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April 2016
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Injured Children and the Law of Massachusetts

In a recent blog post, I spoke about children and the law of liability when children engage in youth activities. I’d like to develop that principle a little further and today talk about a very important decision of the highest court of Massachusetts. It was Sharon v. The City of Newton, 437 Mass. 99 (2002). The young woman there was a cheerleader and she got hurt in an after-school cheerleading practice.

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Child Injuries

Injuries to children are of course a very painful subject. Obviously, no one could be more precious than a child. I will never forget going into a courtroom and seeing a picture of a child in a full body cast. Thank God, the child had made a good recovery by the time of trial but if the old line “a picture is worth a thousand words” were ever true, it was certainly true there.

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Loss of Earning Capacity

By now you would have heard or are familiar with the fact that loss of earning capacity is an element of your damages. Specifically, it is an element of special damages as is the reasonable value of the medical services provided to you. Let’s focus today on the loss of earning capacity and the basic concept behind it.

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EGGSHELL OR THIN-SKULLED PLAINTIFF

Law students in their first year of torts are sure to hear of the curious terms, thin-skulled plaintiff or eggshell plaintiff. Essentially what it means is that if a plaintiff has a particular weakness or susceptibility and is hurt, the defendant, “must take the plaintiff as he/she finds him/her”. Thus if the injured party suffers more as a result of their weakness or susceptibility, the defendant, the party that is sued, bears the full cost of that injury. That little expression of “taking the plaintiff as you find him/her” means essentially that the eggshell plaintiff or thin-skulled plaintiff is entitled to the full measure of their damages even though they had a particular susceptibility. I never found the expression of “taking the plaintiff as you find him/her” to be all that clear; nonetheless, there is no mistaking the concept.

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The Relevance of the O.J. Simpson Trial to Personal Injury Law

Many of you have probably seen the series on Fox, An American Crime Story, The People v. O.J. Simpson. It is running for 10 episodes. What the relevance of the series to personal injury law brings to mind something I have spoken about before which, if I may say, bears repeating.

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