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Articles Posted in Personal Injury

In a Cape Cod personal injury case, the plaintiff has the burden of proving four elements, each by a preponderance of the evidence. These elements include duty, breach of duty, damages, and causation. Once these elements have been proven, it is up to the jury to determine the amount of money damages to which the plaintiff is entitled in compensation for his or her injuries.

Along the way, both the plaintiff and the defendant are bound by certain rules regarding the admissibility of evidence and the civil procedures to be used. If an overzealous legal advocate runs afoul of these rules, it is up to the trial court judge – and ultimately the appeals courts, if further review is taken – to decide whether a new trial is warranted under the circumstances. As was reiterated in a recent case, the question is not merely whether there was wrongdoing by an attorney at trial but, rather, whether the misconduct had such an effect on the jury that a mistrial was required.

Facts of the Case

In a recent case considered on appeal by the Massachusetts Appeals Court, the plaintiff was a woman who suffered a broken tooth while eating a fast food hamburger in 2011. After determining that there had been a bone fragment in the burger, the plaintiff filed suit against the defendants, the restaurant where the hamburger was purchased and the company that supplied beef to the restaurant, seeking compensation for the injury to her tooth (which had required nearly two dozen trips to the dentist over a two-year period to resolve).

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Massachusetts workers have certain protections under state and federal law. For instance, most workplace injury cases fall under the provisions of Massachusetts workers’ compensation laws. Generally speaking, if a worker’s injury is covered by workers’ compensation, he or she will not be able to file a negligence lawsuit against the employer or a co-worker. While there are some exceptions to this general rule, most such claims are barred under Massachusetts law. A recent case explored this concept.

Facts of the Case

In a recent appeals court case, the plaintiff was a woman who sued her former employer (a bank) and two former co-workers, alleging that she had suffered personal injuries due to the defendants’ creation of a “toxic work environment” and asserting claims for negligent retention and/or supervision, negligent infliction of emotional distress, and civil conspiracy. The defendants filed a motion to dismiss the plaintiffs’ complaint pursuant to Mass. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6).

The plaintiff opposed the defendants’ motion and moved for permission to amend her complaint to assert a claim for retaliation under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). The trial court judge dismissed the plaintiff’s complaint without ruling on her motion to amend. The plaintiff appealed.

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It is not unusual for a Cape Cod premises liability, personal injury, or other negligence-based lawsuit to involve multiple claims against multiple defendants. When this happens, a plaintiff may opt to settlement some claims against some parties, while the remaining claims proceed to trial. The procedural hurdles involved in such a situation must be carefully followed, in order to preserve the legal rights of all those involved.

Facts of the Case

In a recent case, the plaintiff was a tenant who sued his landlord and an appliance store, after a stove in his apartment exploded, severely burning the tenant’s right hand. The tenant’s claims against the landlord included negligence, vicarious liability for the store’s negligence, breach of the implied warranty of habitability, and breach of the covenant of quiet enjoyment. Against the store, the plaintiff sought compensation for negligence, breach of contract as a third-party beneficiary, violation of Massachusetts General Law ch. 93A, and strict liability. Various third-party and cross-claims were also filed in the lawsuit.

The tenant and the store entered into a settlement for $15,000. Without the tenant’s assent, the store filed a motion for entry of a separate and final judgment pursuant to Massachusetts Rule of Civil Procedure 54(b). The landlord opposed the motion. After a hearing, the trial court approved the settlement and ordered the entry of a separate and final judgment dismissing the tenant’s claims against the store. The landlord appealed.

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Under Massachusetts law, there are certain requirements for those who operate motor vehicles within the Commonwealth. In a Cape Cod car accident case, a dispute may arise as to whether a driver was in compliance with these laws at the time of the accident.

It should be noted that some of the rules that affect Massachusetts drivers may not apply to those from out of state who just happen to be passing through at the time of a collision. A recent court case explores the relationship between the amount of time that a nonresident has spent in the state and the requirements for certain insurance coverage.

