What Happens if I’m at Fault in an Accident in Massachusetts?
Massachusetts is a modified no-fault insurance state. It means that your insurance company compensates you for your accident-related injuries regardless of who was responsible. The amount you receive depends on your policy limit. Massachusetts has a Safe Driving Insurance Plan (SDIP) that classifies drivers and insurance premiums based on a driver’s record.
SDIP promotes safe driving by rewarding careful drivers and imposing penalties on the negligent ones. The plan stipulates that an at-fault accident amounts to a surchargeable incident. Boston personal injury attorneys explain this and how your insurance is affected if you’re at fault in an accident.
What is a Surchargeable At-Fault Accident?
A surchargeable at-fault accident is one in which:
- You’re more than 50% at fault as determined by the Standards of Fault
- The car involved in the accident is a private one
- The claim payment is worth more than $1,000, over any deductible
- The claim payment is for collision, bodily injury to others, or limited collision for a car subject to the SDIP.
Boston car accident lawyers say that the Merit Rating Board (MRB) will list the accident on your driving record. Your insurance company may increase your premiums depending on their merit rating plan.
How is Fault Determined in Massachusetts?
The SDIP system uses a classification plan with 19 categories that create reputable presumptions of fault depending on the type of car accident. The presumptions are almost accurate in assigning blame, but since they rely on categorical judgments, they may sometimes lead to incorrect fault determination. In such a case, you can challenge fault through appellate procedure.
What Are the Standards of Fault in Massachusetts?
The Merit Rating Board uses the following standards of fault if a driver was more than 50% at fault for a car accident:
- Rear-end collision
- Collision with a lawfully or unlawfully parked vehicle
- Failure to signal
- Collision at a T-intersection
- Failure to yield the right of way
- Single-vehicle collision
- Collision while making a U-turn across the travel path of a car traveling in the same or opposite direction
- Driving in the wrong direction
- Out-of-lane collision
- Violation of driving rules and regulations
- Opened or opening vehicle doors
- Collision while backing up
- Crashes on the wrong side of the road
Will My Auto Insurance Rates Increase After an Accident?
If you were responsible for a car accident, it’s likely that your auto insurance rates increase. The same might happen if you were not at fault in an accident. The fact that you can claim compensation from your insurance company regardless of who was at fault means you’re more likely to see an increase in insurance rates after an accident.
However, car accident lawyers in Boston note that the situation differs from one incident to another and from one insurance company to another. Your driving history may also have a role to play, among other factors.
At-fault accidents can affect premiums for up to six years, but the duration also depends on your company. Additionally, an accident won’t affect your rates after it drops off your DMV record.
Can I Appeal the Determination That I’m at Fault in an Accident?
If you believe you were less than 50% at fault for an accident, you can appeal the at-fault determination with the help of skilled car accident attorneys in Boston. You can file your appeal at the Division of Insurance Board of Appeal within 30 days of receiving the at-fault notice.
The process of filing an appeal is described at the bottom of the front side of the at-fault notice. At the back of the notice is an appeal form you should complete and return to the Board. Ensure you attach adequate supporting documents to strengthen your appeal, such as:
- Witness statements
- Property damage assessments
- Video footage of the accident
- Auto expert opinion, such as mechanics
However, filing an appeal doesn’t prevent your insurance company from increasing your premium rates. The only difference an appeal might make is causing the insurer to refund any premiums associated with the accident if the Board of Appeal finds the at-fault determination improper. Retaining experienced Boston car accident attorneys can better your chances.
What Other Factors Can Affect My Insurance Rates in Massachusetts?
After an accident in which you’re at fault, your rates will likely increase. They can also go up or subject you to a surcharge after you file a claim with your insurance provider under your PIP coverage. Additional factors that could affect your premium rates are:
- The type of car you drive
- Your age
- The year your vehicle was manufactured
- The average number of miles you drive each year
- Whether you have been involved in an accident before
- Whether you have any traffic violations on your record
- Whether you have prior DUI convictions
When selecting auto coverage, it’s crucial not to skim through the process. Massachusetts is known for having high insurance rates, and you should ensure you choose an insurance company that can protect your interests, especially when you’re in an accident that wasn’t your fault.
An Experienced Personal Injury Lawyer Providing Guidance on Insurance Premiums
Being involved in an accident can profoundly impact your insurance premium rates, especially if you were at fault. Since Massachusetts is a no-fault state, PIP coverage can become more expensive with each collision incident. Luckily, you can file an appeal for an at-fault determination to have your insurance company refund any premiums associated with the accident.
Navigating insurance laws in Boston can be complex, but Boston car accident lawyers can guide you appropriately. If you have questions about what happens to your insurance premium rates after an accident, the legal team at Joel H. Schwartz P.C. can help you. We can advise you on your case and help you determine how to proceed. Call us at 508-850-0342 for a FREE consultation.-