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Unique Car Accident Laws by State

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Each state has its own laws designed to provide a practical and fair way to determine liability in car accidents. The at-fault driver typically faces the full responsibility of any damage resulting in the collision. Although the laws vary by state, there are still many similarities. The basic tenets of the law revolve around the principle of negligence. As a result, individual states govern the application of litigation and compensation claims.

To receive compensation, car accident victims are legally obligated to prove four crucial elements. These include harm, causation, duty, and breach. Duty covers the obligation to drive responsibly by obeying rules of the road. As such, drivers are expected to observe road signs and operate the vehicle at a safe speed that is within stipulated limits for a given stretch of the road. In addition, drivers need to maintain control at all times, exercise awareness, and operate a roadworthy vehicle.

In the event of an accident, the plaintiff is expected to provide sufficient evidence that the defendant failed to exercise these duties. Some acceptable evidence includes an admission of fault, traffic surveillance video, or eyewitness testimony. Blood alcohol readings, paint smudges, and skid marks are legally considered circumstantial evidence.

However, proving disregard for duty is not enough to convince the court that the defendant’s action resulted in injuries. Instead, the court requires the plaintiff to show proof of causation. Medical testimony is accepted in an effort to prove that the plaintiff’s injuries are undoubtedly linked to the accident. Consistency with the nature of the vehicle collision plays a critical role. The court needs to be fully convinced that the injuries did not exist prior to the crash.

Once the plaintiff has proven causation, the court will seek further evidence relating to the element of harm. This is aimed at proving negligence on the defendant’s part. Therefore, a negligence lawsuit is impractical unless the other driver’s action clearly caused an injury or damage to property. For this reason, near misses are automatically disqualified. Successfully providing evidence in relation to harm typically qualifies the plaintiff for compensation. This can cover a number of aspects, including grief, pain, medical expenses, lost wages, and more.



In Illinois, a motorist can receive compensation from a driver that is more at-fault than he or she is. However, the compensation is limited by a given percentage of liability that the less at-fault driver shares. This law makes Illinois a modified comparative negligence state.

The law’s application means liability is applied invariably. Take, for instance, a scenario in which one of the motorists is driving a couple of miles over the speed limit and the other party suddenly stops in an unsafe manner. In such a case, the former will be unable to brake in time to avoid the accident. For this reason, the driver that stops abruptly is at fault by, say, 80 percent. This leaves the other driver 20 percent at fault. That means any compensation amount awarded will be reduced by 20 percent.



Utah uses the no-fault system when dealing with the automotive collisions. The state is one of twelve that adopted this law. It limits legal options for anyone injured in a car accident. Motorists must approach their own insurance company first to claim coverage. Only drivers whose cases qualify for an exemption from the no-fault rules can successfully file a liability claim or lawsuit against the at-fault counterparty.

The conditions for filing a claim successfully place specific thresholds, including incurring over $3,000 in medical expenses or qualifying under the serious injury threshold. The latter refers to personal injuries that lead to permanent disability, disfigurement (permanent), or bone fractures.

Because of the complex car accident claim laws in Utah, you may want to hire one of the car accident attorneys with Craig Swapp & Associates.



Pennsylvania employs the choice no-fault law to govern vehicle accidents. The rule compels car insurance holders to opt in or out when taking out a policy. Motorists who prefer full tort are considered to have opted out of the no-fault system. In turn, this compels drivers to file an insurance claim with their provider—no lawsuits against third parties.

The claim can only cover loss of income and medical bills. Additional compensation relating to emotional distress or pain and suffering is not applicable. Exemptions to this rule limit eligibility to very few cases. On the other hand, limited tort enables motorists to save money when taking out insurance.



California governs car, motorcycle, and truck collisions using the fault system. This means drivers, pedestrians, and passengers are permitted to either file a claim via the at-fault party’s insurance company, file a lawsuit, or file a claim via their own insurer. The compensation can cover a wide variety of claims cover, including loss of income, medical expenses, damage to property, and more.