Questions & Answers

Is my employer and/or forklift driver liable for some of my medical expenses?

Additional Info: I was working at a jobsite in Milford MA and was stuck and injured by a forklift.  There was no back up beeper and I think blind spot contributed to the accident. I’m hoping you can help me determine if I have a case or not.

Since you were in the course of employment when struck by the forklift, you would be entitled to workers compensation benefits on account of your work related injuries.   Your employer is required by law to have worker’s compensation insurance.  The insurance company will pay your medical expenses. In addition, if you are unable to do your job as a result of your injuries you will be entitled to disability benefits that compensate you 60% of your lost wages as long as you are unable to return to work. If you are unable to return to your regular job, you may be entitled to a settlement of your workers compensation case. In addition to all that, you may be entitled to a recovery against the company that employed the driver of the forklift. That is referred to as a third-party case. You can make that claim if that forklift driver was employed by someone other than your employer. To recover you would have to prove negligence by the forklift driver. [Read more...]

Is the rental company or manufacturer liable for a faulty product?

Additional Info: My husband was using a table saw rented from a store in Worcester. He suffered an injury and lost his first and second fingers of his dominant hand. His buddy was a witness to the accident and stated there was no safety mechanism on the table saw. Is the rental company or manufacturer liable for a faulty product?

Your husband may have a viable case against several possible wrongdoers or defendants.  This type of Products Liability claim may involve not only the rental company and manufacturer, but any company or person involved in what is known as “the chain of commerce.”  That means that the designer, manufacturer, wholesaler, distributor and/or renter may be legally responsible for placing into commerce an unreasonably dangerous and defective product that caused an injury.  Further, this legal liability may be based not only on a design flaw such as an inadequate guard, but also may be based on insufficient safety labeling, warnings or instructions.  Lastly, you should know that product liability cases may be brought under a legal theory called “strict liability.”  This theory allows an injured consumer, like your husband, to recover against the defendants even where the defendants were not negligent.  Of course, there are special defenses available to the defendants in a strict liability case.  We always recommend a face to face meeting with an experienced personal injury lawyer to explore in depth these and other issues invariably found in Product Liability cases.

Was riding my motorcycle and had accident with auto.

Additional Information:

I was involved in an accident today on a residential road in Sherborn. I had just finished work at one location and was on my way to my next job.  I was riding my motorcycle and the car in front of me stopped abruptly, and although I was a good distance behind them, turns out there was a problem with the brakes, I couldn’t stop and I hit the car.  There is some damage to the car and I fractured my leg. I told my boss about the accident, but not sure what my legal obligations and rights are.

ATTORNEY ANSWER:

When you commute to and from work every day, your commuting time is usually not considered in the course and scope of your employment, i.e. you would not be eligible for worker’s compensation. If you leave your home and travel directly to a job site and then another job site, you are usually considered working (in the course and scope of your employment) from time you leave your home until you return home. It sounds like you would be eligible for worker’s compensation for your medical bills and lost wages. [Read more...]

Friend was drunk while operating boat. Can I sue?

Additional Information:

I was involved in a boating accident on my friends boat, he was drunk.  Do I have a case?  We had lunch which included alcoholic beverages before heading out on his boat that was docked at a Boston area marina. As a result of the accident my face hit the windshield and I cut my face and hurt my neck.

ATTORNEY ANSWER:

You have a case, but whether you have a winning one is another question.  The fact that you and your friend drank alcohol before you went boating indicates that you might be found by a jury to be comparatively negligent.   This means that although your friend was at fault–negligent–for the accident, you too are at fault for drinking with someone you knew to be drinking and then voluntarily riding with him.  However, if your amount of negligence is no greater than his, you may still recover a portion of your damages, including medical bills, lost wages and pain and suffering.  Although you may have a challenging case, you should seek the advise of a maritime personal injury lawyer. [Read more...]

Boating accident near Boston caused injury and lawsuit.

Additional Information:

My boat was in an accident with another boat near Boston.  The incident caused injury. I am the owner but I was not driving nor was I on the boat.  I am being sued.  A passenger in the other boat suffered injuries. I had loaned my boat to a friend and the other party is claiming he was inattentive and operating the boat at excessive speed.  What are my options?

ATTORNEY ANSWER:

Even though you were not physically onboard when the accident occurred, you may be legally liable for the injuries to the passengers on the other boat.  For example, if you “negligently entrusted” the boat to a friend and he directly caused the injuries, you may be held indirectly responsible.  “Negligent entrustment” occurs where the owner of a boat loans it to another without reasonably determining if the person is capable and qualified to operate the vessel. You should seek the advise of a maritime personal injury lawyer to defend your interests. [Read more...]

I was involved in an auto accident where I hit a pedestrian.

Additional Information:

I was looking left getting ready to turn onto Route 9 in Wellesley, near Newton, and  just as I turned my head right I saw the pedestrian crossing the street.  My foot had just come off of the brake. She put her arm out and I immediately hit the brakes, my car hardly moved, but my car bumped her. She stumbled and fell backwards onto the ground. I immediately got out of the car and spoke with her to make sure she was OK and helped her up off the ground. We talked a few more minutes and she assured me she was OK and I gave her my name. She happens to work for the same company as I do. Now I’ve been contacted by her attorney.  Is she seriously suing me?  What should I do?

