My daughter and I were in an auto accident in Worcester.

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The other driver was driving a delivery truck.  My daughter suffered from mild traumatic brain injury, broken nose and jaw and is having post traumatic stress.  I am having continued debilitating migraines and am being monitored by a neurologist. What do I need to know when hiring a personal injury attorney for this auto/ truck accident?

ATTORNEY ANSWER:

Other clients have posed the same question, “What should we look for when hiring a personal injury attorney?”  Please click here to view attorney answer.   However, your question does not indicate which driver was at fault in the accident so you may be looking for two attorneys, one for you and one for your daughter.  As a passenger, she may recover from all of the drivers whose negligence contributed to the accident.  That could include you, even though you are her parent; there is no immunity from suit in that situation.  Thus, her attorney should be different than your attorney in order to avoid a conflict of interest.  You would be looking only to the other driver for a recovery.  [Read more…]

I slipped and fell and can no longer resume a favorite hobby.

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When visiting my 84 year old mother at her assisted living apartment in Spencer, I slipped and fell and shattered my right arm. There was no “caution/wet” sign in the common area.  My out-of-pocket expenses currently exceed $18K and my physician says I will require another surgery because of continuing numbness and pain. The management has indicated that they would be “working with me toward a settlement”.  Besides the medical costs, I have not been able to enjoy a long time hobby, I am an avid needlepointer and have not been able to resume this activity. I know I have to settle with the insurance company soon.  What should I do?

ATTORNEY ANSWER:

You do not have to settle unless you are satisfied that the amount adequately compensates you for your losses.  If you are unhappy with the amount, you can file a lawsuit to recover your full damages.  If you want to make the insurance company aware of your hobby loss, then you should show them a number of your needlepoint items, either by photograph or the items themselves.  You should also have your doctor include the reason why you cannot needlepoint in his treatment notes by making sure you mention to him that you can no longer do that activity and the reason why you cannot, such as the inability to hold the needle and thread or to feel the item or constantly sticking yourself with the needle.  If you have some needlepoint that you have attempted post injury, you can show the difference in quality, if there is one, between your pre-injury and post-injury work.  [Read more…]

I was injured when I tripped and fell in my apartment building common area.

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There is an enclosed staircase at my apartment complex in West Boylston where the common area light has been out for months. I was going down the stairs, holding a basket of laundry, could not see in the inadequate lighting and tripped and fell and broke my arm. The Management company is trying to reduce their responsibility by saying I was partially negligent because I was carrying my laundry at the time. Do I have a personal injury case?

ATTORNEY ANSWER:

Certainly you have a personal injury case.  The owner and the management company are responsible for maintaining the common areas.  Part of that responsibility is a requirement that they inspect the areas for conditions that pose a hazard and to fix them.  Inasmuch as the light was out for months, they should have noticed it and fixed it.  Your carrying your laundry does not relieve them of their responsibility to maintain the premises in a reasonably safe condition.  [Read more…]

I was struck and injured by a “rough terrain” forklift.

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I’m hoping you can help me determine if I have a case or not.  I was stuck and injured by a “rough terrain” forklift. I could not hear the back up beeper over all the other noise at the construction site in Shrewsbury. I also believe that the rear view mirrors of the forklift created a blind sport at the right rear of the forklift where I was struck.

ATTORNEY ANSWER:

As the claimant, you bear the burden of proving liability for the injury.  It appears that you do not have enough information at present to prove how the accident happened.  The fact that you did not hear the warning beeper could mean that it was not working at all or that it was not working properly because it was not loud enough to be heard.  The speed of the forklift as it backed up with a blind spot could also be negligent.  Further investigation of the circumstances surrounding your injury is required before you can decide whether you have enough evidence to make a case.  [Read more…]

I was involved in an accident at a construction site in Worcester.

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In the accident, I and 2 other workers fell 20 feet when formwork collapsed into scaffolding and wet cement. My injuries include a broken collarbone and ribs.  Can I sue the formwork manufacturer, the concrete contractor and/or the general contractor? What will provide the best outcome- if we proceed with legal action separately or file together?

ATTORNEY ANSWER:

Your question does not indicate why you were at the construction site, although it implies that you were working at the site.  If you were working at the site and have filed a workers’ compensation claim against your employer for your injuries, then who you can sue depends upon their relationship with your employer because the Workers’ compensation law prevents suits against your employer when you file a compensation claim.  If the formwork manufacturer is not your employer and there is evidence that the formwork was a defective product, you may sue it.  If the concrete contractor is not your employer and it negligently installed the formwork, then you can sue it.  Whether you can sue the general contractor is more problematic because there may be provisions in its subcontract with your employer that would prevent your suit so you would have to investigate by reviewing that subcontract.  There are advantages in the three of you joining in the same suit, such as sharing the cost of investigators, experts and discovery, provided that the issues in each of your cases are similar.  If the issues are different, then you may not want to join together.  You should discuss the pros and cons of each option with your attorney to decide which is the best way to proceed.  [Read more…]

How does the “no texting” law in MA affect my car accident claim?

