Personal Injury Protection Benefits

Personal Injury Protection BenefitsPersonal injuries account for a substantial number of lawsuits filed annually in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Unfortunately, many victims of personal injuries received in auto accidents, slips and falls, and other mishaps don’t take advantage of the benefits provided under the law in the state. Many simply believe they don’t have a case, or don’t have injuries significant enough to warrant filing a claim against a responsible party.

It’s important to understand that if you or someone you know is injured in an accident a personal injury claim can help pay medical bills, recover lost wages, and receive compensation for pain and suffering. Acting in a timely manner is critical, though, because Massachusetts has a statute of limitations that provides a three year window of opportunity to file a claim starting from the date of the incident.

However, there are a couple of exceptions to this rule that should be noted:

  • The three-year window does not apply to cases in which the injury was discovered after the incident occurred
  • Any claim against a municipal government must be completed in two years

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Nursing Home Malpractice

Nursing Home MalpracticeAs our population ages, growing numbers of seniors are requiring some form of assisted living and many end up in nursing homes. Placing an aging parent in a nursing home is a heart-wrenching decision more and more families are having to make these days and it can be difficult to trust the care and well-being of a loved one to strangers.

Unfortunately, that trust can be violated through abuse and neglect. In many cases, underpaid and overworked nursing home employees don’t provide the proper care and attention needed. When that occurs, patients can suffer from illness, injury, and even death.

From a legal perspective, nursing home malpractice is essentially any intentional or negligent act committed by a nursing home professional that can cause physical, mental, or psychosocial harm to a nursing home resident. With the growing number of seniors now utilizing nursing homes and other assisted living facilities, nursing home malpractice is growing as well. If you suspect a loved one might be a victim of nursing home malpractice, contact us here at the Law Office of James Haddad – we can help determine if there is a case to be pursued hold the appropriate parties legally responsible for that neglect or abuse.

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Medical Malpractice Lawsuits

Medical Malpractice LawsuitsInjuries caused by medical malpractice are among the most demoralizing personal injury claims. You trust the doctor, surgeon, nurse or general hospital staff to make the right diagnoses and take the best courses of action for treatment to prevent further injury and help you get well.

But doctors, nurses and other health care professionals are often hurried and stressed, and may render diagnoses or choose treatments that are not appropriate for your illness or condition. Regardless of the choices they make, they cannot disregard your care or your best interests. When they betray your trust and the result is injury or disability, you may be at a loss as to how to deal with it.

The best course of action is to call an attorney experienced in medical malpractice. Working with an experienced advocate against medical negligence can mean the difference between a successful lawsuit and failure. As a highly-experienced medical malpractice attorney, I know that all medical professionals are held to high standards of care. When those standards are neglected or ignored altogether, I will be your advocate in pursuing maximum compensation.

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Personal Injury Lawsuits

Personal Injury LawsuitsAccidents are called “accidents” for a reason – they are unexpected, unpredictable, and can cause both suffering and inconvenience. Often when someone is injured in an accident, a personal injury lawsuit is filed on their behalf by an attorney to help pay for medical treatments and recovery, as well as lost wages and other injury-related damages. And while a significant number of personal injury lawsuits are the result of motor vehicle accidents, suits are also filed on behalf of individuals injured by workplace accidents; defective products; poorly maintained, malfunctioning or damaged premises; and general negligence.

Here at the Law Office of James Haddad, we specialize in personal injury lawsuits, defending the rights of personal injury victims and their families since 1983. We work hard to obtain maximum compensation for our clients to cover medical expenses, rehabilitation costs, lost income, as well as pain and suffering. As a personal injury lawyer, I understand the substantial impact an injury can have on you and your loved ones – that’s why I explore all options to obtain the compensation you need and deserve.

In addition to motor vehicle accident claims, I handle a wide variety of personal injury claims in the Greater Worcester area, including:

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Joint Responsible Parties

Generally in any type of personal injury claim there may be more than one party to pursue. Sometimes there are several parties responsible for the same personal injuries. This is known as “joint and several liability” and here in Massachusetts, the law is structured to ensure that an accident victim receives the damages he or she is owed, even if one of the defendants is unable to pay part or all of the reward.

Specifically, Massachusetts General Law chap. 231B, sec. 2 was enacted to protect victims by ensuring that, so long as the victim was less than 51 percent responsible for the accident and the resulting injury, they’re entitled to be paid damages in full from any or all of the defendants found at fault – even of one or more of them is unable to pay. Put another way – if two individuals are found at fault and one cannot pay any or all of their share of the award, the other defendant is responsible for the award in full.

In circumstances that point to joint responsible parties, it is important to protect and pursue claims against all possible parties in the event that one cannot pay. A thorough, experienced personal injury attorney will conduct research into all possible parties who can be identified as responsible for all or part of an accident and injury. It is imperative to research the relationship between all possible parties to determine any relationship issues between these responsible parties which could benefit the plaintiff in pursuing compensation for personal injuries.

