Q.: What do I need a lawyer for? Won't insurance companies settle with me directly if I'm hurt?

A.: You should hire a lawyer simply because the insurance companies understand the system better than you do. While insurers may be obliged to act fairly, they don't "tie one hand behind their back" because you haven't got a lawyer, and will take every advantage they can to get rid of your case as cheaply as they can. Insurers may say that you won't need a lawyer; that's like someone who hit your car saying you don't need any car repairs, regardless of what your car looks or works like.

As a personal injury attorney, I have performed this kind of work for over 20 years. I know the ins and outs of claims practice; I know, from my experience litigating for and against insurers, what insurers can or can't do. And I will fight on your behalf to maximize your settlement. It's my general experience that the involvement of an attorney in a personal injury claim will almost always increase the claim's value far and above his contingent fee.

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Q.: Isn't it wrong to sue just because I've been hurt? Isn't personal injury law a scam?

A.: The insurance companies have been trying to convince people of this for years by talking about the "$2 million dollar coffee spill." The insurers have an obvious reason for trying to convince you that filing a claim when you're hurt is morally wrong. The truth is: if you believe in personal responsibility, someone who hurts you should be responsible for the damage they cause. For the real story about this case, check out this link: The True Story About the McDonalds Coffee Case.

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Q.: I've been hurt in an accident. Doesn't that mean the insurance company has to settle with me?

A.: NO. "An accident's occurrence is not proof of negligence" - or, in plainer terms, just because something bad happened doesn't mean it's someone's fault. We have a fault-based system - meaning, you must prove that someone other than yourself was negligent, and that his or her negligence actually caused your injury.

Also: it is extremely rare for an insurer to immediately accept fault, or agree on the extent of any claimant's injury. Insurance adjusters are generally jaded, difficult, stubborn, and are fairly skeptical about any claimant. My experience generally is that insurers believe any claimant is lying about their pain, and that any doctor other than one the insurers hire is probably fibbing.

Again, this is why you need a lawyer - because very little comes to claimants, in Massachusetts or elsewhere, without a fight.

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Q.: I'm hurt, and I can't afford to hire a lawyer. I've heard they're expensive. What can I do?

A.: Contact me. Initial consultations are free, and personal injury cases are handled at my office on a contingency basis - meaning, I don't get paid unless you do.

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Q.: What is a "personal injury" lawyer? Do you only handle personal injury cases?

A.: A "personal injury" lawyer, like myself, is an attorney who has concentrated his practice representing injured people, concerning negligence and product liability claims. My practice has involved personal injury claimants for my entire practice, and I have concentrated my practice in personal injury for the vast majority of my career.

I am, by nature, a "trial attorney", meaning that I am willing and able to try my client's cases if they can't be settled fairly. I am very comfortable in court. These court skills are transferable to any kind of litigation matter, and I have handled contract disputes; property fights; estate disputes; commercial litigation; and unfair practice litigation in all of the Courts of Massachusetts. I also have a good grasp of substantive law, and represent many of the larger mortgage finance companies in Massachusetts, so I can advise you regarding many of your personal legal needs. For more information on my real estate practice, click here: REAL ESTATE.

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Q.: Why should I hire you? Can't any lawyer handle a personal injury case?

A.: Said simply, you should hire me because I am experienced; dedicated; diligent; skilled; and good at what I do. Since I focus on personal injury, I know the rules; the players; and the strategies to maximize your results. As an experienced trial lawyer, I know what cases should be tried and what not to be tried. My reputation allows me to credibly back up threats of litigation, and I am not scared of court or trying your case if the insurer refuses to settle with you. And, finally, because I'm a fighter, and will fight for you.

It's true that any member of the bar can "handle" a personal injury case, and even try it. However, like many professions, law has become very complex, with professionals concentrating in particular areas of practice, and personal injury has become more challenging and technical. There are many attorneys who work on personal injury cases as a sideline, and many others who do personal injury work, but never see the inside of a courthouse, and will look for the quick settlement. I believe that you wouldn't hire a roofer to build your furniture; wouldn't hire an internist to perform surgery; and therefore you wouldn't hire a lawyer who primarily works on commercial matters to handle your personal injury claim.

