Personal Injury FAQs
NO FEES UNLESS WE ARE SUCCESSFUL
- What Does Personal Injury Law Entail?
- What Type of Compensation Can Be Claimed in Boston Personal Injury Cases?
- How Can I Determine if I Have a Valid Personal Injury Case?
- What Could Be the Potential Value of My Case?
- When Should I Engage the Services of an Attorney?
- How Do I Establish Liability in My Boston Personal Injury Case?
- What Does PIP Mean?
- How Can I Claim Lost Wages?
- Why is it Important to Hire a Lawyer if I've Suffered an Injury?
- Is it Possible to Have a Case Even If I Didn't Feel Pain Immediately After the Accident?
- What is the Time Limit for Filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit?
- What Are Common Personal Injury Case Types?
- Is Income from Settlements Subject to Taxation?
- Is it Possible to Switch Lawyers if I'm Dissatisfied with My Current One?
- How Can I Manage the Cost of Legal Representation?
- Is My Medical Treatment Covered?
Personal injury law, also known as "tort law," enables an individual to lodge a civil lawsuit against another entity following an accident or injury. If you've sustained harm due to an accident or deliberate misconduct, personal injury law provides a legal avenue for you to hold the culpable party financially responsible for your monetary losses arising from the incident.
The journey of a personal injury case often commences with filing an insurance claim, either with your personal insurance provider or that of the party at fault. If an amicable resolution to your claim cannot be reached via settlement negotiations, you have the option to kick-start a personal injury lawsuit against the offending party. Some instances might necessitate heading straight to court with a lawsuit.
It's vital to note that personal injury law operates separately from criminal law. Although some personal injury cases might involve criminal activities, these cases are adjudicated in a civil court. A personal injury claim does not necessitate criminal charges, though a conviction can indeed fortify a civil case.
Personal injury cases broadly fall into two categories:
- Unintentional tort: These cases generally hinge on negligence.
- Intentional tort: These cases transpire when an individual purposefully inflicts harm on another.
Here at Bellotti Law Group, P.C., we are proficient in handling a wide range of personal injury cases in Boston.
- Automobile accidents
- Incidents involving pedestrians
- Motorcycle mishaps
- Truck accidents
- Bus collisions
- Bicycle accidents
- Workplace incidents, such as accidents at construction sites
- Slip and fall mishaps
- Dog attacks
- Defective products and faulty medical devices
- Cases of medical malpractice
- Instances of nursing home abuse and neglect
- Sexual assault
- Wrongful death
You may be eligible to file a personal injury claim if your accident was precipitated by another person's actions or negligence.
Victims of personal injury are entitled to claim two kinds of compensatory damages: economic and non-economic damages.
Economic damages pertain to the financial impact resulting from your accident.
Potential economic losses can encompass:
- Damage to property
- Loss of income
- Medical expenses and the projected cost of future medical care
- Diminished earning potential
- Therapeutic counseling
- Home healthcare and domestic assistance
- Rehabilitation costs
- Expenses for mobility aids and medical equipment
- Modifications to homes and vehicles
- Expenses for medical transportation
On the other hand, non-economic losses are not inherently monetary; these immeasurable losses can include:
- Physical pain and emotional suffering
- Loss of companionship
- Psychological trauma
- Emotional distress
- Decreased quality of life
Like most states, Massachusetts imposes a limit on non-economic damages in cases of medical malpractice. Your mental anguish, suffering, and other non-economic losses in a case of medical negligence are restricted to $500,000. Exceptions exist if you endured (1) significant or permanent disability; or (2) loss of a bodily function or substantial disfigurement.
In addition to compensatory damages, you may be eligible to seek punitive damages. These damages aim to penalize the defendant for egregious misconduct. However, in Massachusetts, punitive damages are only granted in wrongful death cases that result from deliberate, wanton, or reckless conduct or gross negligence.
To establish a legitimate personal injury claim, you need to demonstrate that you sustained injuries, and these injuries occurred due to another party's lack of due care or negligence.
