When you experience debilitating injuries in an auto accident, fall or another unexpected event, mounting expenses related to the injuries can devastate your household finances. If negligence by someone else led to the accident, you can file a personal injury lawsuit to recoup these costs.
In general, it can take a few months to reach a settlement in a personal injury case that covers the extent of your losses. If the case goes to trial, the process can extend to several years.
Cases involving contested fault can take longer to settle in Massachusetts. The state uses a standard called comparative negligence in personal injury cases. If you share some fault in the incident that caused your injuries, the judge will reduce your damages by the determined injury percentage. For example, if a speeding driver hit you but you had a headlight out, the defense may argue about how much fault you have for the crash.
Insurance vs. lawsuit
Because Massachusetts is a no-fault state for auto accidents, the extent of your injuries determines whether you can file a lawsuit or must go through your insurance company. You can sue if you have at least $2,000 in medical expenses resulting from the accident or if your injuries include loss of sight or hearing, broken bones, or permanent disfigurement.
If you decide to file a personal injury lawsuit in Massachusetts, you have up to three years to do so from the date of your accident. Otherwise, the court will dismiss your petition without hearing your case.