I sustained a serious injury while working out at my gym. Is the gym liable?

Gym injuries are common, especially minor sprains and pulled muscles. If your own carelessness contributed to the incident, the gym may not be liable. However, when malfunctioning equipment or employee negligence causes an injury, you may have a personal injury case.

Gyms are responsible for maintaining a reasonably safe workout environment. The gym should clean equipment regularly and maintain it properly. If you sustain an injury by slipping on a wet floor, by improperly kept equipment, or by catching a serious illness, such as a staph infection, from unsanitary equipment, then the gym may be liable to you for that injury.

Equipment manufacturers and other gym-goers can also be liable for your injuries. If someone else intentionally or carelessly injures you at the gym (for example, a free weight user drops a weight, and it hits you), they may be responsible for any injuries you sustain. Similarly, if you sustain an injury due to a faulty or improperly documented workout machine, you may have a case against the equipment manufacturer.

When joining a gym, it’s important to read the liability waiver and ask questions. While many gym members think that a liability waiver means they cannot pursue legal action against a gym, that is not always true. While a liability waiver may prevent you from taking specific actions, it does not fully protect gyms from personal injury liability.

Depending on the incident, you may have an opportunity to challenge the validity of a waiver. Keep in mind that no waiver protects a gym establishment from liability for intentional or grossly negligent acts. If you sustain an injury due to no fault of your own while on gym property, consider talking to a personal injury attorney.

Does Massachusetts allow pain-and-suffering claims?

Massachusetts allows pain-and-suffering claims in some cases and up to a certain amount. Pain-and-suffering claims are “non-economic” in that they are not seeking to compensate for a financial loss, such as damage to property, medical bills or lost income, which are “economic” damages.

In Massachusetts, pain-and-suffering claims must usually be filed alongside economic claims. In the case of car accidents, the medical expenses must exceed $2000 before a pain-and-suffering claim may be filed. For car accidents, Massachusetts law also expects victims to rely on their own no-fault insurance coverage for medical expenses before suing.

Some states put “caps” on non-economic damage claims. In Massachusetts, there is no cap, except in medical malpractice cases, where there is a cap of $500,000 for 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.

My neighbor allows her dog to run loose. 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 may still be liable.

If you plan on filing a claim 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, that is also 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 waives 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.

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, including 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 then rents out specific units to other individuals or corporations. While the tenants are responsible for conditions within their rented units, the landlord typically remains responsible for conditions in the common spaces of the mall or shopping center. Managing a rental place requires fast and efficient decision-making process. The first factor to consider is whether you slipped inside a tenant’s store or in an area for which the landlord is usually responsible, such as a corridor, a food court, a parking lot, or a restroom.

From here, the issues of liability become more complicated, revealing why it is 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?

• Did the wet floor resulted from leaking pipes, poorly maintained pavement, or unmarked hazards? These hazards 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.

Are autumn leaves a slip and fall liability?

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, emotional distress, pain and suffering.

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

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 more difficult it becomes to get paid for your 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 become more apparent does not prevent you from reaching a settlement later. However, it may make it more difficult, check for Car wreck lawyers Fielding Law to find help in this area.

In Massachusetts, there is a two-year period in which to claim personal injury after an accident under your no-fault benefits. 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.

How should I file a claim regarding a car rear-ending my car when traffic is paused?

Additional Information:  Traffic was at a standstill on Rte 9 in Worcester and I was rear ended while my car was stopped. A police report was filed, other driver was issued a citation.   As a result of the auto accident, I have nausea, dizziness, shortness of breath, and some pain.  Damage to my car includes damaged bumper, inverted body frame, passenger side door has trouble opening, and right end wheel is skewed.   How should I file a claim with my auto insurance company?  And how do I get them to pay for future medical expenses? I am not sure if there will be future health complications and don’t want the insurance company to underestimate my injuries.

