Is Massachusetts an At-Fault State for Car Accidents?

February 6, 2022

Most jurisdictions in the U.S. are either fault or no-fault states. Find out if Massachusetts is a no-fault state for car accidents and how it affects your claim, and see how our Boston car accident lawyers may be able to help you.

If you’ve recently been in a motor vehicle accident that caused some damages, you may be exploring options to help you recover compensation if you are the victim. In the same vein, if you were the negligent driver, you may be exploring your options.

Either way, how your claim is handled and how much compensation you can receive is dependent on whether your insurance policy is an at-fault or no-fault policy. This article explains whether the State of Massachusetts operates an at-fault policy and what the implications are. If you have been in a car accident, you should consider reaching out to our experienced Boston car accident lawyers to represent you and help you with your car accident claim.

How Is Fault Apportioned in Auto Accidents?

Each state treats faults in car accidents differently. For example, some states use a comparative negligence policy, while others use contributory negligence to assign faults. 

What Is an At-Fault Policy?

Insurance companies typically pay compensation depending on who is at fault for an accident. These damages are typically classified into economic damages and non-economic damages. After most auto accidents, damages are often paid to the victim by the person responsible for the accident. This is referred to as an at-fault policy or tort insurance.

In such situations, the at-fault driver’s auto insurance company pays compensation to the other party to the coverage limit. The auto insurance policy that affects you will depend on the state in which the accident occurred. Some states are at-fault states, while others are no-fault states. Currently, 38 states are at-fault states.

What Is a No-Fault Policy?

There are only 12 no-fault states in the United States, including Massachusetts. In a no-fault state, anyone involved in an accident will file a claim with their insurance provider for the damages they incur instead of pursuing a personal injury lawsuit against the other driver. This holds regardless of who is at fault for the accident.

Benefits of No-Fault Insurance

There are quite a few benefits of no-fault insurance. One such advantage is that the time it takes to resolve a claim is reduced drastically. When two insurance companies have to go at each before settling a claim, the process drags out as each party fights to pay as little as possible. Investigating the possibility of a fraudulent claim could also make a case last too long.

Is Massachusetts an At-Fault State?

As mentioned earlier, Massachusetts is a no-fault state. Consequently, car accident victims do not need to demand that the at-fault driver’s insurance company pay for the damages they incurred from the accident. In a no-fault system, people who get into accidents have to file a claim with their insurance company to pay for medical expenses, property damage, and any other damage incurred.

These benefits are also called first-party benefits. In Massachusetts, first-party benefits are paid to anyone who suffers an injury due to owning, maintaining, or using a vehicle.

Individuals who get into a car accident can file a personal injury protection (PIP) claim with their insurance company. Under Massachusetts PIP, the policyholder and anyone authorized to drive their car are covered. Some benefits covered by PIP include funeral costs, lost wages, medical expenses, and necessary household services.

Necessary household services are also called replacement services and refer to chores like cleaning the house. This is because you could have done these activities for yourself if not for the accident injuries. Personal injury protection does not cover physical pain and suffering or emotional distress.

The highest anyone can receive in personal injury protection benefits in Massachusetts is about $8,000 for all expenses. It includes medical costs. However, an injured person can hold another driver liable for a crash if they incurred at least $2,000 in medical costs or suffered severe injury. It is also called third-party benefits. Injuries eligible for third-party benefits include hearing loss or eyesight, bone fracture, and disfigurement. 

Your insurance carrier can deny you PIP benefits if they believe you intended to harm yourself, were driving under the influence of alcohol or trying to evade law enforcement agents. In addition, your insurer can use your driving record against you. If this happens, you should speak to a lawyer to decide on the best course of action.

In addition to PIP benefits, you may be able to claim liability insurance. Liability insurance compensates the injured party when an insured vehicle causes bodily injury or property damage. As such, if your medical costs exceed $2,000, you can file a liability insurance claim against the at-fault driver. 

Occasionally, you may find yourself in an accident with an uninsured driver, and you may need to get uninsured motorist coverage to protect yourself. Finally, Massachusetts law requires that all drivers carry the maximum amount of car insurance before driving. This includes:

  • $20,000 liability coverage for bodily injury per person
  • $8,000 in personal injury protection coverage
  • $5,000 liability coverage for property damage
  • $40,000 for every accident you cause

What Do You Do After a Car Accident?

If you had little or no injuries after a car accident, you’re probably still shocked that you were unscathed. Conversely, if you have injuries, you may be more interested in getting medical help. However, you can take steps after an accident to improve your chances of getting maximum compensation. We’ve listed them below.

Get Medical Treatment

This is one of the most important steps you can take after an accident. Car accidents usually come with major injuries. However, in some cases, they may not be visible. Some people decide against getting medical treatment after seeing that they were not physically injured. However, that is risky.

Some injuries do not show up until later, while internal injuries will only be detected if a doctor examines you. In addition, you should remember that the body often releases adrenaline, which masks any pain you may feel. When it wears out, you may discover that you were seriously injured.

In addition, getting medical treatment is vital when pursuing a personal injury claim. It provides evidence that you were injured in the accident and could help you get good compensation.

Document Your Injuries

Your injuries serve as proof that you were injured in a car accident, so you need to document them. If you cannot take pictures of your injury, you can get someone else to do that for you. Ensure that they get angles that show how serious the injuries are. You can also take photos of vehicle damages as evidence for your insurance claim.

Reach Out to Experienced Boston Car Accident Lawyers

Even in no-fault states, you may be able to get compensation for your injuries. Therefore, you should get a skilled car accident attorney. A qualified attorney will help you gather evidence to support your personal injury claim.

In addition, they’ll prepare you for settlement meetings and court while representing you. Timing is important as there is a time limit for filing accident claims. A personal injury attorney will ensure that you do all you need to do at the appropriate time.

Our Boston Car Accident Lawyers May Be Able to Help You

A car accident can bring unintended consequences for those involved. It could manifest in various ways, from fighting for your life to getting compensation for your injuries. This process can be a lengthy one, but it could be easier when you have competent personal injury lawyers by your side.

At Kelly and Associates, we believe in going above and beyond for our clients. We do this knowing that your greatest need after an accident is healing. When you hire our Boston car accident lawyers, you get a passionate, dedicated, and experienced personal injury team who makes sure they fight to get you the compensation you deserve. We would love to represent you, so give us a call to schedule a free case review.

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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.