Articles Posted in Car Accident

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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The Massachusetts Court of Appeals recently affirmed a jury’s ruling against a plaintiff following a Worcester car accident. Just after midnight in April 2013, a defendant was driving westbound on Route 20. He was in the left-hand westbound lane, going slower than the speed limit. As far as he could see, he was the only car on the road. He had a green light as he proceeded through the intersection of Route 20 and Greenwood Street.Meanwhile, the plaintiff, another defendant, and another woman had been visiting a friend. The plaintiff drank some tequila during the visit. A few minutes past midnight, the girls got into the other defendant’s Honda Civic to go to McDonald’s. The other defendant was driving, and the plaintiff was seated in the passenger seat behind her. They headed toward Route 20. The westbound driver on Route 20 hit the Civic when it crossed in front of him. The Civic spun around, and the plaintiff was ejected, suffering serious and permanent injuries as a result.

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