All About Fault
When it comes to car accidents, fault matters, even if you live in an ostensibly “no-fault” state, as detailed below. But what is “fault” in the first place?
Definition of Fault
In civil law, the legal definition of “fault” is an improper omission or act that injures another party through rashness, ignorance, or negligence.2 In car accidents, fault could be determined by events like road rage, texting and driving, or not looking behind you before you pull out of a parking spot.
Why Fault Matters
Fault matters because it determines who pays for damages from a car accident. However, exactly which damages are paid depends on the state’s laws.
At-Fault vs. No-Fault Accidents and States
You may live in a no-fault state like Florida, but what does that really mean? In no-fault states, everyone pays for their own medical coverage, while the at-fault party pays for the other party’s property damages. In at-fault states, the at-fault party pays for both coverages for the other party. These are the no-fault states:
- New Jersey
- New York
- North Dakota
But note that in Pennsylvania, Kentucky, and New Jersey, you can choose whether or not you want no-fault insurance.3
At-fault accidents are accidents that occur in at-fault states, while no-fault accidents are accidents that happen in no-fault states. Make sure you know your state’s fault laws so you can determine how responsible you will be in the event of an accident.