Articles Posted in Personal Injury

As we get into the summer months, it is time for all of the fun activities associated with the warm weather and all the “tough” decisions. Hamburger or hot dog? Beach or pool? Red Sox or Yank…(we all know there’s no decision to make there!). One of the state’s best warm weather activities is the annual summer tradition – a trip to Fenway Park to watch the Red Sox. Few things compare with watching a game on a cool summer night at Fenway.

As great as the game is, it can be very easy to get distracted. You look at your phone to respond to a text or take a photo of your family; flag the vendor for a hot dog or cold beverage; or turn to your neighbor to discuss how good the Sox lineup looks. In that instant, a batted ball or a splintered bat can come flying into the stands, causing serious personal injury. Unfortunately, this is becoming a more and more common occurrence. So what happens if you are injured at a baseball game or any other sporting event when something comes from the field of play into the stands? Can I recover damages for my injuries? This article will discuss what causes of action, if any, are available as well as the little-known and very old, “Baseball Rule.”

For the purposes of this article, we will focus on baseball and use Fenway Park where examples are necessary, but these legal issues would also extend to other sports, for example, hockey. If you were injured at a game by a ball or bat, any lawsuit would be filed under a negligence claim. Under a negligence claim, you need to establish that the owners of the stadium did not take reasonable precautions to keep you safe. This is why when you attend a game at Fenway, the team has placed signs all over the park warning fans of the dangers of hit balls and bats, as well as making an announcement over the loudspeaker at the beginning of the game.

Many lawyers use the term “premises liability,” which is a phrase that most people don’t use. Therefore, there’s often a misconception about what the term means. In reality, it’s a way to describe the duty owed by a business or property owner. These claims are a type of a negligence lawsuit, which means the focus of a claim is usually on the duty of care owed and whether or not that duty was breached. For your reference, some common examples of these types of claims include, but are not limited to:

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, there are about 77 million dogs in the United States. That is a lot of dogs! If you were to go for a five-to-ten minute walk in your neighborhood, the chances are that you would see at least a dog and very likely come into close contact with one. The majority of the time the interactions are enjoyable – for you and the dog! However, this is not always the case. As car accidents become a likelihood due to the volume of vehicles on the road, the quantity of dogs and interactions with them can also lead to accidents.

The most common of these accidents is in the form of a dog bite, which will be the focus of this article.

Under the Massachusetts Dog Bite Statute, a dog’s owner may be found civilly liable for any damages caused, to person or property, by their dog. The statute applies when a dog causes personal injury or property damage. Even though it is referred to as the Dog Bite Statute, all injuries resulting from a dog are included, not just bites. For example, the statute would apply if a person was knocked down by a large breed dog and suffered a broken wrist. Notably, the statute adds an exception: the injured person must not have been trespassing or committing

The death of a loved one is a truly traumatic experience, especially if that death was sudden and unexpected . The sudden loss of a loved one leaves families with emotional burdens and oftentimes financial ones. So what happens when the death of a loved one is the result of someone else’s accident? This is known in the legal world as a “wrongful death” and you may be entitled to compensation. In Massachusetts, in the event of a wrongful death, the family of a loved one “steps into their shoes” and collects compensation on behalf of the deceased. Those who have lost a loved one due to wrongful death may be eligible to receive compensation for medical costs, funeral costs, loss of income, and other expenses.

Massachusetts law states that a person or company may be liable for wrongful death if that death was caused by: 1) negligence (failing to exercise reasonable care); 2) a “wanton or reckless act,” or 3) a breach of warranty. In all three cases, a wrongful death claim may be filed if the deceased person could have filed a personal injury lawsuit based on the same incident, had he or she survived. 

What this means, functionally, is that a wrongful death claim is similar to a standard personal injury claim. In both cases, the action or inaction of one party is the cause of the injury or death of another. Obviously, in a wrongful death case, the injured person is unable to sue the liable party. Rather, another party must bring the claim on behalf of the deceased person.

One of life’s ironic twists is that someday we may be tasked with caring for an elderly parent, just as they spent the early parts of our lives caring for us. Unfortunately, there are often times when the care needed by an elderly parent or relative exceeds what you are reasonably able to provide. Many times, an elderly parent requires around-the-clock medical attention. Other times, even staying at home alone while you work isn’t an option for someone who needs constant attention. Often, the best place for this type of care is at a nursing home.

Nursing homes can be an excellent resource at providing sustained care for medically at-need individuals. They have the time, money, and resources to provide the care that your mom, dad, or loved one needs. That’s why the cost is extraordinary, costing thousands of dollars every month, which is rarely covered by private health insurance. However, just like every other health care provider, they owe their patients a higher duty of care. Sometimes, that duty may not be met. Accidents happen, but when they happen to someone in a vulnerable sect, like a nursing home resident, those accidents can have severe results. 

Nursing home injuries could involve multiple causes of actions, but the most common claims are for negligence on the part of the staff at the nursing home. If a patient/resident at a nursing home suffers injuries due to negligence on the part of the staff, the staff and facility could be found liable for resulting damages, e.g., pain and suffering. 

