News

July 21, 2017

Massachusetts Motorcycle & Moped Regulations

In this nice weather, many lucky motor vehicle passengers have the luxury of putting the top down on their cars and letting the wind blow through their hair. Drivers of motorcycles and mopeds cannot enjoy the same indulgences, as a helmet is required for drivers in both instances. Before getting out on your motorcycle or moped this summer make sure you are aware of all Massachusetts road regulations in order to take your vehicle out for a safe ride.

Motorcycle Helmets

Motorcycle helmets must meet or exceed United States Department of Transportation standards. State law requires the helmet to comply with the United States Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 218.  Motorcycle helmets that meet this standard will be labeled with stickers on the inside and outside.

Other Motorcycle Safety Regulations

Besides a helmet, motorcyclists are also required to wear some form of eye protection unless your motorcycle has a windscreen to protect your eyes. Also you must have a headlight on at all times, including the daytime. To be taken out on the roads, your motorcycle needs at least one rearview mirror and workable turn signals. If you purchase a motorcycle in Massachusetts and it does not come with the necessary functioning parts, Lemon Law states you have the right to return a motor vehicle under certain conditions. With motorcycles specifically, you have up to 7 days to return the motorcycle if it does not comply with Massachusetts standards.

Motorcycle Insurance

If you own a motorcycle, you must have minimum liability insurance including $20,000/$40,000 for bodily injuries and $5,000 for property damages. You must be able to demonstrate a policy or a certificate that lists limits of coverage as proof of your vehicle’s insurance.

Moped Regulations

To ride your moped this summer, a moped sticker, issued by the Registry of Motor Vehicles, must be affixed to the moped. To obtain this sticker a moped must be shown to be a “motorized bicycle.” This means that it must:

  • Have a cylinder capacity of no more than 50 cubic centimeters.
  • Have an automatic transmission.
  • Be capable of a maximum speed of no more than 30 mph.
  • Comply with applicable federal motor vehicle safety standards.

In Massachusetts, Mopeds shall not be operated by any person under sixteen years of age, any person who does not have a valid license or permit, at a speed greater than 25 mph, and without the operator and any passenger wearing a DOT standard helmet.

Moped operators are subject to the same traffic laws, rules and regulations outlined in the Commonwealth for other motor vehicles. Mopeds have the right to use all public ways in the Commonwealth, except they have limited access on express state highways where signs prohibiting bicycles are posted. When a moped operator is turning, he/she must signal their intention to stop or turn by using either hand. Mopeds may keep right when passing a motor vehicle in the travel lane of way. Pursuant to Mass. Gen. Laws chapter 90, section 1B, a person convicted of a violation of motorized bicycle operation regulations shall be punished by a fine of not more than twenty-five dollars for the first offense, not less than twenty-five nor more than fifty dollars for a second offense, and not less than fifty nor more than one hundred dollars for subsequent offenses committed.

Other Regulations

Both motorcycle and moped standards and operating laws vary from state to state. A license that is permitted in Massachusetts may not be valid when crossing state borders. Also licenses may become null if you are not using your vehicle for years at a time.  Be sure to check your local town ordinances before riding.

It is important to keep these facts in mind when taking your motorcycle or moped out for a ride this summer. In the unfortunate case of an accident, your obeying of the operating regulations for your vehicle will only help your case. If you have any questions regarding the operations of your motorcycle or moped call the Murphy Law Group today at (978) 686-3200.

July 5, 2017

Legal Issues for Small Businesses and Startups

Starting a new business can be an exciting yet stressful experience. Whether you are starting a new business, expanding your business, or purchasing an existing company, the Murphy Law Group can help you navigate the tough legal decisions that all entrepreneurs encounter. The Murphy Law Group brings years of experience and provides dedicated services tailored to your company’s business law needs.

The following are just a few examples of legal issues that the Murphy Law Group will help you with:

  • Advising as to what type of entity to create. There are major differences between a Corporation, LLC, sole proprietorship and general partnership.  The Murphy Law Group will help you make an informed decision as to what type of entity is the best fit for your business or startup.
  • Choosing an appropriate name for your entity, and if necessary a dba that will give your company recognition.
  • Creating an Operating Agreement or corporate by-laws that outline the rules, regulations, and structure of your company.
  • Drafting an Employee Handbook that will clearly provide the guidelines and day-to-day expectations in the workplace.
  • Drafting employee contracts, non-compete and non-solicitation agreements, and protecting your company’s confidential and proprietary information.
  • Providing employee and management training on harassment, discrimination and other potentially harmful conduct.

