Whenever we get on the road, we’re taking a risk. With that said, someone is at fault in every car or truck accident. Accidents happen for many reasons but are often preventable. If you or a loved one has been injured or killed by a car or truck in Massachusetts, then your life has probably changed significantly. You may have a case for pursuing significant compensation for your injuries and emotional trauma following the accident.
Compensation can’t fully make up for a life-altering injury or the death of a loved one, but it does make life easier and brings some measure of justice following an accident. An experienced Massachusetts personal injury lawyer can help you get the compensation you deserve, whether you were injured as a pedestrian, cyclist, or driver.
About Car & Truck Accidents
General negligence, poor maintenance of the vehicle, and driving under the influence are just some of the reasons truck and car accidents occur. Because some vehicle accidents are very minor, many people don’t think about pursuing compensation. However, some injuries do not become apparent until months after the accident and may affect a person’s quality of life far into the future.
More serious injuries can affect a person’s ability to work or even live a normal life. Settlements in these cases can climb into the hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars. Someone who cannot work after they are injured by a car or truck will need significant compensation to meet their normal expenses and to pay for their losses.
Truck accidents can be particularly catastrophic, due to the size and scale of the vehicle involved. These accidents often result in death or permanent disability, which also leads to irreparable emotional harm for the victim and their families. Truck drivers and trucking companies must be held financially responsible in these situations, not only for the sake of the victims but to prevent negligence in the future that could lead to another accident.
What to Do After an Accident
Immediately after an accident, you might experience pain, shock, and trauma. It’s important to stay as calm as you can and to get help as soon as possible. If you’re able to, call 911 immediately or have someone nearby call.
Most insurance companies will tell you not to admit fault after an accident. Doing so will make it difficult if not impossible to have an investigation prove that you are the victim later on in the process. Do not sign any type of waiver that might jeopardize your rights and do not make a statement to an insurance representative until you talk to an attorney. You should report the accident as soon as possible and get the driver’s insurance and contact information, plus the contact information of any witnesses. Get the license plate number of the vehicle.
Regardless of whether or not you are severely injured, it’s important to get medical treatment right away. If you are able to, take lots of pictures to help with the investigation. If you are too injured, though, just focus on getting help ASAP.
You should also consider calling a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible if you think you might be entitled to compensation. As soon as you feel safe and stable enough, find a reputable vehicle accident attorney and give them a call. The sooner you have representation, the better. When and if you’re able to, write down the details of the accident so that you don’t forget them as your case progresses through the system.
Common Causes of Accidents Warranting Compensation
Not every crash or accident should result in a lawsuit. Minor car accidents happen every day, and while they may cause small injuries, damage to a vehicle, or inconvenience, the issue is usually sorted out quickly by the drivers’ own insurance policies. In Massachusetts, PIP (Personal Injury Protection) takes care of most damages in minor accidents. However, if the crash was more serious, involved a commercial truck, or caused injuries that were not immediately apparent, then it may be appropriate to pursue legal action.
To receive compensation, it’s generally necessary to work with a car crash lawyer to determine negligence on the part of the driver who was at fault. Examples of negligence in car and truck accidents include:
- Breaking normal traffic laws—if the driver was speeding or failing to signal, running a stop sign or stoplight, or breaking other rules of the road.
- Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
- Distracted driving—talking on the phone, texting, eating, etc.
- Truck safety issues, like poor maintenance, equipment failure, broken lights, or unsecured and heavy loads.
- Unsafe driving—sudden merging, tailgating, and other unsafe behavior.
- Fatigue—driver on the road for hours longer than is safe.
- Unsafe employment practices—hiring a driver with a history of safety violations.
Drivers are expected to follow the rules of the road and to remain alert at all times. They must know their vehicles and check carefully for other motorists, cyclists, and pedestrians to avoid accidents. If they do not, they may be deemed negligent after an accident.
In some cases, criminal charges may be brought against a truck or car driver after an accident. Crashes that involve leaving the scene of the accident, reckless driving, the death or incapacitation of one or more people, or accidents caused by intoxication may prompt a criminal investigation and trial. However, most accidents do not end with jail time.
Types of Damages
An accident can cause disruptions of different kinds in your life. An injury might prevent you from working and enjoying everyday activities on a temporary or permanent basis, or it might change your appearance so substantially that it affects your personal life. You can file a lawsuit against the driver of the truck or car in your accident to compensate for many different issues, including:
- Medical bills (for physical and mental healthcare)
- Loss of wages
- Reduction in earning potential
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of consortium (ability to maintain fulfilling family relationships)
- Damage to your personal property (such as your vehicle)
- Emotional distress
- Renovations to accommodate new disabilities
To receive fair compensation, you will need to be able to make a strong case for the damages you are seeking. It is a good idea to keep a journal or take notes so that you can refer back to the days after the accident when discussing the case with your attorney.
