Articles Posted in Car Accident

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In the event of the tragic death of a loved one, the surviving family members can bring a wrongful death claim against the person who they believe to be at fault for the accident. Massachusetts’s wrongful death statute allows a plaintiff to bring a claim against a defendant who negligently causes a person’s death, or who, “by willful, wanton or reckless act” causes the person’s death in a way that would have allowed the person to recover compensation if the person were still alive.

Under the statute, the following people can recover damages from a Massachusetts wrongful death claim:

hit and run

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Massachusetts motorists must stay at the scene of a crash to provide their information to injured parties—the failure to do so carries serious civil and criminal consequences. Under Massachusetts law, the crime of leaving the scene of an accident involves leaving the scene after “knowingly colliding with or otherwise causing injury” to another vehicle, person, or property, or “to avoid prosecution or evade apprehension” after a collision resulting in death, and without stopping and providing the driver’s name, residence, and vehicle registration number.

Massachusetts car accident victims may be able to use another driver’s act of leaving the scene as evidence of that driver’s negligence in a subsequent civil lawsuit. A criminal conviction for leaving the scene of an accident might be used to show the driver was at fault for the crash or as other evidence. Even for drivers that fear the consequences, leaving the scene is illegal and is never a good idea. Police are often able to track down hit-and-run drivers through video and witnesses.

Massachusetts personal injury cases involving more than one potentially liable party can become complicated when it comes to determining each party’s liability. A defendant’s negligence does not need to be the sole cause of a plaintiff’s injury for the defendant to be legally responsible for the plaintiff’s injury. As long as a defendant’s negligence contributed as a proximate cause of the p

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laintiff’s injury, the defendant is liable. In a Massachusetts negligence case,  joint liability is appropriate when two or more parties negligently contribute to the injury of another through their acts, which operate concurrently, in a way that the damages are inseparable. In such cases, the parties are jointly and severally liable.

pedestrian

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Whenever someone is injured in a Massachusetts car accident, they can pursue a claim for compensation through a Massachusetts personal injury lawsuit. When the allegedly at-fault party is a government employee, however, certain additional rules apply.

Historically, government entities were not able to be sued by private citizens. However, over time, lawmakers realized that this rule led to unfair results in that accident victims were denied compensation for injuries that were clearly due to the wrongdoing of government employees. Thus, lawmakers across the country passed laws called “tort claims acts,” which waived government immunity in certain situations.

Anyone who has lived in Massachusetts over the winter season knows that the state gets it fair share of winter weather. Whether it be snow, freezing rain, or black ice, Massachusetts roads can get ugly between December and February, increasing the likelihood of a Massachusetts car accident. These conditions can present a challenge to motorists who may not have a choice but to brave the conditions to get to work or take their children to school.

Winter highway

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Under Massachusetts law, all drivers must operate their vehicle at a speed that is “reasonable and proper”. In areas where there is a posted speed limit, the posted speed limit is considered the maximum speed that is reasonable and proper. Thus, if a motorist causes an accident while speeding, the fact that they were traveling in excess of the speed limit at the time of the accident creates a rebuttable presumption that they were not traveling at a reasonable and proper speed. However, there are certain situations where traveling at the posted speed limit would not be reasonable and proper, and motorists must adjust their speed accordingly.

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Massachusetts personal injury victims can suffer devastating consequences if an insurance company rejects their claims for coverage. In a recent case before the Appeals Court of Massachusetts, the court had to determine whether the plaintiff was considered a “household member” in order to be eligible for coverage.

According to the court’s opinion, the plaintiff was injured in a serious car accident while he was a passenger in a vehicle. The plaintiff was hospitalized for four days, and incurred medical bills of more than $40,000, as well as a long-term disability. The plaintiff accepted a settlement with the driver for the full extent of the driver’s insurance policy of $100,000.

