I was injured in a motor vehicle accident that wasn’t my fault. What now?


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If you or a loved one has suffered an injury in a motor vehicle accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation from the person or company whose negligent conduct caused the injury.

Take photographs. Take photographs of the damage to all vehicles involved in the crash. Take photographs of the scene of the accident from several different viewpoints so that anyone viewing the photos can tell:

  1. What you were able to see just before and at the time of impact;
  2. What the person who caused the accident was able to see; and
  3. What any witnesses were able to see just before and at the time of impact.

Photograph all visible injuries on your body and anyone else who was in the vehicle with you.

Write down what happened. As soon as possible, you and anyone else who was in your vehicle at the time of the accident should write down exactly what happened, when it happened and in what order. The longer you wait, the more you will forget.

Also write down what you and your passengers remember about who said what to whom. What did the driver of the other vehicle say? What did you say? What did you hear witnesses say? Also write down what you remember about any conversations with emergency medical personnel, firefighters or the police.

Document other relevant information. Write down what you remember from conversations with all insurance companies, including your auto insurance company, the other driver’s and any insurance company that might pay you under a wage replacement or long-term disability plan.

Also keep a record of your medical treatment appointments and any time missed from work. Get the medical treatment you need – quickly. If it hurts, doesn’t feel right or affects your ability to perform normal day-to-day activities, get treatment ASAP! You may already have received treatment from ambulance personnel or your local emergency department, but have you followed up with your primary care physician and/or a specialist, like an orthopedic doctor, rheumatologist, gastroenterologist or neurologist?

The longer you wait to get treatment, the more the insurance company will question the severity of your injuries. Don’t take a “wait and see if it gets better” approach. And don’t be afraid to ask the doctor to order tests that will reveal injuries an X-ray can’t, such as an MRI, CT scan or EMG. (To learn more about why an MRI is important, click HERE. To learn more about CT scans, click HERE. What is an EMG? – Click HERE.)

What can I expect from the Law Office of Bainbridge D. Testa, PLLC?

Expect to be treated with respect and compassion. Expect that your phone calls will be promptly returned either the same day or sometimes the following day. Attorney Testa is frequently either in court or traveling to/from court, which can take up much of the day since he represents clients in New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Maine and Vermont. When you call regarding the status of your case, you can expect us to answer all your questions – not only regarding where your case stands now but also what the next step in the process is, and what we – and you – can do at each level to strengthen your case.

What is personal injury protection (also called “PIP” or “no-fault insurance”)?

When you are involved in a motor vehicle accident in Massachusetts – regardless of whether the accident was your fault – you are entitled to have your medical bills and lost wages paid by your own insurance company under the personal injury protection section of your automobile policy. (Massachusetts is one of 13 states in the U.S. that requires automobile owners to carry this type of insurance. The other states are Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Pennsylvania and Utah.

Under Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 90 Section 34M (click HERE to read the law), your auto insurance company will pay the first $2,000 of medical expenses. After the $2,000 is paid, if you have private health insurance, your own health insurance coverage must pay the next $6,000 in medical bills (with the exception of out-of-pocket expenses such as copayments, deductibles and over-the-counter medication, which PIP will continue to cover even after paying the first $2,000 in medical expenses).

This cost-sharing between your automobile and health insurance companies is called “coordination of benefits.”

If you don’t have private health insurance or you have MassHealth through the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, PIP will pay up to $8,000 of your medical bills. PIP will pay “reasonable and necessary” medical and hospital fees. It will also cover other auto accident-related costs incurred within two years of the accident, such as funeral expenses and lost wages.

Lost wages are covered at 75% of your gross pay as long as your missed time from work is accident-related. If you have a short or long-term disability plan through your employer, you cannot receive more than 75% of gross wages when the amounts paid under PIP and your disability plan are added together.

PIP will pay for reasonable and necessary “replacement services” performed by nonfamily members, such as child care, housecleaning and lawn care, if your injuries have prevented you from performing these duties for yourself and/or family members in your household.

Who is entitled to PIP coverage?

PIP covers all occupants of your automobile, you and all household members who were injured while occupying a vehicle that does not have Massachusetts compulsory insurance. PIP also covers any pedestrians, including you, who are injured by a vehicle that does not have insurance or leaves the scene of the accident.

To obtain PIP coverage, what am I required to do?

You must cooperate with the PIP insurer. If you don’t, the insurance company can lawfully deny your claim for PIP benefits. The insurance company will send you a PIP application. You must complete and submit it. Attorney Testa will help you fill out and submit this application for benefits. The PIP insurer can require you to be examined by a doctor chosen by the insurance company. If you fail to attend the exam, your claim can be denied for noncooperation. Attorney Testa will help you obtain your medical records and bills, evidence of your lost wages, any out-of-pocket expenses like health insurance copayments and deductibles, and proof of what you paid, if anything, for replacement services. You are required to sign an authorization giving the PIP insurer permission to obtain this information itself from your employer and medical providers if it chooses to do so.

What won’t be covered under PIP

PIP coverage is limited to $8,000. If your medical bills for accident-related injuries exceed this amount, your health insurer should cover these costs. If you don’t have health insurance or not all of your bills were covered under your health insurance, then the remaining medical bills will be paid by the automobile insurance company that insures the person who caused the accident (assuming you were not at fault for the accident). These remaining medical bills won’t be paid until the case is settled or favorably resolved in court.

Also, PIP won’t compensate you for accident-related pain and suffering. To obtain compensation for pain and suffering, a bodily injury claim must be filed with the responsible party’s insurance company. If they were without automobile insurance at the time of the accident or had too little insurance, then a bodily injury claim can be filed with your own automobile insurance company under the “uninsured” or “underinsured” section of the policy.

Attorney Testa can help you determine which insurance policies are available and the maximum amount that could be paid under each policy.