Watch out! Auto accidents on the rise

According to the National Safety Council, serious injuries and fatalities from motor vehicle crashes are on the rise, continuing a troubling multiyear surge that experts believe is being fueled in part by more people driving while distracted by cellphones and other devices. Other factors include an improving economy, lower gas prices, and younger, more inexperienced drivers. And the costs are rising with repairs and greater medical and loss of income expenses.

Massachusetts is a “no-fault” state when it comes to auto insurance. If you have the misfortune of being injured in an accident, this means each person files a claim with his or her own insurance company for personal injury protection (PIP) and other benefits. Typically, drivers cannot take one another to court for costs associated with the crash, unless these conditions are met:

  • the injured person must have incurred at least $2,000 in reasonable medical expenses, and/or
  • injuries resulting from the accident must include permanent and serious disfigurement, fractured bone, or substantial loss of hearing or sight
As part of the compulsory insurance, your insurance company pays covered benefits up to $8,000 per person in any one accident under Personal Injury Protection (PIP). It covers basic medical payments, which can include medical expenses, up to 75% of loss of wages, and replacement services (such as childcare) resulting from an auto accident. Your policy will detail who is entitled to receive benefits from this coverage.
Collision and comprehensive coverage aren’t compulsory in Massachusetts, but many drivers add this coverage to pay for repairs or replacement of a damaged vehicle.

When you’re not covered
If you are injured while driving under the influence of alcohol, marijuana, or a narcotic drug, while committing a felony or seeking to avoid arrest by a police officer, or with specific intent of causing injury to yourself or others, it is deemed that you contributed to your own injury and you won’t receive benefits under PIP.

Also, PIP is not available for motorcycles, although a Medical Payments option is available on the MA auto insurance policy for riders and passengers.

Also, if you fail to list any “customary” operator or licensed household member, your insurance company might refuse to pay your claim.