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Q.: I was hurt in an accident, and I haven't talked to a lawyer for over a month. Do I still have a claim?

A.: Yes. Generally speaking (with certain very important exceptions, which you should discuss with an attorney) you have years to pursue a personal injury claim, up to three years on some claims. Nevertheless, the sooner you see an attorney, the better, since we can begin to pursue your rights and protect your interests as soon as you retain us.

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Q.: When should I hire a lawyer?

A.: I suggest as soon as you feel well enough to contact one. Insurers will frequently try to obtain information that favors their insured, and disfavors you, from the day they are on notice of your claim. The sooner that you speak to your lawyer, the sooner that he can perform investigation; contact witnesses; track your medical treatment; and present your case in its best light.

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Q.: I've been hurt in an automobile accident. Do I talk to my insurer, or the person that hurt me? What are my rights?

A.: After you've hired me, I will immediately contact your insurers, so that you will not have to deal with calls seeking information about the accident or about your medical treatment. You are required to notify your own automobile insurance company as soon as possible following the accident. I recommend that you do not directly communicate with the other driver's insurer under any circumstances prior to speaking with me.

In a car accident, you have a right to be compensated, without proof of fault, for your reasonable medical expenses under PIP (Personal Injury Protection); for a percentage of your lost earnings, if any, under PIP; and to be paid for your remaining injuries by claiming, and if need be suing, against the other driver and your insurer, if we can prove that the other driver was at fault, or negligent. You will likely have the right to recover for property damage to your car, if there was any, under your own policy. I will generally allow my clients to negotiate the settlement of their property damage, which can be proved by appraisal, directly with their own insurance policy, so that clients will not incur a fee regarding car repairs. I will assist you, if you reach a roadblock with the insurer, at your request.

In any other accident, you have a right, if the other party was negligent, to be placed, by payment of money, in the same circumstances before your accident. Since we can’t reverse your injury, the court system rewards you with money for your medical and economic expenses; ‘pain and suffering’; restrictions and disability; and loss of enjoyment of the quality of your life, both in the past and, where appropriate, in the future.

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Q.: What should I do following an accident?

A.: Follow the Ten Commandments of Personal Injury.

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Q.: A car without insurance hit me. What do I do?

A.: Massachusetts requires that you carry uninsured protection on your own vehicle, which I can pursue a claim against without cost or repercussion to you. These claims are a bit complicated, and should not be undertaken without legal representation.

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Q.: I was injured on the job, and I'm out of work. Who's responsible for what?

A.: Your employer is responsible for obtaining workers' compensation insurance (with rare exceptions), which should pay for 60% of your weekly lost wages and your reasonably related medical expenses. Like any insurer, there will be a fair amount of bureaucracy involved. Insurers will also dispute whether you had a job related injury; whether your medical treatment is necessary; and whether you are still disabled. You need not prove that your employer or anyone else was at fault in order to recover these benefits.

If someone other than your employer did cause your accident or contribute to it, you may be able to recover your complete lost earnings, along with pain and suffering and disability. This could involve another company working at your same worksite; the owner of the building where you work; another driver, in a work-related motor vehicle accident; or another circumstance. This is often difficult to sort out, especially concerning who was responsible for what in certain job settings, and is often missed by claimants and attorneys who do not concentrate in my field. For more information, you can look at my discussions on workers' compensation; negligence; motor vehicle negligence; construction site accidents; and other sections.

For specific information about your claim, though, you should speak and meet with me.

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Q.: An insurance company contacted me, and wants a statement. What do I do?

