Car Accident Laws Differ From State To State
Millions of drivers are involved in car crashes each year in America. In about half of these accidents, someone is injured. When caused by the negligence of another, the injured party may be able to sue for damages. These lawsuits involve claims for medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
What Every Driver Should Know
Although each state has its own laws that pertain to auto accidents, all of them allow drivers to sue if negligence was involved (some restrictions apply; see below). Why? Because when you operate a motor vehicle in America, you have the legal duty to obey the rules of the road. If you fail to do so and are involved in a car accident where the other driver is hurt, odds are you will be found liable due to negligence.
Examples of negligent driving include speeding, running a red light or stop sign, and driving carelessly or distractedly. It is important to note that many of the new state laws that apply to auto accidents concern distracted driving, which generally involves electronic devices like mobile phones. More and more jurisdictions consider the use of these devices while operating a motor vehicle to be dangerous, potentially negligent behavior.
What Are No-Fault Rules?
In order to prevent overcrowding in the courts, some states have adopted a no-fault car insurance system. Under the rules of this system, motorists cannot sue for pain and suffering since neither party is deemed “at fault.” Instead, the injured party must seek compensation for medical treatment and lost wages from his own auto insurance provider. At present, the following states have some version of this system in place: Michigan, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Florida, Utah, Kansas, Kentucky, Hawaii, North Dakota, and Massachusetts.
As we mentioned earlier, all U.S. states permit you to sue for negligence if hurt in a car accident. Although the process may be more complicated in a no-fault state, it still can be done! The first step is to find out if your claim meets the criteria for a liability insurance lawsuit. An experienced personal injury attorney can help.
Possible Awards For Damages
As rigid as it may seem, the no-fault system makes exceptions for motorists who were seriously hurt. In most cases, the injured party must have incurred medical bills over a certain dollar limit. If you have reached this monetary threshold, you may be able to opt out of the no-fault system and sue for damages in court. At this point, the rules of the system no longer apply. In other words, you will be able to pursue any and all legal damages, including pain and suffering.
Whether you live in a no-fault state or not, it is important to contact a personal injury attorney soon after the car accident. The experienced legal professional should be able to explain your legal rights and options to you in plain English. He or she will also suggest the best course of legal action, based on the facts of the case.