Car Accidents in Massachusetts

Laws surrounding car accident claims and civil lawsuits differ from state to state. If you were injured in a traffic collision in the State of Massachusetts, you will want to know what laws and statutory deadlines are at play so you don’t miss out on any of the compensation you may be owed.

Visitors to the state as well as locals should know their rights and responsibilities after a car accident in Massachusetts. Car accidents in Massachusetts are governed by a no-fault legal presumption, which may influence how your liability is calculated, and offers from your insurance company after an accident may differ here than in other states.

Our team of diligent car accident attorneys at CarAccident.Law can review your situation and offer advice on how to proceed after a crash in Massachusetts. Don’t leave money on the table after an insurance offer. Get the help you need from our expert attorneys.

Massachusetts Car Accident Statistics

Over the last four years, there have been a total of 528,486 car crashes throughout the State of Massachusetts. Of these accidents, 1,517 were fatal to at least one party involved. Even non-fatal accidents can still cause severe injury, however. There have been 123,336 non-fatal motor vehicle accidents with severe or moderate injuries reported in the State of Massachusetts. Finally, according to recent MassDOT data, there were at least 375,091 accidents over the past four years that caused property damage.


Unfortunately, Massachusetts is on track to see just as many, if not more accidents in 2023. There have already been nearly 30,000 accidents reported to Massachusetts state and local police as of April 2023. Of these accidents, 91 have involved a fatality. And of all reported Massachusetts car accidents in 2023, at least 477 have involved pedestrians.

cars driving past people using crosswalk

While speeding has been the main cause of car accidents in Massachusetts for years, distracted driving is now on the rise as a common cause of auto collisions in MA. In fact, distracted driving has taken on new significance nationwide, as smartphones have become a ubiquitous item, even in the front seat of the car. In the United States, an average of 8 to 9% of all fatal car accidents are attributed to some form of distracted driving. Approximately 3,000 people lose their lives annually due to distracted drivers, or being distracted themselves as a pedestrian or while behind the wheel.

person holding phone while driving

According to police reports, the following distractions caused a significant number of car accidents in Massachusetts between 2019 and 2022:

  • Manually operating an electronic device such as a cellphone, smart phone, tablet, or navigational device – 3,666 accidents
  • Talking on a hands-free electronic device – 83 accidents
  • Talking on a handheld electronic device – 205 accidents
  • Other operations on a handheld electronic device – 1,016 accidents
  • Non-electronic device related distracted activity, such as personal grooming, eating, looking for objects, and/or cognitive distractions such as worrying, daydreaming, and more while driving – 4,780 accidents
  • Passenger distractions, such as sudden movements or talking – 586 accidents
  • Distractions from outside of the vehicle, such as animals, pedestrians, signage, other cars, and more – 2,825 accidents

Other common causes of Massachusetts car accidents, injuries, and property damage include:

  • Impaired driving
  • Bad weather conditions
  • Aggressive drivers
  • Poor roadway maintenance

Tell us what happened in your Massachusetts car accident, and let our experts help you understand how state law may impact your case your potential settlement.

Massachusetts Car Accident Laws

Massachusetts car accident law governs liability, minimum insurance coverage requirements, and when and how to file a car accident report. It can also covers how you can be compensated when you are involved in a car accident in Massachusetts, as well as when you can file an insurance claim or court case.

The following Massachusetts car accident laws may impact the outcome of your claim for compensation. For help with understanding these laws, let us connect you with a qualified attorney who specializes in Massachusetts auto accidents.

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Reporting Requirements

Chapter 90, Section 26 of Title XIV requires the submission of a police report after certain Massachusetts car accidents. While most legal professionals will advise you to always file a police car accident report after any incident on the roadway, Massachusetts law only requires that accident reporting take place under qualifying circumstances.

