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Wrongdoer Negligence Immunity | License to kill or Good Public Policy?

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.

Charitably Immunity in MassachusettsAre MA Government entities immune from paying full damages when one of its employees is negligent causing a fatal Massachusetts accident?

Are the caps in Liability applicable in the event that a government worker accidentally kills a civilian in accident in Mass.?

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 MA Supreme Judicial Court refused to allow governmental immunity for fatal crashes and accidents. Therefore, if a government employee is involved in a fatal motorcycle, Semi Truck bicycle, car accident, pedestrian or premises liability accident the government cannot run from liability.

In Kromhout v Commonwealth the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court resolved the following issue: “This case presents an issue, specifically reserved in Patrazza v. Commonwealth, ante 464, 466 & n. 1 (1986), involving the Commonwealth’s liability in a wrongful death action arising from a defect in a State highway.”

In Kromhout, the MA Supreme Judicial Court ruled “Death claims, on the other hand, being drastic in the extreme and relatively infrequent, need not be constrained to the recovery limits of G.L.c. 84.” (Citations omitted.) Gallant, supra at 714.

The MA Top Court in Kromhout, set forth the pertinent facts: “The case arises from the February 24, 1981, collision of the decedent’s automobile with a truck, owned by the Corenco Corporation and operated by Donald DeCelles, on Massachusetts State Highway Route 1A in Hamilton. The accident occurred on a rainy day at an S-curve on Route 1A near the intersection of Moulton and Gardner Streets. Due to precipitation on that and the previous day, a water puddle had accumulated in the southbound lane in which the truck operated by DeCelles was traveling. Just prior to the impact, DeCelles’ truck hit the puddle, covering his windshield with water and obscuring his vision for a second. Although there was conflicting testimony as to whether the collision took place in the northbound or the southbound lane, the impact forced both cars to the shoulder of the northbound lane. Herman Kromhout died as a result of the accident”

The Court reasoned that “Death claims, on the other hand, being drastic in the extreme and relatively infrequent, need not be constrained to the recovery limits of G.L.c. 84.” (Citations omitted.) Gallant, supra at 714.”

The Law in Mass requires numerous hoops a claimant must jump through in order to pursue a personal injury case against a Mass Government entity.

For example, The Pertinent Massachusetts Governmental Immunity Statute states “Section 4. A civil action shall not be instituted against a public employer on a claim for damages under this chapter unless the claimant shall have first presented his claim in writing to the executive officer of such public employer within two years after the date upon which the cause of action arose, and such claim shall have been finally denied by such executive officer in writing and sent by certified or registered mail, or as otherwise provided by this section. The failure of the executive officer to deny such claim in writing within six months after the date upon which it is presented, or the failure to reach final arbitration, settlement or compromise of such claim according to the provisions of section five, shall be deemed a final denial of such claim. No civil action shall be brought more than three years after the date upon which such cause of action accrued. Disposition of any claim by the executive officer of a public employer shall not be competent evidence of liability or amount of damages.”

Please consult with a MA Personal Injury or Auto accident Attorney immediately after a motor vehicle accident or other accident involving a government entity in Massachusetts

 

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

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