Below we will discuss this common tactic in detail and explain what you can do to protect yourself if you are seriously injured in an accident in Massachusetts.
Insurance Companies May Deny Your Claim
With all personal injury claims that arise out of a motor vehicle accident in Massachusetts, in order to recover financial compensation, the person injured (or plaintiff in a personal injury lawsuit) must prove that the other driver (or defendant) was at fault for causing the accident and injuries. In other words, the injured party bears the burden of establishing the other driver is liable for the accident.
In order to establish liability, the plaintiff must to prove that the other driver (or defendant) was negligent and that their negligence was the cause of the accident and injuries. There are certain elements that must be established to sustain a claim of negligence. The elements of negligence are: duty, breach of care, causation, and damages.
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In a personal injury claim or lawsuit the defendant (or their insurance company) may attempt to blame the plaintiff for causing the accident. When they blame the plaintiff for causing the accident, they will deny the injury claim, which will save the insurance companies money. Adjusters that work for the insurance companies hope that by blaming the injured person for causing the accident they will drop their claim or just go away.
Just because an insurance company or their adjusters claim that you caused the accident, don’t take their word for it. Speak with an experienced personal injury attorney. A lawyer will be able to evaluate your case and advise you on whether the insurance company is treating you fairly.
An Insurance Company May Also Blame You For Contributing to the Accident
In other situations, an insurance company may try to blame the plaintiff for contributing to the cause of the accident and his or her own injuries. This is known as the defense of contributory or comparative negligence.
With this defense, if the defendant can show that the plaintiff was partly at fault, any money damages will be reduced by the percentage of fault attributed to the plaintiff. For instance, an insurance company may contend that the plaintiff was 30% responsible for the accident. So, if the value of an injury claim is $20,000, they will reduce the $20,000 by 30% (or $6,000 ($20,000 X 30%) and try to settle your claim for $14,000. As you can see, this tactic is designed to save them money.
If, however, the defendant or their insurance company can show the plaintiff was 51% or more at fault for the accident, the plaintiff will not recover any money.
Protect Yourself Against These Insurance Tactics
There are certain things you can do to protect yourself. Here are a few important tips:
Do Not Speak to the At-Fault Party's Insurance Company
In almost all accident cases, the other car’s insurance company will be calling you to talk about the accident. It’s never a good idea to speak with an adjuster or give them a statement soon after the accident. Talking to the other driver’s insurance company or giving them a recorded statement may provide the adjuster exactly what they want and need to blame you for the accident. You should first think through the facts of the accident and consult with an attorney.
Take Photographs of the Accident Scene and Damage
Pictures of the accident scene and damage to the cars can be very useful evidence. Pictures of the damage to the vehicles, the location or intersection where the accident took place, and any skid marks or street signs in the area can be used to prove the other driver’s negligence and defend against any claim that you caused or contributed to the accident.
Get the Names and Contact Information of Witnesses
Witnesses can be extremely helpful in an accident case when liability is an issue. If the insurance company is trying to blame you for causing or contributing to the accident, a witness may be able to explain what he or she saw that may confirm and support your version of the events. In addition, a witness may be able to provide other information you were not aware of that could help establish that the other driver was at fault and caused the accident.
Consult with an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney
An experienced personal injury lawyer can help protect you against the insurance companies. If the insurance company is blaming you for the accident, an experienced lawyer will know what steps to take in both the investigation of an accident and pursuit of your injury clam to protect you and fight to get you the money you deserve.
Speak With An Experienced Personal Injury Lawyer Today
If you have been injured in a motor vehicle accident in Massachusetts and you feel you are getting the run-around from an insurance company, you should consult with an experienced injury firm. We offer free initial meetings where we will review your case, answer your questions, and explain your rights and legal options. Feel free to call (508) 879-3500 or contact us online.