How To File a Massachusetts Auto Accident Claim
The following is provided by the Massachusetts Bar Association which does a great job of explaining what to do if you have been involved in an auto accident in Massachusetts:
Subsequent to this, you should file an accident report with the local police and the Registry of Motor Vehicles. Every accident involving more than $1,000 in property damage or involving a personal injury must be reported to the police and Registry under Massachusetts state law. Forms for doing so can be obtained from the police or from your insurance agent.
After making this report, you should notify your insurance agent that you have been involved in an accident. You should be prepared to provide the agent with information regarding where and when the accident occurred as well as the identifying information of the other parties involved.
This initial report of the accident is very important so you should make sure your information is as accurate as possible. If you have not yet felt the need to see a doctor at the time of your call, do not say you are not injured. Simply state you have not sought medical attention. Some injuries may not surface till days after an accident. Your claim for these injuries may be viewed with undue suspicion if you have stated that you were not hurt in your initial report.
After your initial oral report, your insurance company will send you a report form to verify and elaborate on the information you have previously given. You should fill this in as carefully as possible, but should not guess at speeds and distances involved if you are not sure of them.
If you have suffered an injury in the accident, you are entitled to up to $8,000 in medical payments and lost wages under no fault or personal injury protection benefits. However, this figure may be changed by any deductibles and additional coverage you may have chosen. Generally, your own health insurance will be responsible for medical expenses after the first two thousand dollars. You will not receive compensation for lost wages if you are eligible for worker’s compensation or are covered by an additional insurance plan that will pay your wages.
If you are injured, you should request a personal injury protection claim form from your insurance company. If you have problems filling out this form, an attorney may assist you at little or no charge. If you do consult an attorney, however, make sure you discuss his charges before having him assist you. By doing this, you may avoid confusion later.
When you file a claim, make sure you write down the date and time, the names of anyone you spoke to, and your claim number. You should also keep copies of any documents you submit to the police, Registry, or insurance company for your records.
As part of the investigation of the accident, you will often be contacted by an insurance adjuster or investigator from either your company or the company insuring the other driver. If you are contacted by an adjuster, make sure to note his name, the company for which he works, and the date and time you spoke with him.
If you are asked by an adjuster if you mind being recorded, make sure you state on the record that you want a copy of the transcript of the conversation. You should also state you want the right to correct any problems in your statement within a reasonable amount of time.
You are not under any obligation to speak to a representative of an insurance company insuring another driver. Further, if you are being represented by an attorney, you should not give a statement.
Refer the adjuster or investigator directly to you attorney.
As part of their investigation, an insurance company may request that you see their doctor. Before going to this appointment you should consult with your own doctor concerning your condition. You should also get from him a complete copy of your medical history in case it is requested by the insurance company.
The doctor provided by the insurance company should be the same type as the one currently treating you. Keep in mind that the insurance company’s doctor has been hired to protect the interests of the insurance company. While you should cooperate with this doctor, it is important that answer his questions carefully. It may be advisable to attend this appointment with another person who can stay with you throughout the entire exam.
If you disagree with the adjustor’s estimate of property damage to your vehicle, you can contest it. Be prepared to provide proof that your car had special features that made it more valuable than the standard industry estimate or book value of your vehicle.
If you feel you may have more than two thousand dollars worth of medical bills, have a fracture, or have a disfiguring injury, you may be able to sue the other driver for pain and suffering. You should consult with a private attorney about the procedure for doing so.
For additional information and questions regarding auto insurance law, you may want to contact the Insurance Commissioner’s Consumer Division at (617) 521-7777.