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Personal Injury in Norfolk County

Personal injury in Norfolk

Personal Injury occurs when a person sustains physical harm or emotional distress due to carelessness, negligence, and inappropriate conduct of another party. In Norfolk County, Massachusetts, an individual may sue for Personal Injury when the actions or omissions of a second party can be adjudged to be the direct cause of their accident, injury, harm, or distress. Personal Injury cases on the Wrongful Death of another are conducted in accordance with Massachusetts General Laws. The most common Personal Injury cases emanate from slip and fall, motor accidents, professional misconducts, defective products, and properties.

Damages arising from a Personal Injury Incident may be classified into two categories,

  • Economic Damages: This encompasses all financial costs and liabilities incurred by the victim, such as medical treatment, loss of property, and loss of current and future income.
  • Non-Economic Damages: Under this category, the victim's defects are psychological and emotional and do not have an exact financial equivalent. Examples are continuous pain and discomfort, emotional distress, and loss of consortium.

What is a Personal Injury Claim in Norfolk County?

A Personal Injury Claim in Norfolk County is an attempt by the plaintiff to demand monetary compensation for a loss or injury suffered. The historic 1932 case of negligence between May Donoghue and David Stevenson set the legal precedence for Personal Injury cases. The judge ruled in favor of the plaintiff and awarded a claim of £200.00 against the defendant. Just over six decades later, a New Mexico District Court jury delivered one of the most famous judgments in Personal Injury lawsuits, the MacDonald’s Hot Coffee Case. The jury awarded the plaintiff almost $3,000,000 in damages for the burn the plaintiff suffered due to the defendant’s negligence.

Personal Injury Claims usually attempt to cater for a variety of costs such as medical expenses in the case of an accident, cost of full property or repair, the value of both earnings lost and income expected to be realized, pain and suffering, loss of consortium, continuous pain and discomfort, and emotional distress.

A victim may institute Personal Injury Claims against persons, private entities, and the government. Part III Title II of Massachusetts General Laws governs matters concerning Personal Injury in Norfolk County. The Massachusetts Tort Claims Act makes provision for bringing Personal Injury Claims against the state in cases where a government employee or property is responsible for the proximate cause of the injury. Under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FCTA), the United States may be sued for Personal Injury for harms caused by Federal agencies and Federal employees acting within the scope of their responsibilities. The victim must, however, be able to prove negligence on the part of the federal government worker and also establish that the negligent act is directly responsible for the injury.

Under the Massachusetts Workers Compensation Laws, workers are allowed to bring a lawsuit against their employees if they sustain an injury at work that they believe resulted from their employer’s negligence.

In Massachusetts, a victim has three years from the date of the incident to file a Personal Injury lawsuit; this is known as the statute of limitations. Exceptions may, however, apply if the victim is a minor or a mentally disabled person or if the defendant had reasons to leave the state where the accident occurred for a certain period after the incident. In a case where the defendant is the town, city, county, or state government, the victim has two years for a formal personal injury claim and three years to file a lawsuit.

In a report published in 2010 by Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly, Norfolk County had a 14% win rate in Personal Injury Claims. Only five of the 35 Personal Injury Claims were awarded in favor of the plaintiff.

How to Find a Personal Injury Lawyer in Norfolk County?

A claimant may personally institute a Personal Injury case or retain the services of an experienced Personal Injury Lawyer. Personal Injury Lawyer in Norfolk County may be found through:

What does a Personal Injury Lawyer do in Norfolk County?

Personal Injury Attorneys work to secure the legal rights of their clients. The major responsibility of Personal Injury Lawyers is to ensure a financial award that will, as much as possible, restore their client to their initial financial and physical state before the accident. One of the most common practices of Personal Injury Lawyers is to elicit the full facts of the incident. They may preserve evidence collected on the scene to substantiate claims during negotiation or litigation. Personal Injury Attorneys also obtain the medical history of their clients to build a solid case and avoid being undercut.

The defendant’s Insurance Cover Provider and the plaintiff’s attorney usually work towards reaching an out-of-court settlement. However, when an agreeable settlement cannot be reached, then the case goes to the Norfolk trial court with jurisdiction.

Do I Need a Personal Injury Lawyer?

