How State Auto Insurance Rules Affect Claims & Lawsuits

Each state regulate vehicle insurance minimums, further requirements, how fault is determined in accidents and in settlements. Furthermore, where you live has a significant bearing on premiums due to the weight of those enforcements. There are cases in which some companies choose to leave certain regions because they find it hard to do business in there and be profitable.

What you can claim from your and third party insurers and directly from them personally depends on those laws. The ways liability is assigned and distributed has an importance influence over what you would get paid. So, let’s have a look and try to make sense of them.

No Fault Auto Insurance

There are only 12 states and the District of Columbia that use any form of ‘no fault’. However, even the term within these systems is a bit of a misnomer. In all of them, where you think that your own insurance compensates you no matter who caused it, because that is how they are marketed, it is often not the case.

Most importantly, usually there is a way to go outside the ‘no fault’ system to make a direct claim against a third party insurer or in a civil lawsuit against the suspected third party. These clauses in the legislation refer to what is often termed as a ‘grievous injury’. Essentially if you get injured in a traffic incident and are permanently disfigured or disabled or pay medical expenses over a certain amount, you can step outside and sue for damages against the guilty driver.

Comparative Negligence

When you are involved in an accident, most authorities ascribe to a tort system whereby claims made either directly against the insurer of the responsible party or in a civil suit that is done in two different systems;

Comparative negligence in its various forms is used in 46 states and is by far the most dominant way to assign liability and therefore payouts. This is used in both schemes. Pure comparative fault is used in 13 of them and allows parties to recover damages as long as they are not assigned 100% of it; whereas the rest of the 46 use a modified bar rule of 50 or 51%. There as long as you are assigned 51 or 50% of it or less you can recover expenses in a traffic incident. If you are over this percentage bar you are unable to recoup expenses in civil court and less likely in an insurance settlement.

Contributory Negligence

Whereas only four of them and the District of Columbia use a Pure Contributory Negligence rule in their claim settlements and lawsuits. In this strict term, if you are found responsible for any portion of an accident, you are not able to receive any expenses. Even if another driver was 90% guilty, your 10% would disqualify you from an expense recovery.

Usually out of court settlements follow these guidelines too.


Understanding it all at once isn’t easy and here are some resources to help you navigate them:

Car Accident Laws

Comparative & Contributory Negligence, Joint & Several Liability

One rule that should never be ignored is that you need to get quotes so that you can see who is offering the best savings. Actually, we have a great tool to use no matter what zip code you live in. Why not give it a try and see what is on offer.

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