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Massachusetts pedestrian accidents often result in life-threatening injuries. Despite common misconceptions, individuals who are hit by a car are not automatically entitled to compensation. Pedestrian injury victims wishing to recover damages must establish that the other party was negligent. In many cases, the party who hit the pedestrian may dispute liability, and insurance companies may deny coverage. In addition to threshold tort issues, pedestrian accident victims must abide by strict filing and notice requirements and the state’s statute of limitations.

Under Massachusetts law, injury victims must prove that their injuries meet the minimum criteria to file a tort action against the responsible party. If a victim cannot meet the threshold, they may recoup losses through their Personal Injury Protection coverage. Victims who wish to file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver, must be able to establish that they suffered more than $2,000 in medical expenses related to broken bones, eye or ear injuries, or permanent scarring or disfigurement.

Pedestrians may recover economic and non-economic damages for their injuries and losses. Economic damages are generally objective, quantifiable losses such as lost wages and medical bills. Whereas, non-economic damages are subjective and include losses related to loss of enjoyment of life, pain and suffering, and loss of companionship and consortium. Unlike many other states, Massachusetts only allows punitive damages, which are designed solely to punish the wrongdoer, in cases of wrongful death where the defendant acted willfully or with wanton disregard of another’s safety. Injury victims must file their damages claim within three years of the accident—however, certain narrow exceptions exist, such as when the victim was a minor when the accident occurred.

Bicycling is an increasingly popular transportation method in Massachusetts, however, the increase in bicycling corresponds with a rise in Massachusetts bike accidents. To address the dangers of biking, cities have created bike lanes to make biking safer and more accessible. Although, bike lanes are part of a more significant nationwide safety effort, they often pose risks of their own, especially when the lanes are poorly designed.

According to the National Association of City Transportation, a bike lane is a defined part of a roadway that has been designated for the exclusive use of bicyclists. These lanes are typically marked with distinctive signage or markings. The lanes allow bicyclists to safely ride without traffic interference. However, in most cases, bike lanes do not have any barriers to protect cyclists from encroaching vehicles. These lanes usually run in the same direction as traffic; but in some instances, there may be portions that run in the opposite direction of traffic. It is crucial that cities thoroughly evaluate traffic patterns and provide sufficient buffers and signage to protect bicyclists from traffic, pedestrians, and parked vehicles.

Despite safety measures, bike lanes pose risks because of the inherent danger of bicyclists sharing the roadway with vehicles. In fact, some argue that bikers and motorists fail to appreciate the danger of sharing the road because of the false sense of security that a bike lane may provide. However, many accidents can be avoided if these lanes are appropriately designed and include sufficient signage and barriers.

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration, wrong-way crashes result in nearly 400 fatalities every year. Although wrong-way crashes do not occur as much as other types of Massachusetts car accidents, when they do, they are much more likely to result in a fatality. Wrong-way crashes occur when one vehicle is traveling in a direction against the proper flow of traffic. These accidents typically happen on a divided highway or an exit or entrance ramp, and generally involve head-on collisions occurring at high speeds. If a wrong-way collision results in the death of a motorist, it may be the basis for a Massachusetts wrongful death lawsuit.

Despite the various public service campaigns to educate and enforce safe driving habits, wrong-way accidents still occur. The leading causes of wrong-way crashes are motorists driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, speeding and engaging in dangerous maneuvers, improper passing, vehicle malfunctioning, and road hazards that lead to a loss of control. The nature of these accidents tends to cause serious and potentially fatal injuries. Some common injuries after wrong-way accidents are traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord damage, broken bones, and burn injuries. Many victims and their families experience enormous financial burdens in the aftermath of these accidents.

Recently, a Boston news report indicated that two people died, and one person suffered severe injuries in a wrong-way accident. According to the report, a 30-year-old woman drove her vehicle in the wrong direction on a highway. She collided with another car driven by a 66-year-old woman. The woman was transferred to a Boston hospital, where she succumbed to her injuries. A 39-year-old passenger in her car died at the scene of the accident. The accident involved another vehicle; however, that passenger did not require emergency medical treatment. Police stated that they are continuing to investigate the circumstances that led to the tragic accident.

The dangers of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol are well-known, documented, and ingrained in most individuals before they even obtain their driver’s license. However, unfortunately, drunk driving continues to be problematic, causing thousands of fatal accidents every year. Victims of Massachusetts drunk driving accidents may be able to obtain compensation for their injuries through a personal injury lawsuit. There may be more than one person responsible after a drunk driving car accident, and naming all potentially liable parties in a case is crucial. Thus, it is important that victims contact an attorney to discuss their rights and remedies.