In reality, not all cases of accidents require the services of a personal injury attorney. There are instances where the defendant takes responsibility for their negligence, or the loss suffered was not a direct consequence of someone’s negligence or actions. Examples of accidents that may not require the services of a personal injury lawyer:

  • No person is involved in the accident
  • Damage suffered is only to property
  • The insurance company is ready and willing to settle
  • There's no physical injury, or the damage is relatively insignificant

However, for accidents where it appears that there are no visible physical harms, it is advisable to seek medical clearance from a certified medical practitioner before choosing not to press charges.

A personal injury lawyer may work on a contingency basis, that is, an agreement to take a percentage of the total claim or a specified fee, depending on the value of the claim. In cases where the damage or claim award is inconsequential, such as an award of $2,000 to cover medical costs, this personal injury case may deescalate into a small claims case. Due to how small the claim is, the Personal Injury Lawyer may work for a fee rather than a contingency agreement.

Most Personal Injury Lawyers offer a free consultation where the plaintiff can clarify the cost for the litigation and the payment plan acceptable.

Personal Injury cases may emanate from

  • Car Accidents: A car accident personal injury case arises when an individual, usually in another vehicle, suffers substantial physical harm owing to negligence or misconduct on the part of the driver of another car (the defendant). A car accident may lead to different kinds of injuries such as brain injury, broken/fractured bone, spinal cord injury, or death. State traffic laws usually apply when determining who is at fault in road accident cases.
  • Truck Accidents: This type of accident involves bodily harm to a person arising from a truck collision.
  • Motorcycle Accidents: Motorcycle accidents include incidents where a motorcycle rider inflicts injury on another rider through an accident arising from negligence or wrongful conduct.
  • Slip and Fall Accidents: These types of accidents are most common on properties and in workplaces.
  • Wrongful Death: When an individual dies as a result of wrongful conduct or negligence of another person, then a wrongful death case may ensue. Wrongful deaths may occur in motor accidents, truck accidents, workplace accidents, healthcare malpractices, etc.
  • Pedestrian Accident occurs when a pedestrian suffers injuries due to the recklessness of a vehicle driver or rider. The vehicle could be a car, bus, truck, or even bicycle.

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

The amount of settlement to ask for in a Personal Injury Case is usually circumstantial. Valuation begins with isolating the losses and injuries that are compensable. Factors such as harm sustained, the severity of the damage, the value of potential recovery, and the treatment or repair cost are usually considered. The claimant may seek advice from professionals such as medical practitioners and experienced Personal Injury attorneys on an acceptable settlement value.

Generally, settlements in Personal Injury Lawsuits cover medical expenses, loss of past and future income, and compensatory payments for continuous pain and suffering.

The part played by a victim in an accident may influence the value of damages payable. Under Massachusetts law, there are two significant cases where the action or inaction of a victim may affect the outcome of a Personal Injury Lawsuit:

  • Comparative Negligence: The level of fault attributable to the victim will affect the damages awarded. For example, if a victim is found 30% at fault for the accident, only 70% of the actual damages will be awarded to the plaintiff.
  • Contributory Negligence. If the plaintiff is found to have played a part or bear considerable fault for the accident, the court may not award any damages at all. A modified version of the comparative negligence rule applies. This rule incorporates some part of the contributory negligence conditions. Basically, if a victim is found to be at fault for less than 50% of the injury, then their potential award is reduced by that percentage. However, if a victim’s fault in an accident is above 50%, no damages at all will be awarded.

How long does a Personal Injury Lawsuit take in Norfolk County?

The timeline from initiation to completion of a Personal Injury case is dependent on the circumstances surrounding the case. During the case, parties may agree to an out-of-court settlement and reduce the chances of prolonged litigation. Insurance companies may, however, extend the anticipated timeline while they investigate or fight the plaintiff’s claims.

Other factors may include the complexity of the case. For example, a lawsuit for a simple car crash may be resolved in a matter of weeks, while a more complex medical negligence allegation may take years.

Additional considerations such as insurance coverage limits will also determine how long it takes to settle or litigate a case. If the policy cap is comparatively limited, for example, $30,000, and the potential damages claimed is much higher, for example, $300,000, the insurance provider of the liable party may offer to settle out of court rather than take the chance of the court awarding the full claim.