What You Need to Know Before Filing a Personal Injury Compensation Claim

April 18, 2016

 

A car accident, a bad fall, or a physical injury from some other occurrence can seriously change your life. In cases where a personal injury occurred because of someone else’s carelessness, the injured person frequently experiences financial challenges arising from medical expenses and time away from work. Personal injury also causes pain, suffering, and emotional distress that may linger with you and your family for years. Personal injury claims often arise as a result of one of the following situations: Slip and Fall, Dog Bites and Attacks, Sexual Assault, Invasion of Privacy, Car, Truck or Motorcycle Accident. They sometimes result in Paralysis, Traumatic Brain Injury, and Wrongful Death,

Laws surrounding personal injury compensation claims vary from state to state. So it is important to understand the laws as they apply to you. If you are considering filing a personal injury compensation claim in New Hampshire or Massachusetts here is what you need to know.

 

Filing a Personal Injury Compensation Claim in New Hampshire

 

Statute of Limitations

In New Hampshire the statue of limitations is three years from the date of the incident for the majority of injury claims.  However, there are exceptions to this general rule which is why if you think you suffered an injury as the result of another’s negligence or intentional act it is important to consult a personal injury attorney immediately.

 

Modified Comparative Fault Rule

New Hampshire recognizes comparative fault law.  This generally means that in order to recover damages a plaintiff must be less at fault than the defendant(s).  If, for example, the plaintiff and defendant are equally at fault for the accident or injury (i.e., each 50% at fault), the plaintiff cannot recover damages.  If, however, a jury determines that the defendants are 51% at fault and the plaintiff is 49% at fault, she can recover.  Under this concept the plaintiff’s damages are reduced, however, by her percentage of fault.  Using this example, if the jury awards the injured plaintiff $100,000 but was found her to be 49% at fault for the accident, the damages she would receive are $51,000 which is the full amount of the award ($100,000) reduced by the plaintiff’s percentage of fault (49%).

 

Auto and Motorcycle Accidents

New Hampshire is a “Fault” state and follows the modified comparative fault rules as discussed above when it comes to auto and motorcycle accidents.

 

Dog Bites

New Hampshire is a strict liability state when it comes to dog bites and animal attacks. Under a strict liability standard, a pet owner is liable for injuries caused by a pet, despite the reasonable care taken to protect visitors from the animal. This means that if you are injured by another’s animal, you do not have to prove that the animal’s owner was negligent, or unreasonable, in allowing her pet to harm you.  The law also potentially allows increased damages if the animal has previously injured or attacked another.

 

The law specifically states:

 

“Any person to whom or to whose property, including sheep, lambs, fowl, or other domestic creatures, damage may be occasioned by a dog not owned or kept by such person shall be entitled to recover damages from the person who owns, keeps, or possesses the dog, unless the damage was occasioned to a person who was engaged in the commission of a trespass or other tort. A parent or guardian shall be liable under this section if the owner or keeper of the dog is a minor.”

 

This strict liability law is contrary to many states that follow the “one bite” rule – giving dog owners protection from liability the first time their dog harms someone.

personal injury compensation claim

Damages

Damages recoverable in personal injury actions generally include reimbursement for medical expenses, consequential out-of-pocket expenses, incidental expenses arising from the injuries, and compensation for pain and suffering.  Whether at trial or through an agreed upon settlement, the damages generally must be reasonably based upon admissible evidence to compensate the injured for past, present, and future harm.

 

Lost wages and lost earning capacity proximately resulting from the injury are also recoverable.  This means that if you miss work or lose the ability to work because of an accident that is the fault of another person’s negligence, you can recover damages from the responsible party.

 

The law also allows spouses and certain relatives to recover damages for loss of companionship and loss of affection arising from the injury.  There is no limit on the amount of damages an injured party may recover.

 

Filing a Personal Injury Compensation Claim in Massachusetts

 

Statute of Limitations

In Massachusetts the statute of limitations for most personal injury compensation claims is three years from the date of the incident.  There are, however, exceptions to this consideration which is why consulting an attorney is so important if you have suffered an injury as the result of another’s negligence or intentional act.

 

Medical malpractice laws have several additional considerations because it is not always possible to identify specifically when an injury occurred because of someone else’s negligence.  The statute of limitations in these cases can range from three to seven years depending on a number of variables.  A knowledgeable attorney should be able to answer any questions you may have about potential claims.

 

Modified Comparative Fault Rules

Just like New Hampshire, Massachusetts follows the 51% rule under the modified comparative fault law.  The plaintiff cannot recover if he has the same degree of fault (50%) or is more at fault for the accident or injury than the defendant(s).

 

Auto and Motorcycle Accidents

Massachusetts is a “No Fault” state when it comes to auto and motorcycle accidents. If you own and register a car or a truck in the state you are required to buy PIP insurance, or Personal Injury Protection coverage. Depending on your coverage level, PIP insurance will pay for the first $2,000 or $8,000 of expenses. It is important to note that PIP insurance only applies to car and truck insurance, not motorcycle insurance. In order to file a personal injury claim in a “No Fault” state such as Massachusetts, you must show that you suffered a serious injury as a result of the accident or have resulting medical bills that exceed $2,000.

personal injury compensation claim

Dog Bites

Massachusetts also has strict liability for dog bites.  The Massachusetts law specifically states:

 

Section 155. If any dog shall do any damage to either the body or property of any person, the owner or keeper, or if the owner or keeper be a minor, the parent or guardian of such minor, shall be liable for such damage, unless such damage shall have been occasioned to the body or property of a person who, at the time such damage was sustained, was committing a trespass or other tort, or was teasing, tormenting or abusing such dog. If a minor, on whose behalf an action under this section is brought, is under seven years of age at the time the damage was done, it shall be presumed that such minor was not committing a trespass or other tort, or teasing, tormenting or abusing such dog, and the burden of proof thereof shall be upon the defendant in such action.

Damages

Massachusetts follows the same rules as New Hampshire when it comes to damages. Damages recoverable in personal injury actions generally include reimbursement for medical expenses, consequential out-of-pocket expenses, incidental expenses arising from the injuries, and compensation for pain and suffering.  Whether at trial or through an agreed upon settlement, the damages generally must be reasonably based upon admissible evidence to compensate the injured for past, present, and future harm.

 

If you lose wages because you cannot work or will earn less in the future because of the injury you suffered, you can recover these losses as damages.  It is therefore important to track time missed from work because of an accident and consider how the injury may affect your future ability to earn wages.

 

The law also allows spouses and certain relatives to recover damages for loss of companionship and loss of affection arising from the injury.  There is no limit on the amount of damages an injured party may recover.

 

Caps on Economic Damages in Medical Malpractice Claims

In Massachusetts non-economic damages in medical malpractice cases are capped at $500,000.

 

This overview should provide some basic information regarding the  laws related to personal injury compensation claims in your state. How the law applies, however, includes many nuances that can require complicated analysis to assess each fact pattern.  This is why, even if you just have legal questions about a potential claim, it is important to speak with a knowledgeable personal injury attorney who can advise you regarding the specifics of your case. An attorney will be able to help you determine whether or not you have a viable claim and how best to move forward to get the compensation you deserve.

 

At Sherman Law we have been representing personal injury victims and their families for over 22 years. If you or a family member has been injured you need experienced and effective representation Contact us today for a free consultation.

 

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