How long an accident remains on your driving record is a question many drivers and clients ask since accident claims will generally affect your insurance rates. Whether an accident will raise your premiums often depends on:
- the state where you carry your license
- your liability carrier
- if the accident was your fault
- number of prior accidents
- severity of the accident
In most states, car accidents remain on a driver’s record from 3 to 5 years. In Massachusetts, a liability insurer cannot look back more than 6-years for accidents or traffic violations in determining your rates. For more serious incidents like DUI, it can affect insurance rates for at least 3 years and longer if you have multiple DUI convictions or suspensions, but a vehicular homicide conviction will generally remain on your driving record permanently. As a Massachusetts driver, if your record is clean over this 6-year, you can qualify for “accident forgiveness” provided your liability carrier has such a program, meaning that even an accident that was your fault will not affect your premiums after that time period. However, DUIs and vehicular homicide or use of your car as a deadly weapon are not included.
Car Accidents and Insurance Rates in Massachusetts
In no-fault states like Massachusetts, you are required to report to the RMV and to make a claim with your own insurer in an injury or property damage accident if more than $500. No-fault means that you are eligible to receive PIP, or personal injury protection, benefits regardless of fault. You can obtain up to $8.000 in medical, lost earnings, and other losses depending on whether you have private medical insurance.
You can ask your insurer about discounts you may qualify for in getting reduced rates. These often include:
- Active military or veterans
- AAA members and members of other organizations or associations
- Paying your premium upfront and in full each year
- Have your premiums automatically paid each month
- Student discounts for good grades
- Bundling home and auto
At-Fault Hearings in Massachusetts
In any case, filing a claim can affect your premiums. In our state, however, if you can prove that the accident was either not your fault or that you were no more than 50% at fault, then insurers cannot raise your rates. If your insurer insists that an accident was your fault, or that your degree of liability was more than 50%, you can challenge their determination in a hearing. You should be issued a Notice of At-Fault Determination or a Surcharge Notice if your auto insurer determines that:
- You were more than 50% at fault
- It paid out more than $1,000 on the claim
- You fall into one of the 19 Standard of Fault categories found in the Division of Insurance regulations (i.e., collision with a parked vehicle, rear-end collision, failing to signal, certain out-of-lane collisions, driving on the wrong side of the road, collision at uncontrolled intersection, etc.)
If you did not receive a Notice, contact your insurer and ask for the Notice or request a late appeal from the Merit Rating Board of the Registry of Motor Vehicles, which has a non-refundable fee of $50.
Be sure to have adequate and supporting documentation. For instance, if the traffic accident report prepared by a traffic officer contains incorrect information, you can add a page or a supplementation with your version of events and statements made at the scene. Also include if applicable:
- Witness statements
- Property damage assessments
- Opinions of auto mechanics or experts
- Dash cam video or surveillance video of the accident
Since these hearings are not done live but by phone, be sure to submit your documents to the RMV so the reviewing officer has time to look at them. If you need assistance, contact a car accident lawyer from the law firm of Burns and Jain who can handle the process for you.
Damages in Car Accident Injury Claims
Damages in any car accident injury claim vary widely. Insurers will require that you submit or offer supporting documentation before it will offer reasonable or satisfactory compensation. Damages typically include:
- Past and future medical expenses
- Past and future income loss
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Diminished quality of life
- Permanent disability or disfigurement
- Spousal claim for loss of consortium
Retain a Car Accident Lawyer from Burns and Jain
Car accident claims often have contested claims of liability and/or damages. Having an experienced car accident lawyer handling your claim can ensure you get the compensation your claim deserves. Call a car accident lawyer from Burns and Jain at (617) 250-8256 for a free consultation about your accident injury claim.