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My neighbor allows her dog off-leash. While walking my own dog, the neighbor’s bit me. What recourse do I have under the law?

An aggressive dog is a menace to the neighborhood, and potentially a source of great legal trouble for the owner. In Massachusetts, a dog and its owner are not granted any leniency in terms of civil liability even if this is the first occasion on which the dog has bitten someone. Additionally, since Massachusetts is a “strict liability” state, even if a dog is restrained or an owner otherwise takes “reasonable precautions,” the owner is still at fault. The only exception to this is if the person bitten is trespassing or is tormenting, abusing or teasing the dog.

If you plan on filing charges, or a lawsuit, be sure to take pictures of your injuries and bring documentation from your doctor. If you’ve previously taken pictures of the dog running loose, this would also be helpful.
There may be additional, local ordinances against unleashed dogs that come into play. An experienced personal injury attorney, such as one of our partners, will be able to assess the individual circumstances of a dog attack.
All this assumes, however, that neither you nor your own dog did anything to provoke the neighbor’s animal. The law waves liability for the owner of a dog if the victim of the bite was trespassing or in any way harassing or tormenting the dog.

Call our office today to discuss your options for compensation following a dog bite or another injury.

Will skipping a doctor’s visit now hurt my chances of a personal injury settlement later?

From a purely health perspective, we would have to recommend that you get yourself checked out at a doctor. With the rush of adrenaline and nerves you experienced immediately after the accident, your body may have been suppressing pain as part of your ancient survival mechanisms. You may not realize you are injured until you have had a chance to calm down.
Additionally, injuries, even serious ones, can take days to manifest themselves, or may not always have obvious symptoms. For your own health and safety, we would hope you go to a doctor immediately or shortly after a car accident.
On a financial level, the longer you wait to use your insurance or make claims against the other party’s, the longer you may be stuck with unpaid medical bills or lost wages. The longer you wait to treat injuries, the more expensive your treatment could become.
In legal terms, skipping a doctor’s visit until injuries arise does not prevent you from reaching a settlement later on. However, it may make it more difficult.
In Massachusetts, there is a three-year period in which to claim personal injury after an accident. However, the longer you wait after an accident, the easier it is for insurers and, later on, attorneys to argue that your medical expenses are not the result of the accident.
So, call your doctor—and then call us to discuss next steps.

Are autumn leaves a liability? They can be!

The arrival of fall brings with it the pleasure of watching the leaves turn. Fall is famous in New England because of the many vibrant colors, from bright yellow through to deep violet, that nature treats us to as the days grow shorter.

When leaves turn, though, they inevitably have to fall to the ground. Autumn invariably brings with it wet weather as well. Wet leaves, strewn along the sidewalks and streets, can pose a major risk of slips and falls. While winter’s ice and snow might get most of the attention for slip-and-fall injuries, a fall on wet leaves can result in injuries like a fall from any other cause: fractures, back injuries, head injuries, and sprains.

Under Massachusetts premises liability law, homeowners and commercial property owners are responsible for clearing even “natural” accumulations of leaves and snow.

If you’ve suffered an injury due to a slip and fall on wet leaves the owner of the property may be liable. If you’ve slipped in a commercial parking lot, entrance way, or sidewalk you may be entitled to compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering.

Contact our office to learn your rights and if you have a viable slip and fall injury case.

How long do I have in MA to claim injury after a car accident?

The Massachusetts General Code explicitly says there is a three-year period in which to claim personal injury after an accident. However, the law also stipulates that you make your claim “as soon as practicable after the accident occurs from which such claim arises” (Title XIV, Section 90, Chapter 34M)

Depending on who was found to be at fault in the accident, either your insurance or the other party’s is responsible by law for paying legitimate medical expenses, arising directly from the accident, up to the limits of the relevant policy. They must begin payment on these reported expenses within ten days.

However, the insurer can contest the validity of your medical bills. Remember, insurance companies are trying to spend as little as possible on you, no matter how faithfully you make your payments. This is what makes it so important, aside from health reasons, to visit a doctor for treatment and documentation shortly after an accident.

The law allows that insurers can demand an injured party “submit to physical examinations by physicians selected by the insurer” As to how often you might have to make a trip to see doctors hand-selected by the insurance company, the law only specifies “as often as may be reasonably required.” Should you think that their demands are unreasonable, they may use your “noncooperation” as a reason to deny you payment.

If an insurance company is not giving you your due, call us today to discuss options.

