State law requires licensed drivers in Massachusetts to carry certain minimum auto insurance coverage. This is known as compulsory coverage, and it covers the costs associated with car accident injuries, some lost wages, some property damage, and accidents involving uninsured or unidentified drivers. Specifically, Massachusetts drivers must carry:
- $20,000 per person (or $40,000 per accident) for injuries to others (not including passengers in your vehicle)
- $8,000 in Personal Injury Protection (PIP) for your own accident related medical expenses and a portion of your missed wages (extends to anyone you let drive your car, anyone living in your household, passengers in your vehicle, and injured pedestrians)
- $20,000 per person (or $40,000 per accident) in Bodily Injury Caused by Uninsured Auto
- $5,000 in Damage to Someone Else’s Property
You may opt for additional coverage if you choose.
Every state is either an “at-fault state” or a “no-fault state,” which indicates the options you will have and steps you will take in the event of a motor vehicle collision. Massachusetts is a no-fault state, meaning you can file a claim through your own Personal Injury Protection coverage to recover your accident related losses regardless of who is at fault for the crash.
However, you may qualify to file a civil lawsuit or third-party car insurance claim against the at-fault driver for losses which are not covered by your insurance if you:
- Suffer certain, severe injuries
- Incur more than $2,000 in “reasonable medical expenses” after an accident
- Can prove that someone else’s negligence caused or contributed to the accident and your losses
While you do not have to worry about liability when filing a claim through your auto insurance policy, recovering compensation through your insurance can still be complicated.
Massachusetts law requires you to report certain accidents to the state’s Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV). Specifically, you must complete a Crash Report (also called a CRA-23 Accident Report form) within five days of accidents with the following circumstances:
- A person was injured in the collision
- A person was killed in the collision
- Damage to your vehicle or any other piece of property exceeds $1,000
- The other driver unlawfully fled the scene
The only exception to this reporting rule is if you are incapacitated and physically unable to submit the form. Otherwise, failure to submit the CRA-23 could cause you to lose your license. Even if law enforcement arrived at the scene of the accident and completed a police report, you may still be required to report the incident to the RMV.
You can start an insurance claim immediately after a car accident. All it takes to initiate a claim is a phonecall to your insurance provider. If you have your insurance card on you or have some insurance information in your vehicle and it is safe to retrieve it, there should be a phone number listed for you to call for claims. When you finally speak to an insurance agent, provide details about the accident, including the time, location, and how exactly it happened. Do not make any claims about liability and do not admit liability – just recount the collision exactly as it happened. Let them know whether you have already sought medical attention and to what extent, and offer to send them any photos and videos you took of the accident scene and/or your injuries.
If you call your insurance provider immediately after an accident, keep in mind that your claim will remain pending while you receive routine medical check ups to monitor your accident injuries, and while the damage to your vehicle is assessed, if there was any. In other words, let your insurance agent know whether your vehicle was towed at the scene of the accident and whether you have scheduled, or will schedule, future doctor appointments for your injuries. This helps establish a timeline of your losses.
Unfortunately, you are always at risk of accidentally admitting fault when you talk directly with insurers. For this reason, it is highly recommended to let an attorney do the talking for you. A trained legal professional will know what information your insurance provider needs to complete your claim in a timely manner and is not susceptible to saying too much at your detriment. Let a lawyer fill them in while focus on recovering from your injuries.
After months of doctor’s visits and back-and-forth communication with your insurance provider, you might feel relieved when you finally get a settlement offer. However, insurance companies know you’ve been waiting for an offer and take advantage of your fatigue from the process when they present an amount that does not reflect the actual value of your claim. Even if the amount sounds adequate to you, it is imperative to review the offer with an attorney. The team of lawyers at CarAccident.Law are well-versed in car accident cases involving low settlement offers and can identify discrepancies in the amount offered. If necessary, the attorneys in our network can effectively negotiate with your insurance provider on your behalf.
Retaining an attorney tells the insurance company that you are serious about pursing the full value of your claim and puts pressure on them to provide an adequate settlement amount. If they persist with the low offer, our team can provide supplemental evidence or even take them to court if necessary. As previously mentioned, it is advisable to let an attorney handle all communications with insurance from the beginning to protect your right to compensation.
With so many moving parts, deadlines, and filing procedures for varying circumstances, accidents, and injuries, it’s no wonder people see their claims denied so often. There is certainly much room for error in car accident insurance claims. That’s why CarAccident.Law is available to help you understand what insurance laws may apply in your case and ultimately file a claim on your behalf to recover as much as possible under your policy limits. We can also help you explore other options for pursuing compensation for remaining losses after an accident.