Rhode Island residents injured in an auto accident in Massachusetts may have been told that Massachusetts is a no-fault State. The next reaction is to ask - What does that mean? This is a question I am asked quite frequently since our lovely State is so small it is not uncommon for Rhode Island drivers to find themselves in a car crash in Massachusetts.
No-fault liability is a program in which injured people collect money (for medical bills and lost wages) directly from their own insurance company regardless of who was at fault. This program is what is commonly referred to as PIP, or personal injury protection. It does not mean that the person who rear-ended you is not at fault for the accident. It is simply a program intended to reduce the number of lawsuits by allowing people to collect money from their own insurance company.
The benefit of a no-fault system is that it allows an at-fault driver to be compensated for his or her injuries. The drawback is that it limits the ability of an injured person, not at fault for the accident, to sue for damages. It should also be noted that PIP does not pay damages for pain and suffering.
An injured person, not at fault for the accident, can still bring a claim against the at-fault driver so long as the injury meets certain thresholds. In other words, if the injury is serious enough (i.e. scarring, fractures, etc) or the medical bills are greater than $2000.00, the injured party meets the injury threshold and can bring a claim against the at-fault driver.
In a nutshell - if you are seriously injured in an auto accident in Massachusetts, the no-fault laws will not seriously affect your claim. If, however, the injury is minor and the treatment minimal, you may be compensated solely by PIP.