Summer is the perfect time for a road trip, with Boston seeing a surge in tourism during the warmer months. Unfortunately, accidents happen, even on vacation. So what should you do if you’re in a car accident far from home? Whether you are visiting Boston or are a Bostonian traveling out of state, understanding a few basics about insurance laws and what to do immediately following an accident can make a critical difference in obtaining compensation for your injuries.
First, Massachusetts is one of 12 states, along with Puerto Rico, that use a no-fault insurance system, meaning that if you are in a car wreck in Boston, your insurance pays for your damages and the other driver’s insurance pays for his or hers. However, if you have an accident in another state, that state’s laws apply, so, for example, if you have an accident in Connecticut, which uses a fault-based system, filing a claim will be a very different experience.
These laws also determine who pays what. In Massachusetts, your medical expenses and/or lost wages can first be paid for through your personal injury protection (PIP) coverage. PIP provides a total of $8,000 in coverage. The first $2,000 can pay any medical expense. Anything over $2,000, your health insurance pays and PIP will pay any deductibles or copays. The same applies to the other driver and his or her auto and health insurance policies, regardless of who was at fault. If your injuries were very serious, you may be able to sue the other driver to obtain additional compensation, such as for permanent injuries, outside of the no-fault insurance system.
Having a car accident is always stressful, but being away from home when it happens is even more so because you lack familiar resources, such as your doctor and friends who can recommend medical specialists, personal injury attorneys and others. In addition to following the usual best practices of calling the police and documenting the accident scene, be sure to:
- Get medical attention. You may be tempted to wait until you return home to visit a doctor, but if you think you or a passenger is injured at all, consider seeing medical help right away to treat your injuries, document your injuries and check for additional injuries.
- If you are driving a rental car, call the rental company. You must notify the rental company, regardless of whether you bought insurance as part of your rental.
- If you are covered by your own insurance, call your insurance company. Answer questions but don’t volunteer more information than you need to and never admit responsibility or sign anything binding without consulting a lawyer.
- Call a local attorney. A local personal injury attorney experienced in handling car accident cases knows state laws and procedures and can help you file a claim and, possibly, settle it without you having to appear in court.
The lawyers at Swartz & Lynch, LLP in Boston, Massachusetts help auto accident victims recover damages. Call us at 857-250-0664 or contact us online to arrange your free initial consultation.