Boston is well-known for our seafood, world-class medical care, and even our drivers. Tourists in Boston may get a few tips from the Boston Discovery Guide to help them navigate our confusing streets, and likely receive warnings about our drivers. Boston was ranked for several years as having the worst drivers in the United States.
While Boston has shed this distinction, this does not mean you should travel unaware of your surroundings. Over just three years, more than 400,000 accidents occurred on Massachusetts roadways. These accidents resulted in nearly 100,000 injuries and more than 1,000 fatalities.
Rear End Collisions Catch Drivers Off Guard
When you head off to work, the supermarket, or to visit a friend, you remain diligent about knowing what is happening on the road around you. Changing traffic signals, confusing road signs, and erratic drivers may seem like something you would notice. However, what you may not notice is the driver behind you is traveling a bit faster than they should, putting you in danger if you must stop suddenly.
Some common reasons rear-end collisions occur include:
- Tailgating – The Massachusetts driving manual states, “Use the ‘three-second’ rule to keep a safe distance from the vehicle in front of you.” While this is a good rule of thumb, it is common to see bumper-to-bumper traffic in Boston. While you are traveling in heavily congested areas, it is often exceedingly difficult to keep any distance between vehicles. A sudden stop by a car in the front of the line can create chaos for everyone in the same line of traffic.
- Distracted drivers – Let’s face it, drivers do not always give our undivided attention to what is happening around them. Cell phones, even hands-free, can occupy a driver’s attention, taking attention away from what is happening around them. When a driver fails to see what is going on, the chances of a rear end accident are higher.
- Impatient drivers – Massachusetts was one of the last states to enact right-turn-on-red rules. While these rules may help drivers navigate Boston roadways, they also create problems when one driver is hurrying and the lead driver focuses on wants to avoid cutting a corner too quickly.
If you are a victim of an accident involving a rear-end collision, seek medical attention immediately. Once you have treated your injuries, seek guidance from a Boston car accident attorney so you know your rights.
Establishing Fault Following a Rear End Collision
Every driver must maintain a safe distance on the road. Drivers must remain in control of their cars. Generally, you might assume that if a car rear-ends you, they are automatically at fault. However, it is not always this crystal clear—not to you, and not to the driver who hit you in the rear end.
Here are some possible scenarios where the driver who struck you may not be entirely at fault for the accident:
- Mechanical failure – When a driver’s brakes give out, they may not be entirely to blame for your accident or the injuries you sustain. The driver who suffers a mechanical failure may be operating a commercial vehicle and therefore, other parties may be partially liable for the accident.
- Second car strikes – A driver may rear-end you because they were struck from behind by another vehicle. This could mean the driver in the vehicle who caused the initial rear-end collision is at fault.
- Avoiding an accident – A driver may swerve into a lane without sufficient room, striking you from behind. In these cases, multiple drivers may cause the accident and your injuries.
Rear-end collisions are not always as straightforward as they appear to be in the moments following an accident.
Rear End Collision Injuries Can Be Serious
Anytime you are involved in a car accident, you run the risk of serious injury. Rear-end collisions can be devastating to the victim who often does not have time to brace themselves for the impact of a crash.
Some of the injuries a victim may suffer include:
- Neck, shoulder, and upper back injuries – One of the most common types of injury in a rear-end accident is whiplash, caused by sudden forward movement. It can result in weeks or months of pain. Whiplash pain can be excruciating, and according to Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, the pain can last for weeks. Victims may experience muscle spasms, shoulder pain, dizziness, and headaches as well as stiffness following a whiplash injury.
- Arm and wrist injuries – We seldom think about how we expose our wrists and arms when driving. However, in an accident, they are vulnerable to injuries. This is especially true when a driver knows they are about to be struck from the rear. Unfortunately, it is our nature to brace for an accident, which can result in wrist sprains, dislocated shoulders, tendon damage, and in more serious cases, broken wrists, or stress fractures.
- Facial injuries and disfigurement – The forward motion of a rear end accident can mean the driver, or a passenger bangs their face on the steering wheel or dashboard. This type of impact can break noses, teeth, and jaws, which can mean weeks or months of pain and the need for reconstructive surgery. Broken glass may also cause lacerations of the face and scalp, resulting in stitches and permanent scarring.
