Car accidents are chaotic and will disrupt the lives of you and your loved ones. When suffering from a serious injury, you will likely feel overwhelmed. At this difficult time, you may be unable to effectively advocate for yourself to secure the compensation you need to cover your medical bills and more. As a Massachusetts car accident attorney and results-focused advocate for injured victims, I can negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf and recover the fair settlement you need during this challenging time. Call me today to set up a free, no obligation review of your case.
Common Types of Car Accidents in Massachusetts
There are many different types of car accidents in Massachusetts, and they all have the potential to be very serious. The most common types of car accidents in Massachusetts are as follows:
- Head-on collisions;
- Rideshare accidents;
- Rear-end accidents;
- Multi-vehicle accidents;
- Side impact collisions;
- Parking lot accidents; and
- Hit and run accidents.
Common Causes of Car Accidents in Massachusetts
Most car accidents occur because one party was negligent. The most common acts of negligence that lead to car accidents include:
- Aggressive driving;
- Distracted driving;
- Drowsy driving;
- Impaired driving;
- Improper lane changes;
- Failure to indicate;
- Failure to stop or yield; and
- Failure to drive appropriately for weather conditions.
Car Accidents Are Not Simple Claims
If you are injured in a car or motor vehicle accident you may be entitled to recover for the harm done to you by a negligent driver. But what is negligence? Negligence is defined as “the failure to use that degree of care which a reasonably prudent person would use under the circumstances, either by doing something that a reasonably prudent person would not do, or by failing to do something that a reasonably prudent person would do under similar circumstances.” In a motor vehicle accident that means the failure of a driver to use reasonable care in operating their vehicle. Examples of failing to use reasonable care include speeding, texting while driving, failing to signal, impaired driving, and failure to yield.
Car accidents can involve anything from soft tissue injuries to fatal head trauma. Back injuries, including herniated discs and spinal injuries are very common. Joint injuries, broken bones and brain injuries also frequently occur. Generally, an injured driver may be able to recover for medical expenses, lost income, and pain and suffering.
Most of us are very familiar with driving and therefore many people wrongly assume that car accident cases are very simple and can be negotiated with an insurance company on your own. However, accidents involving motor vehicles are often complex legal claims involving difficult questions of fault, insurance coverage, choice of law, underinsured and underinsured coverage, health insurance, and liens. While in some cases the negligence of the other driver is self-evident, such as the rear ending of a driver who is stopped at a red light, in many cases negligence is not so easy to prove. Gathering evidence to prove your claim from police reports, driver cams, phone records, surveillance videos, and eyewitnesses takes time and knowledge. Often an investigator is needed to assist in obtaining this type of evidence, and expert testimony may be required.
Even if the insurance of the at-fault driver concedes liability, insurance companies will fight hard against you on damages. Insurance companies have teams of adjusters and in-house attorneys who are dedicated to paying nothing or as little as possible on your claim. That is why it is critical to have an attorney who can help protect your rights, navigate these issues, gather the evidence necessary to prove your claim, and help maximize your recovery.
It is also important to retain an attorney as soon as possible after the incident. First, it’s generally easier to obtain the requisite evidence immediately after the incident. As time passes, memories fade, witnesses move, records can get lost or misplaced. Second, you do not have unlimited time withing which to file your claim. With some limited exceptions, in Massachusetts, the statute of limitations for a negligence lawsuit for damages must be filed within three years from the date of injury or a plaintiff may not recover. Cases filed after the statute of limitations has run will be dismissed no matter how strong your case is or how large your damages are.
The Massachusetts No-Fault System: PIP Benefits
In Massachusetts, the first $2,000 in medical bills that you incur as a result of the accident are covered by Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance. PIP is also commonly referred to as “no-fault” insurance and is mandatory insurance coverage in Massachusetts. PIP benefits are provided by the insurer of the car that you are in at the time of the collision, or, if you are a pedestrian, by the insurer for the car that hits you, regardless of whom is at fault for the accident. PIP benefits provide $8,000 in benefits for reimbursement of medical expenses and lost wages. However, lost wages can only be recovered if you are not paid by your employer while out of work. As you can imagine, the limited coverage of PIP benefits is quickly exhausted when a significant vehicle accident causes major injuries. When that happens, you can move outside the no-fault system.
