Articles Posted in Car Accidents

Dodge-Charger-Police-CruiserAnyone who has seen a movie involving a jury trial knows that things can get quite heated when it comes to making statements in front of the jury and making a compelling argument. There are quite a few rules that apply when it comes to what lawyers can and cannot say during the trial when the jury is present in the room. These rules are designed to keep the proceedings fair and to ensure that the jury is not unfairly biased or persuaded based on an off-hand comment by one of the lawyers.

In the recent case of Baisony v. City of Boston, the plaintiff filed a lawsuit against the City of Boston after suffering injuries when a police cruiser collided with the bicycle that he was riding. The plaintiff alleged that the police officer driving the cruiser was traveling the wrong direction down a one-way street when the collision occurred. At the close of trial, the jury awarded the injured plaintiff $22,000 in damages.

The defendant brought post-judgment motions, including a motion for judgment as a matter of law, a new trial, or a remittitur. In its motions, the defendant contended that the lower court judge erred when ruling on certain evidentiary matters during the proceedings and that the plaintiff’s counsel was insufficiently sanctioned for what the defendant characterized as misconduct during the trial.

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559px-Trial_by_Jury_UsherThere are countless procedural aspects of a lawsuit that can have a dispositive bearing on the outcome of your case. Whether it is a motion for summary judgment on one of your claims, or the denial of a motion in limine regarding a sensitive issue prior to trial, it is critical that your attorney understands how to navigate the procedural aspects of a lawsuit. One of the most common ways that procedural issues arise is through jury instructions.

In general, jury instructions are the legal rules provided to jurors before they begin their deliberation. The rules can cover everything from which party has the burden of proof to the specific elements that a party must prove to prevail on a claim or affirmative defense. Although there are some documents that serve as model jury instructions, the parties and the court can craft a unique set of instructions for the lawsuit at hand.

A recent case illustrates the critical nature that jury instructions can play in a lawsuit. In Dahlquist v. Lydon Millwright Services, Inc., the plaintiff suffered injuries after the car she was driving was rear-ended by a truck at a stop sign. The plaintiff reported suffering a number of injuries, including harm to her hand, shoulder, head, neck, and arm. She eventually filed suit against the driver who rear-ended her vehicle and the owner of the truck.

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woman in crosswalkIn Weiss v. City of Cambridge, the plaintiff suffered serious injuries when she was struck by a truck as she crossed a major street. The plaintiff was crossing within the crosswalk when the driver of the truck made a left-hand turn, striking the plaintiff. She suffered serious long-term injuries to both knees, incurred substantial medical bills, and was unable to attend several weeks of work. The truck was being driven by an employee of the City of Cambridge.

At trial, the main issue was the amount of fault that should be apportioned between the driver and the plaintiff. Although the plaintiff was within a crosswalk at the time she was struck, evidence at trial indicated that the plaintiff did not obey the pedestrian signal at the time she crossed the street. The jury assigned 35 percent fault to the plaintiff and the remaining percentage of fault to the driver of the truck. Based on Massachusetts law, the plaintiff’s damages award was reduced by 35 percent to reflect her contributory negligence.

The City appealed, alleging that the judge improperly instructed the jury regarding the application of certain statutes that apply to truck drivers and pedestrians. One of the statutes at issue details the responsibilities that drivers have when it comes to pedestrians in marked crosswalks. According to the city, the plain language of this statute required a finding that it should not be applied to the present case.

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whiskey and keysFor many people, summertime is associated with recreational activities, spending time with friends, and relaxing. This often involves the consumption of alcoholic beverages. With the increase in consumption of alcohol comes an increase in the number of drinking-related accidents that occur in Massachusetts. Although motor vehicle accidents are a common result of drunk driving, many intoxicated motorists also crash into buildings or other property structures, posing a serious risk to pedestrians and persons within the zone of the collision.

A common device that is used to prevent buildings and pedestrians from being struck by motorists is a bollard. These pylons or other solid structures are placed strategically in front of a building or in an area where it is likely that a motorist may crash into the building in order to prevent the vehicle from crashing into the structure. In most cases, the vehicle will collide with the bollard and lose momentum. To protect pedestrians, bollards are often placed between a busy street and a sidewalk.

According to a recent report from CBS Boston, however, Massachusetts does not require bollards to be placed in certain areas. What prompted the report was a recent crash in which a car missed a row of bollards and careened onto the sidewalk, placing pedestrians at risk. Had a few more bollards been in place, the car would have been prevented from traveling onto the busy sidewalk.

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Lexus_LS_400_UCF10_I-300x161Vehicle recalls are becoming more common, especially after the high-profile recall case against Volkswagen involving the company’s false and misleading representations regarding the fuel-saving capacity of its cars. Airbag maker Takata Corporation also recently found itself in hot water when it had to initiate a massive recall of cars containing its defective airbag devices. In 2015, a total of 973 recalls were initiated regarding dangerous child safety seats, tires, vehicles, and components, encompassing 87.5 million different products.

