If you have ever been in a car accident, you know that a typical first reaction is to try to assign fault. But in Massachusetts, blame often takes a back seat. We are a no-fault state, which means you usually can’t sue another driver who may have caused an accident, except to seek compensation for the most extreme bodily injuries.
“No-fault” means that you must look first to your own insurance company for reimbursement of medical costs. The system is designed to compensate policy holders quickly and without litigation. Once you’ve been paid, your insurer can then pursue a lawsuit against the insurer for the driver allegedly at fault: a process known as subrogation.
But your no-fault payout will only cover up to your policy limit for Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage, which is only $8,000. To boot, it covers only economic damages, meaning out-of-pocket medical costs and some lost wages, but It does not cover compensation for pain and suffering.
Massachusetts includes some important exceptions to no-fault insurance rules. If your injuries cost you at least $2,000 in medical costs and/or your accident resulted in serious, permanent injuries such as disfigurement or loss of sight, you may file a claim against the other driver or responsible party.
But there’s another twist. Massachusetts is a modified comparative fault state, which means that if you were partly at fault — for example, you were speeding when another car ran a red light and crashed into you — your award will be reduced by your percentage of responsibility for the accident. Worse still, a driver deemed to be more than 50 percent at fault is completely barred from recovery.
When dealing with the aftermath of a crash that caused extreme bodily injuries to you or a family member, a qualified auto accident attorney can thoroughly investigate the accident and ascertain the relative fault of the parties involved. Massachusetts law establishes standards of fault that make certain actions determinative that a driver is more than 50 percent responsible. They include:
- Driving the wrong way
- Colliding with a parked vehicle
- Hitting a pedestrian
- Rear-ending another vehicle
- Failing to signal
- Changing lanes improperly
Another important role of an accident attorney is to assess, with the aid of medical experts, the bodily injuries you have suffered and to build the evidence necessary for a lawsuit.
In Massachusetts, you generally only have three years from the time of your accident to file a claim, but there are important limitations that could substantially shorten the amount of time you have to act to protect your rights. For example, if a state vehicle injured you, you must give proper notice within two years of the accident or be forever barred.
The lawyers at Swartz & Lynch LLP help auto accident victims recover damages for their losses in a car crash. From our office in downtown Boston, we represent injured clients in the city and the surrounding neighborhoods of Suffolk County. Call us at 857-250-0664 or contact us online to arrange your free initial consultation.