Understanding Your Rights in a Car Accident: Massachusetts Personal Injury Claims Explained

You could be driving down I-495 during rush hour when suddenly a person driving a large SUV whips into your lane and causes you to rear-end him. However, there were multiple witnesses who reported to Massachusetts State Police that the other driver was speeding. Three witnesses reported he was weaving in and out of traffic. Suddenly, what could have been your fault is a clear case of reckless driving, but, thank goodness, people were willing to share what they saw with the police. Now, you’re laid up in a nearby hospital awaiting surgery for multiple hip and leg fractures. This type of car accident is more common on Massachusetts highways than one might think.

How Much Time Do You Have to File a Lawsuit?
A car accident can be devastating, causing you and your dependents to lose your economic stability due to debilitating injuries. In Massachusetts, there is a statute of limitations that limits how long you have to file your claim. Here, as an injured victim, you will typically have three years beginning on the accident date to file a lawsuit against the at-fault party and his or her insurance company. Your lawsuit may be for economic and non-economic damages for bodily injuries, pain, and suffering. If you’re trying to sue a government entity (i.e. a city, county, or state agency) within this state, then your statute of limitations is only two years. In cases where there’s a latent injury, which means you didn’t know about the permanent bodily damage caused by the accident until a later date, there may be a three-year statute of limitations beginning on the date you discovered it.  [Read more…]

What To Do When Your Child is Injured

In Massachusetts, if a child suffers an injury due to faulty playground equipment, a bike accident, a slip and fall accident, or any type of negligence, that child’s parents or legal guardians have the right to pursue a claim on the child’s behalf.

It is often a challenge determining whether your child was injured due to the negligence of another party. Ask yourself:

  • Did your child simply fall, or did he slip on ice or snow that property owners neglected to clear? Property owners must make every effort to ensure that snow and ice are cleared for pedestrian traffic and may be liable for not doing so.
  • Did your child get injured at the pool due to unsafe conditions? Was there a lifeguard on duty who could have prevented the accident? Was the injury due to poor maintenance in the pool area as in uneven cement, missing drain covers or broken ladders?
  • Did your child get injured by a product or toy that could have been defective? Did parts come off easily which your child swallowed or punctured their skin?

Many parents are hesitant about looking into a claim for their child but many times your child’s injuries are at least, in part, due to the negligence of another party. A parent should consider your child’s pain, what he has suffered, and possible repercussions that could result. Also, there are the immediate medical expenses and those incurred in the weeks or months that follow, especially if looking at surgery or therapy as well as the time from work you’ve missed as the parent taking care of your child.

If you suspect that the accident was due to negligence, it is a good idea to contact an experienced personal injury attorney who will evaluate your case and provide you with options. When you meet with your attorney, bring any information you have. If your child saw a doctor or was hospitalized, bring the medical documentation. Bring photos of the injury or accident site and the names and addresses of any witnesses. Bring an accident report, if applicable, or if the injury is due to a defective product or toy, bring that product if possible. Any and all information will help decide if you have a case and how to move forward.

A child, like an adult, has the same reasonable expectation of not getting hurt or seriously injured due to someone else negligence. If your child has been injured, seek the advice of a seasoned attorney in the field of personal injury to assure that your child’s best interests and rights are properly protected.

Consequences of Devastating Head Injuries

50,000 people lose their lives, 280,000 are people hospitalized and 2.2 million people are seen in emergency rooms: these statistics from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) show the impact of head injuries in the United States in a single year. The magnitude of these statistics is worthy of discussion; particularly since a traumatic head injury can be the result of car accidents, slip and fall accidents and assaults.

Head Injuries Pose Potential for Long-Term Consequences
While a head injury can have immediate repercussions for victims including headaches, temporary memory loss and feelings of sleepiness, the long-term consequences should not be ignored. Even those victims who suffer very mild symptoms of a head injury after a car accident need to use caution; repeat head trauma has been associated with higher incidence of Parkinson’s Disease and Alzheimer’s Disease. Those with severe head injuries immediately after an accident can suffer from: [Read more…]

Motorcycle Group Ride – Accidents and Injuries

Many motorcyclists are quick to sign up for group rides.  There is no shortage of them especially in Massachusetts.  Our riding season is generally shorter than many parts of the country.

Every weekend there is a group charity ride going somewhere.  Many motorcyclists are willing to quickly sign up to participate for these rides because the cause is important to them.  They are quick to fill out the registration form and pay the fee and they often sign off on the release of liability agreement required to participate in such a run.  Signing a form of this type does not make the ride any safer or remove liability from all participants.
[Read more…]

Massachusetts Car Accident Expenses – Who Pays For What?

