Motor Vehicle Accidents

Motorcycle Accidents

MOTORCYCLE ACCIDENTS

 

For the past 25 years we’ve had the good fortune to represent some very fine people who were injured through absolutely no fault of their own.  This is never truer than in the case of motorcyclists.  Recently, a very promising young man was tragically killed as a result of a motor cycle accident.  Much like lawyers, motorcyclists have such a bad rap due to the crazy antics of a few.  We’ve all been on the highway and had someone speed past us at 130 mph on a motorcycle.  That person does not speak for the whole group.  Motorcyclists are passionate people who love the beauty of driving a motorcycle.  My father-in-law in law is 80 years old, God love him, and only recently felt as though he should sell his bike.  I cannot express what a loss it is to him.  The ability to get together with a bunch of friends and take a ride meant so much to him.  Simple pleasures like this are becoming a lost star (?) in our society.  But it is undeniable that there are risks involved that far exceed those associated with driving a car.  In fact, as a non-motorcyclist, I found it amazing that my father-in-law told me that it’s more dangerous to ride at 30 mph in a neighborhood than it is on the highway.  He told me that people pull out of driveways and from parking spaces without ever looking, endangering motorcyclists.  I will admit that I have harbored a desire my entire life to ride a motorcycle, but I am dissuaded by the horrible injuries I see as a personal injury attorney when motorcyclists are involved in accidents.

 

The motoring public needs to take greater care and with the emergence of texting while driving as the new scourge on American roads, motorcyclists are in danger in greater numbers than ever before.  We need to make more stringent laws about texting and even find ways to disable one’s ability to text from a cellular phone while driving.  It may sound extreme, but it is necessary to save lives.  Motorcyclists have every right to use the roads in as safe a manner as possible and should not be subjected to these dangers because of reckless or thoughtless operators of cars.

 

By in large I love representing motorcyclists as they are among the nicest people that I get to deal with.  For it to be a case the accident was not their fault, but we try our best to help them in every way be made whole when they are faced with someone else’s negligence.  And I will definitely own a motorcycle before I am through driving.

 

The law firm of Colucci, Colucci, Marcus & Flavin, P.C. has been recognized by Newsweek.com as one of the Top 10 Best Law Firms for Personal Injury in the Country. Attorney Darin Colucci has also been recognized by Newsweek.com for 3 consecutive years as one of the Top 10 Best Personal Injury Attorneys in the Country.

 

2 men looking at car accident damage

Injured by an Uninsured Driver – What’s Next?

Being in a motor vehicle accident can be a stressful and traumatic experience. The first and most immediate concern is, of course, ensuring that any injuries suffered by the driver and passengers are treated. But regardless of whether the accident was serious or just a minor fender bender, at some point, the insurance companies get involved.

Under normal circumstances, if there is a clear case of who was at fault, then the responsible party’s insurance company will end up footing the bill for the accident and additional resulting expenditures. In some cases, if the insurance claims adjusters are offering a seemingly unfair amount, you may want to retain a personal injury attorney to help settle the case and ensure just compensation.

But what happens if you are in an accident with an uninsured driver? You certainly can’t file a claim with the negligent party’s insurance company if that person has no insurance, but there is no reason you should have to handle the financial costs on your own, no matter how minor or huge.

Of course, in most states, including Massachusetts, automobiles are required to have insurance, but many people still manage to drive without it. This could be because they have allowed their insurance to lapse or they simply never acquired any in the first place. Regardless, if a negligent party was at fault for an accident, you are entitled to compensation, and there are steps you can take when dealing with a driver who does not have insurance.

What to do when you are injured by an uninsured driver

Many of the initial steps that you would follow when in an accident caused by an uninsured driver in Massachusetts are the same as what you would do if the driver was insured. First, call the police. You will want an accident report, as it can help you with a personal injury claim later on. Besides, the individual driving without insurance was also breaking the law.

