Whata is a "no fault state"

A relative was in an accident recently. One car plowed into the back of hers (ie she was not at fault). However, the police officer did not ticket the person who caused the accident. When she asked why not, the officer replied ‘Florida is a no fault state’.

Now, I know what no-fault insurance is, but none of us can figure out if this is related to Florida being a ‘no-fault state’, and why that would absolve the person responsible for the accident.

I assume that the officer on scene couldn’t see conclusive evidence that one party or the other was completely at fault. The simple fact that your relative’s car was hit from behind is not sufficient in and of itself to prove that the other driver should bear the full blame.

More details about the accident would help. Was it day or night time? Was inclement weather a factor? Was it a straight, level road with unobstructed visibility? What exactly was your relative doing when her car was struck? Were there any witnesses? All these things and more can affect the result of the officer’s investigation.

Or the officer could have just been lazy and didn’t want to deal with the paperwork that goes with assigning blame.

My understanding – subject to someone who knows the law more accurately:

An “at fault” state requires the apportioning of blame, ideally by the law enforcement/justice system. Ergo, in any accident, somebody caused it – maybe all those involved, but blame needs to be apportioned out.

A “no fault” state, on the other hand, presumes that most accidents are just that – accidents. Motorist X, driving in a reasonable manner, for some reason is unable to avoid striking another vehicle. If I am traveling on a slick, wet highway posted at 55 MPH and traveling at 35 MPH due to conditions, and nonetheless lose control on black ice and slide into your vehicle, that was an accident that happened despite my taking proper precutions.

In a “no fault” state, the officer investigating’s job is to take the accident report, and to issue a ticket only where he can see an egregious violation of the law occurred. Someone traveling at 68 MPH in the conditions described in the last paragraph was not taking prudent steps; someone engaged in reckless driving or driving under th influence, likewise. But in the majority of accidents, there is not a clear criminal violation of the statutes.

Dopers-at-Law: is this close to accurate?

There are about a dozen states that have adopted “no-fault” laws for traffic accidents. They want to avoid the cost and hassle of insurance companies suing each other to determine which driver was at fault. Under the no-fault system, each person recovers medical treatment costs and lost wages from his or her own insurance company without having to prove that the other driver was at fault.

However, if you want to recover for damage to your car, your insurance company still might have to sue if the other person doesn’t admit fault.

My vote. I wonder if the officer even took a report.

I just got in an accident on Friday, other party’s fault, obvious failure to yield violation… no injuries… happened in front of a cop. He did the info exchange and that’s it. No injuries? No report, no cite, have a nice day.

The story in the OP happened to me. Sitting at a red light and an SUV clipped my back corner from behind. I’m not in a “no fault” state, but the police didn’t ticket anyone because(the cops words exactly), “No one was injured, the vehicles are still drivable, and I didn’t witness the incident.” He took everyone’s info, gave out copies to everyone involved, and told me to go home, write down my story, and call the other guy’s insurance company.

I was recently in an accident in Michigan, which is also a no-fault state. I was at a stoplight and got rear-ended by someone who failed to stop. It was near my work, so we pulled into the lot and called the cops.

The officer took the report, our insurance info, and gave us each a copy. I can only assume she assigned blame, because I have “broad form” collision, which pays out 100% if the accident is not my fault.

So maybe the cop was just lazy in your case? I do know there are differences. Here in Michigan, I beleive you can sue the at-fault party for up to $400 to recover your deductible. Gfactor might know more about Michigan law, specifically, since he practices here, but this is what I was told by a police officer when I was in an accident about 15 years ago.

See here. Florida is a state with “No Fault” accident laws.

It comes as a surprise to me that police officers assign fault. They are supposed to determine if a traffic law has been broken, but they do not assign % fault. Suppose someone is going 50 in a 30, and someone else pulls out in front of them to make a right turn and is T-boned. Seems to me that there are two tickets there, one for speeding, one for failing to yield, but the insurance companies, not the courts or the police, determine fault or % allocation of fault.

In some situations assignment of fault is obvious based on the violation, like hitting a parked car.