Evidently, at the time of the accident, the plaintiff lived with his girlfriend and their minor son in a home with his girlfriend’s mother and stepfather. The mother and stepfather had an insurance policy that covered two cars used by residents of the plaintiff’s home. The policy provided $250,000 of coverage per person in underinsured motorist coverage for damages caused by a person who does not have sufficient insurance to cover someone’s damages. The plaintiff filed a claim under this policy.

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A Massachusetts appeals court recently considered a case in which a trial judge reduced a jury’s damages award from over $32 million to just $20 million.

The Facts

According to the court’s opinion, a woman was hit and killed by a car that had sped through an intersection and into the front of a store. The woman’s husband sued the store, alleging that the store was both negligent and grossly negligent. Specifically, the husband claimed that because the store had experienced hundreds of “car strikes” at its stores, it should have installed protective barriers along the walkway and at the entrance to the parking lot.

The case proceeded to trial, and the jury found that the store was negligent, awarding the plaintiff over $32 million in damages. Following a defense motion for remittitur, the judge determined that the award was excessive when compared to the evidence, and ordered a new trial on damages unless the plaintiff accepted a reduced compensatory damages award of $20 million. The plaintiff accepted the reduced award, and then appealed.

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car accident

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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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A woman filed suit on behalf of her daughters, based on a a Massachusetts car accident that occurred in December 2010. The defendant was driving a tractor-trailer owned by the co-defendant when he rear-ended the plaintiff’s car. The defendants conceded liability, and the trial proceeded strictly on the issue of damages. The jury returned a verdict of $6,749.29 to the woman, $6,414.70 to one daughter, and no damages to the other daughter. The plaintiffs moved to set aside the jury verdict and for a new trial, both of which were denied.The plaintiffs appealed, arguing:  (1) the trial judge abused her discretion in refusing to continue the trial when co-counsel withdrew after jury empanelment; (2) the trial judge wrongfully excluded the plaintiffs’ revised medical records; (3) the trial judge wrongfully admitted certain medical records offered by the defendants; and (4) there was ineffective assistance of counsel. The Massachusetts Appeals Court rejected these arguments and affirmed the lower court’s judgment.

The appeals court first considered the plaintiffs’ claim that the judge abused her discretion in denying their motion for a continuance and “forcing” them to trial without adequate assistance of counsel. After jury empanelment, “lead counsel’s” renewed motion to withdraw was permitted due to what he described as an ethical conflict. The judge then stated her intention to dismiss the case for want of prosecution if the plaintiffs did not go forward without him. The plaintiffs did not object to the judge’s decision at that time. Since they raised the issue for the first time on appeal, the appeals court explained that the argument was waived.

Either way, the court found that it was not an abuse of discretion for the judge to require the plaintiffs to go forward with their two remaining attorneys, who had been counsel of record from the beginning of the case and who also had been actively involved throughout discovery and pretrial proceedings. The judge concluded that since the plaintiff’s behavior had triggered the ethical issue that prompted the attorney’s withdrawal, she should not be rewarded with a continuance.

A defendant and her employer, Eastern Connecticut Health Network, Inc., appealed from a trial court judgment for the plaintiff following a jury trial on his negligence claim resulting from a car accident. The Connecticut Court of Appeals affirmed.On November 21, 2012, at approximately 4:45 p.m., the plaintiff exited off Interstate 84 in Manchester. When the left arrow for his lane turned green, he proceeded slowly into the intersection. The defendant, who was traveling east on Deming Street in her Toyota Camry, hit the plaintiff’s car on the driver’s side door. Although the defendant applied her brakes prior to the impact, the plaintiff still sustained serious, life-threatening injuries. Several witnesses saw the accident and gave statements to the police or provided testimony to the jury. The statements and testimony of those witnesses varied greatly. Some of the witnesses stated that the defendant ran through a red light and that the plaintiff had a green light. Other witnesses stated that the plaintiff ran through a red light and that the defendant had a green light.

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