According to a recent report from ABC 40, an alleged drunk driver crashed into a Western Massachusetts diner just before 6 a.m. Police are reporting defendant’s car went off the road and hit the wall of the diner, causing the entire wall to collapse.
The diner was open, and people were already having breakfast at the time of the accident. The owner of the diner stated three of his customers were injured when the car crashed into his establishment. The driver of the car was also injured, though her injuries are considered to be non-life-threatening.
Police arrested driver for operating under the influence (OUI) of intoxicating liquor. She was given traffic citations for running a stop sign and failing to inspect a motor vehicle. Arresting officers took her to a local Massachusetts hospital to be treated for injuries.
As our Boston motor vehicle accident lawyers can explain, there are four basic elements to any car accident negligence claim.
The first element is whether defendant owed a duty of care to plaintiff. A duty of care, if owed, requires defendant to act with reasonable care to avoid a foreseeable risk to foreseeable persons and property.
In the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, it is well-settled law that a driver owes a duty of care to others on the roads and sidewalks and, likely, occupants of a building along the roadway – such as a diner.
The next element in a car accident negligence case is to establish the driver breached that duty of care. If a court finds defendant was intoxicated, that will probably be enough evidence to establish a breach of the duty of care owed to plaintiffs.
The next element that must be proved is whether the breach of a duty of care caused injury to plaintiffs and their property. In the case of a car crashing into a building, it would be very difficult to argue it was not the actual and proximate cause of the injuries.
The final element in standard negligence claims involving car accidents is to prove damages. Damages means the harm caused to plaintiffs and their property expressed in a monetary figure. This can include pain and suffering, medical bills, funeral expenses in the case of death, lost wages from time missed at work, and special damages.
Some damages, such as medical bills, are easy to calculate. There is actually a bill from the hospital that can be presented to the court. Other types of damages, such as pain and suffering, are not so clear-cut and will require a jury to make a determination as to the degree of financial recovery. In some cases, when liability is not at issue, the only issue before a jury may be to determine how much damages should be awarded to plaintiff. This is known as trial on damages alone.
Other types of damages, such as lost wages, may require expert testimony to prove. If plaintiff worked on a fixed-hourly wage, there may be no question. However, in cases where plaintiff is a sales person or owns his or her own business, the testimony of an economic expert may be necessary to assist the jury in reaching a value.
If you are injured in an accident in Boston, call the Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Glassman for a free and confidential appointment: 1-888-367-2900.
Car Crashes into Restaurant in South Deerfield, 3 People Hurt, October 30, 2014, ABC 40
More Blog Entries:
Floyd-Tunnell v. Shelter Mut. Ins. Co. Uninsured Motorist Coverage and Stacking, July 3, 2014, Boston Car Accident Lawyer Blog