Automobile Accidents and Personal Injury Claims in Massachusetts

July 7, 2021

If you were involved in an auto accident, your first instinct is to call an ambulance to get you to a hospital and get medical treatment for your injuries. But then you wonder: “how will I cover the hospital bills and all the other unexpected expenses?” The simplest answer is – your own auto insurance carrier. However, you may be eligible to receive other forms of compensation for your pain, suffering and other economic and non-economic damages. In order to get the fair compensation you deserve, you need to hire an experienced personal injury attorney at Michael Kelly Injury Lawyers.

Our legal team has the experience to negotiate settlements or assist you in filing a personal injury lawsuit against the responsible driver for your motor vehicle accident. We encourage you to contact us before you talk about your case with anybody else, especially with an insurance adjuster.

How Does Massachusetts Law Treat Fault in Case of Car Accidents?

According to the General Laws of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Chapter 231 Section 85, a driver involved in a traffic accident has the right to recover financial damages if their proportion of fault for the crash is less than the other drivers. This modified comparative negligence rule stipulates that, if you are found partly responsible for the accident, the damages award will be reduced by the percentage of fault you have. For example, a $20,000 award where the accident victim was found to be 10 percent responsible shall be reduced by $2,000. Thus, the person will receive $18,000 from the automobile insurer or the at-fault driver.

Another important aspect of personal injury law in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts is that this is a no-fault state This means that accident victims must carry Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance and file a personal injury claim with their own automobile insurance carrier.

However, in certain situation, when the bodily injuries exceed a certain tort threshold, the injury victim may sue the responsible driver. This threshold is set at:

  • $2,000 in reasonable medical expenses and/or
  • permanent and significant disfigurement, substantial loss of hearing or loss of sight, bone fractures.

This means that if you suffered catastrophic injuries that require extensive hospitalization and medical care, you are certainly eligible to go beyond the claim for damage filed against your automobile policy, and file a personal injury lawsuit.. An experienced accident attorney can help you build your case and win the maximum compensation or jury award you deserve.

Auto Insurance Requirements in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts

In order to drive legally on the public roads in Massachusetts, a person must carry the following minimum insurance coverage amounts:

  • bodily injuries caused to others: $20,000 per person and $40,000 per accident
  • property damage caused to others: $5,000 per accident
  • personal injury protection: $8,000 per person, per accident
  • uninsured motorist coverage: $20,000 per person and $40,000 per accident.

These are the minimum amounts required by law. However, accident damage and medical care expenses may be significant higher. Thus, even if you are legally insured, you may be an underinsured driver, whose auto insurance policy cannot cover all your financial losses. For this reason, any personal injury lawyer recommends drivers to always carry more than the bare minimum amount the law requires and opt for a under insured motorist policy..

Otherwise, make sure that you hire an experienced auto accident lawyer to investigate your case and make sure that you can recover your damages from the other driver if they are more than 50 percent at fault for the accident.

The law also stipulates penalties for uninsured drivers. These are:

  • a fine of up to $500, and
  • the order to pay the equivalent amount of the most expensive annual auto insurance premium in your area, and/or
  • drivers’ license suspension and jail time.

Common Causes of Car Accidents

Every accident scenario is different. However, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 94% of all motor vehicle crashes are caused by driver error, followed far behind by environment conditions (2%) and defective vehicles (2%). The most common driver errors that lead to accidents are:

  • 41% recognition error – including distracted driving
  • 33% decision error – exceeding speed limit, tailgating, failure to signal turns
  • 11% performance error, including failure to maintain control over the vehicle, nighttime driving
  • 7% non-performance error, including drowsy driving..

In the Commonwealth of Massachusetts there were 140,083 traffic accidents in 2019, according to the Department of Transportation. They resulted in 314 fatalities and 32,768 victims suffering from bodily injuries.