It is important to have the right legal framework in place for your business as early as possible.  The Murphy Law Group serves businesses of all sizes throughout the Merrimack Valley, North Shore, North Andover and Boston areas.  To schedule a meeting to discuss your company’s business law needs, give our office a call at (978) 686-3200 or (617) 570-9000.

June 15, 2017

Statute of Limitations for Filing a Personal Injury Claim

Personal injury cases are constantly dismissed in court when a victim is uninformed of the time constraints for filing his or her case. There are many ways in which attorneys can assist those who have been harmed to receive compensation for their injuries. However it is the job of the injured to be active in seeking a lawyer to file a complaint.

If you have suffered bodily harm from an injury or accident, and someone else might be personally responsible for the harm done to you, you should contact an attorney as soon as possible. Such accidents can include anything from motor vehicles, tripping/falling, work-related or assault claims. However in order to avoid dismissal, you must file suit in a timely manner. The deadline to file suit is known as a “statute of limitations.”  With certain exceptions, the statute of limitations on personal injury cases in Massachusetts is three (3) years.

Mass. Gen. Laws. chapter 260 §2A, states except as otherwise provided, actions of tort, actions of contract to recover for personal injuries, and actions of replevin, shall be commenced within three years  next after the cause action accrues.

For most cases, the three-year limit time begins on the date of the accident. In some exceptional cases, if you suffered an injury that could not be detected until some time after the accident then the three-year limit time may not begin until this discovery time. For injury claims against a city, county, or state government agency you have two years under Massachusetts law to file a formal presentment of a claim, and three years to file a lawsuit.

The Murphy Law Group has successfully handled a wide range of personal injury cases. If you or someone you love has been injured, the Murphy Law Group can help you get through these difficult times.

January 31, 2017

What are the Common Causes of Auto Accidents?

Dan Murphy of the Massachusetts-based Murphy Law Group speaks with John Maher about the causes of auto accidents—which can range from speeding to drinking to texting to even looking down to change the radio station. Murphy explains how these behaviors relate to negligence and how that could change your compensation claims and liability.

John Maher: Hi I’m John Maher, I’m here today with Dan Murphy of the Murphy Law Group in North Andover and Boston, Massachusetts. Today we’re talking about the most common causes of auto accidents. Welcome, Dan.

Dan Murphy: Thank you, John, for having me.

Behavioral Causes of Accidents

John Maher: Sure. So, Dan, what types of behavior generally cause auto accidents?

Dan Murphy: Well the types of behavior on the part of the driver could be anything from distracted driving, to speeding, to tailgating, to defective breaks or other defects with the car itself. It could be alcohol or drugs having a part in it. There are number of things in terms of the behavior of the driver that may come into effect.

John Maher:  What about the road conditions and maybe not taking appropriate actions to kind of drive with the road condition–say it’s icy, or snowy, or something like that.

Dan Murphy: That’s clearly a duty that’s imposed upon a driver. A driver has a duty of care to take reasonable steps to ensure that they are driving safely, and that they’re not causing a dangerous condition to occur for another vehicle on the road or another person on the road. And, so, they clearly have an obligation to be aware of what the road conditions are and to take appropriate measures.

John Maher: Is that a sort of unwritten rule–of that duty that a driver has whenever they get behind the wheel? Sort of the ultimate cause of negligence and being considered negligent?

Dan Murphy: Sure. I mean ultimately negligence is simply the failure to honor the duty to take reasonable care. And that can be anything from driving at an excessive speed during icy conditions, which excessive speed could still be within the speed limit.

But, not taking appropriate measures to slow down when the conditions are clearly icy or if, for example, there was a severe thunderstorm and your vision was impaired by the thunderstorm and you didn’t take measures to slow down your vehicle during the thunderstorm, or any number of things that could occur–including defects in the road itself. If the road itself beyond being impaired by the weather, it could also be impaired by its condition.

It could be potholes in the road. You need to be aware and to take as much precautions as you can to avoid those type of things. It may mean if you see that the road is in a particularly bad condition that you should be slowing down.