Even if the driver doesn’t have insurance coverage of any type, that person may still be liable for paying for some of the damage to your car out of his or her own personal assets due to at-fault laws. The police report will be an important document in determining fault.

Get all the information you can

Make a note of the driver’s contact information, the license plate number on the car, and the car make and model. Write down all the details of the accident while they are still fresh in your mind. And even though the information may be on the police report, it is a good idea for you get the contact information of any witnesses as well.

Additionally, use your cellphone to take pictures of both cars and the area where the accident happened so that you can better describe the details to a personal injury attorney.

Call your insurance company

It is always important to call your insurance company in a timely manner. Some policies may have a time limit on how long you have to make a claim. Additionally, you may want to consider adding uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage to your policy. This protects you in case of an accident with an uninsured driver. And since Massachusetts doesn’t require a high amount of coverage for drivers, the insurance will also protect you if the negligent driver is underinsured — that is, doesn’t have enough coverage to adequately compensate you for damages and injuries.

If you don’t have uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage, you may have a collision or personal injury protection part of your policy that provides compensation for your medical bills in addition to the damage to your car. It is always wise to know everything your insurance policy covers so that there are no surprises after an unfortunate accident.

Call a personal injury attorney

If, after speaking with your insurance agent, you have been left without a means of compensation for the damages and injuries you’ve suffered, it would be a good idea to contact a personal injury attorney in Massachusetts. An experienced personal injury lawyer will be able to help you file a claim with your insurance company against the negligent driver and attempt to recoup monetary compensation from the driver’s personal assets.

Recovering funds may be difficult, especially if the negligent driver doesn’t have much in the way of personal assets. However, there may be other avenues that can be pursued. The driver might actually have insurance coverage under someone else’s policy, or more than one party may be responsible for the car accident, leaving you other options to pursue a personal injury lawsuit.

Contact Us

An experienced personal injury attorney in Massachusetts can help research and discover all possible avenues leading to potential sources of compensation. At the Boston law firm of Colucci Colucci Marcus & Flavin, PC, our attorneys help clients recover the maximum possible compensation for their injuries. For a free initial consultation with one of our professional and experienced personal injury lawyers, call (617) 698-6000, or contact us online via our email form.

Wheelchair parked in front of a large picture window

Personal Injury Trial? – What to Expect

If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident in which another party, entity or organization could be at fault, you have the right to file a personal injury claim in order to receive the compensation you deserve. When seeking a consultation with a personal injury attorney in Massachusetts, the attorney will advise you as to whether or not you have a case.

In many situations, the other party may choose to settle the personal injury lawsuit out of court. However, there are also many instances in which the proposed settlement doesn’t seem fair, and insurance adjusters refuse to negotiate any further. At this time, you may decide that you prefer to take the case to trial. This is an important decision because a personal injury lawsuit that goes to trial can last anywhere from several days to several months, and possibly even longer than a year or two.

Your personal injury attorney can certainly advise you as to the best course of action, but it also helps to have a very good idea of what to expect at a personal injury trial. A lengthy process can sometimes be stressful and daunting, but with knowledge of what might happen if you choose to go to court, you’ll be better equipped to make an informed decision and limit any frustrating surprises.

What to Expect at the Beginning of a Personal Injury Trial

Unfortunately, the beginning of a personal injury trial isn’t very exciting, though there is a lot going on behind the scenes. Your attorney will be working diligently on your behalf to research all aspects of the case.

This involves visiting the scene of the accident, interviewing witnesses, taking photographs, and collecting and researching the police reports, medical records, witness statements, as well as conducting any additional investigation as deemed necessary to put together a strong case.

This process can typically take anywhere from one to six months. When all this has been completed, the personal injury lawsuit can be formally filed. The court then has a period of one to two months to serve the summons to the defendant, who then has 30 days to file a response. At this time, it is still possible to ask for a settlement, and many defendants may ultimately decide to settle in your favor than go to trial.

