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.
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.
Often, 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.
After 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.
As 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?
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.
Often 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.
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.
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.
Unlike 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.