Federal Court Says Massachusetts Law Requires Prejudgment Interest on Entire $8,250,000 Award in Personal Injury Case, Not Just on Past Damages

When the negligence of an individual, business, or governmental entity causes physical harm or death to someone, the accident victim (or his or her family, if the victim perished) has a legal right to seek compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, and other damages through a Massachusetts personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit.

If the case proceeds to a jury trial and the plaintiff is successful, he or she may also be entitled to prejudgment interest on the damages award entered by the jury.

Facts of the Case

In a recent federal case, the plaintiffs obtained a jury verdict against the defendants, an equipment company and another business, awarding them $8,250,000 in damages for injuries suffered due to the defendants’ negligence. Thereafter, the plaintiffs filed a motion seeking 12% prejudgment interest on the total amount of the judgment from February 25, 2015, until the day the judgment was entered. The defendants opposed the motion, arguing that the portions of the jury’s verdict pertaining to future lost earnings and future medical and personal care were not subject to prejudgment interest.

The Court’s Decision

The United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts granted the plaintiffs’ motion. According to court records, the plaintiffs filed their personal injury lawsuit against the defendants on February 25, 2015. The jury awarded damages of $600,000 for future lost earnings, $5,000,000 for future medical and personal care, and $2,650,000 for loss of consortium, past lost earnings, and pain and suffering. The defendants did not dispute the plaintiffs’ right to prejudgment interest for loss of consortium, past lost earnings, or pain and suffering, but they argued that the plaintiffs were not entitled to prejudgment interest for the amounts awarded by the jury for future lost earnings, future medical care, or future personal care.

The district court judge agreed with the plaintiffs on the issue, holding that, under Massachusetts law, the plaintiffs were entitled to prejudgment interest on the entire award of $8,250,000. The court first noted that, although the case was litigated in federal court, the issue of whether and under what circumstances prejudgment interest was to be awarded was a matter of state law when the claims at issue were state-law claims, as was the case in the case at bar.

Under Massachusetts General Laws ch. 231, § 6B, the plaintiff in a successful case seeking pecuniary damages for personal injuries or consequential damages is entitled to interest “from the date of the commencement of the action.” The court noted that the highest court in Massachusetts, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, has found that the statute is “unequivocal” in requiring that prejudgment interest be added on the entire amount of the verdict. In so holding, the court noted that the purpose of interest is to compensate the plaintiff for the loss of use of the money owed to him or her by the defendant and that this amount was actually “owed” as of the date of the injury (although the statute only awards interest from the date of the filing of the complaint).

Speak to a Lawyer About a Personal Injury Case

As this case illustrates, the plaintiff in a personal injury case in entitled to prejudgment interest from the date that his or her action is filed. In this case, that interest was about $3,000,000. This is just one more reason to take legal action sooner, rather than later, if you or a loved one has been hurt by another’s failure to act in a reasonably prudent manner. To get started on your Cape Cod personal injury cases, call the Law Offices of John C. Manoog, III, today at 888-262-6664. Both the phone call and the initial consultation are free, so there is no reason to delay scheduling an appointment to discuss your case with an experienced injury attorney.

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