If you’re unlucky enough to be caught in a car accident, you might be hoping for a pay out by the negligent driver who hit you. Well depending on where you are in the United States, that payout might not be coming.
Car accidents cause everyone involved to have a major financial headache, and that’s only if they get out without any injuries. For those who go to a hospital, the financial cost keeps soaring and the pain of recovery is intangible.
If you’re in a No Fault state, then you might be confused as to how to get your compensation. Let us explain what all these terms mean, as well as the possibilities to sue for pain and suffering.
What is “Pain and Suffering?”
This might seem like a strange question, but “pain and suffering” isn’t as straightforward as it sounds. This is actually a legal term, and it describes the distress, inconvenience, and life altering effects that an injury can cause you.
This doesn’t mean the medical costs you might have to pay at a hospital, but rather the distress of a scar on your face, or the need to medically upgrade your home if you have become wheelchair bound.
Normally pain and suffering doesn’t come with a bill or an obvious tangible cost. You cannot put a clear cut cost on the suffering caused by a newly disfigured limb.
But in most states you can argue for an amount that can help with the pain and suffering caused by the negligent driver. However, if you live in a “No Fault” state, you might not be able to claim anything.
What is a “No Fault” and Which States Have Them?
The “No Fault” law makes it hard for a diver to be sued. The idea is that no one is responsible for the incident. Meaning that there has been “no fault” that can be tied to one driver.
Every driver has to have this insurance by law. Because of this law, the insurance companies will pay compensation to any and all of the victims of the accidents.
This might seem like a win for everyone, but the amount you are given isn’t based on the accident itself, it is based on the type of insurance you already had in place.
This law was created to remove the legal battles, giving the drivers less stress as they recover from the accident.
This makes the whole process more streamlined and easier for everyone when it comes to economic damages, like how much it will cost to repair your car.
These issues become more clouded when it comes to non-economic damages, like a new phobia of cars which stops you from leaving the house, or losing your job because the injury means you are no longer capable of doing the work well (broken hand for a pianist, or broken legs of a soldier).
Pain and suffering falls under the non-economic damages bracket.
That being said, if the accident was extreme and life altering, then you can still bring a lawsuit. That is considered a serious case and so the courts will recognize the need for a non-economic damage pay out.
The States which have the “No Fault” law are; District of Columbia, Kentucky, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Florida, Massachusetts, New York, Utah, Hawaii, Michigan, North Dakota, Kansas, and Minnesota.
In these states, instead of claiming against the negligent driver, you would contact your insurance provider first.
Can You Sue For Pain And Suffering In A No Fault State?
In your “No Fault” state, your insurance company will provide you with PIP coverage. PIP stands for Personal Injury Protection, and it will pay you regardless of who was at fault.
As we explained before, the insurance company will only pay for economic damages and you cannot put a real value on pain and suffering. So in most No Fault states, you cannot sue for pain and suffering.
However, some states, like Florida for example, will allow a Pain and Suffering pay out if the issue is large enough.
These states use what is known as a threshold injury. In these instances, the insurance company judges whether your injury passes this threshold or not.
The injuries can be one of these 4: a significant and permanent loss of an important bodily function, a permanent injury with a reasonable degree of medical probability, a significant and permanent scarring or disfigurement, or death.
If any of these things resulted because of a vehicle accident, then you will pass the threshold injury, and can sue for pain and suffering.
Is There A Way To Sue The Car Company?
Your insurance company might not pay out for pain and suffering, but depending on why the crash happened in the first place, you might be able to claim from a different source.
Filing a third party liability claim can be an option for you, despite being in a No Fault state.
If the vehicle manufacturer was responsible for your injuries, then you would be able to raise a claim. If the airbags didn’t release, or the brake had malfunctioned, or anything that suggested that the car was at fault, then the manufacturer could be liable.
If this is the case, you can file a claim against this third party, and potentially receive compensation for pain and suffering damages, regardless of the threshold of injury.