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Rules for Filing a Car Accident Lawsuits in the United States

After you get into a car accident and decide to pursue a lawsuit, you’ll want to become familiar with the ways in which states decide which driver pays which and how much after an accident.

Each state has its own rules, but they fall generally into four categories:

  • No-fault insurance
  • Contributory negligence rule
  • Pure comparative negligence rule, and
  • Modified comparative negligence rule.

We’re listing no-fault insurance as one of these rules for simplicity’s sake, but it’s really separate.

For example, you’ll notice each of the states listed under “No-Fault” are also listed under one of the other three rules with an asterisk.

That’s because these states follow one of the other three rules for cases that meet a certain threshold.

A note on the organization of this page

On this page, you’ll find short overviews of each of the four categories of rules states follow after car accidents.

Under each category, you’ll find a list of states that follow that rule.

If one of the states listed differs substantially in its application of the rule from that which is described, it will be noted.

If you want to learn more about each state, you can check out the state’s page under States We Fund or by clicking the link.

If you want to learn more about each type of category, click on the category for more information.

States We Fund

We list the 43 states that Delta Lawsuit Loans funds on this page.

We do not fund seven states and the District of Columbia.

People who have been in a car accident in one of the 43 states that we fund and have hired a lawyer qualify for a car accident loan from Delta Lawsuit Loans. Applying is as easy as a five-minute conversation and your lawyer sending in some documents.

After that, it usually takes us only 24 hours to get cash in your bank account!

civil lawsuit for car accident - Delta Lawsuit Loans

Civil Lawsuit for Car accident

No-Fault Car Insurance

In a state with no-fault car insurance, each driver goes to his or her insurer regardless of who caused the accident.

Every driver is required to carry personal injury protection, or PIP for short. The PIP will cover him or her whether he or she is at fault or another driver is at fault.

How can you sue the other driver if the state is no-fault?

Even states that are “no-fault” still take fault into account under certain circumstances.

Some states are more lenient with the level of damage that must have occurred to allow you to sue outside of the no-fault system, and some are stricter.

In some states, drivers can choose an insurance plan that allows them the right to file a third-party suit against the other driver’s insurer without meeting any threshold. This is called the unlimited right to sue.

When a person meets the threshold and files a third-party suit, he or she now sues under one of the other three categories of rules.

If you see a state listed here, look for it in one of the other categories.

PIP Claim vs. Third-Party Claim

An important distinction between filing a PIP claim and a third-party claim is that PIP claims cannot include noneconomic damages, which include pain and suffering.

You can only sue for pain and suffering, so the only time you’ll get this type of damages is if you meet the threshold and are able to sue.

Twelve states, including 10 for which Delta Lawsuit Loans offers lawsuit funding, follow a no-fault rule.

Under each state in this category, we’ll list the conditions that allow you to sue outside of the no-fault system.


  • To sue outside the no-fault system in Florida, one must have sustained a serious injury.Serious injuries include bone fracture, significant disfigurement, permanent limitation to using a particular organ or limb, significant loss of bodily function, or a 90-day period with full disability.Read more about Florida’s no-fault system.


  • Hawaii lets you sue any time your damages exceed your PIP. Even if your damages don’t exceed your PIP, you qualify to file a third-party claim if you suffered either permanent loss of function or disfigurement.


Kansas also lets you sue if the damages you suffered were greater than your PIP.

But you must also have suffered permanent injury, loss of bodily function, or disfigurement; fracture of a weight-bearing bone; or a displaced, compound, or compressed bone fracture.

To reiterate, the damages must exceed your PIP and one of the above serious injuries must have occurred.


  • Massachusetts allows you to sue any time your damages were $2,000 or more. Even if the damages were less, you can still sue if you suffered a bone fracture, substantial loss of hearing or sight, or permanent disfigurement.


  • Michigan allows you to sue if any of several factors was present:§ The at-fault driver was from out of state and not insured in Michigan.
    § The accident occurred out of state.
    § The accident caused serious injury to bodily function, disfigurement, or death.
    § The lawsuit is for no more than $1,000 of vehicle damage not covered by insurance, and the other driver was at least 50 percent responsible for the accident.

New Jersey

  • New Jersey allows drivers to choose between basic and standard coverage. Basic plans only allow you to sue if you lose a body part, sustain significant disfigurement or scarring, suffer a displaced fracture, lose a fetus, or suffer a permanent injury.A permanent injury is one that has not healed and will not heal to allow normal function.

    New Jersey also lets the estate of a person killed in an accident sue.

    Drivers who choose standard coverage choose between the limited right to sue, outlined above, and the unlimited right to sue, which allows you to sue the at-fault driver under any circumstances, like in an at-fault state.

New York

  • New York lets you sue if you have a serious injury, which includes broken or fractured bones; permanent damage to an organ, system, or body function; or injuries that cause disability for at least 90 days.

North Dakota

  • You can sue in North Dakota either if your medical bills were $2,500 or more or if the accident caused you to be disabled or disfigured for more than 60 days.


  • Pennsylvania lets drivers choose between limited and full tort coverage. Drivers who choose full coverage can sue under any circumstances.Those who choose limited can only sue if they have a serious injury, which usually means permanent disfigurement or damage to a bodily function.


  • You can sue for a car accident in Utah if you had $3,000 or more in medical bills or had a serious injury. Serious injuries are those that cause permanent disability, dismemberment, impairment, or disfigurement.

file a car accident lawsuit

Suing in a No-Fault State

Keep in mind that Delta Lawsuit Loans can offer a car accident loan while you wait for your case to settle.

The Contributory Negligence Rule

The contributory negligence rule is the strictest of the three that states use.

It is also the least common, being active in only three of the states Delta Lawsuit Loans covers.