The Role of Insurance Companies in Car & Truck Accident Resolution
Insurance companies have a lot at stake in accident cases. They are typically responsible for providing the compensation, so they have a vested interest in preventing victims from claiming what they’re owed. Even your own insurance company will try to settle your claim for as little as possible—they aren’t concerned with how your life may have been impacted by the accident, they just want to keep their money.
People who represent themselves rarely get the compensation they deserve following an accident. Most insurance companies will do their best to find any way to discredit the party seeking damages. That’s why it’s important for victims to hire a personal injury attorney with extensive experience in car/truck accidents to help them navigate the claim process. You need someone on your side to help you get a reasonable settlement after the accident.
Determining Who Is At Fault
In Massachusetts, there is always an “at-fault” party in an accident, regardless of the circumstances. Whoever caused the accident may be liable for the medical care and other compensation requested by the other party.
Because there will always be an at-fault driver, the first step in the claim process is determining the source of the fault. In some cases, this is very clear, but it can also require further investigation. Do not sign anything waiving your rights before you speak with a Massachusetts personal injury lawyer.
There can also be partial fault in normal car crash situations, which is known as modified comparative fault. In these cases, the driver who is 50% or less at fault may be able to get partial compensation from the other driver’s insurance company.
Many people believe that pedestrians and cyclists are never at fault in an accident. However, a plaintiff in these cases must still prove negligence in order to get compensation. The circumstances of the case matter and someone who is hit by a car or truck is not automatically entitled to compensation.
Investigating a Truck or Car Accident
Because there are many factors that can cause a motor vehicle accident, the first step in any pending compensation case is to investigate the circumstances surrounding the accident. The insurance companies and lawyers involved with the case will typically perform their own investigations, trying to determine which driver was at fault.
In cases involving pedestrians and cyclists, drivers are more likely to be at fault, but not always. These cases typically involve more extensive injuries and may involve higher settlements for damages.
Once fault has been established (fault may be partial and involve several parties), it becomes necessary to demonstrate negligence. Negligence is what ultimately determines compensation in these kinds of cases.
Legal Representation for Car Accident Victims in Boston
Victims of car and truck accidents in Massachusetts are usually represented by attorneys specializing in personal injury. It’s important to seek representation from someone with years of experience in successfully settling injury claims in your area. Your insurance company may be required to cover some of the costs of your medical bills, but they won’t help you seek further compensation.
If you were injured by a truck or car as a pedestrian or cyclist, representation is even more important. You will need to prove negligence and your medical bills are likely to be even higher than someone who was struck by a car or truck while driving a car. If you are seeking compensation for the death of a loved one from an accident, a lawyer will work on your behalf to hold the at-fault party accountable and pursue justice after the tragedy.
Personal injury lawyers in Massachusetts won’t take any fees upfront. They only get paid when your case is settled and will take a standard percentage of the compensation you receive. You’ll have peace of mind knowing that they won’t get paid unless you get paid—and they’ll be working to get you the best settlement deal possible.
Compensation is usually awarded based on the severity of the injuries and their impact on the victim’s life, both personally and professionally. Obviously, someone who is injured to the point that they cannot work will receive more compensation than someone who recovers fairly quickly from their injuries and is able to resume their normal activities. Some injuries that might go beyond the standard PIP insurance claim and warrant compensation include:
- Broken bones and fractures
- Loss of sight and/or hearing
- Brain injuries
- Disfiguring injuries
- Wrongful death
Deciding on compensation for injuries, pain, and suffering is highly subjective. Your medical records will help to provide context, but you should do your best to take note of how you feel in the days, weeks, and months after the accident to provide even more information for your case.
Frequently Asked Questions About Truck Accident Compensation in Boston
Do I have to talk to the insurance company after the accident?
You should not talk to the trucking company’s insurance representative if they call you and ask for a statement. It is in their interests to protect their assets, and they will do whatever they can to discredit you or get you to agree to their terms. Refer them to your attorney if they call you and don’t say anything about the case. Working with a truck accident lawyer and following their advice is the best way to protect yourself and to get the compensation you deserve.
What can I do if the trucking company is refusing to admit fault?
It’s difficult as a plaintiff without representation to take on a large trucking company and/or insurance company and get them to admit fault. That’s why it’s so important to work with an attorney who is experienced in truck crash recoveries. Your medical bills are probably piling up and you need to bring in someone with the experience to get the compensation you’re entitled to.
What kind of compensation can I expect from a truck accident recovery?
