How to File an Auto Insurance Claim
In Massachusetts, there are several types of auto insurance coverages. Before you file an auto insurance claim, be aware of these types of coverages and what to do after an accident.
- Liability coverage
Every motorist is required to have auto liability coverage of at least $20,000 per person and $40,000 per accident for all claimants. This means that if you are injured in an accident that was caused by the negligence of another driver who has such coverage, the most you can recover from that driver’s insurance is $20,000. If there are multiple claimants against that driver, then the $40,000 is divided between or among the claimants with no single claimant able to recover more than $20,000.
- Personal Injury Protection (PIP)
Massachusetts is a no-fault state whereby you can receive certain limited benefits up to $8,000 regardless of who was at fault in the auto accident. The benefits cover medical expenses and lost wages. You can only bring a claim for more damages against a negligent driver including pain and suffering if any of the following conditions occur: a) your injury claim exceeds $2000 in necessary medical expenses, b) your family member suffered a fatal accident, or c) you suffered a serious injury such as broken bones, loss of a limb, loss of sight or hearing, or other permanent injuries.
- Uninsured coverage (UM)
Many drivers lack any insurance coverage at all. In Massachusetts, UM coverage is mandatory and is in the same amount as your liability coverage. It is also available in hit-and-run accidents where the identity of the fleeing motorist and vehicle is unknown.
- Underinsured coverage (UIM)
Massachusetts has very low minimum coverage requirements for liability policies, which is $20,000/$40,000. If you were in a serious accident with a driver with low limits, then $20,000 will barely cover your medical expenses, if at all. We recommend our clients have at least $100,000 in UIM coverage. Unlike UM coverage, Massachusetts does not require motorist to have underinsured coverage so you must request it from your insurer. Also, you can only use your UIM coverage once you have exhausted the primary or at-fault driver’s policy limits and your own UIM limits exceed the responsible driver’s coverage. For example, if you recover $50,000 from the other driver and your UIM is $100,000, you can only recover up to $50,000 from your UIM. But if your UIM limits are identical to the negligent driver’s limits, you cannot recover additional compensation from your UIM policy.
- Property damage
The minimum coverage is $5000 for property damage.
Steps Following an Accident and in Filing an Auto Insurance Claim
If you are in a car accident and suffer property damage and/or an injury, there are certain steps to take to protect your claim and in filing an auto insurance claim.
- At the scene, make sure any passengers are secure and safe. If there are injuries to yourself or others, call 911 and ask for police and ambulance
- If you are able to do so, exchange information with the other party or wait for police.
- Do not make any comments about the accident to anyone except the police.
- Ask the investigating officer for a card with the accident report number so it can ordered when it is completed. Requests can be made at MassDot’s site for Request for Copy of Crash Report Form.
- If possible, take photographs of the vehicles, the parties involved, debris, skidmarks, damage to medium or other objects that were struck, the accident site, traffic devices, and any other objects or scenery that depicts the accident scene.
- Get medical attention immediately. Do not refuse treatment at the scene or at least see your doctor within 24-hours or defense insurers will be skeptical of your injuries.
- Promptly call your insurance company and ask them to open a claim.
- For any injury accident or property damage accident of at least $1000, you have to report the accident to the Registry of Motor Vehicles and police even if they were at the scene by completing a Motor Vehicle Crash Operator Report.
- Promptly call a car accident attorney at Burns and Jain.
There are warnings that you need to be cognizant of once you have notified your insurer and the RMV. For instance, do not talk to any investigators or give a statement about the accident to anyone without an attorney representing you. Also, do not accept an offer of settlement without talking to an attorney, even if you are not represented at the time. However, it is highly recommended that an experienced auto accident attorney represent you at all stages of your claim. If any of the foregoing steps were not done, your attorney will ensure that a full investigation is performed and that all necessary steps are completed in filing a claim.
Damages in Personal Injury Auto Claims
Damages in a personal injury accident claim depend on the severity of your injuries and how they have affected your quality of life.
- Past and future medical expenses
- Past and future income loss
- Lost earning capacity
- Pain and suffering
- Diminished quality of life
- Permanent disfigurement or loss of function
- Emotional distress
- Spousal claim for loss of consortium
Contact a Car Accident Lawyer at Burns and Jain
Handling a car accident injury claim on your own can cost you thousands of dollars in compensation you could have recovered with legal representation even accounting for legal fees. Call a car accident attorney at Burns and Jain where you will receive skilled and zealous representation for your claim. Call us today at (617) 227-7423 for a free consultation about your injury claim.