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empty flatbed trailerUnderstanding the types of evidence that you need to present in a car accident lawsuit can be confusing. There are many different categories of evidence that you can present, and there are unique rules that apply to certain types of evidence. Although it may seem like liability is clear, it is still essential to present sufficient evidence to meet your burden of proof and to show the jury that you are entitled to relief. As dedicated Massachusetts car accident lawyers, we have assisted numerous accident victims with protecting their legal rights.

A recent appellate opinion demonstrates the necessity of being thorough when presenting evidence in your lawsuit. The plaintiff was driving his vehicle along the Massachusetts Turnpike when a vehicle being transported on a flatbed trailer fell from the flatbed and struck the plaintiff’s vehicle. The plaintiff filed a personal injury lawsuit against the owner of the car that slid off the flatbed truck and the individuals who were transporting the car on the flatbed. The lawsuit proceeded to a trial, and the jury returned a verdict for one of the defendants.

The plaintiff appealed the lower court’s entry of judgment in favor of the defendant on several bases. First, he argued that the defendant’s attorney made inappropriate statements during opening argument and that a mistrial should have been granted as a result. Next, he argued that the jury should have been given an instruction about a legal doctrine called res ipsa loquitur. This principle holds that the occurrence of some types of events implies that negligence was involved. The plaintiff can offer circumstantial evidence to show that the harm would not typically have occurred without some negligent conduct. Finally, the plaintiff argued that the trial court erred in refusing to grant his motion for a new trial.

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Man Holding PhoneIf you are involved in a car accident with a motorist who does not have sufficient policy limits to cover your damages, you may be able to make a claim for underinsured motorist benefits with your own insurer. As seasoned Massachusetts car accident lawyers, we have handled numerous legal actions that involve insurance issues, including underinsured motorist coverage disputes. This coverage is typically optional, and many appellate opinions have discussed whether a party has rejected an underinsured motorist policy explicitly. In a recent opinion, for example, a mother and son were injured in a car accident. The mother sought policy benefits for her son’s injuries, but her insurer denied them. The mother and son appealed the trial court’s decision finding that the insurer was not required to pay benefits to the son. The mother and son filed a timely appeal.

On review, the appellate court first examined the scope of the mother’s insurance policy. In its opinion, the court cited a specific provision in the policy that provides benefits to “any household member . . . while occupying an auto not owned by [the insured].” The provision further provided that the household member was required to be a relation through marriage, blood, or adoption.

In response to the plaintiffs’ claim, the insurance company had provided medical documents, a lease showing that the son did not live in the same apartment unit as his mother, and a driver’s license. The insurance company also referenced a discussion that the mother had with one of its representatives before she purchased her insurance policy. According to the insurer, in that discussion, the mother indicated that her son did not live with her but that he lived in a separate unit downstairs from her unit.

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insurance contract pageThe expenses that are involved in a car accident can add up quickly. Even if the person who caused the collision to take place has a car insurance policy, the policy limits do not always cover the full cost of your expenses, which can include medical bills, lost wages, and property damage. If you have your own underinsured or uninsured motorist policy, you can use this coverage to make up the difference. Whether it is your own insurer or the at-fault party’s insurer, insurance companies often make decisions that are in their own best interest and try to interpret their own policy terms to minimize the amount of compensation they are required to pay. If the insurer fails to play fairly, you can bring an Unfair Claim Settlement Practice claim against the insurer in civil court. A dedicated Massachusetts car accident lawyer can assist you in navigating this process.

A recent appellate opinion demonstrates how this process works. The plaintiff suffered injuries in a car accident. The other driver’s liability was not at issue, and the plaintiff accepted the at-fault driver’s policy limit of $25,000 to settle her claim. She then filed an underinsured motorist claim with her own insurer, but the insurer did not offer a settlement. The plaintiff then filed a lawsuit, seeking an order to compel the insurer to proceed to arbitration regarding the amount of damages that she sustained in the crash, as well as a claim for unfair settlement practices as a result of the insurer’s failure to offer a settlement. The court compelled the insurer to proceed to arbitration about the damages issue, which was adjudicated to be $50,000.

