The Definitive Guide to Seeking Maximum Compensation for Your Car Accident Claim
August 17th, 2016
Personal injury attorney Mike Bottaro explains everything you need to know if you have been injured in a car accident in Massachusetts or Rhode Island.
If you have been injured in a car accident, do you know your rights? Each year, millions of people across the United States are involved in auto accidents. While many of them file insurance claims – and some of them even hire an attorney – far too many accident victims still fail to collect the compensation that they deserve.
At the Bottaro Law Firm, we are committed to helping car accident victims in Massachusetts and Rhode Island maximize compensation for their accident-related injuries. Thanks to our attention to detail and relentless will to win, we have recovered millions of dollars in compensation for our clients’ injuries and losses.
This guide provides important information for anyone who has been injured in a car accident in Massachusetts or Rhode Island. Here, you will find:
We encourage you to read this guide carefully to learn more about your situation. But, as we discuss below, no resource is a substitute for the advice of a qualified attorney. To find out if you have a claim, call, text, or contact us online to speak with attorney Mike Bottaro about your case today.
How to Determine if You Have a Claim for Compensation
Do you have a claim for compensation? Answer these questions to find out:
1. Were you involved in an accident?
This may sound obvious, but it’s the first step toward establishing that you have a claim for compensation. So, what constitutes an “accident?” While, in most cases, an accident means a collision with another vehicle (or multiple vehicles), did you know that you may have a claim even if no one else hit you? If someone ran you off the road, if a problem with the road surface caused you to lose control, or if your accident or injury was the result of a vehicle defect (such as a faulty accelerator pedal or airbag), these are all accidents that could entitle you to file a claim for financial compensation.
2. Is it possible that someone else was to blame?
In order to recover compensation, you or your attorney will need to establish that someone else was at fault for your injuries. This could be another driver, a state or local highway authority, or a vehicle dealership or manufacturer.
The following are all common causes of car accidents that may support a claim for compensation:
- Aggressive driving
- Distracted driving (including talking and texting behind the wheel)
- Drunk driving
- Failure to stop or yield
- Merging without looking
- Reckless driving
- Road and vehicle defects
- Running a red light or stop sign
- Speeding (either above the posted speed limit or driving too fast for the weather and road conditions)
- Defective auto parts
As an accident victim, we do not expect you to know exactly what another driver was thinking or doing at the time of the collision. When we take your case, we will thoroughly investigate to determine the cause and identify each party responsible for your injuries.
3. Were you seriously injured?
With the forces involved in a car accident, even a “minor” collision can cause serious injuries. To protect your health and legal rights, you should see a doctor as soon as possible after your accident (see our Top Tip #1 below). If you suffered a bone fracture; severe cuts or bruises; whiplash; or any type of brain, face, spine, or internal injury, you may have a claim for financial compensation.
4. Did your vehicle suffer damage?
While the majority of the compensation in your car accident claim is likely to be related to your physical and emotional injuries, the damage to your vehicle is an important part of your claim, as well. Can your vehicle be repaired? If so, you will need recovery for your repair bills. Is your vehicle a total loss? If so, you will need recovery to buy a replacement – not just to compensate you for the current value of your wrecked vehicle.
5. Are you still within the “statute of limitations?”
Finally, Massachusetts and Rhode Island both have laws, known as “statutes of limitations,” that limit the amount of time you have to file a car accident claim. In most cases, the statute of limitations is three years from the date of the accident. However, there are exceptions, and there are several reasons why you will want to hire an attorney to get started on your claim as soon as possible. Remember: The sooner you get started, the sooner you can receive the compensation that you deserve.
Our Top Five Tips for Protecting Your Legal Rights
After a car accident, you need to be smart about protecting your rights. Here are our Top Five Tips for car accident victims in Massachusetts and Rhode Island:
Tip #1: Seek medical attention and follow your doctor’s advice.
After a car accident, you should seek medical attention right away. If you suffered a serious injury, hopefully someone called 911 and EMTs responded to the scene of the accident. If not, and if you still haven’t been to the doctor, the time to go is now. You could have a serious internal injury that requires immediate treatment, and if you delay in seeking a diagnosis, this could potentially affect both your physical and your financial recovery. Just as important as seeing a doctor is following your doctor’s advice.
Tip #2: You will want to talk about what happened. Resist the urge.
After an accident, you will feel the urge to talk about what happened. Don’t do it. Don’t talk about it with your friends. Don’t talk about it with your neighbors or coworkers. Perhaps most importantly, don’t post comments or photos on social media.
Why? The insurance companies will be investigating your claim, and you don’t want your friends and coworkers to become witnesses against you, or the photos you posted online to come back to haunt you in court.
Tip #3: Don’t let the insurance companies take advantage of you.
Are you seeing a theme here? In car accident cases, the insurance companies have one goal: to minimize your compensation as much as possible. No matter what they say, they are not on your side. One of the insurance companies’ go-to tactics is to casually request a recorded statement. Don’t give one. You don’t have to, and if you do the insurance companies can use it against you.
Tip #4: Get in the habit of keeping records.
Now is a good time to get in the habit of keeping records. This means a few different things: One, ask for copies of your scans and other medical records, and keep them in a safe place. Two, get receipts for everything, and when you receive medical bills or statements of benefits, make sure you keep a copy. Three, keep a journal. As the months go by after a traumatic accident, it is easy to forget about things like how you felt on a particular day or when you missed an event or activity because you were in pain. But, these are key details that can help maximize your claim for compensation.
Tip #5: Learn more about your claim for compensation.
