No-fault systems generally exempt individuals from the usual liability for causing body injury if they do so in a car collision; when individuals purchase “liability” insurance under those regimes, the insurance covers bodily injury of the insured and the insured’s passengers caused by a car collision, regardless of which party would be liable under ordinary common law tort rules. No-fault insurance has the goal of lowering premium costs by avoiding expensive litigation over the causes of the collision, while providing quick payments for injuries or loss of property. Further, no-fault systems often grant “set” or “fixed” compensation for certain injuries regardless of the unique aspects of the injury or the individual injured. Workers compensation funds typically are run as “no fault” systems with usually a fixed schedule for compensation for various injuries.
Proponents of no-fault insurance argue that automobile collisions are inevitable and that at-fault drivers are not necessarily higher risk and should not necessarily be punished; moreover, they note that the presence of liability insurance insulates reckless or negligent drivers from financial disincentives of litigation; also, uninsured motorists are often “judgment proof” (i.e. can’t and won’t end up paying for their liability anyway), so that in regions with high numbers of such uninsured motorists, no-fault systems may make more sense.
Critics of no-fault argue that dangerous drivers not paying for the damage they cause encourages excessive risky behavior, with only raised premiums and a higher risk rating as the potential consequence, and no jury awards or legal settlements. Detractors of no-fault also point out that legitimate victims with subtle handicaps find it difficult to seek recovery under no-fault. Another criticism is that some no-fault jurisdictions have among the highest automobile-insurance premiums in the country, but this may be more a matter of effect than cause (e.g., the financial savings from no-fault may simply make it more popular in areas with higher automobile-collision risk, or high insurance rates may cause more drivers to go uninsured, increasing the attraction of a no-fault system).