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semi-truck

One of the most important facets of the American legal system is the right to a trial by jury. The idea is that a jury of one’s peers will be more likely to render a fair and impartial verdict than might a seasoned judge, who might be predispositioned to lean one way or another.

Unfortunately, jury verdicts are not always predicable, and litigants are often dissatisfied with the results of a jury trial. While there exists the possibility of an appeal in some cases, simple displeasure with the outcome is not, in and of itself, sufficient reason for a “do-over.”

Convincing an appellate court that a mistake was made during a jury trial is not an easy thing to do, as the disappointed plaintiffs in a Massachusetts truck accident case recently learned.

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beer bottleWhen 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

carnival ridesIt’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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Supreme Court
Under the United States Constitution, the defendant in a criminal case has certain rights that, if violated, can potentially result in the reversal of a conviction. Among these rights are the Sixth Amendment rights to “a speedy and public trial” and “the assistance of counsel.”

A recent decision by the nation’s highest court explored whether the alleged violation of those rights in a particular Massachusetts criminal case was a basis to order a new trial.

Facts of the Case

stop abuse
Defendants in Cape Cod personal injury lawsuits can sometimes be very creative in their attempts to avoid liability for the wrong they have caused. Fortunately, the courts usually see through these attempts to defeat justice.

Recently, an ex-husband attempted to avoid paying a judgment in a tort action brought by an ex-wife for injuries she suffered because of his alleged abuse. As grounds, he claimed that she was barred from suing him because she did not list her claim against him as a potential asset in their divorce case.

Fortunately, the appellate court saw the move for what it was:  a feeble attempt to once again victimize the plaintiff.

elderly woman's handsMany civil lawsuits are filed each year in the state and federal courts – far too many to be handled efficiently by the court system if a full-blown trial is required in every case. For this and other reasons, settlements are highly encouraged.

Under Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 176D, § 3(9)(f), an insurance company has a legal obligation to effectuate a “prompt, fair, and equitable settlement” of claims in which liability is clear. When this does not happen, Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 93A, § 9 allows the person whose rights were affected by the violation of the law to bring a civil action against the insurance company to recover damages.

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expert reportMedical malpractice lawsuits are expensive and procedurally difficult. This is not to say that a plaintiff cannot be successful in an attempt to hold a negligent doctor liable in a particular case, but only that doing so can be much more difficult than, for example, holding a negligent driver liable in a motor vehicle accident case.

One of the main reasons for the difficulty in pursuing a medical malpractice case is the requirement for expert proof as to the medial professional’s deviation from the standard of care.  Just as medical care itself is costly, so, too, is hiring a medical expert to testify as to a mistake made in the plaintiff’s treatment.

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pregnant woman

Under Massachusetts medical malpractice law, the burden of proof is on the plaintiff to prove, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the defendant health care provider violated the applicable standard of care.

First, however, the plaintiff must find an expert witness who is willing to testify in court as to what the standard of care required – and how the defendant’s actions or inaction violated this standard.

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UM/UIM Motorist

When an automobile accident results in injuries, the plaintiff’s medical expenses and lost wages can easily reach tens of thousands – or even hundreds of thousands – of dollars. Even if the at-fault party has liability insurance, there may not be enough coverage to fully compensate the injured party.

This is why uninsured/underinsured motorist insurance is so important. It can help fill the gap between the at-fault party’s liability insurance limits and the plaintiff’s actual damages. Of course, payment under such a policy is not automatic. Like other matters in which insurance companies are involved, the process can be difficult and contentious.

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police dogPolice dogs are used by many law enforcement agencies across the country to assist officers as they search for drugs, locate missing individuals, and, sometimes, help apprehend suspects who attempt to flee the scene after being arrested.

Just as human officers can occasionally make mistakes, so, too, can K-9 officers. When this happens, should an innocent person who is injured by the dog’s error have the right to sue the government for damages?

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