Massachusetts Car Accident Laws

If you’re in a car accident in Massachusetts, you’ll need to know state car accident laws to file a report or claim damages.
Written by Sarah Williams
Reviewed by Kathleen Flear
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If you’re in a car accident in
Massachusetts
, you are required to file a Motor Vehicle Crash Operator Report with the RMV and forward it to the police. You can claim damages through your insurance policy or a personal injury lawsuit in accordance with your level of fault. 
When you’re standing on the side of I-90 staring at the remnants of your beloved Honda Civic, filing an accident report is probably the last thing on your mind. That’s why it’s important to learn the nitty-gritty of your state’s car accident laws before you’re left scrambling to piece it all together after the shock of an accident. 
Here to walk you through Massachusetts car accident laws is the
car insurance
broker app,
Jerry
. We’ll cover everything from accident reporting to the laws around fault and compensation in the Bay State. 
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What to do after a crash: Massachusetts car accident reporting laws

If you are involved in a car accident, the first thing to do
after a car accident
is to make sure that everyone is okay. Check your passengers and yourself for injuries or signs of concussion, move your car out of harm’s way, and call 911 if anyone requires medical attention. 
Then, document the crash in any way you can—take photos of the damage, write down as many details of the scene as you can, and talk to any witnesses. You also must exchange insurance information with the other drivers involved in the crash. 
In Massachusetts, you may need to report the accident to three separate places: 
  • The police
  • The Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV)
  • Your insurance company 

When to report an accident in Massachusetts

According to Massachusetts General Laws (M.G.L.) Chapter 90, Section 26, anyone who was operating a motor vehicle involved in an accident must complete the
Motor Vehicle Crash Operator Report
form if:
  • Any person was killed
  • Any person was injured 
  • There was damage of over $1,000 to any vehicle or other property
This form must be completed within five days and be submitted to the RMV and the police unless you have been physically incapacitated. Send a copy to the police department with jurisdiction over the location where the accident took place.
If the driver—but not the owner—is physically incapacitated, the responsibility to submit the form to the RMV and police falls on the vehicle owner. Failing to comply with these regulations could lead to a
license suspension
or revocation. 
To prepare for your report, make sure you have information on the following:
  • Crash location
  • Your vehicle
  • Driver and all passengers
  • Other vehicles involved
  • Any non-motorist(s) involved
  • Crash conditions
  • Crash diagram
  • Witness information
  • Property damage information
  • Description of what happened
The form also provides the option to forward the accident report to your insurance company. 

Financial responsibility and coverage minimums: Massachusetts’s insurance laws

Every state has different
minimum insurance requirements
to drive legally. In Massachusetts, you are required to carry:
The state of Massachusetts takes this minimum coverage seriously. Without it, you could face heavy penalties, including having your vehicle impounded, a license suspension of up to one year, a fine of up to $5,000, and up to one year in prison.
It’s no surprise that only 3.5% of drivers in Massachusetts are uninsured. 
MORE: How different types of car accidents affect your insurance rates

Claiming damages after an accident: Massachusetts’s personal injury laws

Massachusetts is a
no-fault state
, which means that regardless of who is at fault in an accident, your own insurance will pay for your property damage and medical bills. Because of this, you will need to turn to your insurance company first to file your claim
That said, your insurance does not cover things like lost wages or pain and suffering. You'll need to file a lawsuit for these costs that go beyond your policy limits. 
You may file a personal injury lawsuit in Massachusetts for one of two reasons: 
  1. Injuries have cost you more than $2,000 in reasonable medical expenses.
  2. Injuries are severe and permanent, causing a long-term effect on your quality of life. This includes broken bones, lost vision or hearing, disfigurement, loss of a family member, etc. 
In other words, you have the right to claim both economic and non-economic damages associated with a car accident. Those include: 
  • Economic damages: Medical bills, loss of use of property, lost wages, lost employment or business opportunities, burial expenses
  • Non-economic damages: Pain and suffering, inconvenience, mental suffering, humiliation
If you are going to file a personal injury claim, time is of the essence. The statute of limitations for car accidents and personal injury claims in Massachusetts is three years. If you don’t file your claim within that time, the court may refuse your case.

Who’s to blame: Massachusetts’s comparative negligence law

One of the biggest questions following any car accident is: who is at fault? In Massachusetts, each party will receive damages based on what percentage of fault they carry. In theory, both parties could receive compensation, but the amount will vary depending on their percentage of fault. 
This is known as a
comparative negligence
standard of law. Massachusetts is one of only 12 states that follow this rule, which is good news for drivers. Keep in mind that the rules could change if you are in an accident across state borders. 

How to save money on car insurance in Massachusetts

In Massachusetts,
insurance premiums go up
by an average of 66% after an at-fault accident. Ultimately, it will depend on your provider, meaning finding the right
car insurance
becomes more important than ever. Save yourself the headache (and the money!) and let
Jerry
do the shopping for you. 
All you have to do is download the app, enter your information, and review quotes from top insurance providers. Jerry’s team of licensed agents will help you lock in your savings and can even help cancel your old plan.
On average, Jerry users save over $800 a year on car insurance! 
Jerry
makes choosing new insurance as easy as grocery shopping. Even though I had a car accident within the past 2 years, Jerry found me a great deal with Nationwide–I went from paying $340 to $90 a month!”—Pan N.
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