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In Massachusetts, people injured in the workplace are generally precluded from filing negligence actions against their employers pursuant to the Workers’ Compensation Act. They may be able to seek damages from other parties who caused or contributed to their harm, though, as long as they have not otherwise waived the right to recover damages. Sometimes, however, it is not clear whether such a waiver occurred. In a recent opinion, a Massachusetts court analyzed whether a release issued in a workers’ compensation claim barred a plaintiff from pursuing damages in a negligence action, in a matter in which the plaintiff argued that collateral estoppel did not apply. If you sustained injuries while working, you might be able to recover damages, and you should meet with an experienced Massachusetts personal injury attorney about your potential claims.

The Defendant’s Claims

It is reported that the plaintiff was involved in a motor vehicle collision with a driver insured by the defendant. The plaintiff, who was working at the time of the collision, suffered substantial injuries. As such, he received workers’ compensation benefits from his employer’s insurer, who secured a lien against any compensation recovered from those at fault. Two years later, the plaintiff entered into a settlement agreement with the defendant, which stated that the defendant would pay the plaintiff $25,000 to resolve his claims against the insured driver, half of which would satisfy the workers’ compensation insurer’s lien and the other half of which would go to the plaintiff.

Allegedly, the release stated the plaintiff waived any and all claims against the defendant or the insured driver. The plaintiff then filed a negligence lawsuit against the insured driver, arguing that the agreement did not bar his action. The defendant moved for summary judgment, which the court granted, and the plaintiff appealed. Continue reading →

Fast food restaurants handle a high number of customers per day, and it is not uncommon for there to be debris or spills on their floors. It seems inevitable, then, that people would be injured in slip and fall accidents in their establishments. In many instances, a person injured in an accident at a business will seek damages from the owner. In a recent Massachusetts opinion, the court discussed what a party alleging liability for a slip and fall accident at a fast-food restaurant must prove to recover damages. If you were injured in a fall, it is advisable to speak to a trusted Massachusetts personal injury lawyer to evaluate what claims you may be able to pursue.

The Plaintiff’s Fall

It is alleged that the plaintiff went to eat lunch at the defendant fast food restaurant. She ordered her food, received her order, and sat down. She then proceeded to walk to the condiment counter while using a cane when she slipped in a puddle of an identified liquid which caused her to slip and fall. The liquid soaked through her clothes, but she did not know what kind of substance it was or how long it had been on the floor.

The plaintiff filed a personal injury lawsuit against the defendant, alleging it negligently failed to maintain the property in a safe condition. The defendant argued the plaintiff could not prove it breached a duty owed to her and filed a motion for summary judgment, which the court ultimately denied. Continue reading →

Generally, people who are injured at work are barred from pursuing claims against their employer by state workers’ compensation laws. There are some exceptions, though, that will allow parties to file lawsuits alleging their employers negligently caused them to suffer harm and should be held accountable for their losses, such as the Federal Employer’s Liability Act (FELA). Recently, a Massachusetts court discussed what constitutes sufficient evidence to demonstrate an employer acted negligently in violation of FELA in a case in which the plaintiff was injured in a fall. If you were hurt at work, you could be owed damages, and it is prudent to speak with a seasoned Massachusetts personal injury attorney about your options for seeking compensation.

The Plaintiff’s Harm

Reportedly, the plaintiff worked for the defendant, a railway company. When he was working one day, he slipped and fell down steps next to a locomotive, sustaining injuries. He advised other workers that he slipped on oil. He subsequently filed a lawsuit, alleging that in allowing oil to remain on the steps, the defendant negligently failed to maintain a safe work environment in violation of FELA. A trial was held, and the jury found in favor of the plaintiff, awarding him substantial damages. The defendant moved for a new trial, and in support of his motion, he argued that the verdict was against the weight of the evidence.

Evidence Sufficient to Establish an Employer’s Negligence

The court denied the defendant’s motion. Under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, the court may overturn a jury verdict and order a new trial if it finds that the verdict is against the weight of the credible evidence, violates the law, or otherwise equals a miscarriage of justice. A district court’s power to grant a motion for a new trial is much broader than the authority to grant a judgment as a matter of law. Continue reading →

In many personal injury matters involving a defective product, it is not immediately evident to the injured party who is ultimately responsible for the harm suffered. Thus, in some cases, the defendant will join another party as an additional defendant based on information unknown to the plaintiff and will argue that the additional defendant is liable for the plaintiff’s injuries. Recently, a Massachusetts court issued an opinion discussing pleadings involving additional defendants in a case involving defective machinery in which the parties filed opposing motions. If you were hurt by a dangerous product, it is prudent to meet with a skillful Massachusetts personal injury attorney regarding your potential claims.

