Articles Posted in Personal Injury Legal Theories

Massachusetts law requires that owners and managers of public and private businesses and properties maintain and secure their property to limit harm to their residents, guests, and patrons. Typically, land and property owners will face liability if they fail to meet their standard of care, and the failure creates a dangerous hazard and causes an injury. Massachusetts injury victims may be able to recover for the damages they sustained because of the hazardous condition.

Premises liability lawsuits often occur because of injuries from slip-and-falls, trip-and-falls, broken or poorly maintained entrances and exits, or inadequate lighting and security. However, business owners may also face liability for damages resulting from toxic chemical exposure. Chemical exposures in workplaces, restaurants, stores, schools, and laboratories can pose a severe danger to a person’s health and well-being. Toxic poisoning usually occurs from inhaling an airborne substance or ingesting contaminated food or water. There are various toxins such as sulfates, gasoline, lead, mercury, and bleaches that may cause severe injuries to a patron or visitor. Exposure to these chemicals may cause various symptoms and illnesses, such as nausea, lightheadedness, shortness of breath, vomiting, rashes, and even death.

For example, recently, a national news report detailed the harrowing chemical incident at a Massachusetts Buffalo Wild Wings. Emergency officials arrived at the restaurant after receiving calls that patrons were becoming ill because of chemical fumes in the establishment. The fumes were released after an employee mixed a popular food service cleaning detergent with a bleach cleaner to sanitize the kitchen floor. The mixture resulted in a toxic chemical reaction that spread throughout the restaurant. Thirteen patrons were hospitalized because of exposure to the fumes and the general manager died. The product manufacturer included a safety information sheet that indicated that the detergent should not be mixed with strong acids; however, it is unclear the employee was trained on the product and whether the products have ever been used in conjunction before this incident.

When someone is injured in a Massachusetts car accident, they can pursue a personal injury claim against any party they believe to be at fault for their injuries. Most car accident cases are brought under the theory of negligence, and as a result, many car accident claims raise similar issues. Of course, there are many different types of accidents, and claims based on the same kind of accident frequently raise related issues.

Take, for example, Massachusetts pedestrian accidents. These accidents typically involve severe injuries because, in many cases, motorists hit a pedestrian while traveling at a high rate of speed. However, even a low-speed collision can cause significant injuries, especially if the pedestrian strikes their head against the ground or a part of the car. Being able to substantiate the extent of a pedestrian’s injuries is a critical component of a pedestrian accident lawsuit.

Another issue that frequently comes up in Massachusetts pedestrian accident cases is the comparative fault of the pedestrian. Generally, motorists must yield to pedestrians. Thus, when a motorist strikes a pedestrian, the motorist will likely be primarily at fault. However, under Massachusetts law, a defendant can argue that the accident victim’s comparative negligence should reduce the victim’s total recovery amount. In some cases where an accident victim is found to be at least 51 percent at fault, they will be prevented from recovering anything for their injuries. Thus, it is also crucial for pedestrian accident victims to minimize their responsibility to preserve the ability to recover.

Massachusetts tort laws require injury victims to establish negligence if they wish to collect damages against the wrongdoer. Typically, Massachusetts plaintiffs who want to recover damages must prove that the defendant owed them a duty of care, that they breached, and that breach caused the plaintiff’s injuries. However, defendants will often utilize the Massachusetts comparative negligence doctrine to limit their degree of fault and reduce the amount of damages they owe.

Comparative negligence applies when the defendant proves by a preponderance of the evidence that the plaintiff was negligent and contributed to their own injuries. When a Massachusetts defendant meets their burden, a jury will decide what percent of fault each party had in the accident and injuries. For example, after a jury finds that a defendant in a Massachusetts car accident was responsible for the accident, they will then determine the total amount of damages. If they find that the total losses equal to $50,000, they can then assess each party’s level of fault in the accident. In this example, if they find that the plaintiff was 20% responsible, the total award would be reduced by 20%.

It is important to note that Massachusetts follows “modified comparative negligence.” Modified comparative negligence only allows plaintiffs to recover damages if they are less than 51% responsible for their injuries. Unlike other states, where damages are proportionate relative to fault, in Massachusetts, plaintiffs who are more than 51% at fault cannot recover any damages. Modified comparative negligence is an affirmative defense, and as such, the defendant bears the burden of proving the plaintiff’s negligence. In Massachusetts, plaintiffs need to establish that the accident was 100% the defendant’s fault to recover the total amount of compensation for their injuries.

Contact Information