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Ballin & Associates, LLC Ballin & Associates, LLC
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Frequently Asked Questions

  • Choosing a Lawyer

    • Can I afford an attorney?
      We handle cases on a contingent fee basis based on a fee agreement form prescribed by the Supreme Judicial Court. Under such an agreement, the client owes no money up front. A fee for our services is only due if, and when, a claim is successfully resolved and we have collected money. On most cases, our firm receives the customary one-third of a settlement or award for our services. Again, this fee is only due after the money has been collected for the client. If a claim is unsuccessful and we fail to collect money, the client owes us nothing for our time and services.
    • Aren’t all lawyers the same? Why shouldn’t I hire the lawyer I know locally or in the department?
      In my experience there is a significant difference between the results we get for our injured police clients and those they obtain elsewhere. I occasionally receive telephone calls from injured police officers around the Commonwealth who first went with a local lawyer, a lawyer they knew in the department or a relative or someone with whom they were friendly. They often call because they are dissatisfied with the result or the progress on the case. In many of these cases, after speaking to the injured officer, it becomes apparent that the lawyer, although well meaning, did not select the correct strategy, did not plan ahead to deal with a lien situation, did not want to litigate the claim or undervalued the claim. In many of these cases we find that the lawyer collected too little money or paid over more money than was necessary to the employer when there was a lien. Because we have been doing this for so long, we have seen just about every scenario that an injured police officer could present to us. Further, there are numerous issues which come up time and time again, with which we have experience and for which we have already formulated a successful strategy. There is a lot of judgment and planning which goes into presenting an injured officer’s claim, to not only guarantee success, but to guarantee the officer collects the most money available for his or her injury and nets out the most money from a potential settlement or award. Finally, we are not just concerned with getting an end result for the injured officer. There are many considerations taken into account, including the manner in which the claim is presented, whether it will be worthwhile to the officer to make a claim, and how to present the claim to enhance and not hinder the officer’s reputation within the department. Since we have represented many officers around the Commonwealth on a variety of claims, we can always arrange for prospective clients to speak to police officers whom we have represented in the past on similar claims or in their locale.

      Legal Article - Finding Substantial Money
      Case Report - Officer collects $100,000 for injury on duty after two other attorneys gave up on his case
    • Do I even need an attorney?
      It has been our experience for more than 20 years that insurance companies will do everything possible to get out of paying a claim or being fair on a claim, even where it appears a clear cut case. The bottom line is that you should expect an insurance company to do anything it can, whenever it can, to get out of covering a claim altogether or to try and save money by paying substantially less than it is worth. The easiest way for an insurance company to do this is with a uniformed claimant who has no experience in valuing claims or handling such matters.
    • Should I just wait to see how long I’m out of work or how long it takes me to recover before contacting an attorney?
      Many of the claims we handle for injured police officers are successful because we were able to start our work early. There is no risk to the officer in starting early with us. If the claim later proves to not be worthwhile, or the officer later has second thoughts, we can close the file with no expense to the officer. However, there is often invaluable information to be collected, photographs to be secured, witness statements to be taken and investigation to be conducted early on which will guarantee a successful result. These opportunities are often lost with the passage of time. Additionally, in many cases the injured officer benefits from our knowledge of various medical specialists and we are able to advise them when their employer becomes difficult about permitting the officer to get further treatment. Further, when you’re involved in a vehicular accident or premises accident, the other party will often immediately call their insurance company. While you're recovering or seeking medical treatment, the insurance company is already investigating and amassing a claim file in order to defeat any potential claim you might make in the future.

      Legal Article - Evidence for Accident & Injury
  • Police Injury FAQs

    • Since I already received injury-on-duty wages or workers’ compensation benefits, am I prohibited from making a claim?
      The laws that provide local, state, campus and other officers with injury-on-duty benefits or workers’ compensation benefits protect their rights to make a claim for compensation against the third party who caused their injuries. For example, in the case of a police officer employed by a city or town, Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 41, section 111F, which mandates the payment of injury-on-duty wages by the city/town to the injured officer, specifically authorizes the injured officer to bring a claim for his/her injuries against the responsible third party.

