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Car Accident Claims: At-Fault vs. No-Fault

At-Fault vs. No-Fault

Are you wanting to know the difference between At-Fault vs. No-Fault? During a car accident claim, the type of insurance claims you can file depends on the state you live in, whether no-fault or at-fault. Although most states require drivers to have coverage by law, not all states require it. However, it’s universal that when driving a car, it’s smart to have insurance to cover for any accidents.

On average, there are 6 million car accidents in America per year. Insurance is a way to protect yourself from these unfortunate events, especially in recovering compensation for damages. If you are a victim of a car accident, then there are things you need to consider.

No-Fault Insurance

In no-fault insurance, your insurance company will pay for all your expenses, regardless of who was negligent in the car crash. Once you file a claim for compensation, the insurer will then pay for the claim. Your automobile insurer will cover your medical expenses, loss of earning, and other expenses. However, the insured cannot claim for “pain and suffering” compensation in no-fault insurance.

It will not matter what the cause of the accident was or who perpetrated the accident. The insured can always claim for insurance coverage. The insurance company will pay, however small the injury might be.

The rationale for the no-fault system is to lessen the cost of auto insurance through the elimination of many damage claims in court. The system is also beneficial for innocent drivers to be released from the responsibility of proving the other driver’s fault before they can receive compensation.

As of 2019, the states with no-fault insurance systems are Florida, Hawaii, Kansas, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, and Utah. In New Jersey and Pennsylvania, the driver is given a choice to institute a claim for tort or no-fault insurance.

At-Fault Insurance

At-Fault Insurance

In at-fault insurance, the negligent or at-fault driver’s insurance will cover all damages and relative expenses of the innocent driver. The fault is a type of liability that needs to be established before compensation for damages prospers. If you are the cause of the accident, then you should still pay for compensation even if the other driver has a percentage of fault in the accident.

Examples of at-fault accidents are the following:

Rear-ending another vehicle – you might be driving distracted and hit the rear end of another car. Insurance companies will always assume that you are at fault in an accident.

Driving under the influence – driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is illegal. This practice is risky, so there is always an assumption that you were at fault in an accident.

Disobeying traffic signals – the most common example is running a red light. Accidents can also happen when you fail to yield or pass a car in a no-passing zone. Disobeying traffic rules creates the assumption that you are the cause of the accident.

Distracted driving – texting or using your phone while driving can also cause a car accident.

While 11 states follow the no-fault insurance system, the rest of the states in America follow the at-fault system. At-fault states follow the tort system, where the negligent driver has to pay using his insurance. Damages may include medical bills, loss of wage, loss of earning capacity, property damage, and “pain and suffering” claim.

Elements to Establish Negligence

Negligence is the failure to take reasonable care in a certain situation, such as driving. Drivers are expected to drive carefully. As such, negligence is a legal standard of not being careful. The elements to establish negligence are the following:

Duty – everyone owes a duty of care to other people in different settings. For example, a driver owes the duty to drive carefully, to avoid any collision on the road.

Breach – there is a breach when the defendant failed to exercise his duty of care while driving. A breach is acting in a manner that can violate the rights of others or failing to act in a manner required that resulted in a breach of other people’s rights.

Cause – people breach laws and rules all the time. However, not all breaches result in injuries or damages. The breach must be the proximate cause of the injuries and damages sustained by the plaintiff to establish negligence.


Elements to Establish Negligence


For example, driving under the influence must be the proximate cause of the accident.


  1. Harm – finally, there must be showing that the plaintiff sustained damages or injuries due to the accident. If the plaintiff did not sustain any damage or injury, they could not claim compensation.


Some states, however, have varying rules regarding contributory or comparative negligence. In contributory negligence, the plaintiff’s claim may be reduced if there is clear evidence that there is also negligence on their part.


For example, if the plaintiff has a 20% fault in the accident, they can only claim 80% of the compensation.

Insurance in the Different States

In Michigan, no-fault insurance is required by law. Every car owner is required to purchase insurance with basic coverage before they can obtain a car license plate. The insurance will pay for medical expenses, wage loss, replacement services, and damage to other people’s property.

California, on the other hand, adheres to the at-fault insurance system. Personal injury lawsuits may be filed for compensation. That’s why if you ever get into an accident, for example, in San Diego, then you should seek the aid of car accident lawyers in San Diego. File for a claim as soon as you’re able.

New York follows the no-fault insurance system. The insurer pays for all the personal damages, whether the victim or cause of the accident. However, when the expenses exceed the policy limit, the victim may file a claim to the person responsible for the accident.


Although accidents can be prevented, accidents do and will happen without any warning. Thus, insurance policies are required by law in many states to protect you in case of accidents. It is essential to know about the insurance policies available in different states in case you get involved in car accidents. If you are involved in an accident, retaining an attorney is a responsible way to ensure your rights are protected.