Articles Posted in Workers’ Compensation

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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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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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Someone Injured Me But I Can’t Afford To Hire An Attorney!

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 motor vehicle accident 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.  Massachusetts workers’ compensation cases are also handled by contingency basis, and the amounts are set by law.

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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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Helpful Tips for Those Going Through the Insurance Claims Process

The aftermath of an auto accident, slip and fall, injury at work, or any other injury causing event can cause great stress to not only the injury victim, but also to his or her family.  Oftentimes, the experience of going through the personal injury claim process can be just as anguishing as the personal injury event that lead to the claim.

In order to make the aftermath just a little easier for you, here are my tips to those who have an attorney and are going through the typically frustrating and lengthy personal injury claim process:

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This happens quite a bit to innocent, hard-working people who are hurt on the job due to no fault of their own.  What can be done in this situation when there is no workers' compensation insurance available?

In Massachusetts, the Department of Industrial Accidents has a Trust Fund which is set up for this very purpose.  The Trust Fund steps in when there is no workers compensation insurance, so the injured employee at least has some remedy.  It is worth noting that there are very, very severe penalties for not carrying workers' compensation insurance in Massachusetts, as there should be.

 

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Through the years I have noticed there are some common questions that most clients ask at the beginning of their case.  Here are some answers to these common questions, which hopefully are of assistance to you if you have been injured by the fault of someone else:

1) Do I have a case?

This depends on a number of factors.  Were you injured?  Did someone else's fault cause you to be injured?  Is there insurance?  Has the statute of limitations passed?  Basically, this question does not have a standard response, but rather is dependent on a number of factors.

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If you are injured at work in Massachusetts, you cannot sue your employer.  What you can do is file a Massachusetts workers' compensation claim.  Your employer is required under Massachusetts law to carry workers' compensation insurance.  Also, should your employer not have workers compensation insurance at the time of your injury, you can still file a claim with the Trust Fund of the Department of Industrial Accidents.

Workers' compensation was created in the early part of the last century as a compromise between employers and employees.  When the employee is injured at work, he does not need to show fault on the part of the employer.  The employer on the other hand does not have to go to court every time an employee is injured.  This benefits the employer because it greatly reduces its liability.

Massachusetts workers' compensation disputes are not handled in court, but by the Industrial Accident Board.  The Statute of Limitations for workers' compensation claims in Massachusetts is four years. 

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Those who have been injured by the negligence of someone else often lose time from work, rack up medical bills, and suffer a host of other problems.  Getting a damaged car fixed, going to medical appointments, dealing with insurance companies, all take time and aggravation.  That is the bad news.  The good news is that nearly every personal injury lawyer in America works on contingency. 

First, contingency agreements allows everyone, no matter where they stand financially, access to a personal injury lawyer.  This means you get to have equal footing with an insurance company, without having to pay an hourly legal rate.  In fact, you pay nothing unless your personal injury attorney is successful in securing compensation for you.

Secondly, the contingency agreement also deters the filing of frivolous lawsuits.  It would make little sense for an attorney to take on a bad case that has no shot of settling or winning at trial.  Frivolous lawsuits and the contingency agreement are like oil and water.  Lawyers, like everyone else, don't like to work for free.  Taking on a frivolous case is the same thing as working for free.  It makes no sense.

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