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Articles Posted in Negligence

highway at sunsetSo how bad – or how good – are Massachusetts drivers, really? That all depends on whom you ask. Some sources claim that Massachusetts has some of the best drivers in the country, but other studies lead to a very different conclusion.

While we cannot say with 100% accuracy which side has the better argument, we can say one thing for sure:  there are a significant number of car accidents in and around the Cape Cod area. We know this because we have been representing the victims of crashes caused by negligent drivers for many years. Regardless of what the numbers say, we understand that a Cape Cod car accident can wreak great physical injuries and financial hardships on innocent parties, and we are here to help those who have been hurt seek fair compensation.

The Country’s Best Drivers? Seriously?

insurance

Those who have been involved in a Cape Cod auto accident may be surprised to learn that they may have to file multiple claims, including not only a negligence claim against the party whose actions led to the crash but also a claim against their own insurance company if the negligent party does not have adequate liability insurance to cover the claimant’s total damages (including pain and suffering, past and future medical costs, and lost earnings).

An experienced injury attorney can help the claimant explore the various causes of action, explain the likelihood of success of each claim, and prepare the appropriate paperwork to ensure that important deadlines like the statute of limitations are met.

While many cases are settled prior to trial, an injured party should be prepared to go to court if necessary. Despite a statutory obligation to exercise good faith in settling claims, there is never a guarantee that a reasonable settlement offer will be made.

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semi-truck

One of the most important facets of the American legal system is the right to a trial by jury. The idea is that a jury of one’s peers will be more likely to render a fair and impartial verdict than might a seasoned judge, who might be predispositioned to lean one way or another.

Unfortunately, jury verdicts are not always predicable, and litigants are often dissatisfied with the results of a jury trial. While there exists the possibility of an appeal in some cases, simple displeasure with the outcome is not, in and of itself, sufficient reason for a “do-over.”

Convincing an appellate court that a mistake was made during a jury trial is not an easy thing to do, as the disappointed plaintiffs in a Massachusetts truck accident case recently learned.

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beer bottleWhen someone gets hurt on another person’s property, there is a possibility that the injured person may be able to seek compensation from the property owner if he or she can prove that the injuries were caused by the owner’s negligence.

Massachusetts premises liability cases – sometimes called “slip and fall” or “trip and fall” cases – can be difficult, however. The burden of proof in any negligence case is on the plaintiff, and a failure to prove any of the four elements of negligence (duty, breach of duty, causation, or damages) will prevent the plaintiff from a monetary recovery.

Facts of the Case

carnival ridesIt’s that time of year again. Many families, trying to squeeze in one more trip before the kids head back to school, make the trek to amusement parks both near and far. Others take advantage of those special once-a-year local fairs and festivals, dazzled by the lights, enticed by the cornucopia of carnival-style foods, and thrilled by the many rides, slides, and merry-go-rounds on the midway.

Festivals, fairs, and amusement parks can be great fun. But are they safe?

Fatal Accident at State Fair in Ohio

Recently, a fair-goer was killed when a carnival ride apparently malfunctioned at the Ohio State Fair. According to reports, part of the ride broke off while it was in motion. Several people on the ride fell from the air as the ride came apart and crashed to the ground. Fair officials said the ride had been inspected multiple times in the days prior to the accident.

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elderly woman's handsMany civil lawsuits are filed each year in the state and federal courts – far too many to be handled efficiently by the court system if a full-blown trial is required in every case. For this and other reasons, settlements are highly encouraged.

Under Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 176D, § 3(9)(f), an insurance company has a legal obligation to effectuate a “prompt, fair, and equitable settlement” of claims in which liability is clear. When this does not happen, Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 93A, § 9 allows the person whose rights were affected by the violation of the law to bring a civil action against the insurance company to recover damages.

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police dogPolice dogs are used by many law enforcement agencies across the country to assist officers as they search for drugs, locate missing individuals, and, sometimes, help apprehend suspects who attempt to flee the scene after being arrested.

Just as human officers can occasionally make mistakes, so, too, can K-9 officers. When this happens, should an innocent person who is injured by the dog’s error have the right to sue the government for damages?

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bulldogA liability insurance policy is, at its essence, a contract. In determining whether to enter into the agreement, an insurance company is entitled to rely on certain representations made by the would-be insured and to price its product accordingly.

Once the agreement is made, the insured has the right to demand that the insurance company defend him or her against any claims that are covered under the policy and pay any judgments (up to the policy limits) resulting from such claims.

A recent case explored the issue of whether a particular misrepresentation by the insureds during the application process was sufficient for the insurance company to later void the policy and deny coverage of a claim that would otherwise be covered.

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ladderWhen a person is hurt on another person’s property, he or she has a right to seek compensation through a premises liability lawsuit. Of course, just as in any negligence case, the burden of proof is on the plaintiff to prove that the defendant owed him or her a duty of care, that the duty of care was breached, that the plaintiff was harmed, and that there was a link of causation between the harm and the breached duty.

In proving his or her case, the plaintiff may introduce several types of evidence, including physical evidence, if applicable. In a recent case, an injured man sought sanctions against the defendant homeowners for their alleged destruction of a ladder that he alleged caused him to fall. He also sought the reversal of an order of summary judgment entered in the defendants’ favor.

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peanutSometimes, it’s hard to know whose side to take. In a recent case between a teacher and a town that had allegedly breached its agreement to “eradicate any and all records” with regard to an accusation that the teacher had recklessly exposed a child to an allergen, the court came down on the side of the teacher, agreeing with her that she was the wronged party when the town released an investigative report to the child’s father, who turned the report over to the authorities.

However, when one considers the case from the perspective of the child and her father, things are not so clear. While the criminal charge against the teacher was ultimately dismissed, one wonders whether a civil tort action would have been likewise dismissed, had the family chosen to pursue that course rather than a criminal charge.

Had the town held to its agreement to, in effect, destroy the evidence of the complaint against the teacher, how would this have affected discovery in a civil lawsuit seeking compensation for injuries suffered by the child (if injuries could, in fact, have been proven)?

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