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Articles Posted in Negligence

The concept of negligence law is born of the idea that we each owe certain duties to one another. This includes not only individuals and businesses but also branches of the government. It can also include non-profit organizations and, as was the situation in a recent case, colleges and universities.

Some duties are general in nature, such as the duty that motorists owe one another to keep a proper lookout while driving. Duties can sometimes be more specific, depending on special knowledge or control by one party or the other.

One thing that is sure, however, is that no one owes anyone else the duty to prevent any and all harm that might befall him or her. Such a notion would be very unfair, of course. Instead, the question of duty is more often resolved based on an inquiry into whether the harm was foreseeable and whether the defendant could have prevented such with reasonable efforts.

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One of the first considerations in a personal injury lawsuit in Massachusetts, such as a negligence claim arising from a Cape Cod boating accident, is the forum in which the plaintiff’s claim will be filed. Often, there is but a single possibility for the filing of such a case, so the inquiry is a relatively simple one.

However, some situations lend themselves to the possibility of jurisdiction in more than one court – a state court or a federal court, perhaps. Sometimes, two states may arguably both have jurisdiction over a given case.

Rarely – but sometimes – two different nations may have jurisdiction of a particular lawsuit. In such a situation, it is up to the court system to decide which nation’s court will provide the more convenient forum based on the situation at hand.

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When it comes to the ultimate outcome of a Cape Cod personal injury case, the availability of liability insurance is one of the most important factors to be considered. Assuming that there is a policy of insurance that covers the occurrence at issue, another important consideration is the policy limits of such coverage.

In the absence of adequate liability insurance, the plaintiff’s options for recovering a judgment against the defendant are limited. While the plaintiff may have a right to execute the judgment against any property owned by the defendant and/or any wages that he or she earns in the future, it may take a very, very long time to satisfy a judgment – if it is ever satisfied.

Of course these issues are meaningless if the plaintiff is unable to prove his or her case in court, so it is important that someone who has suffered personal injuries due to another person’s careless or reckless conduct consult an attorney who can help him or her build a case that will convince the jury of his or her right to money damages. Without evidence that preponderates in the plaintiff’s favor, the defendant’s liability insurance is irrelevant.

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The first question that must be answered in any Cape Cod wrongful death or personal injury lawsuit is, “Did the defendant owe a duty of care to the plaintiff?” The answer to this inquiry can be impacted by state statutes, existing case law, local ordinances, the particular facts of the case, the relationship between the parties, and various other matters.

If the defendant did owe a duty of care to the plaintiff, the next step is to determine whether the duty was breached. If it was, then the issue turns to the question of causation and, then, damages. Only if the defendant owed the plaintiff a duty of care, breached that duty, and thereby proximately caused legal damages to him or her may the case be resolved in the plaintiff’s favor.

If the answer to the duty question is “no,” the case ends there – unless the trial court’s judgment is appealed, of course. Then, a higher court may take a look at the case to determine whether a mistake was made in the lower tribunal. Only if the appealing party can convince the appellate court that a reversible error was made will there be a reversal of the lower court’s decision and a reinstatement of the plaintiff’s complaint.

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Most people are at least vaguely aware that there are deadlines for filing a claim in a Cape Cod work injury case. The particulars of those procedural rules, however, are not as widely understood. As the following case indicates, sometimes the statutes of limitations can even be a matter of dispute, due to the unique facts of a given case.

If you or someone in your family has been hurt at work, it is best to talk to a lawyer right away. A knowledgeable work injury attorney will talk to you about the details of your accident and advise you of the procedure for protecting your claim and your legal rights.

Waiting too long to take legal action can result in total forfeiture of an otherwise valid claim, so it important to understand the necessary steps in your particular case. It is important to note that, while there are general statutes of limitation for workers’ compensation cases, the circumstances of your particular case may alter that general timeline. This is especially true in cases involving product injury, injuries out of state, and accidents that were caused by the negligence of a governmental entity.

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Workers’ compensation laws are designed to protect those who are hurt at work. However, different situations in the workplace can result in different outcomes. For example, someone who was working as an independent contractor may have a harder fight when attempting to seek payment for an on-the-job injury than a “regular” employee.

If you have been injured at work, you should understand both your legal rights and your own responsibilities, such as the giving of timely notice. Understanding what is required of both you and the entity for whom you were working at the time of the accident is important as you go about seeking the compensation to which you are entitled.