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I was involved in a automobile accident on 290 near Northborough a few days ago.  The other driver admitted that he was texting on his cell phone when he sideswiped 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:

You are correct that there is a law against texting while driving.  G. L. c. 90, § 13B  provides that:  “No operator of a motor vehicle shall use a mobile telephone, or any handheld device capable of accessing the internet, to manually compose, send or read an electronic message while operating a motor vehicle. For the purposes of this section, an operator shall not be considered to be operating a motor vehicle if the vehicle is stationary and not located in a part of the public way intended for travel.”  Violations of the statute are punishable by fines of $100 for a first offense, $250 for a second offense and $500 for a third or subsequent offense.  It is certainly helpful to your case that the other driver was in violation of the texting ban, but the violation is only evidence of his negligence.  He may be able to show that you were a greater cause of the accident because you also were negligent.  That does not sound likely from the accident that you have described on the interstate so your case should be more about the value of your damages and less about the extent of each party’s liability. [Read more…]

What can I expect to happen after I hire a car accident attorney?

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I was involved in a car accident and was struck from behind.  The other drive was going about 80 MPH down route 9 in Shrewsbury when he hit my auto.  As a result of the accident my doctor has said I have 25% permanent partial  loss of function of lumbar spine.  I am going to hire a lawyer but wanted to be prepared-  what can I expect when I hire a car accident attorney?

ATTORNEY ANSWER:

The first thing that you can expect is to sign a bunch of forms.  Some of the forms you will have to sign and provide information for are:  Contingent Fee Agreement (which describes the terms of the relationship between you and your attorney); Personal Injury Protection form (required by insurance companies to pay your no-fault insurance benefits); and medical authorizations (authorizes your attorney to obtain copies of your medical treatment records and bills).  The attorney will want to know the progress of your medical treatment, particularly when you have reached the end of your treatment with any of your medical professionals.  The attorney will also want to know if you had any other damages as a result of the accident other than your personal injuries, such as damaged personal property, lost wages or economic benefits, lost activities or hobbies, or other expenses.  You can expect that the case will not resolve until you have reached a medical end result or it is apparent that your end result is some kind of permanent disability or need for long term medical treatment.  You can expect that the attorney or his/her staff will keep you apprised of any progress with the insurance companies and of any offers of settlement made by the companies.  [Read more…]

What is the process once I hire a slip and fall lawyer?

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I slipped and fell on a puddle of water in a local convenient store in Millbury. I have 2 hairline fractures in my hip and one in my shoulder. There was no “caution/ wet floor” sign and there was one witness.  The witness took some pictures and video with her cell phone of water leaking out of the freezer case.  What is the process once I hire a  personal injury lawyer?

ATTORNEY  ANSWER:

Once you hire an attorney, he/she will notify the convenience store of your injury to begin the claim process.  Your attorney will also begin to investigate the incident by obtaining copies of the photos and the video from the witness as well as getting a recorded or written statement from the witness.  Your attorney will also try to determine whether the freezer case belonged to the convenience store or to someone else and whether the other party was responsible for maintaining the case.  Your attorney will also want to obtain copies of your medical records and will monitor any ongoing medical treatment until you reach a medical end result.  He/she may get reports from some or all of your physicians concerning your injuries, the medical cause of those injuries and your prognosis, particularly if there are likely to be permanent impairments.  If the case does not settle, attorneys could file a lawsuit to seek damages to compensate you for your injuries.  [Read more…]

How does the new snow and ice law affect my liability as a landlord in MA?

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I have several rental properties in Worcester and Auburn.  How does the new law regarding snow and ice affect me as a landlord and my exposure to liability and personal injury claims?

ATTORNEY ANSWER:

Previously, the law in Massachusetts exempted property owners from liability for injuries caused by natural accumulations of snow or ice.  This exemption existed at common law, not by statute.  Essentially that placed the burden on the person traversing the snow or ice condition to guard against the danger caused by the weather conditions here in New England.  Recently, the Supreme Judicial Court abrogated this common law exemption, which now places the burden upon the property owner to guard against the dangers posed by changing weather conditions.   For example, under the old common law, a property owner would not be liable for injuries caused by someone who fell on ice that resulted from melted snow that flowed across a shoveled walkway and then re-froze because the ice would be a natural accumulation created by the weather.  Now, the property owner could be liable for those injuries.  There is thus a need for property owners to take reasonable care to remedy slippery conditions by sand, salt or shoveling, regardless of how the condition was created.  [Read more…]

My son was injured by a car being directed by a parking attendant. Do we have a personal injury case?

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My family was going to a Grafton restaurant where there is an attendant directing patrons into and out of the limited number of parking spaces on the side and rear of the restaurant.   We had parked our car and were heading into the restaurant.  Our 3 year old son had wiggled out of my hand and got hit by a car backing out of it’s parking space, as directed by the parking lot attendant.  Thankfully he suffered only a broken leg, but we were wondering if we have a personal injury case against either the attendant or the restaurant?  We’ve had over $7K in medical costs and my wife has had to take an extended leave from work to care for him.

ATTORNEY ANSWER:

First of all, your son’s medical expenses should have been covered by the driver’s auto insurance under the Personal Injury Protection (PIP) benefits because he was a pedestrian.  Next, there are several factors that go into evaluating the potential claims against the restaurant and the parking attendant.  The relationship between the restaurant and the attendant is critical to a determination whether the restaurant is liable for the actions or negligence of the attendant.  [Read more…]