A caller from the Greater Fall River area had a question that clients feel very strongly about when they visit the law office, which is, “Why should my insurance pay when I wasn’t at fault?”
Attorney Steven Sabra, of Sabra and Aspden Law Offices of Somerset, answered that Massachusetts is a no fault state. What that means is initially, no matter who is at fault, your own insurance company pays medical bills and lost wages under the PIP Provisions (Personal Injury Protection) of your motor vehicle insurance.
PIP will provide $8,000 in coverage. If you have health insurance (such as Blue Cross, Harvard Pilgrim, etc.), your auto insurance carrier will pay up to $2,000, and then you will receive a PIP Exhaust Letter. The law office will copy the letter and your health insurance card, then sends it to your medical provider to bill the health insurer.
Keep in mind that insurance rates are reflective of fault. Although your insurance company is paying, that does not mean your rates will go up because the fault is on the other person. Your insurance company will subrogate, or go after the insurance carrier of the person at fault, and get their money back. However, this is different from Rhode Island, which is not a no fault state.
Six Things to Do After Being in a Car Accident Where You Are Not at Fault
Car accidents can be very scary! But it is very important that you remain calm. After you have been in an accident, when you are not necessarily in a mental state to make clear decisions, everything can start to get complicated. It can be very frustrating too, but getting upset will only make matters worse. The most important thing is your safety, the safety of those in your car, the car that struck you, and others in the area.
The following tips can help you out for when you are in this crisis:
Seek medical attention. After being in a car accident, it is most important to be sure that you are OK. Even if you feel fine at the moment or think your injuries are not severe, there are injuries that can arise hours or even days after the accident, such as a concussion, pain, dizziness, and numbness.
In addition to being the best thing for your mental and physical health, seeking medical attention immediately better strengthens your personal injury claim. If you decide to wait a couple days to seek medical attention, it then becomes harder to prove your injuries were as a result of the car or motorcycle crash.
It is also good to know that you have the right to see your own personal physician.
Get the other drivers information. It is important to exchange insurance IDs, get their name and phone number, and check the date to confirm coverage is in force. It would also be wise to get the contact information of the investigating officer as well as any witnesses on the scene. The more people there are that can describe what happened from being an eyewitness, the better your claim since you are not at fault.
Take pictures. Take a picture of the damage of both cars as well as anything else that may have been struck, such as a guardrail or light post. Use your cell phone if you do not have a camera. Those photos will protect you from a false claim of how extensive damage was to their vehicle. Plus, it will also help your insurance company document the damage to your vehicle and provide evidence for your claim.
It would also be a good decision to take pictures of the physical damage done to you or any passengers in your car on the spot, to ensure the physical damages were from the accident if you seek medical attention later rather than immediately, although it is again advised to seek medical attention first and foremost.
Call insurers. Car and motorcycle insurance policies require those in an accident to report any crashes. First, you should call your insurance company and file the accident report. It would also be in your best interest to contact the other party’s insurer as well. From there, the insurance companies will start an investigation to resolve who is at fault.
If you are involved in a minor car accident, you can call your agent to notify your insurer as well. Agents can settle minor property damage claims, however, your agent will not lobby the claims adjuster on major accidents involving injuries and severe property damage.
It is also important that you ask the adjuster for a physical copy of the complete claim. In today’s age of technology, things can sometimes get lost and people can make mistakes. With a copy of the claim file, you do not run the risk of being charged a higher car insurance rate in an accident that was not your fault.
Seek car repair. You also have the right to choose your own auto-repair. You do not have to settle for insurance company direct repair shops (DRPs) and can opt for a higher quality repair shop of your preference.
Seek a lawyer and/or attorney. If you have been seriously injured in an auto accident, you will want to seek a lawyer in order to reach a fair settlement with the insurance company. If you wish to prove the other driver was at fault, an attorney would be needed as well. To prove your case, you must show the rules of the road that the driver violated to cause the accident.
Lastly, if you have not received your insurance benefits within 30 days of the accident, it could mean the other driver’s insurer is going to litigate against you or there was a miscommunication with the insurer. An attorney would be beneficial in this scenario.
For over 35 years, Sabra and Aspden Law Offices have served cases in the Fall River, Somerset, Swansea, New Bedford, and Assonet areas. Southern New England’s best personal injury and car and motorcycle accident attorneys are Sabra and Aspden.