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Statute of Repose

At first glance a statute of limitations and a statute of repose can look similar, causing some to question if there’s any difference at all. But there is. In general, statutes of limitations and statutes of repose are both state laws that set time limits on the right to file a civil lawsuit. The major difference is that a statute of limitations begins when an accident or incident takes place, while the clock on a statute of repose starts when an action occurs – or substantially occurs, such as when renovations to a building are largely completed — regardless of whether damage or an injury has occurred.

However, there are a few key differences between a statute of limitations and a statute of repose.

There is a specific statute of limitations in most states that applies to “tort” or personal injury cases in which an individual’s carelessness or intentional action causes harm to another. And that same personal injury lawsuit deadline will typically apply to product liability lawsuits. The time limitation to file a suit kicks in when the damage or injury is discovered, so there could be a significant period of time between when the initial cause occurred – for example, when a defective drug was used – and when the injury was actually discovered. Here in Massachusetts the time period between discovery and filing is three years.

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Notice of Injury

If you’ve been injured in an accident it helps to know about something called “Notice of Injury.” Generally, in negligence claims such as motor vehicle accidents and slip-and-fall accidents, there is a three-year statute of limitations for filing a personal injury lawsuit, although there may be some variations that can affect that timetable. For example, if a latent injury that couldn’t be detected until some time after the accident, the three-year time limit may not start to run until the “discovery date.” If you or someone you know is injured, it’s important to immediately check with an attorney to find out the appropriate statute of limitations affecting your situation.

There also may be certain notice requirements or presentment requirements prior to the expiration of three years. For example, in certain claims against some government agencies, there may be an obligation to notice and\or present to them much earlier than the three years. This earlier notice requirement and\or presentment requirement varies with each particular type of claim. There may be the need to include certain factual allegations or legal standards which have to be included in the earlier notice and\or presentment requirements.  Because certain entities, governmental or not, have this added protection, it is imperative that an injured party speaks to an attorney as soon as possible to verify the applicable statute of limitation and then determine whether there is an earlier notice and\or presentment requirement.

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No Fault Insurance

Here in Massachusetts we have what is known as no fault insurance for motor vehicles and drivers are required to carry certain types of auto insurance with at least minimum amounts of coverage set by law.

If an insured driver with no fault insurance is involved in an auto accident and suffers injury, he or she files a claim with his or her own insurance company. Generally, in a motor vehicle accident, the injured party has the right to collect personal injury protection benefits (P.I.P. Benefits) under no fault insurance. Depending upon the situation of each claim, meaning which auto insurance carrier would pay these personal injury protection benefits, an injured party would have the right to collect $8,000.00 of benefits. Depending upon each circumstance, a person generally would have the right to collect for medical bills, lost wages and certain reimbursement for expenditures.

Typically, drivers with no-fault insurance cannot take another driver to court for costs associated with the crash, unless certain conditions are met. In Massachusetts, the thresholds that allow drivers to circumvent the no-fault insurance system and hold another driver liable for an automobile accident are $2,000  or more in medical expenses and/or injuries resulting from the accident that include permanent and serious disfigurement, fractured bone, or substantial loss of hearing or sight.

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Comparative Negligence

The real world is a complicated place and often individuals who are injured became injured through some fault of their own. In other words, they were not careful enough to avoid injury. In more legal terms, they were “negligent,” negligence being defined as “A failure to behave with the level of care that someone of ordinary prudence would have exercised under the same circumstances.”

To factor negligence into a court decision, there is something called “comparative negligence law” which enables plaintiffs to recover compensation for their injuries in an amount that takes into account their share of the responsibility for the injury. So, for example, if you were injured in an accident with a $500,000 settlement, but you were 50 percent responsible for the accident, you can recover only $250,000.

In Massachusetts, an injured party is barred from recovery if his or her negligence exceeds the total amount of negligence attributable to the responsible party or parties. In other words, if the injured party’s negligence is 51% and the responsible party’s negligence is 49%, the injured party cannot collect a recovery. In determining by what amount the plaintiff’s damages shall be reduced, the negligence of each plaintiff shall be compared to the total negligence of all other persons against whom recovery is sought. The combined negligence of all parties shall equal 100%.

While reducing the plaintiff’s settlement might sound a little harsh, Massachusetts is actually considered a fairly friendly state for personal injury plaintiffs. Some states will not allow ANY recovery for a plaintiff if he or she has any responsibility at all for their injuries, no matter how small the percentage. However, in Massachusetts the plaintiff is generally given the benefit of the doubt and assumed to have been prudent in their actions – the burden is upon the defendant to prove that the plaintiff was acting negligently.

If you or someone you love has been injured, it’s vital to hire an attorney with expertise and experience in comparative negligence law, such as the Law Office of James G. Haddad. Call or email us to learn more about how we can help you recover the settlement you deserve.

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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