Truck/Automobile Liability Claims
Massachusetts law requires motorists to be in control of their vehicles at all time. A vehicle must execute turning, starting and stopping manuevers with care or else be responsible for resultant damage. Generally, a violation of one of the driving statutes or regulations is "some evidence" of negligence. These cases are very fact intensive and to achieve a desired outcome experience is helpful. A few examples of cases I have handled set forth below.
In Rouvellat v. Guarco, http://www.ca1.uscourts.gov/cgi-bin/getopn.pl?OPINION=98-2303.01A following a weeklong trial and evidence of two neck surgeries and over $100,000 in medical expenses and lost earnings, a federal jury concluded a motorist who rear-ended another driver on the South End Bridge was not negligent. Passing on a post-trial motion challenging the propriety of the verdict, the federal judge ruled the jury may not have been convinced the defendant was driving too fast, following too close, or not paying attention. There was also evidence that the surgeries were due to conditions which pre-dated the accident, and certain other claims were exaggerated. The First Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the denial of plaintiff's motion for a new trial.
In Fernandez v. MXX Trucking Company, a motorist side swiped by a truck received no award following a jury verdict for $2,500 from which was subtracted no fault benefits received. She had claimed lost wages, significant medical bills and a 20 percent whole person loss of function resulting from the accident. It was shown the plaintiff had complained of many of her symptoms before the accident. In Bird v. LXXX Trucking, the jury awarded one-fifth of the plaintiff's pre-trial demand for settlement, and rejected claims that a young woman suffered permanent impairment and 3 disc herniations were caused by a truck turning into her lane on a divided highway, causing the vehicle to strike the guardrail and turn over.
Similarly, in Gendron v. WXX MXX, the jury awarded approximately one-half the amount demanded by the plaintiff to settle, and a motion to reduce that award by an additional $8,000 was allowed. The plaintiff had been rear-ended by a large truck owned by a large national corporation, and claimed permanent impairments and several years of intensive medical treatment. Evidence was offered to dispute the plaintiff was disabled during the period he was absent from work.
Some decisions of interest are set out below: