Boston Car Accidents
At Morgan & Morgan, our attorneys know how much an automobile accident can upend a person’s life. They have witnessed firsthand how the injuries and bills that arise from a car crash can complicate people’s lives, and understand how difficult it can be to recover the compensation you deserve from the insurance company.
This is especially true in Boston. Our city’s tight roads, assertive drivers, and thick traffic — like the kind you might find on Interstate 93 approaching the O'Neill Tunnel — make for some of the most dangerous driving conditions in the country.
Our Morgan & Morgan attorneys have handled tens of thousands of cases, and may be able to help you recover the compensation you require to get your life back on track. If you have been in an automobile accident and are unsure about the next step or have received what you believe to be an unfair settlement offer from your insurance company, you may want to consider hiring an attorney.
Fill out a [free, no-obligation](/free-case-evaluation/) case evaluation to find out exactly how our attorneys may be able to help.
Massachusetts Auto Insurance Laws
Massachusetts is a “no-fault” state, meaning if you get into a car crash, you file a claim with your insurance company, not the insurance provider for the driver who was at fault. This type of insurance is known as personal injury protection (PIP).
Because your own insurance company will be paying out your claim, what they will cover depends on the type of policy you have. Massachusetts calls for a minimum policy each driver is required to have, but it will not cover all of your costs. PIP may help with medical bills and lost wages, but only up to a certain amount, and a basic policy in Massachusetts will not cover the cost of repairs or to get a new vehicle.
However, if you were injured and the wreck was the fault of another driver, you may be able to file a claim against the negligent party. If you sustain at least $2,000 in medical expenses and your injuries include a permanent and serious disfigurement, a fractured bone, or a substantial loss of hearing or sight, you are able to file a lawsuit against the negligent party. Filing a liability claim will make you eligible for more compensation for medical expenses and lost wages, but also opens up the possibility of pain and suffering damages, something the insurance company will never pay.
If you have concerns about the payout from your insurance company or would like to file a liability claim, our attorneys have experience with no-fault insurance cases and may be able to help with your claim.
How Can a Morgan & Morgan Boston Car Accident Attorney Help Me?
While not every motor vehicle accident victim requires a lawyer to get the compensation they deserve, many do. If you are thinking about hiring an attorney but are not sure how they may be able to help, let’s review how our attorneys help their clients.
- Gather Evidence: The first thing one our attorneys will do is evaluate the strength of your potential lawsuit by gathering and reviewing all available evidence. This entails interviewing witnesses, taking photographs of the wreck, and reviewing any video surveillance footage that is available. Additionally, our attorney’s will obtain and review any police reports. In cases where the crash was caused by the negligence of another driver, our attorneys will attempt to gather whatever information is needed to win your case. For example, in a case where the negligent driver was texting while driving, our attorneys will subpoena mobile phone records to confirm the they were using a mobile device behind the wheel of their motor vehicle.
- Work with Medical Experts: Our attorneys often work with medical experts to determine the severity of a victim’s injuries. This entails preparing a report detailing the medical treatments – and related costs – that may you may have required to recover fully. If your case ends up going to trial, the medical expert may be called upon to explain to a judge and jury exactly how the automobile accident caused your injuries.
- Communicate and Negotiate with Insurance Companies: In states without no-fault insurance it is not recommended that you give a statement to the other person’s insurance company. However, states with PIP often require people to cooperate with the insurance company or risk having their benefits denied. Massachusetts is such a state, so make sure to cooperate with your insurance company so you get the maximum amount of benefits you are eligible for. If you exceed your PIP benefits, and still can’t pay for all the expenses related to the wreck, it may be time to reach out to an attorney to find out what your legal options are.
- Prepare for Trial: If the negotiations in your case do not produce an acceptable settlement, our attorney are more than willing to prepare for trial. Unlike other firms who try and get their lawyers to avoid going to trial, our attorneys relish the opportunity. They have vast amounts of experience in the courtroom, and are more than happy to prepare for trial if that’s what it takes to get you the compensation they deserve.
What Kind of Compensation Might You Be Eligible For?
Unless you are filing a liability claim, PIP insurance will only cover medical expenses and in some cases, lost wages but only up to a certain point. In Massachusetts, if you would like compensation for vehicle repairs and more, there are more comprehensive insurance plans you can purchase. If you meet the requirements to file a liability claim against the at-fault driver, you may eligible for PIP benefits on top of what has already been paid, as well as for pain and suffering and other general damages.
No Fee Unless We Win Your Case
At Morgan & Morgan, we believe every person should be eligible for top-notch legal services, regardless of income. Therefore, our attorney’s work on a contingency fee system, which means they don’t get paid unless they win your case. When you retain one of our attorneys, you’re getting someone who is willing to fight for you all the way to the end. Our attorney’s don’t just settle because it’s the easy thing to do, so even if it means going to trial, they are willing to go because it’s in your best interest.
When should you get a lawyer for a car accident?