You’ve been in a serious car accident along the busy roads of Greater Boston.  The damage to your vehicle is great, but that doesn’t measure to the pain you’ve suffered from your injuries. Not only is your car totaled, but you’re about to receive numerous medical bills for thousands of dollars.  Who pays for what?

•    Medical Bills
The state of Massachusetts follows the “no fault” system.  When injury occurs from a car accident, automobile insurance will pay up to $2,000 of the medical bills.  After that $2,000, either your healthcare coverage, or P.I.P.(Personal Injury Protection) if you did not have health insurance during the accident, will cover the amount appropriate with the insurance you bought.  However, P.I.P. will only cover up to $8,000. [Read more…]

Premises Liability – What is it and Who is at fault?

Winter is coming, and there will be snow and ice. In fact, if it’s anything like last year, there may be a lot of snow and ice.

Injuries due to snow and ice may be cause for damages in a premises liability case. Premises liability in Massachusetts, however, applies to many types of injuries and accidents, not just those caused by our weather.

The term “premises liability” covers any kind of accident that arises from a condition on a property. This can include snow or ice, an obstruction, defective workmanship, inadequate maintenance, a slippery floor, broken stairs, or any other environment that causes one to fall, slip, or trip. The range of potential conditions covered by premises liability is very wide; because of the numerous conditions potentially covered and the complexity of the law, it is highly advisable to consult an experienced personal injury attorney if you have questions. [Read more…]

Massachusetts Law and the Role of Insurance Adjusters

With over 110,000 auto crashes a year in the state of Massachusetts, it is a sad likelihood that you or a loved one could be severely injured in an auto accident at some point. This can be a very disturbing event, and potentially a very debilitating one. Both emotional and physical effects from an accident can significantly affect your daily life.

You have prepared for this contingency by purchasing auto insurance. In the event of an accident, you expect that your insurance policy or that of the party a fault will provide whatever is needed for your continued health and well-being.

However, it is important to know that the insurance companies will always try to limit the costs associated with payment of claims. With that in mind, there may be some things that the insurance representative will not tell you. [Read more…]

Auto Accidents: Back and Neck Injuries

If you’ve been involved in an auto accident, don’t ignore the minor aches and pains. You may think you’re not seriously injured and that its too much trouble to go to the doctor to check out such a minor issue. The fact of the matter is many types of back and neck injuries can take weeks and even months to surface and that minor ache often turns in to something much more serious. Here are a few examples of serious back and neck injuries that may take weeks to materialize .

  • Herniated and bulging discs. The 23 discs in your vertebrae sit between 24 vertebrae. Trauma can cause one or more of these to bulge or be herniated and it can take some time to be noticeable depending on the severity of impact.
  • Dislocation fractures. This is one of the most common injuries suffered in a car accident. When one or more vertebrae fracture, the soft tissues move into the damaged area over time.
  • Soft tissue bruising and tearing. During a car accident, a number of muscles, tissue ligaments, and tendons can suddenly break or stretch. This type of back injury can cause excruciating pain, affecting thousands of nerve endings.
  • Axial bursts. If you were in an accident that caused a big impact, multiple vertebrae in your lumbar and cervical regions might have been damaged.

[Read more…]

Auto Accidents – A Skilled Injury Attorney Will Make The Difference

Car accidents happen all the time, and they oftentimes leave one or both parties with injuries that require medical attention. Medical bills are expensive and it is important that you are not financially ruined because of the fault of another. Consult with an experienced personal injury lawyer to fight for your interests, and make sure you are compensated for your medical bills and suffering.

Personal injury lawyers are especially important when you are in an accident with a commercial truck or other large corporately insured vehicle. The insurance and transportation companies want to settle with you as quickly as possible. Do not sign any papers they put in front of you without consulting an experienced personal injury lawyer even if what they are offering seems like a lot of money. If you waive them of liability by accepting their offer and it turns out you have more extensive medical bills than you thought at the time of signing, you are out of luck; you will have to cover the costs for yourself. [Read more…]

What is comparative fault in Massachusetts?

Practical application of comparative fault

For most people, it is a challenge to understand comparative fault. Therefore it is typically helpful to have a solid example of how the facts of the case will be looked at. Here is an example of what comparative fault is:

You are walking up a flight of stairs in a commercial building. You are with a friend and talking. Because you are distracted, you do not notice that there is a break in the handrail and you get your shirt sleeve stuck in the break causing you to fall down the stairs. You are seriously injured in the fall and have to have surgery and are out of work for several weeks. You feel you deserve to have your medical bills and lost wages compensated.