Specifically, if you are the driver of a car or motor vehicle that has been involved in accident where another person was killed or injured, or where the property damage exceeds $1,000, you must file a Massachusetts car accident report form with the registrar and police department of the district where the accident took place.

Exceptions may apply in the event that the driver is physically incapable of making said report within 5 days of the accident. However, if the driver was not the owner of the car involved in the collision, the owner of the car is obligated to make a police report within the 5-day period, even though they weren’t there for the accident. Failure to report an accident can lead to the revocation or suspension of your driver’s license.

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Because the extent and cost of property damage can be difficult to estimate at the scene of a Massachusetts car accident, it is recommended to make a report at once to avoid incurring liability after the 5-day period has expired.

Additionally, memories can fade and contact information can be easily lost. Filing a police report immediately after an accident can not only satisfy the Section 26 reporting requirement, but also preserve your account of the situation in the event that you need to escalate your insurance claim.

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Responsibility for the Vehicle and the Severity Threshold

Chapter 231, Section 85B of Title II deals with presumption of responsibility, or liability, for a Massachusetts car accident. In any action to recover damages after a motor vehicle crash, whether an insurance claim or civil lawsuit, Section 85B specifies that the owner of the motor vehicle involved will be presumed to have been at the wheel or to bear legal responsibility for the car. The absence of such responsibility is an affirmative defense if the car was operated, maintained, or controlled by another party.

Under Section 6D of this same Title II Chapter, Massachusetts state legislators set a threshold requirement to recover damages for pain and suffering after a car accident. In general, the law requires that your medical bills after a car accident total at least $2,000 before you can file a tort action to collect damages for pain and suffering. However, this requirement is waived in the event that the car accident caused any of the following:

  • Death
  • Disfigurement of a permanent and serious nature
  • Partial or total loss of a body part
  • Loss of sight or hearing

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Mandatory Minimum Insurance

State law requires drivers licensed in Massachusetts to carry certain mandatory minimum levels of no-fault insurance coverage. While you may choose to opt in for additional coverage, the following policies are required by the State of Massachusetts:

  • At least $20,000 per person, or $40,000 per accident in Bodily Injury insurance
  • At least $8,000 in Personal Injury Protection, or PIP insurance
  • At least $20,000 in Bodily Injury caused by an uninsured auto or unidentified hit and run incident (or $40,000 per accident)
  • At least $5,000 in Property Damage insurance

What to Do after a Car Accident in Massachusetts

After a car accident in Massachusetts, the first step is always to get yourself and anyone else involved to a safe area. In the event of a highway accident like a collision on 495, I-95, Route 2 or 24, remove yourself to a safe area far on the shoulder if you’re able, or anywhere else where you are sure you’re out of the path of traffic. Seek medical attention at once for yourself and anyone else who may need it – this means calling 911 if someone else hasn’t done so already.

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Read more about what to do after an accident here:

Car Accident Do's and Dont's

File a police report right away when law enforcement arrives on scene. Do not admit fault for the accident. Calling the police to the scene and getting a written record can help ensure that no one is able to change their story afterwards, and also guarantee that you have proof from a third party about what happened.

police officer writing on pad of paper

You may also want to collect documentation and contact information from witnesses to the accident in case you need help filling in any gaps in your own recollection of the event for a claim later on. For example, eyewitnesses can testify on road conditions, driver behavior leading up the crash, and any possible distractions that might have occurred at a crucial moment.

It is also important to trade information with the other driver involved in the collision. For most car accidents in Massachusetts, you will first file a claim through your own insurance to recover your medical bills, a percentage of your lost wages if you have to miss work, and any damage to your car. However, in the event that you need to file a lawsuit, or file a claim through the other driver’s insurance for any additional costs or damages, you will need their contact information, policy information, and any details about where and how the accident took place.

woman on the phone

If you have any questions about any of the above steps, contact CarAccident.Law. Getting an expert on your side can help ensure that you are taken care of every step of the way and can focus on your recovery in the aftermath of a Massachusetts car accident.

