Note: Before reading these FAQ's below, you should be aware that they are very general in nature, and are designed to answer very preliminary questions many people have about personal injury law. For more detailed information, we have prepared more lengthy explanations on several specific areas of personal injury law, by subject matter, on this website. Those individual topics can be found under the "Practice Areas" Tab on the Navigation Bar on the Home Page, or by clicking on "Practice Areas" on any other page of this website. Clicking on any specific practice area will take you to a detailed explanation of the law in Massachusetts on that topic, and give you valuable information about that type of legal problem. We hope they are helpful!
Q: I've been in an auto accident. Why can't I just deal with the insurance companies involved? Why do I need a lawyer?
A: Because talking to an insurance company claims adjuster after an injury has occurred, is like going onto a battlefield without body armor. If you learn one thing from this website, let it be this: Fundamentally, insurance companies make their money through a very simple formula: Take in as much premium as possible, and pay out as little in claims as possible. If you try to deal with an insurance company on your own, it's a near certainty that you will not know what your legal rights are; you will not know the intricacies and legal complexities governing Massachusetts auto insurance policies; you will not know the terms and language they use; you will not know how to represent your best interests. Financially speaking, you will almost certainly get hurt. See our Section on this website dealing with Auto Accidents for more detail.
Q: Can insurance companies do anything they want with a claim - just deny any claim they don't want to pay?
A: No, they can't. Any policy of insurance, whether entered into with you or with the individual or company that may have injured you, is a contract, and bound by the laws in Massachusetts that govern contracts. Further, insurance companies operating under licenses granted by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts are required to act in "good faith" in responding to claims. If they do not act in good faith, they are subject to penalties under a special law in Massachusetts that applies to insurance claims (M.G.L. c. 176D) which may subject them to penalties far larger than the original claim. However, the existence of these laws does not eliminate the need for an experienced attorney at your side: These laws are very complex, and the average lay person could not navigate them on his own. You are advised to seek the assistance of an experienced personal injury attorney before speaking to any insurance company representative. Contact us and we can provide you with a free initial consultation.
Q: Is there an advantage to hiring a small law firm or solo practitioner, vs. a larger law firm?
A: Let me put it this way: In all likelihood, in a medium to larger-sized law firm, your first meeting will be with a partner-level attorney, who, depending on your case, may attempt to promote the firm's services to you. After these initial meetings, you are likely to be assigned to a lower, junior-level associate, who will be relatively inexperienced and will have dozens of other cases simultaneously assigned to him or her. That attorney has no say in whether or not he or she wanted to take your case, and you will be just one of many cases he or she is assigned. It's possible that this attorney may not even see your file until a couple of weeks before trial. I love the idea of seeing some junior associate walk into a deposition on one of my cases, knowing the odds are almost certain that they have taken no special interest in the case, and are much less capable than a partner-level attorney.
That doesn't happen in a firm like mine. When I take a case, it's because I believe in that case, and I dedicate myself to it, personally. I am consistently better prepared than the opposing attorney in any case I take, because I decided to take that case, based on my own beliefs in the case, not because someone 'threw it on my desk.' When I represent a client, I know that case intimately, inside and out. I am better prepared for that case than my opposing attorney - and I am fighting for it, because I made the choice to. It is mine, beginning to end.
That is no small difference to consider, when you look at who is sitting beside you at a deposition or trial.
Also, being straightforward, my personality is such that I enjoy going up against larger law firms, lawyers with 'big egos'. Because a victory over an opponent like that, makes it all the sweeter for me (and for my client). I'd rather fight Arnold Schwarzenegger than Woody Allen.
So, if you don't mind paying for oak-paneled walls, expensive real estate locations and oriental rugs that you'll probably find in a large law firm, you're entirely free to do so. That may buy you some type of "feeling," but it won't buy you better legal representation. In all likelihood, your money will go to pay for that firm's overhead, which is substantial in medium-to-larger sized firms. We don't have that kind of overhead, and we know all our clients personally. Ask yourself: Is that point important to you?
Q: How accessible are you to your clients?
A: I make myself available for all my clients during regular business hours (Monday through Friday, 9 AM to 6 PM,) by direct phone to my office, email, pager, and mobile phone. For emergencies, I make myself available 24 hours a day, by pager. All my Associates make themselves equally accessible to all our clients.
Q: A family member of mine is a construction worker and was injured at the job site. Isn't it more difficult for a construction worker to be awarded damages for injuries suffered at a construction site, than it is for someone who is injured at a location other than a construction site?
A: No, it isn't more difficult, and neither should it be. Construction workers don't "give up" their legal rights when they put on a hard hat, and their employers as well as the owners or tenants of a construction site, aren't entitled to take less precautions to protect their workers from injury, than are any other employers, landowners or persons required to take. We have helped several injured construction workers recover substantial sums for injuries suffered on the job. For some examples, visit the Our Successes Section at this website. For more details about this area of law, read our Section on Construction Accidents at this website.