If you are injured in a Boston car accident and do not exceed the limits of your personal injury protection (PIP) coverage, you will probably not need an attorney. In fact, the point of PIP, or no-fault insurance, is to reduce the number of car accident lawsuits. However, Massachusetts law does allow motorists to file personal injury claims under certain circumstances. When pursuing legal action outside the no-fault system, it is highly recommended that you hire an attorney. Attorney involvement is also essential when your own insurance company denies your PIP benefits. If you feel that your situation will require legal action, do not hesitate to contact us for free.
In Massachusetts, you cannot file a claim for bodily injury arising from a motor vehicle crash unless you meet the following criteria:
- Your medical bills are more than $2,000; OR
- You suffered permanent and serious disfigurement, a fractured bone, the loss of a body part, or substantial loss of hearing or sight; AND
- The other driver is more than 50% at fault for the accident.
Meeting the medical bill threshold is not very difficult, given the high costs of healthcare. Although medical costs vary, even a simple treatment can exceed $2,000. According to healthcare.gov, fixing a broken leg costs up to $7,500, and a three-day hospital stay runs around $30,000. Massachusetts PIP law stipulates that, for individuals with health insurance, PIP pays the first $2,000 of medical expenses and health insurance pays for the rest, up to the $8,000 PIP limit. For individuals without health insurance, PIP is required to pay for all of the injured person’s medical bills, up to $8,000.
The second lawsuit requirement—that the victim suffered a specific injury—requires medical verification. Any initial diagnosis provided by a doctor will need to be documented and proven using medical records and testimony from medical professionals. In the case of scarring and disfigurement, these are usually proven with photographs of the injury at different points in the healing process.
Third, Massachusetts follows comparative negligence laws. This means that, if you intend to sue for a motor vehicle accident, your negligence cannot be greater than the negligence of the party you’re suing. In other words, Boston car accident lawsuits are completely barred when the injury victim is 51% or more at fault for the accident. The other party may use comparative negligence simply to blame you and avoid liability. When that happens, a car accident lawyer is crucial for proving your side of the story.
Finally, it is possible to have a dispute with your own insurance company that results in your claim being denied. PIP insurers are within their rights to deny benefits if you were intoxicated while driving, you drove while committing a felony, or you specifically intended to harm yourself or others.
Massachusetts’s car insurance laws are among the most complicated in the country. Hiring a car accident lawyer simplifies the claims process for you and ensures that everything is handled professionally. You should consider hiring a lawyer if any of the situations described above apply to your case. Not sure whether you qualify for a lawsuit or have other questions? Get answers with a free case review.
Is it worth getting an attorney for a car accident?
Only you can decide if it is worth hiring a car accident attorney. But when it comes to your peace of mind, wellbeing, and financial security, do you really want to cut corners or take chances?
In Massachusetts, it is probably not worth having legal representation for claims that remain within the state’s PIP system, because there are very specific criteria for filing a car accident lawsuit. So-called “no-fault” claims are filed with your own insurance company and do not require that you prove another party’s negligence. Even if you were at fault for the accident, PIP benefits of up to $8,000 are available for every Boston motorist.
It doesn’t take very long, though, to exhaust PIP benefits, which cover medical costs and lost earnings. Injuries that require significant treatment and missed work time can quickly use up all available PIP benefits, permitting you to go outside of the PIP system and file a lawsuit.
Claims occurring outside of the PIP system involve fault, so nothing is guaranteed. Everything depends on your ability to prove somebody else’s negligence. And this requires building a strong, evidence-based case.
Massachusetts residents must carry several types of insurance that include not only PIP, but also coverages for bodily injury and property damage. When you file a car accident lawsuit, you’re taking on an insurance company—not another individual. While another individual might want to just settle the claim and move on as quickly as possible, insurance companies can be ruthless. They routinely delay, deny, and underpay claims. Indeed, lowball settlements are part of their business model. By paying you less, they make more money.
Your own insurance company is legally obligated to protect your interests. Somebody else’s insurance company owes you nothing. They might tell you that you don’t need a lawyer and that hiring one will only complicate the claims process. Of course, they know that without a lawyer, you have nobody protecting your interests. That would give the insurer a huge advantage. It’s you versus a giant corporation that wants nothing more than to pay a lowball settlement—or no settlement, period.
Can you afford to accept less than what you’re owed? Ultimately, this is the question that needs to be answered when deciding whether hiring an attorney is worth it. Not receiving maximum compensation for your injuries is a huge risk that can jeopardize your family’s future. Part of the risk, furthermore, is not knowing how much your claim is worth in the first place. Things like future costs, pain and suffering, and replacement services such as child care are difficult to calculate without expert help.
Morgan & Morgan advocates for everyday people against powerful insurance companies. We want to make sure you get everything you’re entitled to, so that you can move forward. If hiring a car accident attorney would help your case, we’ll let you know. If it’s not necessary, we’ll let you know that, too. Once you hire us, you pay no attorneys’ fees unless we recover money for you. Still have questions? Get a free case review now.
