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Massachusetts Personal Injury Law Blog

The dangers posed by speeding semi trucks

A common complaint that Lawrence drivers may have regarding the commercial trucks and big rigs that they share the road with is that not only do these massive vehicles take up a lot of space, but they’re also slow. For safety reasons, semi truck drivers are strongly encouraged to watch their speeds. However, the demands of meeting strict delivery schedules and the perceived need to travel as many miles per day as possible can often lead drivers to exceed safe highway speeds.

The danger posed by speeding trucks is that the sheer size of these vehicles makes them much more difficult to maneuver and stop on the road. Stopping distance takes into account three factors:

  •          Perception distance
  •          Reaction distance
  •          Breaking distance

Reviewing the rules for adequate lighting

Here at the offices of Finbury and Sullivan, we’ve seen a number of clients come through our doors suffering from the effects of a slip-and-fall accident. Most are surprised at just how easily these can occur, particularly when an element of neglect on behalf of a property owner may have been involved. Sometimes, something as simple as poor lighting can create the ideal conditions for a potentially serious accident. In this post, we’ll examine what the guidelines are that spell out the responsibility that people have to keep their properties well lighted in Massachusetts.

Most would likely assume that there are strict regulations in place that spell out the liability that commercial property owners have to provide good lighting in their buildings and parking lots. Yet what about the responsibilities of residential property owners? Title 105 of the Code of Massachusetts Regulations Section 410 spell out the minimum standards residential property owners must meet in order for homes and apartments be deemed fit for human habitation. Subsections 250-254 set the expectation for the minimum number of outlets and fixtures required in each room in order to avoid an accusation of inadequate lighting. They are:

  •          Kitchens: One light fixture, two wall outlets
  •          Bathrooms: One light fixture
  •          Habitable rooms: Two wall outlets, or one outlet and one light fixture

Why wear a motorcycle helmet?

Haverhill residents who are also motorcyclists know just how little protection their bikes would provide them should they get into an accident. Most may be willing to accept this fact in order to enjoy the thrill that comes from riding their motorcycles. Plus, the lack of protection that their bikes provide may be made up for by wearing the appropriate safety gear while riding. Information compiled by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and shared by SaveMoLives.com estimates that over a twelve year study period, motorcycle helmets saved 7,940 riders from death or catastrophic injuries. It goes on to say that had all riders across the country worn helmets during this same time frame, that number would have doubled.

Yet even in the face of these statistics, some question the need for motorcycle helmets. There are those who claim that they’re uncomfortable, that they limit their peripheral vision, or even that the increased strain that they put on the neck actually increases a rider’s risk of injuries should they get into a motorcycle accident. The common answer to that is that over time, one becomes accustomed to riding with a helmet, thus avoiding the aforementioned inconveniences. In the end, the added safety may just prove to be worth putting up with not being able to feel the wind blowing through one’s hair.

Security guards, property owners, and premises liability

Those who take a walk through any sports arena, office building, or entertainment or concert venue in Essex County are likely to see private security guards spread out amongst the crowds. While not typically law enforcement officers, these men and women have been tasked with keeping minor incidents from becoming major problems. Currently, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that 20,860 people are employed as security guards in Massachusetts.

Unfortunately, the presence of security guards doesn’t necessarily guarantee that accidents won’t occur. In some cases, these accidents may not even necessarily be due to a shortage of security personnel, but rather the actions of the security guards themselves. In any event, if and when people are injured due to the actions or inactions of security guards, the question becomes who is ultimately responsible: the security guards themselves, or the people who employ them.

Assigning liability for intermodal equipment failures

Whenever Lawrence residents come to us here at the offices of Finbury and Sullivan following a truck accident, they typically want to know who is ultimately responsible: the truck driver or the trucking company. The easy answer may seem to be the truck driver, yet that’s assuming that the accident was a direct result of his or her negligence. However, most truck accidents are rarely that simple. In some cases, neither the trucker nor the trucking company may be responsible. In this post, will examine this scenario.