Texting and Driving Accidents

John Maher: Texting and driving, you know, using your cellphone is kind of hot in the news. Now it’s because it seems to be causing more accidents, especially with younger people and there [are] rules and laws being enacted all over the country that to try to cut down on that.

Do you have to have a law against cellphone use or texting use in a car in order to be considered negligent for texting while driving? Or is it just a matter of if that’s what caused you to be distracted you could still be considered negligent?

Dan Murphy: If that is what caused you to be distracted you’d absolutely be considered negligent. It does not — You do not need to be criminally responsible to be negligent, and texting or answering a phone, or simply not watching the road — It could be looking down, or changing the station on the radio instead of paying attention to what’s in front of you.

There’re any number of things under the guise of distracted driving that may not necessarily be illegal, but can still cause an [auto] accident to occur and can still cause you to be negligent.

How the Causes of an Auto Accident Affect Your Claim

John Maher: So how does the cause of the accident play a role in a car accident claim when it comes time to file a lawsuit?

Dan Murphy: Well, ultimately it is the party who was responsible for the accident occurring that will be liable for the incident if there are damages as a result of the accident.

John Maher: What are some ways that fault can be determined in a car accident claim? Is it obvious in most cases who is at fault?

Dan Murphy: It can vary. The most simple, straightforward example would be a rear end collision where the driver in the vehicle who stopped at a stop sign or stoplight gets rear-ended by another vehicle. Clearly, the person who is stopped at the stop sign or at the stop light is acting according to the way in which they’re supposed to be acting and obeying the laws in stopping, and a car plows into them from behind.

The car that plowed into them from behind is very likely to be liable for the incident because they’re one that caused the incident, it was their negligence that caused the incident to occur.

So that might be the most straightforward, but there are all kinds of ways in which you can determine whether or not one party was more responsible than the other party. Whether it’d be someone applying their breaks as their going through an intersection and then the intersection is very icy, they’re going too fast as they’re going through the intersection and they run into another car. Those types of factors would be considered to determine whether or not that person was negligent.

John Maher: You could have a case where both parties is involved in an accident are engaged in some kind of negligent behavior. One party is texting while they’re driving but the other party is speeding or something like that. Can you have a sort of co-fault in an accident. How is that determined?

Dan Murphy: Ultimately, it’s a simple determination as to who had the opportunity to avoid the accident. Who had the best opportunity to avoid the accident, and who was most responsible for the accident occurring?

And, sure, there are situations in which both parties may be engaged in negligent behavior, but again using the person stopped at a stop sign as an example, if that person stopped at a stop sign or stop light may be looking down at their telephone or doing something that may be considered negligent, and they’re still hit from behind by a driver who was not paying attention, and runs into them from behind, the person on the front car’s negligence really has nothing to do with the causation of the accident.

John Maher: Alright, thanks for speaking with me today, Dan. I appreciate it.

Dan Murphy: Thank you, John.

John Maher: And for more information about the Murphy Law Group, visit the firm’s website at mlgllc.com or call 978-686-3200.

January 24, 2017

The Types of Personal Injury Cases

Dan Murphy of the Massachusetts-based Murphy Law Group speaks with John Maher about the common and rarer types of personal injury, what you need to do after a personal injury to build the best case, the statute of limitations on such suits, and why you need to retain an attorney as soon as possible after an injury.

John Maher: Hi I’m John Maher, and I’m here today with Dan Murphy of the Murphy Law Group in North Andover and Boston Massachusetts. And today we’re talking about Types of Personal Injury Cases. Welcome, Dan.

Dan Murphy: Thanks for having me, John.

Common Personal Injuries

John: Sure. So Dan what are some of the most common types of personal injury cases?

Dan: Any time an injury occurs, there’s a possibility that it may result in a personal injury case. You often hear about slip and falls, automobile cases, things that result from those types of situations. But it’s really a wide spectrum of any time an injury occurs. It may occur as a result of, for example, a defective product that you’re handling, or it may result from a spill of a chemical when you’re opening something that you’re not supposed to come in contact with. So there are any number of things that that can cause a personal injury case to ultimately occur. But the very basic premise is that anytime an injury occurs, there may be fault.

John: What are some of maybe the more unusual ones that you’ve seen in terms of how somebody was injured?

