I have had occasion to represent Massachusetts residents who have been hurt of out-of-state and out-of-state residents who have been hurt in Massachusetts. Perhaps the second scenario is the easiest to deal with because if the case requires litigation, you bring the case in a Massachusetts court involving that out-of-state person. You could choose to do it a federal court because of diversity of citizenship or you could choose to bring a personal injury action in state court. In my prior blogs I have discussed the wisdom of foregoing the federal court option by bringing such a case in state court. I should point out that this seems to be the conventional wisdom as personal injury lawyers from all over the country tend to favor state courts over federal courts. This may surprise you but it is generally thought that state courts are a friendlier forum for accident/injury cases.
Let me talk about the first scenario and that is the Massachusetts resident who was injured out-of-state. In that instance, I will represent the Massachusetts resident. I can easily work with the client who lives here, work with his or her doctors, work with his or her other treating personnel and be available to those individuals. But there is, to be candid, a wrinkle. That is, if the out-of-state accident has to go into suit, it will almost always have to go in suit in the state where the accident was sustained. I have had exceptions for example where the tortfeasor, the person at fault, was also a Massachusetts resident as was my client. In that instance you can bring the case in Massachusetts. A specific state statute permits you to bring it in Massachusetts. But it is the rare scenario in an out-of-state accident where both parties (the plaintiff and the defendant) are Massachusetts residents. However, that scenario has occurred in my practice; for example, in a one car accident on the West Coast where the driver and the passenger, who was my client, were Massachusetts residents. I was able to bring the case in a Massachusetts court.
Let’s assume it was an accident on a property or an accident with a Pennsylvania resident with no ties to Massachusetts. I would never say with 100% certainty, but generally I am describing a scenario where that lawsuit would have to be brought, if at all, in the state where the person was injured. That is where the concern and sincerity of your attorney must come into play. What I tell my client is: “If this case were to go into suit, I would find an attorney in that out-of-state forum with whom I will work at no additional cost to you”. Rather, the fee will be reduced on my end, by the amount that is paid to that out-of-state attorney. That is more than symbolic. It will be conveyed to the out-of-state insurance company that you value your client first. Why? Because at a financial cost to the lawyer, the concerned Massachusetts lawyer is willing to have the case pursued fully in a court of another state. I will not allow myself to ignore the advantages of retaining local (to that jurisdiction) an attorney familiar with the legal culture, the rules of civil procedure, the rules of evidence of the state in which the case will be brought.
Bringing a lawsuit is a weapon and it is a weapon you do not want to lose. If your Massachusetts attorney is disinclined to do that -to affiliate with an out-of-state attorney -you lose that weapon. Make sure that you have an attorney in Massachusetts who is ready to put his/her money where his/her mouth is. Quite simply, your Massachusetts attorney should reduce his/her fee by the amount that will be needed to pay a local attorney. For example, an Ohio attorney will litigate an Ohio accident in an Ohio court. You, the client, would pay the same fee as if you had one attorney. The fee is typically one-third, but now it will be one-third in total, to be divided by your Massachusetts and Ohio attorneys, and it is the best way that you can be represented.
The attorneys serve the entire state of Massachusetts in addition to affiliating with lawyers in other states to handle cases outside of Massachusetts.
Boston Attorneys Win Highest Injury Verdict in Massachusetts in 2011 & 2012.