Is Massachusetts a No-Fault State for Car Accidents?

Getting injured in a Massachusetts car accident can be beyond frustrating, it can impact the course of your life. Naturally, one of the most important questions is how insurance works to compensate you.

States utilize one of two insurance systems for car accident disputes: fault and no-fault. Massachusetts operates under a no-fault system. The reason for its adoption here is likely because of the less adversarial nature of the process and its ability to cut down the number of lawsuits being filed over car accident damages. While the no-fault system can be beneficial to some, it has serious drawbacks. Fortunately, our attorneys can explain in detail how these rules will impact your case and the best way to go about recovering the compensation you deserve. We can also help you determine if your losses meet the threshold to file a lawsuit to get damages insurance will not provide.

Call the Law Office of John J. Sheehan at (617) 925-6407 for a free review of your case with our Boston car accident attorneys.

Does Massachusetts Use a No-Fault or Fault-Based Approach for Car Accident Claims?

In Massachusetts, car accidents are governed by a no-fault insurance system. It is designed to simplify the process of paying out claims for injuries sustained in car accidents, irrespective of who was at fault. The no-fault system has a significant impact on how victims of car accidents can seek compensation for their injuries, which is why it is best to work with our Cambridge car accident attorneys when filing your claim. Much of the process can be complex for those unfamiliar, potentially leading to losing out on damages.

Under the no-fault system, drivers are required to carry personal injury protection (PIP) coverage as a component of their auto insurance policies. PIP coverage is designed to pay for medical expenses, a portion of lost wages, and other out-of-pocket costs that arise as a result of a car accident, up to the policy’s limits, without the need to determine who was responsible for the accident.

This helps to facilitate quick payments to injured parties without the need for a lengthy process to determine fault. This system also intends for individuals to receive timely medical attention and cover immediate expenses related to the accident. However, the no-fault rules impose strict limitations on when accident victims can step outside the no-fault system to pursue additional compensation through a personal injury lawsuit.

What Are the Limitations to Filing a Lawsuit Under Massachusetts’s No-Fault System?

Mass. Gen. Laws Ch. 231 § 6D sets specific thresholds for an injured party to file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver for pain and suffering damages.

One of the primary limitations is the requirement that the injured party incur a certain amount in reasonable and necessary medical expenses before they can sue for additional damages. The threshold for these medical expenses is $2,000. This means that unless your medical bills exceed $2,000, you cannot pursue a claim for pain and suffering caused by your auto accident.

The law also specifies that an injured party can file a lawsuit if they have suffered from certain types of injuries, regardless of the amount spent on medical treatment. These specific injuries include permanent and serious disfigurement, fractures, and loss of sight or hearing. These injuries are considered severe and can have a significant impact on the victim’s life, and as such, they allow for legal action to be taken even if the financial threshold has not been met.

What Evidence Can I Use to Prove Fault in a Massachusetts Car Accident Lawsuit?

As mentioned, you must prove fault if you wish to pursue compensation beyond your PIP benefits. To do this, you will need to gather evidence from various sources, which our team can help you do. The following pieces of evidence are commonly used to prove fault in Massachusetts car accident lawsuits:

Police Reports

One of the first pieces of evidence to consider in your case is the police report. When law enforcement responds to an accident scene, they compile a report that includes details about the incident, observations about the scene, statements from drivers and witnesses, and, in many cases, the officer’s opinion regarding who was at fault. This report can be a valuable source for not only an official account of the accident but also help find other important pieces of evidence.

Witness Statements

Witnesses to the accident can provide unbiased accounts of what occurred, which can be crucial in establishing fault. These statements can come from pedestrians, other motorists not involved in the crash, or passengers. Witnesses can help corroborate your version of events or provide details that you might not have noticed, making their testimonies very helpful.

Photo and Video Evidence

Visual evidence from the accident scene can be incredibly persuasive in a lawsuit. Photographs and videos can document the positions of the vehicles, road conditions, traffic signals, and any obstructions or road signs.

Additionally, dashcam footage, if available, can offer a direct view of the accident as it happened. In the digital age, surveillance videos from nearby businesses or traffic cameras might also be obtainable and can provide critical perspectives on the collision.

Physical Evidence from the Scene

The physical evidence from the accident scene itself, including damage to the vehicles and any relevant road conditions or debris, can help reconstruct how the accident occurred. Skid marks, for instance, can indicate the speed of the vehicles and the actions taken by the drivers before the collision. Vehicle damage can also show points of impact, which can be analyzed to determine fault.

Medical Records

Though not directly related to a fault, medical records documenting the injuries sustained in the accident can support the claim that the accident was severe enough to cause significant harm. These records can also tie specific injuries directly to the accident, which is essential for establishing the cause of your damages.

Expert Testimony

In more complex cases, expert witnesses such as accident reconstruction specialists can be called upon to provide testimony. These experts can analyze the available evidence and use their knowledge to explain to the court how the accident likely occurred and who was at fault. Their expertise can be particularly valuable in cases where the dynamics of the accident are complicated or disputed.

Traffic Laws and Regulations

Familiarity with Massachusetts traffic laws and regulations is crucial when proving fault. Demonstrating that the other driver violated a traffic law can be a strong indicator of negligence in your case.

For instance, if the accident occurred because the other driver ran a red light, citing the specific Massachusetts statute they violated can help establish their fault in the crash.

Social Media Posts

In today’s digital age, social media posts made by the involved parties can sometimes help prove fault. For example, if the other driver posted about being distracted just before the accident occurred, this could usually be used as evidence of their negligence.

Our Massachusetts Car Accident Lawyers Can Help You File Your Claim

For a free case analysis with our Weymouth, MA car accident lawyers, contact the Law Office of John J. Sheehan today at (617) 925-6407.