Wherever and whenever an auto accident happens, it is never convenient, but is often overwhelming, and at times life-altering. If you have recently been in an accident in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, this article will help you sort out what the process looks like here, giving you a sense of what you have already done and what remains to be done to get your life back on track. For any Massachusetts driver, whether you have been in an accident or not, it is important to understand Commonwealth law regarding auto accidents so you can respond quickly should an accident happen to you.
You must report an accident within five days to the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles if:
- The accident caused more than $1000 in property loss or damage
- Any person suffered injury or death
It is always a good idea to report an accident, as it can be difficult to know the approximate valuation of lost or damaged property before an insurance assessor examines the vehicles and because injuries sometimes take days to manifest their full severity.
In determining liability for an accident, Massachusetts uses a system of comparative negligence. In assessing all the factors that went into an accident, a first-responder (usually a police officer) will make a preliminary determination of fault for each driver involved. This can result in the assignment of points to one’s license and subsequent hiking of one’s insurance rates.
You will be sent a notification in the mail to inform you of this decision. There is an appeals process for this, which takes several months, and involves you speaking to a magistrate.
Massachusetts is a no-fault state, meaning that parties to an accident must normally turn over medical bills, out-of-pocket expenses, and lost income claims to their own insurance provider. Exceptions to this are if:
- Reasonable medical expenses from the accident exceed $2000
- Permanently disabling or disfiguring injury, fractured bone, death, or loss of hearing or sight resulted from the accident
In the case of a lawsuit, the court will determine the overall monetary loss caused by an accident and the percentage of fault held by plaintiff and defendant. If the plaintiff is found to have been more than fifty-percent responsible for the accident, he or she may not collect any damages from the defendant. If, however, the defendant holds the majority of fault, the plaintiff may collect a percentage of the valued loss corresponding to the defendant’s fault.
For example, if a defendant is found to be seventy-percent at-fault in a case valued at $100,000, the plaintiff can receive up to $70,000.
This is why you need a skilled legal team with experience in the insurance industry to work for you—our lawyers and assessors can find the most accurate valuation for losses in an accident and work to present your comparative fault in the most beneficial light.
Statutes of Limitations
In Massachusetts, all injured parties in an accident—driver, passenger, or pedestrian—have three years from the date of an accident to file a suit. In the case of a death resulting directly from an accident, the decedent’s survivors and executors have three years from the date of death to file a wrongful death suit.
What We Can Do for You
Our office works to make the aftermath of an accident as painless as possible for you—whether that’s by settling with insurers out of court or properly evaluating the true loss of an accident when representing your suit. Call our office today to discuss your auto accident injury case, at no cost to you.