At the Start of the Personal Injury Trial

If a settlement is not agreed upon, the trial proceedings will continue. Both your lawyer and the defendant’s lawyers will send investigatory questions to each other regarding the facts of the case and the claims being made. Depending on how complex the case may be, this could take several months to complete.

It is also probable that the defense will require their own examination of your injuries or condition by a physician they appoint. The examination will be done in the presence of an attorney. At this time or shortly afterward, oral depositions occur in which witnesses and other individuals inherent to the case are interviewed by both sides. This can take a long time to prepare and complete — approximately three months.

If at this time, both sides cannot reach an amicable negotiation, the personal injury trial will proceed to go to court.

Preparing for Court in a Personal Injury Trial

The first step when proceeding to court for a personal injury lawsuit would be to select a jury. Both your attorney and the defense will conduct interviews with potential jurors. The jury selection process can take some time, unless, both sides manage to agree on jurors in a fairly quick manner.

When jury selection is complete, a date will be set for the beginning of the trial. Depending upon the complexity of the case, the trial can be over in as little as one day or as long as a few months. Both sides will have opening statements prepared, and then all involved parties and witnesses will be called to testify. Essentially, stories will be told as to how the accident occurred, how negligence on the part of the defendant was the cause, what injuries were sustained, and how those injuries will have affected your life or the life of a loved one.

Witnesses will also be called to testify, and the defense will be allowed to cross-examine them, as well as present their own experts or parties to attempt to expose any weaknesses or fallacies in your case.

Both sides will have a chance to call witnesses, cross-examine witnesses and experts, and then make closing arguments, leaving the verdict in the hands of the jury. At this point, your judgment is in the jury’s hands. However, if your case is just and you have chosen an experienced personal injury attorney to represent you in your lawsuit, it is possible to receive the compensation you deserve for your injuries, future medical treatment, lost wages, and other monetary losses due to the accident.

At the Boston law firm of Colucci Colucci Marcus & Flavin, PC, our attorneys help our clients recover the maximum possible compensation for their injuries. For a free initial consultation with one of our professional and experienced personal injury lawyers, call (617) 698-6000, or contact us online via our email form.

Who’s Liable When an Autonomous Car Crashes?

With the rise of interest in self-driving cars, two questions commonly comes up – Are they actually safer, and who is liable if a self-driving car crashes?

In 2013, the National Highway Traffic Administration released a 6-level classification system for autonomous cars. Level 0, the lowest level, means the automated system may issue warnings to the driver, but the driver is completely in control of the vehicle. Level 5, the highest level, means that no human interaction is required – the vehicle completely drives itself.

At anything lower than a level 3 autonomous vehicle, the level at which a driver can safely focus their attention on tasks other than driving, a driver is responsible since they clearly need to interact with the car in order to prevent accidents. At level 2, it is required that a driver keep their hands on the wheel and must be ready to intervene should something go amiss with the automated system.

On March 18, a pedestrian in Arizona was killed when she was struck by an autonomous car.  Although it was simply a test run, the car, which was operated by UBER, had an emergency driver in the car.  The victim was walking with her bicycle, and it appeared that the car did not slow down at all prior to striking her.  She was struck at 40 mph.

Later that week, on March 23, a Tesla autonomous vehicle – this one operated by Tesla – slammed into a concrete lane divider on the highway and burst into flames. The driver later died from his injuries.  The driver in the Tesla was repeatedly told by the car’s system that his hands needed to be on the wheel even though the car was on auto-pilot.  In this case, even though auto-pilot was in, the vehicle did state to the driver that auto-pilot is just a driver assistance tool – it is not meant to take the place of an actual driver, and takes care to note that the driver is responsible for their own safety and the safety of others.

Currently, laws have not been able to keep up with technology, and technology has not yet advanced to the stage where level four or level 5 autonomous cars should be on public roads. It is expected that as cars move towards being more and more autonomous, eventually, liability will shift from the driver to the car/its manufacturer.  Autonomous cars in the future may even be programmed not to commit certain traffic offenses, such as speeding, traffic violations, etc. This would mean that autonomous cars might even be the safest option for vehicles in the future – as studies have shown, the vast majority of crashes occur because of human error.

