Personal Injury in Massachusetts
If you have been injured in a motor vehicle accident as a driver, passenger or pedestrian, and you can prove it was the result of someone else's negligence, you may be entitled to recover damages for pain and suffering, payment of or reimbursement for medical expenses or expected medical expenses, and lost wages.
But no one's going to give it to you. You and your lawyer will very likely need to fight it out in court with the guilty party's lawyer and insurance company to determine the size of your actual settlement. It's called personal injury or tort law and it's big business in Massachusetts.
Massachusetts is a compulsory insurance state. Anyone who wants to register a motor vehicle in Massachusetts must purchase minimum coverage in four areas: medical bills to you or anyone in your vehicle, medical bills for someone you hit, property damage to someone else's car or property, and damage caused by an uninsured auto.
Liability minimums are set at $20,000 per person and $40,000 per accident. The personal injury minimum is $8,000, while the property damage minimum is $5,000. Those are just the minimums, of course, and anyone can purchase much more insurance than this. Most people do upgrade insurance coverage beyond the minimum in order to protect themselves in case of an accident.
This is because once your insurance limits are exceeded, anyone seeking damages from you because of a motor vehicle accident can come after you and your personal property.
If you've been in a serious accident―one with more than $1,000 in damages to someone else's property, or if you or someone else involved has been seriously injured, you're going to need to call a lawyer.
If you've been in a traffic accident, deciding whether you need a lawyer is really a matter of common sense. In most cases, you'll simply exchange information with the other party or the police will give you a report on the accident. However, there may be times, even with the simplest accidents, when you need to consult an attorney:
- Fault is clearly an issue between parties in the accident.
- The accident occurred in a construction area.
- You think a police report does not accurately describe the accident and puts you at fault.
- The accident is relatively serious and the limits of your liability insurance are low.
Other times, you should absolutely contact an attorney ASAP:
- There has been serious injury (broken bones/hospitalization) or where injuries are likely to be permanent.
- A death has resulted from the accident.
- You have no insurance or your insurance company suggests that you did not pay your premium.
- Your insurer involves its own attorney.
- Get names and addresses of the other drivers and passengers.
- Get names and addresses of anyone who witnessed the car accident.
- Exchange insurance information, including the name of the insurance company and policy number.
- As soon as possible, document how the car accident occurred and where the accident occurred.
- Document damages to the vehicle, with photos, if possible.
- Don't admit fault to anyone.
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