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Dealing with an injury can be an expensive, time-consuming process and take its toll on your physical and mental well being. If you sustained your injury because of someone else’s conduct, you may not need to bear the burden of your recovery expenses alone. In Massachusetts, you can file a personal injury lawsuit that could help you collect financial compensation from the person who hurt you.
Personal injury case rules vary from state to state. In Massachusetts, you could potentially be awarded monetary damages to cover your short- and long-term medical bills, pain and suffering, and lost wages from time taken off work to deal with your injuries. The goal in ordering this wide range of compensation is to restore as much of the injured party’s life and finances back to the way they would be if the injury had never happened.
In Massachusetts, you can sue for almost any type of injury caused by another person in many different circumstances. Depending on what type of accident caused your injury, you may be able to sue based on negligence, strict liability or based on an intentional act.
Negligence is one of the most common bases for a personal injury claim. Negligence claims arise when someone “owes a duty of care,” such as the duty to drive with care and respect for road laws, and then breaches that duty, like by excessively speeding.
Injuries due to negligence are almost always accidents that could have been prevented if the injuring party had behaved more responsibly. Say you slip and fall because there was water on the floor at a grocery store, and the employees knew about the spill but did nothing to clean it up or display caution signs. You may have a case for negligence, because they could have prevented your injury by acting according to a reasonable duty of care, but then didn’t.
Medical malpractice usually falls under negligence law in Massachusetts as well.
Strict liability claims are similar to negligence claims, which may make it hard for the average person to distinguish one type of case from the other. Like negligence, strict liability injuries are usually caused by accident. But in these cases, there was no breach to the duty of care. Strict liability cases happen when someone behaved carefully and reasonably, but still caused someone else’s injuries. It may seem unfair to some to make someone pay for a mistake they tried to prevent, but the legal system generally finds it more unfair to make a person pay for their own injuries that someone else caused, mistakenly or not.
Of course, not every type of injury a person may cause will be accidental. Battery and assault cases can also form the basis for a personal injury claim if you’re hurt by someone else’s purposeful conduct that intended to cause you harm. Intentional injury claims are common as the civil recourse for a criminal act. In addition to the criminal case, the act will also have a civil, personal injury claim in addition.
To sue for personal injury in Massachusetts, you’ll need to follow the state’s timelines, or statute of limitations. In most personal injury cases, you have three years from the date of your injury to file a claim in the Bay State.
Depending on the type and details of your personal injury case, you may be restricted in the amount of money you’re able to collect. This amount can vary from $100,000 to $500,000, subject to the category of injury your claim falls under.
Massachusetts is what’s known as a “modified comparative negligence” state. Comparative negligence in general means that if the court finds you in some way contributed to the circumstances of your injury, like if you were texting and driving through a green light and were hit by an oncoming car running a red light, the amount you can recover may be reduced. The court will try to determine how much of the injury was your fault, and reduce damages from there. So if your texting was believed to be 10 percent fault of the accident, you can only recover 90 percent of the compensation you request.
Because Massachusetts is a modified comparative negligence state, there’s also a limit to how “at fault” you can be in order to still recover anything. If the court thinks you are 51 percent or more “at fault,” you will almost certainly not be awarded any money at all, with only very few exceptions.
To try to get compensation for your injuries through the court system, you’ll need to file a lawsuit. This will involve many different steps, such as determining the correct court and jurisdiction, the appropriate claim, and the right amount of compensation to seek, as well as correctly filing all the necessary documentation with the court.
Therefore, the process can get very complicated, very quickly, and any misstep along the way could drastically change the outcome. Working with an attorney can help you analyze the details of your case, file the correct claims, and they can represent your best interests in court.
Injuries cost money, including time away from work, medical bills, and other complications. Before taking legal action or trying to negotiate a settlement on your own, you should talk to an attorney about your case. You can search LawInfo’s legal directory to find a local personal injury attorney about the merits of your case. This one step can level the playing field, help you protect your rights, and put you in the best position for recovering the compensation that you deserve.