Massachusetts is a No-Fault State
Some states, like Massachusetts, use a no-fault car insurance system. Under this system, anyone who gets into a car accident must file a claim with his or her own insurance provider to pay for medical expenses, property damage, and other fees.
What Happens After an Accident With Serious Injuries?
There are certain circumstances under which an accident victim can step outside the no-fault system and bring a personal injury claim against another driver. This can happen if:
- The injuries have caused at least $2,000 in reasonable medical expenses and/or
- The injuries are permanent and serious, like disfigurement, and will affect a victim’s quality of life.
A car accident victim has 3 years to file a claim against the negligent party in Massachusetts. The date for the time limit usually begins the day of the accident. In some cases, where injury is not quickly apparent, a “date of discovery” may delay the start of the statute of limitations.
Minimum Insurance Requirements
Every person who drives in the state of Massachusetts is required to carry a minimum amount of insurance coverage. Drivers are responsible for carrying at least:
- $20,000 for each person and $40,000 for each accident including bodily injury to others.
- $8,000 for each person and each accident, for personal injury protection (PIP).
- $20,000 for each person and $40,000 for each accident with bodily injury caused by an uninsured driver.
- $5,000 for each accident including damages to another person’s property.
Massachusetts has one of the lowest uninsured driver percentages in the country and Massachusetts law does not require drivers to purchase underinsured driver coverage. Depending on your policy, you may be able to collect from your own insurance company if you are hit by a driver without insurance. However, if your insurance company has denied your claim or you feel that they have treated you unfairly, you can file a complaint with the Massachusetts Office of Consumer Affairs & Business Regulations or seek help from a local attorney.
Comparative Fault in Legal Claims
Massachusetts is a comparative fault state, meaning that an award is reduced by a driver’s percentage of fault, or responsibility, for the accident. If the court finds that an injured person shares less than 50% of the fault, he or she may have his or her compensation reduced by the degree of fault. However, anyone who shares more than 50% of the fault may not be able to claim compensation at all, since they are a majority responsible for causing the accident.
Why Fault Still Matters in a No-Fault State
Even though the state adheres to a no-fault doctrine, fault still makes a difference in accidents. For instance, if a party is more than 50% responsible for the accident, his or her insurance company may be legally responsible for paying more compensation to cover other costs associated with the accident. Property damage is still determined by a comparative fault rule. It is also likely that an at-fault driver will notice an increase in premium payments after an accident.
Key Points About PIP No-Fault Insurance:
- It covers losses tied to injuries, and does not cover damage to a car, or to any other property.
- In some states, PIP is required by law; in other states, PIP is not available at all.
- In some states, medical payments are covered under medical payments coverage.
If you have any questions about this please call our office.