In a recent case in Fall River, Massachusetts, Trial Judge Welch held that the victim of personal injury could not exclude the defendant’s civil engineer expert testimony as to the methodology to determine the speed of the vehicles involved in a collision. The appellate court held that Judge Welch’s decision to allow the testimony was “within the discretion of the trial judge and will be reversed only where it constitutes an abuse of discretion or error of law.” This is notwithstanding the fact that the methodology was questionable, the defense “expert” had not viewed the vehicles, and his training was in civil engineering and had only taken a class in accident reconstruction. Further, the court found that even though the “treatise” with the critical equations was not put into evidence at trial.
We often encourage clients to file their consumer cases in Small Claims Court. This is relatively easy in the local district courts and trials are quick. For many years, however, the limit for damages that could be claimed was $2,000. The exception was for property damage to motor vehicles. Now, in the Economic Development Bill, the legislature has raised the small claims damages limit to $7,000.
The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, sitting in Boston, Massachusetts, has had a busy week handing down significant case law. The Law Office of Neil Burns reported earlier regarding slip and fall injuries on ice and snow, and the change in the law in evaluating those cases. Also this week, the Court changed how the medical bills of a personal injury plaintiff, someone injured a car accident, for example, are submitted into evidence at trial.
In a significant ruling, the Supreme Judicial Court came down against personal injury plaintiffs in proving damages. In a typical trial, the plaintiff gets his medical bills certified and they are presented to the jury a proof of the costs of medical care. This is pursuant to Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 233, Section 79G. However, medical bills are usually negotiated by the insurance carrier, such as Harvard Vanguard or Blue Cross, so that the insurance carrier only pays a portion of the bill. This does not typically happen with PIP; Personal Injury Protection insurance from your motor vehicle insurance company.
A case recently decided in Boston and upheld by the First U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals found no merit in an employee’s personal injury lawsuit, where claim she should be able to sue her employer because at the time of her injury she was working for a wholly-owned subsidiary of her employer. The Boston attorneys at the Law Office of Neil Burns have successfully resolved cases for employees injured at work through no fault of their when liability rests with a party other than the employer. We can evaluate your work injury claim to determine if this option is available to you.