Massachusetts Car Accident Attorneys
Americans of all ages spend a significant part of their lives on streets, roads, highways, and byways. Considering this, it is not surprising that traffic accidents are the leading cause of accidental injury and death in this country. Traffic accidents don’t just affect drivers; they affect passengers, pedestrians, motorcyclists, and bicyclists. A crash can happen in a second, especially on the busy roads around Massachusetts, but the impact it can have on victims sometimes lasts the rest of their lives. In addition to physical injuries, a variety of complications can wreak havoc on your recovery and quality of life: permanent disability, financial instability, and severe emotional distress are just a few of the challenges you may face following an accident.
If you have been injured or lost a loved one in a traffic accident, you may be entitled to significant compensation. While Massachusetts car insurance companies may offer you a quick settlement, it will likely not fully cover all of your injuries and expenses. To get the settlement you deserve, it is important that you be represented by a qualified Burlington car accident attorney. At DiBella Law Offices, P.C., we can calculate the full lifetime costs of your injuries and advocate for proper compensation. Call our office today at (781) 262-3338 and let us fight for you.
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For injury victims, the aftermath of a collision can pose many uncertainties. Physical injuries and economic damages can throw your life out of control. Are you eligible to seek compensation? Will your insurance cover your expenses? Do you need legal representation? Below, we look at some of the more frequently asked questions injury victims have following their accidents and some reliable answers provided by our knowledgeable Boston car accident lawyers.
Generally, yes, you can file a claim with your insurance company or the other driver’s insurance company to cover the costs of your injuries, but without an attorney, you may be offered a small settlement. Insurance companies want to pay out as little as possible to accident victims. But, if you have a skilled attorney to represent you, we can advocate for full compensation for your injuries through settlement negotiations or a personal injury trial.
It is important to know that in a personal injury trial, Massachusetts follows the concept of "modified comparative negligence." This means that you are only eligible for compensation if you are less than 51% responsible for your own injury. In addition, a jury can also reduce your monetary compensation by your amount of fault. If the court finds you 20% responsible for the crash, it will take 20% away from your verdict.
Massachusetts is a “no-fault” state, meaning that if you are in an auto accident, you can file a claim against your own insurance provider to receive compensation for your injuries. All registered drivers are required to carry a minimum car insurance policy, which includes personal injury protection (PIP) coverage. PIP provides medical coverage up to a certain limit, and drivers, at minimum, should have $8,000. This kind of compensation can be recovered even when the other driver was not negligent or if you were in a single-car accident.
On paper, this is a fair system, except that your injuries may exceed the $8,000 minimum. While these minimums can cover expenses resulting from minor accidents, they are usually not enough for victim relief when serious injuries occur. In addition, PIP coverage only applies to medical expenses, which means you will not be able to recover compensation for lost wages or pain and suffering from this policy. You may need to pursue a claim against the other driver’s insurance company in order to fully cover the costs of your injuries.
Additionally, insurance providers want to protect their bottom lines and will often contest claims – even claims involving minimum liability coverage. While you may hope that your insurance company will treat you fairly, that is not always the case, and it may offer a lowball settlement or deny your claim altogether. In these cases, it is recommended that injury victims seek legal counsel to aggressively negotiate with the insurance provider and, if necessary, bring them to court.
Given that Massachusetts is a no-fault state, you must first go through your own insurance company to receive compensation for an accident, even if the other driver acted negligently and caused your injuries. However, you can seek compensation from a negligent driver if your accident meets certain conditions. If the other driver was negligent and you have more than $2,000 in medical expenses or have suffered permanent effects due to your injury, you may file a claim against the other driver’s policy. This is especially important if you only have a minimum insurance policy and it does not fully cover the costs of your injuries.
Negligence is basically any irresponsible conduct that caused the crash to happen, such as:
- Impaired driving (drugs, alcohol, fatigue, etc.);
- Failing to signal;
- Distracted driving (texting, phone calls, etc.); and
- Failing to obey traffic lights or signage.
The state of Massachusetts has specific auto insurance minimums every driver must have if they wish to register a vehicle. Unfortunately, many drivers fail to meet these requirements or allow their policies to lapse. If you are hit by an uninsured driver or a driver with a minimum policy, you may face difficulties covering your medical expenses.
