Q: I was a pedestrian intentionally struck by a car in Massachusetts. Can I still collect money for injuries sustained in the automobile accident from the driver’s insurance company if the collision was intentional?
A: Yes. According to Massachusetts law, you will at least be covered up to the compulsory auto insurance limit of 20/40. Wheeler v. O’Connell, 297 Mass. 549 (1937); Cannon v. Commerce Insurance Company, 18 Mass. App. Ct. 984 (1984). If your injuries are severe enough to be worth more than the $20k compulsory limit, and additional coverage is available under the optional bodily injury portion of the insurance policy, you may also be able to collect additional money under specific circumstances. Insurance policies have an “intenional acts” exclusion beyond the 20/40 compulsory limits, but the Massachusetts Supereme Judicial Court has consistently held that that exclusion only applies where the insured specifically intends to cause the resulting or is substantially certain that the resulting harm will occur. Quincy Mutual Fire Ins. Co. v. Abernathy, 393 Mass. 81 (1984). “The focus of these cases is whether the insured intended the injury, not whether the insured intended the act.” Hanover Insurance Co. v. Talhouni, 413 Mass. 781, 784 (1992). It is the insurance company’s burden to prove that the injuries you sustained were what the driver intended to cause. This is very difficult for them to prove as you can imagine, because once the accident and injuries occur, people often try to minimize their role in the criminal act. “I only meant to scare him” or “I didn’t mean for him to get that hurt” are often the driver’s statements taken by the police. These statements can then be used to pursue additional money towards your injuries under the policy.