Unfortunately for Massachusetts motorists, it’s that time of year. With the recent inclement weather, we’ve already had a substantial number of traffic accidents due to snow and ice. We can expect many more weather related accidents before the end of the snow season.
When you are involved in an accident, your insurance company will make a determination as to who is at fault. If you are in a single car accident, you’re automatically presumed to be at fault, because there is no other drive to take the blame. If you are alleged to be more than 50% at fault, you will receive an automobile insurance surcharge. Depending on your driving record, this surcharge can result in more consequences than an increase of your insurance premium under the Massachusetts Safe Driver Insurance Plan.
Being found at fault in an automobile accident in Massachusetts or on any other state is considered a “surchargeable event,” which could cause you to have to take a safe driving class or result in the automatic suspension of your driver’s license or right to operate in Massachusetts. The Mass. RMV is required to suspend your license if you have accumulated 7 or more surchargeable events within any rolling 3 year period. Surchargeable events include not only traffic citations for automobile law violations but also at fault accidents. However, surchargeable accidents do not count towards habitual traffic offender revocations in Massachusetts.
Your insurance company is required to provide you with a surcharge notice in the event that you are being assessed a surcharge. You have the right to appeal this surcharge within thirty (30) days by submitting a completed appeal form to the Board of Appeal at 1000 Washington Street, Suite 810 in Boston, Massachusetts, with a money order or certified check in the amount of $50.00. You can find the accident surcharge appeal form on the back of the surcharge notice. You must fill it out completely and sign it. It currently takes approximately nine months from the date of filing to get a surcharge hearing.
You are entitled to be represented by a lawyer at your surcharge appeal hearing and having qualified legal representation could make the difference between having the surcharge vacated or upheld. Unlike Massachusetts license suspension and hardship license appeals, surcharge hearings are conducted by single hearings officers at locations throughout Masaschusetts.