However, if you have minimum liability insurance, then your insurance company is also required to provide uninsured (UM) and underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage. These policies are designed to match your normal liability insurance minimums and will apply to certain situations:
- UM: UM coverage applies when you are injured by a driver who does not have insurance or leaves the scene of the accident, meaning they committed a hit and run. If you are unable to file a claim against their insurance policy, you can instead file it with your own insurance company up to your liability policy maximum.
- UIM: UIM coverage goes into effect when the other driver does not have enough coverage to cover the full costs of an accident. Most drivers in Massachusetts only have minimum coverage, meaning you may still have bills left over after filing a claim. In this situation, you may file a claim against your own insurance company to make up the difference. UIM coverage, like UM, is designed to match your liability policy limits and can prove incredibly useful in helping you recover from a collision.
If your claim is serious enough to be pursued outside of the no-fault system, there are several different types of damages that be pursued. These include:
- Property damage;
- Medical bills;
- Permanent injury or disability;
- Costs of future medical costs related to your injury;
- Lost wages/income (past and future);
- Scarring and disfigurement;
- Wrongful death damages if you lost a loved one in the accident;
- Lost support and services that the victim provided your family; and
- A court may also award you punitive damages, depending on the circumstances.
There are also other types of non-economic damages that can be pursued, as well. These include pain and suffering, loss of companionship, and more.
We understand that the moments after an accident can be shocking and confusing, making it difficult for most accident victims to respond accordingly. However, if you are able to, it is in your best interest to follow these steps after an accident:
- Call 911: Even if you do not think you are injured, everyone involved in an auto accident must report it to the police immediately according to Massachusetts state law. In addition, if you are injured, paramedics can assess your injuries and take you to the emergency room if you need it. If you can, you should also speak to the police to explain the accident from your perspective. Their report will prove incredibly useful down the line when you need to file a claim.
- Exchange Insurance Information: If you, a friend, or family member are capable, it is important to exchange insurance information with the other driver so that you can review their insurance policy and file a claim at a later date. Even if you are not physically able to, the police may be able to collect their information for you and include it in your accident report.
- Seek Medical Attention: Accidents can leave victims filled with adrenaline. Due to the shock of the collision, you may not immediately notice certain injuries, such as internal trauma, soft tissue injuries, brain injuries, or even broken bones. By seeing a doctor, you can help prevent future injuries and ensure a speedy recovery. Even if it has been a few days since the accident occurred, you should speak to a doctor about the incident. You should also continue going to appointments and getting treatment. Even if you are worried about making payments, you may be able to file an auto accident claim to cover your bills.
- Take Photos of the Accident: If possible, you should take photos of the accident, including damage to both vehicles, nearby traffic signs, skid marks, and even your injuries. These photos can be analyzed by an auto accident expert who can determine what caused the crash.
- Speak to a Lawyer: You may be tempted to immediately call your insurance company to begin filing a claim, but that can be a mistake. The insurance company may try to convince you to accept a low settlement or sign away your rights to proper compensation. Instead, you should call an experienced auto accident attorney who can handle all communications with the insurance company and advocate for full compensation on your behalf.
In Massachusetts, there is a statute of limitations for car accident cases: a deadline to file a lawsuit to claim compensation against another driver, not including the government. In Massachusetts, you have three years from the date of your crash to file a personal injury claim against the at-fault party. If someone was killed in a car crash, an executor or administrator of the deceased’s estate has three years from the date of death to file a wrongful death lawsuit.
Auto insurance policies can involve more than just your everyday sedan. While most claims are filed between car drivers, people get around Massachusetts in a variety of different ways, from electric scooters to skateboards to powerful semi-trucks. Even if you are struck while walking through a crosswalk, both your own insurance and the other driver’s liability insurance can provide compensation for your injuries. There may be other insurance policies, such as commercial driver policies, that you can file a claim against if you are involved in other types of auto accidents, including:
- Bicycle Accidents: Bicyclist fatalities make up 1% of all fatalities in the state of Massachusetts, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Given the lack of protections bicyclists have, many accidents result in serious, lifelong injuries. However, PIP insurance does cover bicyclists in auto accidents, and you can also file a claim against an at-fault driver’s liability policy to recover compensation.
- Pedestrian Accidents: Studies by the NHTSA have shown that pedestrians make up 20% of fatalities in Massachusetts. There is no mistaking the inherent dangers pedestrians face around negligent drivers. If a driver even casually glances at his phone, he can easily strike a pedestrian in a crosswalk and cause a tragic accident. However, as with bicyclists, PIP insurance does apply to pedestrians, and pedestrians are also allowed to pursue third-party claims against the driver who injured them.
