Car Accidents Overview

Motor Vehicle Accident

Have you been injured in an automobile, car, truck, pedestrian, or bus or other vehicular accident caused by someone else’s negligence? Contact a Massachusetts motor vehicle accident lawyer at The Law Office of Louis S. Haskell for a free consultation. The Law Office of Louis S. Haskell has successfully represented thousands of accident victims and obtained exceptional results in a wide variety of serious and catastrophic injury cases as well as the regular soft tissue or “whiplash” sort of injuries.  Over the years, Attorney Haskell has put tens of millions of dollars into the pockets of his motor vehicle accident clients.  “In the pocket” means after attorney’s fees, and expenses, and after the medical bills are paid.

What Should You Do If You Have Been Injured In An Auto Accident?

If an auto accident causes injuries to you or to a loved one, you should contact a well-established and reputable law firmimmediately. As outlined below, time is of the essence, particularly for individuals unable to care for themselves.  You should consult a capable auto accident attorney soon after you leave the scene of the accident or are released from the emergency room.

What To Do At The Scene Of A Motor Vehicle Accident

  • As simple as that sounds, many people will drive on.
  • Check for Injuries. Before you get out of the car, and before you speak to anybody, you want to make sure that you and your passengers are not in distress.  Tending to the injured takes priority over everything else.
  • Identify Witnesses.It is important that if somebody witnesses the accident, that you get their information. In particular, you need the name, address and telephone number.
  • Call the Police.The police will document that the accident has happened and make sure that all the proper information is obtained. In the event of an injury, the police will summons an ambulance.
  • Exchange Information. Generally speaking, the drivers will hand each other their licenses and registrations. If you are not sure what to write down, then write down everything. The important thing is to identify the driver (name, license number, address, and date of birth), the vehicle’s owner, and vehicle’s insurance company. Write down vehicle’s registration and make sure it matches the license plate on the car.
  • Keep Conversation to a Minimum. After asking if the other operator and passengers are okay, conversation should be kept to the business at hand.
  • Document the Scene (take pictures). It is good to get pictures of the other car and of the damage to that car.  Also, it is good to take pictures showing the relationship of the two vehicles, especially if they have not moved appreciably from the point of impact or from where they ended up when the accident was over.  Skid marks photos are also good to have.
  • Get in the Ambulance (if needed). There is insurance to pay the bill and the at-fault vehicle’s insurer will pay for the tow, if your insurance will not.  Do not neglect your health and well-being because you are concerned about bills that will be paid.

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 What To Do After A Car Accident If You Have Been Injured

  • Seek Medical Attention.If you took the ambulance to the emergency room, this process has already begun.  People, often feel worse later in the day, and very commonly feel worse the day or days following the accident.  If you are hurt, seek treatment right away.
  • Contact your Family Doctor.You want to contact your family doctor as soon after the accident as possible.  It may take a while to get an appointment, so you want to start the process promptly.  If your doctor will see you right away, that would be even better.
  • Contact an Experienced and reputable Massachusetts or New Hampshire Motor Vehicle Accident Lawyer. Seeking immediate medical attention and contacting your family doctor are things which need to be done immediately. There is no reason to wait until you have seen a lawyer before you seek treatment or contact your family doctor. Everything else that you need to do is much easier if you have already seen an experienced accident attorney.
  • Get the Police Report. (if there is one). If the police came and made a report you want a copy of it. You can get it by simply going to the local Police Station during business hours and asking for It. Usually you can get the police report faster than your attorney can.  However, your attorney will get it for you if you cannot.
  • Do Your Operator’s Report. You are required to file an operator’s report with the local police and the Registry of Motor vehicles. Many police officers do not know how to fill out this report properly, even though they write hundreds of them.  It is good to have your attorney help you with this.  If your attorney wants you to do your report by yourself, you need to see another attorney.
  • Contact Your Insurance Company. You do need to notify your Insurance Company, especially if you want them to fix your car or pay your medical bills. The Insurance Company is going to want to take a statement from you. As a result, it is a good idea to see your attorney as soon as possible so you do not give your statement alone.  No experienced attorney will allow an insurance company to take your statement without someone from the attorney’s office being present.  Ideally, your attorney will report accident for you.
  • Get Your Car Repaired at a Registered Shop. The Insurance Company will actually give you a list of registered body shops. Since the list comes from the Insurance Company, there is some temptation to avoid these shops. In this case, that is a mistake. The Insurance Companies are required by Law to give you a list of every registered body shop in your area.  You may want to ask your attorney for advice about which repair shops are the best.
  • Save your Bills and Receipts. If you have gone by ambulance to one of the local hospitals and they took x-rays, that trip will generate at least 4 separate bills. Some of these bills are not easy for your lawyer to get. However, these bills will be mailed to you. If you give them to the attorney, the attorney will make sure the insurance company pays them.
  • Make Sure That All Car Rentals Are Direct Billed to the Insurance Company.(Where Possible).  There are so many traps for the unwary where car rentals are concerned.  Car rental companies are very aggressive about selling you their insurance, which is very expensive. What is worse, the insurance companies will not reimburse you.  Make sure your attorney reviews your rental contract immediately.
  • Follow the Instructions of Your Health Care Providers. It is not uncommon for your family doctor to send you to a specialist or a physical therapist for treatment.  Even family doctors who are comfortable seeing car accident patients are often not so comfortable treating them.  Your lawyer will help you navigate the maze of issues these referrals create.
  • Remove the Car from the Tow Yard. You want to remove your car from the tow yard as soon as possible.  From the moment the car is towed, it is incurring storage fees.  If you have collision insurance, or if the accident is the other car’s fault, then the insurance company will pay reasonable storage fees.  There will come a time when the insurance company will argues that the fees are unreasonable.  So the better thing is to get the car out of the tow yard and to the body shop that is going to repair your car.  It would be even better if the car were towed to the registered body shop before the first appraisal is done.