Dan: Well, I handled the case several years ago. That was a tragic case as a result of a young man who was told at work to use a torch to open up at the top of an old drum that had been delivered on site by a chemical company. As soon as he hit the top of the drum it exploded, and there were no warnings on the outside of the drum suggesting that this could occur and caused him serious burns on his body. Ultimately that resulted into in a lawsuit against the chemical company.

How Does the Type of Personal Injury Change a Lawsuit?

John: How did these types of personal injury cases differ in terms of how you handle them, whether it’s an auto accident or a slip and fall or a product liability case?

Dan: Well the most important thing is to be diligent from the beginning. And when I say that I mean oftentimes you’re — the injured person isn’t in a position to do very much. If for example they’re being taken away from the scene of an accident in an ambulance.

But the people around them that they may be talking to, family members, friends– whomever they’re closely associated with–should take steps to make sure that information is gathered around the site of the incident. Who was there to witness the incident? Were the police there? Is there a police report? If the car is going to be taken away—[see if there is the] Possibility of taking photos there, or taking photos at the junkyard that the car was taken to, before the car is completely destroyed. If there are skid marks, take photo photographs of the skid marks. The types of things that may be evidence. Ultimately in a lawsuit, if they’re preserved around the time of the incident they’re very helpful.

John: Like the lack of a warning label on that drum that you’re just talking about, that would be the kind of thing. If you could get a photograph of a similar drum that shows that there’s no warning on it that would be helpful?

Dan: Right. I mean with that one, in particular, there were a number of drums that came from the same source, and you were able to look at the photos to see that there were no warnings displayed on those other drums as well.

What to Do After a Personal Injury?

John: Right. What should someone do or perhaps not do after they’re injured?

Dan: The one thing that you don’t want to do is, as an example again using a car accident as an example: If you were in a car accident and your car was hit by another car, for example, and the insurance company for the person that hit you contacted you–it would be unwise for you to start having direct conversations with that insurance company, where you may be making statements that may be used against you, down the road in a potential litigation. You should always do what you need to do in terms of covering yourself with your own insurance company.

You need to do obviously what is necessary for you to do, for proper medical care. But you should seek legal guidance as soon as possible, and a lawyer would tell you, “Whatever you do talk to me, make statements to me. But don’t make any statements to any other third parties, until such time as we’re ready for you to make such a statement.”

John: If you do get that call from that other insurance company it’s okay to just say, “I’m not going to answer any of your questions, and I’ll have my lawyer contact you.” Or something like that?

Dan: You can very politely say that, “you’re not in a position to discuss what occurred with them.” If you’ve already retained counsel you can refer them to your counsel. If you haven’t retained counsel, just very politely take their telephone number and say that your counsel will get back to them once you’ve had an opportunity to retain counsel.”

Personal Injury Statute of Limitations

John: How much time do I have after I’ve been injured to bring a case against a party that’s caused me an injury? Is there a statute of limitations?

Dan: In Massachusetts the statute of limitations is three years. So you have three years from the time that the incident occurred to actually bring the action. But that doesn’t mean that you should sit on your hands and wait for three years and wait for things to develop. Clearly, the earlier that you’re able to take action to preserve evidence and to start putting things together and put the other side on notice–so, that they can put their insurance company on notice–the better off you’re going to be.

John: What about the case where, I might not know immediately after I’ve been injured what the long term consequences of that injury will be. Should I go ahead and bring the case right away or is it is it better to sort of wait and see how much those medical bills are going to stack up or something like that?

Dan: That’s a very good question. And that’s why you want to have counsel involved from the beginning. If you have counsel involved in the beginning, your counsel will be able to walk you through those steps, and your counsel– a good counsel–is going to tell you, “Your biggest job is to get better. Let me worry about the timing of bringing an action. The timing of making a demand. “And so forth.

Typically what would occur in a situation like that, if the client was dealing with our office, is that we would we would put the other side on notice that there was a potential cause of action. We would tell the other side where we were in terms of medical treatment, and if the long-term prognosis had yet to be determined, we would continue to advise the other side and their insurance company about how we’re moving forward and how things are progressing. We would collect all the medicals along the line, while the injured person is getting better, and at some point in time we would have the ability to then make a demand. Typically you would make a demand before you put the case into a suit.

John: Okay, all right that’s great information Thanks again for speaking with me today Dan. And for more information about the Murphy Law Group visit the firm’s web site at www.mlgllc.com or call 978-686-3200.