The matter proceeded to a bench trial regarding the unfair settlement practices claim. A bench trial is a trial that proceeds before a judge without the assistance of a jury. The parties waived their right to a jury trial in this instance. After hearing evidence regarding the unfair settlement practices allegations, the trial court first noted that the plaintiff provided substantial evidence about her accident-related damages, but she did not offer any evidence about the insurance company’s investigation or evidence about the type of negotiation discussions that happened between the parties. It also concluded that the plaintiff did not sufficiently demonstrate which damages were linked to the insurer’s failure to offer a settlement promptly. The plaintiff responded by arguing that the trial court erroneously granted the insurer’s motion to exclude three witnesses that the plaintiff wanted to examine who were employees of the defendant. The trial court reached this conclusion based on the plaintiff’s late disclosure of her intention to present and examine the witnesses.

Yellow Semi TruckThere can be several different complications and unexpected events that arise in a personal injury lawsuit, and it’s not uncommon for defendants to attempt to use these situations to their advantage. Some of the most complex issues that arise involve evidence, including identifying witnesses and establishing that the offered evidence is appropriate and should be submitted to the jury. As dedicated Boston car accident lawyers, we are well versed in how to handle these situations so that your right to recovery is protected. A recent appellate court opinion discusses how evidentiary issues can become complicated.

The plaintiff sustained injuries during a car crash in 2014. He filed a negligence lawsuit against the operator of the large semi truck that hit his vehicle and against the company that employed the driver and that owned the semi truck. According to his complaint, the plaintiff alleged that the truck rear-ended his vehicle, causing him to lose control and causing him to strike the median.

The defendant filed a motion for summary judgment, and the plaintiff filed an opposition brief. The defendant filed a motion to strike the plaintiff’s statement of facts in the plaintiff’s opposition brief. The defendant also asked the court to strike two reports from experts attached as exhibits. The magistrate granted the defendant’s request, finding that the plaintiff did not comply with a local procedural rule that requires the party opposing a motion for summary judgment to include a concise statement of material facts in the record. The trial court ultimately granted the defendant’s motion for summary judgment, and the plaintiff appealed.

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Cows on RoadSuccessfully litigating a negligence cause of action against a careless driver who caused your injuries is a challenging and often time-consuming task. Unfortunately, even when the trial is over and you’ve secured a judgment in your favor, it can be even more challenging to enforce the judgment and to obtain the compensation that you deserve. As seasoned Boston car accident lawyers, we can handle all of the aspects of your claim from gathering evidence before filing to helping you enforce a settlement agreement or judgment in your favor.

A recent appellate opinion highlights the issues that can arise with enforcing a settlement agreement. The plaintiff suffered catastrophic injuries when her car collided with two cows that had wandered from the defendant’s farm onto the road. The plaintiff and her husband filed a negligence lawsuit against the farm owner. The parties eventually agreed to mediation, which resulted in a settlement agreement. The defendant’s wife was not present at the mediation and did not sign the settlement agreement. Once the parties to a lawsuit reach a settlement, they must report this to the court.

After executing the settlement agreement, the defendant did not perform their obligations. The plaintiffs asked the lower court to enforce the settlement contract, and the defendants were given notice to attend a hearing. The defendants failed to appear, and the judge issued an order adopting the settlement agreement and providing for civil penalties against the defendants for failing to comply with its terms. The court also entered a judgment against the defendants and included a provision allowing the defendants to finalize a judgment against an unrelated third party and allowing the plaintiffs to satisfy the judgment against this unrelated party.

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Tour BusMassachusetts car accidents can lead to a wide variety of injuries. Although car safety technology has improved over the years, the impact from a collision can have life-changing consequences. One of the more common injuries experienced by those who are involved in car accidents is back injuries. The injuries to a woman from an auto accident involving a tour bus in Massachusetts demonstrate the injuries that can result from a driver’s alleged negligence.

The plaintiff was riding as a passenger in a car when the car was struck by a bus. Her complaint alleges that when the accident occurred in February 2013, she suffered back injuries. The accident occurred while their vehicle was sitting idle in a turn lane when the tour bus pulled into the turn lane next to the plaintiff. Both vehicles attempted to make the turn at the same time, but while both of the vehicles were turning, the vehicles collided with each other. The plaintiff alleged that the resulting injuries involved her cervical and lumbar discs and required extensive surgery in order to repair the damage.

Massachusetts law establishes a duty of motor vehicle drivers to act reasonably while navigating the roadways. Similar to other types of negligence claims, a driver is required to drive with reasonable care under the circumstances. Courts often define reasonable care as the care that an ordinary and prudent individual might exercise under the circumstances. In the context of auto accidents, a driver owes a duty to exercise ordinary care to avoid causing an auto accident. It is generally a question for the fact-finder at trial to determine whether a defendant breached his or her standard of care and acted negligently while on the public roadways.