In Massachusetts, the law presumes that a driver is “operating under the influence” (OUI) if their blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is over than .08. However, in some cases, a lower BAC may cause the driver to experience an impairment, especially if the person consumed drugs while drinking. In cases where the driver was under the legal drinking age, a BAC over .02 automatically results in an arrest. Although an OUI is helpful to plaintiffs in civil claims, it is not an automatic means to recovery. Neither is an OUI conviction necessary to pursue a personal injury lawsuit. Accident victims should contact an attorney to ensure that their case is appropriately prepared and presented to a judge or jury. The failure to adequately prepare a case may result in a dismissal or inadequate recovery.

Recovering after a Massachusetts drunk driving accident is critical in the process to attempt to make a plaintiff or their family “whole again.” Mainly because these accidents tend to result in severe personal injuries and property damage. For instance, according to a recent news report, a 78-year-old man, with a history of drunken driving, caused an accident that resulted in the death of a man in a wheelchair. Witnesses explained that they saw the driver run over the man in the wheelchair, then reverse, and run over him again. The driver then got out of his car and tried to leave the scene of the accident. Police indicated that the driver had four previous drunken driving charges, but had an active, valid license. The driver’s license was most recently reinstated in 1999 after being suspended for 18 months following his fourth drunk driving conviction. Further, his license was suspended three other times because he failed to take a chemical breath test and for reckless driving.

Massachusetts car accidents, especially those involving motorcycles, can have long-lasting and potentially fatal consequences. After an accident, victims and their families must understand how Massachusetts procedural and substantive rules will impact their claim to recovery. One of the most critical rules that may affect an injury victim’s claim to compensation is the state’s comparative negligence statute.

Historically, most states followed the contributory negligence theory, which acts as a defense to liability in a car accident or other injury lawsuit. Under the original theory, plaintiffs were not entitled to compensation if the defendant in the case could prove that the plaintiff contributed in any way to their own injuries. In addressing the inherent unfairness of this statute, Massachusetts lawmakers moved towards comparative negligence. Comparative negligence is a modern alternative to contributory negligence.

Comparative negligence allows the trier of fact to evaluate all evidence that each party presents and assign fault on a percentage basis. Massachusetts’s modified comparative negligence rule allows plaintiffs to recover as long as their portion of responsibility was less than 51 percent. In situations where a plaintiff is more than 51 percent responsible, they generally cannot recover. Further, it is important to note that under this rule, a plaintiff’s damages are reduced by their percentage of fault.

When a motorist, passenger, or bystander suffers injuries in a Massachusetts car accident, determining fault and apportioning liability is a crucial part of the recovery process. Massachusetts is a no-fault state, which means that an accident victim’s insurance company will cover a portion of their medical bills, lost wages, and other expenses, regardless of who is at fault. However, these benefits do not cover expenses related to pain and suffering, loss of consortium and companionship, or loss of earning capacity damages.

Although a Massachusetts injury victim’s insurance company is generally supposed to pay or reimburse victims for their accident-related medical expenses, victims often suffer substantial damages that insurance will not cover. Under certain circumstances, a motorist may file a personal injury lawsuit against another driver when they meet the statutory threshold. Under Massachusetts law, motorists who wish to sue another driver for their injuries must establish that either their “reasonable and necessary” medical expenses are over $2,000, they suffered broken bones or a loss of hearing or vision, they suffered a partial or complete loss of a body part, or serious disfigurement, or death.

If a Massachusetts car accident victim meets the tort threshold, they must then establish fault before they can recover. The state follows a “modified comparative negligence” system to determine and allocate damages. Car accident victims can recover for their injuries if they are less than 51% at-fault for the accident. If a judge or jury determines that the victim was more than 51% at fault, they will be barred from recovery.

Recently, Consumer Reports (CR), a nonprofit organization that provides research and reviews to improve products, issued a report that Ikea, a popular furniture retailer, is facing a class-action lawsuit. The lawsuit alleges that the company advertised and sold millions of dressers that they knew were inherently dangerous and prone to tipping over. Further, the complaint states that the retailer did not appropriately notify consumers or issue refunds for the dresser after they were recalled in 2016. The class-action lawsuit highlights the serious dangers and injuries that Massachusetts consumers may face because of defective products.

Statistics by CR indicate that someone in the United States suffers injuries less than every half hour because of an appliance or furniture tip-over. Further, dresser tip-overs account for over 200 deaths in the past twenty years. Many of these victims were under six-years-old. The above-referenced lawsuit was filed on behalf of a family who purchased the dressers before the recall. When the family tried to return the dressers in 2018, the store denied their attempt. The lawsuit claims that other families experienced similar denials. The class-action lawsuit seeks to redress consumers who purchased defective dressers and compel the retailer to remove the dressers from the homes of customers. Several consumer protection groups wrote to Ikea, stating that they did not do enough to notify parents about their dressers’ risks or make it easy to return or remedy defective products.

