In Massachusetts, unless combined damage is less than $500, drivers that are found “at-fault” are assessed points. If over $2,000 is paid out the accident is considered “major” and 4 points are applied to the driver’s driving record. If less than $2,000 is paid out then the accident is considered “minor” and 3 points are applied. If less than $500, there are no surcharge points.
There are two burdens of proof when it comes to an at-fault accident. The first burden of proof is with the insurance company. Who, in the accident, was more at fault. There are certain “rules of the road” that assit claim handlers when deciding fault. Some example of “at fault” accidents are: taking a left hand turn, pulling out of a parking space, leaving a stop or yield sign, rear-ending someone, or being in a single vehicle collision. If you have broken one of these “rules of the road,” then you will, most likely, be found “at-fault” for the auto accident.
Once you have deemed found “at-fault” for an accident by the insurance, you will receive a surcharge notice from The Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
The second burden of proof is with the state. Unlike the insurance companies that deem someone at-fault (unless the accident is considered a 50%-50%) for an accident, the state will consider contributing factors in the accident when it comes to applying the surcharge.
In other words, if you rear end someone in an auto accident, your insurance company will find you “at-fault” for the accident and they will have to pay for damages. You will then receive a surcharge notice from the state. For a fee of $50 you can appeal the surcharge. If the accident was weather related, we always recommend our clients fight the surcharge. If there were other contributing factors, such as, ice, snow, rain, sun in the eyes, or the other vehicle suddenly stopped short because a family of ducks were crossing and you rear-ending the other party was unavoidable, then you stand a real good chance of winning the appeal.
If you have been surcharged for an accident, and if you believe you were less than 50% at-fault, you may contact the Massachusetts Merit Rating Board to appeal.
Merit Rating Board @ 617-351-4400