Articles Posted in Evidence

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Car accidents are common in Massachusetts, and people involved in car accidents often sustain injuries and property damage. Thus, in many cases, a person who incurs damages due to a car accident will pursue claims against one of the drivers involved in the accident. There are numerous categories of damages a person can recover following a car accident, including damages for pain and suffering. Recently, the Appeals Court of Massachusetts discussed what a plaintiff must prove to recover damages for pain and suffering following a car accident, under Massachusetts law. If you suffered harm due to a car accident, it is advisable to speak with a diligent Massachusetts personal injury attorney regarding what damages you may be able to recover from the party that caused your harm.

Factual and Procedural Background of the Case

Allegedly, the plaintiff was riding as a passenger in a vehicle owned by a Vermont resident, when they were involved in an accident with a driver from Massachusetts. The plaintiff reportedly sustained injuries in the accident and subsequently asserted claims against the Massachusetts driver, the Vermont driver, the insurance company of each driver, and his own insurance company. Subsequently, each of the plaintiff’s claims was dismissed,with the exception of the negligence claims against each driver. A jury found that the Massachusetts driver was negligent but that her negligence was not the cause of the plaintiff’s alleged harm and, therefore, entered judgment on her behalf. The plaintiff appealed.

Recovering Damages for Pain and Suffering Following a Car Accident

On appeal, the court noted that during the trial, the plaintiff expressed that he was only seeking damages for pain and suffering from the Massachusetts driver. As such, he was required to prove his injuries met one of the enumerated threshold requirements set forth under Massachusetts law. Specifically, in Massachusetts, a plaintiff can only recover damages for pain and suffering in a lawsuit arising out of a motor vehicle collision in certain circumstances, which includes when the plaintiff’s medical expenses exceed $2,000.00.

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In Massachusetts, property owners generally have a duty to maintain their property in a reasonably safe condition for any lawful visitors. There are exceptions to the general rule, however, such as when the harm presented by a dangerous condition is open and obvious. Recently, the Appeals Court of Massachusetts discussed the open and obvious exception to a property owners’ duty to warn of hazardous conditions, in a case in which a child was injured while using a zip line. If you or your child were injured on someone else’s property, it is wise to meet with a seasoned Massachusetts personal injury attorney to discuss what you must prove to establish liability.

Factual Background

Allegedly, the older brother of the minor plaintiff spent the night at the home of the defendants. The next day, the minor plaintiff, who was six years old, accompanied his father to the home of the defendants to pick up his brother. When they arrived at the defendants’ home, the minor plaintiff noted a zip line in the backyard.

Reportedly, the minor plaintiff asked his father if he could use the zip line. The father lifted the minor plaintiff onto the zip line and guided him for a few feet and then let him go. The minor plaintiff fell shortly after that, sustaining multiple fractures. The minor plaintiff’s mother instituted a negligence claim against the defendants on behalf of the minor plaintiff, arguing that the zip line was unreasonably dangerous. The defendants filed a motion for summary judgment, which the trial court granted. The plaintiffs appealed. On appeal, the court affirmed.

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Under Massachusetts law, even if a party obtains a successful verdict at trial, the other side has the right to appeal. As with all civil pleadings, however, if a party fails to file a notice of appeal within the time required by law, it may result in a dismissal of the appeal. In a recent personal injury case decided by the Appeals Court of Massachusetts, the court explained what constitutes excusable neglect that would permit a party to file a late notice of appeal. If you suffered personal injuries due to someone else’s negligence, it is in your best interest to meet with a Massachusetts personal injury attorney adept at helping injured parties recover compensation to discuss your case.

Factual and Procedural History of the Case

It is alleged that the plaintiff suffered hip injuries while working at a site owned by the defendant.  He subsequently filed a personal injury lawsuit against the defendant. A jury found in favor of the plaintiff, and the defendant filed a motion for a new trial. The court denied the motion. Pursuant to the rules of appellate procedure, the defendant had thirty days to file a notice of appeal. The defendant did not file a notice, however, until eight days after the deadline had passed. The court permitted the late notice of appeal, after which the plaintiff appealed the order allowing late notice.

