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Friday, June 23, 2023

How to Maximize Your Personal Injury Claim


There is never a good time to get injured in an accident.  However, accidents are a fact of life.  The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration determined that in the year 2000 there were a total of 35,766 fatal car accidents on the roadways across the United States with another 1,593,390 crashes resulting in injuries and 3,621,681 caused property damage. That means a total of at least 5,250,837 collisions happened over the course of a single year. 

To be successful in a personal injury claim, there are three things that you need to have on your side: liability, damages, and coverage.
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Thursday, May 25, 2023

‘Safe Passing Law’ in Effect in Massachusetts


Last week, cyclists came to Westfield, Massachusetts to take part in a “Ride of Silence” to honor the memories of those who have been injured or killed on public roadways while cycling.  Earlier this year, in an effort to address the increasing number of injured or killed cyclists (not to mention walkers and runners), past Governor Charlie Baker entered the safe passing law.   This law recently went into effect and is applicable to all motorists driving on public roadways in Massachusetts and was made in an attempt to reduce road deaths, which spiked to an 11-year high in 2021 with an estimated 400 road deaths (a number that does not include injuries). 

The law requires drivers to provide at least four feet of space between their vehicle and "vulnerable road users.”  Such vulnerable road users include people walking or running, bicyclists, roadside workers, horse riders and horse-drawn carriages, farm equipment, people using wheelchairs, people using motorized scooters, skateboarders, roller-skaters, and any other similar pedestrian situation.
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Thursday, March 30, 2023

Photographs Can Be Used to Correlate Property Damage with Physical Injury


Last week, the Massachusetts Appeals Court heard a dispute as to whether or not a Middlesex Superior Court judge acted within his discretion by admitting photographs of damaged vehicles into evidence at trial and allowing defense counsel to argue a correlation between the property damage from the accident with the extent of the plaintiff’s alleged injuries.  In the matter of Kristina Laccetti v. Steven G. Ellis, the Appeals Court found that the trial judge acted within his discretion in admitting photographs of the damaged vehicles on the basis that the photographs were relevant to the extent of the plaintiff’s physical injuries sustained in the collision.

While the plaintiff’s counsel tried to argue that an expert witness would be needed to make such a connection between the physical damage to the car and the personal injuries of the person inside the vehicle, the Court found differently.
Read more . . .


Wednesday, November 23, 2022

Fall on Playground Results in Defense Verdict


Not all personal injury claims are created equal and sometimes an accident really just is an accident.  This lesson was just learned by a Plaintiff in Middlesex Superior Court after a four-day trial resulted in a defense verdict and no recovery for the Plaintiff.  The claim involved an injury to a seven year old girl who suffered a fall at a school playground.

In the matter of Ozkan v. City of Malden, seven year old Nihal Ozkan was a student at the Linden Steam Academy in Malden, Massachusetts.
Read more . . .


Thursday, October 27, 2022

Post Beer Pong Tournament Fight Leads to Double Damages Against Insurer


While we typically think of car accidents and slip and falls as the stereotypical personal injury cases, there are actually quite a few other types of situations that lead to personal injury cases.  One such type of personal injury case involves physical assault caused by an intoxicated person.  Many times, liability will extend beyond the actual individual responsible for another’s injuries to the person or establishment who served the liquor.  Massachusetts and many other states have enacted a “Dram Shop law” in an effort to deal with these types of cases.

Pursuant to Massachusetts General Laws chapter 138 § 69, someone suffering from physical injury, property damage, or other damage may sue the licensed liquor provider who served an intoxicated person.
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Thursday, September 22, 2022

Plymouth Jury Awards 1.4 Million Dollars to Trip and Fall Victim


For a long time in the legal world, there has been a bias that juries in certain counties in Massachusetts will not award verdicts of higher amounts.  Several of these counties are located in the South Coast and Cape Cod area.  Insurance companies and defense counsel have used this bias (which, to be fair, is sometimes a reality) in making unreasonable settlement offers to personal injury plaintiffs.  A jury in Plymouth Superior Court recently made a big statement that these counties may be willing to award the big verdict by awarding a trip and fall victim in Plymouth County a verdict of $1,437,314.00.
Read more . . .


