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Having an insurance policy that covers accidents caused by uninsured or underinsured motorists is important. Without such coverage, it is extremely difficult – often impossible – to receive fair compensation for personal injuries or a wrongful death caused by a driver who either doesn’t have insurance at all or who has only minimum coverage.

Unfortunately, simply having “UM/UIM” (as it is called in the insurance industry) does not mean that there will not be protracted litigation before the case is finally settled. Consequently, it is important to consult an attorney if you have been involved in a Cape Cod car accident, even if you have uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage in place.

Facts of the Case

In a case recently considered by a federal district court sitting in Massachusetts, the plaintiff was an insurance company, acting as the subrogee of its insured (who was covered by an uninsured/underinsured motorist insurance policy), who was involved in a car accident in 2016. According to the plaintiff’s complaint, the accident was caused by the negligence of the defendant motorist, who was allegedly issued a citation for failure to yield the right-of-way to the plaintiff’s insured. At the time of the crash, the motorist was driving an automobile owned by her father-in-law, the defendant vehicle owner. The plaintiff alleged that the vehicle owner had negligently entrusted the automobile to the defendant motorist and that this negligence had contributed to the cause of the accident. The defendant vehicle owner filed a motion for summary judgment.

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One of the more common defenses in a Cape Cod premises liability lawsuit is an assertion by the defendant that the condition was so open and obvious that any reasonable person would have noticed it and avoided it. Of course, each case must stand on its own facts when it comes to such matters.

Even if a particular case involves a condition that was arguably open and obvious, the case will not necessarily be futile. Liability may still be had in a case against a premises owner under some circumstances.

Facts of the Case

In a recent case was the personal representative of the estate of a customer who sustained serious personal injuries when she fell down an unmarked step in the defendant restaurant’s dining room. The customer filed a personal injury lawsuit against the restaurant, alleging that its negligence had been the proximate cause of her fall. The case was tried to a jury and resulted in a verdict in favor of the customer. (Some time after the trial, the customer apparently died, and the personal representative of her estate was substituted as plaintiff.) The restaurant filed an appeal, seeking review of case and asserting numerous errors.

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Many times, the resolution of a Cape Cod criminal case revolves around the issue of whether certain evidence was unlawfully obtained by police. If a court rules that a particular search or seizure was in violation of the law, the evidence may be suppressed at trial.

When evidence is suppressed, it cannot be used to support a conviction against the defendant. Without crucial evidence, the Commonwealth’s case may be much weaker. Charges may be reduced or, sometimes, even dropped.

If the defendant loses his or her motion to suppress evidence at the trial court level and is convicted, he or she can file an appeal. When this happens, the appellate tribunal will review the trial court’s decision to determine whether a reversible error of law was made. If the reviewing court does so hold, it is possible that the defendant’s conviction may be reversed.

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Causation is one of the essential requirements in proving a case of negligence in a Cape Cod personal injury lawsuit. Without the element of causation, a defendant’s breach of a duty of care toward the plaintiff will not result in a finding of liability, even if the plaintiff can prove substantial damages.

It works like this: the plaintiff must be able to prove, by a preponderance of the evidence, not only that he or she was owed a duty of care, that this duty was breached, and that he or she suffered harm but also that his or her damages were caused by the defendant’s actions or in actions. However, “cause” or “causation” is a term of art in the world of negligence law. Something can be the actual cause of harm without necessarily being the legal cause of such damages.

Public policy factors into the development of this area of the law. Would it be wise to hold a defendant liable for a “freak accident,” even if, technically, his or her breach of duty resulted in damages to the plaintiff? Probably not. Somewhere between such occurrences and conduct that is so likely to result in harm as to be considered intentional – and possibly subject to punitive damages – lies the type of conduct that the principles of negligence are designed to govern.

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In a Cape Cod medical malpractice case, the plaintiff has the burden of proving not only that the defendant healthcare professional breached the standard of care that applied to the situation at hand but also that this breach of care was the proximate cause of the damages about which the plaintiff complains. Sometimes, damages are readily apparent, and the real fight is about whether there was negligent care. However, this is not always so.