The law firm of Colucci, Colucci, Marcus & Flavin, P.C. has been recognized by Newsweek.com as one of the Top 10 Best Law Firms for Personal Injury in the Country. Attorney Darin Colucci has also been recognized by Newsweek.com for 3 consecutive years as one of the Top 10 Best Personal Injury Attorneys in the Country.

I was injured in a motor vehicle accident by a person who fled the scene (‘hit and run’) or by a person who doesn’t have enough insurance to cover my injuries. What do I do?

Too often, individuals suffer serious and disabling injuries but the person or business responsible does not carry enough insurance to adequately compensate him or her.

For example, our office recently resolved a case where a man was permanently disabled after he was struck by a motor vehicle while he was walking to his car. The at-fault driver fled the scene and was unable to be identified.  This is typically called a ‘hit and run’ accident.  Our client suffered catastrophic injuries, underwent numerous surgeries and could not return to work.  Despite an exhaustive investigation by our firm, (reviewing surveillance video, interviewing witnesses, and working with police) the only insurance available to compensate him for his medical expenses, pain and suffering, and lost wages was the “Uninsurance” coverage in his own automobile insurance policy.  Many people aren’t even aware that this coverage option exists.  “Uninsurance” is coverage that is available from your own insurance policy if the person who injures you is either “un-insured” or can’t be identified, (like a “hit and run” driver).  It is “optional” coverage, however, and will cost you more in premiums—but it is worth it.

In the case described above, our client only maintained $20,000 of “Uninsurance” benefits. This meant that, despite his catastrophic injuries, the most he could recover was $20,000 from his own auto insurer.

How do I protect myself and the other passengers in my car?

When purchasing your auto insurance, the most powerful thing you can do to be responsible for yourself and your loved ones is to make sure you carry optional “Under Insurance” and “Uninsurance” coverage with the highest limits you can afford. “Under Insurance” coverage will protect you if your injuries and damages exceed the insurance coverage of the at-fault driver.  “Uninsurance” coverage will protect you if you are injured by an unidentified person (“hit and run”) or uninsured vehicle.

At minimum, we suggest carrying $100,000 per person/$300,000 per accident of Under/Uninsurance coverage. Generally this is referred to as a “$100/$300 policy.”

Finally, we also suggest carrying optional Medical Payments Coverage, which is referred to as “Med-pay”. Med-pay is supplemental medical insurance through your automobile insurance that will pay for medical bills and medical liens.  It is relatively inexpensive.  Generally, $5,000.00 in Med-pay coverage costs around $30 per year.  Consulting a qualified insurance agent is your best bet to find the coverage that’s right for your particular budget.

The law firm of Colucci, Colucci, Marcus & Flavin, P.C. has been recognized by Newsweek.com as one of the Top 10 Best Law Firms for personal injury in the country. Attorney Darin Colucci has also been recognized by Newsweek.com for 3 consecutive years as one of the Top 10 Best Personal Injury Attorneys in the country.

Texting While Driving is Deadly

Recently in Washington, DC a gentleman stopped his car, got out and tore apart a traffic cam. The theory being that over one million traffic tickets had been given out in Washington, D.C. via these traffic cams raising over $100,000,000.00 in revenue.  I had mixed emotions of this event from a legal perspective. Certainly, if people are breaking the law and it is caught on film it is actionable by the governing body.  I am sure the argument is that the traffic cams are there for safety reasons. In other words, to dissuade people from driving above the speed limit and/or recklessly.  If it is there as a tool to garner revenue from the City, there is something seriously objectionable about that.  However, who would disagree with a camera specifically designed to catch people texting while driving.  I would be all for that as well as any police officer who set up his cruiser in a way to detect who is staring at their phone while driving.

