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Each year in Massachusetts there are over 120,000 car accidents. These accidents seriously injure more than 4,000 people and claim upwards of 320 lives per year. Those who have been injured in a Massachusetts car accident may be entitled to monetary compensation for the injuries they have sustained through a personal injury lawsuit against the responsible parties.

While some Massachusetts car accidents are the result of one party’s negligence, it is often the case where the fault is shared between multiple parties. In some situations, the plaintiff is found to have been partly responsible for causing the accident. As a result, courts need a way to determine which plaintiffs should be entitled to recover for their injuries, and how a plaintiff’s own negligence should be factored into that recovery. Thus, Massachusetts lawmakers passed Massachusetts General Law section 85, implementing a system known as modified comparative negligence.

Under a comparative negligence analysis, a plaintiff may pursue a claim for compensation – even if their own negligence contributed to the accident. A “pure” comparative negligence model allows for a plaintiff to pursue a claim regardless of their own percentage of fault. However, under Massachusetts’ modified comparative negligence approach, a negligent plaintiff can recover so long as the plaintiff’s “negligence was not greater than the total amount of negligence attributable to the person or persons against whom recovery is sought.”

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Plaintiffs are able to recover damages when they are injured due to the negligence of another. However, who is at fault and what is considered negligent are very fact specific inquiries. Your knowledgeable Massachusetts personal injury attorney can help you understand whether you may be eligible to recover damages for your injuries. A case recently heard by the federal court in the District of Massachusetts looked at a situation where a woman was injured after luggage fell on her.

Facts of the Case

The plaintiff here was riding on a shuttle bus to the airport while on an Italian tour that she booked through the defendant travel agent. She alleges that while she was on the shuttle, the driver was speeding and then slammed on the brakes. The quick stop caused a suitcase to fall from the overhead storage compartment and hit her on the head. She then brought thus suit against the travel agent and the company that operated the tour. The plaintiff is alleging negligence, vicarious liability, negligent infliction of emotional distress, and breach of contract.

Court cases can take a very long time. However, the medical bills, lost wages, and other losses suffered by the victim are still occurring while the victim waits for the trial and subsequent damages. That said, Massachusetts law allows some parties to obtain interest from the date the filed the action until the date of the judgment. This can help to offset some of the costs and losses incurred by plaintiffs while they wait for trial. The United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts heard a case that addressed when prejudgment interest has to be paid by defendants.

Massachusetts Law

Massachusetts case law has noted that prejudgment interest is a remedy that is based in state law and applies when state law claims are brought in federal court. When interest begins to accrue, and the kinds of damages that are permitted to accrue interest, depends on a number of factors. Specifically, Massachusetts law says that interest begins to accrue at the time the action is commenced. This gives plaintiffs another reason to bring their claims forward as soon as possible. The interest stops accruing at the time that the final verdict is rendered.

The law specifically requires that the clerk of the court add an additional 12% yearly interest on top of the original damage amount. This is the case even when the total verdict with interest goes beyond the maximum liability allowed by law.

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The police are supposed to serve and protect citizens, but sometimes things can go wrong. In this tragic case, a Massachusetts State Trooper shot and killed a man who was threatening to kill him. Representatives of the deceased man brought this wrongful death suit. In certain circumstances, citizens may be entitled to damages from law enforcement after a wrongful death or other tort actions. Your experienced Massachusetts wrongful death attorney can help you to understand your rights in this regard.

Motion for Summary Judgment

The defendants moved for summary judgment. Summary judgment motions will be granted when there is no issue of material fact between the parties. In other words, both sides agree on the basic facts. For summary judgment to be granted, the moving party must also show that even when the facts are looked at in the light most favorable to the other party, the moving party is still entitled to judgment as a matter of law. In this case, both sides agree on the essential facts of the case.

A man was driving erratically when he was pulled over by a trooper. Unbeknownst to the police, he suffered from severe mental illness. Another trooper came and the man began to lunge at him with a pen and threatened to kill him. After pepper spraying the plaintiff twice without slowing him down, the plaintiff continued to lunge at the trooper. Another trooper pulled up and saw the plaintiff with something in his hand lunging at the officer. The trooper that came on the scene shot the man twice and he died from his injuries at the hospital.

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If you’ve ever seen a pharmaceutical commercial on television, you probably know that there will be a portion of the commercial where the announcer will give a long list of potential side effects from the medication. This is because drug companies have a responsibility to warn customers of potential side effects of their medication. This case involves a prescription anti-psychotic drug that was prescribed to the defendant, an inmate in a correctional institution. He is alleging that the medication he was given caused gynecomastia, which is when men start to develop breasts. In order for someone to prevail on a claim against a drug manufacturer, they – with the assistance of their skilled Massachusetts product liability attorney – need to prove some specific things.

Standards to Hold Drug Companies Accountable

In the United States, the pharmaceutical industry is governed by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Drug manufacturers have a responsibility to disclose any side effects that they have knowledge of. As side effects are considered part of taking a medication, just because you suffer side effects does not mean that you will be able to recover damages. There are only specific circumstances where a consumer hurt by pharmaceuticals can hold them accountable for damages.

