In Massachusetts, when you’re injured in an auto accident, your insurance policy’s Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage should pay your medical bills and other expenses, but those aren’t the only benefits you’re entitled to recover. If you sustain a serious injury, an experienced personal injury attorney could also negotiate a settlement for damages due to your pain, suffering, any permanent disabilities, and lost wages.Massachusetts automobile statutes allow injury victims to collect additional damages from the legally responsible party if injuries or medical bills meet or exceed PIP tort thresholds.
PIP Tort Threshold
Massachusetts No Fault Laws recognize that injuries can have a significant impact on your life. The medical bills and lost wages covered by your Personal Injury Protection coverage were never intended to make up for permanent disabilities or other life altering conditions. The law gives you the right to sue the person who caused your accident if one of the following occurs.
- Reasonable medical bills in excess of $2,000.
- Broken Bones
- Permanent and significant disfigurement
- Loss of hearing or sight
First You Must Get the Facts
Exceeding the PIP tort threshold is just the first step in pursuing a liability claim against the other driver. You must also prove that the other person was legally liable for causing your injuries. That will require an investigation, which should include driver’s statements, police reports, witness accounts, and other relevant information.
Your insurance company’s adjuster will conduct a brief investigation before she agrees to cover your PIP benefits. If the other party is injured or has extensive property damage, she will also gather enough information to assess your potential liability for any injuries the other party has suffered.
Liability Issues can be Complicated
Liability for an accident might seem clear to you, but an investigation could prove otherwise. For example, if the other party was speeding, but you were talking on your cellphone, the adjusters investigating your claim could decide that you are just as responsible as the other party.
Even if you were negligent in causing your own injuries, you might still be able to get a settlement for your injury claim based on Massachusetts’ Contributory Negligence statute. The law recognizes that more than one party may have contributed to an accident.
In the above scenario, if you were considered 50 percent at fault or less, you would be able to collect for a corresponding percentage of your injury damages. If liability is determined to be 50/50, both you and the other party could collect 50% of your damages.
You Must Present a Claim
Your insurance company’s adjuster probably won’t present a claim to the other driver’s insurance company unless she believes she has a right to subrogate the amounts your insurance company paid on your behalf (collect money from the at-fault party). It’s up to you to let the other party’s liability insurance company know if you believe that your injuries exceed the PIP tort threshold and their insured is legally responsible.
Before You Speak with the Insurance Company
If you’ve been injured by the recklessness or negligence of another party, contact an experienced personal injury attorney before speaking with the insurance company. Very often the insurance company is trying to gather information that will minimize their financial exposure. An experienced personal injury lawyer will assist in obtaining the maximum amount due to you for your damages.