Brockton, Massachusetts: Car Accident Attorneys
If you sustained an injury in a car accident in Brockton, or elsewhere in Massachusetts, you’re probably wondering how to secure compensation to cover the expenses associated with your injury. Perhaps you don’t quite understand what “no-fault” insurance is or whether you are able to sue an at-fault driver for expenses beyond what your personal injury protection insurance provides. Read on for more information.
Massachusetts Laws Protecting Car Accident Victims
Massachusetts law requires drivers to obtain at least $8,000 in personal protection insurance, in addition to liability insurance, making it a “no-fault” state. Accordingly, if you’re injured in an accident, you must first seek compensation from your own auto insurance policy, regardless of who caused your accident. Personal injury protection (PIP) policies are designed to cover medical expenses and lost wages due to missed work. If you sustain an injury in a car accident, your PIP policy will cover up to $8,000 of your medical expenses, minus your deductible. Here are some additional details about PIP policies:
- Massachusetts PIP policies pay for funeral expenses.
- PIP policies cover everyone in a policy holder’s household, and each family member is entitled to receive up to $8,000 in medical expense payments.
- PIP policies cover up to 75 percent of an injured individual’s lost wages, based on his or her salary for a year previous to the date of the accident, up to the limit of the policy, minus the deductible.
- Injured individuals have up to two years after an accident to submit their PIP policy claim to their insurance provider.
- An injured individual’s insurance provider may require participation in an independent medical examination.
- PIP policies do not cover property damage, but policy holders are free to pursue third-party property damage claims through the other party’s property damage liability policy or through their own policy if they purchased additional collision insurance.
What happens if I exceed the limit of my PIP policy?
While PIP insurance policies are in place to prevent the filing of an overwhelming number of car accident lawsuits, Massachusetts law also requires drivers to carry a minimum of $20,000 in bodily injury liability insurance. If your injuries are permanent and serious, you’ve incurred at least $2,000 in medical expenses, and the other driver was at least 50 percent responsible for causing your accident, you may file a claim against that driver’s insurance. State law also allows you to sue the driver for damages. Permanent and serious injuries include:
- Broken bones
- Substantial loss of hearing or sight
Below we discuss some additional highlights of Massachusetts’ process for filing a personal injury claim in court:
- The statute of limitations to file is generally three years from the date of the crash. However, there are exceptions to this general rule, which you should discuss with an experienced personal injury attorney.
- Massachusetts follows a “modified comparative negligence” standard, meaning that even if you’re partially responsible for causing an accident, you can still sue any other at-fault party, as long as you aren’t more than 50 percent responsible for the accident. However, a court will reduce any award you receive by your percentage of responsibility.
- As long as you can prove a permanent and serious injury, you’re able to claim all types of damages, including economic damages, such as medical expenses and lost wages, as well non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering.
Common Causes of Car Accidents
Below we discuss some of the most common causes of car accidents in the United States, which include the following:
- Speeding. Speeding causes approximately 27 percent of all car accident fatalities in the United States. Speeding increases the likelihood of having an accident and sustaining an injury, as it reduces the time that a driver has to react to roadway hazards, increases the severity of any impact, and makes automobile protective features—such as seat belts and airbags—less effective in a crash.
- Distracted driving. According to information published by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), distracted driving claimed the lives of 3,450 people and injured another 391,000 in 2016. Driving distractions—such as texting, talking on the phone, talking to other passengers in the car, eating, drinking, and paying attention to external distractions, such as a previous accident—are a major cause of collisions in Massachusetts.
- Impaired driving. Information provided by the CDC reveals that 29 people die in the United States every day due to motor vehicle crashes that involve alcohol- or drug-impaired drivers. This equals one death caused by impaired driving every 50 minutes, with a cost to society of about $44 billion per year.
- Driver fatigue. The National Safety Council reports that driving while drowsy produces similar effects as those suffered while driving drunk. A driver’s reaction times, ability to sustain attention, and awareness of roadway hazards all worsen with drowsiness, making fatigued drivers three times more likely to cause a car crash than those who are well rested.
- Tailgating. Tailgating is a term used to describe when a driver is following the vehicle in front of him or her too closely. If the lead vehicle suddenly stops or slows, the following car risks rear-ending it. Between 23 and 30 percent of all crashes are rear-end collisions. Tailgating deprives drivers of the time needed to safely react to a sudden stop by another car.
I Sustained an Injury in a Car Accident. Call the Law Offices of Gerald J. Noonan
If you were injured in a car accident in Massachusetts, it’s important to remember that state law requires that you report your accident to the police within five days if there was an injury, death, or more than $1,000 worth of property damage. Below we discuss some important steps that you should take if you’ve been involved in an accident:
- Avoid accepting the insurance company’s initial settlement offer or giving a statement to an insurance adjuster without first speaking to an experienced personal injury attorney.
- Avoid admitting fault to the other driver, the police, or insurance adjusters.
- Document all relevant evidence. Take pictures of the crash scene and any damage to your vehicle and the other vehicle(s) involved. Get a copy of your accident’s police report, keep all copies of diagnostic reports, medical bills, car repair estimates, and other items that may prove helpful to prove your damages.
- Speak to a personal injury attorney who can provide guidance and representation throughout the insurance claims process and can help you file a lawsuit, if necessary.
Let us help you understand your legal options. Call the Law Offices of Gerald J. Noonan at (508) 588-0422, or contact us online, to speak with a member of our experienced legal team regarding your accident and legal options.