Finally, it never hurts to educate yourself, even if the majority of your claim will be handled by your attorney. To learn more about your rights after a car accident, read these articles from the Bottaro Law Firm:
- Five Common Causes of Car Crashes
- Inexperience Leads to Many Auto Accidents for Teen Drivers
- How to Prove Negligence in Your Car Accident Case
- Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage is Vital
- Airbags Save Lives, But Sometimes Cause Injury
- Suffering from Chronic Back Pain After a Car Accident? What to Do
- Auto Accidents Can Cause Posttraumatic Stress Disorder
- Can I Recover Damages for a Car Crash if I was Partially At Fault?
- Involved in an Auto Accident? Mum’s the Word at the Crash Scene
- Your Claim and Social Media
Bonus Tip: Don’t second-guess yourself or start making assumptions about your case!
Here’s a bonus tip: Don’t make any decisions about your car accident claim until you speak with an experienced attorney. When you are home from work or recovering in the hospital, it is easy to start wondering if there was something that you could have done to avoid the collision. In fact, many people ultimately convince themselves that they must have done something wrong.
Don’t let yourself fall into this trap. Don’t start second-guessing yourself; and, most importantly, don’t make any assumptions about your case. If you assume that you were at-fault and that you won’t be able to recover compensation for your injuries, you will lose your case before it’s even begun.
Attorney Mike Bottaro Answers Your Car Accident FAQs
Q: What if the driver who hit me doesn’t have insurance?
A: If the driver who hit you was uninsured or underinsured, you can seek compensation under your own auto insurance policy. Hopefully, you have uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage, which in many cases will fully cover accident victims’ injuries and losses.
Q: What if I was partially at-fault in the accident?
A: Remember our bonus tip? Do not assume that you were at-fault! Determining fault in a car accident requires a thorough factual investigation and detailed legal analysis. But, even if you were partially at-fault, in Massachusetts and Rhode Island you can still recover partial compensation for your injuries.
Q: How much can I recover for my injuries?
A: The answer to this question will depend on numerous factors, and we cannot provide an accurate estimate without knowing all of the details of your case. However, generally speaking, car accident victims are often able to recover compensation for their:
- Current and future medical expenses
- Lost wages and future earning capacity
- Pain and suffering
- Scarring and disfigurement
- Other financial and emotional losses
Q: Why is it important not to talk to the insurance companies?
A: The insurance companies process thousands of claims every day. They know what they’re doing when it comes to minimizing payment for accident victims’ property damage and injuries. Simply put, if you try to deal with the insurance companies directly: (i) there is a good chance that you will say something that will harm your claim, and (ii) you almost certainly will not recover the full compensation you deserve. You will be much better off if you let an experienced attorney communicate and negotiate with the insurance companies on your behalf.
Q: Isn’t it expensive to hire an attorney?
A: No. In fact, at the Bottaro Law Firm, it does not cost you anything out of pocket to hire an attorney. Our No Fee Guarantee means that you only pay a portion of your recovery if we are successful in helping you secure financial compensation.
There is No Substitute for Competent Legal Advice and Experienced Legal Representation
This Resource is Not Legal Advice. You Need to Speak with an Attorney.
While this guide is meant to be useful, it shouldn’t be taken as legal advice, and you certainly should not make up your mind about your car accident claim until you speak with an experienced attorney. How do you choose the right attorney for your case, and what types of questions should you ask during your free initial consultation?
Tips for Choosing a Lawyer for Your Car Accident Claim
Just like everything else in life, no two law firms are exactly alike. Your choice of lawyers is important, and the quality of your legal representation can directly impact the outcome of your claim. When choosing the attorney to represent you, here are some of the most important considerations to keep in mind:
- Experience – How much experience does the attorney have – not just practicing law, but specifically in representing car accident victims in your state?
- Focus – What is the attorney’s focus? Does he or she go for the quick settlement; or, is he or she willing to go to court and fight for maximum compensation?
- Results – What are some examples of the attorney’s recent results? Just as importantly, what do the attorney’s past clients say about their results and the quality of their legal representation?
- Accessibility – Once you hand over your case, will the attorney pick up the phone? Will you be treated like a real person with real needs, or will your case just get added to the pile?
- Team – Securing maximum compensation requires an experienced legal team. Does the attorney have the staff and resources necessary to handle your case quickly and effectively?
Meet the team at the Bottaro Law Firm.
Questions to Ask During Your Free Initial Consultation
Hiring a lawyer for your car accident claim starts with a free, confidential consultation. The initial consultation is your opportunity to get to know the attorney and decide for yourself whether he or she is the right person to take your case. Remember: Your lawyer will need to know intimate details about your life, and you will be trusting this person to recover the money you need for your recovery – which could last for years down the line. If for any reason you are not satisfied with your initial consultation, you should meet with another attorney.
To get the most out of your free initial consultation, you will want to come prepared. We recommend making a list of questions that includes the following:
- How many car accident cases have you handled?
- What are some of your most-recent results?
- Do you have testimonials or client references?
- Do you have an experienced staff?
- How often do you take cases to trial?
- Do you answer your clients’ calls directly?
- If I leave a message, how soon can I expect to hear from you?
- What will you do to investigate my case?
- Can you refer me to a physician who can make sure that I am receiving treatment for all of my accident-related injuries?
- Why should I choose you over any other attorney?
Were You Injured in a Car Accident in MA or RI? Schedule Your Free Consultation Now
To find out if you have a claim, we encourage you to contact us for a free consultation with attorney Mike Bottaro. You can call our offices at (401) 777-7777, or you can start a Live Chat or tell us about your accident online.
Whichever method you choose, we look forward to speaking with you as soon as possible. We are here for you, and we are fully prepared to do what it takes to fight for the compensation that you deserve.