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Articles Posted in Negligence

Unlike other personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits, Massachusetts medical malpractice claims must be reviewed by a special tribunal before they may proceed in a regular courtroom. If the tribunal does not believe the claim has merit, the plaintiff has the option of filing a bond and continuing with his or her case. A recent appellate court decision dealt with this procedure, answering the question of whether the bond has to be in cash or whether a surety bond will suffice.doctor

Facts of the Case

In the recently reviewed appellate case, the plaintiff was a man who sought to recover compensation for an alleged act of medical negligence by the defendant health care provider. He commenced his action pursuant to Massachusetts General Laws chapter 231, § 60B, and a medical malpractice tribunal was convened to review the evidence against the defendant. After consideration, the tribunal concluded that the plaintiff had not presented sufficient evidence to raise a legitimate question of liability appropriate for judicial inquiry, as required under Massachusetts law.

financial resources
There are many different types of issues that can arise in a Massachusetts car accident lawsuit – who is at fault, whether the plaintiff or a perhaps a third party are also to blame, whether a certain policy of insurance is applicable considering the particular facts giving rise to the cause of action.

Sometimes, the issue is not who is at fault or whether there is liability insurance available, but, rather, whether the defendant’s personal assets can be used to satisfy the judgment. Typically, this only happens when the defendant is either uninsured or underinsured.

However, when a particular defendant has significant wealth in addition to (or in lieu of) insurance coverage, it may be possible for the plaintiff(s) to attach the defendant’s personal assets. Of course, each case is unique and must be decided on its own merits.

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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review
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

doctor
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