When Can You File a Claim or a Lawsuit?
Being involved in a car accident can result in expensive losses, even if the collision itself was fairly minor. With the cost of auto repairs today, a minor fender bender can result in thousands of dollars in losses. If you’re in a car or truck accident that’s more serious, you might find yourself dealing with more substantial losses and physical injuries.
Personal injury law is meant to provide a path for individuals in such situations to seek compensation from those who are at fault in car accidents—or from their insurance companies. However, car accident injury cases are rarely open-and-shut, and you don’t automatically get compensated by other parties for your losses.
Claims Filed With Your Own Insurance Company
Your first step in recouping losses after a car accident in Massachusetts is typically filing a claim with your insurance company. This is true whether you were at fault in the accident or believe that someone else is. That’s because Massachusetts is a no-fault insurance state.
That doesn’t mean that Massachusetts doesn’t allow you to seek compensation from someone who was negligent in a car accident. However, to ensure drivers and passengers have easy access to compensation for medical expenses related to accidents, drivers must carry insurance coverage that can help pay for those expenses immediately.
When Can You Seek Compensation From Another Party?
In Massachusetts, you can seek compensation from another insurance company or party by filing a personal injury lawsuit. However, you can’t do that unless your case meets some minimum requirements.
If you have injuries that lead to reasonable medical expenses totaling more than $2,000, you can seek compensation from someone else via a lawsuit. You can also file a lawsuit if you suffered injuries in a car accident that caused death, a broken bone (including teeth), or caused permanent scarring.
To be successful with your lawsuit, you’ll need to demonstrate that someone else was at fault to a certain degree in the accident. Talking to a personal injury attorney about your case can help you understand what your options are and if you have a strong case for seeking compensation via a lawsuit.
Massachusetts’ Modified Comparative Fault State
Another important consideration in Massachusetts car accident cases is the modified comparative fault rule. Massachusetts law includes a rule that states that someone can only receive compensation in a personal injury case if they were not more than 50% at fault for the incident in question. If you are deemed 51% or more at fault, you cannot recover any compensation.
Your compensation amount also depends on your negligence in the case. For example, in a scenario where the total award for compensation is $100,000, if the person filing the lawsuit is found to be 30% liable for the accident, they can only recover 70% of the award. That would mean the reward is reduced to $70,000 in that case.
What Type of Damages Can You Seek After a Car Accident in Massachusetts?
If your damages are severe enough that you can file a lawsuit in Massachusetts, you might seek economic and non-economic damages.
Economic damages are amounts that are meant to cover losses you experienced because of the accident. The overall idea is to provide recovery that makes it financially as if the accident didn’t happen. These types of damages include:
- Property damage. In a car accident, this is typically the cost to fix or replace the vehicle that was damaged and certain property inside of it. For example, if you are in an accident in a 10-year-old sedan, you might be able to seek compensation for the market value of that vehicle at the time of the accident if it was totaled.
- Medical costs. If you received treatment from a hospital, doctor, or other healthcare provider due to injuries you sustained in the car accident, your out-of-pocket costs for those treatments may be recoverable.
- Lost wages, income or lost earning capacity. If you were unable to work due to injuries from your car accident, you may be able to seek compensation for the wages you lost.
Depending on the nature of your injuries and situation, you may be able to seek compensation for future economic damages. For example, if it’s determined that you will not be able to return to work again or your injuries will require ongoing medical care for several years, you may be able to make a case for losses that exceed what you have already experienced.
These are damages that don’t relate to a specific economic loss. They include options such as compensation for emotional distress or pain and suffering. Your personal injury attorney can help you understand whether these types of damages might be an option in your case.
What Is the Statute of Limitations?
You must file your lawsuit within 3 years from the date of the accident in most cases. Filing outside of the statute of limitations is grounds for dismissal of your case.
If you believe there is a chance you may need to file a lawsuit in a car accident case, talk to a personal injury legal team sooner rather than later to ensure you have time to understand your options and take appropriate action.
Find Out More By Talking to a Personal Injury Attorney
Reach out to the team at Contant Law to learn about the next steps for your personal injury case and how we can help you fight for compensation after a car accident. Call us today at 617-221-8221.