Articles Tagged with wrongful death

A wrongful death civil lawsuit in Massachusetts is not limited to fatal motor vehicle accidents. Rather, our laws deem a wrongful death to have occurred whenever someone loses their life as a consequence of the negligence of another. If the negligence is deemed to have caused or substantially contributed to the death complained of, liability may attach in a civil legal proceeding. One area of potential personal injury and wrongful death litigation involves the manufacturing and sale of so-called energy drinks.

A significant number of personal injuries and some fatalities suffered by those ingesting these drinks have caused regulators to focus on the ingredients that comprise these popular items. Amid reports that consumers are spending more than $12 billion annually to purchase these items, the FDA has identified the dietary supplement dimethylamylamine as a potential culprit. The federal Food and Drug Administration has stepped up efforts to educate consumers to the potential dangers, as well as to go after drink makers that use the illegal supplement, otherwise known as DMAA. The supplement has not been approved for use as an additive in energy drinks in the absence of proof that it is safe for consumers.

At least one Massachusetts internist, an assistant professor at Harvard Medical School, likened DMAA to an amphetamine. He noted that his patients get addicted and suffer from headaches when they stop using the drinks. Part of the confusion is attributable to the lengthy process the FDA must navigate in order to have the drug removed from the marketplace.

A recent car accident involving two Massachusetts women from Middleboro resulted in the death of one and criminal charges for the other. The accused driver has been charged with homicide by a motor vehicle, along with a number of unspecified additional charges. The fatal accident took the life of an 18-year-old girl that was described by one friend as an angel on earth. It also resulted in injuries to a passenger in the pickup truck of the woman now facing criminal charges.

The fatal accident occurred in the early morning hours of the last Saturday in March. Details of the crash were few, though authorities asserted the accused woman was both drunk and under the influence of heroin. Her blood alcohol content was reportedly .14 percent, well over the Massachusetts limit of .08 percent. Both vehicles apparently overturned.

The victim was adored locally and worked at a Dunkin’ Donuts in her hometown. She was a college freshman and was home on spring break at the time of the tragedy. The crash site occurred along Route 44, and a memorial to the victim was set up near the crash site. The injured passenger from the pickup was airlifted to a Boston hospital, though the specific nature and extent of her injuries was not disclosed.

A deadly Cape Cod motor vehicle accident in mid February resulted in criminal charges for a driver who apparently fell asleep at the wheel of his pickup truck. The fatal accident occurred in Bourne in the late afternoon. No explanation was offered by authorities as to why the 20-year-old truck driver dozed off at that hour.

The pickup driver is a resident of Cape Cod. Authorities indicate he lost control of his vehicle while traveling on Sandwich Road, swerving into the oncoming lane of travel. Tragically, two women in their early 80s were occupying a car that was struck head-on by the pickup.

A passenger in the car died from injuries sustained in the crash. The 81-year-old victim was a noted pediatrician from Middleboro who had retired from her medical practice. There were no reports of injury to the 82-year-old driver of the car in which the deceased victim had been riding.

Despite the efforts of local and state police, as well as the Norfolk County District Attorney, a Massachusetts grand jury refused to indict the driver of a tractor trailer on proposed charges stemming from a fatal accident in Wellesley. The crash occurred on a Friday in late Aug. 2012. The victim, a 41-year-old father of a 6-year-old son, was struck down and killed by the truck near a local intersection. The trucker then fled the scene. Though the grand jury did not return an indictment, the family of the deceased man has moved forward with a wrongful death civil lawsuit against the trucker.

The victim was training for a triathlon and was apparently equipped with appropriate safety gear. He pedaled through an intersection ahead of the semi. The truck subsequently turned in the same direction as the biker and struck the cyclist from the rear. The 51-year-old truck driver did not stop at the scene of the fatal accident, though police located him several days after the tragedy. When emergency responders arrived at the scene of the crash, the cyclist was lying unresponsive and was later declared dead at a local hospital.

After what appears to have been an extensive investigation, the office of the Norfolk District Attorney agreed with the conclusions of the police investigation. Charges were sought for negligent vehicular manslaughter and related accusations. Though no explanation was offered for its decision, the grand jury decided against further criminal proceedings.

A wrongful death lawsuit that has been pending on Cape Cod for more than 2.5 years is nearing completion. Three of the four counts from the formal complaint have been resolved, with the remaining count scheduled for trial in March. The lawsuit arose from a fatal accident that occurred in Hyannis in mid-May 2010.

On the night of the tragedy, a 47-year-old Cape Cod woman in a motorized wheelchair was attempting to cross a street in Hyannis. It was just about 10 p.m. and raining heavily. A now 21-year-old woman had been drinking with friends at the Holly Tree Resort Hotel in West Yarmouth. She, along with a passenger, was driving to a local store when her car struck the wheelchair bound woman and dragged her a distance of about 50 feet.

The victim’s purse became stuck on the car’s windshield briefly, and the air bags in the vehicle deployed. Nevertheless, the driver did not stop and returned to the hotel where she had been drinking. She was arrested two days later, following a police investigation. She faced numerous criminal charges and was ultimately convicted and sentenced to spend three years in jail. She was also sued for wrongful death in the month following the crash.