Please keep in mind that, even in the age of COVID-19, there are deadlines for filing claims. Failure to take timely legal action on a Cape Cod workers’ compensation injury case will likely mean that your right to pursue compensation will be deemed waived.

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In a Cape Cod products liability case, there are likely to be several defendants. This is because several different parties in the chain of distribution – from the manufacturer to the wholesale distributor to the retailer – can potentially be liable to the plaintiff.

While it might seem simpler to name only a single defendant, this is rarely wise. Naming multiple defendants can help ensure that the plaintiff ultimately receives what he or she is due if there is a favorable judgment, even if one or more of the defendants proves to be insolvent or has limited resources for satisfying the plaintiff’s claim.

When there are several defendants, each of whom could potentially be held liable for a plaintiff’s personal injuries, it is not unusual for there to be cross-claims between the defendants as each attempts to limit its own monetary outlay to the plaintiff. Experienced product injury lawyers are well-acquainted with these tactics and understand that this “infighting” between the defendants cannot stand in the way of the injured party’s quest for justice.

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While the right to a trial-by-jury in a Cape Cod car accident case is very important, there are sometimes occasions when the parties to such a matter may opt to submit their dispute to arbitration rather than move forward with a traditional trial. Like other kinds of alternative dispute resolution such as mediation, arbitration takes the case away from the consideration of a traditional judge and jury and places decision-making into the hands of one or more neutral persons.

In such a situation, there may be a single arbitrator, or there may be several. The result of the arbitration may be binding or non-binding (although, typically, “arbitration tends to be binding, while “mediation” tends to be non-binding).

Arbitration can sometimes be mandatory (such as when someone has signed an agreement to arbitrate all claims prior to the accident or event at issue). Arbitration can also be entered into by the agreement of the parties when all sides believe that it is the most fair and effective means of resolving the issues in a particular case.

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Those who own animals that cause serious injury to others by biting them or otherwise attacking them can be held liable for medical expenses, lost earnings, and other damages. Of course, there are some limitations on this general rule. For instance, if the bite or attack came as a result of the plaintiff provoking the animal in some manner, the owner may not be liable for the plaintiff’s injuries. Often, Cape Cod dog bite cases come down to a factual dispute that must be resolved by the trier of fact. Sometimes, however, dog bite cases can be handled though the pre-trial summary judgment process.

Facts of the Case

The plaintiff in a recent (unreported) case was a man who was bitten by a dog owned by the defendant. Seeking monetary compensation for serious injuries he allegedly received in the incident, the plaintiff filed suit against the defendant pursuant to Massachusetts General Law ch. 140, § 155. In his suit, the plaintiff stated claims for both negligence and strict liability, alleging that, at the time that he was bitten, he was not “teasing, tormenting, or abusing” the dog but, rather, had merely leaned down to pet the animal. The defendant’s unsigned answers to interrogatories asserted that the plaintiff had awoken the dog from sleep, stepped on its tail, and swung a heavy medallion at the dog.

The trial court granted summary judgment to the plaintiff. The defendant sought reconsideration, but the trial court did not change its earlier ruling in the plaintiff’s favor. The defendant appealed.

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Some Cape Cod personal injury cases are multi-faceted. In addition to pursuing several different theories of liability and/or naming several defendants in a suit, a plaintiff may also file multiple lawsuits in different courts, seeking different types of compensation, as the case progresses. For instance, a plaintiff may seek compensation for a business owner’s negligence in his or her initial lawsuit. Later, that same individual may file a different type of lawsuit against the original defendant’s insurance company due to its failure to meet its legal obligations during settlement negotiations in the first case.

In both situations, the burden of proof is on the plaintiff to prove his or her case by a preponderance of the evidence. Thus, it is important that the plaintiff be represented by experienced legal counsel who can assist him or her in the filing of the required pleadings, the gathering of evidence, and the presentment of the case to the jury at trial.

Facts of the Case

In a recent (unreported) case, the plaintiff was a man who suffered a traumatic brain injury in 2008 as a result of an argument that began over a bar stool in a restaurant and culminated in an exchange of blows in the street later in the evening. The plaintiff filed a negligence security practices lawsuit against the restaurant, and, in 2012, a jury determined that the restaurant and an associated entity were each 45% at fault for the plaintiff’s injuries. The plaintiff was awarded $4.5 million in compensatory damages. The plaintiff then filed a second case against the insurance company that insured the defendants in the first case, seeking damages for the insurer’s alleged failure to effectuate a prompt, fair, and equitable settlement of the first case after liability had become clear.

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