The world sometimes wants to believe everything is black and white. It’s always comforting when ideas can be defined with such certainty. Except, most of our life is built on degrees of uncertainty. We have expectations about how people will act and react. We think we know what the weather will be like. Except, when it rains and someone drives too fast on slightly worn tires, your certainties suddenly disappear in the resulting crash. The idea you were a good driver and always able to get out of the way of other idiots lies among the other wreckage. Now you have to deal with the fallout. In some states, this means you are into the blame game. This island is occupied by attorneys who use the tests of negligence to decide who is at fault and therefore should pay for all the loss and damage caused.
Courts are wonderful places in television series. The hunk or elegant lady smiles at the judge and impresses the jury in twenty seconds to win the day. In the real world, it takes months, if not years, to get a case to court and, when you finally get through the doors, you find most need a coat of paint and judges are not the passive creatures you see on TV. Proving fault is a real challenge and, for the fees involved, attorneys like nothing better than spinning it all out for days. That way, the winner gets big bucks and there are a few cents left over for you assuming you win, of course.
No-fault is so much better on paper. Instead of courts having to decide who is to blame, your own insurance company pays your medical expenses and repairs your vehicle. There can be arguments that end up in court attorneys never like to be left out of the game but this only happens in a minority of cases. The result is that, for the most part, premiums are lower. Without having to pay expensive attorneys to fight over every last cent, even the large claims are settled quickly. So, perhaps, it should come as no surprise that the no-fault states are in the minority. Trial lawyers have lobbied and petitioned. Many of the states that were persuaded to try no-fault have backed away leaving only twelve that are wholly or partly based on the system.
Why should this matter? For two reasons. In three states, Kentucky, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania, you can choose which system you want. In the other nine, you take no fault and like it. But the second reason is more interesting. The premium rates now coming through the car insurance quotes are rising in the no-fault states. It seems there’s an outbreak of fraud with more people prepared to fake accidents and claim injuries. They see insurance companies as a legitimate target for fraud. That it pushes up everyone’s premiums seems not to worry these criminals. So, if you do live in a no-fault state and hear your neighbor was involved in an accident, you might consider an anonymous tip to the police if you see no sign of injury. If everyone reports possible fraud, your next car insurance quotes will come in lower.