Hit-and-Run Accidents

Many of us have been involved in a car accident, whether it be a “fender-bender” or something more serious. Regardless of the severity of the accident, it is a jarring experience. Because it happens so suddenly, it takes some time to realize what actually happened. Your brain is processing not just how the accident happened, but also trying to evaluate whether you’re injured. Our mind rattles off a million questions – “Am I OK?,” “Is the other person OK?,” “How bad is this?,” “What happened?,” “Whose fault was it?” 

After those few seconds pass, the normal thing to do is to make sure everyone is OK. Then, the parties exchange contact and insurance information and call the police (even if no one is seriously injured, the police will file an accident report that is often needed by your insurance company). What few people expect is for the other vehicle to leave the scene. In Massachusetts, it is a crime to leave the scene of an accident if someone was injured or property was damaged over a certain amount. If you are the victim of one of these “hit-and-run accidents,” you may also be entitled to compensation. 

It is a common phrase to say “mistakes happen,” because in all honesty, they do. No one is perfect and we all inevitably fail. However, this does not mean there are no consequences to these failures. There is no greater example of this than in the field of medicine. Patients, often at their most medically-vulnerable, rely on the opinions of their examining and treating medical professionals. But what happens when that professional makes a mistake? Are they, too, able to chalk it up to “mistakes happen” and move on? The short answer is that medical professionals owe you a higher duty of care and “mistakes” they make could very well fall under malpractice. 

What is Medical Malpractice?

Generally speaking, medical malpractice is a type of negligence that occurs during the medical care and treatment provided by a healthcare professional, i.e., doctor, nurse, physician assistant, etc. In order to prove malpractice occurred, you need to prove the “Four Ds of Medical Malpractice:” 1) duty, 2) dereliction (failure to meet that duty), 3) damages, and 4) direct cause.

In Part 1, we discussed the duty owed by property owners in terms of snow and ice removal. In this post, we will discuss what happens if you are injured after slipping on ice or snow. It is important to know what steps are available to you and what, if any, fault you may have in the matter. 

As noted in the previous post, it used to be much harder to recover damages from a slip and fall caused by snow and ice. A 2010 Supreme Judicial Court (“SJC”) case (Papadopoulos v. Target Corp) overturned an over-a-century-old law regarding the accumulation of snow. The duty placed on property owners was raised and it became easier to prove negligence. However, just because it became “easier,” does not mean collecting damages will be easy. There are still multiple factors at play.

All slip and fall cases fall under a class of personal injury claims requiring you to prove negligence. You must establish a duty, a failure to meet that duty, injuries, and that the breach of duty caused those injuries. In a case of snow and ice-induced slip and fall case, the duty owed is by the landowner and he or she owes you “reasonable care” for a safe walking environment, that is, free of ice and snow. Further, you must suffer a significant injury, for example, sprained or broken bones or traumatic brain injury from hitting your head. Finally, you need to establish that the ice was the cause of your slip and fall. 

Winter in New England, a right of passage we all endure every year. No one can claim to be a real New Englander without going through a handful of winters full of blizzards, wind, and freezing temperatures. Cleaning off your car, shoveling the sidewalks and stairs, and salting or sanding the ice are all tenets of our yearly winter ritual. While many of us are used to the cold, snow, and ice, it is important to know what happens when those conditions result in an injury. In the first part of a two-part series, we will discuss what duty you owe as a property owner to others entering your property and what happens in the event someone is injured as a result of a fall on snow or ice. 

Under Massachusetts law, all property owners (commercial and residential) and landlords are legally responsible for snow and ice removal from their property. While each town and city has its own specific codes (and we encourage you to take a look at your city or town’s requirements), it is important to know the state law establishing this minimum. This means that any publicly-accessible areas, e.g., sidewalks or walkways, driveways, parking lots, etc., must be free of snow and “de-iced.”

This is a relatively new law, coming into effect on the heels of a 2010 Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (“SJC”) ruling that overturned 125 years of precedent of unnatural vs. natural snow accumulation. The arcane distinction aside, the takeaway is that the SJC prioritized safety of guests and visitors. (That case was Papadopoulos v. Target Corp, which dragged snow and ice law into the 21st century. It got rid of the rule that a “natural accumulation” of snow means that a property owner wasn’t responsible for someone’s injury.). 

The main goal of personal injury lawsuit is to make people whole after an injury caused someone’s negligence. This compensation is usually broken down into three parts: medical expenses, lost earning capacity (lost wages), and pain & suffering. However, many people don’t realize that there’s a lot more to proving a case in front of a jury.

If you suffered harm due to the action, or failure to act, by another person, group of persons, or business, you may have a personal injury lawsuit. In law books, the technical term is commonly known as a “cause of action.” A cause of action is a set of facts under which one person sues another person, business, or organization.

A cause of action can arise in a variety of ways. First, it can occur due to either an act or even a failure to act.  This means that some cases happen because someone didn’t do what they were supposed to do. Others arise because someone did something improperly. A cause of action can also arise on account of a breach of duty, or a violation of the law. This means that there is a law or other regulation that requires someone to act a certain way, and then that person or entity doesn’t meet those requirements. Obviously, the circumstances of the facts of your case will have an impact on your cause of action.

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