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Articles Posted in Personal Injury

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 →

People injured in car accidents will often pursue damages from the party responsible for causing the accident via a personal injury lawsuit. When the defendant in a case arising out of a collision is a person, the process of proving liability is relatively straightforward, but when the responsible party is an agent of the federal government, demonstrating fault can be challenging. This was illustrated in a recent Massachusetts ruling in which the court affirmed the dismissal of the plaintiff’s claims against the United States in a case arising out of a crash involving a postal vehicle. If you were hurt in a collision, you might be owed damages, and it is wise to speak to a capable Massachusetts personal injury attorney regarding your potential claims.

The Subject Accident

It is reported that the plaintiffs were minor children riding on a school bus that was rear-ended by a contractor delivering mail for the defendant, the United States Postal Service. The plaintiffs suffered severe injuries and subsequently filed a lawsuit against the defendant under the Federal Tort Claims Act, arguing that the failure to properly maintain the postal vehicle caused the collision. The defendant filed a motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, which the trial court granted, and the plaintiffs appealed. On appeal, the trial court ruling was affirmed.

Liability Under the Federal Tort Claims Act

On appeal, the court explained that a dismissal for lack of subject matter jurisdiction essentially equates to a finding that the court has no authority to decide a case either way. The United States, as a sovereign, is immune from liability unless it assents to being sued. The Federal Tort Claims Act provides consent in certain instances, allowing the United States to be sued for injuries caused by federal employees who are acting within the scope of their employment at the time they cause harm.

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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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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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Under Massachusetts law, entities that offer means of transportation to the public are known as common carriers. In addition to the general duty of reasonable care imposed on most companies and individuals, the law imposes a duty on common carriers to provide safe transportation for their passengers. As such, if a person is injured while traveling with a common carrier, it may be deemed liable for the person’s harm. Recently, a Massachusetts court addressed the question of whether a company that uses ridesharing applications to connect drivers and passengers is considered a common carrier and, if so, whether it can be held liable for harm caused by drivers using its application. If you were hurt while using a ridesharing service, you may be able to recover damages and should meet with a knowledgeable Massachusetts personal injury attorney to discuss what claims you may be able to pursue.

Facts of the Case

It is reported that the plaintiff used the defendant company’s ridesharing application to hire the defendant driver to transport her to her home in Massachusetts. Instead of taking her home, however, the defendant driver drove the plaintiff to a secluded parking lot where he raped her. The defendant driver was subsequently charged with rape but absconded to another country prior to his criminal trial. The plaintiff then filed a lawsuit, alleging negligence, negligent hiring and supervision, and vicarious liability claims against the defendant company, and assault and battery, and other claims against the defendant driver. The defendant company filed a motion to dismiss, arguing in part that it was not a common carrier and could not be deemed liable for the acts of the driver.

Common Carrier Liability in Massachusetts

In Massachusetts, common carriers are companies that operate any motor vehicle on public roads for the transportation of passengers who choose to purchase the carrier’s services. The goal of common carriers is to provide an affordable means of transportation. Thus, common carriers are obligated by law to provide safe transport for their passengers. The Massachusetts courts have found that this duty includes protecting passengers from harm caused by the intentional torts that are committed by the carrier’s own agents.

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Organized sports often involve some degree of risk of bodily harm. Thus, acts that under normal circumstances may constitute tortious behavior will be deemed acceptable, and people who engage in such activities are typically deemed to waive the right to pursue damages for injuries. There are some exceptions, though, as discussed in a recent opinion set forth by a Massachusetts court in which the grounds for imposing liability for harm sustained during an athletic practice were discussed. If you were hurt while engaging in a hobby, you may be owed damages and should meet with a Massachusetts personal injury attorney to evaluate your possible claims.

The Plaintiff’s Harm

It is alleged that the plaintiff played softball for the team of a Massachusetts university. Prior to joining the team, the plaintiff had to sign a form indicating that she waived her right to pursue damages and released the university and its agents and employees from liability for any harm she might suffer. One day the plaintiff was practicing in an indoor facility where she and her teammates were engaging in batting practice. A teammate hit a ball off of a tee and, in the process, struck the plaintiff in the head.

Reportedly, she suffered a concussion and needed stitches. A few days after the incident, it became clear that the plaintiff sustained significant injuries, as she was having severe symptoms, including difficulty reading.  The plaintiff then filed a lawsuit alleging negligence, gross negligence, and recklessness claims against the teammate that struck her and the university. The defendants filed a motion for summary judgment, and the court granted the motion, dismissing the plaintiff’s claims. She then appealed.

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It is well-established under the law that a plaintiff has the right to choose the forum in which to file a personal injury case. Thus, a court in the jurisdiction where the plaintiff files a case will usually determine the ultimate issues of the matter. In some instances, though, a defendant may argue that another forum is more appropriate and will ask the court to dismiss the matter. The grounds for dismissing a case based on forum non conveniens were recently discussed by a Massachusetts court in a personal injury case in which the plaintiff suffered harm in Greece. If you were hurt by someone else’s reckless acts, you should consult a skillful Massachusetts personal injury attorney to determine what measures you may be able to take to seek damages for your harm.

Factual History

It is reported that when the plaintiff was on vacation in Greece with her husband, she suffered injuries when the boat she was riding in was struck by a boat owned by the defendant, which caused her to require extensive treatment in Greece and the United States. Following the accident, the Greek Port Authority conducted an investigation, which included obtaining thirteen statements from witnesses. The plaintiff subsequently filed a personal injury lawsuit against the defendant, who was a resident of Massachusetts, in the Massachusetts district court. The defendant filed a motion to dismiss on the ground of forum non conveniens.

Dismissing a Case Due to Forum Non Conveniens

The law provides that a plaintiff’s choice of forum should rarely be disregarded. As such, a defendant arguing forum non conveniens bears the burden of establishing that a sufficient alternative forum exists and that the considerations of judicial efficiency and convenience weigh strongly in favor of litigating the case in another forum. The court explained that a sufficient alternative forum exists if the defendant proves that the other forum addresses the type of claims brought by the plaintiff, and the defendant is willing to be served in that forum.

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In addition to the obligation to act with reasonable care imposed on most parties in Massachusetts, parties that own or operate commercial trucks must comply with the regulations set forth by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). Thus, a person injured by a careless commercial truck driver may be able to assert general negligence claims as well as claims that the driver failed to comply with the FMCSA regulations. Recently, a Massachusetts court discussed the pleading standards imposed on a plaintiff pursuing claims arising out of the FMCSA in a case in which the plaintiff asserted a negligence cause of action against a truck driver. If you suffered injuries due to a commercial truck driver, you might be able to recover damages and should speak to a trusted Massachusetts personal injury attorney to assess what compensation you might be able to recover in a civil lawsuit.

Facts of the Case

It is alleged that an organization hired the defendant company to transport its products from Massachusetts to California. The defendant company subcontracted the job to another entity, who then hired the defendant driver to complete the task. When the defendant driver arrived at the facility in California, he parked his truck and trailer. The plaintiff, who was operating a forklift, entered the trailer when it abruptly dropped twelve inches. The plaintiff struck his head and sustained lasting and severe injuries.

It is reported that the plaintiff then filed a lawsuit setting forth negligence claims against the defendant driver and the defendant company. The defendant company filed a motion to dismiss, arguing that the plaintiff failed to set forth an adequate claim and that his claims were preempted by federal law.

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