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Legal News GavelIf you are like millions of other Americans, you probably have a cell phone in your hand or in your pocket right now. As any Massachusetts criminal defense attorney can tell you, there is a lot of data on your cellphone that, potentially, could be used against you in court if you are accused of a crime.

What you may not know is that all of the potentially incriminating data is not on your phone itself. Wireless carriers across the country log a time-stamped record of each cell site and sector each time a cellphone connects to a cell site, thereby providing a very detailed record of a user’s whereabouts.

It is important to note that this doesn’t just happen when the user is making a phone call or sending a text message; the average smart phone taps into a wireless network at least once a minute any time the signal is on, even if the phone is not being used for calling, texting, or searching the internet at that moment.

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Legal News GavelAccording to studies, about two out of three Americans take at least one prescription drug. To get their medications, most patients must visit a pharmacy at least once a month. What happens when there is a problem with the paperwork that would normally allow the patient to receive the medicine in a timely fashion?

In a recent Massachusetts pharmacy error case, a 19-year-old patient died after she was denied a life-saving medication because her doctor had not completed a certain insurance form. The pharmacy claimed that it owed no duty to the patient under the circumstances, but the state’s highest court held otherwise.

Facts of the Case

Legal News GavelIn 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

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In a Cape Cod car accident case, one or both parties may initially seek payment of “personal injury protection” benefits from his or her insurance company. Ideally, these benefits are available immediately after the accident, regardless of fault. However, complications can arise, and not every driver receives the benefits to which he or she is entitled – at least not without a fight.

Facts of the Case

The plaintiff in a recent case was a medical services provider that sought to recover unpaid personal injury protection (PIP) benefits, which it alleged the defendant insurance company should have paid on behalf of a woman who was injured in a car accident. The trial court granted summary judgment to the defendant, accepting its defense that it did not owe any PIP benefits due to an exclusion in the insurance policy at issue to the effect that no benefits are to be paid when the claimant contributed to his or her own injuries through the use of alcohol. The plaintiff appealed.

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When the defendant in a Cape Cod personal injury case is a governmental entity, the plaintiff faces an uphill battle. There was a time – back before there were any exceptions to the doctrine of sovereign immunity – when the plaintiff could not recover compensation at all. Now, however, the issue of whether the government has waived sovereign immunity in a particular situation can be a subject of great dispute.

Facts of the Case

The plaintiff in a recent case was a high school athlete (joined in the lawsuit by members of her family) who suffered a concussion and other injuries after being hit by a field hockey stick wielded by a teammate during a practice session. She filed suit against the defendant school district, seeking compensation under the Massachusetts Tort Claims Act. More specifically, the plaintiff alleged that the defendant was negligent in failing to properly train and supervise coaches and students, in not monitoring the plaintiff’s injuries in an appropriate fashion, and in not implementing a written academic re-entry plan following her injuries.

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Suicide claims tens of thousands of lives annually in the United States alone, including a disproportionate number of those in their teens and twenties. Given that there are more than 10 times the number of emergency department visits for self-inflicted injuries as there are completed suicides, there can sometimes be a window of opportunity to prevent a successful suicide.

If an individual or entity that owes a duty of care to a suicidal person does not act in a way that is reasonably prudent under the circumstances, a Cape Cod wrongful death action may be appropriate.

Facts of the Case

Legal News GavelIn a Cape Cod workers’ compensation case, there are several things that a claimant must prove in order to recover benefits such as paid medical care and temporary disability benefits. First and foremost, the claimant must be able to prove that he or she was an employee of the entity from which he or she seeks compensation.

This may sound simple enough – either the claimant worked for the defendant, or he or she did not, right? Actually, the question of whether a claimant was an “employee” as that term is defined in the law can be a rather complex issue. If the alleged “employer” is able to show that the alleged “employee” was, instead, an independent contractor, the claimant’s case is likely to fail.

Facts of the Case

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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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Legal News GavelElectricity 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