INSIGHTS On Massachusetts Personal Injury Law

Welcome to the SUGARMAN blog. We'll be sharing our perspectives on the state of the law and current legal issues in Massachusetts personal injury law. Issues relating to medical malpractice, construction site injuries, premises liability, product liability, motor vehicle accidents, insurance, and more will all be reviewed here by our team of lawyers who have prosecuted some of the most complex cases in Massachusetts personal injury law.

Articles Posted in Liability Insurance

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The insurance marketplace is a complicated and unfamiliar world to many.  In the non-business context, insurance relationships usually begin with a consumer requesting certain coverage from a broker, such as automobile or homeowners insurance.  Many allegations of broker negligence arise out of the broker’s failure to place the coverage requested by the client.  Harm comes to the client when he/she is involved in an accident or other event that makes him/her liable to pay money damages.  The client may become personally responsible to make payments out of his/her own pocket because the broker failed to procure the requested insurance that otherwise would have covered the loss.  Where a broker promises to obtain insurance but erroneously fails to do so, the client may hold the broker legally responsible for the promised coverage.

A professional selling insurance in Massachusetts must have specific industry knowledge and be “licensed under the laws of the Commonwealth to sell, solicit or negotiate insurance.”  G.L. c. 175, sec. 162H; see also sections 162H to 162X. Consumers typically rely on a broker’s advice and guidance regarding which coverage is applicable and which provides the best value for the premium charged.  Once the broker promises to obtain the coverage, he/she will be responsible for any errors and/or omissions in failing to properly bind the policy.  A broker must exercise reasonable skill and diligence in obtaining coverage.  However, the more a broker holds himself/herself out as an expert and the longer a broker services a client, the more likely the broker may be held responsible for not procuring proper coverage levels.

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Motor vehicle accidents are a daily occurrence. Sometimes accidents are minor, resulting in property damage and temporary bruising. But sometimes an accident is much more serious. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported 334 fatal car crashes in Massachusetts in 2009 (the estimate for 2010 is similar). When someone is seriously injured or killed in an car accident, the financial and personal cost to the victim and their family is tremendous. Under these circumstances, an investigation would be done to determine if the accident was caused by someone else’s negligent driving, and if so, a claim would be made against that person’s automobile insurance carrier.

All automobiles registered in Massachusetts are required to carry liability insurance to compensate those injured by negligent driving. It does not matter if the driver owns the automobile or not; if one’s negligent driving causes an accident that results in someone being injured; and the injured person has accident-related medical expenses exceeding $2,000, or has suffered a fracture, loss of limb, sight or hearing, serious disfigurement or was killed in the crash, then the insurance on the car responsible for the accident applies. (There are certain exceptions to this rule, such as if your vehicle was stolen or otherwise operated without your consent). If the injuries do not meet any of the legal liability criteria above, then the injured party is limited to the no-fault accident benefits available from their own automobile insurer (see prior posting on this blog from September 17, 2010, for an explanation of Massachusetts No-Fault Automobile Insurance Law.
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