It varies a lot depending on the circumstances of the case. Some truck accident victims are awarded hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars, depending on the extent of their injuries and the impact the accident had on their life overall.
During a consultation with your truck accident attorney, you can start to get an idea of how much compensation to expect in your case. With that said, it’s important to remember that there is no “average” settlement. Your lawyer will always work to get you the maximum compensation for your injuries, pain, and suffering.
Are the driver and the driver’s employers automatically the defendants in a truck accident lawsuit?
Not necessarily. Partial fault can also lie with other individuals or entities, depending on what comes up in the investigation. For instance, a plaintiff’s attorney might discover that the company performing maintenance on the truck cut corners or a bar served the driver too many drinks. Those parties could then be included in the lawsuit as holding partial fault.
Frequently Asked Question About Car Accident Litigation
How do I know if it’s worth filing a lawsuit after my crash?
If you were involved in a minor crash resulting in damages of under $2000, then you will need to work with your insurance company directly and should typically receive your compensation within about a month. For more serious crashes when the other driver is at fault, you may need the help of an experienced car crash attorney to pursue legal action against the other driver to claim compensation.
In some cases, it may not be clear as to whether it’s worth seeking additional compensation for damages. If you are unsure about whether or not to pursue legal action, talk to a Massachusetts car accident lawyer and have them evaluate your case. Obviously, if you were more than 50% at fault for the accident, you will not be eligible to seek compensation.
What’s the statute of limitations on car accident cases in Massachusetts?
Plaintiffs in Massachusetts must file a personal injury case within three years of the accident to be considered for compensation. After that time, there is little to no chance of the case being successful. Insurance companies, likewise, will not settle after the three-year period has passed.
Some people wait to file a car accident lawsuit because they found that their injuries were more extensive than they originally thought. If you think you might need to file a lawsuit, it might be best to hold off on accepting a settlement until you have decided whether or not to pursue the lawsuit route.
Will my case go to court?
Many car accident lawsuits never make it to the courtroom. If you can prove negligence, then insurance companies are often forced to settle out of court. This makes the process much easier, but you may not get the full amount of compensation you were expecting if you agree to the settlement. Your attorney will help you decide whether or not to accept the settlement or take the risk of going to court and drawing out the process.
What is the “no-fault” system?
Even though someone is always at fault in a car accident in Massachusetts, the state uses the “no-fault” system in dealing with compensation. Generally, you are expected to work with your own insurance company to recover damages before seeking compensation from the other driver’s insurance.
Generally, the first $2000 will be paid by your insurance. The maximum amount is $8000 and can include compensation for up to 75% of lost wages after an accident. If there are damages beyond this amount, you may seek compensation from other parties involved. The amount of fault matters too. If you were partially at fault for the accident, you will only be entitled to partial benefits.
If you have been injured by a car as a pedestrian or cyclist, the protocol is different. If you can prove negligence in the crash, you are typically entitled to compensation from the driver’s insurance company.
Do I have to report a minor car accident in Massachusetts?
In Massachusetts, you must report a car accident to the Registry of Motor Vehicles within 5 days if it caused over $1000 in damage or caused an injury or death. If you leave the scene without getting the other driver’s information or waiting for the police to arrive, you might be charged with fleeing the scene.
If I was walking in a crosswalk and was hit by a car, is the driver automatically at fault?
Not necessarily. Although it is the responsibility of the driver to take all precautions and to follow the rules of the road, a pedestrian must be able to prove negligence on the part of the driver. Your conduct, the driver’s conduct, and the circumstances of the situation matter in determining fault and possible compensation.
Hiring a Car and Truck Accident Attorney in Massachusetts
If you’ve been injured in a truck or car accident, then you may be feeling overwhelmed and scared. It’s perfectly normal not to know how to proceed, especially if you’re still recovering for your injuries. A personal injury attorney in the Boston area can help you navigate the process and claim any due compensation.
It’s best to reach out to a vehicle accident lawyer as soon as possible after your crash. They will walk you through the entire process, evaluate your case, investigate the accident, and work on your behalf to settle the case in your favor. If the case goes to trial, they will represent you and your interests. The laws surrounding car and truck accident lawsuits can be challenging to understand and you need a Boston car accident lawyer who understands how to work the case in your favor.
You have to be able to place a lot of trust in your lawyer. That’s why it’s so important to choose an attorney who has in-depth knowledge of car accident law and the ability to litigate to verdict in a truck accident case. If you’re looking for a Boston truck accident lawyer with extensive experience, Attorney John J. Sheehan has been advocating for accident victims for more than 20 years. He is fluent in Spanish and works with people from all over Massachusetts who are seeking compensation for their injuries. To schedule a consultation, call 617-249-7884 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.