Motor Vehicle Accidents

Practice Area

The most common type of personal injury claim is motor vehicle accidents, which is not surprising since millions of cars are on our roadways each day and at all hours. There were 4.5 million people injured in car accidents in 2018 with 40,000 fatalities.

A motor vehicle accident can include not only passenger vehicles, but motorcycles, trucks, boats, golf carts, bicycles, scooters, and pedestrians through the issues may vary regarding liability and the exercise of ordinary or reasonable care.

Factors in Car Accidents

All drivers are expected to exercise ordinary care when driving, which means obeying all traffic laws and being cautious and prudent. Factors or causes of most traffic accidents include:

Speeding
Following too closely in traffic
Unsafe lane changes
Driving the wrong way on a one-way street
Impaired driving—alcohol and/or drugs
Distracted driving (e.g., texting and driving or other use of a smartphone)

Fatigue
Weather
Defective road design (responsibility of municipality or state)
Poor road maintenance (responsibility of municipality)
Defective tire, steering, braking or other mechanical failure (responsibility of car manufacturer, designer, or auto service mechanic)

No-Fault Law and Threshold Requirements

Any discussion of compensation for injuries sustained a car accident in Massachusetts starts with our no-fault law. Every driver is required to purchase a liability auto policy that includes PIP, or personal injury protection benefits. In any car accident, anyone who is injured regardless of fault can collect funds for medical expenses and loss of income. If you have private insurance or through work, you can collect up to $2,000 in medical expenses before additional bills are submitted to your private health insurer. If you have Medicare, Medicaid, MassHealth, or ERISA, you can collect up to $8,000.

PIP does not include payments for pain and suffering. If you wish to bring a third-party claim against the responsible motorist, you must meet the threshold criteria:

Your medical bills exceed $2,000
Your injuries include permanent and serious disfigurement, a fractured bone, or loss of a limb, hearing or sight
Death

Compensation in Motor Vehicle Accidents

Once you have met the no-fault threshold, you can bring a third-party accident injury claim against the responsible motorist’s insurance for past and future medical expenses, lost income, emotional distress, and pain and suffering.

The minimal auto liability limits in Massachusetts are low: $20,000/$40,000. Accordingly, in an accident with a driver carrying these limits, you can obtain no more than $20,000. If there are multiple claimants, all must share the $40,000, although no claimant can receive more than $20,000.

Underinsured Motorist Coverage

If you purchased underinsured coverage (UIM), which is optional, you can collect additional compensation from your own insurer provided your UIM limits exceeds that of the defendant’s policy. If the defendant had $50,000 in coverage and your UIM is $100,000, you can seek up to $50,000 from your insurer once the defendant’s50,000 limit is exhausted.

Uninsured Motorist Coverage

If the defendant lacked liability insurance or the accident was a hit-and-run, you can proceed under the uninsured motorist provision (UM) of your own policy, which is the same amount as your liability limits, Your claim will be against your own insurer, and your motor vehicle accident lawyer will still have to prove liability by the uninsured driver, that your injuries were the result of the accident, and that you have sufficient proof of your damages.

Regardless of how clear liability may be, you need a highly experienced motor vehicle accident lawyer to handle your claim from start to finish if you want the most compensation for your injury claim.