Share This Post
Claims for Vehicle Accident Victims in Massachusetts
A report by the Centre for Disease Control (US) reveals that one out of every five people dies as a result of distracted driving. In a similar worrisome trend, Massachusetts Highway Safety Division recorded the highest number of car accident deaths in 2021 since 2009.
These statistics are pointers to why you need an experienced car accident lawyer if you are ever involved or know any vehicle accident victim in Massachusetts. This article will highlight what you need to do (or avoid) after a vehicle accident to succeed in a personal injury claim.
What to do if involved in a vehicle accident
You may be wondering what you should be doing after a vehicle accident other than getting medical treatment. However, a few tips could help build your claim and, in some instances, save you from criminal charges.
- Stop or pullover: Even if you are involved in a very minor crash and you did not sustain any injury or your vehicle could still run without stopping, you are still required by law in Massachusetts to stop or pull over at the crash scene. You are also expected to provide details of your identity and insurance. Failure to stop could result in prosecution for committing a criminal offence.
- Medical care: While this may sound like a no-brainer, it is commonly overlooked by many survivors of minor car accidents because the injuries are often masked. Consulting your health
care professional will reduce the risk of long-term injuries that may surface later. The sooner you get examined, the better for you medically and legally.
- Report the accident: According to Massachusetts General Laws (Chapter 90), vehicle accidents leading to damages exceeding $1,000 or injury or death must be reported to the Police. It is advisable to always dial “911” to report the accident because it may be impossible to correctly evaluate that the extent of damages at the crash scene is less than $1,000.
- Gather Evidence: If you are unhurt or have a friend at the accident scene, it is important that you take photos of the scene, location, and other evidence such as recordings from witnesses. These pieces of evidence will help your insurance claim or lawsuit should you decide to proceed with any or both.
- Report to your insurance provider: It is essential that you report the accident to your insurance provider as soon as you can. This will reduce the risk of losing evidence or forgetting the details of the accident.
What not to do when involved in a vehicle accident
Knowing what to avoid after a vehicle accident is just as important as knowing what to do. Below are some of those actions or situations to avoid after a vehicle accident in Massachusetts.
- Overlooking professional legal advice: Often, people are more preoccupied with the costs of hiring an experienced Massachusetts vehicle accident lawyer because of the professional fees. Many personal injury lawyers often have a contingency fee arrangement where the claimant does not have to pay consultation or professional fees until the lawsuit is won and damages are awarded.
On the other hand, a personal injury lawyer will help you objectively assess your claim, avoid technical mistakes, and aggressively pursue your claim till you get your due compensation. The pros of getting legal help always outweigh the cons.
- Talking about your mistakes or role in the accident: Being honest and expressive is very important, but only when directed at the right people. If you give out too many details than necessary while describing your role in the accident, such details may be turned against you by the other party or your insurance provider, thereby causing untold difficulty in claiming compensation for injuries. It is advisable you wait for the accident investigation report and follow the advice of your lawyer when talking to third parties about the accident.
Is Massachusetts a Fault or No-Fault State?
Massachusetts is a “no-fault” state which implies that every driver is required by law to file their claim for personal injuries with their insurance provider regardless of whether the other driver was at fault.
The Massachusetts “no-fault” rules mandate every driver to maintain a minimum auto insurance coverage and may not file a personal injury lawsuit unless certain thresholds are met. The least amount of Personal Injury Protection (PIP) required is $8,000 per crash or person.
The PIP covers physical injuries resulting from car accidents but not property damage or total loss of the vehicle or other properties in transit. However, it is important to note that the payment is not automatic as mass auto insurance companies often try to botch valid claims to reduce benefit payouts. You may need a car accident insurance claim lawyer in Massachusetts to help you get your full benefits.
Comparative/Contributory Negligence in Massachusetts vehicle accidents
Comparative or contributory negligence is a principle that an accident victim is not entitled to all or part of his or her claims for damages because of their role in the cause of the accident. In Massachusetts, victims of car accidents can still pursue their claim for damages or compensation, provided the percentage of their comparative negligence does not exceed 51%.
Generally, insurance providers will investigate contributory negligence and attempt to reduce your benefits by the percentage of contributory negligence. You can dispute such a percentage by providing evidence gathered from the accident scene.
You may also decide to abstain from proceeding to a court trial and accept a settlement offer by the defendant if the check is right.
How to prove your claim
Vehicle accident lawsuits are like every other personal injury litigation where the plaintiff must prove:
- The duty of care owed by the defendant
- Breach of that duty of care
- Injury as a result of the breach of the duty of care e.g., loss of earnings, medical expenses, etc.
Because Massachusetts is a no-fault state, the law does not permit litigation for medical bills unless certain conditions are fulfilled. Where a driver wishes to file a personal injury lawsuit outside the insurance coverage, the following must first be proved:
- That the medical expenses exceed $2,000; and/or
- That the victim sustained serious injuries such as substantial loss of hearing or sight, broken bones, disfigurement, and so on.
For claims submitted to your insurance provider, you may have to prove that you are entitled to the costs being requested and that your role in the accident was not contributory or at least does not warrant a write-off.
Other claims you can explore are wrongful death, insurance bad faith, and product liability.
Statute of Limitations
According to the Massachusetts Statute of Limitations, a vehicle accident victim has three years from the date of the accident to file a personal injury claim. Failure to do so will render any personal injury claim invalid.
Contact a Massachusetts car accident lawyer
You may be involved in accidents that are not your fault or you had very minimal contributory negligence. To determine whether your claim can scale the several legal hurdles, you can set up a free consultation with a vehicle accident attorney at the law offices of Richard Mucci in Winchester, Massachusetts and design a workable plan to get adequate compensation.