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Articles Posted in Premises Liability

There are many steps to receiving fair compensation for injuries suffered due to the negligence of others. The first step in a typical Cape Cod personal injury lawsuit is an investigation into the accident giving rise to the plaintiff’s claim. The case then proceeds through a phase called “discovery,” during which issues such as the defendant’s alleged breach of duty and the plaintiff’s medical treatment and expenses are explored.

If an amicable settlement cannot be reached between the parties, the next step is a trial. In the case of a jury trial, each party can ask the court to give the jury specific instructions, based on his or her view of the law that is applicable to the facts of the case. It is up to the trial court judge to decide which instructions will actually be given. If one side or the other is displeased with the judge’s instructions, an appeal may follow the jury’s verdict.

Facts of the Case

In a recent (unreported) case decided by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Appeals Court, the plaintiff filed suit against the defendant inn, seeking payment for personal injuries that she allegedly suffered when she fell on the defendant’s property and broke her arm. According to the plaintiff, the defendant’s negligence was to blame for her fall. The case was tried to a jury, which returned a verdict in the inn’s favor on the plaintiff’s negligence claim. The plaintiff appealed.

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There are many different circumstances through which a Cape Cod premises liability lawsuit may arise. In a “slip and fall” case, a person may be injured due to a fall caused by a slippery substance on the floor of a grocery store or poorly constructed stairs outside a public building. If the property owner breached the duty of care owed to the plaintiff, the plaintiff may be able to recover money damages to compensate him or her for medical costs, lost wages, and other losses caused by the injury.

In a negligent security case, a property owner may be held liable for failing to protect the plaintiff from harm caused by a third party – typically a criminal whose intentional actions harm to the plaintiff. Such cases can be challenging, as the defendant typically attempts to shift the blame away from itself and onto the third party.

Facts of the Case

In a recent case, the plaintiff was a man who was stabbed while waiting in his car for a friend outside a theater in 2011. The man sued the theater (and its parent companies), alleging that they were negligent in failing to provide police detail on the theater premises. (The plaintiff’s stabbing occurred on a Tuesday evening about 10 p.m. For some years prior to 2008 or 2009, the defendants had police detail on their premises seven nights a week, but they then restricted the detail to Friday, Saturday, and Sunday evenings only.) Continue reading

In 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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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

Cases involving injuries at one’s workplace can be wrought with many potential complications. For example, a Massachusetts workers’ compensation claim might be met with a denial of benefits on the ground that the “employee” was actually an independent contractor.

Under Massachusetts law, independent contractors are not entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. However, they may be able to sue their “employer” (the person or business with whom they had a contractual agreement to perform work) for negligence, if the employer’s failure to act in a reasonably prudent manner caused physical harm to the worker.

Often, a negligence case has the potential for a larger amount of money damages if the plaintiff is successful; a workers’ compensation case, however, has the advantage of not requiring the plaintiff to prove that the defendant was at fault in his or her accident.

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Electricity 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

As we go about our daily lives, we often find ourselves on property that we neither own nor control. This can include the hallway of a hotel in which we are staying on vacation, the floor of the supermarket in which we purchase our weekly groceries, and the sidewalk from which we exit our apartment in order to begin our day, as well as many other areas.

When an accident happens due to a property owner’s negligence, the injured person has the burden of proving that the entity that controlled the area in which the accident happened breached the applicable duty of care.

In a case recently considered by the Massachusetts Appeals Court, the plaintiff in an underlying case was successful in proving negligence, but another dispute arose between the insurance company, a property owner, and an independent contractor regarding who was responsible for paying the judgment awarded to the plaintiff in the personal injury lawsuit arising from the accident.

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A Cape Cod product liability case can arise from many different types of products and can involve several different theories of liability. Claims of strict liability, negligence, defective design, manufacturing defect, breach of warranty, or failure to warn may be alleged, depending on the circumstances. Since product liability lawsuits are subject to both a statute of limitations and a statute of repose, it is important to get legal advice concerning your case as soon as possible. Claims not filed in a timely fashion are usually dismissed, regardless of the severity of the plaintiff’s injuries.

Facts of the Case

In a case recently under consideration by the appellate court, the plaintiff was a public school first grader who allegedly suffered traumatic brain damage after choking on meatballs served in the school cafeteria. Together with his parents, the student filed suit against the city that owned the school and the company that produced and sold the meatballs, alleging, among other things, that the meatballs contained “Profam 974,” which gave them an unreasonably dangerous texture and presented a choking hazard. The plaintiffs’ legal theories included negligence and breach of the implied warranty of merchantability.

When 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

It’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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