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Personal Injury Questions

I was injured as a passenger of an Uber driver, who is responsible for damages?

If you’re injured in a ride-sharing vehicle, such as Uber or Lyft, you have a right to get compensation for your injuries and other damages.

Financial responsibility typically falls on the insurance company of the at-fault driver, which may be the ride-sharing company’s driver or another driver involved in the accident who caused the crash.

The ride-sharing driver’s car insurance coverage will apply to passenger injuries only if the driver has a commercial insurance policy or a personal car insurance policy with a special provision providing insurance coverage while engaged as a ride-sharing driver. However, many ride-share drivers do not have such coverage. Additionally, personal car insurance policy will probably have a “business use exception” that won’t cover damages and injuries that occur while the insured is acting as a for-profit driver.

In the event the driver’s insurance will not cover passenger injury, Uber and Lyft carry third party liability insurance coverage which pays up to $1 million for personal injuries and property damage per accident. The third-party liability insurance will only cover costs when the ride-sharing driver is at fault for the accident, the ride-sharing driver’s own insurance has been exhausted, or, if the responsible driver is unknown, doesn’t have car insurance, or doesn’t have enough car insurance to pay for your injuries.

If the above insurance policies do not fully compensate you, or the insurance companies refuse to pay out, you can try going after the ride-sharing company itself. However, this should be considered a last resort option.

If you’ve been injured in a car accident and specifically while riding in an Uber or Lyft, contact us immediately to discuss your options.

I was bitten by a neighbor’s dog a year ago, can I file a personal injury lawsuit now?

Each state has a law that sets a deadline for filing a personal injury lawsuit in the state’s civil court system after an accident. This law is called the “statute of limitations,” and the state of Massachusetts gives you three years to file a personal injury lawsuit.

The three-year time limit typically starts on the day of the accident, which would be the case in the event of a dog bite. If you don’t get your lawsuit filed within three years, you’ll lose your right to have a court hear your injury case.

Many states have a “one bite rule” where dog owners are protected (to some degree) from injury liability the first time their dog injures someone if they had no reason to believe the dog was dangerous. In Massachusetts, however, a specific statute makes the owner “strictly liable.”

The strictly liable laws state regardless of the animal’s past behavior, the dog owner is responsible for a personal injury caused by his/her dog. The dog bite statute holds the defendant liable if the plaintiff was legally allowed to be where he was when the bite occurred, and the plaintiff did not provoke the dog at the time of the dog bite.

If you have questions regarding a personal injury case, contact our office today.

I recently discovered toxic mold in my apartment. Am I allowed to withhold rent until the mold is removed?

Landlords are urged to take mold seriously under Massachusetts law. Mold is considered a top environmental concern which can grow quickly.

Regardless of what may appear in a written lease agreement, landlords in Massachusetts are bound by “implied warranty of habitability.” This is a legal doctrine that requires providing tenants with apartments in livable condition. Tenants in Massachusetts have the right to pursue two common legal self-help strategies.

The first, known as “rent withholding,” is when tenants decide to stop paying rent, claiming the mold has made their apartment uninhabitable. The second strategy, known as “repair and deduct,” involves tenants taking care of mold cleanup on their own and then subtracting the cost from their rent.

Several conditions need to be met under Massachusetts law for these options to be legal. For example, regarding most rent withholding laws you cannot withhold rent if you are behind in the rent or in violation of a relevant lease clause. It is recommended that you place the withheld rent in an escrow account. You are also required to report the problem and give a reasonable opportunity to fix the issue. Additionally, the problem must be severe, not just annoying, and must imperil your health or safety.

Tenants who believe they have been harmed by the presence of high concentrations of mold in their apartment can try to recover damages from their landlord in court to compensate them for their loss. For help regarding harmful mold, give our legal team a call.

Does Massachusetts allow pain-and-suffering claims?

Massachusetts allows pain-and-suffering claims in some cases. Pain-and-suffering claims are considered “non-economic” in that they are not seeking to compensate for a price-tagged, financial loss caused either by damage to property or by high medical bills. The latter type are “economic” damages.

In Massachusetts, pain-and-suffering claims must usually be filed alongside economic claims. In the case of car accidents, medical claims must exceed $2000 before a pain-and-suffering claim may also be filed. For car accidents, Massachusetts law also expects victims to rely on their own, or the at-fault party’s, insurance coverage before suing.

Some states put “caps” on non-economic damage claims. In Massachusetts, there are no such caps, except in the case of medical malpractice. In medical malpractice cases, there is a cap of $500,000 that can be awarded in pain-and-suffering claims.

If you are seeking compensation for the financial and emotional toll of an injury, call our office today to discuss your options.

At a shopping center, I slipped on the wet floor and broke my tailbone. Would I sue the owners of the particular store, or of the entire complex?