A vehicle recall may give rise to a product liability action. If a manufacturer’s product is unreasonably dangerous or suffers from a defect that rendered the product unreasonably dangerous during the manufacturing process, the manufacturer may be held liable for damages and injuries that occur as a result of the dangerous design or defect.

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man and limoParty buses and large limousines are becoming an increasingly popular transportation choice for large cohorts of individuals celebrating birthdays, weddings, or other festivities. Recently, a woman was hit and killed by a party bus in the East Boston area. According to reports, the victim was a female who fell out of the bus along with another passenger while the bus was driving down the McClellan Highway. Passengers on the bus stated that the driver did not immediately notice what had happened, but he stopped a short while later.

The party bus is owned and operated by a company called Entourage Livery, Inc. The company released a statement following the accident, which says in relevant part:  “Our driver was questioned by Boston Police briefly before he was released and sent home. We have been in business for 19 years, and will continue to cooperate during the investigation of this tragedy.” Although the company does not provide any beverages or food items to passengers, they are allowed to bring their own alcohol and other provisions.

This is not the first time the party bus company has been involved in a passenger accident. In 2012, Entourage Livery was deemed liable for an accident that occurred in March 2010. In that case, the operator of the bus was deemed negligent for discharging passengers on his limousine across the street from their ultimate destination during a heavy torrential downpour. One woman was hit by a car and seriously injured as she attempted to cross the street. The group had selected and paid for a “VIP package” from the company, which included a “door-to-door” pick up and drop off feature. As a result, none of the passengers brought appropriate rain gear with them because they did not expect to be out in the elements as a result of the door-to-door feature. The plaintiff in this case was the last passenger to attempt to cross the street in the massive storm when she was struck by a vehicle traveling down Dorchester Avenue.

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12429334035_91cb638105_bMassachusetts is one of many states that have enacted a statute allowing accident victims to hold businesses liable for over-serving a patron who leaves the establishment and causes an accident. These statutes are frequently referred to as dram shop acts and provide a basis for recovery for personal injury as well as wrongful death.

One of the most hotly disputed issues in a lawsuit involving a dram shop statute cause of action is whether the patron at the bar was obviously intoxicated at the time the business served the person who caused the accident more alcohol. To proceed in this type of lawsuit, the plaintiff must submit an affidavit providing sufficient facts to raise a legitimate question regarding the establishment’s liability. If the plaintiff cannot raise sufficient facts, the restaurant will be entitled to summary judgment, and the dram shop claim against it will be dismissed.

In the recent case of Bayless v. TTS Trio Corp., the plaintiff was the personal representative of the estate of a person who was killed in an auto accident after driving home from a restaurant. The decedent was proven to be a regular patron at the establishment. Evidence offered by the plaintiff showed that the patron had become intoxicated at the establishment on multiple occasions and that he frequently became loud and boisterous. On the night of the accident, the decedent left the establishment, lost control of the vehicle he was driving, and died in the ensuing accident.

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HK_Cheung_Sha_Wan_Night_Cheung_Wah_Street_Un_Chau_Street_traffic_accident_Ambulance_Nov-2013Distracted driving is one of the most common causes of accidents and collision-related fatalities today. In 2011, for example, roughly 23 percent of all motor vehicle accidents involved a driver operating a mobile phone device while behind the wheel. That translates to a whopping 1.3 million accidents. Although many drivers who use their phones while driving believe they are capable of keeping their eyes on the road, studies have shown that looking at your phone or another device for as little as five seconds can cause an accident to occur. Overall, texting while driving makes it 23 times more likely that an accident will take place.

The Massachusetts legislature is considering a piece of legislation that would prohibit the use of any handheld mobile device while operating a motor vehicle. The bill, S. 2093, is entitled “An Act to Prohibit the Use of Mobile Telephones While Operating a Motor Vehicle.”

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Drunk driving is one of the highest causes of injuries and fatalities in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”), roughly 30 people die each day in a motor vehicle collision that involves an intoxicated driver. Also, the estimated yearly costs associated with alcohol-induced car accidents totals nearly $60 million. In 2013, drunk driving accidents accounted for 31 percent of traffic accident fatalities that occurred in the United States. The National Highway Transportation Administration has also issued a number of studies and reports highlighting the dangers that result when alcohol and driving are mixed.

Recently, the National Transportation and Safety Board (“NTSB”) has recommended lowering the legal blood alcohol content to 0.05 percent from 0.08 percent. The NTSB’s recommendation is intended to help combat these devastating injury and death tolls associated with drunk driving across the United States.

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5704735786_69e2cfac89_bThe Massachusetts legislature is set to consider a number of bills that would provide greater protections for bicyclists throughout the state.

First, the Vulnerable Users Bill would impose a three-feet law on motorists when passing or operating a vehicle near a so-called “vulnerable user,” even if doing so would require the motorist to steer into another lane or cross a center line. As proposed, the definition of a vulnerable user is broad, including first responders, construction site employees, pedestrians, police, and bicyclists. According to research included with the legislative proposal, bicycle accidents involving impacts from the rear constitute 40 percent of incidents resulting in death. This law attempts to reduce that figure.

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