- Truck Accidents: Tractor-trailers (semi-trucks or big rigs) are an abundant and menacing presence on Massachusetts’ roadways, especially going through major Seaboard cities like Boston. A fully loaded tractor-trailer can legally weigh up to 80,000 pounds, compared to the 4,000 pounds of the average car. In a collision between the two, the occupants of the car are going to suffer more severe injuries. Given the amount of widespread damage caused by these collisions, victims often need lifelong care to live comfortably with their injuries. This can economically devastate the average person, but semi-trucks are typically covered by extensive commercial liability policies that have high damage caps that can cover the costs of your injuries.
- Motorcycle Accidents: When a motorcyclist is involved in a traffic accident, the injuries suffered can be life-altering, even deadly. Motorcycles don’t have the restraints and protection that cars offer their occupants. If you are involved in a motorcycle accident, you are likely to accumulate medical bills that far exceed your insurance coverage. In addition, you’ll probably miss a great deal of work while you recuperate.
- Bus, Taxi, and Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) Accidents: Accidents involving buses, taxis, and the T are not necessarily handled the same way as other traffic accidents. Because the MBTA is a government agency, it has certain protections in personal injury claims involving bus, subway, and train accidents. If you or a loved one has been injured in one of these types of accidents, it is important that you choose a traffic accident attorney who is familiar with the unique nuances involved in pursuing compensation.
- Government Vehicles/Roads: There may be times when you’re in an accident and the government is to blame. This could be the case when the road is in such disrepair it caused your crash; for example, after a large snowstorm where a major street in Boston has not been plowed or deiced. Your vehicle could also be hit by a city employee in a government-owned vehicle, such as a police car or ambulance. Claims against the government are much more complicated, because you must file within 30 days of the incident.
Whether you are filing a claim with your own insurance company or a negligent driver’s, you may need strong legal representation to receive compensation for your injuries. Insurance companies make their profits by collecting premiums and paying out as little as possible in claims. They may try to trivialize your injuries, argue that you do not need long-term care, or even blame you for the accident.
In order to get the compensation you deserve, you will need to show how the other driver’s negligence caused your injuries. This means collecting evidence of wrongdoing, thoroughly reviewing the police report, speaking with accident experts, and negotiating with the other driver’s insurance company. All of this can be difficult while you are recovering from your injuries. But, if you work with the legal team at DiBella Law Offices, P.C., we can handle the legal legwork for you.
Our attorneys can guide you through the claims process, which can include:
- Ensuring you receive proper medical treatment for your injuries
- Collecting witness statements and evidence of negligence
- Reviewing the police report
- Calculating the costs of your injuries
- Speaking to auto accident reconstructionists
- Negotiating with insurance companies
- Representing you in a jury trial, if necessary
If you are worried about paying for an attorney, rest easy knowing that we operate under a contingency fee. This means we cover all of the upfront legal costs of your claim, including collecting evidence and speaking to experts, and you only have to pay us if we win you compensation. We also offer potential clients free consultations to discuss their cases, so there is no cost to speak to us.
If you believe you have a legitimate car accident claim against a negligent driver – or are experiencing resistance from your own insurance provider – contact a proven Boston car accident lawyer immediately. Insurance companies think about their bottom line before they think about you. It is important that you receive the proper amount of compensation to cover the economic damages and injuries you have suffered. Don’t let a negligent driver throw a wrench in your life. Vigilant counsel can not only assess the details of your case but, if necessary, start establishing a thorough and compelling claim that seeks maximum compensation for the losses you have suffered.
The Burlington personal injury attorneys at DiBella Law Offices, P.C., understand the law as it applies in these cases, so you can be confident in our ability to pursue fair compensation for you. For over a decade, we have represented clients injured in all types of vehicles, including taxicabs, tour buses, airport shuttle buses, and long-distance buses, such as Greyhound buses. We:
- Successfully represented thousands of cases;
- Serve Massachusetts and New Hampshire;
- Recovered millions of dollars for our past clients;
- Offer translations for Spanish speakers;
- Give free car-accident case reviews; and
- Have 24-hour availability.
If you or a loved one has been in an accident in Boston, Burlington, Methuen, or anywhere in Massachusetts, please contact the trusted attorneys at the DiBella Law Offices, P.C. Call our office at (781) 262-3338 today for a free initial consultation.
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