Each personal injury case is unique, with its potential value hinging on numerous variables. These variables could include: the gravity of your injuries; the duration of your complete or partial disability; the total of your medical bills; any persisting injuries; scarring; fractures; anticipated future medical costs or life care expenses; emotional distress and loss of companionship. If you share some responsibility for the accident or injury, the value of your case may be significantly reduced, depending on your degree of liability. However, our role at Bellotti Law Group, P.C., is to maximize your financial recovery. The final amount you receive will depend on the aforementioned factors.
Engaging an attorney at the earliest opportunity in any case is highly recommended. Prompt involvement of your attorney allows for immediate collection of evidence and securing of witness statements, which can greatly enhance your chances of success. The outcome of cases often hinges on the quality and quantity of evidence. Moreover, claims against a city or municipality are subject to very strict time constraints for notifying about the claim. To ensure your rights are upheld, it's crucial to act swiftly.
Establishing liability involves presenting substantiating evidence like witness accounts, expert opinions, and tangible evidence. Usually, you need to illustrate that the defendant was negligent to win your case. Nevertheless, some instances involve strict liability.Negligence
A person is deemed negligent when their behavior deviates from that of a reasonable person under similar circumstances.
Negligence consists of four components:
- The defendant was bound by a duty of care towards you.
- The defendant violated their duty.
- Their breach resulted in your accident or injuries.
- You sustained damages as a consequence.
Proving causation is often the most challenging component of negligence.
In Massachusetts, you need to prove:
The 'cause-in-fact' or 'but-for cause.' Would your injuries have transpired if not for the defendant’s actions?
Proximate cause. This implies that you were a foreseeable victim of the defendant’s conduct and suffered foreseeable injuries.
Massachusetts does not automatically presume negligence even when safety laws are broken. Such violations are treated as evidence of negligence. You still need to prove the other components of negligence.Gross Negligence
Gross negligence occurs when a person behaves recklessly and exhibits a disregard for the safety of others. This is more severe than regular negligence, which might be defined as carelessness or irresponsibility.
Proving gross negligence in Massachusetts is generally pertinent only in wrongful death cases. If you can demonstrate that the defendant exhibited gross negligence, you might be entitled to punitive damages.Strict Liability
In most scenarios, you need to illustrate that the defendant was negligent to hold them accountable for the injuries you incurred. However, some cases involve strict liability.
Dog bite cases are a prevalent example. Massachusetts law holds dog owners strictly liable for injuries inflicted by their dog. There are exceptions, like when injuries are sustained by someone trespassing or tormenting the dog. Massachusetts does not adhere to a "one bite" rule.
Product liability law also entails strict liability. If a defective or dangerous product injures you, you don't need to demonstrate negligence. Instead, you have to show that the product was defective due to manufacturing, design, or warning/marketing issues.
PIP, or Personal Injury Protection, is a component of the standard automobile insurance policy in Massachusetts. It operates under the principle of no-fault benefits, meaning it covers medical bills regardless of who caused the car accident. The PIP car insurance provider will handle the initial $2,000 in medical expenses. Any subsequent bills beyond this amount should be directed to the individual's private health insurance company. Any expenses not covered by the private health insurer will be referred back to the PIP car insurance provider, who will pay for medical bills up to a total of $8,000. For individuals with MassHealth benefits, MassHealth will handle up to $8,000 in medical payments for an accident victim’s healthcare costs.
If the case pertains to a car accident, lost wages can be claimed via PIP coverage. For other types of accident cases, lost wages are typically compensated to the victim from the final settlement amount. If the claim is based on Workers' Compensation, then Workers' Compensation will cover the lost wages of the injured worker.
Under Massachusetts Workers' Compensation law, if an employee is entirely incapacitated and unable to work, they are entitled to receive 60% of their average weekly wage. If the employee is partially incapacitated, they are eligible to receive 75% of their total disability rate. It's important to note that Workers' Compensation Law differs significantly from Massachusetts Personal Injury Law. It is explicitly defined under the Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 152.
The insurance company representing the individual responsible for causing your injury will make every effort to downplay the culpability of their client and question the severity of your injuries as quickly as possible. Naturally, it aligns with their interests to offer you the smallest compensation possible. By contrast, the role of a legal firm, such as Bellotti Law Group, P.C., is to advocate for the rights of the injured party and safeguard them from having their claims undervalued by the insurance company.
