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car insurance

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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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premises liability

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As a general rule, property owners have a duty to those whom they invite onto their land to ensure that the property is reasonably safe and that visitors are warned of any hazards that are present on the property. While this duty applies to landowners year-round, the majority of Massachusetts slip-and-fall cases occur in the harsh winter months, where sidewalks and parking lots often more closely resemble ice rinks than pedestrian walkways.

When it comes to snow or ice accumulations on their property, Massachusetts landowners must “act as a reasonable person under all of the circumstances including the likelihood of injury to others, the probable seriousness of such injuries, and the burden of reducing or avoiding the risk.” However, that was not always the case. It used to be that Massachusetts landowners were only responsible for “unnatural” accumulations of snow or ice until the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts issued an opinion abolishing the distinction between natural and unnatural accumulations.

The Factual Basis of the Plaintiff’s Claim

As the court explained the facts, the plaintiff was injured in a grocery store parking lot when he slipped and fell on a chunk of ice that had become frozen to the parking lot pavement. On the day of the plaintiff’s accident, it was not snowing, but it had snowed earlier that week. The grocery store had hired another company to clear the store’s parking lot, and although much of the lot was clear, there were several piles of snow.

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money gavel

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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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airplane

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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

financial accounting

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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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funeral

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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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medication

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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

pharmacy

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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

college campus

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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

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