If you’ve been injured in a vehicle crash, the time after an accident can bring both confusion and a sense of urgency when trying to move forward again in life. However, understanding if you have a valid legal claim is critical when dealing with the fallout of a collision on the road.

Establishing the validity of your claim is a multistep process – from police reports to medical bills, many factors come into play as you consider the potential for a claim. In this article, we will go over the critical factors you will need to evaluate along with your car accident lawyer when considering if you have a legal claim after a vehicle crash.

Factors to consider when determining a legal claim for a car accident

Determining Responsibility

Determining whether you have a legal claim following a vehicle crash starts with identifying the responsible parties, which might include the faulty driver, their employer, or a business that served alcohol to an impaired driver involved in the crash.

Are you at fault?

Determining who is at fault is crucial. In most cases, the person who caused the accident is held liable for damages. This can be established through evidence such as police reports, eyewitness accounts, and any available video footage of the crash.

Although Massachusetts is a no-fault state, meaning your own insurance company pay for your injuries up to your personal policy limit, there is still a strict set of standards for determining fault. Claims adjusters in MA might still consider accident details, witness testimonies, police reports, and relevant state traffic laws. In situations involving shared fault, insurers will negotiate to determine the level of liability shared between the drivers.

Additionally, Massachusetts state law allows individuals the legal right to sue the at-fault party for non-monetary damages that surpass a $2,000 threshold.

Was the other driver negligent?

Proving that the other driver was negligent is key. This can include actions like speeding, reckless driving, driving under the influence, or failing to follow traffic rules.

Have you suffered injury or have property damage?

You must have suffered an injury or property damage as a result of the accident. Medical records, bills for property damage, and other documentation can help substantiate your claim.

Has the statute of limitation passed?

Critical to this process is the need to adhere to the filing deadlines imposed by law. Each state sets its statutes of limitations for different types of claims, such as those for injuries or property damage.

This timeline varies by state but is typically between 2-4 years from the date of the accident, and missing this deadline could result in losing your right to compensation. 

In Massachusetts, the statute of limitations for filing most injury lawsuits (including car accident cases against private individuals) is three years from the date of injury.

Does the other driver have insurance?

The other driver’s insurance coverage can affect your ability to recover damages. If the driver is uninsured or underinsured, you may need to explore other avenues for compensation.

What is the severity of your injuries?

The severity of your injuries can impact the compensation you receive. This includes medical expenses, lost wages, and potential future medical care.

Do you have admissible evidence?

Gathering evidence is crucial. This can include photographs of the accident scene, medical records, police reports, and testimony from witnesses. Read our blog on admissible evidence.

Are there police reports and accident investigations?

Police reports serve as foundational documents in determining fault in vehicle crashes. They contain key information for insurance and legal claims, documenting the officers’ findings and assessments at the scene.

Filing a police report right after an accident can provide valuable leverage should the accident details come under scrutiny later. Insurance adjusters also heavily depend on police reports to gather evidence, interview parties, and evaluate the vehicle damage to all vehicles involved. If a crash results in significant damages or injuries, police officers are mandated to file a report within certain time frames set by law. This report then becomes an essential part of the insurance accident claim process, as insurers often require it for claim evaluations.

Determining the Type of Claim

Two distinct types of car insurance claims come into play here: a third-party claim against another driver’s insurance if they were at fault, and a first-party claim against your insurance in situations such as residing in no-fault states or dealing with uninsured/underinsured motorists.

Understanding your auto insurance policy is vital when determining if you have a legal claim after a vehicle crash. Policies typically describe the coverage for replacement vehicles and newly acquired vehicles, with conditions for these provisions. When a lawsuit is involved, the insurance company provides legal defense as part of the policy. However, if the at-fault driver’s insurance is insufficient or non-existent, first-party claims under your own insurance, like uninsured motorist coverage, become relevant. It’s essential to promptly notify your insurance company about any involved vehicles to ensure continued coverage.

Types of Damages in a Claim

A comprehensive list of medical expense claims can cover bodily injuries and property damage, potential lost wages, and suffering caused by the incident. Pain and suffering resulting from the accident can be evaluated, which can be anything from physical discomfort and the effects of medical treatment to adverse impacts on social and daily life.

Insurers use various methods to calculate these non-economic damages, including multipliers of economic damages until the injured party recovers.

  • Economic damages cover the costs you have incurred as a result of the incident including lost wages and medical bills.

  • Medical bills and related expenses from the accident are a significant consideration in your insurance claim. These can include costs for initial medical treatment, rehabilitation, and any ongoing medical care required as a result of the accident.

    When submitting a claim to an insurance company, detailed documentation of all medical treatments and associated bills is crucial to ensure proper reimbursement. Keep in mind that these medical claims must be filed within the time limits set by statutes of limitations.
  • Property damage claims are processed differently depending on whether you live in a no-fault or at-fault state. In no-fault states, such claims generally follow an at-fault system, where the insurer of the at-fault driver may pay for vehicle repairs. Photographs of vehicle damage are often critical to these claims, helping establish liability. In some cases, if the fault is not clear, a claims adjuster will investigate to ascertain the cause of the accident and who is responsible for the damages.
  • Intangible losses that do not have a monetary value such as pain and suffering, emotional suffering, relational losses, disfigurement or impairment, or loss of enjoyment of life.

Seek legal representation for your car accident claim

Consulting with a car accident attorney can significantly enhance your chances of settling and is especially critical for serious injuries. Legal representation also ensures that all interactions with insurance adjusters are conducted strategically, with a focus on receiving the highest possible settlement within the legal deadlines.

In many cases, insurance companies may often present initial lowball offers that undervalue the true cost of damages. An attorney can assist in negotiating fair compensation, balancing between initial low offers and the actual settlement deserved. The process may involve formally rejecting inadequate offers and countering with more appropriate figures.

An experienced attorney can:

  • Handle negotiations
  • Preserve evidence
  • Ensure you receive fair financial compensation.
  • They are also well-versed in statutes of limitations and other legal deadlines, advising you to act within the permissible timeframe to avoid losing your right to claim.

Our personal injury attorneys work on a contingency fee basis, which means there is no legal fee unless our attorneys recover financial compensation for your injuries.