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Hon. Thomas T. Merrigan (Ret.) is a partner in Sweeney Merrigan Law, LLPview attorney profile
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When filing a personal injury lawsuit in Boston, the lawyer that you choose to represent you can make all the difference in your case’s success. You need skilled, but friendly professionals that can guide you through the legal process you are initiating. You need Sweeney Merrigan Law, LLP.
Personal injury law offers people injured or killed by a third-party's negligence the opportunity to receive compensation for their damages. Proving negligence is the cornerstone of personal injury cases, as claimants possess burden of proof. This means that the plaintiff must procure evidence that supports the cause-effect flow of several assertion:
Negligence is often unintentional, but it causes harm to others who are under the impression that they are safe. For instance, a doctor that doesn’t wash their hands before examining a patient could transfer an illness without knowing it. Although the doctor didn’t try to hurt their patient by not washing their hands, they still caused harm.
Massachusetts practices comparative negligence in determining the outcomes of personal injury cases. In some cases, the at-fault party is fairly straightforward. In others, both parties may share a portion of the blame. In comparative negligence, the court assigns a percentage of fault to both parties. Although this sounds discouraging, the plaintiff in this situation can still recover compensation for their damages. The court multiplies the plaintiff’s percentage of fault with their total award, then subtracts this product. The end-figure is the compensation the plaintiff gets to take home.
Hiring a skilled Boston personal injury attorney could make all the difference in your fault rating, and therefore your total compensation. This is just one key benefit of hiring an experienced personal injury lawyer in Boston.
Immediately following an accident, your energy and focus should be entirely on receiving the proper and necessary medical care.
When ready, it is important to get an attorney involved in order to facilitate the proper payment of medical bills; investigate insurance benefits; collect accident information, evidence, and witness statements; and handle any inquiries from insurance carriers or investigators.
After hiring a lawyer, your job is simply to focus 100% of your time and attention on your recovery. This means following the instructions of your medical providers and making the necessary appointments to achieve a full recovery.
Itʼs our job to manage the coordination of medical bills, keep insurance companies apprised of your recovery status, handle requests for statements from you, and otherwise prepare your file for a lawsuit.
Settlement is a voluntary process whereby an insurance carrier offers compensation in the form of money in order to avoid a lengthy lawsuit or trial. Insurers consider the extent of injuries, pain and suffering, the amount of medical bills, any lost wages, and any permanency when making an offer to settle. Insurers will also consider the extent to which their insurer is at fault in the accident.
Generally, it is not advisable to settle a personal injury case until a full recovery has been achieved. After accepting a settlement offer, the case is closed and cannot be reopened should additional injuries be discovered, or the severity of injuries increase.
After determining that a medical end result has been achieved and no more treatment is scheduled, Sweeney Merrigan Law LLP will begin putting together a “settlement package” for the insurance carrier.
Typically, an insurance carrier will take 30 days to review a settlement demand before making an offer of settlement.
The decision to settle is the clientʼs decision alone – we will make recommendations – but our job is to educate you on the benefits and risks of accepting any offer.
Should the offer be accepted, the money is usually processed in two to four weeks. If an acceptable offer cannot be reached, the next step is to file a lawsuit and/or proceed to trial.
After the decision to file a lawsuit is made, the attorney will draft a Complaint, detailing the nature of the lawsuit and the underlying allegations that are being made against each defendant.
The lawsuit is filed when the court “dockets” the Complaint, which means receives and records the Complaint along with the appropriate filing fee. The filing of the lawsuit is the first step toward going to trial before a jury or a judge, who will decide the outcome of the case.
It is important to know that every state has a “statute of limitations,” which defines the time period within which a lawsuit must be filed. The time period varies depending on the type of case; however, if that time period passes, the case will be forever barred.
The Complaint will then be “served,” which means delivered to each defendant, who will then be required to file an “Answer” whereby the defendant admits or denies the allegations contained in the Complaint.
The discovery process is the period of time whereby each party has the opportunity to learn more about the adversaryʼs case.
While there are a variety of tools the parties use, almost every case involves interrogatories, which are written questions the opposing party must answer, and depositions, which are formal interviews conducted by the lawyers in the case.
The discovery process can last many months to a year (or more), depending on the order of the court and complexity of the case.
At any time throughout the case, but typically at the conclusion of discovery, the parties may voluntarily engage in alternative dispute resolution. Alternative dispute resolution is primarily seen in the form of mediation, arbitration, or negotiations.
Mediation is a voluntary process in which both the clients and lawyers meet with a mediator, who is a trained professional charged with the job of facilitating meaningful and effective negotiations. Mediations can be as short as a half a day or multiple days. Mediations are non- binding, which means that if the parties do not reach an agreement, the case will proceed to trial in the manner it would have had the mediation never occurred.
Arbitration is also a voluntary process; however, the outcome of the arbitration is binding and cannot be challenge absent unusual circumstances. An arbitration functions similarly to a trial where the parties present evidence, testimony, and argument to a hired arbitrator who will make the final decision concerning the outcome of the case.
Lastly, parties might engage in direct negotiations throughout the course of the case and sometimes even during the course of trial. Any offers to settle during negotiations do not constitute an admission of guilt or liability, but instead are efforts to compromise in order to avoid an unpredictable outcome with a jury.
We are trial attorneys and going to trial is what we prepare to do at all times, from the moment you retain us as your attorney.
Typically, when alternative dispute resolution agreements are not met, the case will proceed to trial. A personal injury trial can be as short as a day or as long as a couple of weeks.
The length of the trial will be determined not only be the complexity of the case, but also by the courtʼs schedule and whether the court allows the trial to span over the course of consecutive full days or if the trial will be held on consecutive half days.
Trial can be delayed unexpectedly for a number of reasons, which include the schedules of the court, the attorneys, the parties, and/or the witnesses.
Personal injury trials are typically before a jury; however, if both parties prefer, the case may be presented to a judge.
“Peter Merrigan was very nice from the time I called. I don’t know what I would have done with my son’s hospital bills from the bus accident, but he has been nothing but helpful and understanding. I will definitely recommend him to my family or friends that need a lawyer.”Susan / Marlboro, MA View More
“I am not knowledgeable of the legal system, so I had a lot of questions. Tucker and Peter were very accessible and helpful. They went above and beyond their duties to make sure that I knew the legal procedure. I would recommend them to anyone in need of legal assistance.”Kyle / Boston, MA View More
Personal injury claims assert that the defendant’s negligence has caused damages. Damages include both physical and emotional deficits that result from the accident. These include:
Sweeney Merrigan Law, LLP provides consistent, successful results in personal injury cases. With a combined total of 100 years of experience, our personal injury lawyers understand the technical and human aspects of the claims process.
We are dedicated to getting our clients the results they need. That includes a settlement that fully covers the costs of physical and emotional suffering, but it also goes a step further. We are committed to making our community as safe as possible, and that means holding responsible parties accountable. The Boston personal injury lawyers at Sweeney Merrigan Law, LLP have been recognized for personable representation and take pride in building our practice on the recommendations and testimonials of our previous clients. We are ready to help you today.
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