Articles Posted in General Massachusetts Slip and Fall Information

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Oftentimes when a person living in Massachusetts is injured in a slip and fall, and has Mass Health coverage, Mass Health will have a lien for any money they paid toward your medical bills for treatment related to the accident.  That means that before you can get your money out of your slip and fall settlement, Mass Health must be paid back.  Usually, Mass Health will negotiate a bit to take into account that your attorney is taking part of the settlement and that there are likely some expenses as well that were incurred in bringing the case forward.  Usually, however, Mass Health does not significantly reduce their liens against Massachusetts slip and fall case settlements. 

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There are a number of factors that come into play when an attorney

decides whether or not to take on a personal injury case for a client. 

Here are some, but not all, of those factors:

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Slip and fall cases can be challenging to win at trial in Massachusetts.  Each county in Massachusetts is unique and within each county sits jurors with unique life experiences with their own opinions regarding whether or not injury victims are deserving of compensation.  Defense lawyers and insurance claims adjusters, when evaluating a claim, consider the county where the action is pending in evaluating a claim's value.  Here is a link to an informative survey that reveals generally the juror tendencies of the various counties of Massachusetts:

http://www.harmonie.org/user_documents/massachusetts.pdf

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Oftentimes slip and falls are caused by inebriation. Does that mean the injury victim does not have a case? No.
Generally, if the injury victim is deemed less negligent than the company or person responsible for the accident, then she or she can pursue a claim. So who determines who is at fault, and whether the injury victim or property owner is more to blame for the accident? A jury does.
Intoxication therefore is not a bar to recovery. But, intoxication will bar any recovery when the injury victim is greater than 50% responsible for the accident.

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Many people in Massachusetts have health coverage through Blue Cross Blue Shield. Following a personal injury event (car accident, slip and fall, etc.) Blue Cross may pay a portion of your medical bills. If you receive a settlement at the end of your case, then Blue Cross has the legal right to obtain from you its share of money they paid to your medical providers on your behalf. This right arises from the contract of insurance that you have with Blue Cross. In my experience working with Blue Cross, they will typically reduce their lien by 10%. Therefore, if you are involved in a personal injury accident in Massachusetts, and you have Blue Cross insurance coverage, expect to pay them back for the medical bills they paid on your behalf, out of your settlement.

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Not to worry.  One of the hallmarks of personal injury law is that the injury victim does not get billed an hourly rate.  Rather, the legal fee is a percentage of the gross amount recovered for the client. 

Nearly all Massachusetts personal injury lawyers – as well as personal injury lawyers in other states -  take slip and fall cases on a contingency fee basis.  What that means is that your attorney will take 33 1/3% (or possibly more if your case goes into suit) of any settlement or judgment amount as his/her legal fee at the conclusion of the case.  If your attorney advances any costs in prosecuting your claim, it is you that is ultimately responsible for any such costs. 

With contingency fee cases, your attorney is required by the Massachusetts Rules of Professional Conduct to provide you with a copy of the signed, contingency fee agreement.  This is the agreement that formalizes the attorney/client relationship.  If your attorney does not provide you with a copy of the fee agreement, ask him/her for a copy of same.

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Not to worry.  One of the hallmarks of personal injury law is that the injury victim does not get billed an hourly rate.  Rather, the legal fee is a percentage of the gross amount recovered for the client. 

Nearly all Massachusetts personal injury lawyers – as well as personal injury lawyers in other states -  take slip and fall cases on a contingency fee basis.  What that means is that your attorney will take 33 1/3% (or possibly more if your case goes into suit) of any settlement or judgment amount as his/her legal fee at the conclusion of the case.  If your attorney advances any costs in prosecuting your claim, it is you that is ultimately responsible for any such costs. 

With contingency fee cases, your attorney is required by the Massachusetts Rules of Professional Conduct to provide you with a copy of the signed, contingency fee agreement.  This is the agreement that formalizes the attorney/client relationship.  If your attorney does not provide you with a copy of the fee agreement, ask him/her for a copy of same.

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Slip and falls that occur on ice or snow in Massachusetts are very difficult to prevail upon. The injury victim must show that the owner or controller of the premises failed to reasonably remove snow and ice, in order for the case to be a case worth pursuing. For our purposes here, let us concentrate on slips and falls on ice and snow that occur in the landlord/tenant context.

The landlord/tenant statutes that are in place in Massachusetts generally favor tenants in that landlords are held to high standards of conduct. In the context of slips and falls on ice and snow, landlords are held to a very high duty to keep exterior stairways free of ice and snow.

If the tenant can show that the landlord failed, in violation of the relevant provisions of the Sanitary Code, or in some other way, to keep an exterior stairway free of ice and snow, the tenant may have a valid claim, assuming, of course, that certain legal elements are satisfied.

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One of the first questions I ask a potential personal injury client is whether he has made any claims in the past.  Whether it be a motor vehicle accident, slip and fall or some other claim, it is important for me to know this information.  The reason is that the claims adjuster and the defense attorney (if the claim goes into suit) has access to a claims index.  If you have made claims in the past, they will appear in the claims index and will come up on a search.

Therefore, before meeting with your attorney for the first time, think back to any claims you have made in the past and write them down on a piece of paper.  Write down the approximate date of the accident, the type of accident it was, and any injuries you suffered as a result.

It is better that your attorney learn of these accidents at the beginning of the case, rather than during your deposition when the defense attorney will be sure to bring them up to weaken your case.

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A statute of limitations is the period of time set through law in which you are allowed to sue someone in court.  Generally, in Massachusetts, personal injury claims such as auto accidents, slip and falls, and dog bites, have, respectively, a three-year statute of limitations.

But be very clear that not all accident/personal injury claims have a three-year statute of limitations.  Some have shorter or longer periods depending on the facts and the applicable law.  If you have been hurt in an accident, I suggest you call an attorney immediately in order to protect your legal rights.

Please contact me with any questions of comments you may have in connection with Massachusetts personal injury law.

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