Attorney Answer:

The first thing to do is to notify your insurance company of the accident, either directly or through your insurance agent.  The company will send you a Personal Injury Protection benefits form to complete.  This will enable you to have your medical expenses related to the accident paid by your company.  You should then submit any medical bills, including any receipts for insurance co-pays to the company when you receive those bills so that it can pay the provider directly or can pay you.  Your insurance company will also want to know about damage to your vehicle, particularly if you have Collision coverage under your policy.  That coverage will enable you to have your company pay you for the damage to your vehicle.  If you do not have Collision, then you will have to seek payment from the other driver’s insurance company based upon that driver’s fault.  In either case, the insurance company will have someone examine the vehicle to appraise the damage and the cost of repair.  You should also have someone do that on your behalf, and the most likely person for that is the body shop that you will have repair the car.  Often, the body shop will deal directly with the insurance company to agree on the repairs to be done and the cost of those repairs.  You should also contact an attorney to determine whether there are other actions you should take to preserve your rights to claim your damages.

Can I retract accepting the offer from the insurance company?

Additional Information:

I was in a serious auto accident in Worcester area.  My physician recently said I need surgery for my back injury and referred me to a neurosurgeon for a medical evaluation.  I am waiting for my HMO insurance to approve the referral to see the neurologist.  I originally declined the settlement offer from the insurance company but recently verbally accepted it as it could take weeks to get the referral and appointment with the neurologist.  I think I should hire a personal injury attorney, can I retract accepting the offer? I have not signed anything yet.

Attorney Answer:

Whether or not you can retract your acceptance is going to depend on how the original offer was worded.  If the original offer from the insurance company was still open at the time you accepted the settlement, then you may not be able to retract, you would have to get in touch with a lawyer, find out more about legal insurance here.  However, if the offer closed when you originally rejected it, then you may be able to retract your current verbal acceptance, as long as the insurance company hasn’t accepted your agreement to the settlement or done anything in reliance on your acceptance.  You should gather all information your insurance company has provided you with and consult an attorney before moving forward.  There are a number of factors that could influence what your next step should be, and without looking closely at the wording of the offer and the terms of acceptance, retracting your agreement could leave you in breach of contract.

Was in car accident, if my auto coverage is insufficent can she sue me?

Additional  Information:

I was involved in a car accident in Millbury and the police have sited me and majority fault is on me. I only have liability insurance that covers $15,000 per person.  If the other driver’s injuries or property damages exceed my policy limit, can he sue me to recover any additional costs?  I’m worried because I wouldn’t be able to cover it and don’t have the cash now to hire a lawyer. What should I do?

ATTORNEY ANSWER:

The policy limits are the maximum amount that the insurance company will pay on your behalf.  If the damages exceed the policy limits, then you may be responsible for anything above those limits.  The insurance company will try to settle the claim within those limits, but sometimes that is not possible, and it will pay the limits without obtaining a release, meaning you are responsible for the excess, if the claimant files suit and recovers a judgment.  You need to consult with an attorney.  [Read more…]

Was in car accident with a pedestrian. Is she suing me?

Additional Information:

I was in an auto accident with a pedestrian.  I was driving through a parking lot in the Greater Worcester area and  just as I started to go I saw her.   The car was idling forward, my foot wasn’t even on the gas yet.  I immediately hit the brakes and my vehicle barely bumped her.  It looks like she was just stunned or lost her balance and she fell to the ground.    I immediately went to her to make sure she was OK, and she said “It’s OK, I’m good”.   Now I’ve been contacted by her attorney.  Is she seriously sueing me?  What should I do?

ATTORNEY ANSWER:

The first thing you should do, if you have not already done it, is to notify your auto insurance carrier of the accident and the fact that the pedestrian’s attorney has contacted you.  You may want to hire an attorney to advise you whether you need to file an accident report with the Registry of Motor Vehicles and the Police Department, if you have not already filed the report.  Your Personal Injury Protection insurance coverage on your auto policy covers pedestrians, such as the one you bumped with your car here.  That means that her reasonable medical expenses and lost wages are paid by your insurance company so you need to provide the accident information to your insurance company, and it will handle her claim.  The contact by her attorney may only mean that she wants to open a PIP claim with your carrier, not that she is suing you.  [Read more…]