Determining fault in a car accident is a matter of figuring our the
degree to which each driver involved caused the accident. Determining
fault is done according to state law where the accident took place.
Each state's rules vary, and so the best option is to contact a local
car accident attorney for the rules in your state.
States are divided into two main categories of how they deal with fault
in automobile accidents, although there is significant variation within
the categories. Most states are fault states. This means they have a
tort liability system of auto insurance. This means that the driver who
caused the accident, or his insurance company, is responsible for all
damages to other parties involved in the accident. This may seem like a
fair way to handle it, but it has the unintended consequence of
clogging the legal system with accident claims. After all, if an
at-fault driver denies he was at fault(and why wouldn't he?) there is
no other avenue besides court to force him or his insurance company to
In response to the massive legal costs of determining fault, some
states have shifted to a no-fault system of auto insurance for handling
accidents. There are currently twelve states with no-fault systems:
Florida, Hawaii, Kansas, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota,
New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, and Utah. In these
states they have eliminated many of the long and costly court battles
that plague fault states.
In no-fault states, drivers to do not have to prove that someone else
caused the accident in order to be reimbursed for costs from their
insurance company. His insurance company usually pays all medical bills
automatically. These states require minimum levels of personal injury
insurance, shifting the cost of medical damages from the insurance
company of the at-fault driver to the insurance company of the injured
party. The trade off is that injured drivers cannot sue for pain or
inconvenience damages unless his or her medical bills cross a certain
threshold or the injury is deemed "severe" by state law. Damage to the
car and other property, however, is still based on fault.