Pain and Suffering Damages in Massachusetts
Created by FindLaw's team of legal writers and editors | Last reviewed December 13, 2018
Massachusetts is home to several of our nation's most historic dwellings, including the House of Seven Gables, the Robbins House, and the homes of Louisa May Alcott, Paul Revere, and Ralph Waldo Emerson. But if your home has not stood the test of time, totaled your car on America's Technology Highway, slipped on your way home from a Strawberry Festival, or were injured by a product from the original Silicon Valley, you should know that you may be entitled to pain and suffering damages in Massachusetts.
The table and accompanying explanations below will provide you with additional information on pain and suffering damages in Massachusetts.
Statute of Limitations
• 3 years for most claims (Mass. Gen. Laws Ann. ch. 260, § 4)
• 6 years from construction for construction defect (Mass. Gen. Laws Ann. ch. 260, § 2B)
• 3 years for lawsuits against the state (Mass. Gen. Laws Ann. ch. 260, § 3A)
Limits on Damages
• $500,000 in most cases (Mass. Gen. Laws Ann. ch. 231, § 60H)
• No Fault Insurance minimums must first be exceeded in car accident claims (Mass. Gen. Laws Ann. ch. 231, § 6D)
• Non-economic damages in third party worker's comp claims must be passed onto workers (473 Mass. 624)
51% Comparative Negligence (Mass. Gen. Laws Ann. ch. 231, § 85)
Pain and Suffering Damages
If you or a loved one has been injured due to medical malpractice, a car accident, a fall, defective construction, an animal bite, or by some other fault of another person, you may be entitled to both monetary damages and pain and suffering damages. While monetary damages are intended to compensate you for medical bills, lost income from time away from work, and other economic losses, pain and suffering damages are different.
Pain and suffering damages are intended to compensate you for:
In early 2016, the Massachusetts court ruled that non-economic damages awarded in third party worker compensations cases must be passed onto the worker.
Except for in cases where the jury determines that there is a substantial or permanent loss or impairment of a bodily function or substantial disfigurement, or other special circumstances exist which warrant a finding that imposing the limit would deprive the person bringing suit of just compensation for the injuries suffered, the Massachusetts legislature caps damages for pain and suffering at $500,000 in medical malpractice cases.
Most lawsuits for any pain and suffering damages must be brought within three years. This time limit is known as a statute of limitations. However, in the case of construction defect, the injury claim time limit applies, but claims also must be filed within six years of construction.
Modified Comparative Negligence and Other Bars to Recovery
In general, Massachusetts has adopted the "51% Bar Rule" also known as "modified comparative negligence." This rule allows an injured party who is partly responsible for their own injury to still recover damages as long as the injured party's fault is no greater than the defendant's.
If you were injured in a car accident, be aware that Massachusetts requires all drivers to carry "no fault" insurance—or "Personal Injury Protection (PIP)—which prevents injured parties from bringing any action for pain and suffering against another driver unless monetary damages exceed $2,000, causes death, causes the partial or total loss of a body part, causes partial or total permanent and serious disfigurement, or results in the loss of sight or hearing.
Massachusetts has a very specific limitation on recovery in medical malpractice cases where more than one person claims pain and suffering damages from the same act of medical malpractice: if the total award exceeds $500,000, each plaintiff's recovery will be reduced to a percentage of $500,000 proportionate to that plaintiff's share of the total damages.
For example, if both you and your sibling brought a lawsuit claiming pain and suffering after your parent was injured by medical malpractice, and a jury awarded you $300,000 and another jury awarded your sibling $300,000, unless a jury made the specific finding discussed above, and assuming that the court determined that you and your sibling were each owed equal shares of the damages from your parent's injury, both you and your sibling's damage awards would be reduced to $250,000 each.
Talk to an Attorney About Filing a Pain and Suffering Claim
Do the medical malpractice limits leave you completely confused? Do you believe you're not being fairly compensated for the pain and suffering you've experienced from an injury? You may want to speak with a legal professional. Get started today and find an experienced Massachusetts injury lawyer near you.
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