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Five Things to Know About Car Accident Settlement Agreements

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The insurance company for the at-fault driver in a car accident case might make a settlement offer. A settlement offer is an agreement to end the dispute. The insurance adjuster offers a specific amount of money to resolve your injury claim. Before you receive compensation for your car accident claim, the insurance company requires that you sign a settlement agreement and release. The agreement and release impact your legal rights. It is generally in your best interest to ask a lawyer to review the settlement agreement before you enter into a settlement agreement.

To get help with your car accident settlement, the trusted car accident lawyers at Sweeney Merrigan Law, LLP have the knowledge and experience to assist you in pursuing the maximum possible settlement amount for the losses you have suffered. To get started building your car accident claim, fill out our contact form or call us at (617) 380-4014.

What Is the Boston Car Accident Settlement Process?

After a car accident, you will likely be left with costly expenses as a result of the losses you suffered as a result. Whether you have costly medical bills piling up or property damage, you deserve to be compensated. In order to get financial compensation after a car accident, you must file a car accident claim. Through this claim, your car accident lawyer can help you through the car accident settlement process.

While the amount you receive for your settlement will be unique to your specific case, there are steps to take throughout the claims process that will help you negotiate a fair settlement. The Boston car accident settlement process goes as follows:

After the Accident

In most cases, the settlement process begins moments after the accident occurs. In order to ensure that you get the necessary evidence needed to build a strong claim, follow these steps:

  • Call the police so that an official accident report can be filed
  • Take photos and videos of the accident scene, any visible injuries, and property damage
  • Get witness statements and their contact information
  • Give your statement of events for the accident report
  • Get the insurance and contact information from the other driver involved
  • Seek medical attention for any injuries and keep any documentation or bills given to you

Once you have been checked by a medical professional for any life-threatening injuries, it is crucial that you contact our trusted car accident lawyers to begin putting your claim together.

Send a Demand Letter

A demand letter is a professional document, written by your car accident lawyer, that requests compensation or any other demands to correct the opposing party’s faults. Your lawyer can help you draft, write, and send your demand letter to the insurance provider of the other driver. The demand letter, also called the insurance claim letter, will present the facts about the car accident and is meant to persuade the insurance company to pay you the compensation you are owed.

Once the first two steps are complete in the car accident settlement process, the negotiation will begin. The insurance provider will likely send you an initial settlement offer that is not fair considering your losses. In this case, the experienced car accident lawyers of Sweeney Merrigan Law, LLP will negotiate a settlement that is fair. Once both parties come to an agreement over the settlement amount, the decision will be final and you cannot reopen the claim. That is why it is so important to work with attorneys you trust when pursuing justice after a car accident in Boston.

What Is the Average Car Accident Injury Settlement Amount in Massachusetts?

No matter how safe of a driver you may be, a car accident can occur when you least expect it. Unfortunately, not only are car accidents often emotionally scarring to victims, they are also costly. If you have been involved in a car accident in Massachusetts, it is your legal right to file a claim to pursue financial compensation for the losses you have suffered as a result.

If you have suffered as a result of another driver’s negligence behind the wheel, you may be wondering how much in compensation you will receive for the damage they have caused. While there is no exact answer to how much you can expect from a car accident injury settlement in Massachusetts, your car accident lawyer may be able to calculate the maximum possible amount you are eligible to collect. This calculation is based on the specific details of your case. The details that may indicate how much in damages you can collect include:

Medical Expenses

After a severe car accident, you may have suffered life-altering injuries. Recovering from these injuries can be costly. If you have had to pay for medical bills like costly surgeries, ongoing treatments, or medications, you deserve to be compensated for all out-of-pocket expenses.

Lost Wages

If your injuries have prevented you from being able to work, you should be compensated for the loss of income you and your family has had to endure.

Lost Earning Potential

You should be compensated for the loss of future income as a result of the injuries you have suffered from the car accident. If your injuries have resulted in chronic pain or a permanent condition like paralysis, your current employment or career may be affected as you try to recover.

Property Damage

When a car accident results in the damage to your vehicle or other property, you should be awarded compensation for the cost to repair or replace the property in question.

Pain and Suffering

Most people assume that you may only pursue compensation for physical injuries. However, that is not the case. If you have been the victim of a car accident caused by a negligent party, you should be awarded compensation for all physical, emotional, and psychological injuries.

Additionally, depending on the details of your case, you may be eligible to receive damages such as loss of consortium or wrongful death of a loved one. If you have been injured in a car accident, it is important that you begin the claims process as soon as possible to get the compensation you are owed. If you are unsure how much you should be negotiating for in your car accident settlement, our Massachusetts car accident lawyers may be able to help.

At our Boston, Massachusetts, car accident injury firm, our legal team is dedicated to ensuring you understand the entire settlement process. We will go step-by-step so that you fully understand what damages you are eligible to collect.

Settling a Car Accident Claim Too Early Can Be Costly

The insurance company may offer you a quick settlement for your car accident claim. In some cases, the company may issue an offer before you complete medical treatment for injuries. Beware of a settlement offer issued before each accident victim completes treatment for their injuries. Until you complete your medical treatment, you cannot know for certain how much your medical bills may be or how much money you might lose from being out of work. Lost wages and medical costs after a car accident can be substantial.

