Frequently Asked Questions About Personal Injury Lawsuits
Posted on behalf of Janet, Jenner & Suggs on May 04, 2017 in Personal Injury
If you were injured in an accident in Boston caused by someone else’s negligence, you probably have many questions about filing a personal injury claim.
Below you will find answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about personal injury lawsuits in Boston. Reviewing the answers will help you determine if you have grounds for a lawsuit and what forms of compensation you can recover.
Do I Have a Personal Injury Case?
This is often one of the first questions people have about a personal injury claim because they are unsure if they have grounds to file a lawsuit.
The deciding factor is whether you suffered an injury caused by someone else's negligence.
How do I Prove Negligence Occurred?
You have to establish four things to prove negligence occurred:
Duty of Care
This refers to the legal obligation to exercise reasonable care given the situation. For instance:
- A doctor has a legal obligation to provide care that meets accepted standards in the medical community.
- Drivers have a duty to obey the rules of the road and not drive in a reckless manner.
- Retail store owners have an obligation to take reasonable care to eliminate slip and fall hazards.
- Manufacturers have a legal obligation to produce and sell safe products that do not have an unreasonable risk of injury.
Breach of the Duty of Care
This is a failure to exercise reasonable care in the situation in question. For example, speeding is a breach of the duty of care that one driver owes to the other drivers out on the road. Producing a defective product is also a breach of a manufacturer's duty of care.
The Breach of the Duty of Care Caused Your Injuries
You have to show that the breach of the duty of care directly caused you to suffer an injury. For example, if you were injured in a car accident and the other driver was speeding, you have to prove that the accident was directly caused by speeding.
This is usually one of the most contentious aspects of any personal injury claim. The defense will try to show that your injuries were caused by something other than the breach of the duty of care, like a preexisting medical condition or something you did wrong.
Your Injuries Created Damages
This is a matter of showing proof of the financial, physical and emotional harm you have suffered because of your injuries. Proof could include:
- Hospital bills
- Medical records
- Bills for prescriptions, physical therapy and travel to doctor's offices
- Proof of lost wages from missed time at work
- Your personal account of the physical pain and emotional suffering you have experienced
How Much is My Personal Injury Case Worth?
This depends on a variety of factors, including:
- The extent of your injuries
- How your injuries affect your quality of life
- The treatments you received that were necessary for your recovery
Typically, the more severe your injuries, the more your case is worth.
The value of your personal injury claim also depends on the types of damages you suffered, which could include:
If your claim is successful, you can recover compensation for any medical expenses incurred for treating your injury, such as:
- Hospital bills
- Doctor or specialist appointments
- Ambulance rides
- Lab tests
If your injury caused you to miss work, you may be able to recover lost wages from when you first missed work until you were able to return. Your employer can submit documentation detailing the income you missed due to your injury.
These are bills created by the treatment of your injuries, including:
- Medical equipment
- Prescription and over-the-counter medications
- Parking for doctors’ appointments
- Car rental
- Gas for travel to appointments
If your property was damaged in the accident that caused your injury, you may be able to recover compensation to repair it or replace the fair market value. Items you may seek compensation for include vehicles, computers, jewelry and cellphones.
These are emotional or physical losses from your injury, such as:
- Pain and suffering, currently and in the future
- Emotional distress
- Loss of enjoyment
- Loss of consortium
- Punitive damages
Non-economic damages are capped at $500,000 in medical malpractice cases (Massachusetts General Laws Section 60H), unless substantial disfigurement, substantial or permanent impairment or loss of bodily function, or special circumstances prevent the cap from providing justice. However, there is no cap on these damages in other types of personal injury cases.
When Should I File a Lawsuit?
Your personal injury lawsuit must be filed within your state’s statute of limitations. A statute of limitations sets a time limit for filing a type of legal claim. If you do not file a claim before the statute expires, you will be barred from doing so.
In Boston Massachusetts, the statute of limitations for personal injury lawsuits is three years from the date when you suffered an injury.
Three years may sound like a long time, but it can pass a lot faster than you think. If you want to file a lawsuit, you should do so as soon as possible so your attorney has time to thoroughly investigate your case.
Can I Receive Compensation if I was Partially at Fault?
Boston Massachusetts personal injury cases are governed by the state’s comparative negligence statute. Plaintiffs are allowed to pursue legal action and may recover damages if they are found less than 51 percent liable for the accident causing injury.
Your compensation award will be reduced by the percentage in which you are found liable for the action. For example, if the award is $100,000 and you are found 30 percent liable for the accident, you will recover $70,000. If you are found 51 percent or more liable for the accident, you will not be able to recover any compensation.
How Long will a Personal Injury Lawsuit Take?
Personal injury lawsuits can take a long time to be resolved. During the six months after your accident, the focus will be on your recovery and investigating the accident. Your attorney will work to collect all documentation needed to support your claim.
Personal injury lawsuits can be filed at any point during the three-year statute of limitations. Your attorney may wait to seek a settlement until you have reached your point of maximum medical improvement, so the true value of your case will be known.
If the case lasts longer than one year, both sides could hire expert witnesses to support their position. Either side may pursue mediation to avoid going to trial.
Settling outside of court can take months to years, while a lawsuit can take years to make it to trial.
The Boston personal injury attorneys at Janet, Jenner & Suggs are well-versed in Massachusetts laws on personal injury claims. We know how to build a robust claim that offers you a good chance of recovering fair compensation for the damages you have experienced.
When you contact our firm, we can schedule a free, no obligation legal consultation to discuss the merits of your claim and how to proceed.