Posts tagged with "Car Insurance"

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.

 

Most people don't understand Massachusetts no fault car insurance laws that have given way to Personal Injury Protection plans for car accidents

How Massachusetts Car Insurance Laws Can Limit Your Settlement

 

We handle a lot of car accident cases here in the greater Boston area. They’re fairly common because they can happen to anyone, even people who consider themselves safe and responsible, and the cars involved have both a large capacity for destruction and are driven frequently. That’s why you see a lot more people who have been hurt in car accidents as opposed to crashes from smaller, less frequently used vehicles like bicycles or snow mobiles.

Massachusetts does have some limits on what car crash victims can receive in settlements. If you’re injured by someone else’s dangerous driving in Massachusetts, you can attempt to receive compensation for your medical bills, damages to your vehicle and for your pain and suffering. However, you won’t be able to receive any medical reimbursements if your medical bill comes under $2,000.

Massachusetts has a minimum threshold of $2,000 for medical expenses from crashes. If one of our case comes under that threshold and no money ends up exchanging hands, we handle that case for free. We only get paid when our client receives a settlement and we’re willing to use the experience for outreach so people know they can trust us the next time they need a lawyer.

To get a little more technical, in Massachusetts we have Personal Injury Protection, or n- fault insurance, where the insurance company will pay for damages regardless of who caused the accident. Part of the idea behind the law is to make insurance available for policy holders even when the are struck by an uninsured driver.

If the injuries of all the people in your vehicle during an accident exceed $2,000, your auto insurance will pay that first $2,000 of medical bills. Not your health insurance company, but your car insurance.

A Personal Injury Protection plan  in Massachusetts will pay for costs after $2,000 but before $8,000, and that can include lost wages, medical copays and funeral expenses. If you have health insurance, PIP will pay up to $2,000 for medical expenses. If you lack health insurance, PIP will pay whatever is needed until it reaches that $8,000 cap.

There is one wrinkle that can have a big impact on a case. When a car crash victim receives a settlement, the health insurance company can take some of that money for reimbursement for the medical bills. PIP benefits do not need to be reimbursed from a settlement. This won’t make much of a difference if the settlement is for $1 million dollars and the medical expenses were $5,000, but it will if the medical expenses are $5,000 of $15,000 settlement.

PIP insurance is confusing and obtuse to most people, and we’re happy to walk people through their options. Our firm will also deal with the insurance companies directly for you so you can concentrate on your recovery.