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Articles Posted in Negligence

stairsIn most circumstances, a person who is harmed by the negligence of another party can seek monetary compensation for medical expenses, lost earnings, pain and suffering, and other damages caused by the act of negligence.

In the case of a public entity defendant, however, there are limitations on, among other things, the maximum amount of money that the injured person can receive in a Massachusetts personal injury lawsuit arising from a governmental unit’s negligence. While this may seem unfair, the idea is that a judgment against “the government” is ultimately borne by the taxpayers. Controlling the maximum amount of a potential payout preserves the public coffers, purportedly inuring to the good of all.

Facts of the Case

The plaintiff in a recent case was a public housing development resident. According to allegations in his complaint, he slipped and fell while navigating the stairs at his unit. He filed a lawsuit against the housing authority, a “controlled affiliate” of the authority, and the managing agent authority, seeking compensation for his injuries. The housing authority and the managing agent sought partial summary judgment, asking the trial court to deem them public employers under the Massachusetts Tort Claims Act (codified at Massachusetts General Laws ch. 258, § 2) and therefore not liable for damages exceeding $100,000. The trial court judge denied the motion, concluding that the Act “clearly defines the scope of a public employer” and does not include controlled affiliates within that definition.

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Generally speaking, in a Massachusetts personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit, it is the jury’s job to determine not only which party was at fault but also the amount of damages to which the plaintiff is entitled if the defendant is determined to have been negligent.

That having been said, it is important to note that the trial court judge may override the jury’s decision on damages in some cases. Such an action is the exception rather than the rule, however, and it is subject to review by the appellate court if either party challenges the ruling.

Facts of the Case

sports
When the defendant in a Cape Cod personal injury case is a governmental entity, the plaintiff faces an uphill battle. There was a time – back before there were any exceptions to the doctrine of sovereign immunity – when the plaintiff could not recover compensation at all. Now, however, the issue of whether the government has waived sovereign immunity in a particular situation can be a subject of great dispute.

Facts of the Case

The plaintiff in a recent case was a high school athlete (joined in the lawsuit by members of her family) who suffered a concussion and other injuries after being hit by a field hockey stick wielded by a teammate during a practice session. She filed suit against the defendant school district, seeking compensation under the Massachusetts Tort Claims Act. More specifically, the plaintiff alleged that the defendant was negligent in failing to properly train and supervise coaches and students, in not monitoring the plaintiff’s injuries in an appropriate fashion, and in not implementing a written academic re-entry plan following her injuries.

powerlinesElectricity is one of those things to which most of us give little thought – until something goes wrong. Unfortunately, things can sometimes go very wrong when a power company acts negligently, sometimes triggering a Massachusetts personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit.

Governmental tort liability, including the possibility of immunity from suit, can be an important factor in such cases, depending upon the particular defendant that is being sued. Such cases must be handled with the utmost care, since a procedural mistake can result in a finding that the governmental entity is not liable for the plaintiff’s harm, even when obvious negligence occurred.

Facts of the Case

legal advice
When someone is injured in a Cape Cod car accident, the responsible party’s insurance company has certain responsibilities toward the injured individual. When the insurance company fails in this regard, the plaintiff may have a separate legal action against the insurer.

As with a traditional tort case, the plaintiff has the burden of proving that the insurance company acted wrongfully. Due to the punitive nature of the statute, a successful case can result in substantial damages, including up to three times the amount in controversy.

Facts of the Case

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There are many procedural hoops that must be jumped through in order for a person injured by an act of medical negligence to be successful in a Cape Cod medical malpractice lawsuit. While potential pitfalls are common in the area of negligence law, this is particularly so in claims against doctors, hospitals, nurses, and so on. Unfortunately, this sometimes means that an otherwise valid (and potentially very valuable) claim falls through the cracks due to a technicality.

Facts of the Case

In a recent (unreported) Massachusetts Appeals Court case, the plaintiff was a woman who sought compensation for the alleged medical malpractice of several defendants related to complications from gallbladder removal surgery she underwent in 2013. In an earlier case, the plaintiff (on her own behalf and on the behalf of her two minor children) asserted claims against a hospital, a surgeon, and two “John Doe” (unknown) defendants, claiming that she had suffered a bile duct injury during her surgery that required her to undergo several other (otherwise unnecessary) medical procedures later. That case was dismissed by the medical malpractice tribunal on the ground that the plaintiff had not provided sufficient evidence to raise a legitimate question of liability, and the plaintiff’s complaint was dismissed with prejudice.

fraud
In personal injury and wrongful death cases, there are sometimes multiple theories of liability. In a Cape Cod product liability case, for instance, the plaintiff may allege that the defendant manufacturer was negligent in the design of an unreasonably dangerous product and that the defendant should be held accountable for its failure to warn the consumer of the dangerous propensity of the product in question. These theories are not necessarily inconsistent.

Sometimes, however, a plaintiff may have to decide between legal theories that could be considered inconsistent. A recent case explored the complications that can arise in such situations.

Facts of the Case

prescription medicationApproximately seven out of every 10 Americans take a prescription medication. While the majority of these drugs are reasonably safe (virtually every medicine has some side effect), there has been a trend in recent years for drugs to be put on the market before the full effects are adequately studied.

A number of Massachusetts product liability lawsuits have arisen as a result of personal injuries or wrongful deaths allegedly caused by prescription medications. One common claim in such lawsuits is an allegation that the patient was not adequately warned of the medication’s side effects. A complication arises, however, when the patient takes a generic version of a drug. This is because federal law requires that a generic drug provide an identical label to its name-brand counterpart, even though the drugs may be made by different manufacturers.

Facts of the Case

stop bullying
Bullying is a terrible problem in schools these days. Sometimes, a Massachusetts personal injury or wrongful death claim can arise from injuries caused by bullies. While each case stands on its own facts, a common issue in such cases is, “is the school liable?” In a case that made its way all the way to the state’s highest court, it was held that neither the school district nor teachers to whom reports of bullying had previously been made were liable for an incident that put a young student in a wheelchair for life.

Facts of the Case

In a recent case, the plaintiffs were the parents of a fourth grader who was pushed down the stairs by a classmate at his public elementary school in 2008. Although the extent of the boy’s injuries was not immediately apparent, he complained of tingling and numbness in his extremities a few hours after the fall; by the end of the school day, he reported that his legs were like “dead weight” and required assistance to walk out of the school. Two days later, the student was diagnosed with an injury to his spinal column and spinal cord, which resulted in permanent quadriplegia.

medical coatsFiling a claim for medical negligence in Cape Cod or elsewhere in Massachusetts can be a complicated endeavor. It pays to talk to an attorney as soon as possible after suspecting that you or someone close to you has been hurt by an act of medical malpractice.

It takes a considerable amount of time to properly investigate and substantiate a medical malpractice claim. If the appropriate paperwork is not completed in a timely fashion – or if the offer of proof submitted to the medical malpractice tribunal does not meet the requirements of Massachusetts medical malpractice law – the case is subject to dismissal, even if the plaintiff was severely injured or even passed away because of a medical provider’s mistake.

Facts of the Case