 Fault for Auto Accidents

A driver must exercise “reasonable care” while behind the wheel and may be deemed negligent for violating speed limits, operating too fast under the circumstances, following too close, ignoring traffic signals, failing to maintain a proper lookout, any failure to yield right of way or to proceed when it was not safe or reasonable or being preoccupied by distracting activities like eating or talking on a cell phone while driving. Any deviation from the standard of care of a reasonable person who finds themselves confronted with the situation facing the driver can give rise to a finding of fault.

The burden of proving negligence, however, is on the injured party. It falls on the victim to show that the driver who caused the collision was negligent and that the negligence caused injuries deserving of compensation.

An experienced and reputable collision accident lawyer at the Law Office of Louis S. Haskell will skillfully navigate an injured person’s claims through the complexities of the court system and the insurance claims process, pinpointing the legal basis for the claims and quantifying the damages to which the injured individual is entitled.
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Sources of Compensation for Your Car Accident Injuries

It is important that you hire a lawyer who will do more than just file an insurance claim for you.  The readily available insurance may not be enough to pay for your damages.  You want a lawyer who will investigate every possible source of compensation. You and the passengers in your vehicle may have claims against additional parties who bear responsibility for the motor vehicle accident. For example:

  • All owners of a vehiclemay be liable for the negligent conduct of the driver.
  • Employersbear responsibility for auto accidents caused by their employees while on the job.
  • Government units and agenciesmay share in the fault for the auto accident for failure to design, construct, or maintain safe roads.
  • Auto manufacturersmay be liable for defective design or manufacture of a vehicle or part for injuries.
  • Uninsured motorist, underinsured motorist and Medpaycoverage as well as health and disability coverages may exist under your and/or your passengers’ policies, which can provide additional sources of compensation in a vehicular collision under certain circumstances.

Damages in Auto Accident Cases

Insurance companies try to pay you the least amount of money possible to settle your claim. As such, they can be very misleading about what you are entitled to recover. A competent and reputable accident attorney will pursue every type of compensation available for an auto injury client.

If you have been injured in an automobile accident, you may be entitled to recover compensation for your:

  • Medical billsfor past and future emergency room care, hospital visits, doctor visits, surgery, medical appliances, physical therapy, or chiropractic treatment, prescriptions, diagnostic testing like x-rays, EMGs, and MRIs.
  • Pain and suffering.You are entitled to compensation for the pain the accident has caused you. It is an important part of your loss.  The severity and duration of your injuries are essential factors in calculating damages for pain and suffering and well as mental anguish. It is good to take notes on how the accident had affected your personal and working daily activities.
  • Diminution of Earnings Capacityas a result of time loss from work, even if paid by your employer, or other restrictions placed on your capacity to earn a living.
  • Scarring and Disfigurement.You are entitled to payment for any disfiguring injury caused by the motor vehicle accident.  How much you will receive is very subjective so you will need the assistance of an experienced motor vehicle accident lawyer.
  • Loss of Consortium. Sometimes a close family member, such as a husband or wife, may be compensated for the loss of care, comfort, companionship and services.
  • Punitive damages are very rare in motor vehicle accidents cases, but they can occur in certain extreme cases.

Collateral Source Rule

One favorite trick of insurance companies is to tell people that because somebody else paid for their damages, such as their health insurer or their employer through sick or vacation time that the insurance company does not have to pay. Amazingly, they even tell this to attorneys, as apparently they get away with it sometimes. However, this claim by the insurance companies is not true in Massachusetts, like most states, adheres to the collateral source rule. As between a negligent party and the innocent victim, it shall be the victim who is the beneficiary of the victims own prudence in providing for the third party payment in the first place. That is to say that since it is the responsibility of the negligent party to pay for your medical bills, the fact that your health insurer has paid your medical bills results in a windfall to somebody. It could be a windfall to the negligent driver or it could be a windfall to the innocent victim. However, somebody gains. The insurance company would like to claim that windfall and save themselves some money. However, the law is that the innocent victim gains the windfall by basically being paid twice. What is more, since whatever third-party benefit is available was either directly or indirectly bargained for by the victim, the victim paid for this windfall. Insurance companies like to pretend that the collateral source rule does not exist. A skillful lawyer will push back on this issue, and the insurance companies will back down every single time, if pushed hard enough.