A.: Initially, refuse and retain a lawyer to assist you. There are many circumstances in which you may have to cooperate and provide information, to your own insurer; and others in which you do not. At no time are you ever required to provide statements to an insurer other than your own or a workers' compensation insurer. In either event, you should try to avoid providing information to insurers without aid of counsel. These statements are rarely intended to help you (no matter how nice or helpful the adjuster seems on the phone or in person). You should also suspect any insurance adjuster who shows up at your house looking to speak with you; and definitely one with a checkbook in his hand! Odds are that the check he intends to write will be much smaller than the amount your case is actually worth.

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Q.: I've been hurt in an accident. I don't know who to give my doctors' bills to, and I'm worried that my credit will suffer. What do I do?

A.: Medical bill payment issues have become increasingly complex in this age of managed care. In an automobile accident, your own insurer, under PIP, pays your first $2,000 in medical expenses; thereafter, you must treat as your own health insurer requires, and submit your bills to them. If you were hurt on the job, your employer's workers' compensation insurer pays your medical bills for treatment related to your work related injuries. In either event, you should always provide me with copies of any bills you receive, so that I can keep track of your medical treatment and expenses.

If an injured person has no health insurance, there may be circumstances where there is no insurer available to pay his or her medical expenses. Again, I can help persuade providers to defer billing and to be paid from the proceeds of the case, or to reduce medical liens at the end of the case upon settlement. Generally, these bills will not be reported on your credit report or affect your good financial standing.

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Q.: I was hurt at work, and I stopped receiving payments from the insurance company. What do I do?

A.: The obvious answer - hire an attorney, if you have not already done so, who will pursue a workers' compensation claim for you. Depending upon the circumstances, the insurer may have already waived their ability to unilaterally cease benefits - or the attorney will obtain an order requiring that they do so.

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Q.: I was using a product and was injured. What are my rights?

A.: If the product was defective either by poor manufacture or unsafe design, you may have a right to recover either from the product seller; the distributor; and its manufacturer, for your injuries. Product liability is a very technical and complex field. You will need a lawyer to review the product and its history, and pursue your claim. Contact me for a free consultation to determine whether or not you may pursue a claim.

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Q.: I work on a railroad, and I'm out of work from a workplace injury. The company is paying my salary and my medical bills. Is this all I'm entitled to?

A.: Potentially, no. Under the Federal Employers' Liability Act (FELA), you have a right to recover for disability, pain and suffering, and loss of enjoyment of the quality of life, if you can demonstrate some degree of fault on the part of your employer. This is a specialized area of practice, with complex rights of offset and liens. Again, schedule a free consultation with me to review the circumstances of your claim.

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Q.: What is a "fair settlement"?

A.: If this question were easy to answer, I'd probably be out of business. The truth is that there is no "price list" floating in the air that will tell us what your case is worth. Every injured person is different; every injury is different; every accident is different; every insurer is different; and, for that matter, every jury is different. However, my nearly 20 years of experience settling matters both for insurers and for claimants have given me a good experience in valuing claims, based upon years of experience in calculating what juries tend to award.

Factors which will have a role in valuing a claim include: the likelihood of proving the other party liable; the extent and cost of medical treatment; the amount of time a claimant is out of work; whether surgery is required; whether the condition caused by the accident is permanently totally or partially disabling; whether any scarring has occurred; and other intangibles, including whether the injured party or the defending party will likely make a favorable appearance on a jury.

Ultimately, there's a somewhat glib answer that always proves true: a case is worth what an insurer, or, failing that, a jury, will pay to compensate for the injury.

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Q.: How can you make an insurer settle my case?

A.: Unless liability is clear against its an insured, an insurer under Massachusetts law has no obligation to make any offers of settlement, but must merely act reasonably. Ultimately, the only way to force an insurer that doesn't wish to settle to pay is to take a case to trial. This is the primary reason why you need an attorney who is trial experienced and trial ready.

While I fight to settle my clients' cases as quickly as I can for as much as I can, I assume at the start of every case that the case will be tried to a jury, and prepare and present the case to insurers in that fashion. A lawyer ready to try your case is the best "intimidation" you can have, and the only way to "force" a settlement.

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