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Articles Posted in Personal Injury

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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While typically, people can be held liable for causing bodily harm to another individual, when the person who causes an injury is employed by a public employer, such as a city, recovering damages can be complicated. Specifically, the Massachusetts Tort Claims Act (MTCA) protects public corporations from liability in many instances and imposes strict notice requirements that potential claimants must comply with. In a recent Massachusetts opinion, a court discussed what constitutes sufficient notice of a potential tort claim pursuant to the MTCA in a matter in which the plaintiff suffered injuries during an arrest. If you suffered harm due to someone else’s negligence, you could be owed damages and should speak to a Massachusetts personal injury attorney as soon as possible.

The Plaintiff’s Harm

It is reported that the plaintiff was driving home from work when he was pulled over by a police officer employed by the defendant city, based on an anonymous tip that the plaintiff had a gun. The officer forcibly removed the plaintiff from the vehicle, forced him to the ground, and stepped on his neck, collarbone, and shoulder, causing him to sustain a fracture. After the police failed to find a gun in his vehicle, the plaintiff was released.

Allegedly, the plaintiff filed a lawsuit against the defendant setting forth numerous claims, including negligence pursuant to the MTCA. The defendant filed a motion to dismiss, arguing that the plaintiff failed to provide it with the proper notice required by the MTCA. Upon review, the court ruled in favor of the plaintiff. Continue reading →

It is not uncommon for people to allow other individuals to drive their cars. For example, people typically allow their spouses to operate their vehicles. If the spouse then causes an accident, the spouse and the owner could potentially be deemed liable for any harm that ensues. As shown in a recent Massachusetts ruling, though, a court must be able to exercise jurisdiction over both parties in order for it to preside over a case in a matter arising out of a car accident. If you were injured in a collision, multiple parties might be responsible for your harm, and it is prudent to speak with a dedicated Massachusetts personal injury attorney regarding your possible claims.

The Plaintiff’s Accident

It is reported that the plaintiff and his wife were residents of Massachusetts. The defendants are a married couple who live in Virginia. In September 2018, the defendants were in Massachusetts for the wedding of a family friend. The defendant husband was outside of the hotel with friends waiting for his wife to pick him up. The defendant wife, operating the defendant husband’s car, struck the plaintiff who was operating a motorcycle. He suffered severe and debilitating injuries, after which he filed a lawsuit against the defendants. The defendant husband moved to dismiss the plaintiff’s claims against him for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.

Jurisdiction Over a Vehicle Owner from Another State

Under Massachusetts’s long-arm statute, a court can exercise jurisdiction over a person who, either directly or through an agent, causes a tortious injury via an omission or act. The plaintiff argued that the defendant wife was acting as the defendant husband’s agent at the time of the accident. The court found, though, that there was no evidence that would demonstrate agency.

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In Massachusetts, a person that suffers harm due to someone else’s negligence can pursue damages from the negligent party in a civil lawsuit. Additionally, if the negligent party was working on behalf of another individual or entity, the company that employed the negligent party may be held liable as well. Recently, a Massachusetts appellate court explained when an employer might be held liable for an employee’s actions in a case in which the employee assaulted a customer.  If you suffered injuries due to the acts of an employee of a company, you should speak to a vigilant Massachusetts personal injury attorney to assess what parties may be liable for the harm.

Case History

Allegedly, the plaintiff was assaulted by an employee of the defendant. The employee had driven a rented truck to Massachusetts to move a customer for the defendant but was not working at the time of the attack. The plaintiff and her husband filed a lawsuit against the defendant, alleging claims of negligent hiring, supervision, and retention. The defendant filed a motion for summary judgment, arguing that it should not be liable for the plaintiff’s harm because the harm was not a foreseeable consequence of the assailant’s employment. The court granted the defendant’s motion, and the plaintiff appealed.

Employer Liability for the Acts of an Employee

Under Massachusetts law, a plaintiff alleging negligence must provide evidence demonstrating that the defendant owed a duty to the plaintiff to act with reasonable care, but that the defendant breached the duty, and damage resulted in that was caused by the breach. In the subject case, the appellate court found that the defendant breached the duty to inquire into the assailant’s background prior to hiring the assailant. Further, a background check would have revealed that the assailant had an extensive criminal history, including multiple felonies. Additionally, the appellate court noted that the defendant violated its own policy in failing to conduct a background check.

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Typically, a plaintiff in a Massachusetts medical malpractice lawsuit will assert a negligence claim against the defendant, but in cases in which the defendants’ acts were especially egregious, the defendant may not only be held liable for negligence, but also for gross negligence. In a recent Massachusetts case in which the defendant doctor appealed the trial court verdict, the appellate court discussed the factors weighed in determining if a defendant’s actions constitute gross negligence. If you were harmed by a negligent healthcare provider, it is advisable to consult an attorney regarding what claims you may be able to pursue.

Factual and Procedural History

It is reported that the plaintiff’s decedent underwent a surgical repair of a hiatal hernia that was performed by the defendant. During the procedure, the defendant used tacks to attach the mesh to the decedent’s diaphragm. The warning materials for the tacks indicated they should not be used in certain areas of the body, such as near the pericardium. Following the surgery, the decedent began to experience cardiac symptoms and ultimately died due to cardiac arrest.

Allegedly, the plaintiff filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against the defendant. Following a trial, a jury found in favor of the plaintiff, finding the defendant was both negligent and grossly negligent in the treatment of the decedent, and that his negligence caused the decedent’s death. The defendant appealed on the issue of whether he was grossly negligent.

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In Massachusetts, if an employee suffers an injury in the workplace, the employee is typically limited to pursuing a workers’ compensation claim to recover compensation for his or her harm. If the person that suffers an injury while working is not an employee, however, he or she may be able to pursue a claim for damages if the injury was caused by another person’s negligence. As explained in a recent Massachusetts case, though, a person that employs an independent contractor generally cannot be held liable for injuries caused by the negligent acts of the contractor. If you suffered harm due to someone else’s negligence, you may be able to pursue a claim for damages and should consult a trusted Massachusetts personal injury attorney to discuss your harm.

Facts of the Case

It is reported that the defendant homeowner hired a general contractor to perform renovations on her home. In turn, the general contractor hired the plaintiff, a subcontractor, to assist with the project. During the project, the plaintiff severed his thumb while using a table saw he owned. The plaintiff then filed a negligence claim against the defendant, arguing she negligently caused his injury by failing to provide a safe construction area. The defendant filed a motion for summary judgment, which was granted by the trial court. The plaintiff appealed, and on appeal, the appellate court affirmed the trial court ruling.

Employer Liability for Harm Caused by an Independent Contractor

In part, the plaintiff alleged that the defendant should be held liable for the plaintiff’s harm because the defendant retained control over the project. Generally, a person that employs an independent contractor will not be deemed liable for any harm negligently caused by the independent contractor. In other words, the independent contractor’s work should be considered his or her own enterprise, and the independent contractor should be charged with the duty of preventing harm to others.

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