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There are four components in a basic negligence lawsuit:  duty, breach of duty, causation, and damages. sidewalkWhether a duty exists in a given situation is usually a question of law to be resolved by the court.

Recently, a Massachusetts appeals court was called upon to resolve the issue of whether a landowner owed a duty to fix a defective public sidewalk or, alternatively, to warn those in the vicinity of the problem.

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cars on road

As you may remember, 2015 was rife with vehicle recalls. According to news reports, there were in the neighborhood of 900 recalls in all, affecting tens of millions of vehicles. Issues such as sudden acceleration, faulty ignition switches, and Volkswagen’s infamous cheating on certain emissions tests made headlines throughout the year.

Although there have been fewer recalls thus far in 2016, that does not necessarily mean that manufacturers have stopped making vehicles with significant flaws. Quite the contrary.

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lady's ankles

Have you ever wondered what an appellate court takes into consideration when deciding an appeal?

The answer is that it depends. The fact is that many issues are possible subjects of an appeal. In a recent case, the issues included the admissibility of certain testimony and demonstrative evidence, as well as whether a new trial should have been granted, due to allegedly newly discovered evidence.

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doctor's officeUnder Massachusetts law, medical malpractice lawsuits are subject to both a statute of limitations and a statute of repose. The statute of limitations controls the time during which a claim may be filed after an action accrues, but the statute of repose allows a set amount of additional time in certain instances, including when the injured party is a minor.

Generally speaking, a person hurt by an alleged act of medical negligence must file a claim with three years of the negligent act, but those who are under the age of six years at the time of the act of malpractice have until their ninth birthday to file suit.

While in theory this gives an injured child up to nine years to file suit, there is an additional requirement that all malpractice claims must be brought within seven years of the wrongful act (including claims by young children).

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carnival rideIn order to obtain a jury verdict in a negligence case, including a case arising from an accident at an amusement park, fair, or carnival, the plaintiff must prove not only that the defendant owed him or her a duty of care and breached that duty, but also that the defendant’s breach of duty was the cause of the damages complained of by the plaintiff.

Recently, an appellate court in Massachusetts reviewed a jury’s determination that the plaintiff in a personal injury lawsuit had failed to prove the issue of proximate cause in her case seeking compensation for injuries sustained in a bounce house ride.

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parking metersThe existence of a pre-existing condition can be an important factor in a workers’ compensation case, but a pre-existing condition, in and of itself, does not necessarily mean that the matter will be resolved in the employer’s favor.

Under Massachusetts law, the work injury does not have to be the predominant cause of the injury for which the worker seeks workers’ compensation benefits. Instead, the decisive consideration is whether the work-related injury was a major cause of the worker’s disability.

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dark stairwellLandowners and business operators have certain legal duties to those who come onto their property for business purposes. This includes the duty to maintain the property in a reasonably safe condition.

However, those who enter another party’s property unlawfully are not necessarily owed the same duty of care. While the landowner does not have the right to intentionally or recklessly harm a trespasser, a trespasser cannot recover damages from a landowner for injuries suffered due to mere negligence on the landowner’s part.

Because of this important distinction, disputes can arise in premises liability actions regarding the injured person’s status as a business invitee or a trespasser.

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discovery of resources

The Massachusetts wrongful death statute provides a legal remedy for those whose loved ones have died due to the negligent, willful, wanton, or reckless behavior of a person or business. If a plaintiff is successful in a wrongful death case, he or she may be entitled to damages, such as the funeral and burial expenses of the deceased person, compensation for the loss of the deceased person’s companionship and counsel, and loss of the deceased’s net income.

Like other tort actions, wrongful death lawsuits are subject to a statute of limitations that limits the time period during which a claimant may file suit against the responsible party. Generally, that time period is three years, although a different length of time may apply in certain situations. (This is one of the many reasons that it is best to consult an attorney sooner, rather than later, in wrongful death and personal injury cases.)

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lung x-ray

A recent court decision focused on the Ortho Evra patch, a birth control option that prevents pregnancy by transferring synthetic hormones through the wearer’s skin.

While arguably more convenient than other forms of birth control, the patch is not without risks, including death.

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fresh milkIn order to adjudicate a claim, a court must have subject matter jurisdiction, personal jurisdiction, and venue. If subject matter jurisdiction is not present, the only remedy is dismissal of the case because the court lacks the authority to hear the case.

With regard to personal jurisdiction and venue, however, there is also the possibility of a transfer of the case to a more appropriate forum. This is especially true in the federal courts.

Recently, a corporation with deep ties to Massachusetts challenged the jurisdiction and venue of a lawsuit filed against it in a New York federal court.

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