When reviewing the facts of your case, the court determines you are partially responsible for your fall because you were distracted. The property owner is at fault as well because they should have repaired the broken handrail.

The final determination is that you are 20% at fault for your injuries. Your injury award is determined to be $100,000. However, because you were 20% at fault, the maximum you will be awarded is $80,000.

The comparative fault threshold

It is important to understand that if you are found to be 50% responsible that you will be unable to collect any compensation under the personal injury laws in Massachusetts. Using the scenario above, you might be found to be 50% liable for your accident if the property owner placed a hazard sign on the stairway indicating there was a break in the handrail.

If you have been injured at a commercial facility such as a supermarket or shopping center, you may have the right to file a personal injury suit. Contact a Massachusetts personal injury attorney to determine what rights you have and what evidence you may have to provide.

Property Owners’ and Landlords Legal Duty to Prevent Injury

If you are a property owner, you have many issues you have to be aware of legally. One of these is the property owner’s legal duty to prevent injury.

If you have tenants who are elderly, disabled, or prone to accident, this becomes especially concerning to you as a property owner, as you may wonder how much liability is involved in such cases.

The “Reasonable Safety” Clause

In general, as a landlord or property owner, you have a responsibility to exercise reasonable care for the safety of your tenants. If you find any dangerous conditions, you must repair these as soon as possible to avoid personal injury. This carries with it also a responsibility to hold regular inspections of the property, so that you will know if such a condition exists.

Warn or Repair

Once you locate a dangerous situation or become aware of it, you are required by Massachusetts law to do one of two things:

  • Repair the portion of the property or the issue which is causing the dangerous situation to exist.
  • Warn the tenants of the possibility of injuries which they could suffer due to the condition, so that they may take proper extra steps to protect themselves.

Liability of Property Owners

If someone is injured while on the property, you may be held liable for damages, depending upon the situation and whether or not you warned the person of the situation, attempted to repair it if possible, and whether or not the person was trespassing. [Read more…]

Massachusetts Motorcycle Accidents – What Cyclists Need To Know

If you have been injured in a motorcycle accident, it is imperative to find a lawyer that has experience taking such cases to trial, and also has worked with accident reconstruction teams and insurance companies. Because of their reputation and the difficulties in presenting a case in court, juries and insurance companies can often be unfair in motorcycle accident cases.

As it is all across the U.S., motorcyclists in Massachusetts suffer from a disproportionate number of accidents and injuries, despite following almost all of the same road regulations as other drivers. Per mile traveled, motorcyclists have a 35 times greater risk of being fatally injured in an accident than a passenger car. Between 2001 and 2008 an estimated 1,222,000 people were treated in U.S. emergency rooms for non-fatal motorcycle injuries. According to the Hurt Report, failure from motorists to spot and recognize motorcyclists is the predominant cause in motorcycle accidents.

To lessen the danger, certain requirements present themselves to motorcycle drivers. The state of Massachusetts requires that all motorcyclists wear a helmet. And there is also a motorcycle safety program offered in 13 locations across the state. [Read more…]

Swimming Pool Accidents in Massachusetts

In Massachusetts if you are the owner of a private pool, either as an individual, corporation or perhaps part of a club or association, or if you manage a semi-public or a pool open to the public you are responsible for knowing the regulations and laws regarding pool safety.

Finding laws or regulations that govern safety issues for pools in Massachusetts can be a bit difficult. The Commonwealth of Massachusetts adopted the 2009 International Building Code, which governs swimming pool enclosures and safety devices. Here are several codes and regulations often overlooked by pool owners.

Massachusetts code states that residential pool owners must have a barrier covering their pool when not in use. The barrier should not have openings in it that would allow the passage of a 4-inch diameter sphere. The pool should also have self-closing gates. [Read more…]

What is Massachusetts Personal Injury Protection (PIP)?

In Massachusetts, when you’re injured in an auto accident, your insurance policy’s Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage should pay your medical bills and other expenses, but those aren’t the only benefits you’re entitled to recover. If you sustain a serious injury, an experienced personal injury attorney could also negotiate a settlement for damages due to your pain, suffering, any permanent disabilities, and lost wages.Massachusetts automobile statutes allow injury victims to collect additional damages from the legally responsible party if injuries or medical bills meet or exceed PIP tort thresholds.

PIP Tort Threshold

Massachusetts No Fault Laws recognize that injuries can have a significant impact on your life. The medical bills and lost wages covered by your Personal Injury Protection coverage were never intended to make up for permanent disabilities or other life altering conditions. The law gives you the right to sue the person who caused your accident if one of the following occurs. [Read more…]