Texting and driving is a scourge that is going to cost thousands of lives across this country. In any random day as I drive a half hour toward work, I rarely pass someone who is not staring at their phone.  It borders on an addiction, but one that is highly dangerous to other people.  Addictions normally endanger only the person addicted.  In this case, it is the public at large that is at risk.  I have witnessed elderly people staring at their phone and slowly trying to tap out a response to a text.  Making it illegal is not enough.  Most people get away with it and pay the $25.00 fee if caught.  This is a public health hazard that needs to be taken seriously and dealt with in a more significant way. I do, though, understand the difficulty in dealing with the situation.  You are permitted to look at any part of the instrumentation on your dashboard, radio, heating and air conditioning system, etc.  However, none of these are written in paragraphs which require attention.  And not one of these require responses that could be more in depth than a mere push of a button.

People should also consider that the felony of vehicular homicide will not cut people slack because they are otherwise law-abiding citizens. If you are found texting and you take someone’s life, you could be charged with vehicular homicide even though it was an accident. People should be more aware of this.

The law firm of Colucci, Colucci, Marcus & Flavin, P.C. has been recognized by Newsweek.com as one of the Top 10 Best Law Firms for Personal Injury in the Country. Attorney Darin Colucci has also been recognized by Newsweek.com for 3 consecutive years as one of the Top 10 Best Personal Injury Attorneys in the Country

 

Who’s Liable When an Autonomous Car Crashes?

With the rise of interest in self-driving cars, two questions commonly comes up – Are they actually safer, and who is liable if a self-driving car crashes?

In 2013, the National Highway Traffic Administration released a 6-level classification system for autonomous cars.  Level 0, the lowest level, means the automated system may issue warnings to the driver, but the driver is completely in control of the vehicle. Level 5, the highest level, means that no human interaction is required – the vehicle completely drives itself.

At anything lower than a level 3 autonomous vehicle, the level at which a driver can safely focus their attention on tasks other than driving, a driver is responsible since they clearly need to interact with the car in order to prevent accidents. At level 2, it is required that a driver keep their hands on the wheel and must be ready to intervene should something go amiss with the automated system.

Currently, laws have not been able to keep up with technology, and technology has not yet advanced to the stage where level four or level 5 autonomous cars can be on public roads.  It is expected that as cars move towards being more and more autonomous, eventually, liability will shift from the driver to the car/its manufacturer.  Autonomous cars in the future may even be programmed not to commit certain traffic offenses, such as speeding, traffic violations, etc. This would mean that autonomous cars might even be the safest option for vehicles in the future – as studies have shown, the vast majority of crashes occur because of human error.

The law firm of Colucci, Colucci, Marcus & Flavin, P.C. has been recognized by Newsweek.com as one of the Top 10 Best Law Firms for Personal Injury in the Country. Attorney Darin Colucci has also been recognized by Newsweek.com for 3 consecutive years as one of the Top 10 Best Personal Injury Attorneys in the Country.

 

Tales From Our Files: Taking The Case Most Law Firms Don’t Want

Over the course of many years, our law office has made its reputation in successfully taking on cases that most other firms don’t want.  This is particularly true in matters that involve senior citizens who are injured or killed due to the negligence of others.  The prevailing thinking among most law firms seems to be that the injury or wrongful death of a person in their 70’s, 80’s or 90’s isn’t worth all that much.  After all, they coldly reason, a person who attains that lofty age has already eclipsed their statistical life expectancy.  As a result, most law firms prefer not to expend the necessary time and expense pursuing cases that they deem are ultimately of minimal value.  Not only have we continually rejected that narrow minded and insensitive philosophy, we’ve railed against it.  The case described below is a perfect case in point.