Getting Financial Help after a Car Accident

Car accidents are expensive mistakes to make. According to the CDC, fatal car accidents cost Massachusetts a total of $522 million in 2018. After $6 million in medical costs, and $516 million to make up for missing wages and lost employment opportunities, Massachusetts has an average fatal car accident cost that is nearly 6x that of neighboring states like Connecticut, Rhode Island, Vermont, Maine, and New Hampshire. This cost is the highest for car owners, who carry around 62% of the financial burden in Massachusetts fatal car accidents.

person holding dollar bills in both hands

For financial help for damages caused by a car accident, your own insurance company is your first line of defense in Massachusetts. Massachusetts mandatory minimum no-fault coverage ensures that all accidents, even those caused by an unidentified or hit and run driver, have some financial assistance available to help bear the burdens that often come with a motor vehicle collision.

For additional financial help after car accident insurance claims have been paid out, you may be able to file a lawsuit to cover your remaining costs. In Massachusetts, you may be able to recover damages which are not covered by insurance by filing a lawsuit against the party who caused the crash, as long as you are less than 51% at fault for the accident. Any responsibility that you bear for the accident will be deducted from your compensatory award in proportion to your assigned percentage of fault. For example, if you are determined to be only 10% at fault for the crash, you might be able to recover up to 90% of your accident-related costs.

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CarAccident.Law can get you in touch with a lawyer who is skilled in refuting allegations of shared car accident liability to help ensure you recover maximum compensation in the event of a successful claim.

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Check out our guide to filing a car accident lawsuit

Step-by-Step Guide to Filing a Car Accident Lawsuit

Is Massachusetts a No-Fault State for Car Accidents?

Massachusetts is a no-fault state for car accidents. This means that every Massachusetts driver who suffers damages in a car accident must first file a claim with their own insurance. Your Personal Injury Protection (PIP) covers medical expenses for you, anyone you let drive your car, anyone living in your household, passengers in the vehicle, and pedestrians who may have been injured in the accident. Because Massachusetts is a no-fault state, this coverage is extended regardless of who is at fault for the accident. You are legally obligated to carry insurance coverage in Massachusetts that will pay for a portion of your medical costs, even if you are to blame for the accident.

car crashing into ground and breaking apart

How to File a Car Accident Claim in Massachusetts

It’s best to let a lawyer guide you through every step of filing car accident claim. An insurance claim is different from a personal injury lawsuit or tort claim, but having a legal expert by your side can help you in settlement negotiations with insurers and in the event that you need to file an insurance appeal.

In order to file an insurance claim, contact your insurer through the number located on your insurance card, or through their website. The insurance representative will be able to guide you through their process to file your claim. You may be required to submit documentation of your medical bills, and of your vehicle damage inspection through a certified mechanic. In Massachusetts, you have the right to request coverage for certain parts for your car’s repair. You may even have the option to collect a payment for the estimated cost of the damage as opposed to footing the bill for certain cosmetic repairs. Regardless of the specifics of your claim, keep documentation of everything. Ask for insurance offers in writing if they are made to you over the phone.

person looking down at paper with stressed expression

If you have additional costs from the accident, such as higher medical bills, missing wages, or continuing care needs, you may be able to file a civil claim in court to recover those, as well as for your pain and suffering under certain statutory limitations in Massachusetts. Due to different filing deadlines and requirements that may apply in any given situation, initiating the civil claims process for a car accident in Massachusetts is best left up to a lawyer. We can connect you with the best attorney for your case to ensure the job is done right.

Statute of Limitations for Massachusetts Car Accident Lawsuits

In Massachusetts, the statute of limitations for filing a car accident lawsuit is three years from the date of the collision.

This means that if someone’s distracted or drunk driving or other negligent behavior caused your Massachusetts car accident, you have up to three years to file a civil claim against them.

