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Auto Insurance for Personal Injuries-A Brief Guide

Posted October 17, 2016

By Jonathan Karon

In Massachusetts, there are three major sources of automobile insurance benefits for persons injured in automobile accidents. The first is Personal Injury Protection benefits, known as “PIP”. This coverage comes from your own automobile insurance policy. It covers the first $2000 of accident related medical bills if you have health insurance. (If you don’t have health insurance or covered by Medicare or Mass Health it can cover up to $8000 in medical bills). It also provides reimbursement of 75% of your actual out of pocket lost wages due to the accident. The maximum amount of PIP benefits payable is $8000. These are no fault benefits, meaning that you are entitled to them, even if the accident was your fault.

If your medical expenses exceed $2000 or if you sustained a broken bone or other serious injury, you have the right to bring a claim against a negligent driver who caused the crash. If you can show that the other driver did not behave with reasonable care you can be entitled to compensation for your medical expenses-both those already incurred and reasonably probable to be necessary in the future; your lost earning capacity; and your pain and suffering which includes both the physical pain and emotional upset experienced as well as any other ways in which your injuries have made your life worse. The source of recovery for this is the negligent driver’s liability coverage. In Massachusetts, drivers must have at least $20,000 in liability coverage for any one person who is injured in an accident, although many persons have a higher amount of coverage.

Sometimes the amount of liability insurance covering the negligent driver is not enough to fairly compensate an injured person (for example, medical bills alone might exceed the amount of liability coverage). There is an optional coverage, called underinsurance, which you can purchase to protect yourself in this circumstance. For example, if you purchase underinsurance coverage of $100,000 then there will always be up to $100,000 in available coverage if you are injured in an automobile accident. This does not mean that your auto insurer will be required to pay $100,000, just that up to $100,000 is potentially available if your injuries and damages warrant that amount.  This is usually not expensive coverage and I recommend that everyone purchase at least $100,000 in underinsurance to protect themselves.

Obviously, the foregoing is just a brief guide and if you have questions regarding what coverages may be available for your situation or how to protect your rights you should should feel free to contact me.

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