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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.

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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.

Recently, a Boston Globe article made clear that the city’s “Slow Streets” program will affect select neighborhoods with the effort of eliminating serious Boston car accidents. The neighborhoods selected to participate in the program are Grove Hall/Quincy Corridor, Chinatown, Mount Hope/Canterbury, Highland Park, and the West of Washington Coalition. As a community-based initiative, Slow Streets is a part of Vision Zero. Vision Zero refers to Boston’s plan to eliminate the incidence of serious traffic crashes, including fatalities, throughout the city.

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Vision Zero makes clear that tackling distracted and impaired driving within Boston is a priority.  Since traffic deaths are preventable, Vision Zero focuses on increasing safe human behaviors to reduce vehicle collisions.  According to state law, when drivers are distracted, and their conduct behind the wheel leads to a crash, they can be held at fault for the resulting harm.  The significance of the Vision Zero initiative is that it recognizes the impact of human error and poor driving behavior.

Through Vision Zero, efforts are made to reduce the speed limits throughout Boston, for example, from 30 MPH to 25 MPH.  Focusing city resources on reducing the incidence of serious vehicle collisions comes at a time when the city recognizes there has been a rise in pedestrian injuries and fatalities.  According to statistics set forth on the Vision Zero website, compiled by the Boston Police Department, a majority of crashes take place when pedestrians are simply crossing or along streets.

Throughout Boston, hit and run accidents take many different forms.  Often, drivers of motor vehicles hit a pedestrian and continue to drive, hoping to attempt to avoid liability.  In other cases, one vehicle strikes another and flees the scene without stopping to provide help or exchange information.  In most circumstances, hit and run collisions leave victims scared, facing property damage and potentially life-altering injuries.  However, there are steps to take that will help victims secure compensation for their damages and injuries resulting from the accident.

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Hit and run accidents carry potential criminal and civil penalties for those who have caused the collision and left the scene of the accident. Massachusetts law requires drivers to provide information to injured individuals before leaving the scene of the accident.  According to law, there are different crimes associated with hit and run collisions, depending on whether property damage, personal injuries, or death resulted from the crash.

According to the statute, there is an affirmative duty to those who operate motor vehicles.  Failing to stop after a collision can bring dire consequences. Following a crash, or even a minor collision, the driver must stop and provide information to everyone. In fact, both parties involved in the accident have a legal obligation to remain at the scene and to ensure that if anyone requires assistance and medical care, they receive it.

After suffering injuries in a car accident in Boston or the surrounding areas, individuals have three years to file a case in court, according to Massachusetts law.  This important law, called the “statute of limitations,” is strictly interpreted by courts, and if a case is not filed within this period of time, the plaintiff may be prevented from bringing it to court.  However, it is important to note that this statute of limitations does not affect when an individual may file their insurance claim.

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Statutes of limitations are determined by the “window” during which the cause of action accrues. Car accident injuries are held to have accrued as of the date of the injury or the date of the collision. Even victims with strong claims for compensation will be prevented from bringing a case after these three years have passed.  For victims pursuing a claim against a government entity, claims must be filed within 30 days of an accident.

Another important legal rule that may affect an individual’s ability to recover damages following a car accident is the doctrine of comparative fault.  In terms of liability, the comparative negligence law makes it important for victims not to admit fault when providing the police with statements. This is because comparative negligence can potentially affect the ability of an injured car accident victim to recover damages in a legal claim against another involved party.