Boston, MA Car Crash Attorney

If you’ve been involved in an auto accident, your first step is usually to file a claim with the insurance company. Since we live in an no-fault state, your claim will be both to repair the damage to the vehicle and to implement your PIP coverage so that you can treat your injuries.

If the Traffic collision was really bad, you may need to file a personal-injury lawsuit against the other driver if they were at fault for causing your injuries.

This legal process for personal injury in Boston is fairly routine and most people driving in Massachusetts understand how it works. After filing a claim, it will fall to the insurance company to decide whether to pay out the claim or not. They may also only pay some or all of the claim.

At this point, you may be thinking about hiring a personal injury lawyer. It can become complicated if you file multiple claims with different insurance providers, facilitate treatment and repairs, and ensure that you’re getting the payouts you deserve. Here are some topics for you to consider regarding personal injury laws as they relate to motor vehicle accidents.

REQUIRED MOTOR VEHICLE INSURANCE COVERAGE UNDER MASSACHUSETTS LAW

A Massachusetts automobile insurance policy is a contract entered into by you and an insurance company under Massachusetts law. You agree to pay for the insurance policy, which is called a premium, and you agree to follow the insurance company’s stated policies. If you are injured in a car accident and the insurance company covers certain expenses related to your injury, then they will pay for them.

An auto insurance policy has different types of coverage. There are many types of insurance coverage available, but you’re only required to have four.

  1. Bodily Injury to Others;
  2. PIP – (Personal Injury Protection)
  3. Bodily Injury Causing Death or Serious Bodily Injury
  4. Damage to Someone Else’s Property

You may want to consider purchasing optional coverage such as comprehensive and collision.

Each type of insurance policy has a maximum payout, meaning that the insurance provider will not pay out more than this amount for any one claim. You’re required to purchase certain minimum coverage limits for each of the different types of insurance. Most drivers buy insurance policies that cover them for more than the minimum requirements

The types of coverage required by Massachusetts law and the dollar amounts required for each type of coverage.

1) Bodily injuries to others, $20,000 per person, $40K per accident.

2) Personal injury protection (PIP), $8000.00 per person, for each accident.

3) Bodily injury caused by and uninsured auto, $20,000 for each person injured, $40,000 for each accident.

4) Damage to someone else’s property, $5,000 for each accident.

LISTING HOUSEHOLD MEMBERS AND CUSTOMARY OPERATORS UNDER YOUR POLICY

You need to add any relatives living in your house to your auto insurance policy. You should also list anyone who occasionally drives your car, even if they don’t live with you. While the policy only asks for you to list “common” operators, insurers sometimes interpret this term broadly, so they may ask you to list any drivers who may use your vehicle, even if they aren’t common.

Drivers who have their own auto policies can usually be listed on your policy without any extra charges. However, if you choose to go with a company that offers managed competition, not all insurance companies may allow you to defer a person who has their own insurance policy, and certain carriers may charge you an additional premium for doing so.

You can usually exclude anyone who doesn’t drive your car from your policy, but in order to be able to do so, you need to submit an exclusion form to your insurance company. You don’t need to list drivers who only have a learner’s permit on your policy until they’re fully licensed.

If you don’t list any “customary” operators or licensed household members, your insurance company may deny your claim even if you were driving when the accident occurred.

Because Massachusetts requires this minimal insurance coverage and expects people who are involved in car accidents to have insurance, the state only permits personal injury lawsuits for injuries costing over two thousand dollars per person, unless the plaintiff has suffered a broken bone or damage to his/her hearing or sight.

If you’re involved in an auto accident, you should file claims against the driver’s insurance company. Even if you were not at fault for accident, the insurer is responsible to pay up to $2,500 per person in the insured vehicle.

However, if there was some fault in the accident (i.e., the driver was at fault), the insurance company would be liable for paying up to $8,000 per person in an insured car.

Who was at fault for the accident? How was that determined? And how does that impact your claim?

If you’re found responsible for an accident, you may be held liable for damages incurred by others including Negligence and Personal Injuries. It matters because it affects your insurance rates. State law in Massachusetts requires you to carry auto insurance if you drive a car.

If an accident is caused by someone else, then who is at fault affects the amount of money the insurance company is required to pay out in damages, and is likely to affect the at‑fault driver’s cost for insurance in the future.

