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Common Situation 10 – Not Quite a Hit & Run, But…

Common Insurance Situations in Mass Auto Accidents

Common Situation 10

A passenger in a vehicle is mildly shaken up in a two-car accident. Obviously, the passenger has the information on the vehicle in which he/she is riding but neglects to get the information on the other vehicle. What implications does this have for insurance coverage?

Answer to Common Situation 10

If there is negligence alleged on the driver of the passenger’s car, the passenger can recover from that vehicle under Part 5, guest coverage, optional bodily injury. (For the reasons stated in Hypotheticals 1-3, Part 1 is not available.)

Where this situation gets tricky is if there is negligence on the other car, the car, which is unknown and left the scene presumably because no one was hurt. If the passenger can establish “that she did not realize that she had been injured until [the other vehicle] had departed, then the accident qualifies as a hit and run accident, and coverage under the policy exists.” Pilgrim Insurance Co. v. Molard, 73 Mass. App. Ct. 326 (2008). Hit and run is relevant because the standard Massachusetts Auto Insurance Policy allows compensation under Part 3 if the vehicle cannot be identified. In fact, under the right circumstances, there need not be a hit or a run to recover under Part 3. Surrey v. Lumbermen’s Mutual Casualty Co., 384 Mass. 171 (1981), Commerce Insurance Co. v. Mendonca, 57 Mass. App. Ct. 522 (2003). See also Goodman v. American Casualty Co., 419 Mass. 138 (1994) which requires the insurer to show prejudice if the policyholder gave late notice.

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