It is an unfortunate truth that car accidents are a common occurrence in this country. When more than one vehicle is involved, establishing fault is crucial to an insurance claim, as well as any potential lawsuit. This makes sense; if it is your fault, you or your insurance company should bear the brunt of any incurred expenses by the other party. However, a minority number of states are what is known as “no-fault states,” and Massachusetts is one of them. So what does this mean?
Let’s begin with what it does not mean. Being in a “no-fault” state does not mean you can run a red light, crash into someone’s car, and not be responsible. When a car accident occurs, someone is still “at fault.” Rather, the primary difference between fault and no-fault states involves car insurance requirements. No-Fault states provide certain types of insurance to people in almost ayn type of accident, no matter whose fault it was.
As you are likely aware, Massachusetts requires every registered car to purchase insurance in four (4) parts.
- Bodily Injury to Others: Provides limited coverage for you when other people are injured in an accident. This is very limited coverage and does not cover many types of accidents and injuries. Coverage is also limited to $20,000 per person and $40,000 per accident. You cannot purchase higher limits.
- Bodily Injury Caused by an Uninsured Car: Provides coverage if you’re injured by a car that does not have insurance. This can also cover hit & run accidents.
- Property Damage: Pays up to $5,000.00 of coverage for any damage you cause to someone else’s car or property. You are allowed to purchase higher limits.
- Personal Injury Protection: Pays up to $8,000 for the medical expenses or lost wages of anyone injured while in your car. It will also pay for any pedestiran or bicyclist struck by your car, as well as for injuries you receive when involved in a car that does not have PIP Coverage.
There are additional supplemental coverages that are not required, but are recommended. Please refer to our prior post for a more in depth discussion. However, one optional coverage that is pertinent is for Med Pay coverage. This is similar to Personal Injury Protection coverage in that it will pay for certain medical expenses, regardless of whose fault a car accident is.
Where the “no-fault” differs from the “fault” is in Personal Injury Protection insurance (item #4 above and hereinafter, “PIP”), and Med Pay coverage. No-fault states require you to purchase PIP in addition to basic liability insurance. PIP typically pays for your medical expenses and lost wages regardless of who caused the accident. This is where the “no-fault” term comes in. Even if you are at fault for the accident, PIP will cover the expenses.
The goal of no-fault insurance is twofold: 1) save time and money and 2) to reduce the likelihood of a lawsuit. Insurance companies will drag their feet and paying claims and lawsuits can take time to resolve. In no-fault states, PIP pays out right away, regardless of fault. As you may have guessed, if people get paid for their expenses right away, the need for a lawsuit may be reduced. However, this does not preclude you from filing a lawsuit if the circumstances warrant it.
In order to succeed in a lawsuit, you need to establish the other driver was negligent. You will also need to have at least $2,000.00 in medical bills to pursue a claim for pain and suffering. Further, as our ardent readers are aware, Massachusetts is a comparative negligence state, which means your fault in the collision will be weighed and may offset any potential payout. As always, it is a good idea to speak with an experienced attorney who can help you develop your claim and advice you on the best coursing moving forward.
If you or a loved one has been injued in a car accident and has questions about the various types of No Fault Insurance that are available, call the experienced car accident lawyers at Marcotte Law Firm for a free, no obligation consultation.