Is it worth getting a lawyer for a minor car accident?
The tricky thing about “minor” car accidents is that there’s no set definition of what “minor” means. Every accident is different and every injury is different. Major accidents sometimes result in minor injuries, and minor accidents sometimes result in major injuries. The car could be totaled but the passengers might emerge miraculously unharmed. Or, a fender bender could cause a concussion or soft tissue injury that lingers for months.
Most bodily injuries are classified as either “objective” or “subjective.” Objective injuries are injuries that can be perceived with the five senses and/or with diagnostic testing. A broken leg is an example of an objective injury. A doctor can take an x-ray and clearly see that the leg is fractured. Other objective injuries include scars, bulging discs in the back, and internal bleeding.
Subjective injuries, on the other hand, may not be apparent to anyone other than the injured person. Such injuries, which include muscle sprains and strains, can’t always be empirically measured. Concussions also do not show up on an MRI or CT scan. An accident victim could have whiplash or a concussion that causes long-lasting impairments. New research, for example, shows that even mild concussions are extremely dangerous and can go undetected or untreated.
Concussions and whiplash often occur in fender benders. Although fender benders are considered to be a type of “minor” car crash, post-concussion symptoms like headaches, dizziness, and problems with concentration and memory are certainly not “minor.” The same goes for whiplash, which can lead to chronic neck pain, blurred vision, ringing in the ears, and other long-lasting complications. So while the accident might be “minor,” the resulting injuries may be anything but.
Another issue is the mental anguish and physical suffering caused by bodily injuries. Similar to subjective injuries, a person’s pain and suffering cannot be objectively measured, no matter how real they are. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression following a car accident are well-documented. It doesn’t have to be a “major” accident to trigger PTSD symptoms. Chronic physical pain can accompany a minor crash as well.
Low-speed collisions can affect not only your mind and body but also your vehicle. And once again, it’s what you can’t see that matters. Damage to a vehicle’s electrical system, transmission, trunk, frame, and alignment could result from minor rear-end collisions. The cost to fix these problems could easily be several-thousand dollars or more. In Massachusetts, PIP insurance does not cover vehicle damage. You’ll have to pursue a claim against the other motorist’s auto insurance. This could lead to a dispute about the repair bill and your settlement offer.
Hopefully, these examples illustrate why it is difficult, if not impossible, to generalize about car accidents and their injuries. The facts unique to your case should be the deciding factor in determining what steps to take next. Our car accident lawyers are happy to discuss your accident during a free, no-obligation case review.
What is the average settlement for a minor car accident?
While it’s worth reiterating the difficulty of defining a “minor” car accident, a couple of figures help to put in perspective average settlement amounts.
The average PIP claim in Massachusetts, according to Forbes, is around $4,000. That’s half of the total $8,000 of PIP coverage that every driver is required to purchase. Massachusetts PIP insurance covers medical expenses, replacement services (like child care services), and 75% of lost wages if you’re unable to work due to a car accident. PIP excludes property damage. It also excludes pain and suffering.
Nationwide, the average auto liability claim for bodily injury is around $16,000 and the average claim for property damage is nearly $4,000. In addition to PIP, Massachusetts drivers are required to purchase bodily injury insurance of at least $20,000 per person/$40,000 per accident and property damage insurance of at least $5,000 per accident. A negligent driver’s bodily injury insurance may be tapped for additional compensation if certain requirements are met (see above - When should you get a lawyer for a car accident?).
For property damage caused by a negligent driver, the only option is to file a claim with their property damage insurance. If the property damage claim cannot be resolved, Massachusetts recommends resolving it in small claims court. Although small claims court is typically reserved for disputes of $7,000 or less, if your case is based upon property damage sustained in an automobile accident, the award may exceed $7,000. Don’t be surprised if a “minor” fender bender causes this much property damage; these accidents can easily cost $3,000 to $10,000 or more. A car accident lawyer is not required in small claims court, but you have the right to retain a lawyer if you wish. At the very least, you should consult with an attorney prior to your hearing, even if the attorney is not present at the hearing.
Don’t expect your $8,000 in PIP insurance to go far, either, if you suffer a head injury in a “minor” car accident. If you have a concussion and need to stay in the hospital overnight for observation, that alone could exceed your PIP limits. Add in an MRI and a CT scan to your hospitalization, and this could put you at $15,000 to $20,000. Then there are the lost wages that can continue to accrue from lingering post-concussion syndrome. This is just an example, but due to the high costs of medical treatment, it would not be surprising if a “minor” accident had a settlement upwards of $50,000 and even exceeding $100,000.
While it can be a useful exercise, thinking in terms of average settlements tells you very little about individuals and their actual injuries. If you were hurt in a crash, Morgan & Morgan’s car accident attorneys are ready to provide personal attention. To learn more, contact us.