Yes, you can still have a viable case even if you didn't experience immediate pain after the incident. Often, the body's natural response to traumatic situations, such as accidents, is to release adrenaline that can temporarily mask pain. Over time, you may begin to feel significant discomfort or notice other symptoms. It's prudent to seek medical attention even if you aren't experiencing intense pain immediately, as some severe conditions may not manifest until later.
The time limit or statute of limitations for filing a personal injury lawsuit varies depending on your state's law. In some jurisdictions, you might need to file a lawsuit within a year of the incident, while other places may provide up to four years. It's important to verify this period in your specific state to ensure you don't unintentionally forfeit your rights. While there are certain exceptions to these time limits, they're quite restrictive, and you shouldn't count on them applying to your case. Furthermore, from a practical perspective, pursuing your claim sooner rather than later, while the evidence is still readily available, will facilitate the process of proving liability and determining the extent of your damages.
Vehicle Accidents: This is perhaps the most common type of personal injury case and it involves accidents involving cars, motorcycles, trucks, bicycles, pedestrians, or any other kind of road mishap.
Slip and Fall Cases: These are common types of injury cases and usually arise from a property owner's negligence in maintaining safe conditions on their premises.
Medical Malpractice: This involves injuries sustained due to negligent medical care, such as a doctor's failure to diagnose a condition, surgical errors, incorrect prescriptions, or improper treatment.
Product Liability: In these cases, a manufacturer or seller is held liable for placing a defective product into the hands of a consumer. Defective products might include anything from faulty vehicle parts to dangerous pharmaceutical drugs.
Workplace Accidents: These can occur in various forms such as construction accidents, chemical exposures, repetitive stress injuries, or any other harm caused in the course of performing work-related tasks.
Dog Bites: In many states, the owners of a dog can be held financially responsible for bites and other injuries caused by their pets.
Assault, Battery, and other Intentional Torts: Unlike other personal injury claims which are mostly based on negligence, these claims involve intentional harm caused by one person to another.
Wrongful Death: These cases involve any situation where a person dies due to the legal fault of another person or entity, often resulting from any of the types of harm listed above.
Defamation: Personal injury laws apply when one person's defamatory statement causes harm to another person's reputation.
Premises Liability: This can involve injuries that occur on another person's property, including slip and falls, swimming pool accidents, inadequate maintenance of the property, or inadequate security.
In Massachusetts, neither federal nor state legislation views personal injury settlements as taxable income. This is primarily because such settlements are not viewed as taxable events, but as a means of restoring the victim to their original financial state before the incident. In other words, the primary purpose of the settlement is to financially reinstate the victim to the position they were in at the time of the accident. However, under certain conditions, settlements received for emotional distress could be deemed taxable income. The taxability of these cases largely depends on the specifics of each individual case.
Absolutely. In Massachusetts, you are free to change your lawyer at any stage of the case and for any reason, or even for no particular reason at all. The law permits injury victims to choose their legal representation without any penalties for making a switch. However, your previous lawyer might have a legitimate claim for compensation for the reasonable value of the services provided up to the point of their dismissal. If a lawsuit had already been filed on your behalf when your lawyer's services were terminated, the lawyer could file a statutory lien, which is a legally enforceable claim for payment under Massachusetts law.
At Bellotti Law Group, P.C., we tackle personal injury claims utilizing a contingency fee structure. In this setup, the cost of attorney fees and related expenses are subtracted from the settlement or award you receive. You aren't required to pay any attorney fees unless we secure a settlement for your case.
In case of an automobile accident injury, Personal Injury Protection (PIP) covers $8,000 of your medical expenses. If you have health insurance, PIP handles the initial $2,000, and your health insurance covers the remaining costs. Should your medical expenses exceed $8,000, the outstanding amount may be deducted from your settlement. We often succeed in negotiating a reduction of the leftover medical bills that PIP does not cover.
For injuries resulting from a general liability accident such as a slip and fall, medical costs are usually recoverable only after a settlement is concluded. However, some insurance policies may include a medical pay provision that can cover your medical expenses. It's important to note that the specifics of each accident and policy coverage can vary.