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Massachusetts Personal Injury Law Blog

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.

Drunk drivers cause two fatal accidents in Yarmouth

The holidays are well known for being one of the times of the year when people often drink and drive. New Year’s Eve revelry has come and gone, but there is always the chance of getting hurt by a drunk driver. This danger can increase during Massachusetts’ cold winter months, when drinking and driving and slippery roads create a deadly combination.

This past December, two separate drunk driving accidents turned tragic in Yarmouth. According to authorities, at about 1:30 in the morning on December 27 the driver of one car appeared to have hit a boulder and went airborne. The man’s 28-year-old passenger was ejected from the car and killed. Police found alcohol in the vehicle, and the driver faces motor vehicle manslaughter charges.

What can I do if my workers' compensation claim is denied?

If you received a job-related injury or illness, workers’ compensation can be a valuable resource to help you get back on your feet and ready to return to work. Unfortunately, some workers’ compensation claims in Massachusetts are denied. This may be due to a variety of factors, including how soon you reported your injury to your employer or whether someone else witnessed the injury. Some conditions, such as work-related post-traumatic stress disorder or a job-related illness, may be difficult to prove and can initially result in the denial of your claim.

Fortunately, you have the option to appeal the rejection of your workers’ compensation case. According to the Massachusetts Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development, there are numerous steps you will need to take to appeal your workers’ compensation claim. These include:

Federal law targets texting and driving in the trucking industry

Texting and driving has become a serious danger for people in Massachusetts as well as the rest of the country. Distracted driving has always been an issue, but the danger is compounded when a person is distracted by looking at a phone screen. Accidents involving large trucks are particularly grave. This is why laws have been enacted to address the problem of texting and driving among commercial truck drivers.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there were 30 fatalities in Massachusetts in 2013 that involved large trucks. Any number of these truck accidents could have been the result of an inattentive truck driver who was texting or otherwise not paying attention to the road.

Road construction zones are particularly dangerous

You may not see road construction as much during the winter months as during the spring and summer, but it’s important for roads and highways to stay in good repair no matter the weather. In fact, road construction zones can be even more dangerous in Massachusetts over the next few weeks, due to the weather and because you may encounter road crews when you didn’t expect them. At Finbury & Sullivan, P.C., we have seen numerous cases in which motorists were injured in work zone crashes.

According to State Farm, at least 40,000 people are injured annually throughout the country in work zone accidents. Most of these involved drivers and passengers in construction zone crashes. It can be easy for distracted, intoxicated or careless drivers to fail to notice reduced speed signs or stalled highway traffic and plow into other vehicles. In fact, the most common type of crash you can face in a work zone is the highly dangerous rear-end collision.

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