Court Pleadings in Massachusetts Injury Cases

Pleadings in Massachusetts courts. Good afternoon. My name is Neil Burns. I’m a lawyer and I’ve been asked to talk a little bit today about pleadings in courts in Massachusetts and along with my partner, Roshan Jain, we appear in many, if not all of the courts in Massachusetts on a regular basis.  So today I want to talk about them and to break it down to a few simple concepts. 

Really three.  District Court, Superior Court, and Small Claims Court. We’ll start with Small Claims Court. Small Claims Court is for cases under $7,500. It’s designed for you to do it on your own. Do it on your own there. If you want to sue someone, the value of the case is $7, 500 or property damage in a motor vehicle case.

You can go there. You can file suit. It’s a nominal fee.  The courts are set up for the clerk magistrates to take your testimony and make a decision or mediate the case and get it done. You do not need a lawyer. You don’t need to pay a lawyer. You can do that. What we do is in the district court and superior court, we try to file in the superior court because you get a lot more attention from judges. You get judges of fewer cases. It’s a higher value to those cases. There’s rules about what the values can be and things of that nature.  

But I’ll talk about district court for a moment. District court is, there’s one in every district in Massachusetts. The judges there deal with civil and criminal matters on a regular basis. Typically a judge will deal with both. They’re not on the same day, same week, same rotation. They’re very busy. They tend to be great judges, but they’re busy. They’ve got a lot of cases and they don’t necessarily have the time to focus on a case if it’s a bigger case, a more important case, a case where there might be motions, things like that.

So we tend to file our cases in Superior Court.  There’s a higher threshold for dollar value to the cases.  The judges have a little more time to focus. There’s a little more attention to the law and the facts when you file your case.  And that’s where we tend to file our cases. The rules of civil procedure are similar in all courts. The courts have their own rules of court. But the rules of civil procedure are where many private litigants, pro se litigants, and many attorneys foul up, screw up, mess up. We get a lot of legal law practice cases from those screw ups.  The rules are important. They’re significant. They’re hard to follow if you don’t do it every day if you’re not a lawyer.  

We’ve had cases where we’ve been opposed by people who are brilliant, they think they can do it on their own, and they can’t. It’s just hard to follow the rules of procedure. There’s a lot of them. They change and each court has different rules. Each level of court has different rules.

And if you go into the probate courts, which we haven’t really talked about, they have their own set of rules.  Same thing with the housing court. They have their own set of rules. So you really need, in my opinion, my strong opinion, to get a lawyer if you’re filing a suit in anything other than  small claims court, because the rules are complicated.

The judges expect you to follow the rules. The opposing side, especially if it’s an insurance defense attorney, is in court every day, or has many cases in court. They know what they’re doing. They will beat you on the rules if you try to do it on your own.  If you have a question on a case, a legal malpractice case, a personal injury case, call Burns and Jain.

We’re effective. We’re aggressive and we care about you. It’s a free initial consultation, 617-227-7423. Thank you.