The First Things to Do After a Car Accident in Massachusetts
After a car accident, there are steps that victims can take that can protect both their personal health and their financial recovery for the consequences of the crash. These steps begin immediately after the crash, so it is never too early to learn what to do.
Once you are out of the zone of danger, call 911 and gather as much information you can at the scene through pictures and video and conversations with other drivers and potential witnesses. After you leave the scene, immediately seek medical care. After your injuries have been treated, enlist the help of an attorney to help you obtain your accident report, communicate with insurance representatives, and evaluate the possibility of a personal injury lawsuit.
At the Law Office of John J. Sheehan, our car crash attorneys will work with you through every step of your case, starting with a free initial case assessment so that you can get the facts about your recovery. to hear more, call us today at (617) 925-6407.
What Should You Do at the Scene of a Massachusetts Car Accident?
It can be hard to focus on your priorities after the initial shock that a car accident causes. that is why our seasoned Cambridge car accident attorneys have provided the following list of prudent steps that an accident victim can and should take while at the scene of the accident. by taking these steps, you can both prioritize your own health and preserve your ability to recover compensation later for injuries and property damage.
Get to Safety
When an accident occurs on a public roadway in Massachusetts, there is always the possibility of subsequent vehicles adding to the collision. This is particularly common in situations with low visibility or weather conditions.
You should do your best to prevent your already unfortunate situation from getting even worse. If your vehicle is still operable, slowly pull over to the nearest shoulder or side street that is out of the way of the flow of traffic. If the vehicle is disabled, turn on your hazards and deploy safety flares if you have them, then get everyone out of the vehicle and off of the road.
We always recommend that car accident victims contact emergency services and alert them to the situation, regardless of how severe you believe the accident may be. This can serve several purposes.
For one, you can request emergency medical services so that serious injuries can receive immediate treatment. Additionally, the dispatcher will also send law enforcement units to the scene to investigate and document the accident. The officers will compile and submit theirs in an official report, which will be useful to your later recovery.
Having law enforcement present will also protect against the other driver deciding to flee the scene. Leaving the scene of a car accident early is a crime in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, but other drivers may still try to flee if they are unlicensed, uninsured, or otherwise fearful of the potential consequences of their actions.
Take Pictures and Video
The police officers that conduct the investigation should do their best to document every bit of detail surrounding the accident. However, the reality is that some information may be lost for good after they leave the scene without diligent recording. For this reason, we encourage you to take detailed photos and video recordings of the scene, property damage, and the conditions that gave rise to the accident. While you may ultimately not need this information, you are always better off having it accessible than not.
Get Information from Other Drivers
Under Massachusetts law, drivers involved in an accident with others are required to make their best efforts to share contact and insurance information. If for whatever reason, you are unable to gather information from other parties, the law enforcement agents who are called to the scene should be able to assist in this effort.
Talk to Witnesses
One of the hardest tasks for victims, after they leave the scene, is to track down individuals who may have witnessed the accident. These people can provide testimony about the crash in a later deposition or trial to help you recover the compensation that you are owed. The police can also take statements from witnesses at the scene that they can include in their report, so if you can convince these individuals to wait for the police to arrive, their perspective may aid in preserving the record of what happened.
What Should You Do After You Leave the Scene of a Massachusetts Car Accident?
Car accidents never happen when they are most convenient. You may feel that the accident wasn’t that serious, or that you have more pressing matters to attend to. Still, we strongly urge you to take the time to accomplish the following steps.
Get Medical Attention
It is vital that you visit an emergency room or urgent care facility immediately after a Massachusetts car accident, not just for your own personal health but also for your ultimate financial recovery. Without immediate medical assessment, you might not discover the extent of your injuries until much later. In these cases, your condition may have substantially worsened, potentially even to the point that it may threaten your life.
Seeking medical care as soon as possible also sends a clear message to the other side (and potentially a jury) that you took your injuries seriously and did everything you could to prevent them from worsening. Otherwise, the other side might argue that you exacerbated your injuries by waiting to seek care, or that you may have suffered these injuries as a result of some event after the accident.
Request or File an Accident Report
You will want to obtain a copy of the official accident report that the police officer at the scene filed. Depending on where the accident occurred and the department to which the officer belonged, there may be multiple ways to go about this. Your Boston car accident attorney will be familiar with the process of requesting an accident report and can help you obtain it. Typically, accident reports are not made available immediately after the crash, so you may have to wait several business days before making your request.
