Articles Posted in MBTA Claims

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What Is Negligence?

Negligence in Massachusetts, and in all states, means failing to act reasonably in a situation and causing injury to a person(s) as a direct result.  As a Boston accident lawyer, negligence is the lynchpin of each case my office handles. Whether it be a Massachusetts car accident, slip and fall, or any other type of personal injury case, the injury victim must prove the following elements in order to win a negligence case against a defendant:

1) The defendant owed the plaintiff a duty of care.  This means that the one who caused the injuries had a legal duty to act in a reasonable manner toward the victim.  An example of a duty of care is that we all have a duty while driving not to drive into the rear of the car in front of us.

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Massachusetts Personal Injury Cases and Settlement Funding

This is a topic I deal with quite frequently when representing personal injury victims. Often, my clients will call me and tell me the accident they were involved in has financially harmed them so much, they are willing to take a loan out.  For example, suppose the client was riding a bicycle and was hit by a car.  The person may be really injured, racking up medical bills, and maybe lost wages, too.  Sometimes the client will see an ad on television from companies that provide funding to people injured in an accident and that have an open case pending with an insurance company.

The loan is typically financed by a pre-settlement funding company. When my clients ask me about this option, I try very hard to persuade them not to take out such a loan, because the interest rates can be very daunting.  Basically, the way it works is this: the pre-settlement funding company will closely analyze the client’s case, and loan application, and then decide whether or not the case is strong enough to guarantee the company will recoup their money, once the case settles.

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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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Millions of Americans have Medicare health insurance coverage.  Oftentimes however, when a Medicare beneficiary is involved in a personal injury event, dealing with Medicare can be a tedious and interminable process.

By law, Medicare has an automatic lien for any medical bills they paid out on your behalf in connection with medical treatment you received stemming from a personal injury case.  There is no way to avoid such a lien, and myself, and thousands of personal injury attorneys throughout America deal with the Medicare behemoth daily.

Therefore, if you have been injured in an accident in Massachusetts, or any other state, and you are a Medicare beneficiary, your attorney (or yourself if you are pro se) will have to work with Medicare to see to it that their lien is satisfied out of any settlement or verdict proceeds.  Because even if a case is concluded, Medicare can still pursue the beneficiary, and even the attorney, if Medicare discovers their lien was not satisfied.

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Absolutely.  The attorney/client relationship is based on a mutual and voluntary contractual relationship.  The client can exit the relationship at any time.  In fact, you are allowed to fire your Massachusetts personal lawyer at any time and you don't even need a reason for doing so.

I find that many people who call me and are interested in changing lawyers are doing so because they feel their lawyer is not communicating with them.  If your lawyer is not calling you back and/or not keeping you updated on your case, you have the right to change lawyers.  You may, however, be responsible for paying the lawyer back the expenses the lawyer put into the case. 

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Here is a great article I came across written by Maryland personal injury lawyer Ronald Miller regarding how the issue of defense costs affects an insurer's willingness to settle a personal injury case.  Here is the article:

Can I Expect the Insurance Company to Settle to Avoid the Costs of Litigation?

by Ron Miller on July 13, 2012

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Most if not all Massachusetts personal injury, medical malpractice and products liability cases are taken on a contingency fee basis.  What does this mean?  I found the following informative and articulate post over at injuryboard.com authored by attorney Scott E. Smith.  Here is the post:

Abraham Lincoln once said, "A lawyer's time and advice is his stock in trade." In essence, asking an attorney for his advice is no different than asking an accountant to set up a business plan or do your taxes, a doctor to examine you, render a diagnosis and prescribe treatment or hiring an electrician to fix the wiring of your home. Nonetheless, many people are under the impression that calling a lawyer and asking a question is free. Although most lawyers will gladly answer preliminary questions regarding a legal matter, when it is determined a lawyer is needed, a fee contract is required.

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Most lawyers charge by the hour, as do most professions. Depending upon the lawyer's qualifications, experience and expertise, the hourly rate will vary. However, there are situations attorneys will work for a client on a contingent basis or on a reduced hourly rate and negotiated lower percentage. A contingency fee allows a lawyer to charge a client a percentage of money recovered in behalf of the client in a given case. A contingent fee contract has been referred to as the "poor man's key to the courthouse" because many individuals who are in need or require the assistance of an attorney cannot afford an hourly rate.

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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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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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