How to File a Personal Injury Claim in Massachusetts
If you recently received an injury due to someone else’s actions, you may have to accumulate medical bills. If your injuries left you unable to work, the loss in wages may have you wondering how you will ever begin to catch up. However, if someone else caused your injuries, you may want to consider filing a personal injury claim.
If your claim is successful, the person who caused your injuries will compensate you for your medical bills, lost wages, and potentially even your pain and suffering. Filing a personal injury claim is often the only way to ensure you will receive a settlement that covers the full extent of your damages. First, however, it is important to know the basic steps of filing a personal injury claim.
Determine Whether You Have a Case
The basis of any personal injury claim is that some action or failure to act by another person directly led to an incident causing you injury. In most cases, an attorney will attempt to show that the other person’s action showed negligence, or a failure to take proper care to prevent injuries to others. Then, you must prove that the injury led to damages, such as medical bills, pain and suffering, or lost wages.
Consider Whether You Shared Fault
The state of Massachusetts assesses personal injury damages based on comparative fault. In short, if you had any part in the actions that led to your injury, the state limits damages the other person must pay. For example, if you share 20% of the blame for the accident, the courts will only award you 80% of your total medical bills. However, if the state assigns you over 50% of the fault, you cannot receive compensation for any damages.
Consider Whether Your Auto Accident Qualifies for Litigation
Massachusetts is a no-fault state when it comes to auto insurance. In most cases, you must use your personal auto insurance to seek compensation for medical bills. However, if the accident caused you over $2,000 in medical bills or permanent disfigurement, loss of hearing or vision, or broken bones you may file a personal injury lawsuit.
Regardless of the nature of the incident that led to your injuries, gather evidence that may help you win your case. For auto accidents, evidence includes your recollections, the police report, witness observations, photos you took at the scene of the accident, as well as the condition of your vehicle.
Discuss the Incident With Your Insurance Provider
In many cases, your insurance coverage can compensate you for your damages much more quickly than if you waited for the court proceedings. However, keep in mind that insurance companies exist to make money, and will likely offer you a fairly low settlement. Weigh the offer against your potential damages, and determine whether a lawsuit will maximize your compensation.
Notify the Defendant You Intend to File a Lawsuit
While there is no time limit within which you must notify a potential defendant you plan to file suit, informing the defendant prevents the person from claiming you waited too long.
Ensure You File the Suit Within the Statute of Limitations
Each state sets a deadline within which potential plaintiffs must file a lawsuit after the initial incident. Massachusetts gives plaintiffs three years after the incident to file a personal injury lawsuit in civil court. One exception to the statute of limitations exists, and it gives plaintiffs the right to file a suit for an injury that went undiscovered after the initial incident for up to three years after the date of discovery.
Overall, it is important to consult an attorney in Boston. Attorneys often offer free consultations when you are unsure you have a case. Your attorney can help you determine the strength of your case before you proceed with filing.