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Massachusetts Appellate Court Upholds Dismissal of Negligence Claim against Repair Shop in Truck Accident Fatality

Truck accidents can be particularly devastating due to the size and weight of these vehicles, even when it comes to passenger injuries and fatalities. If the truck was being used in a commercial enterprise, then it is important to know whether you can bring a claim against the company that employed the driver and/or was responsible for the safety and maintenance of the truck. At Mass Injury Group, our Boston truck accident lawyers proudly assist our clients with understanding their legal rights and options following an unnecessary and avoidable accident.

A Massachusetts Court of Appeal case sheds light on some of the issues that can arise in a truck accident. Three men were driving in a truck owned by the driver’s employer. The driver lost control of the vehicle and it rolled, causing his death. Another occupant was seriously injured. The decedent’s estate and the injured plaintiff filed a lawsuit against a repair shop alleging that it failed to inform them about faulty brakes after the truck’s transmission was repaired earlier that year. The lower court eventually granted summary judgment for the garage against both plaintiffs, who then appealed.

The plaintiffs argued on appeal that the lower court erred in finding that the repair shop did not owe them a duty of care regarding the truck’s brakes. Their complaint alleged that the repair shop was negligent in the maintenance, inspection, and service of the truck. According to evidence in the record, however, the appellate court concluded that the employer was responsible for the truck’s primary maintenance and inspection. It also showed that the employer did not ask the repair shop to inspect the brakes at the time service on the transmission was completed. The repair shop worker who performed the road test after repairing the transmission did not note any issues with the brakes, either.

The appellate court ultimately rejected the appeal, stating that the repair shop’s road test of the vehicle to determine whether the transmission was repaired successfully did not create a duty to test other parts of the vehicle or to warn the employer about problems not related to the transmission.

The appellate court also stated that even assuming there was a duty between the repair shop and the decedent, the plaintiffs would have been unable to show that the repair shop’s conduct was the direct and foreseeable cause of the accident. The record showed that the employer had performed a 5,000-mile service inspection on the vehicle, including a brake inspection, a few months before the accident took place. It also noted that there was no evidence of issues with the vehicle’s brakes until six months after the vehicle’s transmission was repaired at the shop.

If you were hurt in a truck accident, you deserve seasoned and knowledgeable legal counsel to help you determine whether you are entitled to compensation. At Mass Injury Group, we are available to serve clients throughout Massachusetts and pride ourselves on providing responsive and compassionate representation. To set up your free consultation with one of our team members, please call us as soon as possible at 617-263-0060 or contact us online.

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