Pierce & Mandell, P.C.

11 Beacon Street, Suite 800
Boston, Massachusetts 02108-3002

Phone: (617) 720-2444
Fax: (617) 720-3693

Insurance Defense and Litigation

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FIRM ACHIEVES DEFENSE VERDICT

Joseph Coupal - Monday, January 11, 2016

On January 8, 2016, an Essex County (Newburyport)  jury returned a defense verdict in favor of Pierce & Mandell’s client on plaintiff’s significant personal injury claim.  Bob Pierce tried the case, and Scott Zanolli assisted.

The plaintiff in the case claimed that she fell on the walkway of a condominium complex due to untreated snow and ice.   Plaintiff brought claims against the condominium trust, the condominium manager, and Pierce & Mandell’s client, the snow removal contractor.  The plaintiff claimed that she suffered a herniated disc in her back as a result of the fall.  She underwent surgery about one month after the accident, and the surgery was allegedly botched, causing the plaintiff to suffer a torn aortic artery.   The plaintiff was airlifted to Mass General Hospital, where she underwent emergency life-saving surgery.

Under Massachusetts law, a defendant is liable for all foreseeable consequences of its negligence, including a surgeon’s malpractice.   Thus, if the plaintiff succeeded at trial, Pierce & Mandell’s client would have been liable for not only the herniated disc, but the injuries arising out of the claimed medical malpractice.   The plaintiff’s medical bills approached $400,000, and the plaintiff was permanently disabled after the accident.  Plaintiff’s initial demand for settlement was $5 Million.

On the first day of trial, Bob Pierce convinced the court that the liability aspects of the trial should be bifurcated from the damages portion of the case.  This ruling prohibited the plaintiff from offering evidence of her significant injuries during the liability trial.

After a several day trial on liability, the jury ruled that Pierce & Mandell’s client was not negligent, resulting in a  complete victory for Pierce & Mandell and its client.

Bob Pierce has now achieved complete victories for his clients in his last 6 jury trials.   Overall, Bob has achieved complete victory for his clients in over 85% of the cases he has tried to conclusion.

Interest On Tort Judgments for Personal Injury and Property Damage Claims - Boston, MA

Joseph Coupal - Monday, March 11, 2013
By: Thomas E. Kenney

In Massachusetts, interest on tort cases is governed by two statutes, one providing for pre-judgment interest, and one governing post-judgment interest.  G.L. c. 231, § 6B provides that where a plaintiff recovers in a personal injury claim or property damage claim, the clerk shall automatically add interest to the recovery in the amount of twelve percent per annum for the period from the date of filing the complaint until the date of judgment.  This is simple interest, with no compounding.  Thus, by way of example, if the plaintiff filed suit on January 1, 2012 and recovered a jury verdict in the amount of $100,000 on December 31, 2012, the clerk would automatically add $12,000 to the award for pre-judgment interest, and enter judgment in the amount of $112,000 plus any litigation costs and/or attorneys fees awarded.

G.L. c. 235, § 8 provides that interest on judgments shall run at the same rate as pre-judgment interest accrued on the judgment.  Thus, for personal injury and property damage claims post-judgment interest runs at the rate of twelve percent annum, with no compounding.  In other words, the interest runs post judgment at the rate of one percent (1 %) per month of the total amount of the judgment.  Because the judgment amount includes pre-judgment interest, and post-judgment interest is calculated on the entirety of the judgment, post-judgment interest includes interest on interest – that is interest on the pre-judgment interest awarded.  In addition, to the extent that the judgment includes amounts awarded for litigation costs and attorneys fees, post-judgment interest accrues on those amounts at the same rate.  Thus, under the example in the prior paragraph, assuming a jury verdict of $100,000, pre-judgment interest of $12,000, and litigation costs of $8,000, the clerk would enter a judgment in the amount of $120,000.  Post-judgment interest would run on the entire $120,000 judgment at the rate of twelve percent per annum, or $1,200 per month.      

The litigation attorneys at Pierce & Mandell have a wealth of experience in all facets of tort litigation, including personal injury cases and property damage cases.  Please contact Bob Pierce at 617-720-2444 if you have any questions, or would like to discuss a potential tort litigation matter.

Dennis M. Lindgren named "Rising Star" by Super Lawyers 2012

Joseph Coupal - Wednesday, January 02, 2013

Pierce & Mandell, P.C. congratulates our newest partner, Dennis M. Lindgren, on being named a "Rising Star," in the practice of Plaintiff's Personal Injury law by Super Lawyers 2012, a joint publication of Boston Magazine and Reuters.

Rising Stars are those attorneys under the age of 40 who have been nominated by peers for excellence in their chosen practice area.  Candidates are then evaluated utilizing twelve indicators of peer recognition and professional achievement.  

No more than 3% of eligible lawyers in Massachusetts are named to the Rising Star list each year.  We are proud that Dennis has been inducted into this elite group for the second straight year.

For assistance with your potential personal injury claims, contact Pierce & Mandell, P.C. or Dennis M. Lindgren.

Out of State Driver’s Damages not Offset by Personal Injury Protection

Joseph Coupal - Tuesday, December 18, 2012

In Massachusetts, every insured driver carries their own personal injury protection coverage ("PIP") which, regardless of fault, will cover some portion of that person's medical bills and lost wages (anywhere between $2,000.00 and $8,000.00, depending upon the circumstances). When those drivers are injured by the negligence of another driver, and seek compensation through a personal injury claim, defendant drivers and their insurance companies have typically relied upon what is known as a “PIP offset”, as provided in Massachusetts General Laws chapter 90, §34M, which exempts a defendant from tort liability to the extent of PIP benefits available to an injured plaintiff. 

In practice, the PIP offset allows the defendant's insurer to deduct from a verdict any moneys spent by the plaintiff's PIP carrier on his or her behalf.  For example, if a plaintiff was awarded $50,000.00 in a motor vehicle personal injury case, but received $8,000.00 in PIP benefits, the defendant's insurer would be entitled to an offset (or credit) of $8,000.00, and would only be liable to the plaintiff for $42,000.00 (excluding interest).  Even where a plaintiff attempts to settle their claims before initiating litigation, insurance companies often invoke the PIP offset to justify what otherwise might be an unreasonably low offer.  PIP offsets are therefore just one of many traps awaiting the unwary who are unfamiliar with motor vehicle and personal injury litigation, and the claims settlement process.

Recently, however, Massachusetts courts have begun to limit the scope of the PIP offset.  According to a recent Appellate Division ruling, an out of state motorist whose insurance did not have PIP benefits, but whose negligence caused injury to another driver in Massachusetts, was not entitled to have the injury victim’s damages offset by the amount of PIP benefits the victim received from his own insurer.  See DiStefano v. Jovet, Lawyers Weekly No. 13-060-12. 

This is an important development, especially in the Northeast where automobile travel is common between a large number of states, all with their own unique insurance laws.  Frequently out of state drivers are involved in motor vehicle accidents here in Massachusetts, and in such instances, those who do not carry PIP coverage may not be entitled to the offset.  For the moment, whether the Appellate Division's recent opinion in DiStefano results in out of state insurers ending their practice of invoking the PIP offset remains to be seen.  Regardless, an informed claimant with knowledgeable counsel needs to be prepared to confront these, and other intricacies of the personal injury claims settlement process.

If you have been involved in an accident where PIP coverage is in question, contact Pierce and Mandell, P.C.

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