If there was no officer called to the scene of the accident, you will have to file your own Motor Vehicle Crash Operator Report. to report your accident, you typically must file the form within five days of the date of the accident. Your report must contain certain information about the circumstances of the accident, the parties involved, and the resulting damages to the person or property. You must mail copies of the report to the appropriate police department, your insurance company, and the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV). Consult with your Massachusetts car accident attorney to make sure you include all the relevant details of your accident and file your report according to the proper procedural rules.
Talk to a Massachusetts Car Accident Lawyer
While you do have the ability to pursue recovery for your car accident without legal representation, we strongly urge you not to take this on alone. Massachusetts car accident injury victims who are represented are much more likely to recover (and recover more) than those who choose to go at it alone.
It is unfortunately common for victims to let important details and deadlines slip through the cracks while they try to balance their injury recovery with their legal action. If you enlist the help of a seasoned Somerville car accident lawyer early on, they can retain and organize evidence, ensure that you meet deadlines, and handle all communication with the other side and insurance companies.
The one priority that you should address prior to speaking with your attorney is your immediate medical care. Do not put off your initial treatment for any reason. Your attorney will actually benefit from having your medical record information when you speak so that they can assess your damages and provide you with an idea of what your potential case may be worth. If you have received a diagnosis and require specialist care, our lawyers can locate a medical professional that can not only treat you, but also provide expert testimony that can aid in your recovery efforts.
How to Deal with the Other Side’s Insurance Company After a Massachusetts Car Accident?
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts uses a no-fault car insurance system. This means that you must first pursue compensation for a car accident from your own insurance provider through your Personal Injury Protection policy (PIP), even if the other driver was at fault. However, you can step outside of the no-fault system if your injuries are serious enough to meet the state threshold. This is always the more lucrative option for victims when it is available. Therefore, the other driver’s insurance company may reach out to you shortly after the accident is reported.
The point of the other insurance company’s attempt to speak with you is to head off any opportunity that you may have to seek compensation from them in a lawsuit. They may attempt to get you to confirm a version of events that favors the other side or make statements that they could use against you in court. They may even offer you a settlement deal that would pay you much less than you could earn in a lawsuit.
You are not obligated to comply with the other driver’s insurance company’s requests. Avoid making any statements to them that imply you were at fault for causing the accident or that your injuries aren’t serious. Instead, you can have your Wakefield car accident attorney do all of the communication on your behalf so that you don’t accidentally hurt your ability to pursue compensation through a lawsuit.
How Long Do You Have to File a Massachusetts Car Accident Lawsuit?
If you plan to file a lawsuit against the party that was responsible for causing your accident, you must act within the required period of time, which is set by the statute of limitations. In the Commonwealth, the statute of limitations for car accident injury lawsuits runs for three years following the date on which the accident occurred. If you miss the deadline, the other side can file a motion to dismiss your case, which the court will likely grant. If your case is dismissed for being filed too late, this likely ends your opportunity to recover financially.
Three years may seem like an eternity, but you would be shocked to discover how fast time can pass, especially when dealing with the ramifications of serious injuries. Additionally, if you put off contacting a lawyer until the deadline is set to expire, you might not have enough time to put all of the information together to file. Preparing an official complaint may take some time, and acting early gives your attorneys a chance to fully evaluate your case and obtain evidence that might be harder to find later on.
Should You Accept Insurance Benefits from Your Own Provider After a Massachusetts Car Accident?
In the immediate aftermath of a car accident, there are some expenses that must be paid, such as medical bills and auto repair fees. Victims facing these costs might worry that by paying them or accepting insurance coverage through their own policies, they might hinder their ability to recover through a pending lawsuit.
If you are eligible for insurance benefits to cover the financial consequences of your accident, you should feel free to use them. Your acceptance of insurance coverage will not prevent you from recovering damages in a lawsuit.
Instead, if you win damages through your lawsuit, your insurance provider will likely assert a claim on the amount that they paid against your damages. This is fairly standard practice for insurance companies. Your Massachusetts personal injury attorney can help you arrange the distribution of the compensation portions you owe to properly satisfy any outstanding debts.
Call the Law Office of John J. Sheehan After Your Massachusetts Car Accident
To get your free initial case assessment from our diligent Boston personal injury lawyers, call the Law Office of John J. Sheehan today at (617) 925-6407.