Articles Posted in Personal Injury

The infamous Bay State Bike Week took place in mid-May, calling upon bike enthusiasts throughout Massachusetts to organize hundreds of events statewide designed to promote bicycling as a form of exercise and travel as well as creating opportunities for cyclists to mingle. Cycling has a variety of benefits, including providing exercise, reducing the emissions from vehicles, and reducing traffic on the roadways. Due to their exposure to the elements and frequent proximity to motorists, however, bicyclists face serious risks of suffering injuries in a collision with a vehicle.

One of the most critical things a cyclist can do to protect him or herself is to purchase a properly fitted helmet. If the helmet is cracked, worn, or old, it may not provide the full level of protection that you need. Brain injuries are a common injury that happen as the result of bicycle accidents. Brain injuries can lead to a variety of both temporary and long-term injuries, like memory loss, cognitive disabilities, trouble sleeping, chronic headaches, and personality modification. Depending on what you do for a living, these symptoms could have a serious negative impact on your career.

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Nursing homes provide an important service, providing care and attention for elderly individuals. Unfortunately, there have been many reports and horror stories detailing the abuse, neglect, and horrible treatment that goes on in some of these facilities. A recent example of how some facilities fail to provide the care and respect that residents deserve involves social media. A 76-year-old resident at a Belvidere facility was admitted for dementia and Parkinson’s. Two nursing aides took videos of the patient while she was receiving treatments for both of these conditions. The aides later shared these videos on a social media messaging app called Snapchat.

The prosecutors handling the case indicated that this is not the first instance of neglect and abuse at nursing homes in Massachusetts, with at least four other nursing homes receiving violations during the last year. An investigative report also revealed that an out-of-state company had set up a number of nursing homes in the state that had avoided scrutiny from regulators. Patients at these facilities were reported to have suffered from serious and painful conditions, including medication errors, infections, festering sores, and improper care resulting from inadequate training.

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Massachusetts law allows a business guest, invitee, or visitor to sue a property owner for injuries that he or she sustains as a result of the property owner’s failure to maintain the premises in a reasonably safe condition. Property owners must also make reasonable repairs to their premises while providing visitors with warnings about any dangerous conditions of which they knew or should have known. This seems like a straightforward standard, but it can get complicated when it comes to determining whether a property owner can be held liable for the type of injury that resulted.

In Fleming v. A Plus Auto Body, Inc., the plaintiff sued an auto body repair shop for injuries she sustained when she slipped and fell on a patch of ice located on the repair shop’s property and broke her leg. The defendant moved for summary judgment, and the trial court granted the motion.

On appeal, the Massachusetts Appeals Court reversed the lower court’s ruling. First, the intermediate court stated that the plaintiff was on her way to pick up her vehicle from the repair shop. The plaintiff was exiting her rental car, which was parked on Walnut Street, when she slipped on the ice. The defendant argued that it did not own Walnut Street and therefore could not be held liable for the injuries the plaintiff sustained on the public way in front of its premises. The defendant also contended that there was no evidence in the record suggesting that it created the dangerous condition on the public sidewalk.

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There are many ways that product liability accidents can occur. Although people are familiar with cases involving motor vehicles, sporting goods, food contamination, and medical devices, countless product-related accidents occur on-the-job. In a recent action, a Massachusetts appellate court considered whether a supposedly defective product was to blame for a construction worker’s death.

The case, Williamson-Green v. Equipment 4 Rent, Inc., involved the following facts. The decedent was working with a large piece of construction equipment called an articulating boom lift to inspect a rooftop of a building. While the plaintiff was perched in the basket at the end of the equipment’s arm, the equipment fell over and toppled into the building, which resulted in the man’s death. The decedent’s wife filed a wrongful death claim and product liability claim against both the maker of the equipment and the rental company who leased out the device.

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In Amaral v. Seekonk Grand Prix Corp., a woman suffered injuries while observing her children operate go-carts at the defendant’s go-cart facility in Massachusetts. The injuries occurred when one of the drivers on the course lost control of the go-cart in which he or she was riding, and it crashed through the fence where the woman was standing. Although the woman was required to purchase tickets for her children to use the go-cart facility, she did not have to buy a ticket in order to observe her children from behind the fence.

