If you are injured here in the state of Massachusetts by a negligent driver, you have two options for compensation. You can settle the case out of court, or if you are not satisfied with what is offered, you may choose to file a personal injury lawsuit and have the case heard by a jury.
Whether or not your personal injury case goes to trial, if you are injured by another driver’s negligence in this state, discuss the case, your rights, and your options at once with a reputable Boston car accident attorney.
HOW WILL A CAR ACCIDENT ATTORNEY HELP YOU?
Your attorney will be an experienced negotiator and trial attorney who will know how to prevail on your behalf. Your attorney will explain and protect your rights, investigate what happened, determine which driver was at-fault, and negotiate for the compensation you need and deserve.
In Massachusetts, the injured victims of negligence are entitled by state law to full compensation for their accident-related medical expenses, lost wages, personal pain, suffering, and all other accident-related losses and damages.
WHAT’S THE FIRST RULE ABOUT NEGOTIATING FOR A SETTLEMENT?
The first rule about negotiating for a settlement outside of court is that there should be genuine negotiations – in other words, you should not accept an insurance company’s first quick settlement offer.
You may be contacted by the insurance company even before you are able to speak with an attorney – possibly just two or three days after the traffic collision. A first settlement offer will almost always be a “low-ball” offer that is far below what your injury claim is actually worth.
Moreover, if you prematurely agree to a settlement, you will be waiving your right to take any legal action or to pursue any additional compensation.
It is important to have an accident attorney representing you as quickly as possible after you’ve been injured by a negligent driver. That way, you can simply refer the insurance company to your attorney, who will handle all of the questions and negotiations on your behalf.
BEFORE YOU SETTLE, WHAT FOUR QUESTIONS MUST BE ASKED?
When a reliable accident lawyer is representing you, and when the negotiations for your settlement are underway, these are the questions that you will need to ask and answer before you accept a final settlement:
1. What is the status and prognosis of your medical condition?
2. Will your settlement be sufficient to cover all of your losses, damages, and fees?
3. Do you fully understand the terms and conditions of the settlement agreement?
4. Would it be better to decline the settlement offer and file a personal injury lawsuit?
WHY IS YOUR MEDICAL CONDITION AN IMPORTANT CONSIDERATION?
An insurance company will typically want to settle with you right away after a traffic accident, but it may be weeks – or even longer – until your medical condition stabilizes and you can accurately estimate what your final medical expenses will be.
A bit of patience for a few weeks protects you in case your health declines or in case some other latent injury emerges. Understand clearly that when you accept a settlement offer, that’s it – the end of the matter – and no more compensation will be forthcoming.
IS THE SETTLEMENT AMOUNT THAT YOU ACCEPT GOING TO BE ADEQUATE?
When you accept a settlement offer, because it is your last opportunity to acquire compensation, you must be certain that the amount being offered will be adequate for your needs.
Consider the long-term consequences of the accident and injury. Future medical expenses, lost earnings potential, and your ongoing pain and emotional distress all must be taken into account.
Catastrophic, disabling, and permanent injuries will require the maximum available amount of compensation, as the injury victim will be paying medical expenses for years into the future.
DO YOU UNDERSTAND THE TERMS AND CONDITIONS OF THE AGREEMENT?
Make certain that you ask your personal injury lawyer to answer all of your questions and address all of your concerns regarding your settlement. Do not sign anything until you are fully satisfied and confident that you are making the right decision.
If anything about the agreement does not clearly make sense to you or just does not feel right – for any reason whatsoever – talk with your attorney and get the matter resolved promptly.
The terms and conditions of a settlement agreement may or may not be complicated, but you must have your attorney explain them point-by-point. A settlement is a contract; signing it means that you understand, accept, and will abide by the contract’s terms and conditions.
Most personal injury settlements, for example, include a confidentiality clause. If you fail to adhere to the terms and conditions of the agreement, in some cases, you could lose everything that you have received as compensation.
WOULD IT BE BETTER TO FILE A LAWSUIT?
Sometimes, the two sides in a personal injury case simply cannot come to an agreement. If you and your attorney have negotiated in good faith, and an acceptable settlement offer has not been forthcoming, your attorney may recommend taking the case to trial.
There is no guarantee that you will win a trial, but an accident attorney will not make that recommendation without believing strongly in your case. If the final settlement amount that you are offered is insufficient, talk with your lawyer about going to trial.
Does that figure constitute a fair compensation amount? It’s an amount that covers your medical bills, projected medical expenses, all lost wages, and all other related losses and damages. A precise figure will depend on the exact nature of your injuries and your long-term prognosis.
WHEN SHOULD YOU SEEK AN ACCIDENT LAWYER’S HELP?
A final settlement or verdict may in some cases be limited by the available insurance coverage, but your attorney will seek all available sources of compensation to ensure that you are adequately and fairly compensated.
You must act at once if you are injured by another driver’s negligence in Massachusetts. Whether you end up going to trial or settling your claim out of court, you should put an experienced Boston injury lawyer on the case as quickly as possible.
If you are an injured victim of negligence in this state, the law is on your side. With your health and future on the line, having a good attorney’s help is imperative, and moreover, it is your right.
Eric J. Parker, the Managing Partner of Parker Scheer LLP, has over 30 years’ experience representing victims in complex personal injury cases. He is active in many legal associations and has won many awards for performance and principles. Eric believes in giving back to the community and supports young scholars and law students by acting as faculty and mentor to them.