April 30, 2023

By: Karen Piso Nadeau, Esquire

This past week I had several calls with potential clients for consultations about their accidents and whether they had a case. In discussing the accidents that these potential clients experienced, I realized that most individuals do not understand what a personal injury lawyer like me considers when deciding whether we will handle your case. No one really thinks about it until they are faced with injuries from an accident. In this blog, I will give you several examples from this past week of initial consultations with some people involved in accidents and what we discussed when reaching a decision about their case.

Trip and Fall Accident on Stairs

In one consultation, a professional woman tripped and fell on a staircase inside her work building and suffered a knee injury. She admitted that there was nothing wrong with the steps, and she just missed a step and tripped. This raised several issues. First, if the injured party is responsible for the accident, they have no personal injury case. Second, in a trip and fall, most cases require a defect or a dangerous condition that causes someone to fall. Third, the at fault party will need to be identified. Fourth, an injured party is prohibited from making a claim against their employer for negligence.

  1. If you are responsible for the accident, you have no personal injury case.

As to the first point, to recover on a personal injury case, the injured party can’t be the reason the accident occurred. For example, if you rear-end someone stopped in traffic or run a red light, you can’t pursue a personal injury case. In the example above, the woman consulting with me admitted she was rushing and missed a step. The steps were in good condition.

  1. In a trip and fall accident, a dangerous condition must be identified as the cause of your fall.

As to the second factor, in a trip in fall, you need to identify why you tripped and fell. Was it a broken step? Uneven walking surface? An obstacle left in your path in a store aisle? Ripped carpeting? A defective railing? The list goes on. Photographs of the dangerous condition that caused your fall is the best evidence. A photograph is worth a thousand words very often on these cases to be successful.

  1. In a trip and fall case, the person or business responsible for the unsafe condition will need to be identified.

The third consideration involves identifying the person or business legally responsible for the dangerous condition. Usually, with some information from our clients, an experienced personal injury lawyer will perform an investigation and identify the responsible parties if they are not easily identified.

  1. You legally are prohibited from suing your employer if injured while in the course of your employment.

The final point involves injuries at work. In a nutshell, you can’t sue your employer. If you are injured in the course of your employment, the law allows for worker’s compensation regardless of who is at fault. So, in this case, since the woman was working when she fell, she can’t blame her employer for her fall and pursue a personal injury case. Her remedy is to pursue worker’s compensation. Part of the reasoning behind this law is to preserve the relationships between employer and employee if an employee is injured on the job. It prevents an employee from blaming their employer for the accident.

In this consultation with the woman, we concluded that she had no personal injury case that was worthy of pursuit. She could pursue worker’s compensation for her lost wages and medical bills through her employer.

One Vehicle Collision into Guardrail

In another consultation this past week, a young man was driving on a highway, lost control and struck a guardrail. He totaled his vehicle and had serious injuries. He called to see if he had a personal injury case.

  1. In a car accident you need to identify another vehicle that is at fault for the accident to pursue a personal injury case as a general rule.

No other vehicle could be blamed or identified as playing a part in his accident. He admitted no other cars were involved, and he simply lost control of his vehicle. Since there was no blame with any other party, he had no personal injury case to pursue. He could pursue such things as no fault PIP benefits through his own motor vehicle insurance to help pay medical bills and lost wages and pursue his own collision coverage for his totaled vehicle.

Bicyclist Crossing Main Road

In a third consultation this past week, a bicyclist was crossing a main road with a stop sign controlling her, and the vehicles on the main road had a green light. She thought the cars were far enough away and chose to not wait and try to beat the vehicles. A vehicle approaching could not stop in time and struck her as she tried to bike across the street. Unfortunately, there were witnesses who told police that the bicyclist did not stop for her stop sign and was at fault and the car had the green light.

  1. A bicyclist must obey traffic signals and may be found at fault for their accident with a vehicle.

Given all these factors, we declined to take the case as the bicyclist would likely be found at fault for her own accident. The failure to obey the stop sign and witness observations would be too much to overcome in this case.

Rear-end Accident with No Injuries

Finally, in a fourth consultation, a driver was rear-ended and pushed into an intersection with a totaled vehicle. She stated that she was almost killed when she was pushed into the center of the intersection and other vehicles almost hit her. She was not injured at all and never had any medical treatment. In this consult, we had the at fault party: the driver that rear-ended her. However, there was no personal injury case to pursue. The driver was not injured.

  1. To pursue a claim for personal injury and receive compensation, you need physical

No injuries, no personal injury case. In consultations, we hear a lot of stories about what could have happened. Some people say: “I was almost killed” or “I almost had a head injury” or “I almost got run over and had a crushed leg”. The law does not recognize what could have occurred as an injury for purposes of determining if you have a personal injury case. You need a real injury with medical treatment.

In Summary, Personal Injury Lawyers Consider Who Caused the Accident & What Injuries Flow from the Accident.

In summarizing the most important factors a personal injury considers deciding if they will take your case, there are 2 main questions:

  1. Who or What caused the accident?
  2. What damages are the result of the accident?

In consulting with us at Nadeau Harkavy LLC, we explore these two questions with you. In a motor vehicle, pedestrian, scooter, motorcycle or bicycle accident, we review all the accident events to decide if you have a strong case against another party. We ask: who is responsible for the accident? In a trip and fall, we review why you fell and what caused you to trip to consider if you have a strong case. We ask ourselves: Who is negligent? What caused the accident? Who was not paying attention? Who failed to make repairs or keep a property safe? We also explore the injuries suffered including the physical harm, the medical treatment, diagnosis by any medical providers, and impact on your work and lost wages. We ask you to describe your injuries, the treatment received to date, future medical treatment planned, and any time missed from work. All of this helps us determine if you have a strong case for personal injury.

At Nadeau Harkavy LLC, we have over 60 years combined experience representing injured people and their families when they have been involved in a motor vehicle accident, trip and fall or other type of accident. We have recovered millions of dollars in compensation for our clients over the years to help them get on with their lives after suffering the consequences of a serious accident.  We make sure everything is done to protect your interests while you and your family concentrate on getting better. We handle all types of car accident cases including wrongful death and brain injury. We represent drivers, passengers, pedestrians, bicyclists, as well as other types of car accident cases such as scooter, motorcycle and skateboard cases. We also handle other types of injury cases such as trip and fall, slip and fall, dog bite, construction site, and catastrophic injury accidents. If you or a loved one has been harmed through no fault of your own, call us today for a free consultation about your legal rights at 617-674-7640.

Need a Personal Injury Lawyer in Massachusetts? Call Nadeau Harkavy LLC to speak to a lawyer today

Meet The Lawyers

With 60 years of combined experience serving injured victims in Massachusetts, our team has collaborated for nearly two decades, delivering a proven track record of outstanding results for clients. Guided by a philosophy of treating clients as we would our own family, we strive to ease our clients' journey from the initial phone call to case resolution. Committed to competing and fighting vigorously, we aim to hold insurance companies accountable to the fullest extent of the law. Our belief in close communication ensures the best possible outcomes, and our approachability makes us readily available to you. Entrust us with your case, allowing you to focus on your physical, emotional, and financial recovery.

Karen Piso Nadeau

Founding Partner

Karen Piso Nadeau

Leslie Harkavy

Founding Partner

Leslie Harkavy

Massachusetts Personal Injury Lawyers

Massachusetts Personal Injury Lawyers with over 60 Years Combined Experience Representing Those Injured in Accidents.