Motor vehicle accidents happen daily in every US state, including Massachusetts. From a minor fender bender to a severe crash resulting in multiple accident victims and even fatalities, these events are increasingly frequent in our state – alarming both authorities and road users. Whenever a car accident in Massachusetts happens due to a negligent driver, victims are encouraged to reach out to an auto accident attorney in Newton to discuss their legal options and file a personal injury claim or an accident lawsuit.
Over the years, we have assisted many people who needed to file an accident claim to recover the costs they incurred with hospital bills, medical treatment, as well as to receive compensation for lost wages, pain and suffering. We know that filing insurance claims is very difficult for someone who is still in pain, receiving medical attention in the hospital, and not knowing the full extent of their injuries. We also know that insurance adjusters sometimes have predatory behavior, trying to persuade accident victims that they do not have a case and cannot file a claim to receive compensation for bodily injury and property damage. This is why a personal injury lawyer should be your first go-to professional to call as soon as you can after an automobile accident.
What Is the Risk of Being Involved in a Car Accident in Massachusetts?
As we stated at the beginning of the article, the statistical data is very worrisome. According to information obtained by Boston.com, in 2021 the number of people who died in a motor vehicle crash reached an 11-year high. Over 400 crash victims lost their lives throughout the year and 2022 appears to lead to an even higher number of total fatalities. So far, between January 1 and June 15, 172 people lost their lives in a traffic collision.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has detailed crash data until 2020, but it shows several worrying trends, as well. A very large percentage of drivers killed in a motor vehicle accident (83%) had a blood alcohol content (BAC) above the legal threshold. Also, the most vulnerable road users are:
- 41% car occupants
- 21% SUV occupants
- 15% pedestrians
- 15% motorcyclists
Therefore, nobody can say that they are safe from a car crash, not even a careful driver who obeys all road rules. There is always a chance encounter with a drunk or careless driver who exceeds the speed limit or does not adapt their driving style to poor weather conditions. In the confusing time after such an event, reliable legal advice and representation from an experienced auto accident attorney in Newton can help you recover fair compensation for your economic and non-economic damages.
The Most Common Causes of Car Accidents in Massachusetts
Drunk driving and distracted driving remain the most frequent reasons for car crashes over the years. Distracted drivers are mostly people who text and drive. Despite the increasing number of US states that adopt laws against using mobile phones while driving, many people disregard these rules. They believe that nothing can go wrong during the few moments when they tap on a message.
Unfortunately, as daily tragedies indicate, everything can go wrong if a person is not 100% focused on driving. The same issue happens with driving under influence of alcohol – this substance impairs the driver’s ability to focus, respond to unexpected situations, and avoid crashing their car into another vehicle.
Other frequent causes of accidents are:
- reckless driving
- drowsy driving
- defective vehicles
Types of Damages You Can Recover in a Car Accident Claim
An auto accident attorney in Newton can help injury victims calculate the total amount of the economic losses and the compensation they deserve for non-economic damages. These are additional damages that will compensate the person for pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, emotional trauma, mental anguish, and loss of consortium.
The formal report attached to the accident insurance claim will detail all these damages, such as:
- medical care costs
- vehicle damages or cost to replace a totaled car
- lost wages
- out-of-pocket expenses
It is worth noting that Massachusetts does not allow punitive damages for most personal injury cases, with the exception of wrongful death. Surviving family members may be able to receive such damages at the end of a wrongful death lawsuit.
What Do You Need to Do to Maximize Your Total Financial Compensation?
Many people fail to recover the full accident damages they are entitled to because they try to negotiate their settlement with the auto insurance company on their own. Without knowledge of the law and experience in this matter, you might unknowingly accept a lowball settlement or even have your accident claim denied. Or, you may exceed the time limits provided by the law waiting for a settlement, and then it is too late to file a personal injury lawsuit.
Also, the things you do or fail to do right after the accident can influence the outcome of your claim. It may increase your percentage of fault and, as Massachusetts relies on the comparative negligence rule, your final compensation amount will be reduced by your percentage of responsibility for the accident.
Here is a timeline of what you should do, according to experienced accident lawyers:
1. Call 9-1-1 and Report the Accident to the Police
After you call 9-1-1, remain at the accident scene until the police officers arrive to investigate and prepare the accident report. An ambulance will also be dispatched to give you medical assistance and take you to the nearest hospital for further investigations. You should accept the recommendations of the EMT. All medical costs will be included in your accident claim as economic damages and recovered by your auto accident attorney in Newton later on.
