I was recently in a car accident and have a neck injury. Who is liable?

Additional  Information:

I was rear-ended by a delivery truck of a pretty large Worcester based company.  I suffered a neck injury as a result of the accident.  I’ve been seen and followed by a doctor and am in physical therapy now. The Worcester Police got the name of the driver and the insurance information but I was wondering- who is liable? the driver? the company or both?  I assume my medical expenses will be paid but I also feel as though I’m entitled to damages for pain and suffering.  This whole incident has caused a lot of problems for my work and my family.

ATTORNEY ANSWER:

The answer to your liability question will depend upon the relationship between the driver and the company.  Generally, when an employee is operating a vehicle within the scope of his employment, the employer is liable for the employee’s negligent operation of the vehicle.  This is called vicarious liability.  In that case, your claim would be against the employer, not the employee.  There may be questions about whether the driver was actually within the scope of his or her employment at the time of the accident, so the driver may be liable, if the employer is not.  That means your claim should include the driver until the issue surrounding his or her employment is resolved.  Massachusetts statutes govern when you can recover for pain and suffering damages.  Due to our no-fault based system of insurance coverage, you are able to recover pain and suffering damages only where the accident causes death, loss of a body member (in whole or in part), permanent and serious disfigurement, loss of sight or hearing, a fracture, or reasonable and necessary medical expenses of at least $2,000.  G.L. c. 231, §6D.  You would be able to recover your medical expenses and lost wages from your own insurance company in any event up to your coverage limits.  If your specific damages exceed those limits, you probably have crossed the threshold for a pain and suffering damages claim under the statute.

Worcester Car Accident Attorneys at Reardon, Joyce & Akerson, PC represents clients in car accidents and personal injury claims throughout Worcester County and Central Mass including the communities of Shrewsbury, Marlborough, Northborough, Westborough, Leominster, Fitchburg, Clinton, Auburn, Oxford, Spencer, Boylston, Holden, Paxton, Ware, Worcester, Millbury, Grafton, Rutland, Sutton, Webster, Sterling, Lancaster, West Boylston, Leicester, Hudson, Charlton, Southbridge, Bolton, Barre, Hubbardston, Sturbridge, Brimfield, Princeton, Gardner, Milford, Uxbridge, Upton, Lunenberg, Ashburnham, Northbridge, Ashby, Harvard, Westminster, Winchendon, Dudley, and Brookfield.