Excusable Neglect Permitting Late Filing

Pursuant to the Massachusetts Rules of Appellate Procedure, a party appealing a civil case is required to file a notice of appeal within thirty days of when the court enters a judgment or order denying a motion for a new trial. If a party misses this deadline, the court can only permit a motion for leave to file a late notice of an appeal if the party demonstrates excusable neglect. Excusable neglect is only meant to apply in extraordinary or unique circumstances, and not merely a delay caused by everyday oversight. Rather, excusable neglect should only be a valid explanation when it is required to remedy emergency situations.

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When a person dies in a truck accident, the person’s loved ones will often pursue a wrongful death claim against the party that caused the crash. As commercial truck drivers have duties and obligations that go beyond the understanding of the average layperson, in many truck accident cases, the parties will rely on experts to offer testimony regarding whether the truck driver breached the duty of care. There are limits as to what an expert can testify to, however, and as shown in a recent wrongful death case decided by a Massachusetts appellate court, if the expert exceeds his or her permitted scope, his or her testimony may be stricken. If you lost a loved one due to someone else’s negligence, you should consult a skilled Massachusetts personal injury attorney to discuss what damages you may be able to recover.

Factual and Procedural Background of the Case

It is reported that the plaintiff’s decedent was riding a motorcycle when he was struck by a commercial truck entering the roadway. The truck was driven by the defendant driver and owned by the defendant trucking company. The decedent ultimately died from his injuries, and the personal representative of his estate filed a wrongful death suit against the defendants. Following a trial, a jury found in favor of the defendant. The plaintiff subsequently moved for a new trial, arguing, in part, that the trial court erred in excluding portions of the plaintiff’s expert’s testimony.

Permissible Scope of Expert Testimony

In Massachusetts, a trial court judge has ample discretion regarding what expert testimony he or she admits. Thus, an abuse of discretion will only be found in cases in which, after considering any relevant factors, the judge’s decision is beyond the range of reasonable alternatives and constitutes a clear abuse of discretion.

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In most instances, when a person suffers harm because of another party’s negligence, the victim may pursue damages. In certain cases, however, regardless of whether a party acted negligently, the injured person may not be able to recover compensation because the negligent party is immune from liability. For example, under the Massachusetts Tort Claims Act (the Act), public employers are exempt from liability in certain circumstances. Recently, the Appeals Court of Massachusetts analyzed whether the Act protects a public employer from liability for inadequate staffing, in a case arising out of a train accident. If you were injured due to the negligence of a person or entity, it is prudent to meet with a capable Massachusetts personal injury attorney regarding your potential claims.

The Plaintiff’s Harm

It is alleged that the plaintiff fell off a platform at a train station. A train owned by the defendant transportation authority subsequently struck the plaintiff, and he suffered serious injuries. The plaintiff then filed a lawsuit against the defendant, arguing in part that the defendant negligently failed to staff the station with a customer service agent or a safety inspector on the day of the plaintiff’s accident. The defendant filed a motion for summary judgment, arguing that it was immune from liability under the Act. The court denied the motion, and the defendant appealed.

Public Employer Immunity Under the Act

Under the Act, a public employer is immune from all claims that arise out of the performance or exercise of a discretionary duty or function, or the failure to exercise such a duty or function. In the subject case, the plaintiff did not dispute the fact that the defendant was a public employer as defined by the Act. Thus, the issue analyzed by the court was whether it was within the defendant’s discretion to determine which course of conduct to undertake and, if so, whether it was the kind of discretion for which the Act provided immunity. The court stated that if a regulation, statute, or established practice dictates a party must take a certain course of action, a defendant’s behavior will not be protected by the discretionary function exception of the Act.

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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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