Consumer Law, Contracts and Insurance Coverage Disputes
Fortunately, Massachusetts has one of the strongest consumer protection statutes in the nation. Consumers doing business here enjoy protection from a variety of business practices that are considered anti-consumer. These practices are legally known as "Unfair or Deceptive Trade Practices." Our firm has many years of successful experience in representing consumers - and businesses too - who are the victims of such unfair or deceptive trade practices. When reading this section, contact us for a free consultation if you feel you have a consumer law issue you would like to discuss.
This area of law is governed by Massachusetts General Laws c. 93A, et. seq. There are also federal laws and regulations that govern unfair and deceptive trade practices, and we can explain these in detail to you should you contact us, but for immediate purposes here, we will discuss M.G.L. c. 93A only, and briefly. There are two principal sections of Chapter 93A - one that protects consumers in business transactions - Section 9 - and one that protects businesses in their transactions with other businesses - Section 11. The chief differences between the two have to do with procedural issues of "presentment" - how a claim and demand for relief must be made - and evidentiary standards that must be met - how much proof a claimant must produce to prevail in a case.
As to presentment requirements, consumers filing under Section 9 of Chapter 93A must send a 30-day "Demand Letter" to the business they are claiming against, as a jurisdictional prerequisite to filing of suit in court. This is designed to give the respondent the opportunity to remedy the claimed violation(s). Failure to deliver this demand letter results in dismissal of the 93A claim, if suit is later filed in court. This demand letter is not required to be sent where the case involves a business-to-business transaction under Section 11 of Chapter 93A. As to evidentiary requirements, generally speaking, a business making a demand and claim under Section 11 of Chapter 93A must meet a higher burden of proof to establish a Chapter 93A violation, than a consumer is required to under Section 9.
Several different types of transactions are covered under Chapter 93A. Some, but not all, include the following:
- Debt collection
- Consumer credit reporting
- False advertising and "Bait & Switch" schemes
- Automobile lemon law
- Sales of motor vehicles (not involving "lemon" defects)
- Retail installment agreements
- Door-to-door sales and home improvement contracts
- Landlord-tenant disputes
- Health club services contracts
- Insurance sales and insurance contracts (also governed by M.G.L. Chapter 176D)
One of the reasons the law in Massachusetts is so favorable for consumers, are the damages that are available under this law. Under certain circumstances, consumers who have been the victims of such unfair and deceptive trade practices can be awarded double to treble (double to triple, in English) damages and attorneys' fees for adjudicated violations of Chapter 93A. There are a variety of legal factors that determine whether or not a claimant will be awarded such damages and fees, and we stress that not everyone is entitled to such damages. The legal determination will depend upon a variety of factors. If you feel you or someone you know has been the victim of an unfair or deceptive trade practice in Massachusetts, contact us for a free consultation. We will be happy to assist you.
When I fell in that supermarket and knew I had broken my leg, one of the first things that went through my mind was, "How am I ever going to take on a company this size and receive any decent compensation for what's happened to me?" Because of you, I received a sizable settlement payment for my injury. I hope more people learn about the kind of legal talent you offer.
The act of placing my father in a nursing home was probably the most painful decision I've ever had to face. You took our case on, and you and your associates fought the owners of this business, tooth and nail. You never gave up. As a result, my father's estate was paid considerable money for his pain and suffering.
My whole life changed on a dark day in December 1989, when I was hit and pinned against a wall by a commercial delivery truck. I was almost DOA at the hospital Emergency Room. Because of my injuries, I cannot work full-time ever again. Because of you and your colleagues' work, I received a large settlement.
My mother had suffered a heart attack in the fall, and the hospital doctors completely missed this in her vital signs and EKG. My mother died the next day, and she didn't have to. But because of your diligence and talent, her estate received a very large settlement payment, along with revised ER protocols to prevent such errors in the future. For my mother and future patients, we thank you for what you did for her.
When our son was hit by a car in a crosswalk, our one and only concern was his recovery and well-being. We had no idea what we were facing: A maze of obstacles put up in our path by the insurance company for the driver who hit our son - denying responsibility for the accident. If we hadn't had you by our side, we feel we would have been eaten alive by this insurance company's lawyers. You guided us from day one, and you never rested.
You know what impressed me most about you (aside from your legal talent)? I know that my injuries from my car accident weren't the worst that you had in front of you - my case was far from the biggest case in your office - but you represented me like my case was worth a million dollars. I can't thank you enough.
There are two things that I will never forget about my car accident: The sound of screeching tires just before my car was hit by the other driver, and, much later, the sound of you telling me that the entire ordeal was over with, and that I was going to receive just compensation for my injuries. The rest, I want to forget - but I'll never forget you and what you did for me.
Choosing to hire William D Kickham was one of the best decisions I could have made in recent years. He was very prompt, to the point and delivered on his promises. He is a true professional and I couldn't be happier with his results. I will continue recommended his services to anyone in need of legal guidance.