If you’re injured in an accident that was another person’s fault, you are entitled by Massachusetts law to compensation for your lost wages, medical expenses, and related losses, but to recover your compensation, you must be advised and represented by a Boston personal injury attorney.
You could be injured almost anywhere. Personal injuries happen primarily in traffic crashes, but if you are injured while using a defective appliance or power tool, if you slip and fall on a damp floor at a supermarket, or if a neighbor’s dog attacks you, you’re also covered by the law.
What types of compensation are available with a personal injury claim? After your lost wages and medical bills are reimbursed, what additional compensation can you recover? What steps will you need to take to recover compensation after an injury caused by someone’s negligence?
If you’ll continue reading this brief discussion of personal injury compensation, you may find the answers you need, but if you are an injured negligence victim, you’ll also need the personalized advice and aggressive legal representation that a Boston personal injury lawyer can provide.
What Compensation May Be Sought by Injured Victims of Negligence?
Three types of compensation (or “damages”) may be available to the injured victims of someone else’s negligence:
- economic damages
- noneconomic damages
- punitive damages
Noneconomic and economic damages are considered “compensatory” damages because they are awarded to compensate the injury victim. Punitive damages are not considered “compensatory” because punitive damages are ordered to penalize the negligent party for his or her negligence.
What Are Economic Damages?
In personal injury cases, the injured party is called the “plaintiff,” and the allegedly negligent party is the “defendant.” Under Massachusetts law, when you’ve been injured by someone else’s negligence, you may seek to recover the following “economic” damages by taking legal action:
- Medical expenses: The amount of compensation a plaintiff receives almost always covers the plaintiff’s medical expenses and the projected cost of any medical treatment and care that the plaintiff will continue to need.
- Lost income: Plaintiffs may also be reimbursed for lost wages and projected lost future earnings.
- Property damage: When property is destroyed or damaged in the same accident that caused the plaintiff’s injury – a vehicle or the items inside a vehicle, for instance – the plaintiff may recover compensation to repair or replace that property.
What Are Noneconomic Damages?
When a personal injury claim succeeds, the injured negligence victim may also expect to receive “noneconomic” damages for:
- Emotional and physical suffering, pain, and distress: Plaintiffs may recover compensation for the physical and emotional suffering, pain, and personal distress they experienced because of their accident and injuries.
- Loss of enjoyment: If a plaintiff cannot enjoy hobbies, exercise, or other activities due to the injury, he or she may seek damages for “loss of enjoyment of life.” If the injury keeps spouses from enjoying intimacy, a victim may seek compensation for loss of consortium.
When May Punitive Damages Be Awarded?
In Massachusetts, with very few exceptions, only compensatory damages may be awarded to personal injury plaintiffs.
Punitive damages may be awarded in wrongful death and medical malpractice cases, but only for extreme conduct based on a defendant’s reckless indifference or intentional malice.
Punitive damages are intended to penalize a defendant and to prevent similar extreme conduct by the defendant and others in the future.
What is the Deadline for Filing a Personal Injury Claim?
Every state has established a deadline – a statute of limitations – for filing personal injury lawsuits. To bring a personal injury lawsuit in Massachusetts, victims have three years from the day they were injured.
If you’ve missed this deadline, it’s unlikely but possible that your case may qualify under one of the few exceptions to the statute of limitations, so go ahead and speak to a lawyer. But if you’ve been injured recently, do not wait three years and then try to take action before the deadline.
Your attorney should review evidence while it’s fresh and speak to the witnesses before their memories fade. Don’t wait three years or even three weeks. After you’ve been examined and/or treated for your injury, make the call to schedule a meeting with a Boston personal injury lawyer.
What Will Justice Cost?
Don’t let financial concerns prevent you from seeking justice. Personal injury attorneys in Massachusetts know that an injury victim may not be able to work, and they know that injury victims are dealing with unexpected medical costs as well as their regular financial obligations.
That’s why personal injury lawyers work on a contingent fee basis. You pay no lawyer’s fee to a personal injury lawyer until and unless that lawyer recovers compensation on your behalf. If for any reason you are not compensated, you’ll owe your lawyer nothing.
If you were injured in an accident that was someone else’s fault, your first meeting with an injury lawyer is provided without cost or obligation. You’ll get trustworthy, personalized legal advice, and you’ll learn how Massachusetts law applies in your case.
The most severely injured victims – those who sustain catastrophic spinal cord or brain injuries, for instance – will need to recover the maximum available compensation amount to pay for the extensive medical treatment and care that the victim will need for the rest of his or her life.
What Else Should You Know About Personal Injury Compensation?
Remember that every case is unique and that every legal rule has exceptions. These are among the reasons why you must have the advice of a personal injury attorney if you have been injured by another person’s negligence or intentional misconduct in Massachusetts.
A Boston personal injury attorney will investigate how you were injured, determine what compensation you should seek, and bring your personal injury case to its best possible outcome.
Most personal injury cases in Massachusetts do not go to trial, and most victims don’t even have to make a court appearance. Your attorney will negotiate privately for the compensation you need.
However, if no reasonable settlement amount is offered, or if liability for the accident that injured you is disputed, your attorney will take your case to trial, explain to the jurors how you were injured, and ask those jurors to order the payment of your compensation. If you and your attorney can prove your claim, you will be compensated, and the law will be on your side.