Generally, lawsuits asserting negligence allegations involve factual disputes that can only be resolved by a judge or jury. In some instances, however, it is clear based upon the facts of a case that a party cannot prove or refute negligence as a matter of law, and the court will grant summary judgment. Recently, a Massachusetts court discussed the standards for granting summary judgment and each party’s burden of proof, in a case in which the plaintiff’s negligence claims arose out of a car accident. If you were hurt in a collision caused by someone else’s careless acts, it is advisable to meet with a skilled Massachusetts personal injury attorney to assess what compensation you might be able to recover in a civil lawsuit.
Factual and Procedural History
It is alleged that the plaintiff was riding in a van driven by the defendant driver and owned by the defendant corporation. The defendant driver was traveling on an interstate highway and sought to change lanes. He activated his turn signal and began to move into the adjacent lane when he noticed a truck owned by the defendant moving company and operated by the defendant mover. The defendant driver attempted to move back into the prior lane but was unable to do so in time to avoid a collision. The van rolled over, and the plaintiff suffered severe injuries.
Reportedly, the plaintiff filed a lawsuit against the defendants, alleging claims of negligence. The defendant moving company and mover filed a motion for summary judgment, which the court granted. The plaintiff appealed, arguing that the defendant mover’s contributory negligence was a substantial cause of the crash.
Summary Judgment Under Massachusetts Law
In Massachusetts, a plaintiff seeking to prevail on a negligence claim must show that the defendant owed the plaintiff a duty to act with due care, a breach of the duty by the defendant, damages suffered by the plaintiff, and a causal relationship between the breach and the damages sustained. In cases in which a party files a motion for summary judgment, the party may prevail if it demonstrates that the party in opposition to the motion cannot harbor a reasonable expectation of establishing an essential element of its case. If the moving party meets this burden, the responding party must produce evidence that proves there is a material dispute of fact that requires a trial. Otherwise, its claims may be dismissed.
In the subject case, the appellate court was not persuaded by the plaintiff’s argument that the evidence of record was sufficient for a jury to find that the defendant mover was negligent in that he was traveling at an excessive rate of speed prior to the accident, as there was no information that would support that assertion. As such, the appellate court affirmed the trial court ruling.
Meet with a Personal Injury Attorney in Massachusetts
If you sustained injuries due to the recklessness of another party, you may be able to recover compensation and should speak to an attorney. The proficient Massachusetts personal injury attorneys of the Law Office of James K. Meehan are well-versed in what it takes to prove liability in cases involving negligence, and we will fight tirelessly to help you seek just results. We can be contacted through our form online or at 508-822-6600 to set up a meeting.