If you are living with chronic pain, lasting trauma, or a continuing financial burden after a collision in MA, contact CarAccident.Law for professional and qualified assistance. The after-effects of a car accident can linger and make you lose work, miss out on important life events, and undergo serious trauma. It may not be too late to file a car accident lawsuit to help you recover some of the costs you’ve incurred and right some of the wrongs you have suffered.

Massachusetts Car Accidents: FAQs

Suffering injuries in a Massachusetts car accident can leave you with medical bills, car trouble, and time sensitive questions. If you need help from a local car accident attorney, contact the experts at CarAccident.Law today.

To get you started, the following represent some frequently asked questions of our auto accident attorneys in MA, though the specifics of your own case may differ. The following should not be construed as legal advice, but rather as a guideline to help you after a crash.

top-down view of a car driving in the right lane

How is fault determined in a car accident Massachusetts?

Fault for a car accident in Massachusetts must be proven through a preponderance of evidence. In many rear-end accidents, hit and runs, or head-on collisions, determining which driver was at fault may seem straightforward, but for those and other accidents, evidence goes a long way in proving liability. Liability for accidents involving poor weather, bad road conditions, or faulty vehicle parts, for example, may require photo and video evidence, eyewitness testimony, expert opinions, and more.

In some cases, such as drunk driving accidents, liability is clearer than in others. According to Chapter 175, Section 113P of Massachusetts General Laws, insurance companies are required to use the Massachusetts Standards of Fault when establishing liability for an accident. These standards create guidelines for what can be considered a surchargeable at-fault accident.

How do I look up an accident report in Massachusetts?

To look up a Massachusetts accident report, you can contact the Registry of Motor Vehicles online and pay a non-refundable fee of $20 for each search. CarAccident.Law makes retrieving a crash report easy, and we do it for FREE.

Anyone can request either a certified or standard copy of an accident report in Massachusetts. You do not have to have been involved in the crash to request a copy of the official report.

Importantly, crash reports for accidents that took place in Massachusetts are only available for four weeks or more after the collision.

If your report cannot be found right away, the request will remain active for 90 days.

How Does a Car Accident Affect My Massachusetts Driving Record?

Under Massachusetts law, auto insurance premiums may increase after what is called a “surchargeable at-fault accident.” Your insurance company will notify you if you are determined to be 51% or more at fault for the reported accident, in which case, the incident will be added to your driving record and may cause your future premiums to increase. This decision, and your future rate, depend on your individual car insurance company’s Merit Rating Board. Some companies employ different decision-making strategies based on the guidelines of their merit rating plans.

How Much is the Average Car Accident Settlement in Massachusetts?

There are several ways to calculate your anticipated damages for a Massachusetts car accident settlement. However, it is important to note that the specifics of your case will impact the amount that you can expect to receive in compensation.

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Specifically, the amount of compensation available in your car accident case will directly correspond to your economic damages, which include medical bills, lost wages, and vehicle repair/replacement costs, as well as your non-economic damages, which represent subjective losses like pain and suffering and emotional trauma.

woman with head bandages laying on her side and holding her face

Punitive damages, which are awarded to punish and deter egregious behavior, may also be available in certain cases. In Massachusetts, a court may only issue punitive damages in severe accidents, such as those involving wrongful death as a result of gross negligence or malicious intent.

For these reasons, settlement amounts depend upon the specifics of each case. A qualified lawyer who has handled car accidents in Massachusetts will never guarantee you a certain amount. Instead, the best car accident attorneys will explain the need to present proof of your medical bills and injuries to maximize the value of your case.

How many car accidents per day in Massachusetts?

Massachusetts in 2022 was one of the deadliest years on record for car accidents. At least 430 people died in car accident related fatalities in Massachusetts during 2022, up from the previous record of 408 traffic deaths in 2021. In 2022, there were just under 40,000 reported car accidents in Massachusetts involving property damage, minor to serious injuries, and death. This comes to approximately 362 crashes per day in Massachusetts.

one car crashing into the back of another

In Massachusetts, what age has the highest car accidents?

