You should always talk to an experienced car accident attorney after a collision. Even if you feel your injuries are minor, speaking to an attorney after a car accident can help you understand the legal options open to you.
Car accident injuries can have a long-term impact on your life, and you do not want to miss your chance to seek justice. If the other driver’s negligence caused your accident, you have the right to pursue a fair settlement for the losses you have suffered.
You may have heard that you can only claim on your own car insurance policy in Massachusetts, regardless of who was at fault for the car accident. While this is true in some cases, some exceptions allow you to pursue damages from the other person’s insurance company.
Join us as we delve into when to hire an attorney after a car accident and what one can do for you.
Why Hiring an Attorney ASAP Makes Sense
After a car accident, your initial focus will be seeking medical attention and getting any needed treatment. If you are physically able, you can contact a lawyer for free legal advice. There are several advantages to contacting personal injury lawyers at the earliest opportunity, ideally within a few days of the accident.
Of course, if you have been severely injured, it may be impractical to consider hiring legal counsel until your serious condition stabilizes.
Find out whether you have a case
Before you hire legal representation, you need to find out whether you have a strong case for compensation. You may not need to hire an attorney if you have just been involved in a fender-bender and escaped with minor injuries. If your injuries are more serious, it is important to find out the legal avenues available to you.
Most car accident lawyers offer a free consultation to all prospective clients. This is your chance to talk to an experienced attorney either in the office or over the phone and explain what happened. Some attorneys may even visit you in your own home or at another convenient location if you are incapacitated.
Before discussing your legal options, the personal injury lawyer will ask you questions to understand the full picture. If an experienced personal injury attorney agrees to take on your case, he or she likely feels the case may succeed.
Do not let worries about legal costs prevent you from seeking advice. The initial consultation is usually free, and most car accident lawyers work on a contingency basis. This means there are no fees or upfront costs to pay unless they win your case. Always ask about prices before hiring an attorney, and only sign the contract if you are happy with the terms.
Negotiate Massachusetts “no-fault” car insurance laws
In Massachusetts, car insurance operates on a “no-fault” basis. This means that your medical costs will be covered by your insurance’s Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage, regardless of who was at fault. This also covers your passengers, anybody you allow to drive your car, and pedestrians.
PIP only covers the following damages:
- Medical expenses
- 75 percent of lost wages
- Replacement services (paying someone else to carry out tasks you would normally do)
PIP has an upper limit of $8,000. If your medical bills exceed this threshold, you will have to use your medical insurance or your own funds to cover them. PIP also does not allow you to claim compensation for pain and suffering.
The good news is that Massachusetts law lets you step outside of the “no-fault” system and pursue a personal injury lawsuit if your injuries meet certain criteria.
These conditions are:
- Your medical bills run to more than $2,000, and/or;
- Your injuries result in permanent disability and/or serious disfigurement.
To find out whether you qualify and can claim compensation from the other person’s insurance company, you should talk to an experienced Andover, MA, car accident lawyer. He or she can guide you through the relevant laws and explain your rights.
Your second reason to hire an attorney as soon as possible is that it will be easier to gather evidence while it is still fresh and easy to track down. It may still be possible to view the scene of the accident and take note of details such as damage to barriers and skid marks.
Also, it may be easier for your attorney, than for you, to track down witnesses and take statements from them. It is better to do this as soon after the accident as possible while it is still fresh in their minds.
In the first few days after an accident, your car accident lawyer may be able to obtain security or traffic camera footage of the incident. Your lawyer can write to businesses in the area asking them to preserve the footage and then subpoena the video when needed.
As you can see, there is a lot to consider – perhaps too much for you to handle yourself while you are still recovering. Vital evidence and valuable time may be lost if you wait too long to hire a lawyer.
Track your losses
When you are recovering from serious injuries, keeping track of medical bills and other expenses can be overwhelming. Let your personal injury lawyer gather this information so that nothing is missed and you can pursue a fair car accident settlement.
In personal injury claims, you can pursue damages for pain and suffering. This can be difficult to prove if you do not keep records of how you feel as you go through your recovery. To help with this, personal injury lawyers often recommend keeping a journal, documenting how you feel each day.
This documentation could include descriptions of your:
- Pain levels
- Sleep disruption
- Emotional difficulties, such as anxiety and depression
- Functional limitations
Your pain and suffering journal, along with medical records, can demonstrate the extent of your suffering and may be used in calculating damages. Car accident attorneys may also take witness statements from friends and family members that speak to the suffering you have endured due to the car wreck.
Statute of limitations
Under Massachusetts state law, claims for damages in car accident cases must be filed within 3 years. So it is important not to delay in seeking justice. The sooner you consult a car accident attorney, the sooner you can pursue the compensation you need to rebuild your life.
Times When You Need a Car Accident Lawyer on Your Side
Car accidents are rarely straightforward. If your case is complex, or if your injuries exceed the $8,000 PIP limit, you may need the help of a car accident attorney to play hardball with the auto insurance companies and protect your rights.
The following are a few other situations that require the skills and experience of a car accident attorney to give you the best chance of success.
When you have lost a loved one in a car accident
Tragically, every year, thousands of families across the country grieve the loss of friends and family members killed in auto accidents. Sadly, you do not even have to be in a vehicle to become a victim. In 2022, over 100 pedestrians died in collisions with cars in Massachusetts alone.
Although compensation can never bring your loved one back, it can help to ease the financial burden you may now be carrying. If a driver’s negligence was the cause of the accident, you may be eligible to file a wrongful death lawsuit.
