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Articles Posted in Evidence

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 →

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 →

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 →

Many airlines that service Massachusetts offer international travel. Thus, if a person is injured while traveling by air or disembarking a plane, it may be unclear whether the airline may be liable under United States law. In many instances, the Montreal Convention applies, and a plaintiff must prove certain elements were present when the injury occurred in order to recover damages. The evidence a plaintiff must produce to recover damages under the Montreal Convention was the topic of a recent Massachusetts ruling. If you suffered injuries while traveling, it is possible you have a claim for damages, and you should meet with a proficient Massachusetts personal injury attorney to discuss your rights.

The Plaintiff’s Harm

It is reported that the plaintiff was flying from Boston, Massachusetts, to London, England. When she arrived in London, she was disembarking from the plane when she lost her balance on the last step and fell, injuring both ankles. The step that caused her to fall was bigger than the prior step, but there were no warnings, and no one from the defendant airline offered her assistance while disembarking. The plaintiff then filed a lawsuit against the defendant, asserting negligence claims and seeking damages under the Montreal Convention. The defendant moved for summary judgment on all claims, and the court granted the motion.

Proving Claims Under the Montreal Convention

The court noted that both the United States and the United Kingdom are signatories to the Montreal Convention, a treaty that limits liability for international air carriers. Pursuant to the Convention, a carrier will be liable for bodily harm sustained by a passenger if the injury occurs while the passenger is on the plane or disembarking or embarking. If a claim for damages falls under the Convention, all other claims are preempted. In other words, an air carrier will not be liable for state law claims for harm covered by the Convention; rather, the Convention will provide the sole remedy. Continue reading →

Typically, discovery is conducted after a plaintiff files a lawsuit. In some cases, though, a plaintiff who does not have enough information to adequately institute claims against a defendant may file a complaint for discovery. This will allow the plaintiff to obtain the evidence needed to determine whether there is factual support for a lawsuit against the defendant. Recently, a Massachusetts court addressed the issue of whether a complaint for discovery could be amended to allege negligence claims after the statute of limitations for negligence has run, in a case in which the plaintiff sustained injuries in a fall at the defendant’s senior living facility. If you or a loved one were hurt due to the negligence of another party, you should speak to a capable Massachusetts personal injury attorney to determine whether you may be owed damages.

History of the Case

It is alleged that the plaintiff suffered a broken foot when she was being transferred by aides at the assisted living facility where she resided, which was owned by the defendant. She then filed a complaint for discovery, alleging that she believed she was harmed by the defendant’s negligence but needed information from the defendant to determine whether her claim was viable. The defendant filed a motion asking the court to dismiss the plaintiff’s complaint, which the court granted. The plaintiff then appealed.

Complaints for Discovery Under Massachusetts Law

Under Massachusetts law, a complaint for discovery is permitted when the procedures afforded by statute provide insufficient means for a plaintiff to obtain the information needed to pursue a claim. In deciding whether to grant such a complaint, a court must keep in mind the narrow scope of a complaint for discovery and ensure that the relief requested is within those parameters.

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Under Massachusetts law, when a person dies in an accident, the person’s estate will often seek damages from the parties that may have caused the events leading up to the person’s death. Simply because an accident occurred does not necessarily mean that a party will be deemed liable, however. This was shown in a recent case in which the court affirmed the dismissal of the plaintiff’s wrongful death claims due to his failure to establish that the defendant owed any duty to the deceased person. If you lost a loved one in an accident caused by another party’s reckless acts, it is prudent to speak to a trusted Massachusetts personal injury attorney to discuss what you must prove to recover damages.

Factual History

It is reported that the plaintiff’s decedent was hit by a car when he was walking in the street, and subsequently died from his injuries. The facts demonstrated that he entered the street because the sidewalk that was adjacent to the roadway was impassable due to an accumulation of snow and ice. The plaintiff filed a wrongful death lawsuit against multiple defendants, including the owners of the property that was next to the subject sidewalk. The defendant property owners filed a motion to dismiss, arguing they did not have a duty to maintain a publicly owned sidewalk. The trial court granted the defendant’s motion, and the plaintiff appealed. On appeal, the appellate court affirmed the trial court ruling.

