Personal Injury Laws in Massachusetts

By: Bhabesh Bhabisnu

…The person bringing the suit has to have suffered some sort of injury, whether it be physical, mental, or emotional. There are a variety of reasons for which these injuries may have allegedly occurred, but the most common are through negligence, gross negligence, reckless conduct, or intentional misconduct. Depending upon the jurisdiction, facts of the case, the intent or negligence of the responsible party, and other important factors, the injured party may be entitled to monetary compensation from the responsible party through a settlement or judgement…

 

Personal injury, in legal terminology, is often defined as a tort lawsuit that a person (Plaintiff) files against another person or entity (Defendant), seeking damages from the person or entity that caused them harm. The person bringing the suit has to have suffered some sort of injury, whether it be physical, mental, or emotional. There are a variety of reasons for which these injuries may have allegedly occurred, but the most common are through negligence, gross negligence, reckless conduct, or intentional misconduct. Depending upon the jurisdiction, fact of the case, the intent or negligence of the responsible party, and other important factors, the injured party may be entitled to monetary compensation from the responsible party through a settlement or a judgment.

Negligence –

Negligence is a legal concept that is the basis for most types of personal injury claims. Negligence is the failure to exercise an appropriate amount of care that one would expect in a specified circumstance or situation. The most common suits for negligence are in car accidents. In Massachusetts, to prevail on a negligence claim, one must prove the following four elements: duty, breach, causation, and damages.

The Statute of Limitations –

The statute of limitations is a period of time in which legal action can be commenced for a claim. Jurisdictions have varying statutes of limitations and, within each jurisdiction, different injuries can have different statutes of limitation.enter the market and eventually into the hands of consumers. There are generally three types of defects in a product liability claim: manufacturing defects, design defects, and failure to warn defects. Potential defendants in a product liability case include the manufacturers, wholesalers, and retailers. In Massachusetts, with few exceptions, an injured party has three years from the date of injury to file a product liability lawsuit.

If a lawsuit is not filed in a timely manner, the statute of limitations provides a defense that can allow the defendant to have the case dismissed entirely without any compensation to the plaintiff. For most personal injury lawsuits in Massachusetts, the statute of limitations is three years. However, this limitation can vary depending on the type of injury. Furthermore, in cases where the injury does not reveal itself for an extended period of time, the lawsuit may be filed within three years of the injury revealing itself.

Modified Comparative Negligence –

Massachusetts uses a modified comparative negligence rule. Under this rule, the plaintiff can only recover if their share of the blame was less than 51%. If the plaintiff is more than 51% at fault, then they cannot recover at all, with very few exceptions. Furthermore, under this rule the plaintiff’s compensation is reduced by their share of the blame. Thus, the plaintiff can recover damages so long as he or she is not more at fault than the defendant.

Types of Personal Injury Claims –

There are many different types of personal injury claims, this will only go into a few of them:

Injuries Caused by Dogs

In the state of Massachusetts, like most other states, owners of pets are responsible for the actions of their pets. Massachusetts, unlike some states with a “one-bite free” rule, is a strict liability state with respect to dog bites. As a strict liability state, the injured party need only prove that they were injured to have a claim, regardless of whether the dog’s owner was negligent or not in handling their dog. Defenses to dog bite claims include the Plaintiff trespassing, provoking the dog, or committing another tort that led to the injury. There is a three-year statute of limitations for dog bite claims in Massachusetts.

Medical Malpractice

Medical malpractice is something that occurs when a healthcare professional, usually through some negligent act or omission, causes injury to a patient. This error and lack of judgment is often rooted in an improper diagnosis, lackluster treatment, or miss mismanagement of aftercare In Massachusetts there is a $500,000 damage cap for medical malpractice, unless the jury determines that there is a “a substantial or permanent loss or impairment of a bodily function or substantial disfigurement, or other special circumstances in the case which warrant a finding that imposition of such a limitation would deprive the plaintiff of just compensation for the injuries sustained.” M.G.L c. 231, § 60H. In Massachusetts, with few exceptions, a patient has three years from the time they learn about their injury to file a medical malpractice lawsuit.

Product Liability

If you are seriously injured while using a product as intended, you may be able to file a product liability claim. Manufacturers and sellers can be held liable for allowing a defective product to enter the market and eventually into the hands of consumers. There are generally three types of defects in a product liability claim: manufacturing defects, design defects, and failure to warn defects. Potential defendants in a product liability case include the manufacturers, wholesalers, and retailers. In Massachusetts, with few exceptions, an injured party has three years from the date of injury to file a product liability lawsuit.

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