Articles Posted in Evidence

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Property owners have a duty to keep their property reasonably safe for those that enter the property, and they can be held liable for harm caused when they breach their duty. While the majority of premises liability claims arise out of slip and fall accidents, a property owner can be held liable for other dangerous conditions that cause a person harm. There are limits to the liability, however, as discussed in a recent case ruled on by the Appeals Court of Massachusetts, Suffolk, in a case in which a shooting victim brought a premises liability claim against the operators of the housing development where the shooting occurred. If you were injured on another person’s property it is prudent to meet with a seasoned Massachusetts personal injury attorney to discuss the facts out of which your harm arose and whether you may be able to recover damages.

Facts of the Case

It is alleged that the plaintiff’s decedent was standing on a public sidewalk when she was shot in a drive-by shooting. The decedent was paralyzed as a result of the shooting and ultimately died from her injuries. The plaintiff, decedent’s estate, filed a lawsuit against the defendants, who were the entities that owned the housing development that was adjacent to where the victim was shot. The lawsuit alleged that the defendants negligently failed to provide adequate security in the area and failed to warn the decedent of the dangers present in that area. The defendants filed a motion for summary judgment which the trial court granted. The plaintiff appealed.

A Property Owner’s Duty to Prevent Harm

In order to succeed on a negligence claim in Massachusetts, the plaintiff must first establish the existence of a duty. whether a duty exists is a question of law, resolved by referring to prevailing social values and customs and public policy. The duty imposed on property owners is the duty of reasonable care towards all people who are lawfully on the premises. In some cases, the duty can extend to protecting people lawfully on the property from criminal acts of third parties. A landowner only has a duty to protect a person from the criminal acts of other people if there is a special relationship between the landowner and the person.

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Under Massachusetts law, property owners owe a duty to anyone that legally enters the property to maintain the property in a safe condition. When a property owner fails to comply with its duty and allows foreign objects to remain on the floor, it may cause a slip and fall accident. The Appeals Court of Massachusetts recently analyzed what evidence a person injured in a slip and fall accident caused by debris must produce to prove the property owner had constructive notice of the condition, in a case in which the plaintiff reportedly fell due to gum on a stairway. If you were injured in a slip and fall accident in Massachusetts you should meet with a proficient Massachusetts personal injury attorney to discuss what evidence you need to prove liability for your harm.

Facts of the Case

Reportedly, the plaintiff suffered injuries when she stepped on chewing gum and fell down a flight of stairs in the defendant’s building. She described the gum, which was stuck to the bottom of her shoe, as gray, black, and dirty. She subsequently filed a lawsuit against the defendant, alleging the defendant negligently failed to clean, inspect, and maintain the stairway. The defendant filed a motion for summary judgment, which the court granted. The plaintiff then appealed.

Constructive Notice Under Massachusetts Law

Under Massachusetts law, it is well established that a property owner is liable for injuries sustained on its property if the property owner knew or should know of conditions on the property that create an unreasonable risk of harm, and that invitees will either not discover the condition, but fails to protect invitees from the condition despite this knowledge. In cases involving slip and falls, the first element is met if the property owner caused the foreign substance to be on the floor, had actual knowledge of its presence, or if the substance had been on the floor so long that the property owner should have constructive notice of its existence.
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In evaluating a person’s claim for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits, the Social Security Administration must engage in a multiple-step process to determine if a person is disabled, and if so, whether the person has a residual functional capacity to obtain gainful employment. Recently, the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts analyzed whether evidence of alcoholism should be considered in evaluating a person’s residual functional capacity in a claim for SSDI benefits. If you are unable to work due to a disability, you should meet with a skilled Massachusetts social security disability attorney to discuss your eligibility for SSDI benefits.

Facts Regarding the Plaintiff’s Health

It is reported that the claimant had a history of chronic alcohol abuse. From 2009 through 2012, she presented to the emergency room on several occasions for treatment due to alcohol withdrawal and underwent in-patient alcohol treatment numerous times. During each visit to the hospital and admission for alcohol treatment, the claimant’s mood and mental status were assessed, and it was routinely noted that she suffered from varying degrees of anxiety.

Allegedly, the claimant began treating with a psychiatrist in 2015, and was diagnosed with anxiety and depression. In October 2015, the claimant filed an application for SSDI benefits, alleging that she was unable to work since May 2008 due to her anxiety and depression. Her claim was denied, and she exhausted her administrative remedies. Thus, the claimant’s appeal was heard by the district court. Continue reading →

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Many people entrust the care of their loved ones to a nursing home. Unfortunately, many nursing homes provide inadequate care resulting in nursing injuries and illnesses to nursing home residents. While nursing homes and their medical staff can be held liable for providing negligent care, it is important for anyone seeking damages in a nursing home negligence lawsuit to retain an attorney who can identify the appropriate theory of liability, to avoid waiving the right to recover damages. This was demonstrated in a recent nursing home negligence case filed in the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts, in which the court held that some of the plaintiff’s claims sounded in medical malpractice and must be dismissed due to the lack of an expert opinion. If your loved one sustained harm because of nursing home negligence, you should speak with a proficient Massachusetts personal injury attorney to explore your options for seeking damages.