You need to make sure that all financial losses are included in a settlement offer. You cannot know for sure whether you might have permanent impairments from the car wreck until you complete treatment. Settling your claim too early can mean that you lose thousands of dollars in damages you were entitled to receive for your injury claim.

Are Car Accident Settlement Agreements Final?

When you accept a settlement offer from an insurance company, the settlement agreement is a final resolution of your claim. After you sign the agreement, you cannot demand more money for your claim. Therefore, make sure that the amount you accept compensates you fully for all your damages. Damages in a car accident case include both economic and non-economic damages.

Economic damages are the financial losses incurred because of the accident and your injuries. Your non-economic damages include the pain and suffering you experienced because of the accident, your injuries, and your recovery. Examples of damages included in a car accident settlement are:

  • The cost of personal care and medical treatment, including therapy, medications, surgeries, doctors’ bills, etc.
  • The loss of income, including wages, commissions, benefits, salary, and bonuses
  • Mental, emotional, and physical pain and suffering
  • Disfigurement and permanent impairments
  • Decreases in future earning potential because of impairments or disabilities
  • Loss of enjoyment of life or quality of life

Your claim may include additional damages, depending on the severity of your injury and the circumstances of your case. If you are unsure how to calculate the value of your damages, you might want to consult with an insurance claims lawyer before signing the agreement.

Should You Accept the First Settlement Offer?

Insurance companies want to pay the lowest amount possible to resolve your car accident claim. The company is in business to make money. Paying claims hurts the company’s profit margin. Therefore, the insurance company will likely make an offer that is much lower than the value of your injury claim. The company hopes that you will not be familiar with personal injury claims or how to value damages. It also hopes to settle the claim before you know the full extent of your damages or talk with a personal injury lawyer.

You are not required to accept an offer from the insurance provider for the at-fault driver. There could be several options available to you for resolving the claim, including rejecting the offer, making a counteroffer, or filing a personal injury lawsuit.

You Can Make a Counter Offer and Negotiate the Settlement

If you are not happy with the insurance provider’s settlement offer, you can make a counter offer and negotiate a settlement. It is best to make a counter offer for more money than you are willing to accept to settle the claim. Using a higher figure allows you to negotiate if the insurance company rejects your counter offer. When making a counter offer, make sure to highlight the severity of your injuries, including your pain and suffering. Also, reiterate that the insured is responsible for your pain and suffering.

It is common to go back and forth several times when negotiating a car accident settlement. The negotiation process could take several weeks or even a few months. Make sure that you are aware of the deadline to file a lawsuit if you need to file a lawsuit to resolve the claim. The deadline to file lawsuits for most car accident claims is three years from the accident date. However, be aware that the statute of limitations (deadline) for filing a lawsuit can vary, depending on the facts of your case. For example, car accident cases involving minors or government entities have different deadlines.

In some cases, a deadline to file a lawsuit could be shorter than three years. Missing the deadline could result in losing your legal right to pursue court action against the person who caused your car accident.

Do You Release All Claims and Parties When Signing the Agreement?

The insurance company may not explain that you are releasing all claims and all parties when you sign a car accident settlement agreement. The language of the release could be difficult to understand and buried within a lengthy document.

When you release all claims and all parties, it means that you are giving up any right to demand more money for your car accident claim. The release covers all parties and claims, known and unknown. Therefore, if you discover that you could have recovered more money by filing a claim against another party or filing an additional claim against the other driver, you are barred from pursuing that claim. The settlement agreement is a legally binding contract that is enforceable in court. Unless there is fraud or other wrongdoing, you are bound by the terms of the agreement.

Do You Need to Hire a Car Accident Lawyer for Your Claim?

Most individuals injured in car accidents benefit by consulting with a lawyer specializing in personal injury law. They learn about their legal rights and their options for recovering maximum compensation for their injuries, damages, and financial losses. If they hire a lawyer, they benefit from having a legal team on their side to protect their best interests throughout the case.

Contact a Boston Car Accident Lawyer for a Free Consultation

If you have questions about a car accident claim or a settlement agreement, we can help. Our legal team is dedicated to providing the trusted legal representation our clients deserve.

When you choose to work with Sweeney Merrigan Law, LLP, you will have access to a team of award-winning car accident lawyers. Our trusted legal team is led by our experienced co-managing partners, J. Tucker Merrigan and Peter M. Merrigan. J. Tucker Merrigan has been a co-managing partner of the firm for over a decade. He has been recognized for his work in the Massachusetts legal system with awards that include: Under 40, National Trial Lawyers; 2020-2021 Lawyer.com Top Attorney Award. Our other co-managing partner, Peter M. Merrigan, has been recognized for his work helping the communities of Boston: 2018 Top 40 Under 40, National Trial Lawyers; 2021 Massachusetts “Super Lawyer.”

If you have been involved in a car accident in Boston, Massachusetts, our car accident injury firm is ready to help you build a strong claim.  Call our office at (617) 380-4014 or reach out online to schedule a free consultation with an experienced Boston car accident lawyer.

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