Who should file my claim?

image of a lawyer writing up a legal claimOften, an individual involved in an accident doesn’t realize the need or the benefit of retaining an attorney after an accident and attempts to process the necessary claim paperwork without legal assistance.  Depending upon the type of claim, this initial paperwork can be complicated and have possible detrimental results if not done properly, limiting the claimant’s ability to collect for damages or injury.

Whether it’s a motor vehicle accident, where forms must be filed which include a description of the accident; or a worker’s compensation claim, where some of the necessary forms also include a description of the accident; forms must be filled out properly and satisfactorily because the description provided as to how the accident occurred will be reviewed during the litigation process. This might be the first chance insurance company has to assess liability. Mistakes made in the description of the accident can sometimes have detrimental effects once litigation commences.

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First Seek Medical Care

image of man on stretcher being treated by a firefigher and emtAfter an accident, the primary concern of any victim should be their own health and well-being. The failure to seek immediate medical attention could have long-lasting consequences upon one’s health and abilities. It is always a good idea to be checked out by a doctor or other qualified medical professional as soon as possible after you are involved in a vehicular accident. It’s important to overcome the natural tendency to skip going to a doctor or hospital, and avoiding the hassle and expense of seeking medical care. Don’t wait even a few days to evaluate how you feel after an auto accident and before deciding to seek medical attention. The wait-and-see approach is not the best course of action.  It can not only affect your medical well-being, waiting too long for medical help can affect your legal case as well.

Another reason to seek medical care right away: waiting too long to be medically examined after an auto accident could significantly harm your opportunity to receive fair compensation. The validity of your legal claim may suffer from the delay in obtaining medical treatment. The other party can more easily argue there was an intervening cause for the pain or injury, or that the injury is fictitious because it was not bad enough to warrant medical attention for hours, days, or even months after the accident. Most auto insurers will interpret a wait-and-see approach as an indication that the claimant has not truly been injured. Insurers tend to assume that individuals who are seriously hurt after a car accident will obtain the proper medical help immediately.

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Bicycle Accidents

picture of a bicycle lying in front of a stopped carAs you know, bicycles are everywhere. If an accident occurs, the first thing one should do is to attempt to obtain all the necessary insurance information from the responsible party. This insurance information will be necessary to assist a personal injury attorney in processing the personal injury claim.

The first factor to note when pursuing a bicycle accident injury claim is that it is an injury claim. The plaintiff (the person making the claim) must have sustained some form of injury either physical or psychological as a result of his/her bicycle accident. Even where a driver has indeed acted negligently, even criminally, one should note that with regard to the civil law a potential plaintiff can only claim compensation for a personal injury loss or damage that he or she has in fact sustained.

The cause of a bicycle accident is not always obvious. In many situations, one party may be completely to blame. However, it is also true that more than one, or several, factors may have contributed to the bicycle accident. Moreover, one of the causal factors may have, in fact, been the negligence of the injured party (the cyclist). For example, perhaps the cyclist rode out onto the road without looking, failed to wear a helmet, or was perhaps cycling at night without lights. How can blame be apportioned? Is the injured party entitled to any form of compensation if he or she has contributed, even slightly, to their own accident?

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What If I’m Partially at Fault?

What If I’m Partially at Fault?Accidents happen and sometimes they are partially your fault. Liability is usually clear cut when a driver runs a red light or rear-ends another car. However, determining who gets compensation can be complicated, when one person fails to yield to another at a four-way stop or a pedestrian jaywalks across the street.

Often, before speaking with an experienced personal injury attorney, an injured person mistakenly believes that if they are partially at fault for the accident, then they’re not able to seek a recovery. Depending upon the circumstances, this may or may not be true.

When this occurs, the percentage of fault of the injured party versus the percentage of fault of the allegedly responsible party should be assessed because in Massachusetts something called comparative negligence is used to determine fault and compensation in an accident. For example, if it’s determined that the amount of damage is $1,000 and you were found to be 40 percent responsible for the accident, you would then be responsible for $400 in damages, while the other driver would be responsible for $600.

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Spinal Injuries

Spinal InjuriesOften victims of spinal cord injuries may be forced to endure lifelong pain and suffering and to incur medical bills over the course of his or her lifetime. Often there is a need for multiple surgeries, over an extended period of time, in order to address medical concerns. Even with surgery, victims of spinal cord injuries can still experience lifelong pain and have a loss of earning capacity over their lifetime. Victims of paralysis, such as quadriplegia and paraplegia, are often forced to participate in complex litigation in order to seek the necessary compensation to compensate them for these conditions.

