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If you’ve ever been in an accident, you know how life changing even a minor accident can be. It’s even worse when you’re not at fault in the accident. Sometimes you’re even left with injuries and a damaged or completely totaled vehicle. In an at-fault state, you can expect these costs to be covered by the responsible party, but that’s not the case in a no-fault state.
So, if you live in a no-fault state, then you are responsible for your own costs after a car accident regardless of who’s to blame. For example, if you get hurt in a car accident, your auto insurance will pay your medical bills. If your car is damaged or totaled, then your car insurance covers the costs for vehicle repairs or to replace your car, up to the maximum amount of insurance you have. While this setup might seem pretty simple in practice, it still leaves a lot of questions if you’re a driver in a no-fault state and you have a car accident. Most importantly:
- How long does an accident in your driving history stay on your record?
- What happens if you cause an accident in an at-fault or no-fault state?
- Does a no-fault accident go on your record?
Regardless of whether you live in an at-fault or no-fault state, it’s best to make sure that you have affordable coverage to protect yourself and your car. Check out the following information about having an accident in an at-fault state or no-fault state and how long you can expect an accident that you cause to stay on your driving record.
What Happens When You Have a No-Fault Car Accident?
Having an accident in an at-fault state boils down to who is the responsible party for causing the accident. This is usually determined by the police, who will do an investigation at the accident scene. It can also be influenced by such things as whether one of the drivers was under the influence of a substance, driving without a license, and other factors.
In an at-fault state, the drivers involved in an accident file claims with the at-fault driver’s insurance. Sometimes it will be determined that both drivers were at fault in some way. If this is the case, the insurance for both parties will pay for any costs associated with the accident.
If you are in or cause an accident in a no-fault state, the first thing you should do is file a claim with your insurance company. The company will then pay for any costs associated with any injuries you suffer or any damage to your car.
The downside to this is that sometimes the costs of injuries or repairs exceed how much your insurance will pay. In addition to regular car insurance, no-fault states (and even some at-fault states) require drivers to carry personal injury insurance (PIP) policy, which covers any further costs from injuries suffered in a wreck.
If you still have costs associated with injuries, or the cost to repair or replace your car is still not covered by your insurer, then you might have to sue the other driver in court, if your state laws allow you to do so. Unfortunately, some no-fault states don’t allow you to take legal action against the other driver.
Does a No-Fault Accident Go on Your Record?
In addition to any further medical costs or car repair bills that your insurance doesn’t cover, an accident will go on your driving record whether you are at fault or not. In essence, if you filed a claim and then took money from your insurance company, expect the accident to appear on your driving record.
Usually, if you are not at fault in an accident, you shouldn’t expect to see your car insurance premium increase. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. Some, car insurance companies will raise your car insurance rates, even if you hold no responsibility for an accident you were in.
Your best option at this point might be to shop around for different car insurance to find a company that won’t force you too pay higher premiums if you happen to be in an accident that is not your fault.
How Long Does an Accident Stay on Your Record?
In a no-fault state, expect an accident to stay on your record for anywhere between three to five years, depending on the state where you live and the severity of the accident. This time period increases if you were involved in an accident and fled the scene or were driving under the influence.