Can You Negotiate Your Own Car Accident Settlement in Massachusetts?

Following a car accident, the responsible party can be held liable for any damages and injuries the injured plaintiff has suffered. A person might encounter many issues when negotiating a settlement. It is best to seek help from a Boston car accident attorney to determine if you are eligible to seek compensation for damages.

While it is certainly possible for a person to negotiate a car insurance settlement on their own, it is not advised. The insurance company is not on your side. While it is their job to pay for your injuries and damages, they will look for every opportunity to get out of paying. Having a lawyer on your side may help you get a better settlement much faster than if you negotiated alone.

Speak to our knowledgeable personal injury attorneys to determine which type of damages you may be eligible to recover and learn about the issues in negotiating a Boston car accident settlement. Call the Law Office of John J. Sheehan at (617) 925-6407for a free case review.

Common Issues When Negotiating a Settlement

The negotiation process for a car accident settlement is certainly treacherous and fraught with unforeseen complications. If you have never been in an accident before, you might be relying on unfounded assumptions about insurance companies. Many believe an insurance company wants to help them, but this is not completely true.

An insurance company will only pay out a settlement if you can present evidence to support your claims. Evidence is necessary not only to prove the extent of your damages but to prove that your accident happened at all. Insurance fraud is fairly common. To avoid paying for non-existent accidents, insurance companies will demand a certain level of evidence. Depending on how your accident happened, evidence might be hard to come by.

The presence of pre-existing medical conditions may also complicate your settlement negotiations. You might have medical conditions or physical injuries that existed before the accident and were made worse by it. In that case, the insurance company will fight to compensate you only for the damage caused by the accident. This may mean parsing out your medical history and delaying your settlement.

There is also the issue of your medical bills and how any other insurance you have affects them. If your health insurance covered some, but not all, of your medical bills, the car insurance company will want to know. They do not want to pay for bills that have already been paid for by someone else.

You must also be extremely careful about what you say during settlement negotiations. The insurance company is likely far more proficient in the settlement and legal process after a car accident. If they can use your words against you, they absolutely will. If settlement negotiations break down, you should contact an attorney if you have not already. Our Cambridge car accident attorneys are here to help.

Negotiating a Car Accident Settlement in Massachusetts When You Are Partly Responsible for the Crash

There are a few issues in negotiating a Boston car accident settlement when liability is unclear or shared. There will be issues of negligence in the insurance company’s analysis of the reckless driver. If there is an issue of comparative negligence or the negligence of the injured person, it will affect the amount of the settlement.

Car accidents usually happen very fast, and the drivers involved typically believe the other is to blame. However, it is not unusual for both drivers to share some degree of blame. Suppose the driver in front of you stopped short, causing you to rear-end them. However, you were speeding at the time, making the collision worse. In this scenario, both drivers would share some responsibility for the accident. The trick is determining who shares the greater degree of liability.

In a lawsuit, Massachusetts follows a modified comparative negligence rule. Under this rule, found under Mass. Gen. Laws Ch. 23,1 § 85, your total damages are reduced in proportion to your percentage of responsibility. Basically, if you are 25% at fault, your damages are reduced by 25%. However, once you are more than 50% responsible, you can no longer recover. The insurance company might follow a similar rule and attempt to reduce your damages if they believe you share responsibility. However, they are not necessarily bound by this rule since settlement negotiations do not happen in the courtroom. Our Malden car accident attorneys can help you fight for the maximum settlement possible.

Gathering Evidence to Support Your Insurance Claims After a Car Accident in Massachusetts

Evidence is always necessary to support your claims. It is not enough to state that you were injured in a car accident. You must prove it. If you enter the negotiation process alone, you may not have the necessary evidence prepared to effectively argue for the compensation you deserve. On top of that, every accident is unique, and the evidence available varies from case to case.

With the assistance of our Somerville car accident attorneys, you can enter the negotiation process armed with strong, supportive evidence. An attorney is in the best position to analyze your case and determine what kind of evidence you should be looking for. Was there a surveillance camera nearby? Did one of the cars use a dash-cam? Were there any witnesses who can provide a statement? A lawyer can help you collect evidence you would not have even thought to look for.