The amount of money that an insurer is required to pay in an accident depends on who is at fault. If the actions of an operator were more than 50% responsible for causing an accident, then the operator’s insurance company must pay for the losses and expenses caused by others involved in the accident.

However, if all people involved in the accident contributed to it in some way, and no one person contributed more than 50%, insurers are only responsible for repairing other injured parties to the degree they did not contribute to it.

If you were partly responsible for an accident, any damages that you’re ordered to pay will be reduced by the percentage of responsibility that you bear. If you were 10 percent at fault and the other party was 90 percent at fault, you could still sue them, but an award of one thousand dollars would be reduced by one hundred dollars.

For a complete list of accidents in which the law allows insurers to presume that an operator was at fault is contained in the following link:   http://www.mass.gov/ocabr/docs/doi/legal-hearings/211-74.pdf

Types of Damages You Can Recover Money For

There are usually two types of damages you may be able to recover money for: economic and non-economical. Economic damages are the direct, specific costs you incur as a result of your injuries or damage to property. Non-economic damages include the more abstract costs of accidents, like mental anguish and lost companionship.

Examples of economic damages could be anything from lost sales to increased medical bills. Examples of non-economic damages might include pain and suffering, loss of consortium, or emotional distress.

Personal injury claims must be filed within three years of the date of the accident. You have three years (three) to file a personal-injury lawsuit in a Massachusetts court if you’re injured by someone else’s negligence.

For most cases, the three-year statute of limitations begins to run on the date the injury occurred. If you suffer from a latent injury that wasn’t discovered until some time after the incident, the three-year statute of limitations won’t begin running until the discovery date. The bottom line is that you must pay close attention to this period, because if you don’t file your lawsuit within it, you’ll forfeit your right to have a judge hear your case.

It might not seem like such a huge deal when you’re focused on a quick injury claim settlement with the insurance company, but it will start mattering if settlement talks break down, and you need to explore alternative options (taking the case into court).

What is Personal Injury Protection (PIP)?

Under M.G.L. c.90 Section 34M , (P.I.P. Statute)

Your auto insurance company will pay up to $2,000 of medical expenses as part the compulsory insurance required for every vehicle in Massachusetts. Private health insurance would cover the first $2,000. If you had private health insurance before the $2,000 was paid, your own health insurance would take over but PPO would remain available to pay for copayments and deductible costs.

If you don’t have health insurance or receive MassHealth benefits, PIP will cover your medical expenses up to $8,000.00.

What does PIP cover?

PIP insurance not only covers reasonable and neces­sary medical and hospital fees but it can also help you cover other costs related to the accident, occurring within two years of the incident. These expenses include:

1) Medical Bills:   P.I.P. covers reasonable and necessary expenses for medical care and burial costs incurred within two years of an auto accident.

2) Lost Wages:  P.I.P. covers 75% of the lost wages caused by injuries suffered in an auto accident. If you’re eligible for a disability plan through your employer, you will receive only 75 percent of the difference, if there is one, between the disability plan you’re offered and the amount you’d normally get from P.I.P., if you were not covered by a disability plan.

3) Replacement Services:

P.I.P. pays for reasonable expenses so that non-family members can perform services that the injured party would otherwise have performed for his own benefit and/or the benefit of his family.

Examples of such things might include child care, home health aides, nursing expenses and other things that are reasonable and necessary. PIP coverage is often referred to by some as “no- fault car insurance,” because it is the most common type of insurance coverage required in no-fault states, where there is no requirement for an accident to occur before benefits may be paid out

Who is covered by P.I.P.?

If you’re involved in an accident involving a car without insurance, PIP covers you and any passengers in the car. It also covers pedestrians who are injured by vehicles that don’t have insurance or leave the scene.

PIP and health insurance can often work together to cover medical expenses. If you’re injured in an auto accident, you may be able to set your health insurance as your main form of injury coverage.

If you have private insurance, then PIP (Personal Injury Protection) will cover the first $2, 000 in medical expenses. Subsequent bills will not be charged directly to your credit card. They will be billed to your health insurance. After health insurance has paid for the claim, any additional costs incurred by the claimant can be billed back to the PIP program for reimbursement.

