What Are the Most Common Questions Asked by Potential Personal Injury Clients?

By: Karen Piso Nadeau, Esquire

When you are injured due to an accident, you often ask if it was your fault.  At Nadeau Harkavy LLC, located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, we are often asked questions about what it means to bring a personal injury claim.  We worry that deserving individuals such as yourself, may not pursue a valid cause of action due to concerns and anxiety about the unknowns of pursing a claim when someone else is at fault.

We will answer these questions and remove some of the uncertainty and mystery associated with being a claimant pursuing compensation as the result of someone else’s wrongdoing. Our goal is to remove some of the obstacles to hiring a personal injury law firm, such as Nadeau Harkavy LLC, so you may obtain fair compensation due to the harm caused by someone else.  Often these questions arise after being involved in a car accident, pedestrian accident, bike accident, trip and fall, or other type of accident and you have suffered injuries, incurred medical bills for treatment, lost wages and time missed from work due to the harm suffered as a result of another’s negligence.

  1. Question: Do I Have to Go to Court?

The short answer is no, you do not have to go to court to pursue a claim for personal injury arising out of an accident. Many of our cases are resolved with no court action at all. You do not have to be in a lawsuit, and you do not have to sue someone to pursue a personal injury claim for compensation.

Typically, a claim for bodily injury is made with the insurance company for the at fault party. Once we represent you, we determine the parties who are responsible for your accident.  It may be a driver of a vehicle or an owner of a business, for example.  We identify their insurance company and place their insurance company on notice of your personal injury claim.  We then work directly with the insurance company to get you a fair settlement for the injuries you suffered in the accident.  This is usually accomplished with no court action at all.

  1. Question: How Much Do I Have to Pay a Lawyer to Represent Me in a Personal Injury Case?

The short answer is you pay no legal fee unless we recover money for you. You do not pay any money up front.  There is no retainer that you must pay. We work on your case on a contingency fee basis. What this means is that we get our legal fee based upon the amount of money we recover for you. Our legal fee is typically paid from your settlement money. Our legal fee is typically 1/3 of any settlement. This is the standard and usual legal fee on a personal injury case, although we are aware of some firms in Massachusetts charging higher legal fees such as 40 percent for any type of personal injury claim.

  1. Question: How Long Does a Personal Injury Case Take?

The short answer is it depends on the facts of your particular case to determine how long your case will take. There are several factors that play into how long it takes to resolve your case and get you your money.  In summary, we have personal injury cases that resolve in less than a year because our clients did not require a long period of medical treatment. In other cases, it may take over a year or two years or longer to resolve your case.

One primary factor is your treatment for your injuries suffered in the accident. Some clients have serious injuries such as broken bones requiring surgery and extended medical care to recover from their injuries. They may need months of physical therapy, occupational therapy, follow up with specialists such as orthopedic surgeons and neurologists, and medical procedures to alleviate their pain and assist with their recovery.

A case is usually not settled until all your medical treatment is complete and you are at a medical end result with your medical care. Settling a case too early means getting less than you deserve, and the insurance company loves this because they are paying less than they should.

When you settle your case, you are required to sign a release whereby you sign away all your rights to recover any more money in the future. Imagine settling your case with a knee injury that is still bothering you and later learning you need knee surgery and will miss months of work.  If you sign off on a settlement before you know you need the surgery and before you have the surgery, you lose your rights to recover for the surgery, the additional medical expenses, your lost wages, and ongoing disability.

There are other important factors that determine how long it will take to resolve your case. For example, some insurance companies and claims representatives are easier to deal with than others. Sometimes the adjusters change several times during the course of a case.  If they remain consistent, the human element comes into play.  Adjusters take vacations or have life events that get in the way of them focusing on your case.  They may be overworked, badly managed with little oversight or be susceptible to a business plan that encourages delays and discourages resolution.    Also, if the insurance company engages in “the blame game” and blames you or someone other than their insured for the accident, it often leads to a delay in resolving your case. We then need to aggressively fight any of the claims the insurance company is making to not pay you.  Also, we see longer periods of time to resolve cases when a client has pre-existing injuries or prior accidents. We need to present information to the insurance company showing why the prior accidents and pre-existing injuries do not prevent you from obtaining fair settlement of your case. This often takes additional time to have a success resolution.

  1. Question: Are There Any Deadlines to Bring a Personal Injury Case in MA?

The short answer is yes, there are deadlines that must be met to pursue a personal injury case in Massachusetts. In most cases, you have 3 years from the date of accident to bring your claim for personal injury.  Typically, you must file your case in court within 3 years of the accident or be forever barred from pursuing your claim. In most cases, our firm successfully resolves our clients’ cases long before the 3 year deadline so no court action is required.

There are some exceptions to the typical 3 year statute of limitations.  An experienced Massachusetts personal injury will review the facts and circumstances of your particular case to determine the deadlines that apply. There may also be other deadlines such as notice or presentment requirements in particular cases. Again, an experienced personal injury lawyer will review the particulars of your accident to determine what laws apply and what deadlines need to be met.

  1. Question: How Do I File a Claim for Personal Injury

We hear from many individuals that they are hesitant to pursue a personal injury claim because they don’t know what to do or how to begin. Once you hire us, we take on all the responsibility of presenting your claim and dealing with the insurance company.

We start the process by filing a claim with the insurance company for the party or parties that we have identified who are responsible for your injuries in your accident. In our letter, we notify the insurance company that we are your attorneys. Once they are on notice that you have hired an attorney, they legally can no longer communicate with you and must communicate with us.

  1. Question: How Do I Know If I Have a Good Personal Injury Case Worth Pursuing?

We have been practicing personal injury law in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts for over 60 years combined.  As a result of this hands on experience, we will give you a free no obligation review of your case, based on the facts that you provide us with, and determine if you have a case worthy of pursuit.  In deciding if you have a good personal injury case, we look at liability and damages.  Liability evaluates who is at fault, who is to blame, who is negligent, and who caused you the harm.  We make a preliminary determination if you have a strong liability case and if we can help you by holding the responsible party accountable for your accident and injuries.  Damages are your actual injuries, pain and suffering, and lost wages.

At Nadeau Harkavy LLC, we have over 60 years combined experience representing injured people and their families when they have been involved in a motor vehicle accident, trip and fall or other type of accident. We have recovered millions of dollars in compensation for our clients over the years to help them get on with their lives after suffering the consequences of a serious accident.  We make sure everything is done to protect your interests while you and your family concentrate on getting better. We handle all types of car accident cases including wrongful death and brain injury. We represent drivers, passengers, pedestrians, bicyclists, as well as other types of car accident cases such as scooter, motorcycle and skateboard cases. We also handle other types of injury cases such as trip and fall, slip and fall, dog bite, construction site, and catastrophic injury accidents. If you or a loved one has been harmed through no fault of your own, call us today for a free consultation about your legal rights at 617-674-7640.

 

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