The state of Massachusetts is a scientific, commercial, and cultural leader in the United States. Home of Fenway Park, Beacon Hill, and some of the world’s finest universities in its largest city Boston – aka Beantown – Massachusetts boasts a population of nearly 7 million people. Unfortunately, it can be a difficult place to navigate as a motorist. Massachusetts car accident laws have tried to minimize crashes, but 48,476 crashes occurred year-to-date, and there were 417 fatalities in 2022, a 20% increase from the year before.
We’ve put together a complete guide regarding Massachusetts car accident laws below, but direct advice will come from a skilled auto accident attorney. Even if determining fault seems obvious, insurance companies may interpret your case differently to protect their profits. Prevent this by hiring an attorney that has your best interests when representing you.
What to Do After a Car Accident in Massachusetts
Massachusetts car accident law requires you to stop your vehicle after a crash. Provide the other driver with your contact and insurance information. If there’s been an injury, call 911 and cooperate with the responding officer.
Get immediate medical attention if you’ve been hurt…even if you’re not sure. Acquire contact information from any witnesses. Finally, take photos of the accident and call your insurance company.
When exchanging information with the other driver, avoid saying anything incriminating, even if it’s an apology. You may feel guilty after a car accident, but any word you say can be used against you in court. More information will reveal itself over time, so keep the exchange brief and cordial.
According to Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 90 Section 26, any driver must complete a Motor Vehicle Crash Operator Report form and file it with the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles within five days if:
- Anyone was killed or injured
- There was damage in excess of $1,000 to any one vehicle or other property
Calling 911 after an accident will result in a police report, which is helpful to all involved. Acquiring a police report will strengthen your claim and will help your attorney represent you when fighting for your settlement.
Is Massachusetts a No-Fault State for Car Accidents?
Yes, Massachusetts is a no-fault state for car accidents. No-fault states require drivers to carry personal injury protection insurance to cover the cost of their injuries, not the other driver. The person at-fault will still have to pay for the other person’s damages to their car and surrounding property.
To review the top crash locations in metro areas such as Springfield, Worcester, and Boston, click here.
Massachusetts Insurance Laws & Making a PIP Claim
If you’re injured from a car accident in Massachusetts, you have to file a claim under your own personal injury protection (PIP) car insurance coverage. Massachusetts drivers do this to recover money to pay their medical bills even if someone else caused the accident.
IMPORTANT: You can only bring a claim directly against an at-fault driver if your injuries are serious enough to exceed $8,000 in costs.
If they are not, your Massachusetts PIP claim will pay:
- Medical bills resulting from car accident injuries
- Up to 75% of lost income due to the accident and resulting injuries
- Recovery costs that maintain ordinary life
If your injuries are serious enough to exceed $8,000 in costs, you can make an insurance claim against the at-fault driver’s liability coverage. Or you can file a lawsuit against the driver in court.
Minimum Auto Insurance Coverage in Massachusetts
Massachusetts law sets insurance coverage requirements for all registered vehicles.
It must have the following coverage as a minimum:
- $20,000 per person / $40,000 per accident bodily injury liability coverage
- $20,000 per person / $40,000 per accident uninsured motorist bodily injury coverage
- $8,000 personal injury protection
- $5,000 property damage coverage
Additional Insurance Coverage Options
Most drivers carry more than the bare minimum coverage, particularly if they’ve financed the purchase of their vehicle. Collision and comprehensive coverage, for example, are designed to pay for vehicle damage.
Collision coverage pays for damage to your vehicle in a crash regardless of fault. Comprehensive coverage pays for non-collision damage like floods, theft, and fires.
Medical payments insurance is another type of insurance you can buy in the state of Massachusetts. It covers medical expenses and funeral services for accident-related injuries for:
- The driver
- Your passengers
- Family members associated with the crash
IMPORTANT: An attorney can look at your policy documents, or those of the at-fault driver, to figure out what coverage is available to pay for your injuries.
Who is Liable After a Massachusetts Car Accident?
The law in MA is clear on how fault is determined. For example, the driver of a vehicle in Massachusetts is said to be more than 50% at fault if they were found to be out of their lane, if they’ve collided with a parked vehicle, or if they’ve failed to signal before turning or changing lanes.
Comparative Negligence in Massachusetts
If more than one driver is at fault, Massachusetts is a modified comparative negligence state. You can win a settlement payment from the other driver’s insurance if you are up to – but not more than – 50% at fault.
Any settlement payment with another driver’s insurance company will be reduced by your percentage of fault. For example, if your damages are found to be $200,000 and you are 30% at fault, then you would recover $140,000.
If you are found to be 51% at fault for a car accident in Massachusetts, you would receive no settlement payment from the other’s driver’s insurance.
How to Know if You Have a Massachusetts Auto Accident Claim
There are specific legal criteria required for a car accident victim in Massachusetts to file with the at-fault driver’s insurance company.
You qualify if you:
- Have at least $2,000 in documented medical expenses, or
- Your injuries include:
- permanent and serious disfigurement
- a fracture (broken bone)
- or substantial loss of hearing or sight
You may also sue the at-fault driver in a court of law. If your lawsuit progresses to that point, an auto accident attorney is critical to proving your case to the judge and jury. A lawyer is specialized to truthfully represent you in court, and their services are often free until your settlement is in the mail.
How Much Compensation Can You Earn?
Settlement amounts vary wildly depending on the extent of your damages after a car accident. You may get only a few thousand dollars if the accident involved minor damages to property. If your car accident involves life-threatening trauma like brain injuries, your settlement can reach up to millions in damages.
You are awarded two types of damages after a car accident: economic and non-economic damages.
Measurable losses that can be tied to a specific bill or dollar amount are considered economic damages. These include:
- Property damage to your vehicle
- Medical expenses
- Ambulance bills
- Physical therapy
This type of damages also covers lost wages and lost future income, if your injuries have affected your ability to work. They can also cover “replacement services,” such as childcare and cleaning, if you can’t do those things, and accessibility modifications to your home.
Non-economic damages are less measurable and include pain and suffering, mental anguish, emotional distress, and loss of quality and enjoyment of life. These can also cover something called “loss of consortium,” which refers to the loss of intimacy and harm to family relationships.
You might also be able to pursue punitive damages in rare situations. These are intended to punish the at-fault party.
Massachusetts Statute of Limitations
A “statute of limitations” is a law that puts a time limit on your right to bring a lawsuit. In other words, you only have a set amount of time to take legal action after a crash.
In Massachusetts, the statute of limitations (deadline) to file a car accident lawsuit is three years from the date of the accident, according to Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 260, section 2A.
What if You Hit a Driver That’s Uninsured?
Because the state of Massachusetts requires all drivers to carry uninsured and underinsured motorist protection (UM/UIM), you can file a UM/UIM claim with your own insurance company. This applies if you are hurt by a hit and run driver who is never found.
Contact LegalASAP for a Local Massachusetts Car Accident Lawyer
If you are facing medical bills, lost income, property damage, other costs caused by your car accident, you have rights under Massachusetts law. An auto accident lawyer will handle the complex legal process for you. You can receive a much higher payout with representation than if you accept the insurance company’s offer.
LegalASAP can connect you with an experienced lawyer near you in Massachusetts who understands the state’s car accident laws to review your case for free. Click the button below to begin:
Laura Schaefer is the author of The Teashop Girls, The Secret Ingredient, and Littler Women: A Modern Retelling. She is also an active co-author or ghostwriter of several nonfiction books on personal and business development. Laura currently lives in Windermere, Florida with her husband and daughter and works with clients all over the world. Visit her online at lauraschaeferwriter.com and linkedin.com.