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Can I sue a negligent motorist in a no-fault insurance state?

If you've recently relocated to Michigan, then you may not have heard of no-fault or personal injury protection (PIP) insurance before. Virtually every motorist in the state is expected to carry it to cover their expenses if they're involved in a crash in Rochester or somewhere else in the state.

Taking out no-fault insurance is mandatory in Michigan and eight other states including Hawaii, Florida, Minnesota, Utah, New York, North Dakota, Kansas and Massachusetts. Drivers in New Jersey, Kentucky and Pennsylvania have the option of taking out either no-fault or tort coverage.

In case you're wondering what tort coverage is, it's essentially liability insurance. It's what motorists in virtually every other state are required to have.

If you're involved in a crash in a no-fault state, then you're entitled to file a claim for your own injuries resulting from a crash. In tort states though, you generally sue the at-fault party for your medical expenses, lost wages and pain and suffering instead.

In states that require tort coverage, the onus falls on the party determined to be most at-fault to pay any damages that are demanded of them. If they refuse to do so because they're contesting who's to blame for the crash, then the injured party may file suit to recover any damages.

This contrasts greatly with how no-fault coverage works. In a state like Michigan, you're required to recover costs from your own insurance company. It doesn't matter who is responsible for causing the crash. One benefit to living in a no-fault state is that you're able to quickly recover your medical costs without waiting for a civil case to be processed through the courts.

It's important to note that you're generally prohibited from filing a lawsuit against another motorist in civil court in a no-fault insurance state though. If your injuries are so severe that they exceed the limits of your own policy, then you may qualify to file suit though against the at-fault party though.

Your PIP coverage only covers bodily injuries. If your medical costs exceed your policy limits, then a no-fault insurance attorney can advise you of your right to file a civil lawsuit in your accident case.

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