Your Boston Personal Injury Case: The Basics
Created by FindLaw's team of legal writers and editors | Last reviewed June 19, 2017
This article has been written and reviewed for legal accuracy, clarity, and style by FindLaw’s team of legal writers and attorneys and in accordance with our editorial standards.
The last updated date refers to the last time this article was reviewed by FindLaw or one of our contributing authors. We make every effort to keep our articles updated. For information regarding a specific legal issue affecting you, please contact an attorney in your area.
What if you find yourself in the emergency room of Boston Medical Center or at Boston University's Rehab Center after an accident? Your medical bills are piling up. You aren't able to go to work. Someone is blame for all this and the only thing you are sure about is that it isn't you. FindLaw has put together some helpful information for you to think about in your Boston personal injury case.
The Course of a Typical Personal Injury Case in Boston
1. You are injured due to the carelessness or negligence of another;
2. You or your lawyer files a complaint. If your injury happened in Boston, the paperwork will be filed at a local Boston courthouse.
3. The defendant may be required to file an answer;
4. Both sides gather evidence;
5. A pre-trial conference takes place between judge and the attorneys to discuss a possible settlement. You may also be able to hire a mediator and settle out of court;
6. If there isn't a settlement, trial takes place and a verdict is rendered;
7. Either party can appeal the decision to appellate courts.
What is a Personal Injury Claim?
Let's start with the basics. You may not be familiar with the legal jargon no matter how many courtroom dramas you may have watched. A personal injury claim is a lawsuit your lawyer will file on your behalf against a person(s) you believe are responsible for your injury.
Your injuries could stem from a number of actions: a car or truck, consumer product, or medical error. Basically, any incident where a person has been injured because someone or something (such as a business) was negligent. Personal injury claims include bodily and psychological injuries. The general goal of personal injury cases is to identify who is responsible for an injury to another and to require them to compensate the injured for the losses sustained.
First Steps: Seek Medical Help
If you are injured, go to your doctor or local emergency room right away. Explain to the nurse or doctor how the injury happened and be honest about any pain you may feel. Be completely honest with your doctor and explain how the injury happened.
If possible, consider writing down how the incident occurred while it's still fresh in your mind. Also, take some pictures of any physical damage, defective products, or of yourself if you have visible signs of injury. Document all your out-of-pocket expenses. Keep any receipts or medical bills. Take note of how much work you've missed. Next, consider speaking with a knowledge personal injury attorney.
Know Your Time Limits
You'll hear a term known as "statute of limitation." That's the time limit you have to file a lawsuit for your injuries. Miss the deadline, and you're out of luck and won't be able to recover for your losses. For most personal injury claims in Boston, you'll have three year from the date of injury to file. There are some exceptions for minors and mentally impaired persons. Remember, even if you have a legitimate claim you may be unable to ever receive compensation for an accident if you file too late.
Get Familiar with the Law of Negligence
If you want to win your case at trial, your lawyer must prove the defendant was negligent or "at fault" for your injuries. There are a number of different ways to prove fault. It will depend on the particular circumstances.
Massachusetts uses a 51 percent comparative negligence rule, meaning you will need to prove that the other party was more than 51 percent at fault for your injuries in order to recover compensation.
Learn about damages
Any compensation you may recover is called damages. The most common type of damages you may recover for stems from physical injuries, which include direct trauma to the body. You may be to recover compensation for medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, loss of life's pleasures, scarring and disfigurement.
You also might be able to get compensated for emotional pain and stress. If your personal property was destroyed, you might be able to recover for that including the cost to repair or replace your car, as well as any personal property (such as clothing). If a loved one was killed, then your family can file a special type of personal injury claim known as a wrongful death lawsuit.
Punitive damages usually are sought only if the defendant was grossly reckless or intended to injure the plaintiff. Punitive damages are typically awarded when the defendant's conduct has been especially egregious or outrageous.
What About Settling Out of Court?
Many Boston personal injury cases never see the light of a courtroom and end up in a settlement agreement. There are several reasons for this.
- Trials can be time-consuming and expensive. The expense of continuing outweighs the expected award from a trial.
- Trial can be stressful. Either party may have difficulty in finding expert witnesses for the trial. Either party may want to avoid the publicity of a trial. Settling removes the risk of going to trial and then losing. The defendant can avoid admitting fault by settling.
- One of the parties learns of a weakness in their case.
Remember, your personal injury case won't be like what you see in the movies or on TV. Your case may be stressful, time-consuming, and lack any and all of the glamour of Hollywood. Nonetheless, if you or a loved one was the victim of a serious personal injury accident, you may wish to consider seeking legal help.
You Don’t Have To Solve This on Your Own – Get a Lawyer’s Help
Meeting with a lawyer can help you understand your options and how to best protect your rights. Visit our attorney directory to find a lawyer near you who can help.
Next Steps: Search for a Local Attorney
Contact a qualified attorney.