Many people in the U.S. depend on lifesaving medications. When those medications are unavailable or inaccessible, it can lead to severe consequences, up to and including death. That is what happened in this tragic case heard by the Massachusetts Supreme Court. If you or a loved one has been injured or killed by the actions of someone else – whether due to a car accident, slip and fall, medical malpractice, or any other kind of wrongdoing – you should contact an experienced Massachusetts personal injury attorney to see if you are able to hold the wrongdoers accountable under Massachusetts law. 

Medications and Prior Authorization 

The plaintiff in this case was 18 when she had her first seizure. She was brought to the hospital and given Topamax, an anti-seizure medication. She was instructed to continue taking the Tomamax. She filled her initial prescription at her pharmacy with no issues. When she tried to get a refill of the prescription, she was told it was too early and that in the future her insurance provider would require an authorization form to be filled out by her prescriber.

The plaintiff’s mother testified that the pharmacist told her it was the pharmacy’s policy to inform the prescriber through phone or fax, but in this case there wasn’t any evidence showing that the prescriber was notified. Though the court points out that there is no law requiring the pharmacy to do this. The pharmacy’s computer system requires only one click of the mouse to make the notification happen. However, at the time of this incident the pharmacy did not keep records about its contacts with prescribers. Continue reading

The father of a son who committed suicide brought this wrongful death action against the college he was attending at the time. The father alleged that the school had a duty to prevent his son’s suicide. However, the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts held that the school had no duty to prevent the suicide of his son.

Facts of the Case

This tragic case involves a 25 year old graduate student who was living off campus while studying marketing. A couple of years before his death he sought help with test taking from his academic advisors. His advisor recommended that he take advantage of the services for students with disabilities, but he declined. He was also referred to the mental health and counseling services on campus.

While he went to a few mental health appointments, the young man said that he found the appointments to be “useless,” and believed his test taking problems were unrelated to his mental health. He did disclose that he suffered from depression and had previous suicide attempts but did not currently have suicidal ideation. He also stated that he was seeing a private psychologist. Continue reading

After a jury awarded over $35 million to a woman in a medical malpractice case (later reduced to $32.5 million), the defendant appealed the verdict on a number of grounds. This case involves a woman who was a marathon runner and exercise class instructor who complained of dizziness. An MRI revealed that she had a “venous varix” in her brain, which is similar to an aneurysm. However, this was not found to be the cause of her dizziness. Her primary care doctor, an employee of the defendant, received a copy of this MRI but never noted the venous varix on her problem list.

A few years later she became pregnant. Since her obstetrician did not know about her venous varix, and she had no way of knowing it was relevant, she did not have a Caesarian section as recommended for people with the condition and instead gave birth naturally. Some hours after giving birth she suffered a debilitating headache and went into a coma for a month. After the coma her left side was paralyzed and she now has difficulty chewing, swallowing, and speaking. She will most likely need 24/7 care for the rest of her life. Based on these facts, at the initial trial the jury awarded her $35 million which was later reduced due to a calculation error. The hospital appealed.

If you or a loved one have been a victim of medical malpractice, you should contact an experienced Massachusetts medical malpractice attorney as soon as possible. They can help you to understand your rights and any recovery you may be entitled to under the law.

The Massachusetts Supreme Court recently decided a case about the duty of care that psychiatrists and psychiatric hospitals have to people who may be harmed by current or former patients. Specifically, in this case a man was involuntarily committed to a psychiatric hospital after acting bizarrely and making threats of violence toward family members. After he was released from the hospital he murdered his neighbor. This claim was brought as a wrongful death claim by the family of the neighbor. The neighbor’s family alleged that the hospital and the man’s psychiatrist were liable for wrongful death by negligently letting the man leave the hospital. If you have been injured or a loved one was killed due to the acts of another, you should contact a knowledgeable Massachusetts wrongful death attorney as soon as possible. You may be able to hold the wrongdoers accountable for their actions.

Involuntary Hospitalization

Massachusetts law allows physicians to hospitalize patients against their will if they have a reason to believe that without hospitalization the person would create a likelihood of serious harm due to their mental illness. The initial period for these hospitalizations is up to three days. However, the superintendent of a psychiatric hospital can initially petition for someone to be held up to six months against their will if they present a risk of harm. This involuntary hospitalization can be renewed if necessary.

If you are injured at work, you may be eligible for workers’ compensation, and potentially other damages. However, for workers’ compensation purposes, you must be classified as an employee instead of an independent contractor. There are different tests that courts use to determine whether someone is an independent contractor or an employee. The Massachusetts Supreme Court clarified here that the appropriate test is the one in workers’ compensation law. If you are injured on the job, you should contact a skilled Massachusetts workers’ compensation attorney to help you get the benefits that you are entitled to. They can also help you to get any other damages you may be entitled to.

Facts of the Case

A woman worked delivering papers, but she could (and did) subcontract out some of the work. There was a specific time each day that the papers needed to be delivered by, but as long as she delivered them by that time she could deliver them when she wanted. She could choose her route and she used her own car. She worked not for the publishers of the paper, but a third party who employed people to do the delivering of the newspapers. She was delivering newspapers when she fell of a ramp and hurt her right knee and right hand. A few months later she fell again on the ice and hurt her right leg. She eventually needed two surgeries: one for her right hand and one for her right knee. She filed for workers’ compensation due to these injuries. She was denied because the administrative judge determined that she was an independent contractor and therefore not eligible for workers’ compensation.

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