By: Karen Nadeau, Esquire
Our firm frequently encounters concerns by our clients who have suffered serious personal injuries due to someone else’s negligence. Often the fear of the unknown causes victims to hesitate to hold those responsible for their harm accountable. Once these 5 questions are answered, our clients are ready to begin the journey of seeking the compensation they deserve. Here are the 5 questions that are raised again and again with our feedback on each:
1. Do I have to sue a negligent party in court?
No. Many of our cases are resolved without a lawsuit. As an injured party, you may bring a claim against the responsible party for compensation. This claim is typically handled by the responsible party’s insurer. Often, it is in our client’s best interest to explore a settlement out of court. With careful preparation and investigation, we put you in the best position to present your case to the insurer and obtain a successful resolution without filing suit. This reduces the costs to the client (court costs and litigating a case in court are very expensive) and minimizes the time it takes to be compensated. There are always exceptions whereby a lawsuit will be necessary. This typically occurs when the insurance company refuses to accept responsibility for the accident and /or refuses to give our client a fair settlement to adequately compensate them for the injuries and damages suffered. We work with our clients so they understand the process as well as the choices they have so that they can make the best decisions for them to move forward.
2. Am I taking money from the negligent party?
No. In almost every case we handle in Massachusetts, you are not taking money from the wrongdoer. Many clients are concerned that they are taking money out of the pocket of the responsible party and financially ruining them. This is not the case. In almost every case we handle, the negligent party has insurance to cover them for the injury that has occurred. Our negotiation of a claim for compensation you deserve as an injured party is with the insurance companies and not the individuals who caused the accident. Again, there are some exceptions if the negligent party fails to have insurance covering the loss. When this happens, we communicate with our clients so they can make informed decisions on how to proceed.
3. Who pays my medical bills when I am a negligence victim in Massachusetts?
Medical bills are a big concern for our clients. Most of us have paid high deductibles, copays and medical bills out of network. Many clients are afraid to get the medical treatment they need because they are worried about having to pay the medical bills. The good news is that there is typically insurance coverage on motor vehicle policies to cover some of your medical expenses including copayments and out of pocket expenses. There is often medical payments coverage to offset some medical costs. More importantly, your own health insurance will typically cover your medical expenses in the ordinary course even if you were in an accident at the hands of someone else’s wrongdoing. The bad news is that coordinating medical coverage with the different insurers can be time consuming and frustrating. However, we work with our clients to get the medical coverage they are entitled to and help them navigate a system that is not user friendly. Additionally, part of your settlement typically includes your medical bills related to the accident. Some more bad news…your health insurer is legally entitled to recover out of your settlement the cost of medical bills the health insurer paid out. Many clients are familiar with the term “lien” meaning the health insurer asserts a legal right on the case to be reimbursed. We take all of this into consideration when advocating for you and keep you well informed so there is no mystery.
4. What if I have no money to pay a retainer for a lawyer in Massachusetts?
No worries. You do not pay a retainer in a personal injury case. Personal injury cases are typically handled on a contingent fee basis. This means that you will not pay anything until your case resolves. Attorney’s fees are typically 1/3 of the settlement amount. Attorney’s fees are paid from the settlement funds. Costs are advanced by the attorney and are then paid back to the attorney at the conclusion of the case typically from the settlement funds. Therefore, you do not pay any money up front. There are exceptions to this, but this is the rare case. All of this is communicated in detail at the initial client meeting so our clients fully understand how this works.
5. What if I cannot work due to my injuries?
In Massachusetts, there are several avenues of possible recovery for your lost wages. In a motor vehicle accident case, there is typically $8,000 in PIP coverage for both medicals and lost wages. PIP pays 75 % of your typical weekly wage. Also, you may still use PTO or sick day benefits offered by your employer. In addition, a lost wage claim is part of the claim against the at fault party. There are two important pieces to having a successful lost wage claim. The first is a disability note from your doctor stating your inability to work for dates certain. The second is documentation from your employer verifying your prior wages before the accident occurred. Sometimes tax returns are helpful to verify wages if you are self-employed. If you are on the job when injured, then worker’s compensation may pay you for your lost wages. Early on, we address your lost wages and collaborate with you on the best plan for you and your family given your particular circumstances.
We hope that this blog has been helpful in addressing some important questions that are typically raised by our clients when they have suffered injuries in an accident. This is simply an overview, and the facts and circumstances of each case require varying approaches to best serve our clients’ individual interests. We are committed to helping our clients injured in accidents navigate the Massachusetts legal system and put them in the best position for them and their families during some very difficult times.
When a person is injured in an accident, a thorough investigation of the accident events is necessary to determine the cause and secure important information. As a victim of an accident, make sure everything is done to protect your interests. The lawyers at Nadeau Harkavy LLC help victims and their families recover damages for their losses in serious injury and wrongful death cases arising from accidents. If you have any questions about your legal rights relating to a motor vehicle, wrongful death or other accident, feel free to contact us for a free consult today at 617-674-7640.