Serious Accidents: You Can Hold the At-Fault Party Liable
Were you seriously injured in a car accident in Massachusetts? If so, then you may have the right to file a fault-based personal injury claim against a negligent driver, truck company, or any other party whose negligent conduct contributed to your accident. Under Massachusetts law, you can file a car accident injury lawsuit against the at-fault party if:
- You incurred more than $2,000 in reasonable medical bills; and/or
- You sustained injuries resulting in a fracture, loss of limb, sight or hearing, serious disfigurement, or was killed in the crash.
Through a fault-based car accident claim, you can pursue compensation for the full extent of your losses, including medical bills, physical therapy, lost wages, and diminished earning capacity. You can also claim compensation for pain and suffering.
It is also important to remember that under Massachusetts law if the fact finder determines that you were at-fault in any way, your recovery will be reduced by the percentage you were determined to be at fault. For example, if a jury determines that your damages are $100,000 but you are 20% at-fault for the accident, your recoverable damages will be reduced to $80,000. Critically, if you are found to be more than 50% at fault in a negligence case, you will receive no compensation.
As a dedicated Massachusetts car accident lawyer, I will help you navigate the system and maximize your financial recovery after a serious crash.
Massachusetts requires every driver to have certain mandatory insurance coverages to register their vehicle. Unfortunately, in Massachusetts the state minimum for “bodily injury to others” is only $20,000 per person and $40,000 per accident. As you can imagine, this is not much coverage if you are seriously injured by a driver carrying these minimum coverages. Further compounding the problem are drivers on our roads without any insurance coverage, and irresponsible drivers who flee the scene of accidents. As a result of this problem, the Commonwealth requires every driver to carry what’s known as “uninsured bodily injury coverage.” Again, the state minimums are $20,000 per person, $40,000 per accident. Underinsured coverage may also be purchased but is not mandatory. These underinsured/uninsured coverages protect you if you are injured by a negligent driver who is underinsured or uninsured, or if you are injured by an unidentified driver (commonly referred to as a “hit and run.”) By having your own underinsured/uninsured insurance coverage, you can make a claim on your own insurance policy to provide coverage to protect you if the negligent driver does not have any insurance, is underinsured given the extent of the damages, or if the driver is not identified.
For example, while carrying $100,000 per person/$300,000 per accident underinsured/uninsured insurance coverage on your car, you are rear ended while waiting at a red light by a vehicle carrying only Massachusetts state minimum coverages. The value of your claim is $60,000, but the coverage available to you through the negligent driver’s policy is only $20,000. In this scenario, you could settle with the negligent party for his policy limits of $20,000, and then make a claim on your own policy for $40,000 to bridge the gap in insurance coverage. Underinsured/uninsured insurance is relatively cheap, and every driver should carry as much as they can reasonably afford. You never want to be in a position where you are injured by a negligent driver who doesn’t have the insurance to cover the damages they have caused, and you have no insurance of your own to fall back on.
Nevertheless, drivers involved in a serious accident who need to make a claim on their own policy should not be under the impression that the insurance company will pay their underinsured/uninsured claim without a fight. Often insurance companies will dispute claims made by their own policy holders as hard as they would a claim by another individual. Thus, it is critical that you have an experienced attorney to help protect your rights and obtain the protection that you have paid for.
Call Your Massachusetts Car Accident Lawyer Today
If you or someone you love has been seriously injured in a crash contact Michaud Law LLC today. I will protect your rights and negotiate with the appropriate insurance company to recover the maximum damages you deserve. Call me today or contact me online to schedule a consultation to obtain the sound legal advice you need at this difficult time.