It is imperative in choosing an attorney that he or she has experience in coordinating experts such as an economist, a vocationalist, and a life planner. These experts are often needed to accurately and convincingly present a compelling argument to a jury that adequate compensation must be provided to cover the lifelong medical bills and loss of earning capacity of the victim. An attorney must have the ability to retain these experts and properly prepare them for trial. The failure to do so can be the difference between a successful trial and an unsuccessful one.

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Out-of-State Injuries

Teenage Driver Suffering Whiplash Injury Traffic Accident Rubbing Neck With Hand.Unfortunately, accidents can happen anywhere and often personal injuries take place when a person is out-of-state on business or vacation. When this occurs, it’s important to carefully consider whether the injured party can still bring a case in Massachusetts, even though the accident took place in another state.

There are a number of variables that can affect whether a case can be brought here in the Commonwealth, including such considerations as, the type of accident, if the injury occurred as the result of a motor vehicle accident or a slip-and fall-accident. Also, where the injured party and responsible party lived at the time of the accident are often considered in deciding whether Massachusetts is the appropriate jurisdiction for an out-of-state accident.

Often attorneys automatically have an attorney in the state in which the accident occurred handle the claim when presented with an out-of-state accident case. This may or may not be prudent, obviously depending upon certain variables.

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Mesothelioma

Mesothelioma is a highly aggressive form of cancer often caused by asbestos exposure.Mesothelioma is a highly aggressive form of cancer often caused by asbestos exposure. This can be direct exposure at the work place, or secondary exposure (when the victim is exposed to asbestos through coming in contact with someone who has already been exposed to asbestos).

Due to its long latency period, mesothelioma symptoms may take years to show up. Symptoms such as wheezing, hoarseness or cough, fatigue, anemia, shortness of breath, and pleural effusion or fluid surrounding the lung often are not immediately present upon exposure to asbestos. If you or a loved one have been exposed to asbestos and exhibit any of these symptoms, it’s imperative to seek medical attention for a proper diagnosis of your illness.

Despite all the pain and the loss that workers have faced, there has been some hope in the form of legal recourse for mesothelioma victims. Workers started suing the plants where they worked and the legal battle against mesothelioma eventually reached epic proportions. Even today, there are around 3,000 cases of mesothelioma being diagnosed in the United States every year and the legal benefits that mesothelioma victims have received in many cases have been enormous.

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Dog Bite Claims

Dog Bite ClaimsUnlike motor vehicle accidents, or slip and fall accidents, or other types of common personal injury claims, a dog bite claim is unique in that the keeper of a dog may be strictly liable for the actions of the dog. In other words, a victim of a dog bite may not have to prove negligence on the part of the keeper the dog — a dog owner may be liable regardless of whether he or she is personally at fault. That, however, may not be the case if the victim was teasing the dog, trespassing on the property, chastising the dog, or harassing the dog in some other way.

Even if the dog owner had no reason to suspect that his or her dog would be a danger to others, the dog owner is still liable. The Massachusetts Legislature has determined that this strict liability is part of dog ownership.

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Pedestrian Accidents

Pedestrian AccidentsIf you’ve been injured as a pedestrian, you may be able to recover against the responsible party’s motor vehicle policy or even your own motor vehicle policy. Pedestrian accidents typically occur in parking lots, recreational areas, sidewalks and while crossing streets. Generally city ordinances and state statutes dictate who is responsible and who is not responsible; however, although there are some exceptions, typically pedestrians have the right of way.

When a pedestrian accident occurs, the injured party must immediately investigate and gather evidence relating to how the accident occurred. These types of investigations may warrant the retention of an accident reconstruction expert who will support a claim of injuries.

Often such an investigation involves local investigative authorities such as the local police and state police. However, a properly prepared litigant cannot rely solely upon the investigative actions of a police officer. Quite frequently additional investigative tools are needed, such as surveillance evidence and witness statements, which involves locating and interviewing individuals with firsthand knowledge of the accident.

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How to Deal with General Negligence

General NegligenceGeneral negligence is a category of claims that is relatively broad in that it encompasses a wide range of actions that can cause damage and injury because the other party was negligent in their actions. Generally negligence is defined as the failure to use reasonable care – in other words, an action is negligent when another person’s carelessness or recklessness causes an injury. For example, a store employee accidentally injures a customer because the task or working conditions were such that the employee could not see the other party and, as a result, accidently injured him or her.

Even though such an action may not be intentional, a person who causes injury may still be liable for the damages he or she causes. Even though most people think that negligence relates to medical malpractice actions or through the use of a motor vehicle, it can involve virtually any other situation where one person causes another person to be injured. Whether in a private home, or a public place such as a recreational facility, one party may injure another. Often clients initially think he or she cannot receive compensation because the cause of the injury does not involve a motor vehicle or a slip-and-fall type accident or the like.

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