Like many other states, Massachusetts adopted a no-fault approach to auto accidents to encourage swift and easy settlements of minor claims. With no-fault, the parties involved in a traffic accident file claims with their own insurance companies, rather than with the company insuring the driver who allegedly caused the accident. The logic behind the law says that insurance companies will save on the cost of litigating fault if they move immediately to a settlement of damages, and any losses a company suffers from paying for an accidents its policyholders did not cause will be offset when the company doesn’t have to pay for accidents their policyholders did cause. The law is also good for consumers because, theoretically, an insurance company is more likely to deal in good faith with its own policyholder.
However, the no-fault theory only holds for minor accidents and run-of-the-mill claims. If insurers had to pay for catastrophic accidents when their policyholders were not liable, that would be a much different story. Therefore, no-fault does not apply to all car accidents, and a driver can step outside the no-fault system if the accident meets certain threshold requirements:
- The injured party filing the claim incurred at least $2,000 in reasonable medical expenses.
- The injuries include permanent and serious disfigurement, fractured bones, or substantial loss of hearing or eyesight.
Either of these factors is enough to free an injured person or claimant from the no-fault restrictions and sue on the basis of liability. The $2,000 threshold is not hard to reach. Given the current cost of an ambulance ride and an emergency room visit, almost any injury that requires immediate medical assistance will qualify.
If you have been injured in a vehicle accident in Massachusetts, an attorney at Swartz & Lynch LLP can evaluate your case and inform you of your rights. To schedule a free consultation, call 857-250-0664 or contact our Boston office online.