It is not enough to gather all the evidence. You need to know how to use it. Sometimes, settlement negotiations can take a long time, and the evidence will be heavily scrutinized. You need to make sure that the insurance company cannot poke any holes in your evidence. An attorney can help you present your evidence in a way that strengthens your case and leaves little room for compromise.

Pre-Existing Conditions

Another issue that a person may encounter is pre-existing conditions. If the injured person claims that they injured their back in the accident, and their medical history shows that they had a long-standing back condition before the car accident, then that will be an issue. The courts will look at the extent of the injuries and if the car accident aggravated or worsened the pre-existing back pain.

If there are issues of pre-existing arthritis or degenerative changes, that will be an issue during the settlement. The extent of the injured claimant’s complaints and medical treatment related to the trauma they sustained or aggravation of any pre-existing condition will be examined while negotiating a settlement.

An attorney can help you prevent any pre-existing conditions from compromising your settlement. The insurance company is eager to minimize your damages in any way it can. They might over-emphasize a pre-existing condition in an effort to reduce your settlement. Our Wakefield car accident lawyers can help you present information regarding your medical history and evidence of the crash to demonstrate the true extent of your injuries that should be compensated by the insurance company.

Medical Bills and Health Insurance

Other issues in negotiating a Boston car accident settlement may be unpaid medical bills because medical coverage through the auto policy has been exhausted or the health insurance does not pay. You might have insurance coverage for the accident from multiple sources. If your insurance coverage comes from a spouse and is not in your name, your case might be further complicated. An attorney can help you organize your insurance information to determine how much money you should be paid in a settlement.

Another issue would be liens for health insurance, Medicaid, which is referred to as MassHealth, in Massachusetts, or Medicare itself. Sometimes, that person might be a veteran and receive medical treatment through the VA (the Veterans’ Administration). If that is the case, then the injured claimant’s Boston personal injury lawyer has to be in contact with the VA to determine how much their medical bills are, and they would have a lien that needs to be addressed and see if there is any way to reduce the amount through negotiation.

Complications and Delayed Settlements

These issues delay someone receiving their settlement. In situations involving liens or potential liens, there might be a situation where the insurance company for the defendant may suspect or may need to determine whether or not, for example, Medicare paid anything, so it is going to delay the settlement because it takes time to confirm with Medicare.

The best way to limit any delay is to put Medicare, MassHealth, VA, and health insurers on notice early on in the claims process so that when parties are getting down to the wire, negotiating a settlement, and reaching an agreement, they already have responses.

A Massachusetts personal injury attorney will have a contact that they can follow up and streamline the process to get to the final amount or get to the final determination. In some cases, there is no money owed, but those are the things that can delay the process as far as receiving the settlement amount or settlement money once the amount has been agreed to.

Avoiding Admissions of Fault or Guilt When Negotiating a Car Accident Settlement

When speaking to an insurance company about anything, especially during settlement negotiations, it is important to carefully choose your words. People often say things like “I’m so sorry about what happened,” to be polite. However, an insurance company might interpret this as an admission of wrongdoing or fault and argue that you would not feel compelled to apologize if you were not responsible for the accident.

This is, of course, bogus. However, there is nothing stopping an insurance company from using an innocuous pleasantry as an admission of guilt and reducing your settlement. Our Massachusetts car accident lawyers are trained to argue and know how to negotiate. We can help you get the greatest settlement possible while avoiding the pitfalls of negotiating.

How a Car Accident Attorney Could Help

When considering settling their claim, people need to be aware of taxes. According to the Internal Revenue Code, any settlement for a personal injury resulting from any accident, including car collisions, is tax-free. They need to consider the alternatives, the risks in going to trial, and have confidence that they are making the right decision.

Oftentimes, people have a lot of outside pressures being asserted on them through a spouse, family members, or friends that have opinions about everything under the sun, including how their case should proceed and whether or not a settlement is a good settlement or not. The only person who has an informed opinion is the injured claimant’s car accident attorney. You really should consider and give the greatest weight to the recommendations and the legal advice you receive from your attorney.

Call Our Massachusetts Car Accident Attorneys

If you were in a car accident, speak to our skilled Cambridge car accident lawyers to learn about the issues in negotiating a Boston car accident settlement. Call the Law Office of John J. Sheehan at (617) 925-6407 today to schedule a free case review.

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