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Boston Personal Injury FAQ

Have you been left with serious injuries and financial uncertainty after an accident in Boston, MA? An experienced Boston personal injury lawyer can help you pursue the compensation you deserve from the at-fault party.

Massachusetts Lawyer’s Weekly has recognized Sweeney Merrigan Personal Injury Lawyers among the “Most Powerful Attorneys” in the state. Our team of Boston personal injury lawyers has over 100 years of combined experience handling personal injury attorneys. We are ready to give you the representation you need for the compensation you deserve.

Get answers to common questions about Boston personal injury law and then contact our law office for a free consultation to learn more. Call (617)-391-9001 today.

What is Personal Injury Law?

What is Personal Injury Law?

Personal injury law, or “tort law,” allows someone to file a civil lawsuit against another party after an injury or accident. Suppose you have suffered injury in an accident or due to intentional wrongdoing. In that case, a personal injury case allows you to hold the at-fault party financially accountable for your financial losses related to the incident.

Personal injury cases often begin by filing an insurance claim with your own insurance policy or the at-fault party’s policy. If you cannot resolve your claim through settlement negotiations, you can initiate a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault party. Some cases go directly to court through a lawsuit.

Personal injury law is distinct from criminal law. While some personal injury cases involve criminal actions, the case itself is heard in civil court. A personal injury case does not require criminal charges, but a conviction can strengthen a civil case.

There are two main types of personal injury cases:

  • Unintentional tort. These cases are usually based on negligence. 
  • Intentional tort. These cases occur when someone intentionally causes someone else harm.

At Sweeney Merrigan Law, LLP, we handle all types of personal injury cases in Boston. 

Examples include:

You may have a personal injury case if your accident was caused by someone else’s behavior or negligence.

What Compensation is Available in a Personal Injury Case in Boston, MA?

What Compensation is Available in a Personal Injury Case in Boston, MA?

Personal injury victims may recover two types of compensatory damages: economic damages and non-economic damages.

Economic damages refer to the financial costs associated with your accident. 

Examples of economic losses include:

  • Property damage
  • Lost wages
  • Medical bills and the anticipated cost of future medical treatment
  • Reduced earning capacity
  • Counseling
  • Home health care and domestic services
  • Rehabilitation
  • Mobility aids and medical devices
  • Home and vehicle modifications
  • Medical transportation expenses 

Non-economic losses do not have an intrinsic financial value; these intangible losses may include:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Loss of consortium
  • Mental anguish
  • Emotional distress
  • Disfigurement
  • Reduced enjoyment of life 

Like many states, Massachusetts has a cap on non-economic damages in medical malpractice cases. Your pain, suffering, and other non-economic losses in a medical negligence case are capped at $500,000. There are exceptions if you suffered (1) substantial or permanent impairment; or (2) loss of a bodily function or significant disfigurement.

You may be eligible to recover punitive damages in addition to compensatory damages. These damages punish the defendant for egregious conduct. However, punitive damages in MA are only available in wrongful death cases that result from willful, wanton, or reckless behavior or gross negligence.

What Massachusetts Personal Injury Laws Affect My Case?

What Massachusetts Personal Injury Laws Affect My Case?

Many state laws will impact your personal injury case.

Here are some of the most critical Massachusetts laws affecting your injury case:

  • Massachusetts uses a 51% comparative negligence doctrine. This means you can only recover compensation if you were 50% or less at fault for your accident.
  • The statute of limitations (deadline) to file a personal injury lawsuit is 3 years for most cases.
  • Massachusetts is a “no-fault” car insurance state. After an accident, you must first file a claim for compensation with your own insurance company. You cannot pursue compensation from the other party unless you have serious or permanent disfigurement, a fracture, or hearing or vision loss.

Your Boston personal injury lawyer can help you understand how these laws will affect your case.

What is the Burden of Proof in a Personal Injury Case in Boston?

A Boston personal injury case has a lower burden of proof than a criminal case. To recover damages, you must prove your case by a preponderance of the evidence. This simply means showing “it was more likely than not” that the defendant caused your injuries.

Criminal cases, on the other hand, require proof beyond a reasonable doubt. This means there is no other rational explanation based on the evidence.

How Do I Prove Fault in My Boston Personal Injury Case?

Proving fault requires presenting evidence such as witness statements, expert testimony, and physical evidence. To win your case, you must generally demonstrate the defendant was negligent. However, some cases involve strict liability.


Someone is negligent when they do not behave how a reasonable person would have in similar circumstances. 

There are four elements of negligence:

  • The defendant owed you a duty of care.
  • They breached their duty.
  • The breach caused your accident or injuries.
  • You suffered damages.

Proving causation is usually the hardest element of negligence. 

