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Personal Injury in Worcester County

Personal injury in Worcester

Personal Injury in Worcester County results from an individual suffering Injury or damage as a result of the negligence or omission of another. Personal Injury is the area of civil litigation for injuries and accidents that cause emotional or physical harm. This is different from the standard bodily Injury that may not give rise to litigation.

Unlike Personal Injury which arises only in civil cases, the term bodily Injury may be used in criminal cases when referring to the harm sustained by a crime victim. In insurance, bodily injury coverage generally covers the expenses of the individual who did not cause the accident and subsequently suffered injuries. On the other hand, Personal Injury coverage also covers the expenses of the person who caused the accident.

Under Massachusetts law, Personal Injury protection coverage is mandatory for all drivers in Worcester County. Anyone injured in a car accident may seek compensation under their own coverage. The only situations that the law allows a car accident victim to pursue a claim against another party is if they

  • have more than $2,000 in reasonable medical expenses
  • suffered a serious and permanent disfigurement
  • lost their sight or hearing
  • had a broken bone

For Personal injuries in Worcester County, the law allows the victim to receive compensation only if their share of the blame is less than 51 percent. In other words, Personal Injury victims can only recover damages as long as they are not more or at fault than the defendant or defendants collectively. This is generally referred to as the “modified comparative fault rule.”

In such cases, the jury calculates the total monetary value of the plaintiff's damages and the percentage of fault that belongs to each party. The Court then reduces the damages in proportion to the plaintiff’s negligence.

What is a Personal Injury Claim in Worcester County?

A Personal Injury claim in Worcester County is a legal case instituted by a plaintiff or an injured party after sustaining injuries in an accident they believe was due to the defendant’s fault. It is the formal process of obtaining compensation from the relevant insurance company or the defendant.

In Worcester County, a party must file a Personal Injury claim within three years of the accident. After filing a personal injury claim, the plaintiff and the defendant usually begin negotiations and try to reach a settlement outside of court. If the negotiation process is successful and both parties agree on the monetary value of the claim, the plaintiff receives a settlement.

However, if both parties cannot reach an agreement, litigation is usually the next step and the case goes to trial.

In 2019, there were a total of 48 fatal crashes in Worcester County. The State of Massachusetts reported 460 transport injuries in 2017 including 408 motor vehicle-related injuries, 52 motorcyclist injuries, and other transport injuries.

There were 3,273 small claims filed at the Worcester District Court in 2020. It is important to note that although many of the cases filed at the Small Claims Court were Personal Injury cases, not all of them were. The Court also has jurisdiction over certain breach of contract disputes, false arrest claims, and loan repayment cases.

How to Find a Personal Injury Lawyer in Worcester County?

The traditional way to find a Personal Injury Lawyer in Worcester County is by word of mouth. A local general practice lawyer may provide a referral to a Personal Injury law firm. The Worcester County Bar Association also offers a lawyer referral service to assist individuals in need of legal advice and representation. This service is a full fee program, the Association does not make referrals for lawyers that take on pro bono cases. In trying to find a Personal Injury Lawyer in Worcester County, it is important to note that there are lawyers who specialize in different types of injuries like car accidents, wrongful deaths, motorcycle accidents, and other kinds of Personal Injury.

What does a Personal Injury Lawyer do in Worcester County?

Hiring a Personal Injury Lawyer in Worcester County can take the burden off the plaintiff to personally fight for their rights after getting hurt in a car accident, due to medical malpractice, or due to any other type of accident caused by the negligence of a company, public agency, an individual or other institution. An experienced Personal Injury attorney specializes in intervening on the plaintiff’s behalf to obtain redress for the damage or injury they have suffered. Personal Injury lawyers understand the Massachusetts Torts Law, can envisage, and plan ahead to address legal issues that may arise in such cases, by

  • Gathering Evidence to Support the Injury Claim: A Personal Injury lawyer spends quality time investigating the case. It is not unusual for clients to leave out certain important details or be unaware of factors that may affect the case. The attorney may, therefore, gather evidence and organize it in preparation for trial.
  • Proving Negligence in the Claim: Winning a Personal Injury case may depend on proving that the defendant was to blame for the claimant’s injuries. A Personal Injury lawyer may try to convince the court that the defendant was negligent and that the negligence was the cause of the plaintiff’s injuries.
  • Bringing in Expert Witnesses: A Personal Injury attorney may call expert witnesses to testify on more complicated aspects of the case like medicine or property valuation. The expert testimonies may give the plaintiff an edge over the defendant.
  • Investigating the Defendant: A Personal Injury lawyer may investigate the defendant and their attorneys to understand how they generally approach similar cases. Knowing how the opponent thinks and which strategies they usually employ may put a wrench in their case and give the plaintiff an advantage.
  • Gaining the Sympathy of the Judge or the Jury: A Personal Injury lawyer presents evidence documenting the client’s injuries in a way to help win sympathy from the judge or jury.

Do I Need a Personal Injury Lawyer?