If the claimant doesn’t have private health insurance, is covered by an ERISA plan, or is covered by Medicare, Medicaid, or another public program, then PIP will cover up to $8, 000 in medical bills. You need to file a claim for medical expenses within two years after the accident.

At any time, the insurer may request the claimant to submit to an independent medical examination (IME). A medical exam by an independent physician will determine if the medical treatments so far were reasonable and necessary and whether future medical treatments are needed.

If the doctor determines that future medical treatment is not needed, then PIP will not pay for any further medical bills even though the claimant continues to receive treatment.

If you suffered an Accident injury, PIP will pay 75 percent of your lost wages, but you can’t double dip. If you are also covered by a disability plan, PIPP will only pay 75% if the difference between the two plans’ maximums.

If you file a personal injury protection (PIP) claim for lost wages from an accident, you must allow the insurance company to obtain details of all wages paid by any employer within 12 months of the accident. You must also allow them to make any necessary investigation to see if you’re eligible for any disability or wage continuation programs from work. Denial of PIP coverage can be a consequence of failure to cooperate with the insurance carrier.

PIP will cover replacement services if they occur, but this is very rare.

Irrelevant of whether or not it is medical bills, lost wages, or replacement services, the total PIP benefit will only total $8,000.

PIP and 3RD party claims are subject to subrogation. Here is an example to help you understand this better. If you are in an accident and suffer Minor injuries or are not the Responsible Party, You file a claim for PIP insurance benefits with your insurer, and they pay out $8,000 in total. You sue the other insurer and win the case for $20,000 in damages.

Then you have to pay your insurance company back for the $8K they already gave you because they already paid you that money. At the end of day, you still received 20,000 dollars, 8,000 dollars from your insurance company and 12,000 dollars from the other insurance company.

Instead of you having to pay for the repairs yourself, the insurance company subrogates amongst themselves and therefore the third party carrier will often make a payment that has already deducted the money that PIP has paid out. So that insurer might be willing to pay you $20,000 for your claim, but they might be willing to pay $14,000 if you’ve already received $6,000 from PIP.

If you’re involved in an accident involving a car without insurance, PIP covers you and any passengers in the car. It also covers pedestrians who are injured by vehicles that don’t have insurance or leave the scene.

PIP and health insurance can often work together to cover medical expenses. If you’re injured in an auto accident, you may be able to set your health insurance as your main form of injury coverage.

If you have private insurance, then PIP (Personal Injury Protection) will cover the first $2, 000 in medical expenses. Subsequent bills will not be charged directly to your credit card. They will be billed to your health insurance. After health insurance has paid for the claim, any additional costs incurred by the claimant can be billed back to the PIP program for reimbursement.

If the claimant doesn’t have private health insurance, is covered by an ERISA plan, or is covered by Medicare, Medicaid, or another public program, then PIP will cover up to $8, 000 in medical bills. You need to file a claim for medical expenses within two years after the accident.

At any time, the insurer may request the claimant to submit to an independent medical examination (IME). A medical exam by an independent physician will determine if the medical treatments so far were reasonable and necessary and whether future medical treatments are needed.

If the doctor determines that future medical treatment is not needed, then PIP will not pay for any further medical bills even though the claimant continues to receive treatment.

If you suffered an Accident injury, PIP will pay 75 percent of your lost wages, but you can’t double dip. If you are also covered by a disability plan, PIPP will only pay 75% if the difference between the two plans’ maximums.

If you file a personal injury protection (PIP) claim for lost wages from an accident, you must allow the insurance company to obtain details of all wages paid by any employer within 12 months of the accident. You must also allow them to make any necessary investigation to see if you’re eligible for any disability or wage continuation programs from work. Denial of PIP coverage can be a consequence of failure to cooperate with the insurance carrier.

PIP will cover replacement services if they occur, but this is very rare.

Irrelevant of whether or not it is medical bills, lost wages, or replacement services, the total PIP benefit will only total $8,000.

PIP and 3RD party claims are subject to subrogation. Here is an example to help you understand this better. If you are in an accident and suffer Minor injuries or are not the Responsible Party, You file a claim for PIP insurance benefits with your insurer, and they pay out $8,000 in total. You sue the other insurer and win the case for $20,000 in damages.