Many of the large trucks that people seen on the road are carrying their cargo in intermodal containers. While most have probably seen these containers, few have probably heard them called by this name. Intermodal containers are the large rectangular or cylindrical steel storage containers one often sees on cargo ships, trains, and (as was mentioned earlier) tractor-trailers. Often, these containers are the property of the freight company, and not the trucker or trucking company.

How do you file a complaint with OSHA?

Most everyone employed in Haverhill no doubt goes to their jobs everyday confident that their employers have done all that they can to make sure that their workplaces are safe. The common assumption when workplace accidents do occur may be that such incidents were due to random events outside of an employer’s control. Yet in some cases, investigations following those accidents reveal that negligence on the part of the employer could have contributed to the outcome.

If you or one of your coworkers is injured at work due to hazards that are preventable, you may feel obligated to ensure that no one else suffers the same fate again. Yet what should you do if your observations and concerns are ignored by your employer? The next step may be to file a complaint with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

Contributory vs. comparative negligence

North Andover residents who routinely follow the news often find it full of reports detailing lawsuits filed by people seeking compensation after a trip and fall accident or for injuries due to other forms of negligence. Indeed, according to most recent Civil Justice Survey of State Courts reported by Bureau of Justice Statistics in 2005, there were 1,863 premises liability lawsuits filed that year. While some of these cases are relatively cut-and-dry, determining negligence in most is rarely easy.

Most states follow either one of two philosophies when determining liability: comparative or contributory negligence. In comparative negligence scenarios, one can seek to recover damages based upon the percentages of liability assigned to everyone involved in an accident. In cases where the idea of contributory negligence is applied, one is barred from seeking any compensation if it’s determined that his or her actions contributed to an accident at all.

Explaining Massachusetts’ failure to yield law

While the rules of the road may seem intuitive to some, we here at Finbury and Sullivan can attest to the fact that the actual guidelines that regulate how drivers are to share the road can be complex and open to interpretation. Many of those who come to see us here in Haverhill following a car accident are often confused as to whether or not they could be held liable. To help clear up some of this confusion, we’ll use this post to examine the rules for right way here in Massachusetts.

According to Chapter 89, Section 9 of Title XIV of the General Laws of Massachusetts, this is how the principle of who has the right of way on the state’s roads and highways is applied when determining liability following an accident: vehicles already traveling through an intersection have the right of way over vehicles that have approached that intersection from another roadway and been specifically obligated to stop or yield by a stop sign, yield sign, or flashing yellow or red light. Those drivers stopped at an intersection are also expected to yield the road to drivers approaching from another roadway closely enough as to present a hazard when the stopped driver is ready to proceed on.

Who is liable when defective parts cause an accident?

The many large semi-trucks that you see driving around Essex County provide a valuable service to the U.S. economy in transporting goods and materials across the country. Yet for all of the economic benefit that they provide, these vehicles can also pose a very real safety risk. Data shared by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration shows that in 2012, nearly 108,000 people were either killed or injured in a truck accident. When such accidents do occur, immediate attention goes to what factors may have caused them.

Certain cases may reveal that defective trucks parts contributed to a semi crash. If this is case, then the question you may have is who is responsible for their failures. Determining liability when truck parts fail can be difficult. Yet at the same time, you should also keep in mind that parts typically won’t fail without a reason. More often than not, those reasons may their roots in the negligent actions or inactions of others.

“Contributory negligence” cited in slip and fall defense

A slip and fall accident that occurs anywhere in Merrimack Valley may be accompanied by a good deal of embarrassment. Most people pride themselves on being able to avoid such mishaps, and often don’t want it to be known that they were caught in such a vulnerable position. Yet problems can arise when one allows that embarrassment to keep him or her from seeking necessary medical attention following such an accident. Not only can it contribute to the worsening of any injuries that one sustained during the fall, but it could potentially call into question his or her claims against those whose negligence may have contributed to the accident in the first place.

A woman currently involved in a legal dispute with the Illinois hospital where she fell is currently facing such skepticism. She claims that the hospital, where she worked as a housekeeper, failed to maintain adequate safety conditions when she slipped on liquid lying on the facility’s cafeteria floor. In her lawsuit filed against the hospital, the woman claims to have sustained serious injuries in the accident, which have left her facing large medical bills coupled with lost wages from having to miss work.

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