Sometimes, a mistake was obviously made, but the doctor insists that his or her error did not harm the patient in any meaningful way. This argument is especially prevalent in cases involving a missed diagnosis.

In such cases, the plaintiff believes that, had a proper diagnosis been made in a timely fashion, he or she would have had more treatment options and/or a better outcome of the illness that the doctor somehow missed. In turn, the physician is likely to claim that the illness – and the ultimate result thereof – was bound to happen anyway, such that his or her mistake should not result in monetary compensation to the patient or his or her family.

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There’s a secret that insurance companies don’t want you to know. In almost all Cape Cod negligence cases, one or both parties have insurance of some type. For example, in a car accident case, the defendant most likely has a policy of motor vehicle accident liability insurance, and his or her defense is being paid for by that insurance company. If a verdict is entered against him or her, it is the insurance company – not the defendant – that will actually pay out the money for the judgment.

Insurance companies want you to believe this legal fiction because they believe that, if a juror is aware that the verdict will be paid by an insurance company instead of a real person, the juror will be more likely to find in the plaintiff’s favor – and more likely to award a more sizable verdict if they don’t think the defendant will be paying the verdict out of his or her own pocket.

Sometimes, an insurance company may actually be the plaintiff in a lawsuit and still want its identity to be kept secret. For example, if an insurance company pays out a claim, it may then file a subrogation claim against the person or persons who caused the loss. Even then, the insurance company doesn’t want you to know of its involvement in the case because of the fear that such knowledge would taint the outcome against it.

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Most Cape Cod car accident cases focus primarily on the personal injury aspect of the accident at hand. However, there is another potential claim in most car crash cases: property damage.

The reason that we rarely hear about the property damage aspect of a plaintiff’s case is that such claims are usually relatively small compared to personal injury claims, and, because less money is at stake, more apt to settle out of court. This is often true even when the personal injury portion of the case is highly contested and eventually proceeds to trial.

In a recent federal case, however, there was a rare exception to this general rule. When you consider the value of one of the vehicles involved in the collision – a Lamborghini worth over $100,000 – it is easy to understand why the insurance companies decided to fight about which was responsible for paying for the car, all the way to the federal court of appeals.

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Landowners and those who own businesses can be held liable for injuries on their property in many instances. Similarly, those who own animals – dogs in particular (although not exclusively) – can also be held accountable for injuries inflicted on others under certain circumstances.

Of course, not every encounter between humans and animals will result in a finding of negligence against the owner of the dog or other animal in a Cape Cod personal injury lawsuit. It all depends upon the particular encounter and whether the pet owner’s negligence contributed to harm to the plaintiff.

In cases in which an animal’s owner is held liable for a person’s injuries from a bite or other harm, the injured individual may be entitled to substantial money damages. This can include medical expenses, lost earnings, and compensation for pain and suffering, among other things.

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Under Massachusetts’ workers’ compensation laws, employees who are hurt on the job and unable to work as a result are entitled to certain benefits. Included among these is the right to temporary total disability payments.

In order to receive temporary total disability benefits, the employee must be able to show that he or she suffered a total incapacity for work during the relevant time period. For employees who qualify, the employer (typically through its workers’ compensation insurance company) is obligated to pay the employee a benefit equal to 60% of his or her average weekly wage.

Of course, such payments are subject to minimums and maximums, and there is a time limit on the receipt of such payments. Under the current statutory scheme, an employee may not receive more than 156 weeks of temporary total disability payments.

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A Cape Cod wrongful death or personal injury lawsuit cannot succeed unless the plaintiff is able to prove that the defendant’s negligence caused the accident victim’s death or physical harm. This must be proven by a preponderance of the evidence, via legally admissible evidence.

Of course, this assumes that the case ultimately makes its way into a courtroom and is tried in front of a judge and jury. It is important to note that there are a lot of steps that may occur before this happens.

First and foremost, the court in which the suit is filed must have jurisdiction over the case. This encompasses both the right to adjudicate the subject matter of the suit and also power over the particular defendants, a concept known as “personal jurisdiction.”

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