The laws regarding car accident cases vary from state to state. In Massachusetts, the severity of injuries from a car accident can impact your ability to recover damages through a lawsuit. Since every case is different, the best way to receive answers to your questions is to speak with an experienced car accident attorney. Sometimes the fastest track to compensation is not a lawsuit.
What Is Considered Minor Damage From a Car Accident?
An accident is generally minor if the vehicle damage is minimal and no one suffers bodily harm. Often, you can resolve these cases with an insurance claim and little, if any, pushback from the adjustor. Some common forms of minor damage include:
- Cracks in the headlights or taillights
- Paint scratches or scuffs
- Wheels with road rash
- Punctured or blown tires
- Dents and dings on the vehicle’s frame
- Cracks or dings on the windshield, typically from debris or gravel
These damages are minor because they do not impact the car’s operational capabilities. However, they can still significantly add up, often quickly reaching $1,000 or more in repairs. However, under the right circumstances, even a minor crash can cause serious damage, such as debris getting through the grill and hitting internal parts.
Injuries From a Minor Accident
Just because an accident results in minor damage to the vehicle does not mean it could not cause severe bodily injury. Every accident has factors that make it unique. For example, drivers can have previous injuries that could make them more vulnerable to physical harm from a fender bender. In addition, senior drivers are often more susceptible to broken bones and bruises.
Suppose your accident was a minor rear-end collision, a common occurrence. Even at low speed, the driver whose vehicle was hit from behind typically does not expect the crash. As a result, even low-speed impact can aggressively jolt their body. In fact, this is a common cause of whiplash, an injury in the neck and shoulders caused by the sudden and forceful back-and-forth movement of the head at impact. Whiplash results in micro-tears through the neck’s soft tissue and can produce painful symptoms within minutes of the collision. It causes swelling and stiffness in the neck that can be debilitating. For some, the pain can come and go for years or even a lifetime following the initial injury. When an accident, even a minor one, involves injuries, the potential for suing the at-fault party increases.
How Does the Massachusetts No-Fault Auto Insurance Requirement Affect Your Ability To File a Lawsuit?
In Massachusetts, victims of car accidents with only minor injuries can often get the compensation they need to cover medical expenses and a portion of lost wages. This is because the state included personal injury protection in the list of insurance requirements for registered vehicles and licensed drivers. Therefore, in the event of a car accident, you can file a claim under your PIP policy and avoid the process of proving fault to recover compensation for your losses.
Coverage Under PIP Insurance
Only a handful of states require PIP coverage, and each state sets the required policy minimum coverage. Massachusetts drivers, passengers, and pedestrians injured in an accident can access up to $8,000 in coverage for:
- Necessary medical expenses related to the accident and resulting injuries
- 75% of the total income lost if injuries hinder them from working
- Coverage of any required replacement services, such as in-home assistance or childcare while healing
Without proving liability, recovering damages under PIP insurance is substantially more straightforward. However, the downside is that it is not always enough. For example, if your injuries cause extensive medical treatments and disability that causes you to miss extended periods of work, you can quickly run out of the $8,000 limit. To accommodate people with more significant losses, the state set a serious injury threshold that allows you to bypass the no-fault policy and file a lawsuit if you qualify.
The State Serious Injury Threshold
To file a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault driver from a car accident in Massachusetts, your injuries must incur a minimum of $2,000 in medical expenses, which is relatively easy to do in the U.S., or result in fractured bones, severe or permanent disfigurement, or loss of your hearing or sight. Regardless of how minor the collision may appear, if any of these stipulations apply to your injuries, you can file a lawsuit against the person that caused your accident.
What Can You Do After a Collision To Protect Your Claim?
What you do in the immediate aftermath of a car accident can significantly affect your right to recover compensation. However, some steps you take will help build your case and make it easier for your attorney to negotiate a settlement. Some examples include:
- Filing a police report. Massachusetts does not require you to call the police for a minor car accident. However, if you know the other party is at fault, it helps to have a record of the accident. You can file online or in person by going to the station.
- Documenting the scene. If you took any photos of the accident, including visible bodily injuries, vehicle damage, or the surrounding area, present that evidence to your attorney. It is helpful information for the investigation into your accident.
- Gathering information from the other parties. If you got the names and contact information of the other driver and any eyewitnesses at the scene, that could help corroborate your side of the story.
- Seeking medical attention. If you want to recover damages for your injuries, it is pertinent that you seek a complete medical evaluation, ideally within 72 hours of the crash. Most insurance companies require you to see a doctor as soon as possible to accept your claim. The longer you wait, the easier it is for the adjuster to deny your claim that the injuries resulted from your accident.
Finally, contact a car accident attorney as soon as possible. Acting fast allows you to recover damages sooner. Additionally, this is when the accident details are freshest and most reliable in your mind.
When Should You Contact a Car Accident Lawyer?
You can contact a car accident lawyer whenever you have questions about your case. Every car accident case is unique in some way, and minor vehicle damage does not negate the severity of injuries. For example, suppose you suffered a painful or debilitating injury due to a minor collision. In that case, you could benefit from speaking with a car accident lawyer familiar with Massachusetts personal injury law. You may have access to damages you did not know applied to your case.
At Jason Stone Injury Lawyers, our goals all lead to providing you with peace of mind and the compensation you need to restore your status quo. We understand the emotional, physical, and financial toll even a minor accident can take on a person. Our commitment to helping our clients starts with the first element of the Stone Cold Guarantee, which clearly states that we only get paid when you get paid. We charge no upfront fees for our services, so you can have the representation you deserve without the financial strain. Contact Jason Stone Injury Lawyers at (800) 577-5188 to schedule your free consultation today. There’s No Obligation, Just Information (R).