Types of Injuries Caused by Automobile Accidents

When a negligent driver hits your car, you may suffer soft tissue injury, whiplash, ankle fracture dislocation and other common injuries associated with car collisions. However, in the most serious instances, especially if you were hit by a large commercial vehicle, you may sustain very severe injuries, including:

  • pelvic fracture
  • femur fracture
  • rib fracture
  • cervical fracture
  • spinal cord injury
  • traumatic brain injury
  • loss of limb.

In most of these cases, you will spend weeks, or even months in hospital. You will be too focused on recovering from emotional trauma, physical pain and the prospect of making a full recovery. This is why you should consider hiring an injury law firm as soon as possible to investigate your case and start negotiations with your auto insurer. If the amount we manage to obtain is not sufficient to cover all your medical care costs and out-of-pocket expenses, you may consider suing the negligent diver.

However, you have a three-year time limit to do so, as per the statute of limitations in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Thus, it is in your best interest to start the legal proceedings to file your automobile accident claim.

What You Should Do If You Were Involved in an Auto Accident

You’ve just been involved in a traffic accident. You are dazed and confused, and you start experiencing pain. At this point, you may start going into a panic. Try to control yourself, because your actions during the next hours and days may negatively influence your chances of getting the fair settlement you deserve.

First, even if you are believed that you may be at fault for the accident, do not leave the crash scene. Instead, call 9-1-1 and request an ambulance and a team of law enforcement officers to investigate the collision.

Please remember that, according to the General Laws of Massachusetts Chapter 90 Section 26, you are required to report any car accident within 5 days if:

  • there are any fatalities or injured persons
  • there is damage amounting to minimum  $1,000 to vehicles or other personal property.

To do so, you need to fill in a Motor Vehicle Operator Crash Report form and submit it to the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles and send a copy of this report to the police department having jurisdiction in the area where the crash occurred.

After you report the accident, you will likely be contacted by an insurance adjuster who wants to close your case as soon as possible with a lump sum settlement. You should not accept the settlement and not say anything about the crash. Instead, hire a personal injury attorney to calculate the financial compensation you deserve and negotiate it with the insurance company.

How An Experienced Accident Attorney Can Maximize Your Settlement Amount

Personal injury attorneys will look for information that provide a clear picture of how the accident occurred and how extensive your economic and non-economic damages are. In order to do so, the lawyer will look over your medical record, the evidence you collected at the crash scene (photos and videos taken with your mobile phone) and other sources of information, such as:

  • eyewitness testimonies
  • traffic camera recordings
  • a copy of the crash report prepared by the police.

Once the accurate percentage of fault is clearly established for all parties involved in the crash and the lawyer can prove that you were the victim of negligence, they will start calculating your financial losses. These include:

  • hospital bills, including cost of emergency surgery
  • long term care expenses, after discussing your case with a life care planner
  • lost wages
  • loss of income, if you are unable to return to work.

If it is necessary, the attorney will hire accident reconstruction experts to recreate the accident scenario and build a strong case if you decide to file an accident lawsuit. The expert testimony given by the accident reconstruction engineer may get you a higher arbitration award, including additional damage amounts for pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life due to your permanent injury.

Hire a Personal Injury Law Firm with a Proven Track Record!

The accident lawyers at Michael Kelly Injury Lawyers have already negotiated more than 10 million personal injury settlements. We are available to offer you a free consultation 24/7, and we offer you a 30-day client satisfaction guarantee.

If you are not happy with how we handle your claim for damages for pain and economic losses during the first 30 days, we will return your file free of charge. However, our track record is proof of our dedication to obtain the maximum compensation for our clients and win your accident trial.

Do not let time pass and limit your chances to recover your losses. Call an experienced car accident attorney at Michael Kelly: 1-800-LAW-GUYS!

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Michael D. Kelly has a diverse background that provides a breadth of legal knowledge that he draws upon in serving his clients. Kelly compiled an excellent academic record during his three years at New England Law in Boston.