Liability depends on many factors, primarily the exact location where you slipped and the cause of the wet floor.

Typically, an individual or corporation owns the building that comprises the shopping center. The owner or owners then rent out particular units to individuals or corporations. While the tenants are responsible for conditions within their particular units, the landlord remains responsible for conditions in the common spaces of the mall or shopping center. The first factor of many to consider was whether you slipped inside a particular store or in an area for which the landlord is responsible, such as a corridor, a food court, a parking lot, or a restroom. It is similar to if you were to slip in a friend’s apartment kitchen, for which they are solely responsible, versus slipping on the stairs your friend’s landlord was contractually remiss in de-icing.

From here, the issues of liability become much more complicated, revealing why it is so important to consult a personal injury attorney as you pursue compensation for your medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering:

• Why was the floor wet? Was it sloppy housekeeping? Was the landlord or the tenant responsible for housekeeping in the area where you fell? Was a third party hired for housekeeping, making them partially liable as well?

• If the wet floor resulted from leaking pipes, poorly maintained pavement, or unmarked hazards, the hazard may have resulted from the negligence of the landlord, even if you slipped and fell.

As you have seen, liability is a complicated question. Call our office today to discuss your options. Our experienced personal-injury attorneys will work to make sure you receive the absolute maximum for your suffering.

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…]

What happens if after we settle we determine we need further medical care and or have permanent disabilities?

Additional Information: Several months ago, my daughter and I were involved in a serious car accident in Hudson, MA. My daughter suffered a brain injury, among other injuries and was diagnosed as clinically depressed after the accident. I am having continued dibilitating migraines and am being monitored by a neurologist. Since we don’t know what our future medical needs will be, how do they calculate an appropriate settlement? The insurance company has already offered a settlement and we have no idea if it is appropriate or not. What happens if after we settle we determine we need further medical care and or have permanent disabilities?

Attorney Answer:

Brain injury cases are extremely complex and need a team of professionals to properly evaluate the case and help you towards resolution. Most importantly it is important to get your daughter proper medical care with a neurologist and a neuropsychologist. They can help determine the extent and duration of your daughter’s injuries. A lawyer who has had experience in the area of head or brain injuries can use that information to settle the case with the insurance company or persuade a jury.

Isn’t there a law in Massachusetts banning texting while driving?

Additional Information:  I was involved in a automobile accident in Marlboro a few days ago.  The other driver admitted that he was texting on his cell phone when he ran the red light and hit my car.  I was taken to the hospital and have a broken arm, and ribs and will need physical therapy.  Isn’t there a law in Massachusetts banning texting while driving? How will that affect my personal injury case?

Attorney Answer
First, yes there is a law that bans texting and the fact that he was texting is evidence of negligence which is what would have to be proved if you were to recover. The violation of any law such as the texting law goes to the heart of proving that the defendant was negligent and ultimately responsible for your injuries. Also the fact that he ran a red light is also a violation of law and evidence of his negligence.

I fell and injuried myself in a Southborough MA restaurant.

Additional Information:

I fell and injured my knee at a restaurant in Southborough.  The carpeting was loose.  There were several other patrons who tripped over the carpet before me, and this all happened in front of the hostess stand.  I’ve had knee surgery and continue physical therapy.  Do I have a case against the restaurant and can I sue for damages as I will probably not be able to participate in sports like I had in the past?

ATTORNEY ANSWER:

The owner of property has a responsibility to those who are on the premises legally to keep the property free from defects and to provide a reasonably safe environment. I believe that on the facts you have a strong case to hold the owner responsible for your injuries. [Read more…]

What’s our liability if our dog bites someone?

Additional Information:

We live in Framingham, MA and I just got a German Sheppard for my kids. My wife is concerned about our liability if the dog bites someone when she gets older. I thought this would be covered by our homeowners insurance.   Is that so? Thank you in advance for your help.

ATTORNEY ANSWER:

Massachusetts has a strict liability standard regarding injuries caused by animals and pets. The owner of the animal can be held liable for any injuries caused by the animal except in rare circumstances. [Read more…]

I am pregnant. Are there any laws protecting my employment?

Additional  Information:

I have been working for my company for over three years.  Recently I became pregnant and informed my supervisor of the fact.  Since that time, he has been acting differently towards me.  I am worried that I may be fired.  I know that I am an “employee at will” according to the employee’s handbook, but I wonder if there are any laws protecting me.

ATTORNEY ANSWER:

Absolutely, Massachusetts has laws protecting employees relating to discrimination because of maternity.  M.G..L.c. 151B §4(1) and M.G.L.c. 149 §105D prevent against sexual discrimination in the workplace and discrimination based on maternity.  You should immediately call a lawyer who handles Employment Discrimination cases.

[Read more…]