Wednesday, June 22, 2022

Experts Can Be Necessary for Medical Causation


Massachusetts allows personal injury cases to move forward if there is an “obvious causal relationship” between the injury claimed and the accident that forms the basis of the claim.  However, a recent case was dismissed by a U.S. District Court judge who ruled that a premises liability plaintiff could not rely on Massachusetts’ “obvious causal relationship” exception to avoid having to introduce expert medical testimony rebutting a defense expert’s opinion that her torn rotator cuff was due to a fall that occurred eight months before she slipped and fell at the defendant’s store.

In this particular case, the Plaintiff slipped and fell in the restroom of a Costco store.
Read more . . .


Friday, April 22, 2022

Massachusetts Wage Act Provides for Automatic Treble Damages for Late Wage Payments


If an employer does not provide an employee leaving the company with his or her wage payments on time but quickly corrects the problem, that is the end of the issue, correct?  Not so fast, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court recently held.  Even if the employer fails to make timely wage payments to a departing employee by mistake, the employer will be on the hook for automatic treble damages.  The SJC’s recent ruling and clarification of the Massachusetts Wage Act is essential information for all employers in Massachusetts to be fully informed about before failure to comply with the Act becomes a very costly mistake.

Massachusetts General Law c.149 § 148 states that "any employee leaving his employment shall be paid in full on the following regular pay day, and, in the absence of a regular pay day, on the following Saturday; and any employee discharged from such employment shall be paid in full on the day of his discharge.
Read more . . .


Thursday, January 20, 2022

Massachusetts Road Deaths Highest Since 2009


Massachusetts had more deaths on its roads in 2021 than in any year since 2009.  According to a new report from the Massachusetts Department of Transportation, four hundred and eight people died on Massachusetts road last year, including drivers, passengers, bicyclists, and pedestrians.  This death total is nineteen percent higher than the 2020 total of 343 fatalities.

There are many explanations for this increase in fatalities.  Beginning in April of 2020, there was an increase of reckless driving and speeding which was explained by the Covid-19 pandemic emptying roadways which used to home congested streets.
Read more . . .


Thursday, December 23, 2021

Charlie’s Law Could Strengthen Distracted Drivers Laws in Massachusetts


On October 6, 2021, Charlie Braun was killed when he was struck by a car while riding his bicycle in Northampton, Massachusetts.  The driver that hit and killed Charlie Braun is facing charges of negligent motor vehicle homicide, failing to stop for a stop sign, and FaceTiming while driving.  As a result, there has been a new push to further reduce distracted driving in Massachusetts and it involves strengthening the state's current hands-free driving law and closing an existing loophole regarding broadcasting video content while driving.

The state's hands-free law, which went into effect in February 2020, already prohibits drivers from holding their phones while operating their vehicles, but, in a bit of a loophole, it does not prohibit operates from filming while driving.  More specifically, while the Massachusetts law bans drivers from viewing video displayed on a mobile electronic device, it does not ban drivers from recording or broadcasting video of themselves while driving, using apps like FaceTime or Zoom.
Read more . . .


Thursday, November 25, 2021

Laws Governing Working on Thanksgiving and Holidays in Massachusetts


First and foremost, Happy Thanksgiving! 

An interesting employment law tidbit is that both Massachusetts and Rhode Island stand outside the norm for the country by requiring private companies to give workers paid time off for national holidays.  You may have recently heard that certain retailers have announced that its stores will be closed on Thanksgiving for the future.  While part of that decision is certainly as a good will gesture to its employees, it is also a savvy business decision as retail employers cannot force its employees to work on legal holidays and, if they do, retail employers often have to provide “premium pay” which would cost the company an increased expense if they chose to be open. 

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts recognizes eleven holidays as a legal holiday (Suffolk County includes a few extra such as Evacuation Day and Bunker Hill Day).  Each holiday has its own rules and restrictions set on what industries are allowed to be open, what times they may be open, and how much they need to pay their employees.
Read more . . .


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