In Massachusetts, you must prove:

  • Cause-in-fact or “but-for fact.” But for the defendant’s actions, would your injuries have occurred?
  • Proximate cause. This means that you were a foreseeable victim of the defendant’s conduct and suffered foreseeable injuries.

Massachusetts does not have a presumption of negligence, even when someone violates safety laws. Instead, violations of these laws are evidence of negligence. Your case must still prove the other elements of negligence.

Gross Negligence

While negligence can be defined as carelessness or irresponsible behavior, gross negligence occurs when someone is reckless and displays a lack of concern for others.

In Massachusetts, proving gross negligence is generally only relevant in cases involving wrongful death. If you can prove the defendant displayed gross negligence, you may be entitled to punitive damages.

Strict Liability

You must typically show the defendant was negligent to hold them liable for injuries you sustain. However, some cases involve strict liability. 

The most common example is dog bites. Massachusetts law holds dog owners strictly liable for injuries caused by their dog. There are some exceptions, such as injuries sustained by someone who was trespassing or abusing or teasing the dog. Massachusetts does not have a “one bite” rule.

Product liability law also involves strict liability. If you are hurt by a defective or dangerous product, you do not need to prove negligence. Instead, you must prove the product was defective in manufacturing, design, or warning/marketing.

How Much Does it Cost to Hire a Personal Injury Lawyer in Boston, Massachusetts?

Do not let financial concerns prevent you from seeking the experienced legal representation you deserve. At Sweeney Merrigan Law, LLP, our Boston personal injury lawyers work on a contingency-fee basis. You pay nothing upfront for skilled legal representation. 

We will assist with your injury claim, negotiate on your behalf, build the strongest evidence-based case possible, and take your case to court if necessary.

You only pay attorney’s fees if we recover a settlement or verdict on your behalf. Your attorney’s fees and other costs come out of your recovery.

How Long Do I Have to File a Personal Injury Lawsuit in Massachusetts?

You have a limited amount of time to file your personal injury lawsuit. The Massachusetts statute of limitations for most personal injury cases is three years. This same deadline applies to wrongful death lawsuits.

For a medical malpractice lawsuit, you have three years from the date you discover or should have discovered your injury. 

If you have a claim against a government entity like the city of Boston, you must submit a claim before proceeding to court. The statute of limitations against government entities is only two years.

How Much is My Personal Injury Case Worth?

Unfortunately, there is no easy way to answer this question. No calculator or formula can estimate the value of your personal injury case. It will depend on factors that are personal and unique to your case.

To estimate your case’s worth, we will consider:

  • The severity of your injuries
  • How your injuries will affect your long-term well-being, ability to work, independence, and quality of life
  • Whether you have suffered permanent or significant impairment or disability
  • Mental and emotional consequences of your accident
  • Whether you require long-term medical care
  • Strength of your evidence and negligence case
  • Whether you contributed to your accident
  • Unique circumstances of your accident

The best way to find out what your case is worth is by scheduling a free case review with a Boston personal injury lawyer at Sweeney Merrigan Law, LLP.

How Long Will My Injury Case Take to Settle?

When you are facing mounting bills and financial uncertainty, you want your case to settle as quickly as possible. It is entirely possible for an injury claim to be settled in a matter of weeks or months. However, quick settlements can give you less than you deserve.  

You can expect the insurance company to make an offer fairly early, but this will be a low offer. It will likely not compensate you for all of your losses.

The amount of time it takes to conclude your case and recover a settlement or verdict depends on:

  • Whether fault is clear and/or whether you share fault
  • The number of insurance companies and parties involved in your case
  • Whether you will have ongoing medical needs
  • Whether the insurance company acts in good faith negotiating a settlement
  • How long it takes to reach maximum medical improvement
  • The severity of your injuries and non-economic losses
  • The strength of evidence and documentation proving your damages
  • Whether your case is able to settle or needs to go to court 

The more serious your injuries and the higher the value of your case, the longer it may take to settle. Your case may also take longer if it must proceed to a lawsuit and go before a jury, although most personal injury cases settle.

It’s important to make sure your case is valued properly before settling. Once you reach a settlement, you will not be able to recover additional damages in the future, even if the settlement was far too low. Your personal injury lawyer will help you understand what you can expect and give you a general estimate of how long it may take to settle your case.

Call Sweeney Merrigan Law, LLP for a Free Consultation

Have you been seriously hurt in a car accident? Contact Sweeney Merrigan Law, LLP today to schedule a free case review with a Boston personal injury lawyer. 

We handle all types of injury cases, and we are ready to help you pursue fair compensation for the injuries you have suffered.

Meet the Personal Injury Attorneys at Sweeney Merrigan Law, LLP