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Massachusetts Car Accident Settlement Process and Timeline

In addition to its rich history, Massachusetts is known for beautiful places like Cape Cod and Martha's Vineyard, which attract tourists throughout the year. People drive through the busy streets of Boston and to nearby islands for vacation. Unfortunately, this brings decent odds you may end up in a car accident. If you have been in a car accident in the state, read on to learn about the Massachusetts car accident settlement process and timeline.

Do I Need to Report a Car Accident in Massachusetts?

Yes, in some cases. You are required to file a Motor Vehicle Crash Operator Report within five days of the accident if you are involved in a car accident that results in: (1) injury, (2) death, or (3) property damage worth $1,000 or more.

Massachusetts Car Insurance Laws

Massachusetts requires its drivers to carry certain types and minimum amounts of car insurance coverage. While additional coverages are available, you are required to have the following four types of coverage with minimum limits:

  • Bodily injury to others
    • $20,000 per person
    • $40,000 per accident
  • Personal injury protection (PIP)
    • $8,000 per person, per accident
  • Bodily injury caused by an uninsured auto
    • $20,000 per person
    • $40,000 per accident
  • Damage to someone else's property
    • $5,000 per accident

These limits indicate that the insurance company will not pay more than these amounts for a claim. If you fail to meet these requirements, you may face penalty and get your license suspended.

How Do Car Accident Settlements Work in Massachusetts?

Unlike the majority of the states, Massachusetts applies the "no-fault" system for car accidents and insurance claims. Under this system, you must first turn to your own insurance company for personal injury compensation before pursuing damages against the other driver or his or her insurance company. You cannot file a lawsuit against another person under the no-fault system, unless you meet the threshold required by Massachusetts law.

You can step outside of the no-fault system and take the case to court only if: (1) you have incurred at least $2,000 in reasonable medical expenses, and (2) injuries include permanent and serious disfigurement, fractured bone, or substantial loss of hearing or sight.

If you file a claim with your insurance company, the company will either deny your claim or issue you a settlement check. If you disagree with the insurance company, you can make an appeal to the claims supervisor of the company. If the dispute doesn't seem to get resolved, file a complaint against the insurer with the Massachusetts Division of Insurance, which will monitor business practices and operations.

What Is the Average Car Accident Settlement in Massachusetts?

Generally, damages are divided into two categories: economic and noneconomic. Economic damages are specific economic harm, whereas noneconomic damages deal with more intangible consequences of an injury, such as pain and suffering. The most common types of car accident damages are: car repairs or replacement, medical expenses, lost wages due to missed work, physical pain, emotional distress, and loss of affection or companionship.

Sometimes an insurance company or the other driver may blame you for the accident. For example, if you violated a statute or regulation, you may be found partially at fault for your own injuries. When fault is shared among the parties, Massachusetts applies the "modified comparative negligence" standard. Fortunately, this rule allows you to recover damages as long as you are 50 percent or less at fault. However, if you are more at fault than the other driver, you won't be able to recover any damages.

How Long Do I Have to File a Car Accident Lawsuit in Massachusetts?

You have three years to file a lawsuit for both personal injury and property damage. The time starts from the day of the accident. After this time period, courts will deny your case and you won't be able to recover any damages.

Questions About the Car Accident Settlement Process in Washington: Ask a Lawyer

Although Massachusetts applies the no-fault rule for insurance claims, you shouldn't feel obligated to accept the insurance company's initial settlement offer. If another driver caused your injury and your insurance company is refusing to provide adequate compensation, or the other driver is blaming you for the accident, consider speaking with an experienced car accident attorney in your area.

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