A Personal Injury claim does not always require a lawyer's help. If the injuries are minor, and the property damage less severe, the victim may settle the claim through insurance or a Small Claims Court against the other party on their own. Personal Injury covers a wide variety of situations and accidents including

  • Car Accidents: Car accidents generally occur when a person fails to follow the rules of the road or does not drive carefully. Since Massachusetts is a no-fault state, drivers involved in an auto accident in Worcester County get compensation from their own insurers except in cases of serious injuries.
  • Truck Accidents: Large trucks and heavy commercial vehicles are usually involved in some of the most serious and deadly accidents on Worcester County roads.
  • Motorcycle Accidents: Due to how exposed motorcyclists are, they generally experience severe and numerous injuries when involved in an accident.
  • Slip and Fall Accidents: Slip and fall claims are one of the most common types of Personal Injury cases. Property owners and tenants have a legal duty to keep their premises free of hazards and reasonably safe so that individuals on the property do not suffer any injury.
  • Brain Injuries: Brain injuries usually occur as a result of a blow, jolt, or bump to the head, or a head penetration Injury, and adversely affects normal brain functions. These injuries may be a result of falls, assaults, or motor vehicle accidents.
  • Spinal Cord Injuries: Some of the most serious spinal cord injuries include paraplegia, paraparesis, quadriplegia, and quadriparesis
  • Wrongful Death refers to a Personal Injury claim against the accidental death of an individual due to the defendant’s carelessness. They may arise from construction accidents, medical malpractice, or automobile accidents.
  • Pedestrian Accidents occur when a person is directly struck by a motor vehicle.
  • Medical Malpractice happens when medical professionals provide treatment that falls below the medical standard of care causing injury to a patient.
  • Product Defects Injuries are injuries resulting from the malfunction or defect of the manufacturer’s product.
  • Dog Bites: In Worcester County, the owner of a dog is liable for the dog’s bite and any resulting damages even if the dog has never shown aggression in the past.
  • Defamation - Libel, and Slander: An individual may bring a Personal Injury claim against another party for making untrue statements that resulted in actual financial loss.
  • Battery, Assault, and Other Intentional Torts: Unlike the other types of Personal injuries, intentional torts do not occur as a result of a person’s negligence or carelessness. Instead, it happens when an individual harms or injures another on purpose. In such cases, the perpetrator may face criminal charges and a civil lawsuit to compensate the victim for injuries resulting from the attack.

How much to ask for in a Personal Injury Settlement in Worcester County?

In Worcester County, there are no guidelines or formula for determining how much to ask for in a Personal Injury case, the sum awarded as redress is dependent on the facts of each case. Personal Injury claimants must consider several factors, consult with an attorney that has experience in handling similar cases for advice or use their best judgment to arrive at a fair and reasonable amount as compensation.

Under Massachusetts law, juries may only award compensatory damages to Personal Injury victims. Compensatory damages provide a victim with the monetary amount needed to replace what the plaintiff lost, and nothing more. This monetary amount may be substantial, the Worcester Superior Court awarded up to $1 million and $8.6 million in a 2017 and 2015 Personal Injury lawsuit respectively.

The plaintiff must calculate their financial losses, physical and emotional suffering, and pain to determine and demand an amount they consider as fair compensation for their loss. The Court may require receipts and other evidence to show that the claim for compensation is reasonable and fair.

The court may award compensatory damages such as:

  • Compensation for any past, present, and future medical expenses
  • Loss of earning capacity
  • Damages for any pain and suffering due to the injuries
  • Compensation for any disfigurement
  • Loss of consortium for the victim’s spouse or children
  • Damages for emotional distress
  • Compensation for any past or future lost wages or reduction in income

How Long Does a Personal Injury Lawsuit Take?

The duration of a Personal Injury lawsuit is different. Courts in Worcester County have guidelines for different types of cases, the least complicated cases may take up to one and a half years, while more complicated cases may take up to three years from the time a case is filed in court until trial. However, it is not unusual for certain cases to take longer. The trial itself may last one day or up to two months depending on the complexity of the case. Some of the factors that may influence the timing of a Personal Injury lawsuit include,

  • The severity of the injuries: Mild injuries like sprained ankles typically settle faster. On the other hand, in cases where the injury is more severe, such as a brain injury or death, it may take years to reach a settlement.
  • The complexity of the case: For instance, slip and fall cases tend to be simple and straightforward while medical malpractice suits are usually more complex and may take much longer.
  • The number of cases before the relevant court: If the Court where the plaintiff filed the lawsuit is overwhelmed with cases, it may cause a delay in the case schedule and hearing.
  • Medical Evaluation: Before a Personal Injury Attorney settles a case, they may wait for details on all of the medical expenses and other damage. These evaluations may take more in certain cases like when the extent of the Injury is not initially known or the Injury is an aggravation of a previous injury.
  • Insurance Company. Insurance companies carry out rigorous independent investigations that may affect the duration of the case. Certain insurance companies have policies in place to resolve claims within a particular period of time. Some other companies take longer to assess the merits of each claim.