Looking For Answers About Auto Accident Claims?
How Does Massachusetts Automobile Law Affect My Case?
Massachusetts law protects various rights, benefits and procedures affecting how and what you can recover following an automobile accident. Massachusetts law, your automobile insurance policy and the other driver’s (or drivers’) automobile insurance policy/policies all affect your case. You may have claims against the other driver and their insurance company. You may also have claims against the owner of the vehicle that hit you or a commercial entity, if that vehicle was owned by a business. You may even have a claim against your own automobile insurance company, depending on your policy.
Massachusetts law also requires insurance carriers to include no-fault personal injury protection benefits (PIP) in all personal automobile policies. These PIP benefits are provided by your own insurance company and will pay for your initial medical expenses and lost wages after an automobile accident.
In short, the facts of each case (and the type of insurance available) drastically affect how you should approach your Massachusetts automobile accident case. There are often numerous parties and insurance companies involved, and the process can be overwhelming for those not familiar with the law.
What Are Personal Injury Protection (PIP) Benefits?
PIP benefits are compulsory insurance benefits provided to you by your own automobile policy. PIP coverage is optional on motorcycle insurance policies. These benefits are intended to help individuals pay for immediate medical treatment and lost wages suffered as a result of an automobile accident. Typically, your automobile insurer will pay the first $2,000 of medical bills and lost wages after an accident. If you have private health insurance (such as Blue Cross or Tufts), PIP will continue to pay any out-of-pocket medical expenses (including co-pays) and lost wages up to $8,000. If you have public health insurance (such as Medicare or MassHealth), PIP will pay all of your medical expenses and lost wages up to $8,000.
What Happens When Pip Benefits Run Out?
Once you have used all of your available PIP benefits, your private or public health insurer will typically pay for all future medical treatment, just as it would normally under the insurance policy. Once you have used all of your available PIP benefits, however, you will be unable to recover lost wages resulting from the accident until the case is resolved either through settlement or judgment. This often creates great hardship for individuals as they may be forced to go without wages for weeks or even months.
The attorneys at Donovan O'Connor & Dodig, LLP, frequently work to evaluate all of the options available to clients in this situation.
Do I Have To Reimburse My Health Insurer For The Money It Spent On Medical Treatment Related To My Accident Out Of My Recovery?
In most cases, both private health insurers (such as Blue Cross) and public health insurers (Medicare and MassHealth) will record all amounts they have paid for medical treatment related to injuries you suffered in your automobile accident. The health insurer will then place a lien on your recovery from the automobile accident for that amount. Often, lien holders will negotiate their liens with attorneys.
The attorneys at Donovan O'Connor & Dodig, LLP, frequently negotiate to reduce health insurance liens to maximize our clients’ recovery.
Can I Settle Part Of My Case Now, Like My Lost Wages, And Settle The Rest Later?
No. You typically only have one chance to settle an automobile accident claim. Since it is often impossible to determine the value of your claim until you have completed your medical treatment or your doctor has declared you will not get any better, it is usually in your best interest to wait until you have fully recovered or recovered as much as you are going to from the injuries you suffered in the accident before attempting to settle your claim or filing a lawsuit. If you settle your case prematurely and then discover your injuries are more severe than you first believed, you will not be able to make a second claim or seek further recovery. This can create an unfair burden on individuals who must go weeks or months without any income.
How Long Do I Have To File A Lawsuit Against The Driver Who Hit Me?
The statute of limitations for personal injury cases, including automobile accidents, in Massachusetts is three years. This means that you must file any lawsuit within three years from the date of the accident. While there are exceptions to this rule, they are limited, which is why it is important to seek out legal advice as soon as possible after your accident.
How Long Will It Take To Resolve My Case?
Each case is unique. The most important factor in determining how long it will take to resolve a particular case is the amount of medical treatment required by the individual injured in the accident. It is important for the individual to reach a medical result before any claim is resolved. If the claim cannot be settled, a lawsuit will often be the next step. Litigation, from the date a lawsuit is filed through the date of trial, can take two to three years, depending on which court is involved.
Many other important factors may influence the length of time it takes to resolve your case, including the available insurance policy limits, the number of individuals involved in the accident and their respective injuries, and the medical bills.
The attorneys at Donovan O'Connor & Dodig, LLP, have the experience to know how to approach each case to maximize recovery for our clients.
Contact Our Massachusetts Lawyers Today
If you or a family member has been injured in a motor vehicle accident, you may be entitled to compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, physical pain and suffering and any disability resulting from the accident. Contact us at 413-663-3200 or online for a free consultation with an experienced lawyer. We have conveniently located offices and other meeting locations throughout western Massachusetts and regularly travel throughout the region to meet with clients.
All cases are handled on a contingent fee basis — you will pay no attorneys’ fees unless we win compensation in your case.
Note: This is an introductory overview of Massachusetts law and procedure regarding automobile accidents. It is not intended to be used as specific legal advice for any individual and is no substitute for experience and expert advice from a qualified Massachusetts attorney who can evaluate your individual case.