If you are injured by a negligent driver in a Massachusetts traffic crash, what are your rights? How should you go about filing an insurance claim through the other driver’s insurance?
Will you be able to file a lawsuit if you’re seriously injured and you need substantial compensation?
You’re about to learn what every driver in our state should understand about auto insurance in Massachusetts.
The state of Massachusetts has implemented a “no-fault” auto insurance system for traffic accidents and auto insurance claims.
Thus, in Massachusetts, after a traffic injury, you first must file for compensation from your own auto insurance company before you can seek damages against the other driver or against that driver’s auto insurance.
In this state, the personal injury protection (PIP) provisions of your auto insurance policy cover medical bills, lost wages, and related losses up to $8,000 after an accident.
If you have private health insurance, and if your medical bills exceed $2,000, the excess amount should be submitted to your health insurer. If your health insurance carrier denies coverage, PIP will cover the rest up to a total of $8,000.
CAN YOU FILE AN INJURY LAWSUIT AGAINST A NEGLIGENT DRIVER?
Under this state’s no-fault auto insurance system, you cannot file a lawsuit against an at-fault driver unless you meet the precise requirements imposed by Massachusetts law.
You can file a lawsuit only if you have sustained a minimum of $2,000 in verifiable medical costs and if your injuries include:
– a broken or fractured bone
– severe or permanent disfigurement
– a permanent loss of hearing
– a permanent loss of vision
– the amputation of a limb
If you have any questions regarding your ability and right to file a lawsuit after a traffic crash in Massachusetts, do not hesitate to seek the advice of an attorney.
An experienced injury lawyer can review the details of the accident and injury, explain your rights, and determine if you qualify to file a legal action.
Most insurance professionals try to pay claims properly and promptly.
If your own insurance company denies your claim, or if the company’s offer is insufficient, appeal to the company’s claims supervisor, and if you’re still unsatisfied, you can submit a complaint to the Massachusetts Division of Insurance, which monitors insurance company operations and practices in our state.
WILL YOUR AUTO INSURANCE RATES GO UP IF YOU SUBMIT A CLAIM?
It is absolutely your right to make a claim when you suffer losses in a traffic collision. Don’t be intimidated. Your auto insurer cannot raise your rates if you submit a legitimate claim and you were not the at-fault driver.
If you come to believe that an auto insurance company is acting dishonestly or unethically, get advice from a qualified injury lawyer.
You should usually cooperate with your own insurance company, but you are not obligated to provide a statement to the other company.
Never give the other driver’s company a recorded statement, and do not sign any of their documents before consulting a lawyer.
You could be signing away your right to take legal action or obtain additional compensation.
Be patient and be careful. Do not settle too quickly with any insurance company. Talk with both your doctor and your attorney before accepting a settlement.
If you accept a settlement while assuming that you will recover quickly from your injuries, and you don’t, you will not be able to seek additional compensation.
WHAT SHOULD YOU DO WHEN A CAR CRASH HAPPENS?
When you are involved in a traffic accident, you must take action immediately to protect yourself, and there will not be an attorney on the scene to advise you or help.
Take these steps to protect yourself and your interests in the immediate aftermath of any vehicle accident in Massachusetts:
Summon medical attention immediately for yourself and anyone else who has been injured. And even if you don’t think you’ve been injured, have a healthcare provider examine you within 24 hours. A latent or undetected injury can slowly become a serious medical situation.
Call the police. Especially if you’ve been injured, you will need a copy of their accident report. Massachusetts requires drivers to submit a Motor Vehicle Crash Operator Report within five days of any collision that results in one or more injuries or fatalities or in property damage worth $1,000 or more.
Exchange contact and insurance information with the other driver. Get that driver’s name, address, phone number, driver’s license, and license plate numbers, insurance company name and phone number, and if possible, the other driver’s policy number. If the other driver won’t or can’t help you, ask the police to help you obtain the details you need.
Take plenty of photos. Get pictures of the general accident site, the vehicle damages, and your visible injuries. If there were eyewitnesses to the crash, try to obtain their names and a way to contact them if you end up needing their statements or testimony.
You’ll have to take all of these measures on your own before even speaking to an attorney. That’s your next priority, especially if you’ve been injured in the accident.
And even if you do not end up filing a lawsuit, a skilled Boston car accident injury attorney knows how to negotiate with an insurance company to obtain the best possible settlement on your behalf.
HOW CAN AN INJURY ATTORNEY HELP WITH MY CAR ACCIDENT CLAIM?
Your attorney can provide an insurance adjuster with the appropriate medical records and other documents and evidence to support your injury claim.
Negotiating on your own for a large settlement is seldom a good idea; your attorney, on the other hand, routinely negotiates with insurance companies, knows what to expect, and knows what it takes to prevail on your behalf.
Knowing how your automobile insurance works is imperative for every driver in Massachusetts.
To summarize: If you suffer even a minor injury because another driver was negligent, don’t even speak with that driver’s insurance company, provide nothing in writing, and don’t sign any insurance papers.
Instead, after being injured, you should concentrate all of your efforts on recuperating and getting healthy again.
Let an experienced accident lawyer provide the advice you need, protect your rights, handle your injury claim, and fight for the compensation that you require as an injury victim as well as the justice you deserve.
Eric J. Parker, the Managing Partner of Parker Scheer LLP, has over 30 years’ experience representing victims in complex personal injury cases. He is active in many legal associations and has won many awards for performance and principles. Eric believes in giving back to the community and supports young scholars and law students by acting as faculty and mentor to them.