If you reside and drive in the state of Massachusetts, you should be aware of the state’s laws regarding car accident handling and protection. Being knowledgeable about the laws will help you prevent unexpected losses due to car accidents, as well as guide you in case you encounter one.
Filing Period for Car Accident Claims
The “statute of limitations” law applies in the state. This pertains to a three-year grace period given for plaintiffs to file a personal injury or property damage case against erring parties. If you don’t file your case within the three-year period, you may not be able to do so despite the strength and validity of your case. This limitation is only for lawsuits in the state and not for filing a claim with your insurance company.
If you ever get involved in a car accident, do contact your insurance provider immediately so as to expedite an investigation and to receive your compensation promptly.
The Comparative Fault Rule
Massachusetts follows the comparative-fault rule, meaning that the extent of fault of all parties are pre-evaluated based on the findings of the investigation. Under the comparative-fault rule, you can recover damages from the car accident only if you were found to be less than 50% at fault for the accident. If your fault level is 50% or higher, you receive no compensation.
The ratio of fault also determines how much damage compensation you are entitled to in a rule of court. For example, if the jury has determined that you were 30% responsible for the accident, you get to receive only 30% of total damages you filed for in court.
Car Insurance Requirements Under Massachusetts State Laws
Massachusetts is one of the states which consider car insurance coverage as mandatory. At the very least, you should get an auto insurance policy to cover the following:
1. $20,000 liability coverage for one person’s injuries
2. $40,000 liability coverage per person if the accident caused injury to more than one person
3. $8,000 personal injury protection (PIP) per accident
4. $5,000 liability coverage for property damage per accident
Liability (1, 2 and 4) covers losses in case a seriously injured driver sues the insurance holder, and losses from damage to the vehicles involved. PIP pays for the medical expenses of both the insured person and whoever else is injured in the accident.
These minimum insurance requirements do not cover vehicle repairs or replacement, damage and loss resulting from non-accidents (such as thefts or vandalism), and uninsured drivers. You need to buy additional insurance coverage for Collision, Comprehensive, and Uninsured Motorist coverage. These types of coverage are not required under Massachusetts state laws.
The Massachusetts Auto Insurance Plan (MAIP)
The state has its own insurance program that assists drivers who could not obtain even the minimum insurance coverage in the regular market, especially drivers with adverse driving or accident records. An insurance application to MAIP may be submitted by the insurance agent or broker, and the application will be assigned randomly to an insurance provider who is licensed under Massachusetts to sell insurance policies in the state.
Finding the Right Insurance
The premiums you’ll be quoted depends largely on your personal data, particularly your age, driving record and experience, accident history, location, and of course, the amount of coverage you want. You may want to shop around first for reputable insurance companies in Massachusetts, and to get quotes from several companies before deciding on your insurer.
You may also want to negotiate for any discounts you might be entitled to, especially if you’ve had an excellent driving record and if your car has had low mileage during the year. Do not hesitate to ask for the fine print of the insurance contract before signing up. If needed, consult a car accident lawyer or insurance expert to clarify any points you are unsure of in the proposed contract.
By George C. Malonis