Q: My wife slipped and fell inside a supermarket while shopping. She fractured her leg. The store was helpful about getting her medical help on the scene, but we feel they were responsible for what happened to her. However, a supermarket like this must have plenty of powerful lawyers. Does she stand a chance if we sued them?
A: Whether or not a company has one lawyer or a hundred, should not determine the outcome of a case like this (or most cases.) What will determine it are the facts and the evidence. This is true despite the very rare legal outcomes of celebrity cases in the media. In 99% of all cases, the precious legal theory that all people are equal in the eyes of the law, is what occurs in courtrooms in Massachusetts, and across the country, every day. Do not be discouraged that you might be facing "a big company." The facts, the evidence, and the applicable law are what matters in a courtroom. If you feel that you or a loved one has been injured due to the negligence of a property owner or business, don't be "afraid" to seek damages from that organization, whoever they are. To learn more about liability for these types of accidents, see our Premises Liability Section on this website.
Q: My mother is in a nursing home. I worry about whether she is being properly taken care of when I or other family members are not there. Recently, we've begun to suspect she might be being neglected or abused. We've raised our concerns with the management of the nursing home, but we feel they're just putting on a show while we're there, then reverting to business as usual when we're gone. What can we do about this?
A: First, you can refuse to accept an "answer" that is unacceptable - and you should do so, immediately. We have found that cases of nursing home abuse and neglect are rising at an alarming rate. While many such facilities are reliable and responsible, many more are not. They are businesses, driven by profit, and many cut corners on hiring qualified, compassionate staff and monitoring employees for quality care of patients. Visit our Section on Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect, where you can learn a lot of valuable information. We can help assure that your loved one is taken care of and compensated for any substandard care.
Q: What are your fees like?
A: For personal injury cases, our fee is based on a contingent fee structure (as is true with almost all personal injury lawyers). This means that, if I decide to take your case, you won't need to put up any money up-front in order for us to represent you. Our fee will be one-third of any recovery we obtain on your behalf, which is deducted from the jury award or settlement check at the end of the case. For more details on fees, see the "General Overview Page" of our Personal Injury Section.
Q: What about expenses in the case, as it moves along - how much will they be, and who pays for those?
A: If I decide to accept your case, my Fee Agreement will make clear that we will advance all expenses for the case, and be repaid documented expenses at the conclusion of the case - in addition to my professional attorney's fee (in the Question immediately above). Expenses vary from case to case. In a typical auto accident case, they can amount to a few thousand dollars. In a more complicated medical malpractice or product liability case, then can run up to $10,000/00 to $20,000.00. Most expenses are incurred for expert witnesses (such as accident reconstruction experts, medical experts or vocational economic experts,) to review the facts of your case, prepare written opinions, attend depositions and, if the case goes to trial, appear in court on your behalf. They almost all bill on an hourly basis.
Q: My wife saw her Primary Care Physician eighteen months ago for what was then a small lump in her breast. Her doctor took some x-rays at that time and said it was just a small, benign cyst, which didn't require removal or further attention. In the past 3 months, the lump has grown larger, and we're told that my wife will need to have a mastectomy and undergo chemotherapy and radiation. Her first doctor claims this cancerous lump must be an entirely new one, different from the one he diagnosed as benign 18 months ago, but we suspect he's covering up for his own failure to originally see this problem for what it was. We don't think we have the emotional stamina and fortitude to go up against a powerful doctor backed by a huge hospital, and win. What should we do?
A: Believe in yourself, the facts, and your rights. If you think these people have beaten you, they have. But the truth is, you can hold them accountable. Do not be intimated by "Goliaths" - medical, commercial, insurance, or otherwise. They're counting on that, and you don't have to do it. You can win. For now, see our Section on Medical Malpractice.
Q: Does it cost anything to see you for a consult?
A: No. Your first consultation is free. Contact us and we can schedule a time to meet.
Q: Can you tell me what my case is worth, or what I would receive for damages?
A: No ethical or responsible attorney can tell you, upon accepting your case at the beginning, what that case may be worth at that particular point in time. Extensive written and oral discovery has to be conducted, investigations undertaken, and possibly, medical, vocational, and technical experts consulted. The case may last anywhere from a few months to perhaps 2 years. Several different factors affect the value of any given case. Also important in personal injury cases, a "medical end result" must first be reached before valuations of the case can be accurately made. The best any responsible personal injury lawyer can do, is to cite what similar cases in the past have produced in terms of jury awards and/or settlement values - and even these do not represent any "guarantee" that your case will reflect similar valuations. For a more detailed discussion on this point, visit the Motor Vehicle Accidents Section of our Personal Injury Page.