Facts Regarding the Plaintiff’s Decedent’s Harm

Allegedly, the plaintiff’s decedent was a resident in the defendant nursing home. Prior to admission he was diagnosed with numerous chronic conditions, including dementia, and regularly suffered falls. He was noted to be a fall risk and to have a tendency to wander upon his admission. After the decedent was admitted to the defendant nursing home he began to fall regularly. The defendant developed fall precautions with regard to the decedent’s wheelchair, but he continued to fall. No other changes were made to prevent his falls.

Reportedly, approximately two years after the decedent was admitted to the defendant nursing home he fell and suffered a subdural hematoma. He died later that day. The plaintiff, the representative of the decedent’s estate, filed a lawsuit against the defendant, alleging claims of negligence and wanton, reckless and willful conduct. The defendant moved for summary judgment on the claim that it was negligent in failing to institute a fall intervention plan for the decedent prior to his death, on the grounds the claim was truly a medical malpractice claim and lacked sufficient expert support. Upon review, the court granted the motion. Continue reading →

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Slip and fall accidents are one of the most common causes of personal injury. When a person is injured in a slip and fall accident at a business, the person may be able to recover compensation from the business owner for any harm the person suffered. To successfully prove the business owner should be held liable, however, the injured party must prove that a dangerous condition caused the fall, and the business owner knew or should have known of the condition. A Massachusetts appellate court recently analyzed what constitutes sufficient evidence to prove a business owner should have had notice of a dangerous condition in a slip and fall case. If you were recently injured in a slip and fall accident it is essential to retain a trusted Massachusetts personal injury attorney to represent you in your pursuit of damages from the business owner.

The Slip and Fall Accident

Allegedly, the plaintiff and her daughter stopped at a fast food restaurant on August 14, 2014. It was raining heavily that day, and the plaintiff and her daughter parked by the front entrance of the restaurant. The plaintiff was holding her daughter’s hand and entered the restaurant via the front door, walking in front of her daughter. As soon as she entered the restaurant, the plaintiff’s right leg flew forward, and she fell onto her left knee. She then noticed there was water everywhere and the water had pooled in a three to four-foot puddle on the floor. While there was a mat and yellow cone by the side entrance, the plaintiff stated that there were none by the front entrance.

It is reported that the plaintiff filed a negligence claim against the defendant restaurant. The case proceeded to a bench trial, during which the defendant filed a motion for involuntary dismissal pursuant to Mass. R. Civ. P. 41(b)(2) which the court denied. The court ultimately found in favor of the plaintiff, after which the defendant appealed. On appeal, the defendant did not dispute that the plaintiff suffered injuries but argued that as the plaintiff did not produce evidence as to how long the water had been on the floor, she failed to establish that the defendant should have known of the water.

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Under Massachusetts law, a property owner has a duty to keep the property in a safe condition to prevent the harm of individuals entering the property. When a property owner breaches this duty and a person is injured due to a dangerous condition, the property owner may be liable for the injured person’s harm. In some instances, a dangerous condition will clearly constitute a breach of the duty to keep a property reasonably safe, but in other cases, such as when a person is injured due to a hidden defect, it may not be clear if the property owner should be held liable. Recently the Appeals Court of Massachusetts analyzed a property owners’ duty to disclose hidden defects in a case in which a contractor was injured when he fell through a roof that was structurally unsound. If you suffered injuries due to a hidden defect on a Massachusetts property it is vital to engage a skillful Massachusetts personal injury attorney to assist you in seeking any compensation you may be owed from the landowner.

Facts Regarding the Injured Party’s Fall

It is reported that the plaintiff was hired by the defendant contractor to install a roof on a building’s property. The defendant contractor was hired by the defendant property owner. Prior to the completion of the project, the defendant property owner advised the defendant contractor that he wanted the roof of the porch to be re-shingled. The plaintiff began working on the porch roof. Initially, the plaintiff used a ladder, but he then climbed onto the porch roof to continue re-shingling. The porch roof collapsed, causing the plaintiff to fall twelve feet to the ground. The plaintiff, who was a hemophiliac, required extensive medical treatment. He subsequently filed a negligence lawsuit against the defendant property owner and defendant contractor. The plaintiff ultimately settled with the defendant contractor.

Allegedly, it was undisputed that the porch roof was not a safe work surface. The plaintiff argued that the defendant property owner should be held liable for his injuries regardless, due to the fact that the roof had hidden defects. Following a trial, the jury found the defendant property owner negligent but found the plaintiff’s negligence exceeded the negligence of the property owner and therefore, awarded the plaintiff no damages. The plaintiff subsequently appealed.
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In Massachusetts, medical malpractice cases are handled differently than other civil lawsuits, in that the plaintiff must first present evidence of the defendant’s malpractice to a tribunal which will determine if the plaintiff has proffered sufficient evidence of liability to allow a case to proceed. Recently, the Appeals Court of Massachusetts explained the tribunal’s role and standards in evaluating the evidence submitted by a plaintiff’s expert, in a case in which it reversed a dismissal of the plaintiff’s malpractice case. If you or a loved one suffered injuries or an illness because of negligent medical care you should speak with a seasoned Massachusetts personal injury attorney regarding whether you may be able to recover compensation from the negligent care provider.

