Articles Posted in Wrongful Death

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Each year, thousands of employees suffer devastating injuries while at work. Many of these accidents could be avoided if employers complied with applicable federal and Massachusetts health and safety laws. According to these regulations, employers have a duty to maintain a safe job site. This includes fixing broken equipment or fixtures, providing appropriate safety protections, and ensuring that employees obtain appropriate training based on their job assignments and duties. Beyond the regulations, an employer can be held liable for injuries to its employees that are the result of its negligence or recklessness.

The Boston Globe recently reported that an ammonia leak at a Stavis Seafood warehouse in South Boston has resulted in the death of one of the company’s employees. The four surviving employees stated that they smelled ammonia toward the final hour of their shift, engaged the emergency shut off valve, and attempted to exit the warehouse as quickly as possible. The fifth employee working that night, however, did not survive. Reports indicated that the ammonia fumes were so severe that firefighters and hazmat crew members were unable to enter the building upon arriving at the scene.

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clocks-1098080_960_720One of the most critical aspects of any personal injury claim is the statute of limitations. Massachusetts law imposes certain timelines dictating when a plaintiff must file his or her lawsuit against the defendant. If the plaintiff fails to initiate the action within the statute of limitations period, the plaintiff will be completely barred from obtaining any compensation from the plaintiff. The statute of limitations differs depending on the type of action, and there are a number of rules and exceptions that apply to calculating when the statute of limitations on your action will run.

A recent case highlights just how important it is to consider the statute of limitations in your action and to act promptly after realizing that you may be entitled to compensation. In Abrahamson v. Estate of LeBold, the plaintiff filed a lawsuit against an estate claiming that the defendant was liable based on multiple theories, including contract, tort, and according to certain consumer protection statutes. The lower court dismissed the action, finding that the plaintiff had failed to file the lawsuit within the statute of limitations period provided in Massachusetts Uniform Probate Code Section 3-803(a). Under this provision, the action should have been filed within one year of the date that the decedent passed away.

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hospital exam roomIn any case involving the alleged wrongful death of the victim, the surviving heirs bringing the action must show that the defendant acted negligently at the time of the accident. This involves proving four separate elements:  duty, breach, causation, and damages. In a medical malpractice case, the plaintiff typically must offer testimony from a medical expert regarding the issues of duty and breach. The trial court is vested with the authority to decide whether the expert whom the plaintiff has selected has sufficient experience and knowledge to provide an expert opinion about the issue.

In Ellis v. Clarke, the plaintiff brought an action on behalf of the estate of a woman who passed away due to lung cancer. The plaintiff named the treating physician for the decedent as the defendant in the action. After trial, the jury returned a verdict in the plaintiff’s favor, finding that the doctor had acted negligently and that the lack of adequate medical care he tendered was a substantial cause in the decedent’s passing.

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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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outdoor swan boatWith the warm summer months underway, many Massachusetts residents are flocking to the coastline and waterways to enjoy some of the state’s most popular recreational activities. Whether it is canoeing, swimming, boating, or something else, it is critical that people use caution at all times when engaging in their favorite new or old hobby.

According to a recent news report, a 14-year-old boy recently lost his life while kayaking in the New England region. According to the report, the teenage boy was traveling in a two-person kayak when the vessel flipped over in the water. Another person was in the kayak at the time of the accident, a friend of the teenage boy. The victim was not wearing a life jacket at the time the vessel capsized, but his friend was wearing one. The authorities who discovered the victim’s body believe that the fact that the other boy was wearing a life jacket was instrumental in his survival and that the unfortunate victim may have survived had he been wearing a life jacket.

A strong current near the bridge where the drowning took place may have had something to do with the vessel capsizing. The report also indicated that this was the victim’s first time using a kayak and that the boy had not been taught how to swim. The family lived in an area that is a common hotspot for boating, swimming, and fishing activities. The boys had gone to the river to relax and enjoy some time at the water.

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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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