Duty to Maintain Sidewalks in Massachusetts

Upon reviewing the facts of the case, the appellate court noted that it was undisputed that the sidewalk was owned by the city in which it was located and not by the defendant property owners, and that it was a public walkway. Nonetheless, the plaintiff argued the defendant had a duty to refrain from causing dangerous conditions on the sidewalk and that it breached the duty by allowing the accumulation of snow to exist on the sidewalk. The appellate court found that this was insufficient to form the basis of a claim against the defendant.

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While most negligence cases are ultimately resolved based upon the merits of the plaintiff’s claims, some cases are dismissed on procedural grounds. Even if a person’s claims are dismissed due to the failure to comply with the statutory rules, however, relief may be available via a motion to vacate in some circumstances, as discussed in a recent Massachusetts negligence case. If you were harmed by another party’s reckless acts, it is critical to retain an accomplished Massachusetts personal injury attorney who will fight to help you protect your rights.

Factual History

It is reported that the plaintiff filed a negligence lawsuit against the defendant condominium association following an accident in which she sustained injuries. The plaintiff’s claims were ultimately dismissed via a judgment from the court. The plaintiff then filed a motion to vacate the judgment, which the defendant opposed. The court granted the motion, however, and the defendant appealed.

Vacating a Judgment Dismissing a Claim

Massachusetts Rules of Civil Procedure (the Rules) allow a party to move to vacate a judgment if certain parameters are met. Specifically, a judgment may be vacated due to excusable neglect, mistake or inadvertence, or because of newly discovered evidence. It may also be overturned due to fraud or misrepresentation, or because it is void or has been discharged. Finally, the Rules allow for a court to vacate a judgment for any other reason that justifies relief from the judgment. An appellate court will not set aside a trial court ruling on a motion to vacate absent an abuse of discretion.

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It is not uncommon for a business to hire a company to clean and perform maintenance on the business premises. In such instances, a dispute may arise as to which party is liable if a person subsequently suffers injuries in a slip and fall accident caused by an improperly cleaned spill. This was illustrated in a recent slip and fall case in Massachusetts, in which the court ultimately ruled that the plaintiff failed to establish the elements needed to prove the liability of the third-party cleaning company. If you suffered injuries in a slip and fall accident, it is advisable to discuss your harm with a trusted Massachusetts personal injury attorney to assess whether you may be able to pursue claims for damages.

Facts of the Case

It is reported that the plaintiff was shopping in the defendant grocery store when she slipped and fell on a puddle, which caused her to sustain injuries. The puddle was caused by melted ice that was bagged and given to customers to keep perishable items cold. The plaintiff saw a child drop a bag of ice, which created the puddle, prior to her fall. She also observed an employee of the defendant grocery store attempting to clean up the puddle.

Allegedly, the defendant grocery store contracted with the defendant cleaner to clean the premises and provide maintenance services, including cleaning up spills. The plaintiff subsequently filed a lawsuit against both defendants, alleging negligence claims. The defendant cleaner filed a motion for summary judgment, arguing that, as a matter of law, it could not be held liable for the plaintiff’s harm.

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Many students find college challenging and struggle to adapt and succeed. Tragically, some students feel as if they are unable to go on and ultimately die due to suicide. Whether a school that is aware of a student’s mental health struggles can be deemed liable for the student’s death by suicide was the topic of a recent Massachusetts opinion in which the court declined to grant the defendant’s motion to dismiss the plaintiff’s negligence claims. If you or your child suffered injuries while attending a college or university, you might be owed damages, and it is advisable to speak to a Massachusetts personal injury attorney to discuss your rights.

The Plaintiff’s Decedent’s Struggles and Untimely Death

It is reported that the plaintiff’s decedent began attending school at the defendant college when she was sixteen. Shortly after she arrived on campus, she advised a mental health counselor that she had a history of suicidal ideation and self-harm. Throughout her years of attendance, several reports were made regarding concern for her safety, and wellness checks were conducted. The counseling department was advised on several occasions that the decedent was abusing substances as well.

Allegedly, the defendant was also advised that the decedent was sexually assaulted, engaged in acts of self-harm and that she wrote a play in which the lead character ended her own life. The defendant never advised the decedent’s parents of any of the foregoing. The decedent was found dead one morning, and the manner of her death was determined to be suicide. The plaintiffs, the decedent’s parents, filed a lawsuit against the defendant alleging negligence and other claims. The defendant filed a motion to dismiss, arguing it did not owe the decedent a duty.

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