Tort Auto Insurance And No Fault Car Insurance

Under the traditional system, victims injured in motor vehicle accidents obtain immediate compensation only if the driver’s fault is beyond question and there is no disagreement about the amount of damages. In such a case, the negligent drivers insurance company accepts responsibility, settles the case out of court and pays the victim’s bills.

Fault and No-Fault Car Accidents

However, when there is a disagreement over who caused the accident or over the appropriate amount of damages for disability or pain and suffering, the case probably heads for court. Because of the vast numbers of such cases in some areas of the country, delays of months or years can occur before the case is tried and resolved. (Meanwhile, the average injured person may lack the financial means to pay extensive medical and rehabilitation bills.)

Plaintiffs’ lawyers often work on a contingency fee basis, meaning they receive a percentage of the plaintiffs award if they win—usually about one-third—and nothing if they lose. Legal counsel for the defendant is provided and paid for by the driver’s insurance company, or by the defendant if the defendant is uninsured.
The outcome in court depends on the quality of the evidence, on the skills of the opposing attorneys and on the jury’s response—and the burden is on the victim to prove the case. The verdict can range from no compensation to an award that is overly generous, depending on the jury’s reaction to the case presented.

The Department of Transportation study showed that in most cases, victims who suffered large economic losses were not fully compensated, while those with minor injuries sometimes received amounts several times greater than their actual expenses.

The study also found that the tort liability system discouraged rehabilitation and overburdened the courts; in some cases, the money that went to pay lawyers could have been better spent to help crash victims.
The study confirmed the complaints that many had about the tort system for auto liability and spurred calls for change.


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