On November 21, 2016, our client, an 87 year old man, was struck head on by another elderly driver.  He succumbed to his injuries 5 hours later.  Prior to the accident, our client lived alone and cared for himself.  He was never married and had no children.  His only relatives consisted of siblings who, like himself, were placed in separate and various foster families while growing up.  Because they were reared in different households, many years passed without the siblings regularly seeing or speaking with each other.  Owing to these sad circumstances, (as well as the fact that most of his siblings ultimately settled out of state), our client did not maintain a close relationship with any of his blood relatives in adulthood.

Several large and well known Boston law firms refused to accept this case on the grounds that it, in their learned opinion, it possessed only minimal value.  After all, the victim was in his upper 80’s and only suffered for 5 hours after his accident.  As is our custom, we took the case and put all of our resources into it.  We originally mediated the case but refused to settle it because the offer was so low.  We continued to battle on.  Ultimately, a settlement was achieved between the parties in the amount of $350,000.

Our core philosophy that every life deserves an equal measure of our attention, devotion and level of commitment was once again affirmed.

 

Dino M. Colucci, Esquire, is the founder of Colucci, Colucci, Marcus & Flavin, P.C., a law firm dedicated to representing victims of neglect. For many years he has lectured and served as an adjunct Professor of Law at Suffolk University Law School.  He has also been consistently named as a “Super Lawyer” by his peers as published by Boston Magazine.

Dino M. Colucci, Esquire

Colucci, Colucci, Marcus & Flavin, P.C.

424 Adams Street

Milton, Massachusetts 02186

(617) 698-6000

dino@coluccilaw.com

 

Texting and Driving Dangerous and Illegal

Texting and Driving: Dangerous and Illegal

While it is safe to say that everybody knows that using a mobile device for texting while driving an automobile or other vehicle is illegal, thousands still engage in the act every day. In fact, current statistics state that at any given time in America, nearly 700,000 drivers are using cell phones or electronic devices while driving.

Texting while driving falls under the Distracted Driving umbrella, and is the cause of over 1,000 daily accidents resulting in injuries and unnecessary and unfortunate deaths. So why is it that even when everyone knows that texting while driving is dangerous and illegal, drivers still do it? Most likely because the majority of people who text or use mobile devices while driving do not realize the inherent dangers.

Additionally, the majority of those texting while driving are younger drivers; teens and those in early to mid-twenties. This generation typically rationalizes that they won’t get in an accident. Even powerful statistics, such as the one that states nearly 3,500 people were killed in distracted driving accidents in 2015, seem to have little power to sway those who regularly text and drive.

 

A Loss of Focus

Distracted driving is not a new term—it essentially refers to any activity that diverts a driver’s focus from the road and other drivers and objects around them. Before rampant cellular phone use, distracted driving could have referred to eating while driving, applying one’s makeup, adjusting the car radio, fiddling with a GPS or turning one’s focus away from the road to speak to passengers.

Any of the above activities is an unsafe distraction, but in recent years, it has been determined that texting while driving is actually the most unsafe and dangerous driving distraction of all. What people don’t seem to realize is how far they actually travel along the road while sending or reading a text for just a few seconds. Traveling at 55 mph for only 5 seconds, a driver can traverse the length of a football field. Distracted driving is the equivalent of driving with your eyes closed, and driving across an entire football field with your eyes closed provides lots of opportunity for accidents.

 

Texting While Driving: Illegal in Massachusetts

Some states have banned all cell phone use while driving. In Massachusetts, it is not illegal for drivers to use their cell phones to make and receive calls while driving, although hands-free devices are preferred. However, texting while driving is strictly prohibited. Additionally, junior operators of a vehicle are prohibited from using mobile devices or other handheld electronic devices at all, except for navigation systems and emergency assistance controls. Bus drivers are also prohibited from using mobile phones completely while driving.

Massachusetts State Law will levy fines for the first and additional repeated offenses, and junior operators will also have their license suspended for a period of time. And because the texting while driving law in Massachusetts is considered a “primary law”, a police officer can pull you over simply for witnessing or appearing to witness texting while driving. The act is also completely illegal even if the car is stopped in traffic, so it is both a wise and safe idea to simply wait until some point that you can pull over and stop the car to read or send messages.

