Articles Posted in Bicycle Accidents

In most cases, the statute of limitations for personal injury claims in Massachusetts. When the harm alleged is reportedly caused by a defect in a roadway, however, the injured party is required to provide notice to the government or quasi-government entity that is responsible for the roadway within thirty days of the accident. Recently, in a case arising out of harm caused by a defect in a roadway, the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts held that the thirty day notice requirement did not apply to private entities, including utility companies. If you were suffered harm in an accident caused by a defect in a street or road it is in your best interest to meet with a skilled Massachusetts personal injury attorney to discuss your case and what you must do to preserve your right to pursue damages.

Facts Regarding the Subject Accident

Allegedly, the plaintiff was riding his bicycle on a public road when he struck a utility cover that was not aligned with the surface of the road and sustained injuries. The plaintiff notified the city in which the road was located of his injuries within thirty days. On the thirty-first day after his accident, the city notified the plaintiff that it would not pay his claim, because the defendant utility company was responsible for the utility cover. The plaintiff subsequently notified the defendant of his injuries, and filed a lawsuit against the defendant, alleging the defendant’s negligence caused his harm. The defendant filed a motion for summary judgment, arguing that the plaintiff’s claim was precluded due to his failure to notify the defendant of his injuries within thirty days as required by the Massachusetts road defect and notice statues. The court granted the defendant’s motion, after which the plaintiff appealed.

Road Defect and Notice Statute  

On appeal, the court noted that the Massachusetts road defect statute imposes liability for personal injuries caused by defects in roads. The notice statute requires a party injured by a road defect to provide the city, town, or county that is obligated to maintain and repair the road with notice of the injury within thirty days. The court stated that while the road defect and notice statutes clearly imposed an obligation on a party injured by a road defect to notify the government entity charged with repairing the road within thirty days, it was not clear whether the injured party was required to provide notice to a private entity that was responsible for the road. The court ultimately concluded that the legislature did not intend to displace an injured party’s common law remedy against private parties who responsible for defects in the road. Thus, the court reversed the trial court ruling and reinstated the plaintiff’s claim.
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In urban environments, many modes of transportation are used to get from one place to another. Roadways are often shared by pedestrians, different sizes of vehicles, and bicycles. However, pedestrians and cyclists are the ones who have the greatest risk of a catastrophic injury if they are struck by a distracted or generally careless driver. In the event of such an accident, it is important to have experienced counsel at your side so that all options of financial and legal relief are available to you.

In Basiony v. City of Boston (15-P-98), the Appeals Court of Massachusetts reviewed a jury verdict awarding damages to a bicyclist struck by a police officer going the wrong way down a one-way street. The collision caused a physical injury to the man and property damage to the bike. The city appealed the trial court’s refusal to grant a new trial, arguing that the judge should have granted its requests for evidentiary rulings made throughout the trial.

The city objected during trial to the testimony of the patrol supervisor who was working during the officer’s shift. The supervisor conducted an investigation of the accident and wrote a report of his findings. The judge did not allow the introduction of the report itself but allowed the supervisor to provide testimony, overruling the objections of the city. The city felt this was improper, but the trial court and the Appeals Court disagreed. The court did not find any error regarding the testimony and pointed to the long history of broad discretion granted to trial judges. The court felt the supervisor was an appropriate witness to the accident, since he arrived on the scene soon after it occurred. The court also felt it was reasonable for him to testify about police department rules that dictate when police cruisers are allowed to disregard traffic signs and signals in an emergency.
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