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Articles Posted in Personal Injury

People injured while working can often recover workers’ compensation benefits from their employers. Typically, however, they are precluded from pursuing civil claims against their employers pursuant to the Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Act (the Act). In some cases, they may be able to recover damages from parties other than their employer, though; to do so, they must establish liability. Recently, a Massachusetts court examined what a plaintiff must prove to recover compensation in a third-party claim arising out of a work accident. If you were injured on the job, you might be owed benefits and damages, and it is advisable to confer with a Massachusetts workers’ compensation lawyer about your rights.

The Plaintiff’s Harm

It is alleged that the plaintiff was working on a residential construction site when he fell off of a scaffold. He sustained injuries to his left foot and knee in the fall. He then commenced a lawsuit against the general contractor for the project, alleging its negligence caused him harm. After the plaintiff presented his case at the bench trial held in the matter, the defendant moved for involuntary dismissal, arguing that it did not owe the plaintiff a duty of care and, therefore, could not be deemed liable for his losses. The trial court granted the motion, and the plaintiff appealed.

The Plaintiff’s Claims

Under Massachusetts law, a plaintiff setting forth a negligence claim must show that the defendant owed the plaintiff a duty of care, the defendant breached the duty, the plaintiff sustained damages, and a causal connection between the harm suffered and the defendant’s breach. Usually, a general contractor will not be liable for physical harm suffered by the employee of a subcontractor. Continue reading →

Under Massachusetts law, employers can be held vicariously liable for harm caused by their employees in the performance of job duties. Currently, though, the law does not allow for the imposition of liability on an employer for the negligence of an independent contractor. The limit of Massachusetts’s vicarious liability law was the topic of a recent opinion issued by a court in a fatal car accident case. If you were hurt in a collision caused by a person performing job duties, you might be able to recover damages from the person and their employer, and you should speak to a Massachusetts personal injury lawyer about your potential claims.

The Facts of the Case

It is alleged that the defendant trucking company entered into an agreement with the defendant truck driver, wherein the truck driver agreed to pick up a load of lumber and transport it to another location. The defendant truck driver performed his obligations under the contract and then went to drive to another location to fulfill another contract. On his way there, he proceeded through a red light and struck the decedent’s vehicle, causing fatal injuries.

It is reported that the decedent’s estate filed negligence claims against the defendants, arguing, among other things, that the defendant trucking company was vicariously liable for the defendant truck’s acts. After discovery closed, the defendant trucking company moved for summary judgment. The trial court issued a ruling in favor of the defendant, and the plaintiff appealed. Continue reading →

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 →

Fast food restaurants handle a high number of customers per day, and it is not uncommon for there to be debris or spills on their floors. It seems inevitable, then, that people would be injured in slip and fall accidents in their establishments. In many instances, a person injured in an accident at a business will seek damages from the owner. In a recent Massachusetts opinion, the court discussed what a party alleging liability for a slip and fall accident at a fast-food restaurant must prove to recover damages. If you were injured in a fall, it is advisable to speak to a trusted Massachusetts personal injury lawyer to evaluate what claims you may be able to pursue.

The Plaintiff’s Fall

It is alleged that the plaintiff went to eat lunch at the defendant fast food restaurant. She ordered her food, received her order, and sat down. She then proceeded to walk to the condiment counter while using a cane when she slipped in a puddle of an identified liquid which caused her to slip and fall. The liquid soaked through her clothes, but she did not know what kind of substance it was or how long it had been on the floor.

The plaintiff filed a personal injury lawsuit against the defendant, alleging it negligently failed to maintain the property in a safe condition. The defendant argued the plaintiff could not prove it breached a duty owed to her and filed a motion for summary judgment, which the court ultimately denied. Continue reading →

In many personal injury matters involving a defective product, it is not immediately evident to the injured party who is ultimately responsible for the harm suffered. Thus, in some cases, the defendant will join another party as an additional defendant based on information unknown to the plaintiff and will argue that the additional defendant is liable for the plaintiff’s injuries. Recently, a Massachusetts court issued an opinion discussing pleadings involving additional defendants in a case involving defective machinery in which the parties filed opposing motions. If you were hurt by a dangerous product, it is prudent to meet with a skillful Massachusetts personal injury attorney regarding your potential claims.

The Plaintiff’s Harm and Defendant’s Claims

The plaintiff was working at a construction site when he was injured by a defective pile driver. He filed a lawsuit against the construction company and the rental company that owned the pile driver. The rental company then sued the companies that manufactured and sold the pile driver, claiming that they were ultimately responsible for the plaintiff’s harm. The manufacturer moved for a judgment on the pleadings while the rental company sought leave to amend the complaint to join to assert additional facts and allegations.

Leave to Amend a Complaint to Join

The court denied the manufacturer’s motion but granted it the right to seek similar relief in the future and granted the rental company’s request for leave to amend the complaint in part. With regards to the rental company’s proposed contribution claim, the court explained that despite the assertion that such a claim did not require the manufacturer to defend against a new theory of liability, whether the amendment was prejudicial was not the focal point. Continue reading →

In many instances, a person injured by a harmful product will live in a different state than the company that manufactured the product. As such, if the injured party decides to file a lawsuit against the manufacturer for damages, it may be able to file the case in federal court. There are multiple factors that must be assessed when evaluating fault in a product liability case between parties from different jurisdictions, though, including which state’s laws ultimately apply. In a recent opinion, a federal court situated in Massachusetts discussed the process a court will undergo to determine which state’s laws govern the plaintiff’s claims in a case in which the plaintiff suffered harm due to a dangerous medical device. If you were injured by a defective product, it is advisable to speak to a knowledgeable Massachusetts personal injury attorney to determine what claims you may be able to pursue.

The Plaintiff’s Injuries

It is reported that the plaintiff suffered from a hernia that required surgical repair. During the surgery, mesh developed by the defendant was inserted into the plaintiff’s abdomen. The mesh ultimately deteriorated, causing her to suffer significant internal injuries. She then filed a lawsuit against the defendant, alleging multiple causes of action, including negligence, strict liability for defective manufacturing and defective design, negligent misrepresentation, and fraudulent concealment. As the plaintiff lived in Nebraska and the defendant’s principal place of business was in Massachusetts, the case was filed in a Massachusetts federal court. The defendant then filed a motion asking the court to dismiss the plaintiff’s claims.

Choice of Law Analysis in Federal Cases

Prior to assessing whether the plaintiff’s claims were sufficient to withstand the defendant’s motion to dismiss, the court explained it must conduct a choice of law analysis to determine what state’s laws applied to the plaintiff’s claims. In cases pursued in federal court on the basis of diversity jurisdiction, the court must conduct an analysis applying the choice of law rules of the forum state to evaluate which laws apply. 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 →

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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