ATTORNEY ANSWER:

You should contact your auto insurance agent now and report the incident.  Your agent will in turn contact your auto carrier. By doing this you have satisfied the requirement to report all claims.

Leave it to your insurance company to investigate the claim and determine if it is valid.  The pedestrian may have been shaken up at the time of the incident but the next day felt pain and sought medical attention. If the injuries are real they will be demonstrated through medical records.  This is a claim not a lawsuit.  A lawsuit involves a filing in court. Most claims remain claims and are handled by the insurer. You may be asked additional questions as part of your insurer’s investigation; Just cooperate with your insurer.

If on the unlikely chance a lawsuit is filed your insurer provides you with an attorney at their expense who will defend you up to the limit of your liability auto coverage.  [Read more...]

Our son was injured. Do we have a personal injury case?

Additional Information:

My family was going to restaurant in Ashland where there is an attendant directing patrons into and out of the limited number of parking spaces on the side and rear of the restaurant.   We had parked our car and were heading into the restaurant.  Our 3 year old son got hit by a car backing out of it’s parking space, as directed by the parking lot attendant.  Thankfully he suffered only a broken leg, but we were wondering if we have a personal injury case against either the attendant or the restaurant?

ATTORNEY ANSWER:

A few questions come to mind.  Was it day or night when this happened?  If it was night was the lot well lit?  Were you holding the three year old’s hand or if not how far away from you was he? Did you see the car backing out before it hit your son?

If the answers to the above questions show you acted reasonably then there would be a claim against both the driver and the restaurant. The employee seems to be acting on behalf of his employer and would not be personally liable.   You should contact your case with a personal injury attorney experienced in handling cases involving injuries to children. [Read more...]

I tripped,fell and broke my wrist at my mom’s condo.

Additional Information:

I tripped and fell and broke my right (dominant) wrist when visiting my mother at her condominium in Marlborough. My mother had reported a ripped area of the carpet several days earlier to the condo management — but it had not been repaired and I tripped and fell and broke my wrist.  The insurance company for the condo development has been in contact with me and has paid me $5,000 and indicated that they would be “working with me toward a settlement”.  Do I need a trip and fall attorney? What should I do?

ATTORNEY ANSWER:

Usually “working with you” only goes so far. If you ask for compensation beyond what the insurer throws out to you, you’ll find the friendliness starts to dissolve.

A few initial questions; does your mother own or rent the condo?  Where exactly did the fall take place? In a common area such as the building hallway on in your mother’s condo?  Since you mentioned your mother called to report ripped carpeting it sounds like she had an expectation that management would maintain the carpet.  If you speak to an attorney now, once your medical treatment is finished your attorney will be in a position to realistically evaluate your case and negotiate with the insurer.     [Read more...]

I work on a cruise ship out of Boston and was injured on the job.

Additional Information:

I work as a cook on a Boson dinner cruise ship and fell lifting a heavy box.  The anti-slip mats had recently been removed but they weren’t replaced at the time I fell.  I ended up breaking my arm and needing therapy.  I haven’t been released to return to work but I’ve been denied worker’s compensation benefits.  Can I sue my employer for my personal injury?

ATTORNEY ANSWER:

You fall into one of the very few categories of workers that do not receive worker’s compensation benefits when injured on the job.   When a seaman is injured in the course and scope of his job aboard a ship, he or she is entitled to bring a negligence suit under a federal statute called the Jones Act.  Unlike land based personal injury cases, Jones Act litigation is very specialized and requires an attorney versed in maritime and Admiralty law.  Different fault, causation, damage and contributory negligence rules apply in Jones Act cases.  In addition to your rights under the Jones Act, you are entitled to medical benefits called Cure and a daily living allowance called Maintenance.  If you are a union member, these benefits are in your contract.   [Read more...]

Our daughter slipped and injured herself boarding a whale watch tour in Boston.

Additional Information:

My family was boarding a ship for a local Boston whale watching tour when my daughter slipped on the wet walkway connecting the dock to the boat and suffered a knee injury. She had surgery and continues physical therapy.  One of the boat’s employees was approaching with a “caution- slippery” sign just as our daughter slipped and fell.  Do we have a personal injury case?  Would we look for a boating injury attorney even though we weren’t yet boarded?

ATTORNEY ANSWER:

Yes, you probably have a viable personal injury claim.  And, yes, you should consult with an attorney who practices maritime law.  Although your daughter slipped before she boarded the vessel, she was in the process of boarding and the dock appears to be under the control of the boat operator.  Therefore, aspects of maritime law may apply.  In addition, the dock owner might be a defendant as well for failure to maintain the dock.  Either or both the vessel owner or the dock owner will be liable for your daughter’s injuries if we can show either was negligent.  That is, if either failed to act reasonable, e.g. get those signs out faster, then she has a good case.  Like land based law, maritime law provides for a range of damages including medical bills (even if you have health insurance), lost wages and pain and suffering.  [Read more...]