Unfortunately, teenagers ages 16-19 are at the highest risk of being involved in a car accident in Massachusetts. Due to inexperience behind the wheel, frequent speeding, distracted or drunk driving, and other common factors, teenage drivers experience more car accidents, as well as more fatal car accidents, than other age groups.

For every mile driven, teenagers are three times likelier to be involved in a fatal accident than other age groups of drivers 20 and older, according to the Centers for Disease Control. From a study compiled with National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) data, the risk of being involved in a fatal car accident increases even more when drivers ages 16-19 have passengers in their vehicle who are under the age of 20, and/or when they are unsupervised. Newly licensed teens at age 16 have an even higher risk of being involved in an accident than older teens. Their risk of being involved in an accident after the first few months of becoming licensed is 1.5 times higher than the risk of their 18-19 year old fellow teen drivers. Finally, motor crash deaths and accident rates are higher for male teenage drivers between the ages of 16 and 19 compared to female teenage drivers.

If you cosign a car loan, are you liable for accidents in Massachusetts?

If you co-signed for a car loan in Massachusetts and are not named on the title, and you were not driving the car at the time of the accident, there is a good chance that you cannot be held liable for any damage caused by the crash. However, any time you are listed on the title or are considered an owner of the car, you may be able to be sued along with the driver for a crash.

While the specifics of your situation may vary based on the details of your car loan, in general, liability after a car crash in Massachusetts may be based on whether:

  1. you were driving the car and caused the accident in part or in full; or
  2. your name is on the title of the car that was involved in the accident.

When in doubt, consult with a local accident attorney to understand whether or not you are at risk. You may be able to structure your car loan to avoid the possibility of extended liability and insulate yourself from the risk of paying damages with the help of an accident lawyer in your area.

Can you sue for a car accident in Massachusetts?

Yes, even though Massachusetts is a no-fault state, you can still sue for compensation after a crash if you sustained at least $2,000 in reasonable medical bills and a severe or permanent injury from the crash. A car accident lawsuit can account for additional damages that are not covered by no-fault or third-party insurance. For instance, any pain and suffering or emotional trauma that you may have undergone can be included in a car accident lawsuit demand package. A lawsuit can also help you recover costs associated with any accident related medical bills, ongoing care, missed wages, and other losses that your insurance doesn’t cover.

If you think you have a valid case for compensation, contact CarAccident.Law and we will connect you to an experienced car accident attorney who is ready to help.

How much can someone sue for a car accident in Massachusetts?

Any good lawyer for car accident damages will never promise or guarantee you a certain amount from your case.

How much you can reasonably expect to receive varies based on a number of factors, including:

  • The extent of your injuries
  • Any shared liability or fault in causing the crash
  • How much time you have had to take off of work
  • Any pain or suffering you may have undergone
  • Other crucial details

CarAccident.Law’s settlement calculator is a useful tool to begin adding up your costs to see what you may be able to expect from pursuing a motor vehicle accident case.

What is the statute of limitations for car accident lawsuits in Massachusetts?

In general, you have up to three years after a car accident to file an injury lawsuit. However, there are additional circumstances, such as being a minor when the accident took place, moving out of state, and more that may extend or shorten the deadline to file your claim. A diligent accident attorney can help ensure that you are filing within Massachusetts’ statute of limitations.

Finding a Massachusetts Lawyer for Your Car Accident Case

CarAccident.Law can connect you with the best attorney for your car accident case. The legal experts in our network are available to hear the details of your situation and offer their years of experience in car accident claims to aid in your case. Take all the uncertainty out of car accident in Massachusetts by working with CarAccident.Law. We can advise you on what steps to take after an accident, offer resources to simplify the process, and provide legal assistance along the way.


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