The Boston car accident lawyers at The Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Glassman have represented injury victims throughout the state of Massachusetts in contentious courtroom battles. We strive to obtain full compensation for our clients, many of whom have suffered debilitating, long-lasting injuries.
However, most traffic accident claims do not end up in court. In fact, only about 5 to 10 percent are litigated.
The rest are resolved through settlement agreements, primarily with insurance companies. These firms are generally motivated to settle because they don’t want to incur the cost of a trial or risk an unpredictable jury verdict.
That does not mean you won’t be in for a fight. Insurance companies have deep pockets and well-developed strategies for reducing liability. The settlement offer you are initially extended will almost certainly not be satisfactory.
Having an experienced Massachusetts injury attorney can help streamline the process by making sure the insurance company has all relevant information necessary to make an informed, good faith determination of damages. We can also help formulate an effective response if a claim is denied or when the settlement offer is too low.Claims in a No-Fault System
Massachusetts is a no-fault state when it comes to car accident liability. This means unless your injuries cross a certain threshold, your claim will be handled by your own insurance company through personal injury protection (PIP) benefits. That threshold is:
- Reasonable medical expenses exceeding $2,000
- Injuries resulting in serious or permanent disfigurement, broken bones or substantial loss of sight or hearing
In those cases, additional claims for recovery may be filed with the at-fault driver’s insurer. In these cases, it’s highly recommended you seek legal advice. This is so you fully understand your rights and also obtain an accurate estimation of your damages, including:
- Medical Expenses
- Lost Wages
- Funeral Expenses
- Pain and Suffering
- Loss of Consortium
In situations where the at-fault driver’s insurance is not sufficient for your injuries or where the driver lacks insurance or his or her identity is unknown, compensation may be obtained through uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage.Crash Settlement Process
The crash settlement process is initiated almost immediately after the accident. The scene of the accident is where evidence is gleaned that will be critical to determining fault and compensation.
Evidence may include:
- Photographs of the scene
- Documentation of your injuries
- Witness statements
- Police report
As the process goes on, other information that will be relevant will include:
- Medical bills indicating the kinds of treatments received
- Medical records indicating the specific injuries
- Work records verifying loss of income stemming from the crash
- Documentation of any other relevant financial losses
- Evidence of pain and suffering (inability to participate in hobbies and activities once enjoyed, strain on personal relationships, etc.)
All of this information will then be submitted to the insurance company, along with a demand letter.
The insurance company typically responds to this demand letter either with an outright denial or with a low-ball settlement offer.
Denial of insurance claims may be based on:
- Dispute of fault
- A finding of presumed fault, as outlined in 211 CMR 74.00
- Dispute on causation of injuries
- Lack of coverage
Initial settlement offers are typically low (or lower than they should be) because the insurer expects there will be a counteroffer. There may be some cases in which the first offer is fair, and a reasonable offer shouldn’t be refused outright. However, you should have it at least reviewed by an experienced injury attorney before signing anything.Determining a Settlement Value
In cases that fall outside the no-fault system, insurance companies have a number of ways to valuate auto accident claims. These include:
- A “per diem” method. Involves calculating pain and suffering per a certain time frame (i.e., per day or per week) and multiplying it times the amount of time treatments lasted.
- The “multiple specials” method. Involves adding together compensation for medical expenses, lost wages and pain and suffering, and then multiplying it by either 1.5 or 3.
- The Colossus software program (or some variation). Involves a type of software to calculate settlement values in smaller to mid-size crash cases. Some firms rely heavily on it, while others use it as a helpful tool.
However, these systems often don’t take into account the various special factors that may come into play in your case. Having an experienced Massachusetts injury attorney who can advise you on the best course of action often proves invaluable.
Contact the Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Glassman today for a free and confidential consultation.
Call (617) 367-2900 – NO FEE UNLESS SUCCESSFUL