 

Practicing Safe Driving in the Cell Phone Age

No one can deny that cell phones are a major part of our lives, and we are all guilty of interrupted anything we might be doing to glance at our mobile devices whenever we hear those telltale tones indicating a call, email or text message alert. But the one place where you need to strive to avoid cell phone use is behind the wheel of a car.

In fact, in April 2017, National Distracted Driving Awareness Month was declared, and a “Drive Present” campaign was launched, focusing on teaching drivers to be more engaged in the driving moment, and less distracted by other actions and objects, especially mobile phones.

In order to cut down on accidents, injuries and fatalities related to distracted driving, and more specifically texting while driving, drivers are encouraged to follow certain guidelines when getting behind the wheel of a car.

  • First and foremost, the best thing to do is to simply turn off the phone when driving, or at the very least, turn the sound off so that you aren’t distracted by any tones that alert you.
  • If you are expecting emails, texts or phone calls, then when you do receive them — find a place to pull over. It will only take a few minutes of your time to pull over and review and send any messages, while it only takes a few seconds to wind up in an accident resulting in injuries or death.
  • If you are driving with a passenger, ask them to handle any messaging for you so that you can continue to focus on the road.
  • Because many often use their mobile phones as a GPS navigator as well, prepare your maps and directions before you start driving, or, if possible, use the phone voice commands to get directions, rather than using your hands.

Remember, anything that takes your eyes and concentration from the road, pedestrians and other drivers is a potential hazard. It simply isn’t worth it to risk your life and the lives of others to answer a text that can certainly wait.

 

We can help

Have you or a loved one been injured by a distracted driver? Give us a call at 1 (888) 330-6657 or contact us and we can talk to you about your rights and possible next steps.

Boston Car Accident Lawyers

Uninsured and Underinsured Motorists Issues in Massachusetts

Uninsured and Underinsured Motorists

Far too many drivers venture out on the road without adequate car insurance. According to the Insurance Research Council, the number is nearly one in seven drivers across the country.

In Massachusetts, the percentage of uninsured drivers is about four percent, or one in twenty-five drivers. Though this means Massachusetts is better than the national average, issues still arise when drivers without insurance get into motor vehicle accidents. Drivers need to be aware of the consequences of driving without insurance and how underinsured and uninsured motorist coverage on an insurance policy can help mitigate the problems that arise.

Consequences for Driving without Insurance

When uninsured drivers get into an auto accident with insured drivers, serious consequences can result. People who drive without auto insurance may face civil and criminal penalties for failing to comply with state laws mandating insurance coverage. They may also lose their houses, cars, savings and other assets if they cause an accident and an injured person sue to recover for his or her injuries.

Different – but no less serious – issues arise for insured drivers who get involved in accidents with uninsured drivers. Those drivers can choose to sue the uninsured at-fault driver personally for the medical bills, lost wages, property damage and pain and suffering that result from the accident. In practice, however, the uninsured driver may be “judgment-proof,” meaning that the insured driver will never collect anything because the uninsured driver simply has no money or other assets.

Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage

One way that drivers can protect themselves from uninsured drivers is by purchasing uninsured motorist (UM) or underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage as part of their own insurance policies. UM coverage pays medical bills, lost income and property damage expenses when the policyholder is involved in an accident with an uninsured driver.

UIM policies pay expenses that exceed the limits of the at-fault driver’s insurance policy. This is often necessary when drivers carry only the minimum amount of insurance that state law requires. Damages from automobile accidents frequently exceed these state-mandated minimums and a UIM policy can make up the difference so the injured driver does not have to pay personally.

Some drivers may be tempted to try to save money by carrying the least amount of insurance possible and foregoing UM or UIM coverage – or by driving without insurance altogether. However, the problems that arise when people get into auto accidents and the parties do not have enough insurance to cover the damages are too big to make the risk worthwhile.