Then you have to pay your insurance company back for the $8K they already gave you because they already paid you that money. At the end of day, you still received 20,000 dollars, 8,000 dollars from your insurance company and 12,000 dollars from the other insurance company.

Instead of you having to pay for the repairs yourself, the insurance company subrogates amongst themselves and therefore the third party carrier will often make a payment that has already deducted the money that PIP has paid out. So that insurer might be willing to pay you $20,000 for your claim, but they might be willing to pay $14,000 if you’ve already received $6,000 from PIP.

What if Your PIP Claim is Greater than $8,000?

The purpose of a no-fault law in a state is so drivers do not sue each other as much for costs. Suing is usually time-consuming, and it can be expensive. With no-faults insurance, no one needs be at fault for drivers to pay for the costs of repairs, so no one really needs to file lawsuits against each other for reimbursement. Usually in Massachusetts, you may not be able to sue another driver for negligence.

There are some exceptions. If the injuries resulting from the accident are particularly serious, such as disfigurements or permanent disabilities, or if they’re unusually expensive, you may be able to sue the other driver for additional compensation. You can sue them for bodily injury. If the other driver was more than 50 percent at fault in the accident, they could be sued.

How to Obtain Your PIP Benefits

You first need car insurance coverage that includes Personal Injury Protection (PIP) benefits and is not subject a PIP deductible. If you are involved in an accident, you must first contact your insurance company to report the accident.

You must cooperate with your own insurance companies in order to receive these benefits. You don’t have a legal obligation to help the insurance company of the driver who caused the accident. It may be helpful, but it isn’t required. It’s always best to contact an Accident Attorney or a Law Firm who specialize in representing Accident Victims before making any statements or dealing with the other insurer. After you’ve filed an insurance claim, your insurance company will send you some forms in the mail. You’ll need to fill them out and send them back. One form will be a Personal Injury Protection Benefits Application (PIPB).   This application asks for some basic information about the accident, including your injuries, where you’ve received medical treatment, and whether you’ve lost any wages.   You will also be asked to provide a medical authorization form, which allows your health insurer to obtain copies of your medical records and bills, so they can coordinate payment. You must also sign an authorization allowing your employers to release your wage and salaried information.

Depending on your situation, your insurer may require you to undergo an independent medical examination (IME). If you fail to attend this appointment, you could lose your PIP benefits. It is therefore important for you to work with your insurance company to coordinate and attend this visit.

You may also be asked to give a formal statement about the accident under oath. An EUO is a court proceeding where one party testifies against another.

After making a PIP claim, here are some things to remember:

You must, cooperate with the P.I.P. insurer in order to obtain benefits from your Accident Claim.

You don’t need to worry about filling out the proper forms. They’ll be sent to you by the insurance company. You must complete, sign and submit the P.I.P. the application to the insurance company

Second, the P.I.P. insurer has the right to have an independent medical examiner examine you.

Third, we need to provide proof of our losses to the PIP insurer and allow them to obtain any information they deem relevant to the claim.

Fourth, the PIP insurer has the right to request your statement under oath. You are not required to give a statement if you’re not under oath.

If you don’t cooperate with the insurance company, they might deny your claim. This duty of cooperation is relevant for uninsured and underinsured claims as well.

Why Michael S. Parousis Should Be Your Personal Injury Attorney

PIP insurance is limited to $8,000 in coverage in Massachusetts and doesn’t cover compensation for pain and suffer­ing. To obtain compensation for pain and sufferings, you should contact an Experienced Car Accident Attorney.

Michael S. Parousis specializes in Divorce law in Boston as well and personal injury cases and will discuss the facts of the individual circumstances and may pursue bodily injury claims, uninsured claims and/ or underinsured claims on your behalf. Injury victims often suffer Loss of Income, Punitive Damages, Traumatic Brain Injury, and even Wrongful Death.  You need experience on your side. 

Got a Question? Be sure to check out our Frequently Asked Questions page.

It can be a tricky process dealing with insurance companies. There are many steps involved in filing a claim for disability benefits, and if you don’t follow them correctly, you may lose your claim. Here at Parousis Law, Michael S. Parousis is able to assist you in your personal injury claim for Automobile Accidents.

Contact Michael S. Parousis today and schedule a free Personal Injury Law consultation. Do not hesitate as time is of the essence in all legal matters.