A tragic fatal collision on Cape Cod that occurred over six years ago has resulted in a civil settlement. The surviving family of the 63-year-old male victim recently agreed to terms settling a lawsuit brought against a trucking company, a motor vehicle inspection company and the truck driver. The claim arose from a Sept. 2006 fatal accident in West Yarmouth on Route 28.

The crash occurred when a car entered Route 28 from the parking lot of a local restaurant. A truck headed west and owned by a West Bridgewater construction company crashed into the car, killing its driver. Subsequent investigation disclosed that the nearly two decade old truck had inoperable rear brakes. Though the truck was apparently inspected less than two weeks before the fatal accident, it was documented that a Massachusetts inspection company failed to test the brakes in the field.

The lawsuit was waged by the victim’s widow and four children. They will all receive part of the $750,000 settlement proceeds. The terms of the settlement were recently finalized in Plymouth Superior Court.

A little over a year ago, a fatal accident occurred in Sudbury. The crash happened just two days after Christmas and took the life of a 91-year-old female passenger. The victim was riding in a car operated by a Marlborough woman who is now 39 years old. While it remains to be seen if wrongful death litigation will make its way through the Massachusetts civil court system, the driver has been charged criminally for vehicular homicide.

Police say the driver rear ended a box truck. The elderly woman was airlifted to a Boston hospital where she died a few days later. Her cause of death was attributed to injuries she sustained in the accident.

This is the second time the driver has been criminally charged in the case. The original charges were dismissed due to a legal technicality, and the district attorney filed the same accusations again. An official investigation determined the driver was negligent, though the woman faults the driver of the box truck for the accident. The criminal case will now proceed, and the victim’s family will likely follow its progress carefully.

Police are trying to sort through the details of a tragic car accident that occurred in Newburyport on New Year’s Eve. The Massachusetts fatal accident took place with less than a half hour to go before 2013. A wrong way driver on the Gillis Bridge is said to have struck another car head on.

The 50-year-old driver had two passengers in his vehicle. One of them, a woman said to be 41 years old, died as a result of the injuries she sustained in the crash. All three, along with the driver whose car was struck, were taken to a local hospital. The female victim was declared dead. The driver, who is suspected of being intoxicated, was subsequently transferred to a Boston hospital, where he was arraigned on drunk driving allegations and a felony charge of vehicular manslaughter.

The other driver is a resident of Salisbury. Said to be 20 years old, he apparently escaped serious injury in the crash. The injuries sustained by the other passenger in the car of the wrong way driver were not detailed. Massachusetts authorities are looking into where the now criminally accused driver was prior to the fatal accident. Preliminary reports indicate that Salisbury and Newburyport police suspect the man may have been a patron of a bar or restaurant that may have served the driver alcohol in spite of indications he may have been drunk.

A recent fatal accident in western Massachusetts underscores some of the potential differences between criminal proceedings and claims for personal injury or wrongful death in our state. A fatal accident on our roadways often results in both criminal and wrongful death claims. In the aftermath of a collision that results in one or more deaths, authorities typically conduct a formal accident investigation and ultimately determine what happened and whether they believe any laws were broken. When it appears that criminal conduct is involved, formal charges are usually brought. Apart from any criminal proceedings, the surviving family of the deceased retains the right to pursue a wrongful death lawsuit in civil court.

Occasionally, as evidenced by a fatal accident in May that involved a car and a bicycle, law enforcement personnel decide that criminal charges are not warranted. That, however, does not mean the surviving family is barred from bringing a civil lawsuit. Even when a collision is deemed to have not risen to the level of criminal conduct, a civil lawsuit may be commenced based upon evidence of negligence. In short, one can be negligent without committing a crime. The burden of proving negligence in a civil proceeding is less stringent than that required for a criminal conviction.

While the reported details are few, the fatal accident occurred in downtown Northampton. It is only known that a car struck an 18-year-old bicyclist, who died from the injuries sustained. Nevertheless, the office of the district attorney concluded the tragedy was an unfortunate accident and that no criminal charges would be filed. In effect the prosecutor’s office concluded that there was not sufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the driver of the car was guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

A settlement of a lawsuit against Massachusetts law enforcement authorities that arose out of a fatal accident was announced recently. The wrongful death claim was based on an incident occurring at a police checkpoint in North Andover in late Nov. 2009. As a result of the claim, the deceased victim’s family will receive $1.6 million.

While details of the incident are sketchy, it is known that a 45-year-old man struck a Massachusetts State Trooper during a traffic stop. The surviving family alleged that the man was beaten by authorities. Further, it was claimed that police delayed more than three quarters of an hour to arrange for medical services for the man.

Police apparently attempted to restrain the man and placed him under arrest. During the booking process, the victim was said to be unresponsive. Later, he was declared dead at a hospital. No individual officer was disciplined or faced criminal charges relating to the incident. The Essex County sheriff, North Andover police and Massachusetts State Police were all included in the litigation, and it was reported that all shared some part of the settlement amount.

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