Appeals Court of Massachusetts Rules that a Plaintiff can Recover Damages for Pain and Suffering Without Introducing Medical Bills Into Evidence

In Massachusetts, to recover damages for pain and suffering in a personal injury case in which the alleged injuries arose out of the ownership or operation of a motor vehicle a plaintiff must prove medical costs incurred in treating his or her injuries were in excess of $2,000.00. Recently, in Chenell v. Central Wheelchair & Van Transportation, Inc., the Appeals Court of Massachusetts ruled that a plaintiff is not required to submit medical bills into evidence to prove medical costs exceeded the $2,000.00 threshold. If you sustained injuries in a car accident, you should seek the assistance of a skilled Massachusetts personal injury attorney to assist you in recovering the full amount of compensation you are owed.

Factual Background

Allegedly, Plaintiff used an electric wheelchair and was a passenger in a wheelchair accessible van owned by Defendants. The van reportedly stopped abruptly, causing Plaintiff to fall out of her wheelchair and the wheelchair to fall on top of Plaintiff. Plaintiff sued Defendants for personal injuries and sought damages for pain and suffering. During the trial, Plaintiff presented evidence of medical treatment for injuries she sustained in the incident, including medical records, but did not introduce any medical bills. Additionally, Plaintiff introduced the report of an orthopedic expert who stated within a reasonable degree of medical certainty that Plaintiff suffered an acute injury to her cervical and lumbosacral spine due to the incident. Following the trial, Defendants filed a motion for a directed verdict on the grounds that Plaintiff did not prove the cost of her medical treatment, which the court granted. Plaintiff appealed. The Appellate Division affirmed the trial court ruling, and Plaintiff appealed to the Court of Appeals of Massachusetts.

Ruling of the Appeals Court of Massachusetts

On appeal, the Appeals Court of Massachusetts reversed the trial court ruling. The court stated that the main issue at trial was whether Plaintiff produced adequate evidence to support the assertion that the cost of her reasonable and necessary medical treatment exceeded $2,000.00. The court held that while it was not prudent of Plaintiff to refrain from producing actual medical bills it did not preclude her from recovering damages for pain and suffering. Rather, the court stated that under Massachusetts law, the trier of fact could conclude based on medical records alone whether a plaintiff’s medical expenses met the $2,000.00 threshold. Here, the court found that Plaintiff submitted sufficient evidence of her medical treatment for a jury to find her medical costs exceeded $2,000.00. As such, the court reversed the trial court ruling and remanded the case for a new trial.

Confer with an Experienced Massachusetts Personal Injury Attorney

If you sustained personal injuries due to the negligence of an entity or person, you should be entitled to damages. What compensation you recover depends on the evidence set forth regarding what injuries you sustained and what costs you incurred due to those injuries. It is important to retain an experienced personal injury attorney to assist you in pursuing your claim, to ensure you recover the maximum amount of damages you are owed. The personal injury attorneys of the Law Office of James K. Meehan will analyze the facts of your case and work diligently to help you obtain a favorable result.   Contact us at 508-822-6600 or via our online form for a free consultation.

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