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School BusSchool buses are required to travel down residential roads to pick up and drop off schoolchildren. Those roads were often constructed for smaller vehicles, such as sedans or SUVs. The large size of buses, combined with the narrow residential roads, can lead to accidents. At least, the Massachusetts bus accident claim filed against the Massachusetts Interlocal Insurance Association alleges that buses are traveling down roads that are too narrow.

The owner of a 2008 Honda vehicle stopped at an S-curve as a school bus approached from the opposite direction. The bus appeared to idle for a moment, possibly considering whether it could fit through the turn, and then proceeded. The plaintiff’s car was struck as the bus rounded the turn.

The owner of the Honda filed a complaint against the Massachusetts Interlocal Insurance Association. The organization is a not-for-profit group that provides insurance for Massachusetts school buses. The plaintiff’s damages are not exceptionally high and do not involve any personal injury damages. However, as the plaintiff noted, the lawsuit was filed to not only recoup compensation but also allege that bus drivers are not being properly trained to drive down narrow residential roads. The plaintiff alleges that school buses are being sent down roads where they cannot simply fit or navigate without damaging other people’s cars.

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Icy RoadThe installation of vehicle tires appears to be a routine task. It can be performed by a variety of stores and centers. When tires are installed incorrectly, however, the consequences can be life-changing, even fatal. A federal lawsuit, filed in May 2017, alleges that the Walmart Tire & Lube Center that was responsible for installing new tires on a family vehicle acted negligently by installing the two new tires on the front axle, instead of the rear one. This allegedly led to a tread imbalance, which may have caused the vehicle to spin out of control and crash into a tree.

This Massachusetts car accident occurred in the morning, on a day when the road conditions were icy. The driver, a student at a local high school, was pronounced dead at the scene. The passenger, also a student, survived the crash, but he was in a coma for weeks. He suffered serious brain damage and will allegedly require a caretaker for the rest of his life. The police report noted that both the driver and the passenger were wearing seat belts.

The parents of the two teens involved in the car crash filed the lawsuit against the defendant in federal district court. The complaint alleges five causes of action against the defendant, including conscious pain and suffering, negligence, and wrongful death. In addition, the family’s attorney previously submitted a demand letter to the defendant, specifying the damages as $18.5 million.

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Crash Test

If two vehicles get into a Massachusetts car accident, and one driver is at fault, generally speaking, the faultless driver would file an insurance claim with the at-fault driver’s car insurance carrier. This scenario is quite common; however, it is estimated that one in eight drivers are uninsured, which helps illustrate the importance of uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage. The Massachusetts Appeals Court decided a case involving the complexities of underinsured motorist coverage and the right of the underinsured insurance carrier to seek arbitration for any amounts owed to the insured.

The plaintiff was hurt in a car crash. Her insurance carrier was Arbella Mutual, and the other car involved in the accident was insured by Liberty Mutual. The plaintiff notified her insurance carrier of the accident. Arbella notified her that her underinsurance coverage limits were for a half-million dollars per accident.

The plaintiff filed suit against the other driver. The procedural posture of the case became complex, but in the second trial, the jury reached a verdict and allocated sole responsibility for the accident to the defendant. The plaintiff’s awarded damages exceeded the amount available under the defendant’s insurance coverage limits. The plaintiff decided to settle the case with the defendant for a lesser amount and seek the outstanding amount from her insurance carrier under the underinsurance coverage provisions.

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Individuals hurt in a Boston car accident may find that the at-fault party is a government employee or operating a vehicle owned by the municipal government.  When the driver of a government-owned vehicle causes a collision, the legal doctrine called sovereign immunity takes effect.  Throughout the Commonwealth, the Tort Claims Act is the law that will apply in these lawsuits.

government center
The purpose of the Massachusetts Tort Claims Act in personal injury lawsuits is to provide protection to state and local governments.  According to the Act, there is a limit to the damages awarded in these types of lawsuits. When the negligence of public employees, or their wrongful conduct, causes injuries or loss of property, the Act sets forth a cap on the damages that a plaintiff can recover in a lawsuit.

When assessing a personal injury claim involving a state or local government, courts will often explain the policy rationale behind the Tort Claims Act. Essentially, to be able to perform their functions and protect the public, local governments must receive some protection from constant legal battles.  This justification has served to uphold the sovereign immunity doctrine. However, this immunity is limited by the Tort Claims Act, since it does provide a way for individuals harmed by state government employees to bring a lawsuit.