      Legal Article - Seek More Compensation
      Legal Article - Take Advantage
      Case Report - Damaged Knee
    • Will it cost me anything to call or e-mail you to find out if I have a case?
      There is never any charge for us to evaluate your claim. Once you know what your rights are and how we view your claim, the decision is yours about whether or not to go forward. If you choose not to go forward, there is no charge for the time we took to consult with you about your potential case.
    • Is it even worth it for me to make a claim since my employer may have a lien against any money recovered?
      I have yet to conclude a case where I was not able to collect substantial money for the injured officer, even after the payment of attorneys’ fees, expenses and, at times, the liens held by their employers. I have always said that I work for injured police officers, not their employers. Additionally, whether the injured officer is employed by a city, town, the Commonwealth, a college or other employer, the law requires the employer to share in the attorneys’ fees.
    • Do I still have a claim if the injury on duty made a previous condition worse, such as a bad back or knee?
      Yes. The Massachusetts courts have long held that any third party who negligently causes an injury to another, which aggravates a pre-existing condition, is liable for the aggravation and all damages that result. The most dramatic application of this principle is a past client who suffered from multiple sclerosis. As the result of a routine rear-end collision with whiplash-type back and neck injuries, his multiple sclerosis, which had been in remission, flared up, entitling him to a $150,000 recovery. For most injured officers, a prior bad back, neck, knee or elbow that is made worse in an injury on duty will be entitled to significant compensation. The aggravating incident is usually treated as a new claim.

      Legal Article - Dislocated Shoulder
      Legal Article - Pre-existing Condition
    • Do I have to stay out of work in order to make a claim?
      This is a myth that has grown through the years, because some lawyers have unethically advised clients to stay out of work in order to inflate the value of their claims. You are not required to stay out of work; you can get full and fair compensation without being out of work. The decision about whether to stay out of work is a medical, not legal, decision. If you are able to return to work, it’s better for you to maintain good relations with your employer and earn your wages or salary. Deciding when, how and if you will return to work is best left to you and your doctors. Although we can advise you to do what is best for you medically, we understand that there are circumstances when an officer feels he or she simply cannot afford to stay out of work, despite a doctor’s advice.

      Legal Article - Collecting for On-Duty Injuries
      Case Report - Damaged Hearing
    • Can successful claims be made for injuries sustained when I fell after slipping on ice during work?
      Yes. Although these claims can be more challenging, we have had substantial success on these claims over the years. The key ingredients to successful claims will be written notice to the property owner within 30 days (all is not lost if the letter is not sent on time); the fall occurs on property not owned or maintained by your employer; and well documented reports and photographs of the scene. There are many factors such as improper dainage, dripping gutters, and foot and car traffic that make such ice accumulations dangerous. Further, there is often inadequate lighting and railings, which present a separate basis for such claims. In one case, an injured officer received $95,000 after slipping on freshly formed ice in a local parking lot while exiting his cruiser to collect Jimmy Fund canisters for the department.
    • Can I still make a valuable claim if I already returned to light or full duty?

      Yes. Claims made against the responsible parties who caused the officer's injuries are governed by the same area of law, tort law, which applies to all other citizens of Massachusetts. Nowhere in the applicable law is there a requirement that the injured person must stay out of work. This false impression has been created by less-than-scrupulous attorneys who coach their clients to stay out of work in order to inflate the value of their claims. All injury claims made by injured officers are valuable. Typically there is pain and suffering, scarring, or a loss of overtime and detail pay for some period of time. For many officers who return quickly to work, it may take months, and sometimes years, for the pain to completely resolve. Injured backs, necks and knees are often aggravated by long hours sitting in the cruiser or standing on details, which prolongs the time it takes to fully recover. In fact, many officers never fully recover from these injuries. We routinely collect compensation for injured officers when the injured officer has not missed a day of work. There is never a reason or any need to delay your return to work. In most claims we handle, the injured officer has returned to work or is clearly on the way back.

      Legal Article - Collecting for On-Duty Injuries

    • Will I have to go to court?
      In the great majority of cases, no lawsuit is ever filed in a court. In those cases where one is filed, over 95 percent are resolved before trial. Statistically there's a very small chance you'll ever go to court. Most cases are resolved by settlement with the insurance company or companies involved. Sometimes cases are submitted to arbitration for resolution. In these cases the two sides select a so-called neutral, usually a retired judge or experienced attorney, to make the best decision.