The Plaintiff’s Harm and Defendant’s Claims

The plaintiff was working at a construction site when he was injured by a defective pile driver. He filed a lawsuit against the construction company and the rental company that owned the pile driver. The rental company then sued the companies that manufactured and sold the pile driver, claiming that they were ultimately responsible for the plaintiff’s harm. The manufacturer moved for a judgment on the pleadings while the rental company sought leave to amend the complaint to join to assert additional facts and allegations.

Leave to Amend a Complaint to Join

The court denied the manufacturer’s motion but granted it the right to seek similar relief in the future and granted the rental company’s request for leave to amend the complaint in part. With regards to the rental company’s proposed contribution claim, the court explained that despite the assertion that such a claim did not require the manufacturer to defend against a new theory of liability, whether the amendment was prejudicial was not the focal point. Continue reading →

Car accidents often cause extensive injuries and damages. While injured parties can seek compensation from the drivers that cause collisions, they will often also file claims directly with the motorists’ insurers. Insurers have a duty to promptly investigate claims and, if appropriate, make reasonable settlement offers, and if they do not, injured parties can pursue claims against them as well. Typically, such claims must be litigated after the claims against the negligent driver are resolved, however, as explained in a recent opinion issued by a Massachusetts court.  If you were hurt in a crash caused by a reckless driver, you should meet with a Massachusetts personal injury attorney to evaluate your possible causes of action.

The Facts of the Case

Reportedly, the plaintiffs were driving on a highway in New Hampshire when they were hit by a car driven by the defendant driver. Both plaintiffs suffered serious injuries. The police who investigated the accident determined that the defendant driver was at fault and cited him for driving under the influence of alcohol. The plaintiffs then filed a claim with the defendant insurer, the company that insured the defendant driver.

Allegedly, although the plaintiffs provided the defendant insurer with a comprehensive demand package, it failed to make an offer. Thus, the plaintiffs filed a lawsuit, asserting negligence claims against the defendant driver and unfair settlement practice claims against the defendant insurer. The defendant insurer then moved to sever and stay the plaintiff’s claims against it. Continue reading →

In many instances, a person injured by a harmful product will live in a different state than the company that manufactured the product. As such, if the injured party decides to file a lawsuit against the manufacturer for damages, it may be able to file the case in federal court. There are multiple factors that must be assessed when evaluating fault in a product liability case between parties from different jurisdictions, though, including which state’s laws ultimately apply. In a recent opinion, a federal court situated in Massachusetts discussed the process a court will undergo to determine which state’s laws govern the plaintiff’s claims in a case in which the plaintiff suffered harm due to a dangerous medical device. If you were injured by a defective product, it is advisable to speak to a knowledgeable Massachusetts personal injury attorney to determine what claims you may be able to pursue.

The Plaintiff’s Injuries

It is reported that the plaintiff suffered from a hernia that required surgical repair. During the surgery, mesh developed by the defendant was inserted into the plaintiff’s abdomen. The mesh ultimately deteriorated, causing her to suffer significant internal injuries. She then filed a lawsuit against the defendant, alleging multiple causes of action, including negligence, strict liability for defective manufacturing and defective design, negligent misrepresentation, and fraudulent concealment. As the plaintiff lived in Nebraska and the defendant’s principal place of business was in Massachusetts, the case was filed in a Massachusetts federal court. The defendant then filed a motion asking the court to dismiss the plaintiff’s claims.

Choice of Law Analysis in Federal Cases

Prior to assessing whether the plaintiff’s claims were sufficient to withstand the defendant’s motion to dismiss, the court explained it must conduct a choice of law analysis to determine what state’s laws applied to the plaintiff’s claims. In cases pursued in federal court on the basis of diversity jurisdiction, the court must conduct an analysis applying the choice of law rules of the forum state to evaluate which laws apply. Continue reading →

Property owners generally have a duty to protect people that lawfully enter their buildings from encountering dangerous conditions. If they fail to do so, and people suffer harm as a result, they can be held liable for damages in a civil lawsuit. The duty to protect business invitees from harm does not extend to insurers of the property, however, as discussed in a recent opinion issued in a Massachusetts premises liability matter. If you suffered injuries on another party’s property, you might be owed compensation, and you should speak to a Massachusetts personal injury attorney as soon as possible.