I’m under the impression that insurance companies in “fault” states do their own “blame assignment” when a claim is filed, and that a police report - if there is one - is merely a piece of evidence that they use in making that determination. An actual citation - if there is one - would be another piece of evidence. But they can (and very often do) get by without either.

If the two insurance companies involved in a particular collision arrive at different conclusions, I’m not sure what happens.

Is my understanding of how this works at all correct? (I live in California.)

Their lawyers talk to each other. If they can’t come to an agreement, they take it to court.

Several Canadian provinces have no-fault insurance laws too.
As mentioned basically the law states that the insurance company pays the cost of any accident they insure without going to court to recoup those losses by claiming the other party was at fault. SOme have exceptions for damage over a huge amount, some have givernment insurance which, beside being much much much cheaper, means that a government bureaucrat reads the submissions from both parties and/or the police and decides who pays a deductible and who doesn’t.

Since health costs are paid by the province anyway, no matter who is at fault, the general court hassle would be mainly about vehicle damage. When one insurance company (crown corporation) is responsible for all vehcle insurance, that too is a waste of time. You can appeal (good luck!!) if you think you’re being treated unfairly…

As an additional limit, the law in some provinces also puts limits on what sort of physiotherapy costs you can collect, especially if there was no appreciable damage to the vehicles.

Of course, nothing exempts the police from laying charges under the traffic acts for bad driving, if the evidence bears it out. A ticket for “careless driving” or “illegal left turn” does not automatically assign blame for an accident but goes a long way toward indicating who didn’t follow the rules.

In Michigan, I rear-ended someone. Due to the circumstances, the officer very plainly told me that I was 0% at fault. My damage was superficial (in the literal sense of the word!), and so I didn’t have to drag my insurance into it. When the rear-endee’s insurance came looking to me for subrogration via my insurance company, I referred them to the police report, and that was the end of the story.

Same here, but my company will also determine negligence. I once backed into a crane that shattered my rear window and messed up the driver-side C piller pretty badly. It was obviously 100% my fault, but under the circumstances the insurance company found me not negligent and I didn’t have to make the co-pay!

I think it’s up to $500 these days. And it’s not just for recovering deductibles, it can be for any damages if you don’t have collision coverage. Of course that doesn’t go very far in body work! For non-Michiganders, in Michigan (and presumably other no-fault states), it doesn’t matter if it’s the other guy’s fault; you have to have your own collision coverage. You can’t sue the other guy for more than $500. Well, you can, but it will be dismissed immediately in compliance with state law.

I got hit on the driver’s side when someone turning left onto the main road just drove right into me, and the police wouldn’t even come to the scene to do a police report, since no one was injured. :mad:

In a no-fault state, the insurance companies can raise both drivers’ insurance rates.

Where does this idea come from that accidents aren’t anybody’s fault? If you lost control, you can’t have been taking proper precautions for the conditions.

I agree that it’s possible to conceive of accidents where no person can reasonably be assigned blame–but I don’t think that applies to most vehicle crashes, or even to any substantial fraction of them. Almost every time, somebody has fucked up.

Here’s a thought: suppose that, instead of accidentally crashing into another car, you accidentally run over and kill a pedestrian? Is that no-fault too? (If not, what’s the difference?)

I’m surprised to hear cops wouldn’t take a report. They should take some kind of notes if not an official report. After all it’d be all to easy for two people to have an accident, the cop not take the report then one of the people later show up at the police station claiming hit and run by the other person.

I wasn’t even aware Whata was a state. Well Whata ya know. :wink:

I know; it makes no sense. I tried going to the station myself just to give a statement of what happened in case the insurance companies needed it, but they wouldn’t take a statement unless she was there, too. And since she was the one who hit me, I’ll give you a guess as to whether she went to the station, too. :rolleyes:

I think the idea is that even when faults can be assigned, it’s cheaper for everyone in the long run (e.g., within the legal system) if insurance companies just pay for the accidents that occur to their customers. So insurance premiums for everyone should be lower.

That’s the theory, at least.

ETA: Of course the “no-fault” provision usually excludes things like clearly reckless conduct, as in your example.