      It is also not unusual for cases to resolve through the process of mediation, which is non-binding. This is an option when both parties don't want to give up the power of negotiation to an arbitrator or are not yet prepared to present the case in court. It is a very effective mechanism to work towards a resolution through negotiations. It doesn't matter if a lawsuit has been filed. Again, an experienced neutral is selected, usually a retired judge or lawyer. In a classic mediation, the two sides meet in a conference room and each side gets time to present its strongest case and reasons for why it is right and the other is wrong. The mediator then separates the two sides into different rooms, and travels between the parties to hear more information or offer suggestions. The mediator will hold all communications from each party in strict confidence, while trying to bring the two sides closer together. In most instances, the mediator will successfully close the gap which separates the two parties, achieving a settlement which is acceptable to both sides. Like an arbitration, there's no judge, no court officer, no stenographer and no audience watching. It's very private. Our results in arbitration and mediation have ranged from $10,000 to $1.5 million.
    • If I was injured in an accident involving a stolen motor vehicle, how can I make a claim for compensation, since the vehicle’s i

      Over the years we have successfully collected money for police officers injured by or in the pursuit of stolen motor vehicles. Although it is true that the insurance company that insures the stolen vehicle can be expected to disclaim coverage, we can often make successful claims against motor vehicles that the injured officer owns or are in his or her household. When we make such claims, there is no effect on the annual insurance premium due for that vehicle.

      Legal Article - Stolen Motor Vehicle Injuries

    • Is it too late to make a claim?
      The relevant law is typically referred to as the statute of limitations. For most injuries on duty that develop into third party claims, three years from the date of incident is the applicable statute of limitations in Massachusetts. However, when there has been an injury involving a stolen car, a car used without authority, or a hit-and-run vehicle that was never identified, successful claims can be made in some cases six years or more after the accident. After the relevant statute of limitations period expires, a lawsuit cannot be filed in court. Another exception to the three-year rule occurs when the injured officer was exposed to some harm or danger without discovering that situation until after the three-year period expired. For example, if the officer is exposed without his knowledge to a toxic substance during an incident, the three-year statute of limitations may not begin to run until he learns of the exposure or should have learned of it. This is known as the discovery rule and in certain fact situations it may apply.
    • Won’t my chief or other superior officers be upset if I make a claim?

      In the more than 200 different departments where we have represented injured police officers, chiefs and superior officers have had no problems with our injured police officer making a claim. In fact, at any one time we represent a fair number of chiefs and superior officers around the Commonwealth. If a superior officer is upset about a claim being made, it would typically be because the officer is out injured on duty and there is a suspicion that the officer is not injured, not because the injured officer made a claim. There is no reason for a superior officer to make waves if you have a legitimate injury and have made a third party claim. Any money you receive from your employer for your injury-on-duty wages and / or medical expenses is often made part of your claim. At the end of the claim, this money is often reimbursed to your employer. Thus, your employer, and indirectly the department, benefits financially from you making the claim. In my experience from speaking to injured officers who first went with another attorney, chiefs get upset when an officer makes claims without notifying the chief, when the officer is malingering and not returning to work, or when the officer’s true motive is to gain a disability pension.

      Legal Article - Police Chief Objections

    • What if I don’t want to take away someone’s house or assets by making a claim?
      Except for one case we have handled, there has been insurance coverage which applies to our injured police officer client’s claims. With the exception of that one case, we have never pursued the assets of a potential defendant. In that one case, involving an attack by a dog on an officer, there was no insurance applicable, the defendant was a drug dealer, the home was believed to have been purchased with money from his trade and the attack by the dog on the officer was set up by the homeowner.
    • Can I make a claim if I am injured by another employee’s action or by some defect on my employer’s property?

      Whether you work for a city, town, the Commonwealth, or a college, if you have already received injury-on-duty wages, workers’ compensation benefits or reimbursed medical expenses from your employer or the employer’s insurance company, you are prevented from making such a claim. However, your spouse and children can make claims for loss of consortium and loss of society damages against your employer. These claims are made for the losses they suffer because of your injured state.

      Legal Article - Injured By Cruiser