By Erica L. Pereira, Esq.
All too many people have been in a situation where they get into an automobile accident, through no fault of their own, and sustain injuries as a result. Unfortunately, dealing with the various insurance companies and their coverage issues can be a burdensome and confusing experience, especially while trying to receive treatment for your injuries.
In Massachusetts, most insured individuals have something called Personal Injury Protection (PIP) benefits. This is a mandatory coverage which allows you to obtain payment of medical bills while you are receiving treatment for your injuries as well as payment for lost time from work. If you are in an automobile accident where you sustain injuries, your own insurance company will provide you with PIP benefits up to $8,000.00 for payment of those expenses and missed time from work.
If your injuries were caused by the negligence of another driver, you have the right to collect from the other driver proceeds from his insurance company for your pain and suffering. The other driver’s Bodily Injury (BI) coverage will most often be used to provide recovery on this claim. However, under MA law, the amount of recovery you receive from the BI carrier will be offset by the amount of PIP benefits you receive from your insurance company for payment of your medical bills. This means that if the value of your case is $30,000, that value will be reduced by $8,000 (PIP payment), leaving the value of your case at $22,000.
Recently, the Massachusetts courts have decided a case that might help get injured victims more money. The Appellate Division of the District Court of MA held in DiStefano. v. Jovet that the defendant’s out of state insurance policy was not allowed to take the PIP offset from the Plaintiff’s injuries out of her settlement. The ruling held that because the Defendant’s out of state policy did not provide for PIP coverage on his own policy, he could not lessen the Plaintiff’s recovery by deducting the amount of money paid from her policy for her injuries. This means that if you are injured by a defendant with an out-of -state insurance policy, you may not be required to deduct the amount of medical bills paid by your insurance from your overall recovery for pain and suffering.
Bottom line is that insurance coverage issues are complicated. If you are injured in a motor vehicle accident, you need to take certain steps to assure that your rights are protected. The attorneys at Keches Law Group are experienced in dealing with insurance companies and handling these issues and are available for a consultation to assure that the best possible steps are taken to protect your rights.