Massachusetts Appellate Court Reverses Grant of Summary Judgment in Insurance Company’s Favor in Multi-Passenger Car Crash Case

Legal News GavelFollowing a car accident, it can be difficult to know exactly which steps you should take in order to preserve your rights and to ensure that you will receive the compensation that you deserve. As seasoned Massachusetts car accident lawyers, we have guided many victims through the legal process following a crash, and we are ready to assist you. Having the right lawyer on your side will ensure that you follow all of the rules while holding the opposition accountable as well.

A recent appellate decision demonstrates the complexity of rules that govern issues about evidence and findings of fact in a personal injury lawsuit. The plaintiff was injured in a highway accident when she veered to avoid a car that was making a left-hand turn across traffic. The plaintiff’s vehicle veered off the roadway and onto the shoulder, where it smashed through the guardrails. The vehicle flipped over and eventually landed on the roof. The vehicles did not make contact, but the plaintiff suffered serious injuries, resulting in the disfigurement and loss of use of his left arm.

There was an issue in the case regarding the plaintiff’s pre-existing medical condition. The plaintiff had offered a videotape of a deposition of a physician who treated the plaintiff into evidence. The defendant objected to an answer from the physician during the deposition on the basis that the physician had not been deemed an expert witness. The judge overruled the defendant’s objection. Before the jury was allowed to see the part of the videotape to which the defendant objected, the judge dismissed the jury and reversed his original decision to allow the evidence. The judge concluded that the plaintiffs failed to provide a certain report that would have allowed the physician to testify about expert witness matters. The defendant did not object, however, to the deposition or to the absence of the report from the plaintiff.

The plaintiff appealed. On review, the appellate court concluded that the lower judge erred by stopping the videotape and reversing his decision to allow the videotape to be played. The defendants failed to make a timely objection to the deposition or to the plaintiff’s failure to file the requisite report. Additionally, the appellate court concluded that it was a reversible error to allow the jury to see some of the videotape but to then stop it before the controversial testimony was played. Furthermore, the defendant relied on the portion of the videotape that was played during trial in its closing argument, which constituted substantial prejudice to the plaintiff because the jury was not able to see the entire videotape and to put the initial testimony from the physician in context. As a result, the appellate court concluded that the plaintiff was entitled to a new trial.

At the Law Offices of Michael O. Smith, we know how traumatic a car accident can be for the victim and his or her family. While you are recuperating from your injuries and dealing with the stress that the accident places on your family, we can vigorously assert your legal rights. We make a commitment to responsive, compassionate, and timely legal counsel in each of our cases. To schedule your free consultation, call us at 617-263-0030 or contact us online.

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