Many consumers are not aware that the furniture industry operates under a “voluntary tip-over” testing standard. The testing evaluates whether a dresser that measures higher than 30 inches can stay upright with 50 pounds hanging from an open drawer. However, because testing is not mandatory, manufacturers are not required to conduct the test or meet that standard. Research into these accidents reveals that close to half of these accidents occur when children are left alone in a room. CR advises that consumers refrain from putting televisions on top of dressers, citing reports that the majority of tip-over fatalities involved televisions and dressers tipping over. The most effective way to prevent these accidents is to secure dressers to the wall. However, this is not always possible for consumers, and manufacturers should provide the public with safer products and a way to affix dressers to walls.

Defective products can result in serious injuries and death, and Massachusetts injury victims should understand their rights and remedies in these situations. Massachusetts encourages companies to act responsibly in the design, manufacturer, and distribution of their products by providing safety standards. If a person is injured because of a defective product, the victim or their family may hold the maker or seller of the product liable for their damages.

Under state law, there are three types of Massachusetts product liability claims: negligence, breach of warranty, and unfair and deceptive practices. Negligence claims require the victim to establish that the manufacturer breached a duty of care owed to its customers by acting unreasonably regarding their defective product. Plaintiffs pursuing a breach of warranty claim must prove that the product is not fit for the ordinary purpose for which the product is generally used. Finally, under the state’s unfair and deceptive practices law, plaintiffs may recover attorneys’ fees and additional damages if they can establish that the manufacturer acted in bad faith.

Typically, product liability claims stem from a product’s defective design, defective manufacture, or a company’s failure to warn or appropriately market the item. For example, recently, the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service announced that Nestle Prepared Foods Company is recalling nearly 30,000 pounds of a chicken product found in Lean Cuisine Fettuccini Alfredo. The product does not provide a warning that the meal contains soy, a common allergen. Additionally, the product contains chicken; however, the meal is not supposed to contain meat, and does not list chicken as an ingredient.

Massachusetts truck accidents often involve multi-layered interactions between drivers, motorcyclists, pedestrians, road conditions, and weather. Truck accidents are one of the most devastating types of accidents and can have life-long implications on all of the parties involved. This is especially true in instances where the events stem from a truck rollover. A rollover accident occurs when a truck’s wheels lose contact with the roadway, resulting in the truck ending up on its side or upside-down. Many of these accidents are preventable, and Massachusetts injury victims may seek compensation from the negligent truck driver or their employer.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there are four leading causes of Massachusetts rollover accidents. First, a truck driver’s speed while negotiating a curve is one of the main reasons for these types of accidents. Trucks have a high center of gravity, and drivers must maintain a safe speed to avoid toppling. Drivers must consider the height of their vehicle and cargo load when operating their trucks. The failure to modify their speed in relation to changing road conditions can have disastrous consequences.

Second, making sudden steering changes can cause the truck to lose traction and rollover. Additionally, improperly loaded or insecure cargo can result in a rollover. Truck drivers and their companies must ensure that their vehicles are safely packed. When a load is unbalanced or improperly secured, the truck may suffer a change in the center of gravity, which can reduce stability and result in a rollover. Finally, driver error, including impairment, distraction, and fatigue, can all result in this type of accident.

In addition to negligence or recklessness, some Massachusetts car accidents stem from an at-fault party’s criminal conduct. For example, a motorist who causes an accident because they were under the influence of drugs or alcohol may face criminal charges in addition to civil claims. Although civil and criminal claims go through two distinct processes, the outcome of a criminal case may affect an individual’s civil suit. Criminal charges or a conviction may help a civil plaintiff’s claim, but they are not necessary to achieve a favorable outcome in a personal injury case.

There are many ways a criminal charge may affect a Massachusetts personal injury lawsuit. In cases where a criminal defendant pleads guilty or is found guilty by a judge or jury, the ruling can be beneficial to civil plaintiffs. For example, if a motorist admits that he was driving under the influence when an accident occurred, a plaintiff can likely use this evidence to establish liability. However, defendants who are found not guilty are not absolved from responsibility for any civil claims. The outcome of these cases can be different because criminal and civil cases have independent standards of proof. Under the criminal system, the state must prove guilt “beyond a reasonable doubt”; whereas, under the civil system, plaintiffs only need to show that the defendant was liable “by a preponderance of the evidence.”

Criminal defendants also retain the right to plead, “no contest.” This means that they are admitting the facts but not admitting guilt. No contest pleas cannot be used against a defendant in civil proceedings. For example, if a defendant pleads no contest in a driving while impaired criminal case, a plaintiff will not generally be allowed to use the conviction to show that the defendant was driving while impaired. Instead, the plaintiff may call arresting officers or present other evidence to establish that the defendant was under the influence.

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