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Articles Posted in Personal Injury

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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In a Cape Cod dog bite injury lawsuit, there can be a wide variety of issues. As always, the burden of proof lies on the party asserting the claim.

Insurance coverage can be an issue in some cases. Depending on the facts, it may be the plaintiff, or it may be the defendant who is seeking a declaration from the court to the effect that the plaintiff’s claim (if it is ultimately proven) is covered by a particular policy of insurance.

As in other cases in which an insurance company seeks to avoid liability for one reason or the other, proving that there is insurance coverage can be just as difficult a battle – if not even more so – than proving the elements of the underlying case.

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Most Massachusetts personal injury lawsuits proceed in a back-and-forth fashion reminiscent of a tennis match. The plaintiff serves his or her complaint on the defendant, and then the defendant responds by filing an answer.

The parties then file discovery requests, to which the opposing party files an answer. Motions may be filed, with responses thereto filed by the other side. Eventually, if the case is not settled, a trial is held, with more back-and-forth exchanges between the plaintiff and the defendant.

Sometimes, however, a defendant may not conduct his or herself in the usual manner, potentially leading to a default judgment – a judgment declaring that the plaintiff is entitled to relief because the defendant has failed to file an answer denying the allegations in his or her complaint.

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Being involved in a Massachusetts automobile accident can be difficult enough, on its own. Damage to one’s automobile, pain and suffering from physical injuries, and time off of work while recuperating are all common problems for those who are hurt due to others’ negligence behind the wheel.

Unfortunately, the accident itself may be only the beginning of an extended period of difficulty for those involved in a crash. Dealing with insurance companies about personal injury protection, property damage claims, and other issues can be extremely difficult and time-consuming, especially for those who are not represented by an attorney.

Facts of the Case

In a recent (unreported) appellate court case, the plaintiff was a medical services provider who filed suit against the defendant insurance company, seeking to recover personal injury protection (PIP) benefits on behalf of a patient who was involved in an automobile accident in 2011. The defendant filed an answer to the plaintiff’s complaint, asserting the affirmative defense of noncooperation.

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Construction site accidents are common in Cape Cod and elsewhere in Massachusetts. Unfortunately, legal claims arising from these types of on-the-job injuries can be more difficult to pursue than more traditional workers’ compensation cases.

One reason for this is that those in the construction industry may be injured by someone other than his or her direct employer. A particular individual might also be working as an independent contractor. In such a situation, workers’ compensation may not be available, and the injured person’s only remedy may be to filed a negligence suit against the person or company who he or she believes caused the accident.

Facts of the Case

In a recent case, the plaintiff was construction worker who was severely injured when a porch roof where he was working collapsed and caused him to fall about 12 feet to the ground. The plaintiff filed a negligence lawsuit against the defendants, a contractor on the construction project, a trustee (the property where the accident happened was apparently owned by a trust rather than by an individual or corporation), and the person responsible for the maintenance of the property, seeking payment for his medical expenses of approximately $1.3 million, along with other damages resulting from the fall.

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If you are hurt because of a slip and fall-type accident in or around Cape Cod, do you know how long you have to file a claim against the negligent party who caused the condition that led to your fall? You may think you know, but, chances are, you only know part of the answer to this important question.

Generally speaking, there is a three-year statute of limitations for personal injury and wrongful death claims in Massachusetts. However, there may be additional considerations that could shorten the effective time for taking legal action to a much shorter time – perhaps even a matter of days rather than a matter of years.

For example, for claims against governmental entities for injuries caused by a “defective way,” an injured person has just 30 days to filed a formal notice of claim (a precursor to a lawsuit filed in court) with the appropriate entity under Massachusetts Gen. Laws ch. 84, §§ 15, 18. If this formal notice is not given, the defendant will most likely be able to have the plaintiff’s lawsuit dismissed later on – even if the suit itself is filed within the general three-year statute of limitations.

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Each year, hundreds of Massachusetts residents lose their lives in automobile accidents, and tens of thousands more are injured. If you or a family member has recently been involved in a Cape Cod car accident, there are several things that you should know. Having the right information at the right time can go a long way toward making sure that you receive fair compensation for your injuries (or, in the case of a fatal crash, for your loved one’s wrongful death).

Getting Started on a Claim

The first thing to know about seeking fair compensation following a Cape Cod motor vehicle accident is that the burden of proving fault lies on the plaintiff (the person seeking payment for medical expenses, lost wages, property damage, etc.) This means that the plaintiff must file a civil claim against the responsible party within the period set forth by the Massachusetts statute of limitations for personal injuries or wrongful death. (It is possible that the defendant may be charged criminally due to an accident, but this is a separate matter that, typically, does not involve the injured individual.)

While it is possible for a car wreck litigant to represent himself or herself in court in a civil lawsuit seeking compensation for injuries suffered in an accident, this is not advisable. The defendant’s insurance company will hire an attorney to represent the defendant in court, and the plaintiff will need skilled legal representation during both pre-trial settlement negotiations and during litigation, if the case proceeds to trial.

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Naturally, some Cape Cod automobile accident cases are more complex than others. Still, a case reviewed early this month by the Massachusetts Court of Appeals stands out as unusually protracted. Although the facts of how the accident happened were straightforward enough (a pedestrian was struck by a car while crossing the street), a total of three lawsuits were ultimately filed.

Two complicating factors were that, in one action, the plaintiff was awarded more than four times the defendant’s liability insurance limits in damages and that, thereafter, the defendant filed for bankruptcy protection.

Facts of the Case

In a recent appellate court case, the plaintiff in an earlier action was a pedestrian who was injured when she was struck by a certain motorist (named as the defendant in that action). The case proceeded to a jury trial and resulted in a determination that the defendant was 65% at fault. The plaintiff was awarded $414,500 in damages after deduction of personal injury protection benefits previously received. The defendant’s insurance company paid policy limits of $100,000.

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As the holiday season winds down, many Massachusetts residents may be planning to begin the new year with the resolution of healthier eating – fewer starchy processed foods and more fresh fruits and vegetables. Usually, this would be a good plan.

Unfortunately, however, there have been several food contamination scares recently that could leave one wondering whether a new diet would indeed be best choice or whether eating “healthier” might end in a Massachusetts food poisoning lawsuit.

The Romaine Lettuce Recall

The United States Food & Drug Administration oversees the safety of the nation’s food supply. Often, this comes in the form of the recall of batch of foods (such as ground beef) processed within a few days time. With the recent romaine lettuce situation, however, the warning (first issued in late November) was much broader. Consumers were urged not eat any romaine lettuce and to throw out any such food product until more information was obtained by the FDA.

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In a Cape Cod personal injury case, the plaintiff’s case is usually premised on a legal theory known as “negligence.” When a defendant is accused of negligence, the plaintiff is averring that he or she failed to behave in a reasonably prudent manner under the circumstances. In other words, the defendant is said to have breached a duty of care that was owed to the plaintiff, proximately causing some kind of damage to him or her.

Sometimes, however, a person who is hurt by another’s intentional – rather than negligent – act(s) may also seek compensation for injuries suffered to his or her person.

Facts of the Case

In a recent case considered on appeal by the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts, the plaintiff sought compensation from the defendant transportation authority after one of the defendant’s bus drivers allegedly physically attacked him. The plaintiff’s complaint asserted claims for vicarious liability for the driver’s intentional actions and for direct negligence in the defendant’s hiring, training, and supervision of the employee. The defendant filed a motion for judgment on the pleadings, asserting that it was could not be held vicariously liable for the driver’s intentional tort and that the plaintiff had failed to adequately present his negligence case as required by the Massachusetts Tort Claims Act.

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