2. Document the Accident Scene
Accident victims should not rely only on crash reports to prove their case. As far as your injuries permit it, collect your own evidence, especially photos and videos of:
- your accident injuries
- the damages to your vehicle
- the license plate of the other vehicle
- skid marks
- the position of the cars after the accident
At the same time, look for CCTV cameras and eyewitnesses. CCTV footage and witness statements are valuable evidence for your auto accident attorney in Newton when negotiating your settlement amount.
3. Complete the Recommended Medical Treatment
Insurance policies may give you the right to seek damages, but insurance firms are doing everything to avoid paying. They will look for every aspect they can pounce on to deny your claim. Failure to mitigate your damages by interrupting your medical treatment is one such aspect.
If you do not make a full recovery, the insurance adjuster might try to deny your claim for costs with nursing care, assistive devices, and any other life care services on the grounds that you made your condition worse. Do not worry about hospital bills and physical therapy costs. The auto accident attorney in Newton will include all of them in the demand letter detailing your total claim amount.
4. Do Not Discuss with the Insurance Adjuster
We stated earlier in this article that you should not negotiate with an adjuster on your own if you want to obtain fair compensation. In fact, we recommend not discussing anything at all, except for a very brief description of how the accident happened.
The rest of the information can be obtained from the official accident report and from your personal injury lawyer. But adjusters try to make accident victims talk and make self-incriminatory statements, such as saying “I’m doing fine”. If negotiations fail, the auto insurance policy company will attempt to undermine your credibility during a personal injury lawsuit. Leave any detailed discussions to your legal counsel.
5. Hire an Experienced Auto Accident Attorney in Newton
If you’re considering hiring an attorney, you should reach out to a law firm as soon as possible. The biggest risk in delaying securing legal representation is exceeding the time period when you can take legal action (the statute of limitations). In Massachusetts, this period is 3 years after the date of your accident.
It may seem that you have sufficient time, but attorneys at our law firm know that it takes a long time until you reach the point of maximum medical improvement if you suffered severe injuries, such as spine injuries or traumatic brain injuries. An attorney can start calculating your economic damages only after this point of maximum medical improvement:
- hospital bills
- various medical costs
- lost wages
- loss of earning capacity (if applicable)
- costs with ongoing physical therapy or life care services
Also, a skilled attorney knows that, if negotiations with the insurance company fail, they need time to prepare your case for court. A personal injury lawsuit needs to be airtight – you must have compelling evidence that the fault driver is responsible for your injuries and to justify every dollar you ask in compensation.
How an Auto Accident Attorney in Newton Can Help You Maximize the Settlement Amount
An accident claim lawyer knows how insurance companies work and what type of tactics they use to avoid paying claims. In most cases, an insurance adjuster will:
- undervalue an accident victim’s claim
- state that the victim was more than 51% at fault, so they do not qualify to file a claim
- delay making a decision until the statute of limitations expires
An experienced auto accident attorney in Newton will begin negotiations with every possible piece of evidence proving your case readily available. To this end, the lawyer will:
1. Investigate the Circumstances of the Accident
Using your statement and the accident report, the lawyer will determine exactly how the accident happened. If necessary, an accident reconstruction expert will go to the accident location to recreate the circumstances of the crash.
2. Talk to Eyewitnesses
Eyewitnesses are very valuable. Even if they do not remember everything, they may have taken a photo or a video of the accident. Their statement and the pieces of evidence they can offer are very helpful in proving that the other driver was at fault for the accident.
3. Justify the Amount of Your Damages
Whenever an insurance adjuster says that you overestimated your damages, an auto accident attorney in Newton will come up with the bills, receipts, and other documents that justify these amounts. Moreover, the attorney will explain to the adjuster that you are prepared to file a personal injury lawsuit if negotiations fail. This would mean additional expenses for the insurance company and is usually the final argument needed to obtain a fair settlement amount.
Hire a Dedicated Auto Accident Attorney in Newton
Michael Kelly is ready to discuss your case and go over your legal options. We go above and beyond the call of duty to seek justice on behalf of accident victims and ensure that they and their families will not go into debt trying to cover expensive medical care bills.
We believe that everyone should be held accountable for their negligent actions and we’ll fight for fair compensation for your injuries. Reach out to us as soon as possible after your accident to schedule a free case review: 1-800-LAW-GUYS!