I recently settled a Massachusetts automobile personal injury case. In evaluating any such case it is important to examine the vital components: liability, damages and insurance coverage.
Liability is responsibility for causing the accident. The question is whether someone failed to act with due care as a reasonable person would have acted, thereby causing the accident. This is called negligence. The typical rear end collision is often caused by a driver following the vehicles in from of them too closely, or by being distracted. The vehicle in front stops or slows in traffic, and the driver in the rear causes a collision.
Not all accidents result in bodily injury. Sometimes only property damage is involved. If a person is injured they might be able to pursue compensation for their pain and suffering. In Massachusetts, their medical bills must exceed $2,000 or there must be broken bones or scarring. The value of compensation will equate to the severity of their injuries. The more serious the injury, the more valuable the case. Length of hospitalization, time lost from work and duration of medical treatment, medical costs, scarring and permanency of injury will all contribute to valuing damages.
If there is a negligent party causing an individual to be injured and there are damages, the case might have value. The next question is whether the negligent party has insurance coverage or assets from which to pay compensation. In Massachusetts, the base, mandatory automobile liability insurance coverage is $20,000 per individual and $40,000 per accident.
Richard Traina of Tuttle & Traina Insurance notes that the mandatory minimum amount of automobile insurance coverage is rarely adequate. Automobile owners can protect their assets by buying higher amounts of liability coverage. Richard also notes automobile owners should also protect themselves and their families by purchasing underinsurance coverage, uninsured motorist coverage and Medical Payment coverage. Underinsurance coverage will protect an automobile owner if they are injured in an accident caused by another who has minimal, mandatory coverage. Uninsured coverage would provide coverage to the injured owner if the driver who caused the accident has no liability coverage. Finally, Medical Payment coverage helps pay for medical bills resulting from the accident. If your health insurer pays these bills the insurer will seek reimbursement from the settlement or judgment. This is not true for the Medical Payment coverage.
Always review the automobile insurance coverage on your vehicles with a qualified insurance agent. Know and understand the coverage available to protect you and make an informed decision on what coverage to purchase.
If you are ever injured in a Massachusetts automobile accident, retain an experienced attorney to protect your interests.