Often I receive phone calls from potential clients who were involved in an accident. Injured by the negligence of another, they realize that they deserve compensation for their injuries and damages. However, many often state that they do not want to be involved in a law suit. People often misconstrue “lawsuit” and “lawyer” as being synonymous. For this reason, they decline hiring an attorney to help them with their accident claim without realizing that a lawyer could help them make a claim without ever having to file suit in court.
A lawsuit requires the filing of an action in civil court in which the plaintiff, or injured party, claims to have been injured and suffered losses and damages as the direct result of the defendant’s (the other party) negligence.
A claim is a claim for damages brought to the attention of the defendant’s insurance company. After investigation and evaluation of the claim, the insurance company may make a settlement offer or might deny the claim.
Hiring an attorney helps you at every stage of the claims process. When you are represented by an attorney, the attorney can help you receive all of the benefits you are entitled to, such as Personal Injury Protection Benefits on Massachusetts auto insurance policies and/or MedPay. An attorney can also coordinate payment of your medical bills between your health insurance and auto carrier. If you don’t have health insurance, an attorney can send letters of protection, coordinate liens, and other actions to help keep the debt collectors at bay so you can focus on treating for your injuries. Hiring an attorney also preserves your rights. Too often insurance companies try to get unrepresented parties to settle their claims far below the fair value of their claims. The final outcome of most injuries are not known immediately following an accident and the unsuspecting individual may settle their case early and then find out that the clicking in their shoulder is actually a rotator cuff tear requiring surgery or their injury will never heal properly and they will be left with a permanent impairment. An attorney can advise you if a settlement offer is reasonable or unreasonable. As the client, you can at any time decide to settle your claim and accept any offer given to you by the insurance company but with an attorney you can make an informed decision as to the value of your case and the reasonableness of the settlement offer.
An attorney can also help resolve your claim by alternative dispute resolution, such as by mediation or arbitration.
If your claim is denied or the insurance company fails to provide you with a reasonable settlement offer to compensate you for your injuries, lost wages, and other elements of damages, then if you have already hired an attorney you can quickly file suit and have your case heard by a jury, if you so desire.
The majority of cases settle prior to filing a lawsuit. Some settle after filing a lawsuit but before the case goes to court and some settle only with a verdict from a jury of your peers.
Irrelevant of how the case is resolved, having an attorney on board protects you and your rights and can maximize the amount of money in your pocket. An attorney will handle any Medicare, Medicaid or other state liens and you will not find yourself suddenly liable to pay back these entities for services rendered to you as a result of your accident. An attorney will also coordinate payment and negotiation of any other liens including liens from your health care, medical providers, debt collectors, and any other source to which you owe money relating to your accident. Depending on the amount of the settlement, an attorney may be able to negotiate the amount you owe to these entities so that you can walk away from your claim with money in your pocket. Without attorney representation, these entities could take your entire settlement as part of their subrogation rights.
Additionally, if a lawsuit is filed in your case, you are entitled to interest on your jury verdict backdating to the date the case was filed.
Whether you choose to just go forward with a claim or you choose to go forward with a claim and then ultimately a lawsuit, an attorney can help preserve your rights at every stage of the process and can help maximize the money in your pocket and minimize your liability to lienholders.
If you or a loved one has been involved in an accident of any kind in Massachusetts or New Hampshire, contact the Granite Law Group today.
Additionally, we represent families of those affected by catastrophic injuries or wrongful death.