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Massachusetts workers who are injured on the job are often entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. Depending on the nature and extent of their injuries, they may be owed not only medical benefits but also disability benefits. Generally, whether disability benefits are owed is based, in part, on whether a person is able to earn an income in any capacity. Recently, a Massachusetts court issued a ruling discussing what evidence is needed to demonstrate an injured employee is completely disabled in a case in which the plaintiff argued he was owed additional benefits. If you were injured at work, you could be owed benefits, and you should speak to a skilled Massachusetts workers’ compensation attorney regarding your case.

The Claimant’s Harm

It is reported that the plaintiff was employed as an ironworker for a transportation authority. His job involved heavy lifting, and at one point, he suffered permanent injuries to his back and shoulder while performing his duties. As such, he filed a claim for workers’ compensation benefits from his employer. He was ultimately awarded permanent partial disability benefits by an administrative judge at the Department of Industrial Accidents. As it was determined he could still perform light-duty work at a retail job, he was not deemed totally disabled. The reviewing board affirmed the judge’s decision, and the plaintiff appealed.

Disability Determinations in Workers’ Compensation Cases

The court noted that the nature and extent of the plaintiff’s injuries were not disputed on appeal. Rather, the sole issue before the court was whether the plaintiff was totally disabled. The plaintiff argued that, as he was employed for many years as an ironworker, being forced to take a low-paying retail job would be so degrading that such a position should not be considered when determining his ability to earn an income. 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 →

Under Massachusetts’ “dog bite” law, people who have dogs can be held accountable for any harm the dog causes to innocent victims. While the dog bite law is a strict liability statute, which means that liability can be imposed absent any negligence, a plaintiff must nonetheless prove certain things to recover damages, including that the defendant kept or owned the dog. Recently, a Massachusetts court issued an opinion discussing whether a landowner could be held liable for harm caused by a tenant’s dog. If you were injured by a dog attack, you have the right to pursue compensation, and you should meet with a knowledgeable Massachusetts personal injury lawyer to determine your rights.

The Plaintiff’s Harm

It is alleged that the plaintiff was riding his bicycle past a property owned by the defendant and rented to a tenant. The tenant owned a dog who chased and attacked the plaintiff, who fell off his bike and suffered injuries. The plaintiff then filed a lawsuit against the defendant, alleging he was strictly liable for his harm under the dog bite law and was negligent as well. Following discovery, the defendant filed a motion for summary judgment, asking the court to dismiss the plaintiff’s claims. The court granted the defendant’s motion, and the plaintiff appealed.

Liability for Dog Bites

First, the court noted that, contrary to the plaintiff’s assertions, the dog bite law did not apply to the defendant because he was not the keeper or owner of the dog in question. Thus, as the matter was not governed by statutory law, the court applied common law negligence principles. The court explained that to prevail on the negligence claim, the plaintiff was required to show that the defendant owed him a duty to act with reasonable care, but the defendant breached the duty owed and a causal link between the breach and the harm suffered. 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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In Massachusetts, a person that lends a vehicle to a dangerous driver may be deemed negligent if the driver ultimately causes a collision that results in bodily injury. There are certain things a plaintiff must prove to establish a car owner’s liability for an accident, however. In a recent opinion, a Massachusetts court discussed the negligence of an owner of a borrowed car and what a plaintiff must prove to demonstrate the right to recover damages. If you were hurt by a negligent driver operating a borrowed vehicle, you might be owed damages, and it is critical to speak with a seasoned Massachusetts personal injury lawyer promptly to protect your right to recover compensation.

The Plaintiff’s Harm

It is reported that the plaintiff suffered injuries in a collision caused by the defendant driver. The defendant driver, who was 26-years-old at the time of the accident, had ADHD and autism spectrum disorder. He lived alone but was subsidized by his parents, who were legally separated. The defendant’s mother owned the vehicle the defendant driver was operating at the time of the accident.

Allegedly, the defendant’s mother was aware that he was involved in other collisions but let him operate the car as if it were his own regardless. The plaintiff ultimately filed a lawsuit against the defendant and his mother, alleging, among other things, a negligence claim against the mother. She then moved to have the case dismissed via summary judgment. Continue reading →

Employees that are hurt at work are generally entitled to medical benefits that cover the cost of any necessary treatment. In some cases, though, it may be disputed what is considered a required treatment or what a workers’ compensation insurer is obligated to cover. For example, in a recent opinion, a Massachusetts court addressed the issue of whether a workers’ compensation insurer could be compelled to reimburse an employee for the cost of medical marijuana, ultimately determining it could not. If you were hurt on the job, it is advisable to talk to a trusted Massachusetts workers’ compensation attorney to discuss your rights.