Facts of the Case

In a recent unreported court case, the plaintiff was a passenger in a vehicle that was involved in a two-car wreck allegedly caused by the defendant motorist’s negligence. The plaintiff’s suit also named the driver with whom he was riding at the time of the crash, her motor vehicle accident insurance company, and the defendant motorist’s insurance carrier as defendants in the suit. Only the plaintiff’s negligence claim against the defendant motorist proceeded to trial, the remaining claims having been dismissed on summary judgment or stayed.

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Hopefully, by now most people know how it important it is to file a claim for damages within the statute of limitations following a Cape Cod accident. However, many individuals may not realize that there can be additional matters of timeliness that must also be complied with, if a case is to be handled as assertively as possible.

One of these important deadlines is the 30-day period for the filing of a notice of appeal following entry of final judgment by a trial court judge. While there are some exceptions to the usual rule, these are few and far between, as the defendants in a recent premises liability lawsuit found out.

Facts of the Case

In a recent case, the plaintiff was a man who fell while maneuvering a pallet jack from his delivery truck to a loading dock operated by the defendants. According to the plaintiff, his fall aggravated osteoarthritis in hip, requiring him to undergo a total hip replacement. The plaintiff’s personal injury lawsuit alleged that the defendants were negligent in failing to maintain the mechanism that bridged the gap between his trailer and their dock, thus causing the accident and his resulting injuries.
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Timeliness is extremely important in a Cape Cod personal injury lawsuit. First of all, a potential litigant has only a limited amount of time in which to assert his or her claim; generally speaking, a claim is barred if it is not filed within the period established by the statute of limitations (although there are a few, very limited exceptions).

Additionally, once litigation has begun, there are more deadlines, including time limits on responding to an opposing party’s discovery requests (such as interrogatories, which are written questions from one party to the other seeking more information about the claim).

When a party fails to meet the deadlines that have been established by the applicable court rules – or by the trial court judge, if a scheduling order has been entered – he or she risks dismissal of a claim that, if successful on its merits, could have yielded valuable compensation for medical costs, lost pay, and pain and suffering caused by another’s carelessness.

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In a Massachusetts negligence action seeking compensation for personal injuries or a loved one’s wrongful death, the plaintiff must prove several things in order to prevail at trial. First and foremost, the plaintiff must be able to show that a duty existed between him or her and the defendant.

If the plaintiff can show that the defendant breached this duty and that, as a proximate result, he or she suffered damages, he or she may be able to recover payment for medical costs, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other associated expenses.

However, if the court does not agree that a duty of some sort existed between the parties, the plaintiff’s case will fail.

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The majority of Cape Cod personal injury cases based on the legal theory of negligence are filed against individuals or businesses. However, governmental entities can also be held accountable for negligence in some situations.

It is important to note that cases against the government may have special rules, including the requirement of giving written notice of one’s claim well in advance of the time that the statute of limitations would otherwise run (sometimes, the injured person has only a matter of days to take action).

There may also be a cap on the amount of damages that a city or other unit of the government will be required to pay.

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Under Massachusetts law, those who are injured or lose a loved one due to another’s negligence have a limited amount of time in which to file a Cape Cod personal injury claim against the responsible party.

It is important to note that certain situations, such as cases involving a governmental entity, can result in much shorter deadlines, sometimes only a matter of days, than the general statute of limitations would suggest.

When a claim is not timely filed, the injured person will, most likely, be deemed to have waived his or her right to recover money damages.

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All Massachusetts personal injury and wrongful death cases are subject to strict filing deadlines called “statutes of limitation.” Cases not filed within the time set forth by these statutes are almost always dismissed on procedural grounds.

It is important to note that, in some cases, there may be other deadlines – sometimes, much shorter deadlines – in addition to the general statute of limitations. Again, failure to act within the required time period can be fatal to a plaintiff’s case.

One example of this is a claim against a city or municipality. In these cases, at least some type of minimal legal action (such as the giving of notice) must be taken within a matter of days, or else the plaintiff will be barred from monetary recovery against the responsible governmental entity.

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