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Can you sue outside the limits of the no-fault system in MA?

If you sustain injuries in a car accident in Massachusetts, you may wonder if you can sue the other driver for damages. Unfortunately, in most instances, the answer is no, as Massachusetts is a no-fault state.

As a no-fault state, Massachusetts law requires you to carry a substantial amount of auto insurance coverage. One type of coverage you must purchase is personal injury protection insurance. Your PIP must cover up to $8,000 per person per accident. Sometimes, though, $8,000 is not enough to cover the cost of medical expenses or damages. If this is the case, you may wonder if you can sue outside the limits set forth by the no-fault system. The answer depends.

The threshold for suing beyond the no-fault system

According to FindLaw, The Bay State does allow you to step outside of the no-fault system and take your case to court if you meet a specified threshold. The threshold is narrow and allows for only two exceptions to the no-fault laws:

  • You incurred at least $2,000 in reasonable medical expenses; and
  • Your injuries include serious and permanent disfigurement, broken or fractured bone, or substantial vision or hearing loss.

The “and” here is very important. If you incur $2,000 in reasonable medical expenses but your injury does fall in line with the second eligibility requirement, you cannot sue the at-fault party.

The same statute of limitations applies

If you do meet the state’s threshold for suing a third party for damages sustained in a car accident, you must file your claim within the statute of limitations. According to state law, you have three years from the date of the accident to file a claim for personal injury and/or property damage. If you fail to file your claim within that three years, you forfeit all rights to recovery.

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