The simple answer is that Washington state is not a no-fault state. Instead, Washington is called an “at-fault” or “tort” state. In an at-fault state, drivers each carry their own insurance policy as protection for injuries that may result from a collision they cause. A driver causing a collision is liable for the injuries caused by it, and the driver’s insurance policy provides the financial coverage.
In Washington, fault for a collision may be written in a police report, determined through investigation, or presumed by insurers in certain circumstances, such as in a rear-end collision.
No Fault States
In no-fault states, both insurance and liability work differently than in an “at-fault” state. In a no-fault state, drivers are required to purchase an insurance policy that pays out regardless of who is at fault, meaning each driver would file a claim with his or her own insurance following a collision, regardless of who caused the collision. These insurance policies usually have much lower policy limits than a liability policy in an at-fault state.
No-fault insurance laws currently exist in twelve states: Hawaii, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Kansas, Kentucky, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Florida, and Utah. In New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Kentucky, drivers can elect to drive without insurance entirely.
It is worth mentioning that even in a no-fault state, if the damages of an injured person go beyond the low policy limits covering them, the party causing the collision would still be liable for those damages. For this reason, an at-fault state and a no-fault state really only differ in how minor collisions are handled by insurance.
Personal Injury Protection
While Washington is an “at-fault” state, insurance providers in Washington are still required to offer Personal Injury Protection insurance (PIP) to drivers. PIP is a type of no-fault insurance policy that a driver in Washington can add to his or her insurance. PIP will pay for medical bills and other damages regardless of fault. Drivers are not required in Washington to have PIP coverage, but insurers are required to offer the policy.
If drivers elect not to purchase PIP coverage, they may still have the option of Medpay coverage. Medpay is another policy that pays regardless of fault, similarly to PIP. Medpay coverage is an add-on feature for policies which will only pay for medical bills which are related to a specific collision. Medpay coverage is neither required to be purchased by the driver nor to be offered by the insurer. Typically, insurers do not offer both PIP and Medpay on the same policy.
The Next Steps Matter
If you’ve been in a collision and need an attorney, choose the experienced attorneys at Van Law Firm to guide you through your case. Our experienced attorneys can help you understand your coverages and how they apply to your collision so you can get the most compensation for the collision and get back to your life. Call our office today for a free case evaluation and consultation.