Massachusetts Car Accident FAQs:
1. What should I do immediately after a car accident?
Naturally, if someone has been injured in the accident, calling an ambulance should be the first priority. Beyond that, the most important steps to take after an accident is to obtain the name, telephone number and insurance information of the other driver, provide the other driver with your identifying information, take pictures of the accident scene and the respective vehicles, get the names/telephone numbers of any witnesses, and call the police. (For tips on what not to do after a car accident, read this.)
2. Who will pay for my medical bills following the accident?
Usually, it’s your own auto insurance company, oftentimes supplemented by your own health insurance company. Massachusetts is a “no-fault” car accident state, which means that each driver’s auto insurance company will pay for their respective drivers’ medical bills, regardless of who caused the accident.
Under Massachusetts law, your Personal Injury Protection (PIP) section of your auto insurance policy is responsible for covering your medical bills, lost wages and other related expenses up to $8,000. If you have private health insurance, and if your medical bills exceed $2,000, however, the excess should be submitted to your health insurance carrier. If your health insurance carrier denies coverage, then PIP will cover the remainder up to a total of $8,000. It’s normal to have lots of questions after an accident, which is why we wrote an auto insurance FAQ page.
3. Since Massachusetts is a no-fault state, under what circumstances can I seek damages from a negligent driver after a car accident?
In Massachusetts, you can only seek additional financial compensation, such as pain and suffering or unreimbursed expenses, from the negligent driver under specific circumstances. The accident must have caused you to suffer:
- a broken or fractured bone
- permanent and serious disfigurement
- permanent hearing loss
- permanent eye damage/loss of vision
- amputation of a limb
- medical expenses in excess of $2,000
- death –the surviving family members of wrongful death victims can also seek damages from an at-fault driver.
4. How can I prove that the other driver was at-fault?
You can prove fault by gathering evidence that the other driver was responsible for the accident. Photos taken at the accident scene, photos of vehicle damage, statements of witnesses, testimony from car mechanics, and the police report of the accident may be good sources for proof the other drivers’ negligence. A Massachusetts car accident attorney can help you collect evidence, including the testimony of an accident reconstruction expert, if necessary.
5. The other drivers’ insurance company keeps trying to contact me about the accident. What should I say to them?
You should say absolutely nothing to the other drivers’ insurance company. Their goal is to find a reason to pay you the least amount of money possible, and they’ll use whatever you say to that end. Instead, direct them to speak to your Massachusetts car accident lawyer. If you don’t yet have a lawyer, then inform them you won’t be speaking to them until you’ve sought legal advice.
6. Can I still receive compensation if I am partially at-fault in the car accident?
It depends on how much responsibility you share for the accident. Massachusetts is a modified comparative fault state. This means that you can only recover damages if you are less than 50% at-fault. The total damages you receive will then be reduced by the percentage of fault you share in causing the crash. For example, if you were found 25 percent responsible for the accident, you would receive 75% of the total damages. Note, however, that if you are found to be responsible for more than 50% of the accident, then you cannot recover any damages at all.
7. My accident occurred ten months ago. Can I still file a personal injury lawsuit?
In Massachusetts, the statute of limitations for injuries or property damage arising from a car accident is 3 years, starting from the day of the accident. Nonetheless, to increase your chances of obtaining full and fair compensation, you should file your lawsuit as soon after the accident as is reasonably possible.
8. Why should I have a Massachusetts motor vehicle accident lawyer?
A knowledgeable Massachusetts motor vehicle lawyer can help you fight for the maximum amount of compensation to which you’re entitled. No matter whether you’re seeking to collect compensation from your own insurance company, or are involved in a dispute with the other driver’s insurance carrier, your lawyer will ensure that your claims are filed in a timely manner, collect all critical evidence, forcefully argue on your behalf, and negotiate a fair settlement.
9. How much does a Massachusetts personal injury lawyer cost?
Almost all personal injury lawyers, including Attorney Peter Ventura, accept cases on a contingency fee basis. This means that you only pay a fee if the lawyer wins your case. As payment, the lawyer will take a percentage, usually 33.3%, of what he or she has recovered for you through settlement or at trial.
10. How much is my case worth?
Without reviewing all the evidence and circumstances of your case, it’s difficult for an attorney to provide even a ballpark estimate of how much your case might be worth. This is especially true if your medical condition following the accident has not yet stabilized or if you’re seeking damages such as pain and suffering. That said, once all the evidence is assessed, a skilled car accident attorney should be able to use his or her best judgment and experience with previous cases to estimate the potential value of your claim.
11. How quickly will my case be resolved?
The answer to this question varies from case to case. It depends on the extent of your injuries, the complexity of the case, whether settlement is an option, and whether liability is disputed. In a straightforward case, you may be able to reach resolution in as little as six months. A more complex case may take two years or more to resolve. Your attorney will be able to give you a reasonable estimate of the case’s timeline once he or she has become familiar with the case details.