of the biggest problems that people face in car accidents in the dreaded ‘no fault’ incident. Here’s the problem: many states have a no-fault insurance option, and that means the insurance company automatically pays regardless of fault. These payments will include losses or damages sustained by the accident victim assuming they are covered under the policy.
Typically you would call them ‘economic damages’ and they can include anything from medical expenses to funeral costs. Here’s an important question, however: what happens if the damages are non-economic? We’re talking about things like pain and suffering, loss of companionship, and even loss of lifestyle due to the economic damage. Who is going to pay for that?
Figuring Out Who to Sue
The automatic response in this situation is to figure out who you can go after for these damages. Most states that have no-fault laws also have no restrictions on time for filing a ‘tort action’, also known as a civil lawsuit against the tortfeasor, or rather the person that is actually at fault for your accident. There are some states that will put limits or thresholds on when the tortfeasor can be sued, those being the amount of expenses that the injured person has been paid, also known as the monetary threshold, and the type of injury suffered.
The idea behind the thresholds is to ensure that you don’t have a lawsuit over every single injury that occurs in the course of the incident. Preferably, lawsuits would be conducted only in the case of serious injuries, but ‘serious’ differs per state. Additionally, some states use ‘pain and suffering’ over ‘non-economic loss’. Pay attention to the terminology as it does in fact vary from state to state. If you have been involved in an auto accident, make sure you know your state’s no-fault laws and keep yourself protected.
Understanding the Monetary Threshold
In many state, there is a limit on tort actions for non-economic (pain and suffering) loss which includes a monetary medical expense threshold. The thresholds change from state to state, but in most cases you are looking at a limit of about $1000. In most no-fault states, monetary thresholds can only be met using expenses accrued, rendered or incurred. So, basically, the expenses must be paid or billed to the victim, and there absolutely must be proof that the threshold will be met by the time the case goes to trial.
In the case of a no-fault law, the injured person’s individual needs to be reasonable and necessary, meaning you cannot have something frivolous performed and expect the tortfeaser to pay for it – this just won’t work out. Usually, at least in most states, the doctor who performed the procedures will need to testify to the court that the treatments wee in fact medically necessary given the nature of the injury.
Understanding the Injury Threshold
Even if you are in a no-fault state, you still have the right to sue the tortfeasor, even if the victim recovers, so long as it was a ‘serious injury’. That brings us to the question however, of what a serious injury actually is, and what it can entail for the victim. Most states classify serious injuries as the following:
- Fractures/Bone Breakage
- Permanent Disability
Along with that, states will often differ on the terms used, so do pay close attention to that.
Our personal injury attorneys are standing by to help you get the compensation hat you deserve. Now would be a great time to prepare yourself; even if you haven’t been in an auto accident as of yet, it could still happen any day, and you must be ready to defend yourself in court. It’s the only way you can get what’s coming to you.