Winning a case after a car accident requires having the right lawyer. Here are questions to ask your attorney after an accident for the best results.
From 2017 to 2018, the state of Massachusetts saw a 3.6% increase in the number of car accident-related fatalities per year. While the data on car accident-related injuries is limited, we can only assume that they’ve gone up, as well. Distracted driving is becoming an increasingly pressing issue.
If a distracted driver injured you, it is your right to file a personal injury claim with the help of a car accident attorney.
The process of filing a personal injury claim can seem overwhelming. You must ask your attorney the right questions before proceeding with your case.
Read on to find out the ten crucial questions to ask your car accident attorney in the state of Massachusettes.
1. Can We Win This Case?
An excellent personal injury attorney will provide you with a free consultation before taking on your case. That way, you’re not signing any contracts or promising any money for a case that can’t be made.
Massachusetts is a no-fault state. That means that under MA law, you have to meet strict requirements to file a personal injury claim.
To file a personal injury claim after a car accident, you must have acquired at least $2,000 worth of necessary medical bills. Alternatively, you may file a claim if you have broken a bone, lost your sight or hearing, or suffered a severe disfigurement in the accident. Otherwise, you will have to use your insurance to cover your expenses.
2. What Is a Contingency Fee?
Many personal injury attorneys do not collect money from their clients until they’ve won their case. They then take what is called a contingency fee from the client’s claim compensation.
Contingency fee requirements are laid out in Massachusetts law. The percentage an attorney will take of your compensation must be laid out in writing and signed by both you and your attorney.
Before you begin your claim with the help of an attorney, find out how they bill and whether or not they follow the contingency fee plan.
3. Am I Responsible for Court Fees or Other Payments?
There are a variety of fees that arise in a personal injury case, and you must find it who is responsible for paying them. For example, there is typically a fee for filing your complaint.
There is also an assortment of costs associated with taking a case to court. These may include the cost of bringing in expert witnesses, deposition costs, and more.
4. What Is the Statute of Limitations?
In the state of Massachusetts, you have three years to file your claim against the defendant. In almost all cases, this is three years from the day of the accident.
In rare cases, you may have an extended period. This occurs only when you can reasonably prove that you have suffered latent injuries due to the accident. In other words, you would have to prove that you did not know that you were injured until well after the accident occurred.
Because the latter case is rare, you will need to discuss this possibility with an attorney if necessary.
5. What Damages Can I Recover?
Many clients understand that they can recover the money spent on medical bills after a car accident. However, you may also be entitled to compensation for your lost wages during the time of your recovery. You may also be able to recover compensation for pain and suffering.
6. What Is This Case Worth?
Your car accident attorney cannot predict the exact amount you will receive in court. The process involves discovery, proof of liability, and the possible rise of unknown injuries. The defendant’s attorney may look for evidence that your injuries are related to your negligence or a pre-existing condition.
However, they can give you a general idea or spectrum of the amount you could be looking at. They can also walk you through comparative fault rules.
Comparative fault rules in Massachusetts come into play when the judge rules that both the defendant and the injured person are at fault for the accident. As long as the defendant is found to be over 50% at fault, you will still receive some compensation. However, if you are found to be over 50% at fault, you will walk away from the case empty-handed.
7. What Is Your Experience With Personal Injury Cases?
Personal injury law is a thriving industry, and there are plenty of law firms that want in on the action without bringing the experience. They may invest big money into their advertisements and have nothing to back up their claims.
Find out how much experience your car accident attorney has in cases that are similar to your own. Don’t just take their word for it, either. Look for testimonials from previous clients to find out how others fared with the law firm in the past.
8. What Do You Need From Me?
This is one of the most important questions to ask. When it comes to personal injury law, documentation is key. You may be surprised at all of the information you need to provide.
First and foremost, you will need to document all medical expenses. However, your attorney will have to explain to you the best way to document less concrete information, like the pain you’ve experienced.
In addition, you will need to come to your attorney with anyone paperwork that is given to you by the defendant’s insurance company. Don’t sign anything without your attorney’s approval.
Why? The defendant’s insurance company is looking for reasons to prove that the insured is not responsible. They may ask you to agree to another medical examination or sign over your entire medical history, where they’ll search for signs of pre-existing conditions.
From the moment you file your claim, make sure you know exactly what your attorney needs from you.
9. How Long Will This Take?
No two personal injury cases follow the same trajectory and timeline. It can take months or even years to receive a settlement or to receive your award of damages.
Ask your attorney about a reasonable timeline. You need to know how long you should expect to pay your medical expenses and how you are going to cover them. You also need to know if you should apply for other benefits in the time that you are unable to work but have yet to receive compensation for your lost wages.
Once again, your attorney cannot predict exactly how long your case will take. However, they can explain what to expect and how the claims process works. That way, you have a better understanding of what you are up against.
10. Can You Help Me With Social Security Benefits?
Unfortunately, some injuries cause lifelong disabilities. You may find that your ability to work is limited, and your paycheck is smaller than it once was. In this case, you may qualify for social security disability.
Navigating the social security system is complicated. Like filing a personal injury claim, filing for social security disability payments requires documentation of your injury. It also requires proof of a reduced wage and limited physical or cognitive functions.
Many people hire an attorney when filing for social security disability. Attorneys can help you navigate the paperwork or request an appeal if your application is denied. In some cases, social security disability claims go to court.
If you need to apply for social security disability benefits, it may be in your best interest to work with an attorney from the beginning. That way, if your case does have to go to court, your attorney is already familiar with the ins and outs.
Find out if your car accident attorney has any familiarity with the social security system. If they don’t, but you need assistance, they may be able to recommend an attorney or advocate who can help you with that case.
Ask Your Attorney for Help
If you have been in a car accident and want to file a personal injury claim, ask your attorney to help you. Your chances of being awarded damages go up exponentially when you have the help of an attorney.
At Fitzpatrick & Associates, we have ten years of experience in cases just like yours. Our attorneys know Massachusetts law and know what to expect from the insurance companies. We work tirelessly to ensure that our clients receive the compensation they deserve as fast as possible.
Contact us today to schedule your free consultation. We’ll set to work on your case immediately.