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Wrongdoer Negligence Immunity in MA: License to kill or Good Public Policy? PART 1 of 3

MA Wrongdoer Negligence Immunity If you thought that immunity was reserved for the television show “survivor” and had nothing to do with the law in Massachusetts, then you are wrong. In Massachusetts, immunities are created by statute. Personal Injury, Car accident and Wrongful Death Attorneys in Massachusetts and across the Country tend to detest immunities and laws which cap or limit liability. These laws let the wrongdoer off the hook. As a result of Personal injury Immunities, innocent severely injured victims may receive no compensation for their pain and suffering caused by an accident.

“Immunity” means that even if a person is negligent, the wrong may not be actionable and the injured victim may not be compensated for their pain and suffering and/or disability. Is this a license to kill, maim or serious injure or sound public policy?

Immunities in Mass. come in various shapes and sizes, so to speak. Some immunities cap damages at a certain amount. Other immunities allow absolute blanket personal injury immunity based on public policy considerations. Other immunities are premised on protecting wrongdoers based on legal technicalities.

It is important that you consult with a Massachusetts Personal Injury Attorney or MA premises liability Lawyer concerning whether an immunity applies to your Bike, Truck or Car Crash.

EMT Immunity

MA General Law c. 111C Section 14 pertains to immunities for police, firefighter’s and emergency medical technician who are attempting to aid injured victims who are often injured as a result of auto accidents, bike accidents and bicycle crashes among other medical emergencies and mishaps. This immunity does not cover the Cop, EMT or fireman’s boss who is still Liable under MA Law. Taplin v. Chatham, 390 Mass. 1 ,2 (1983). Massachusetts law even presumes these people are acting in good faith. Hopper v Callahan.

Good Samaritan immunity in MA

Medical Doctors, Physicians assistants, RN’s and Nurses who help injured victims in a medical emergency (such as motorcycle and auto accidents) when they are off duty may be entitled to Good Samaritan Immunity. For example, if a medical doctor is driving home from work and stops at the scene of a three vehicle accident involving a tractor trailer, bus and motorcycle to help render medical care for an injured truck driver who was pinned under his semi, the doctor would be immune from Liability in the event the physician breached the duty of due care causing further injury to the Trucker.

Sporting Event Volunteer Immunity

This Immunity protects umpires, coaches, referees from negligence liability when working for non profit Companies so long as the injury was not cause intentionally or there was not reckless activity (gross negligence)

Mass. Law 231 Section 85v states “Except as otherwise provided, in this section, no person who without compensation and as a volunteer, renders services as a manager, coach, umpire or referee or as an assistant to a manager or coach in a sports program of a nonprofit association or who renders services to a sailing program of a nonprofit association, no nonprofit association conducting a sports or a sailing program, and no officer, director, trustee, or member thereof serving without compensation shall be liable to any person for any action in tort as a result of any acts or failures to act in rendering such services or in conducting such sports program. The immunity conferred by this section shall not apply to any acts or failures to act intentionally designed to harm, or to any grossly negligent acts or failures to act which result in harm to the person. Nothing in this section shall be construed to affect or modify any existing legal basis for determining the liability, or any defense thereto, of any person not covered by the immunity conferred by this section.”

Massachusetts Governmental Immunity

Numerous immunities protect governmental entities and some protect charitable entities. Other immunities seek to encourage certain conduct among protected classes of people by giving them a free pass if they are careless or make a mistake in engaging in that conduct

Section 258 provides significant caps on damages against county, city and town entities. The Liability caps do not apply in wrongful death lawsuits and fatal car accidents in Massachusetts. Conners v. Northeast Hospital Corp. 439 Mass. at 470 (2003).

Thankfully, the Mass Supreme Judicial Court refused to allow governmental immunity for wrongful death. Therefore, if a government employee is involved in a fatal truck, motorcycle, pedestrian or premises liability accident the government cannot run away from paying damages to the victim.

Governmental Immunities and notice/ filing rules against towns/ cities and government entities are very complicated and require the skill of experienced Massachusetts Injury Attorneys.

Part 2 of 3 here

Resources:

http://www.ncsl.org/issues-research/transport/state-sovereign-immunity-and-tort-liability.aspx

http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/ilcs5.asp?ActID=2062&ChapterID=58