The Plaintiff’s Harm

Allegedly, the plaintiff worked as a plumber. When he was servicing a boiler at a property, he fell into a sump hole in the basement that contained scalding water. When the boiler was installed in 2001, pipes were connected to the drain valves of the boiler to allow the sump to collect water drained away from the boiler. Following his accident, the plaintiff filed a lawsuit naming the companies that provided insurance and reinsurance for the premises and the adjuster who worked for the insurance company that performed an inspection of the boiler in 2015 as defendants.

It is reported that, essentially, the plaintiff alleged that the defendants had a duty to identify the risks posed by the open sump as part of the inspection. The defendants moved for summary judgment, and the trial court ruled in their favor. The plaintiff appealed, and on appeal, the trial court ruling was affirmed. Continue reading →

Businesses operated by agents of the federal government are subject to many of the same duties as non-public corporations. For example, if a person suffers harm due to a slip and fall accident at a government facility, the person can pursue premises liability claims against the federal government. In a recent Massachusetts opinion, the court explained what a plaintiff must prove to establish the government’s liability for harm caused by a slip and fall accident. If you were hurt by a dangerous condition on someone else’s property, it is wise to confer with a skillful Massachusetts personal injury attorney to assess your options.

The Plaintiff’s Fall

It is reported that the plaintiff fell while visiting the post office on a rainy day. She suffered bodily injuries and subsequently filed a premises liability claim against the defendant pursuant to the Federal Tort Claims Act (the Act). Following discovery, the defendant moved for summary judgment. After reviewing the evidence, the court denied the defendant’s motion.

Proving Premises Liability Claims Against the Federal Government

Under the Act, the federal government is liable in tort to the same extent and manner as a private person under similar circumstances. Thus, as the plaintiff’s accident occurred in Massachusetts, she had to prove the defendant acted negligently under Massachusetts law. Continue reading →

People who are unable to work due to a mental or physical illness may be able to recover Social Security Disability benefits. Whether benefits are granted hinges on whether the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration deems the applicant disabled. In some instances, there will be multiple conflicting sources of information regarding a person’s ability to work. In a recent opinion, a Massachusetts court discussed how such conflicts should be resolved. If you are unable to work due to a mental or physical ailment, you should meet with a Massachusetts Social Security Disability attorney to discuss whether you may be eligible for benefits.

The Plaintiff’s Illnesses and Disability Determination

It is alleged that the claimant suffers from multiple ailments, including depression and back pain, that rendered her unable to work. Before she became disabled, she worked as a respiratory therapist. She applied for Social Security Disability benefits, but the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration determined that she was not disabled and denied her claim. She appealed, arguing in part that the administrative law judge erred in neglecting to resolve a conflict between occupational evidence provided by the vocational expert and information in the Dictionary of Occupational Titles.

Resolving Conflicts in Records Pertaining to a Claimant’s Disability

Under the applicable standard, in order to determine that a claimant is not disabled under the Social Security Act, the Commissioner must establish that there is work that the plaintiff can perform with his or her residual functional capacity and that the work exists in significant numbers in the national economy. Continue reading →

Tragic accidents that cost people their lives sadly occur frequently throughout Massachusetts. In many instances, such incidents are caused by dangerous conditions the deceased party encountered on another person’s property. Simply because an unsafe condition exists in close proximity to where a person died, however, does not mean the condition caused the fatal harm. In a recent Massachusetts ruling in a case arising out of a fatal fall down a set of stairs, a court discussed what evidence is needed to prove causation in negligence claims. If you suffered the loss of a loved one due to someone else’s carelessness, it is advisable to speak to a seasoned Massachusetts personal injury attorney regarding your possible claims.

The Decedent’s Harm

Allegedly, the plaintiff’s decedent attended a party at a property owned by the defendant. At one point during the evening, he fell down the stairs into the partially finished basement. No one witnessed his fall, and he suffered extensive brain damage and was unable to communicate. He died one week later. The plaintiff filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the defendant, arguing the defendant’s negligent failure to maintain the steps in a proper condition caused the decedent’s death. The defendant filed a motion for summary judgment, arguing that the plaintiff failed to prove the element of causation. The court agreed and granted the defendant’s motion, after which the plaintiff appealed.

Proving Causation in Negligence Cases

Under Massachusetts law, a plaintiff alleging negligence hast to prove that the defendant breached the duty to exercise reasonable care, the plaintiff sustained an actual loss, and the loss was caused by the defendant’s breach. Causation is a critical element of the plaintiff’s burden of proof. In the subject case, however, the plaintiff’s sole proof that the stairs were defective and that the defect caused the decedent’s fall was an opinion letter from an expert that was not verified. Continue reading →