Facts Regarding the Plaintiff’s Decedent’s Treatment

Reportedly, the plaintiff’s decedent presented to the hospital when she was in labor. She underwent an emergency cesarean section and emergency hysterectomy. She died twenty-five hours later due to hemorrhagic shock and amniotic embolism. Her husband subsequently filed a wrongful death lawsuit alleging that the defendant doctors committed medical malpractice which resulted in the decedent’s death. A hearing was held in front of a medical malpractice tribunal, after which the tribunal found the evidence offered by the plaintiff failed to establish the defendant’s liability. Thus, the tribunal dismissed the plaintiff’s case after which the plaintiff appealed.

The Tribunal’s Role in Evaluating Evidence of Medical Malpractice

Under Massachusetts law, a plaintiff’s offer of proof of medical malpractice is sufficient if there is evidence that the defendant is a health care provider who did not conform to good medical practice, and the plaintiff suffered damages as a result. However, the tribunal should not assess credibility or weigh the strength of the evidence. Rather, it merely must determine whether, if the plaintiff’s evidence is properly substantiated, it is sufficient to raise a legitimate question of liability. The evidence is to be viewed in a light most favorable to the plaintiff. Similarly, the standard for admission of expert testimony at the tribunal level is very lenient. Thus, a fact-based opinion by a qualified expert that the defendant committed malpractice is sufficient.
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In medical malpractice cases, as in all civil claims, the plaintiff must set forth appropriate facts to raise a question of liability as to the defendant medical care providers. Unlike other civil cases, however, the sufficiency of the evidence set forth in a medical malpractice lawsuit is assessed by a tribunal before the plaintiff is allowed to proceed with his or her claim.

Recently, a Massachusetts appellate court reviewed the standard for evaluating whether a plaintiff’s evidence in a medical malpractice case is adequate, in a case in which the plaintiff’s claims were dismissed by the tribunal. If you were harmed by negligent medical care, it is important to retain a skilled Massachusetts personal injury attorney to represent you in your pursuit of compensation, to provide you with a good chance of a favorable outcome under the circumstances.

The Plaintiff’s Lawsuit Against the Defendants

The plaintiff filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against four physicians and a hospital, reportedly arising out of the care provided to her husband. Upon review, the tribunal found that there was insufficient evidence to raise an issue of fact as to liability as to all of the defendants, and dismissed the plaintiff’s claims. The plaintiff appealed.

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The evidence presented by either party can make or break a personal injury case. If the court denies a plaintiff’s request that the court take judicial notice of certain evidence it can result in a defense verdict. The Massachusetts Rules of Evidence limit what materials a court may take judicial notice of, however.

This was illustrated in a recent case decided by the Appeals Court of Massachusetts, in which the court affirmed the trial court’s refusal to take judicial notice of a driver’s manual, or provide the jury with an instruction with language taken from the manual. If you suffered harm due to a car accident, it is important to retain an experienced Massachusetts personal injury attorney to represent you in your claim for compensation so that your case is handled properly.

Factual and Procedural Background

It is reported the plaintiff was driving her vehicle when she was struck by a vehicle driven by the defendant while the defendant was backing out of a residential driveway. The plaintiff filed a lawsuit against the defendant, alleging the defendant’s negligence caused the accident and her harm. Following a trial, the jury found the defendant was not negligent. The plaintiff filed a motion for a new trial, arguing the court erred in declining to admit the Registry of Motor Vehicles Driver Manual (Manual) and in failing to provide the jury with the plaintiff’s requested instruction, which was obtained from the Manual. On appeal, the court affirmed.

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In workers’ compensation disputes it is common for the claimant and employer to agree on some issues and disagree on others. In a hearing to determine whether a claimant is entitled to workers’ compensation benefits, only disputed issues should be considered and ruled upon by the hearing judge.

In Milton v. GT Advanced Technologies, the Industrial Accidents Reviewing Board found that an administrative judge improperly expanded the parameters of a workers’ compensation claim by evaluating undisputed issues, and overturned the judge’s findings.  If you were harmed in a work-related injury it is in your best interest to consult an experienced Massachusetts workers’ compensation attorney to evaluate your case and any potential obstacles to your recovery of benefits.

Factual Scenario

The claimant was employed with the first employer from 2007 through 2012. He then left the first employer to work for the second employer. The claimant’s responsibilities in both positions required him to undertake physically strenuous work. In 2015, the claimant filed a claim against both employers seeking workers’ compensation benefits due to a lower back injury. Following a hearing on the matter, an administrative judge denied both claims. The claimant appealed and on appeal, the reviewing board agreed with the claimant and reversed the decision.

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