Shortly after the accident, the woman filed a negligence action against the owner of the go-cart facility, requesting compensation for her physical injuries, which included a painful pulmonary embolism that resulted from a blood clot that formed in the woman’s leg.

In response to the complaint, the defendant filed a motion indicating that summary judgment was appropriate according to the recreational use doctrine. Pursuant to Massachusetts General Laws C. 21 Section 17C, a property owner that allows the general public to use its land for recreational activities without imposing a fee or charge for the use cannot be held liable for any injuries that an individual sustains during his or her time on the property. An exception to this statute is when the property owner engages in reckless, wanton, or willful conduct, and that conduct results in the victim’s injury.

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In Harrison v. Roitman, a husband retained a psychiatrist to provide expert witness testimony regarding his wife’s psychiatric state during a highly confrontational divorce proceeding. The expert witness, however, never met the wife or conducted an examination of her, but instead he provided a written report to the presiding judge explaining that the wife suffered from a personality disorder, had severe mental health problems, and did not show signs of improvement.

The wife filed an action against the expert witness, alleging that the psychiatrist committed malpractice in providing the report because he had not conducted any examinations of the plaintiff and did not know her. In her complaint, the wife contended that she experienced emotional distress as a result of the psychiatrist’s report, alleging theories of negligent and intentional emotional distress in addition to a claim alleging civil conspiracy. The wife’s main theory was that providing such a report and making such medical diagnoses without conducting an examination or reviewing records from other treating physicians breached the medical community standard of care for a psychiatric doctor.

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The 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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In Stewart v. Five Bridge Inn, LLC, a woman suffered injuries while attending a wedding at an inn located in Massachusetts after suffering a fall. In particular, the woman experienced a broken tibia and fibula. The woman filed a premises liability complaint against the inn, alleging that an oddly shaped rock embedded in the parking lot was responsible for her tumble. During the litigation, however, the woman indicated that she was wearing three-inch heels during the accident and that she was not completely clear on whether the irregularly shaped rock was responsible for her tumble.

The defendant filed a motion for summary judgment. In such a motion, the moving party advances that there are no genuine issues of material fact and that the court should rule on the litigation as a matter of law. The lower court granted the motion, agreeing with the defendant’s assertion that the plaintiff did not prove that a defective condition at the defendant’s location was the cause of her injuries.

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In a recent car accident case, a Massachusetts federal judge held that the defendant was not entitled to obtain copies of the plaintiff’s mental health records. In Conklin v. Feitelberg, a woman suffered severe injuries as the result of a car crash that occurred in June 2011 involving the defendant. In her complaint, the plaintiff brought claims for negligence, seeking compensation for medical bills, lost wages, emotional distress, permanent injuries, pain and suffering, and loss of enjoyment of life.

During discovery, the defense informed the plaintiff that it intended to seek copies of medical records from the five physicians from whom the plaintiff had sought mental health treatment. The subpoena that the defendant prepared requested records for the period of one year before the accident through to the present day. In response, the plaintiff filed a motion seeking a protective order under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26(c), claiming that the mental health records were privileged. The defendant also filed a motion to compel production of the mental health records.

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The winter season is in full swing, bringing snow to the Northeast and bringing all the wonderful winter outdoor sports that come with it. In New England, skiing, snowboarding, tobogganing, ice skating, and other winter sports are extremely popular. Whether you are an occasional skier or a seasoned aficionado of the slopes, there are countless dangers that lurk on ski slopes and recreational snow parks.

If you or someone you love has suffered an accident while at a ski resort, snow park, or similar type of location, you may be entitled to compensation. One of the first things that you should consider after suffering an injury in this location is whether the injury could have been prevented by the ski resort or snow park and whether it was foreseeable that someone would injure him or herself in the same manner. If the facility had knowledge that the condition leading to your injury existed, they may also be held liable for failing to warn you about the dangerous condition or for failing to take steps to remedy it.

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