At-Fault Accident Surcharges can result in the suspension of your license in Massachusetts and they can also be used to require you to take a mandatory 8 hour driver re-training class.
An accident is surchargeable in Massachusetts if you were determined to be more than 50% at fault for the collision and the insurance company pays more than $500 in claims. Your insurance company can presume that you are at-fault based on how the accident happened. For example, if you rear-ended another vehicle, you will automatically be presumed to be at fault and you may be assessed an insurance surcharge. When this happens, your insurance company is required to mail a notice to your home stating that you have been presumed to be at-fault for the accident. You have thirty (30) days to appeal the surcharge to the Board of Appeal at the Division of Insurance.
The notice advising you that your insurance company has decided that you were at-fault for the accident has two sides. The appeal process is described on the bottom of the front side of the surcharge notice. The actual surcharge appeal form is on the back side of the surcharge notice. You must complete the form and return it to the Board of Appeal at the Division of Insurance within 30 days of the notice.
Filing an appeal with the Board of Appeal does not prevent your insurance company from increasing your insurance premium. However, if the Division of Insurance ultimately decides that you were not more than 50% at fault, the insurance company will issue you a refund of the additional monies paid as a result of the surcharge.
At present, it takes approximately 9 months for surcharge hearings to be held. The Board of Appeal will mail you a Notice of Hearing when your case date has been scheduled to be heard. If the Appeals Board upholds the surcharge, it will remain on your driving record and the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles can use this surcharge to impose a 60 day license suspension for 7 surchargeable events. However, the Registry cannot rely on at-fault accident surcharges to impose Habitual Traffic Offender Revocations.
While the Merit Rating Board and the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles can maintain permanent records of at fault and surchargeable accidents, insurance companies cannot use these records to increase your insurance premium for accidents or traffic violations which occurred more than five years prior to the effective date of your automobile insurance policy.
If an at fault accident has triggered a license suspension for 7 surchargeable events, contact a RMV lawyer. We may be able to get the accident surcharge vacated and get your driver’s license reinstated.