Procedural History of the Case

It is reported that the plaintiff suffered two work-related injuries, one in 2010 and one in 2012. He filed workers’ compensation claims for each injury. When traditional treatment methods failed, he began using medical marijuana to treat the pain caused by his harm. He then sought reimbursement of his medical marijuana expenses from his employer’s worker’s compensation insurer. The plaintiff’s claim was denied by an administrative judge. The plaintiff appealed, and on appeal, the denial was affirmed, as the reviewing board ultimately determined that marijuana’s classification as an illicit substance under federal law preempted any state authority to order a workers’ compensation insurer to pay for the plaintiff’s expenses. The plaintiff again appealed, this time to the Massachusetts state court.

Reimbursement Under the Medical Marijuana Act

On appeal, the state court affirmed the prior rulings but on different grounds. The court noted that the Massachusetts Medical Marijuana Act (the Act) was drafted to take into account that marijuana is illegal under federal law and deemed to have no medicinal uses under federal law. Thus, the Act contains a provision stating that nothing in the Act compels any government agency or authority or any health insurance provider to reimburse an individual for the cost of using medical marijuana.

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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.

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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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Under Massachusetts law, when a person dies in an accident, the person’s estate will often seek damages from the parties that may have caused the events leading up to the person’s death. Simply because an accident occurred does not necessarily mean that a party will be deemed liable, however. This was shown in a recent case in which the court affirmed the dismissal of the plaintiff’s wrongful death claims due to his failure to establish that the defendant owed any duty to the deceased person. If you lost a loved one in an accident caused by another party’s reckless acts, it is prudent to speak to a trusted Massachusetts personal injury attorney to discuss what you must prove to recover damages.

Factual History

It is reported that the plaintiff’s decedent was hit by a car when he was walking in the street, and subsequently died from his injuries. The facts demonstrated that he entered the street because the sidewalk that was adjacent to the roadway was impassable due to an accumulation of snow and ice. The plaintiff filed a wrongful death lawsuit against multiple defendants, including the owners of the property that was next to the subject sidewalk. The defendant property owners filed a motion to dismiss, arguing they did not have a duty to maintain a publicly owned sidewalk. The trial court granted the defendant’s motion, and the plaintiff appealed. On appeal, the appellate court affirmed the trial court ruling.

Duty to Maintain Sidewalks in Massachusetts

Upon reviewing the facts of the case, the appellate court noted that it was undisputed that the sidewalk was owned by the city in which it was located and not by the defendant property owners, and that it was a public walkway. Nonetheless, the plaintiff argued the defendant had a duty to refrain from causing dangerous conditions on the sidewalk and that it breached the duty by allowing the accumulation of snow to exist on the sidewalk. The appellate court found that this was insufficient to form the basis of a claim against the defendant.

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It is not uncommon for people to allow friends or family members to borrow their cars. What may seem like a simple favor can unintentionally expose people to liability, however. In other words, if the person borrowing the vehicle is subsequently involved in a collision, the owner of the vehicle may be deemed liable for negligent entrustment. Merely lending a car to a person is not sufficient to prove a negligent entrustment claim, though, as demonstrated in a recent Massachusetts ruling. If you were injured in a car accident with a driver using a borrowed car, you might be able to pursue claims against multiple parties, and you should speak to a knowledgeable Massachusetts personal injury lawyer as soon as possible to determine your options

The Underlying Accident

It is determined that the plaintiff was involved in a car accident with the defendant driver. She suffered severe injuries in the accident and ultimately filed a lawsuit against the defendant driver and the owner of the vehicle she was operating at the time of the accident, who was her father-in-law. Specifically, the plaintiff filed a negligent entrustment claim against the defendant owner, arguing that he knew or should have known she could not safely operate the vehicle. The defendant owner then filed a motion for summary judgment, arguing that the plaintiff would be unable to prove her negligent entrustment claim and, therefore, it should be dismissed.

Proving a Negligent Entrustment Claim

In Massachusetts, negligent entrustment is comprised of three elements. First, the plaintiff must show that the owner of a vehicle lent it to a person who was unfit or incompetent to drive, and the person’s incompetence caused the plaintiff’s injuries. The plaintiff must then show that the owner either generally or specifically granted the person permission to drive the vehicle. Finally, the plaintiff has to prove that the owner possessed actual knowledge of the incompetence of the driver. Continue reading →