INSIGHTS On Massachusetts Personal Injury Law

Welcome to the SUGARMAN blog. We'll be sharing our perspectives on the state of the law and current legal issues in Massachusetts personal injury law. Issues relating to medical malpractice, construction site injuries, premises liability, product liability, motor vehicle accidents, insurance, and more will all be reviewed here by our team of lawyers who have prosecuted some of the most complex cases in Massachusetts personal injury law.

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Riding a bicycle is a skill most people master at a young age.  After conquering balance, braking and the fear of falling, it serves as the first form of freedom for youngsters.  In later years, cycling can become a leisure or health activity, competitive outlet, or transportation to work.  But cycling also poses serious risks.  The CDC reports that almost 500,000 emergency department visits in 2013 were bicycle-related injuries, and as the weather changes in New England there are added risks to consider that pose a threat to those driving on two wheels.

Leaves

Each fall, hundreds of leaf peepers descend on New England from around the country. While it’s a boon for tourism in the region, leaves pose serious hazards to cyclists. Leaves tend to build up in large piles along curbs and the sides of the road – typically where cyclists travel.  They can cover obstructions, cracks, or holes in the road leaving cyclists blind to the dangers ahead.  Leaves also create a slippery surface, especially when wet, which diminishes traction, causes skidding and loss of control. Ride slower and avoid clumps of leaves between the sidewalk and street to avoid potential problems.

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Nearly two-and-a-half years after it recalled its defective ASR artificial hip system, DePuy’s parent company Johnson & Johnson has recalled its “Adept” brand metal-on-metal hip replacement system. DePuy recalled these artificial hips for almost identical reasons as were given when it recalled its ASR hips – higher than expected failure rate requiring revision surgeries. Just as with other metal-on-metal hip systems, the DePuy Adept hip implants present numerous complications to patients once implanted. Metal particles are released when the metal liner and metal femoral neck grind, causing metallosis and blood toxicity. Further problems include hip dislocations, increased joint pain, decreased mobility, strength and stamina, pseudotumors, infections, and tissue and bone necrosis. Many patients require painful and complicated revision surgeries to remove the hardware.
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With the winter months and some cooperation from the weather, many of us in the Northeast head for the ski slopes when the snow starts falling. Regardless of your skill level and whether you are on a bunny slope or weaving through glades, skiing and snowboarding are inherently dangerous sports. Even if a skier or snowboarder exercises caution and control while on the mountain, there may be others who do not. Inevitably at any mountain, there will be a collision between two people and unfortunately some of these collisions cause serious injury. According to the National Ski Areas Association, a trade association of ski area owners and operators, skiers and riders experience an average of about 45 serious injuries, including paralysis or spinal injuries, each year. In addition, there were 54 reported fatalities during the 2011-2012 season. What legal recourse does a person injured in a skiing or snowboarding accident have?

In most states, there is little chance of having a viable lawsuit against the ski resort itself if any negligence of the ski resort or its employees played a role in the accident, for example, if an employee failed to post a “Slow” sign in a dangerous trail intersection and an accident resulted from that. Both waivers found on lift tickets and state statutes generally limit a ski resort’s liability to instances of truly egregious or reckless conduct.

Most lift tickets contain a waiver or release of liability clause. Though not signed by the user like a typical waiver, these are still functional and enforceable in many states. Release language is often found on the back of the ticket and is triggered once a skier or snowboarder purchases the ticket and uses the ski resort’s facilities. These waivers generally limit any recovery against the ski resort for injury suffered there, even if the injury is caused by the negligence of the ski area’s employees. Though the law differs from state to state, courts often construe these waivers very broadly and limit the legal recourse available to people injured while skiing. For an in-depth discussion of waivers, please see SUGARMAN Principal Ben Zimmermann’s blog “Signing Away Liability: Release & Waiver Laws.”
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