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MA Personal Injury Law Questions and Answers

Welcome to our Massachusetts Personal Injury Law Forum. Feel free to post questions, answers, or comments about personal injury law issues and lawsuits, including automobile accident and slip and fall injuries.  If you need professional legal advice, please use our Attorney Directory to find a MA personal injury lawyer.

Have a question? Use our SEARCH feature, below, to find your answer.  For example, if you have a question about punitive damages for a personal injury, simply enter: punitive damages.  For questions about on-the-job injuries, visit our MA Workers' Compensation Forum.

Massachusetts Personal Injury Law Basics

Before we get to the forum, here is some basic information about personal injury law in Massachusetts. As you read this synopsis, if you see terms you do not understand or that you would like more information about, just use our search tool to find more in-depth discussions.

It all starts, unfortunately, with an injury, typically caused by the negligence or intentional acts of another person.  Personal injury lawsuits can evolve from many fact patterns and situations: car or motorcycle accidents, faulty and dangerous products, slip and fall claims on public and private property, and even injury caused by negligently prepared food.  Medical malpractice and worker's injuries are also forms of injury that can form the basis of a lawsuit, but they are covered in different forums. 

After a person is injured and incurs damages, the first question is whether another person or entity can be held liable to the injured party. In other words, was someone's negligence the cause of the injury? (Although this forum also discusses intentional torts, such as assault and battery, in this introduction we are focusing on negligence claims.) The injury sustained can physical, psychological, or monetary.  However, if the injured party is to collect damages, he must show that the injury resulted from negligence of someone who owed him a duty of reasonable care, such as a physician, an employer, a landlord, the owner of a property, the owner of a business, or a manufacturer of products. Under Massachusetts law, in order to prevail and collect damages the plaintiff (the person who was injured and is bringing the law suit), must show:

 

(1) The defendant owed a duty of reasonable care to the plaintiff;

(2) The defendant failed to uphold that duty of care;

(3) The defendant’s failure to uphold his duty caused plaintiff’s injury; and

(4) The plaintiff suffered damages as a result of that breach of duty.

 

What does that mean?  Generally speaking, we all owe a duty of care to those around us to act as a reasonably prudent person would under similar circumstances.  So, for example, when driving our car, we should obey the speed limit and watch the road.  If we fail to uphold that duty and drive into a home, causing extensive damage, we can be held liable for our negligence.

The last item in the list is very important.  Readers often ask us questions about collecting damages in cases where another party was obviously negligent, but caused no damages.  It is not a lottery.  We do not get to collect money from another person just because that person was negligent.  We must have suffered damages.  Massachusetts law allows for the recovery of many types of damages, including: medical expenses, damage to property, time lost from work, permanent disfigurement or disability, emotional distress (including depression, shock, or damage to family relationships), physical pain and suffering, and any other costs that are a direct result of the defendant’s actions.

Finally, those who have been injured should know about the ‘statute of limitations,’ a period of time beyond which a claimant loses his right to file a lawsuit. In Massachusetts the statute of limitations varies depending on the type of claim. Generally, the period specified in the statute begins to run when the claim accrues, that is, when the injury is suffered. Claims for professional malpractice, fraud, personal injury, defamation, injury to property, or products liability must be brought within 3 years of the injury. Accordingly, if you have been injured and suffered damages, you should contact an attorney as soon as possible.

Hope all that helps.  Please enjoy this and our other forums and let us know what you think.

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