Massachusetts Paternity Law

When a child is born to two married parents, the husband is the legal father and his name is put on the child’s birth certificate. However, in the diverse society in which we live, children are born into families of many different dynamics. When parents are unmarried, paternity must be legally established in order for the father to appear on the child’s birth certificate and have legal rights to the child. This is an important step since it also involves future rights of the child.

So, how is paternity established in Massachusetts?

Voluntary Vs. Involuntary

Paternity can be established voluntarily or involuntarily. When both parents agree on who the biological father is, they both sign a “Voluntary Acknowledgement of Parentage” in front of a notary pubic, establishing paternity voluntarily. This acknowledgement is then filed with the Registry of Vital Records, officially establishing paternity. [Read more…]

What is comparative fault in Massachusetts?

Practical application of comparative fault

For most people, it is a challenge to understand comparative fault. Therefore it is typically helpful to have a solid example of how the facts of the case will be looked at. Here is an example of what comparative fault is:

You are walking up a flight of stairs in a commercial building. You are with a friend and talking. Because you are distracted, you do not notice that there is a break in the handrail and you get your shirt sleeve stuck in the break causing you to fall down the stairs. You are seriously injured in the fall and have to have surgery and are out of work for several weeks. You feel you deserve to have your medical bills and lost wages compensated.

When reviewing the facts of your case, the court determines you are partially responsible for your fall because you were distracted. The property owner is at fault as well because they should have repaired the broken handrail.

The final determination is that you are 20% at fault for your injuries. Your injury award is determined to be $100,000. However, because you were 20% at fault, the maximum you will be awarded is $80,000.

The comparative fault threshold

It is important to understand that if you are found to be 50% responsible that you will be unable to collect any compensation under the personal injury laws in Massachusetts. Using the scenario above, you might be found to be 50% liable for your accident if the property owner placed a hazard sign on the stairway indicating there was a break in the handrail.

If you have been injured at a commercial facility such as a supermarket or shopping center, you may have the right to file a personal injury suit. Contact a Massachusetts personal injury attorney to determine what rights you have and what evidence you may have to provide.

Massachusetts Work Related Injuries

Massachusetts workers who are injured on the job often do not know where to turn if the insurer rejects their claim. There were nearly 70,000 workplace related injuries and illnesses in Massachusetts last year according to a report that was compiled with help from several agencies including Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development’s office.

Most Common Injury and illnesses

Fortunately, most of the injuries and illness that occurred in Massachusetts were not fatal. Some of the most common injuries reported included hearing loss, respiratory problems and skin conditions. Employees were divided among a number of industries with the most injury and illness reports occurring in construction and manufacturing, education and health services, and state government.

What happens after an accident or reported injury

Employees have an obligation to report workplace injuries and illnesses to their employers within five working days. After that, employers have an obligation to report to their insurance company who must contact you within 14 calendar days. If you don’t hear from the insurer, you may consider contacting the Department of Industrial Accidents Office of Insurance and you should also consider contacting a Massachusetts personal injury attorney. [Read more…]

Field Sobriety Tests in Massachusetts

In order to identify citizens who are driving under the influence of alcohol and certain drugs, police will often use Field Sobriety Tests to determine if a driver is under the influence. A driver is said to be under the influence of alcohol if their blood alcohol concentration is above 0.08%, and in commercial drivers the limit is set at 0.04%.

If a police officer believes that a driver is intoxicated, they may ask the driver to submit to several field sobriety tests. The horizontal gaze nystagmus test, the walk and turn test, and the one leg stand test are 3 field sobriety tests that are often used.

 The horizontal gaze nystagmus test can identify the use of alcohol or other drugs that depress the central nervous system by showing a nystagmus in the eye. A nystagmus is involuntary bouncing or jerking of the eyeball that occurs when one looks to the side. This involuntary bouncing or jerking can be either caused by alcohol intoxication or the use of other drugs such as inhalants or phencyclidine (aka PCP or Angel Dust). Alcohol and certain other drugs depress the central nervous system making it difficult for the brain to control the eye muscles. To administer the horizontal gaze nystagmus test, a police officer will position an object such as a pen or a finger about a foot away from the driver’s view. The officer will then note any bouncing or jerking movements of the driver’s eyes as they follow the pen with their eyes from side to side. [Read more…]

Are Parents Held Accountable for “Social Hosting” ?

It’s well-known that the legal drinking age in all states, including Massachusetts, is 21. However, what about “social hosting”? Social hosting refers to providing alcohol or other illegal substances to a minor that is not your own child on your property or in an environment you control. Especially during graduation time, some parents reason if they provide alcohol at a party at their private residence in a safe environment, ensuring that minors do not drink and drive, they are not committing a crime. Massachusetts’ “Social Host” law says that they are. Consider the consequences and situations covered by this law.

  • You could pay fines and go to jail. The penalty in Massachusetts for “social hosting” is a fine up to $2,000 and/or prison time for up to one year. Of course, if injury occurred, such as if a child died in an accident after leaving your home, you could be convicted of more serious crimes, resulting in a longer prison sentence.

[Read more…]

Domestic Violence Laws in Massachusetts

In the state of Massachusetts, domestic violence laws include physical harm or the intent to physically harm, the infliction of fear of physical harm, and involuntary sexual relationship against a family or other household member. This crime is especially serious if the victim was violated by the suspect while a protective order was in place.

Definition of a household member:

  • people who are or have once been married
  • individuals that have children together
  • individuals that are related through marriage or by blood
  • individuals who live together are have lived together, such as roommates

Assault can range from actual physical harm or the intent to commit physical harm against another individual. This means that even a serious threat to commit physical harm can be considered assault. Simple assault is in itself a crime, but in Massachusetts, assault against a family or household member is considered a much more serious offense. [Read more…]

What is Massachusetts Personal Injury Protection (PIP)?

In Massachusetts, when you’re injured in an auto accident, your insurance policy’s Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage should pay your medical bills and other expenses, but those aren’t the only benefits you’re entitled to recover. If you sustain a serious injury, an experienced personal injury attorney could also negotiate a settlement for damages due to your pain, suffering, any permanent disabilities, and lost wages.Massachusetts automobile statutes allow injury victims to collect additional damages from the legally responsible party if injuries or medical bills meet or exceed PIP tort thresholds.

PIP Tort Threshold

Massachusetts No Fault Laws recognize that injuries can have a significant impact on your life. The medical bills and lost wages covered by your Personal Injury Protection coverage were never intended to make up for permanent disabilities or other life altering conditions. The law gives you the right to sue the person who caused your accident if one of the following occurs. [Read more…]

Abraham Lincoln’s Notes for a Law Lecture

This document fragment was dated July 1, 1850 by Abraham Lincoln’s White House secretaries, John Nicolay and John Hay, who collected many of his manuscripts after his death. The note in the Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln indicates that Lincoln could have written these observations several years later than 1850. It is not known, however, if Lincoln ever delivered this lecture.

In these notes Lincoln provides a glimpse of how he worked and the high standards of diligence and honesty he set. He has sharp words for the dishonest and unscrupulous members of the bar, calling them “fiends” and “knaves.” He warns prospective lawyers, “if in your own judgment you cannot be an honest lawyer, resolve to be honest without being a lawyer.”

Several months after the president’s death, his law partner, William Herndon, stated that “Mr. Lincoln was an honest lawyer. He carried his personal and individual honor to the bar.” Herndon, who worked with Lincoln for 17 years, said “He kept his integrity and individuality through his professional career.”

[Read more…]