Underinsured Motorist Accidents
If you have suffered serious injuries in a motor vehicle accident, there is a good chance that the driver who caused the accident will not have sufficient insurance to pay for your damages. The driver in this type of situation is considered “underinsured.” Sometimes a claim is brought against such a driver to obtain personal assets, but usually, the underinsured claim is made against your own automobile insurance policy. At Breakstone, White & Gluck, our Boston car accident lawyers have handled many underinsured motorist actions on behalf of Massachusetts residents. We know how confusing this process may seem, and we are ready to help you navigate your potential claim.Understand Your Rights Following a Crash Caused by an Underinsured Motorist
Although Massachusetts requires drivers to have auto insurance there are many instances in which the at-fault driver’s insurance policy is not sufficient to cover the damages that he or she caused in the crash. Many individuals have reduced the amount of auto insurance that they carry to offset difficult financial circumstances or to save money. In some situations, motorists have even cancelled their insurance altogether, leaving them as uninsured drivers. Under Massachusetts law, however, drivers must maintain a minimum of $20,000 in bodily injury coverage per person and $40,000 per accident. They must also maintain an $8,000 coverage limit for personal injury protection, which provides compensation for lost wages and medical bills, regardless of whether the insured is at fault, to passengers, pedestrians and cyclists. Considering that the cost of a visit to the emergency room or a brief hospitalization can easily exceed $20,000, this minimum level of coverage is often totally inadequate when it comes to making you financially whole again after the crash.
Speaking with an experienced personal injury attorney after a car accident is critical when it comes to understanding your legal rights and options. Your attorney can work with the insurance companies on your behalf and ensure that they treat you fairly according to the terms of the insurance policies involved. Your attorney can also help you determine whether it makes sense for you to file a personal injury claim against the at-fault driver to recover compensation. If the policy limits are not sufficient to cover your damages, a personal injury lawsuit can allow you to seek a judgment from the at-fault driver that must be paid from his or her assets or finances, but there are often difficulties collecting judgments in such cases.
The most important thing you can do is to protect yourself with adequate levels of automobile insurance. You can buy underinsured coverage up to $500,000, so long as you carry similar limits for bodily injury insurance. You should also check to make sure your uninsured coverage matches these amounts. Once you get over the minimum statutory coverage, the cost for underinsured motorist coverage is actually very low.
Our Massachusetts personal injury lawyers have extensive experience with underinsured motorist claims. The first requirement is that the case with the negligent party is settled for their policy limits. Permission to settle must be obtained (in writing) from your own insurance company. After that, the settlement of the underinsured claim can either be settled or proceed to a binding arbitration.
Although arbitration still requires factual proof, the setting is much less formal than a courtroom. We will have to prove that the other driver did not use the same level of care and skill that a reasonable driver would have used. This is called the standard of care, and it applies to every driver operating a vehicle in Massachusetts. A driver can breach this standard of care in many ways, such as by drunk driving or failing to yield the right of way. In addition to proving negligence, we will have to prove the extent of your damages. This will included medical bills, lost earnings, other incidental expenses, and more important, your pain and suffering, disability, and loss of enjoyment of life. Damages may also include future medical bills, lost wages, and reduced earning capacity.Seek Guidance from an Experienced Motor Vehicle Collision Lawyer in Boston
If you were injured in a car accident caused by a distracted, speeding, intoxicated, or otherwise negligent driver, you should speak to a qualified personal injury lawyer as soon as possible. Knowing your rights and making sure that insurance companies are playing by the rules can make a difference when it comes to securing the maximum amount of compensation that you deserve. Our diligent team of car accident lawyers has handled claims on behalf of injured people in cities such as Boston, Cambridge, Waltham, Lowell, Newton, Somerville, Quincy, Dedham, Norwood, Brookline, Attleboro, Barnstable, Brockton, Plymouth, Worcester, Lawrence, and Springfield. To set up your free consultation, call us now at 1-800-379-1244 or contact us online.