Under the contributory negligence rule, a driver who was even partly at fault for an accident can’t sue.

Even if his or her fault was minor compared to the other driver’s––say, 5 percent––a person is barred from suing in one of these states.

States with a contributory negligence rule are:

  • Alabama
  • North Carolina
  • Virginia

In these states, even a bit of fault will make your case all but impossible to win.

Still, drivers in these states can qualify for pre-settlement cash advances from Delta Lawsuit Loans if they’ve hired a lawyer.

We’ll have to review the facts of your case to make sure you have a good shot at winning.

Then we can get you your cash in just 24 hours. You can use the money any way you want. Even better, you don’t pay back if you lose.

The Pure Comparative Negligence Rule

Some states––11 of those that Delta Lawsuit Loans covers––assess the amount each driver pays in damages based on how much each was at fault.

This is called comparative negligence. Unlike contributory negligence, the comparative negligence rule allows drivers to sue even if they were partially at fault. In states with a pure comparative negligence rule, drivers can sue even if they were mostly at fault.

In pure comparative negligence states, a jury finds two things.

  • First, they find the amount of damages each driver sustained.
  • Then, they find the percentage of the accident for which each driver was responsible.
  • Finally, the jury subtracts the percentage of the accident from the total damages, which is the award each driver gets.

States Under the Comparative Negligence Rule

These are states that can get car accident loans from Delta Lawsuit Loans that follow the pure comparative negligence rule.

States with an asterisk are no-fault states that follow a pure comparative negligence rule if drivers meet a certain threshold.

  • Alaska
  • California
  • Florida*
  • Kansas*
  • Louisiana
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri
  • New Mexico
  • New York*
  • Rhode Island
  • Washington

In states with a pure comparative negligence rule, winning a lawsuit can be significantly easier because you only have to show that the other driver was at all at fault.

However, winning your full damages can be very difficult because you’ll have to show the other driver was completely at fault.

If you’ve been in an accident in a pure comparative negligence state in which Delta Lawsuit Loans offers settlement loans, you can apply today.

Just give us a call and have your lawyer send over the necessary documents.

We’ll review your case and decide whether to fund it, usually in just a day. It’s as easy as that!

The Modified Comparative Negligence Rule

The modified comparative negligence rule works similarly to the pure comparative negligence rule.

Like it, a jury subtracts your share of the fault from your damages.

The twist, however, is in the modified.

Modified comparative negligence states only allow you to sue if the other driver was more at fault than you (if it was you and one other driver, you can sue if your share of the fault was 50 percent or less).

If you were more than 50 percent at fault, you can’t get anything.

Modified comparative negligence is the most common car accident rule in the United States. Twenty-nine of the states we fund follow this rule.

States Under the Modified Comparative Negligence Rule

The following states are modified comparative negligence states.

States with an asterisk are primarily no-fault states, but allow for modified comparative negligence lawsuits under certain circumstances or if a driver opted for the unlimited right to sue.

Where a state differs in application of the rule from that which is described above, we’ll note it.

  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • Georgia
  • Hawaii*
  • Idaho
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Maine – Drivers who are equally responsible for an accident (50 percent) can’t sue in Maine.
  • Massachusetts*
  • Michigan* – Allows you to collect economic damages, such as medical costs and lost wages, no matter how much at fault you were for the accident. Only noneconomic damages, such as pain and suffering, are barred past 50 percent.
  • Montana
  • Nebraska
  • New Hampshire – If you’re 50 percent responsible for an accident, you can’t sue in Nebraska
  • New Jersey*
  • North Dakota*
  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania*
  • South Carolina
  • South Dakota – South Dakota bars a plaintiff from suing not necessarily at 50 percent, but at whatever contribution to the accident a jury considers more than “slight.” All states apply the modified comparative negligence rule in a slightly subjective way, since a jury decides how much each action contributed to the accident, but South Dakota’s application is the most subjective because it doesn’t even give the jury a hard number.
  • Tennessee – Plaintiffs who are 50 percent responsible for an accident can’t sue in Tennessee.
  • Texas
  • Utah* – You can’t sue in Utah if you’re 50 percent responsible.
  • Vermont
  • Wisconsin
  • Wyoming

You become eligible for a Delta Lawsuit Loans lawsuit loan as soon as you hire a lawyer.

Hiring a lawyer is the first step in the process of considering a lawsuit, and it’s the first step in applying for a lawsuit loan.

Lawsuit for Car Accident Settlements from Delta Lawsuit Loans

One major benefit of settlement loans is that you don’t need to worry about poor credit or unemployment getting in the way of your loan.

We don’t care about those factors. The reason why is our loans are non-recourse cash advances.

We get paid back out of the settlement by your lawyer, or we don’t get paid at all. That also means that if you don’t win, you don’t pay.

Over his career, James has successfully built and managed several of his own businesses, sold his company, managed hundreds of employees, operated across the United States and Europe, and completed financings for his own companies in excess of $400 million dollars.

James investment and operating experience includes co-founding one of the largest pre settlement companies, a special purpose fund that advanced money to litigants against pending legal claims. He had over $300 million across thousands of case investments, collections, and receivables, a staff of almost 50 employees, operating in 40 states. James built, assembled, and motivated a team of who became the leaders in their field of pre settlement funding. The company offered multiple solutions include attorney funding, plaintiff advances, pre settlement and post-settlement funding, and surgical and medical financing, which enable his clients to receive funds for their case, while the await their settlement.

After selling his business, James now operates a consulting firm which specializes in the lawsuit loan industry. He advises companies how to structure their financing, run their operations, deal with legal issues and collecting on their lawsuit loans. In addition to his consulting firm, James teaches business ethics classes and a local university.

James enjoys teaching, reading, writing and spending time with his wife and two boys.