A surprising number of times the issue arises as to whether there can be a claim for personal injuries where there has been no contact between automobiles or, theoretically, between an automobile and a pedestrian. This issue arises especially in the case of motorcycle accidents where my clients, the motorcycle operators, in an attempt to avoid a collision caused by an oncoming car will “put down” the motorcycle. The simple answer is that a motor vehicle accident, indeed one that is actionable, can occur in the absence of contact. The Massachusetts Auto Insurance Policy defines accident as “an unexpected and intended event that causes bodily injury” arising out of the use of an auto. To see the complete definition, consult page 2 of the Auto Policy. Clearly, then, there need not be contact between the injured party and the offending vehicle. It may be that evasive action was required such that a motorist had to drive off the road to avoid an out of control car. It is not hard to understand that the vehicle which went off the road had a driver or passengers who were injured. Quite simply, contact is not required and any insurer who raises that defense is not being faithful to the terms of the Policy or Massachusetts case law. Moreover, they are going against decades of well-settled case law in Massachusetts as described in Massachusetts Practice, Motor Vehicle Law and Practice and Related Topics, Section 7.3, H “Liability Without Contact,” West Publishing, 3rd Edition.
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