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Is Compulsory Coverage Enough for Massachusetts Personal Injury?

Car accidents can be devastating, medically, emotionally, and financially, particularly when they result in personal injury. We have all dealt with the process of buying car insurance and, for the substantial majority of us, it's a minor formality associated with buying a car. The focus, of course, is on the shiny new car. But, when you've been in a car accident, the insurance is the purchase that will really matter. In our last article, we discussed auto insurance generally and the compulsory coverage more specifically. Here we'll talk through whether compulsory coverage will be enough if you are in a car accident.

When you are injured in a car accident, the compulsory coverage is almost undoubtedly inadequate. That's because between the PIP max of $8,000 and the bodily injury coverage of $20,000, any substantial personal injury will be woefully uncompensated. The max recovery there would be $28,000. Okay, well for those of you with relatively minor injuries, this may seem like enough. That may be true, but before you come to that conclusion, do the math.

If you take on the claims process without an attorney, you would not need to give up a third of the recovery to your personal injury lawyer, but you'd be disadvantaged in dealing with the claims adjuster. It would not be the claims adjuster's responsibility to explain to you all of your rights. It would not be the claims adjuster's responsibility to ensure you are treated fairly and equitably. Rather, it is the claims adjuster's responsibility to assess the claim in the light most favorable to the insurance company and, accordingly, keep the recovery at as low of a number as justifiable. So, although you may get a larger percentage of the recovery dealing directly with the claims adjuster, you simultaneously are required to negotiate with an experienced adjuster with only having it personally subjective view of your case. So, there are pros and cons to either approach, so just keep them in mind as we go through this calculation. If you were to recover the entirety of the $8000 in the $20,000, totaling $28,000, your total net proceeds would be roughly $21,000. That's because most personal injury lawyers, including our firm, do not take a portion of your PIP money in our fee.

Knowing the difference between your recovery if you maxed out a policy of this nature, whether you have an attorney or not, let's go through some hypotheticals.

Let's say he was struck as a pedestrian when crossing in a crosswalk, resulting in personal injuries. Let's further say traffic had come to stop and the signal indicated it was safe to cross. So, in this scenario liability of the person who struck you as clear. On to your injury. Let's say when the vehicle struck you, the front fender of the vehicle hit your knee and you are thrown onto the foot of the vehicle, bouncing off, and landing on street. Your adrenaline is pumping and although you feel you may be injured, you also feel like you could stand up and continue walking on your way. The next day your knee is throbbing and after a trip to the ER you realize that you've been seriously injured. Your soon seen by her primary care physician and an orthopedic surgeon and you realize after some additional testing that you'll require surgery. About a month later you have outpatient surgery and you start the recovery process. That involves going to physical therapy and couple days week for several months until you are fully recovered. Six months after the accident, your medical bills are approximately $25,000. You are entitled to compensation under the PIP and bodily injury coverage types of the auto insurance. Because you're a pedestrian, the taxes the PIP policy of the individual who hit you with his car. There is simply no way for you to fully recover under the auto insurance policy. You have likely missed out on wages, is clearly at and suffering, you endured the inconvenience of having to go to the hospital and doctors appointments and physical therapy. He likely missed out on a number of other activities that you otherwise would have enjoyed. The value of your case is probably closer to $100,000. But, you'll only get $28,000. In this scenario, the compulsory coverage is inadequate.

Let's add in fact to create a new scenario. Let's take all of the above facts include them in this version. Let's now add the fact that you carelessly wandered into the street, not in a crosswalk, all traffic was heavily moving, and at a point in the road where it would be difficult for oncoming traffic to see you. You now have some level of comparative fault in the equation. That factor will reduce the value of your personal injury case. The reasoning, is that if you were equally at fault as the driver vehicle which struck you, your recovery with the bar. It is unclear until you actually get before a jury before you really know how the percentage of fault will be assessed between you, the personal injury victim, and the driver of the vehicle. So, the value of the case goes down by percentage in both the minds of the claims adjuster and in, hopefully, your mind. Let's say that in this particular case, we have determined that you could be assessed as being 25% at fault. And that means that the case is valued at $100,000, your recovery would only get $75,000. So here again we see a scenario in which, even though there is some shared level of responsibility and negligence, the complex recovery is still inadequate.

You should be starting to see the trend here. Whenever significant damages, compulsory coverage is just simply inadequate. Health care is expensive and medical bills can rise significantly in a very short period of time for relatively minor injuries. Factor in the other components of recovery, the other damage types, and $28,000 is simply not enough. Whether or not you hire a Massachusetts personal injury lawyer, compulsory coverage is likely only adequate in the most minor of cases. Read our blog entries on optional coverage to understand who you can likely obtain much greater coverage for a small investment.

The information on this website is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this site should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship.

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