In Massachusetts personal injury cases, the injured party has the burden of proof in showing that he or she was injured as a result of someone else’s negligent or reckless actions. The jury must believe by a preponderance of the evidence, or that it was more likely than not, that the defendant had a duty toward the injured person, that the defendant failed in his or her duty to the injured person, that the injuries alleged were the result of the failure, and that quantifiable damages were incurred. Proof includes the testimony of witnesses, the testimony and reports of medical experts, and documents that help support the claim like maintenance records, phone logs, or receipts for services.
Litigating a case involves several steps. There are many avenues of legal recourse, and one may provide greater options for recovery than another. After filing suit, exchanging evidence, and taking depositions, the injured party may entertain offers of settlement, negotiated on his or her behalf by experienced counsel. If no settlement is offered or it is unsatisfactory, the injured person’s counsel prepares for trial to meet the burden of proof placed by law. During the trial, counsel for the injured person must keep in mind what must be shown to satisfy the legal standards for that particular injury while presenting proof to the jury. The attorney must also stay alert during trial to ensure that the injured person is receiving a fair trial. If the trial results in an unfavorable verdict or award as a result of an unfair ruling made during trial, the injured person has the ability to correct the ruling through the Commonwealth’s appellate court system.
In an unpublished case, Hixon v. Glynn, the decedent passenger’s estate attempted to appeal a verdict issued in favor of the driver of the vehicle that rear-ended the car in which she was a passenger. The jury did not believe he was negligent and believed the driver of the car she rode in was negligent but not the cause of her injuries. The estate filed an appeal, but the trial verdict was upheld due to the insufficient record presented on appeal. The court emphasized that without this record, they were unable to make any findings that there was any prejudice or abuse of discretion at trial.
Likewise, in Schrall vs. TJX Companies, Inc., the injured party appealed a judgment entered in favor of the defendant department store in her slip and fall case. The woman alleged she was injured after slipping on water outside the women’s restroom. As in Hixon, the court pointed to the lack of supporting documentation through the trial transcript. The court found it was impossible to determine whether or not there was an abuse of discretion by the trial court without any records of the trial proceeding. Based on this, the Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court verdict.
These cases reflect the need to have counsel with personal injury litigation experience. The seasoned Massachusetts personal injury attorneys at Karsner & Meehan work tirelessly to maximize the damages their clients deserve at all phases of litigation, whether negotiating a settlement or presenting proof to a jury. For a confidential consultation today, call 508.822.6600.
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Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Reviewing Board Considers Questions of Permanent and Total Incapacity Benefits, Massachusetts Injury Lawyers Blog, February 26, 2015