This could enable you to recover damages for:
- Lost wages – based on the income your loved one could have earned throughout his or her lifetime
- Loss of services your loved one would have provided to surviving family members
- Loss of companionship and consortium
- Funeral and burial costs
In Massachusetts, only the executor or administrator of your loved one’s estate can file a wrongful death claim. To find out if you are eligible to file a claim and if you have a strong chance of success, schedule a free case consultation with a compassionate wrongful death attorney. He or she will listen carefully and explain your legal options.
When liability is unclear
In some car accident cases, it is very difficult to prove that the other driver was at fault. At such times, you need an experienced car accident attorney on your side who can build a strong case for proving fault. This may require finding witnesses, analyzing footage from the scene, and possibly working with expert witnesses.
To prove fault, a car accident lawyer must demonstrate that:
- The other party/ies owed you a duty of care
- The other party/ies breached that duty of care through negligence
- The actions of the other party/ies were the direct cause of your injuries
- You suffered losses, such as injuries, lost wages, and vehicle damage
- You are entitled to monetary compensation for these damages
Car crashes can involve multiple parties, all of whom may bear a measure of responsibility for the accident.
Picking through this complicated situation and proving who was at fault and to what degree is a complex process that takes experience and know-how. Doing this on your own without legal training and experience would be almost impossible, but the right lawyer and his or her team can gather the evidence to build a strong case on your behalf.
Once a car accident attorney has built a strong case, he or she can enter negotiations with the other driver’s insurance company. This can be a difficult process that requires tenacity and endurance.
If it is not possible to achieve a fair settlement at the negotiating table, your lawyer can represent you in court. A judge or jury will make a final ruling on the case. If you are successful, the court will award damages.
When you are partially liable
If you feel that you may have been partially at fault in a car accident case, do not be quick to conclude that you have lost the right to compensation. Massachusetts is a comparative fault state, meaning that if your degree of fault is 50 percent or less, you may be entitled to recover compensation for your injuries.
That being said, you will not be entitled to full compensation, as though you were not responsible at all. State law requires that the damages are “diminished in proportion to the amount of negligence attributable” to you.
When you keep getting lowball offers
The goal of insurance companies – whether they represent you or the other driver/s – is to pay out as little as possible. You may find that despite your best efforts, you are getting nowhere in your negotiations and are a long way from achieving a fair settlement.
In this case, you need an auto accident attorney to review the offer you have received and advise you on whether it is fair or not. Remember that car accident attorneys have seen every insurance company trick before.
Although there are no guarantees, an experienced lawyer can build a strong case that is more likely to succeed and secure the compensation you deserve.
When the accident aggravated existing injuries
This can be a very complicated area, as no insurance provider wants to pay out for pre-existing conditions. However, if your recent car accident aggravated an old injury or an existing illness, such as arthritis or fibromyalgia, you may be able to pursue compensation.
In such cases, you need a tenacious lawyer on your side who can prove that the accident was the cause of your deterioration and fight the insurance company to get the compensation you need.
When you can’t do what you did before
Car accident injuries can send ripples through families and even communities. Maybe before your accident, you were able to watch your grandchildren while your child went out to work, but now their parents have to hire someone. Or maybe you can no longer provide caretaker services to your aged parents due to your disability and have to pay someone instead.
An experienced personal injury attorney can take into account the full impact of your accident when calculating and fighting for compensation.
When you face ongoing medical expenses
If your car accident has caused a long-term disability, the thought of paying for your future medical bills and caretaker expenses can be overwhelming. In such cases, it is vital to work with an experienced car accident attorney.
Your attorney can take all your future medical expenses into account when calculating a fair settlement. This may include consulting expert witnesses who can explain the likely progression of your condition and the level of care you will need on an ongoing basis.
Without legal representation, it is unlikely that you will achieve the level of damages needed to ensure that you have the support you need for the rest of your life. So do not take a chance by going it alone – hire an attorney with the experience and resources to fight for what you need.
When you are unsure about your rights
The law around seeking compensation for car accident injuries can be complex, and you may have more rights than you realize. If you give in to pressure from your insurance company to settle quickly, you could miss out on damages that would significantly affect your quality of life.
Car accident lawyers have the legal knowledge to explain all your rights and advise you on how to protect them. They can advise you on the full range of damages you may be entitled to, including non-economic damages such as disfigurement, pain and suffering, loss of consortium, and loss of companionship. An experienced lawyer may even be able to give you a ballpark estimate of damages you could receive.
Rather than worrying about your rights, schedule a free consultation with a Massachusetts car accident attorney. You may be very pleasantly surprised by the avenues open to you. If you hire a personal injury attorney on a contingency basis, there will be no fees to pay whatsoever unless your case is won.
Trust Kiley Law Group With Your Car Accident Claim
When your life has been turned upside down by a car accident, it makes sense to hire legal counsel with significant experience in successfully fighting similar cases. Hiring car accident attorneys with a winning track record can put you in the best position to successfully fight for justice.
The legal team at Kiley Law Group has over 40 years of experience in helping car accident victims get their lives back on track by securing the compensation they deserve. Led by the “million-dollar man,” Thomas Kiley Sr., our attorneys have a strong record of achieving outstanding settlements through negotiation and in the courtroom.
For instance, we achieved a settlement of $3.5 million for a client who sustained severe head injuries in a multi-vehicle accident.
Maybe you also qualify for a sizable settlement. However minor your accident seems, serious your injuries may be, or complex the circumstances are, our car accident attorneys are willing and qualified to take on the challenge. From our locations in both states, we cover all of Massachusetts and New Hampshire, and our no-fee guarantee means you will not pay a penny until we win your case.
One phone call could make all the difference. Our operators are standing by 24/7 to speak to you and set up a free case review. Call us at (888) 435-1321 or complete our online contact form today, and we will be in touch soon.