- Other injuries – Broken bones, traumatic brain injuries (TBI), crushing injuries are all common problems following a rear and accident. Victims should seek immediate medical attention and follow all doctor’s orders after a car accident injury.
Document your injuries so when you speak with a Boston car accident lawyer, you will have the information they need to evaluate your case. Keep in mind, the symptoms of an injury may not be noticeable in the immediate aftermath of an accident, so pay attention to any signals your body is giving you.
Auto Insurance Coverage in Massachusetts
Massachusetts requires all drivers to maintain a certain level of auto insurance
- Injury to others – Drivers must maintain a minimum of $20,000 per person with a minimum of $40,000 per accident coverage for bodily injury victims suffer in an accident.
- Personal injury protection – Most commonly called “PIP” coverage, drivers on Massachusetts roadways must provide proof of $8,000 coverage when registering their vehicle.
- Uninsured motorist – As with injury-to-others coverage, $20,000 per person with a minimum of $40,000 per accident coverage for bodily injury victims suffer in an accident.
- Property damage – All drivers must maintain at least $5,000 for any damage caused to property during an accident.
These minimums are low when you stop and consider the high cost of medical care. Victims who suffer a serious injury in a Boston rear-end accident could easily see $20,000 in medical expenses. This is before they deal with lost wages and other costs associated with their injury.
What to Be Aware of When Filing a Rear-End Accident Claim in Boston
Massachusetts is a no-fault insurance state. This means when you are in an accident, you first file a claim with your insurance company with no need to prove fault. However, this will only cover medical bills up to the amount of your policy limits. Some victims may find the expenses they incur following a car accident are significantly higher than these limits.
Before a victim can file a personal injury lawsuit against the driver who was responsible for their injuries, they must demonstrate their costs for reasonable medical care exceed $2,000, or they have suffered a serious injury. While the term serious injury is somewhat broad, in general, you can consider an injury serious if a bone was broken, if you lost vision or hearing because of the accident, or if you suffered disfigurement or scarring.
If you file a claim with your own insurance company, they may deny your claim or offer you a low settlement. In either case, you need an attorney to advocate for you.
Economic and Non-Economic Damages Following a Collision
Being treated for your injuries may be one of the most significant costs associated with your being in a car accident. If you go to the hospital for treatment, undergo tests, or remain under a doctor’s care for a couple of weeks following an accident, the medical bills can pile up. An average day in a Boston hospital with a broken leg can mean a hospital bill of as much as $3,500.
With no-fault coverage, non-economic damages—specifically pain and suffering, emotional distress, loss of enjoyment—are not covered at all. Victims can only recover “reasonable” medical costs when filing a claim with their own insurance company.
However, if one can step outside the no-fault system because they meet the criteria you may collect those non-economic damages plus other forms of compensation, including:
- Lost wages – While you are recovering and can’t work, you may recover the wages you lose. Wages may cover bonuses, overtime, and other benefits you would have earned while you were working.
- Home modifications – If your injuries required in-home modifications such as a stairlift, hospital bed, or other changes, you may recover those costs when filing a personal injury lawsuit.
- Other expenses – Victims may have to incur other expenses, including daycare, home cleaning services, landscaping services while they recover from their injuries. If these expenses are not in the usual course of running their home, you may recover them through a car accident lawsuit against the responsible party.
Make sure you understand your rights following a Boston rear-end collision. Usually, the first offer is lower than the compensation you may collect if you hired a lawyer to negotiate with the insurer.
Boston Car Accident Attorneys and Rear End Collision Claims
A rear end accident can change your life. Even if you were only out of work for a short time, you suffered economically. You may have needed to dip into savings or gone into debt. Regardless, you should not have to suffer the financial repercussions of an accident in which you were not at fault.
Working with a car accident lawyer makes sense. An attorney with a track record of standing up to insurers can make a difference in your claim.
Rather than accept the first offer an insurance company makes, review the offer with a Boston rear-end collision professional to get the most compensation possible. Do it for yourself and your family.