There are a large number of limousine company’s on the North Shore, in cities such as Lynn, Lynnfield, Saugus and Danvers.
A recent news article published in the Boston Globe entitled, Two passengers fell out of party bus window concerns a limo company and details the tragic death of a woman in East Boston. According to the report, a group of 20 friends retained a limousine “for a night on the town” on August 21, 2016. The group went to an area beach and was returning when the emergency window opened and two women fell out and were subsequently hit by another vehicle leaving one injured and one fatally wounded. A question has arisen as to the negligence of the limousine company and if they are responsible for the wrongful death of a young woman and the serious injuries of another.
In Massachusetts, wrongful death is governed by M.G.L. Ch. 229, Section 2 which states that a person or company may be liable for the wrongful death if the person or company causes the death of another by:
- Willful, wanton or reckless act;
- Operates a common carrier of passengers and by his negligence causes the death of a passenger;
- Operates a common carrier of passengers and by his willful, wanton or reckless act causes the death of a passenger; or
- Is responsible for a breach of warranty arising under Article 2 of Chapter 106.
Damages may be recovered in an action of tort by the Executor or Administrator of the deceased. The action to recover damages under this section shall be commenced within three years from the date of death, or within three years from the date when the deceased’s executor or administrator knew, or in the exercise of reasonable diligence, should have known of the factual basis for a cause of action.
In Massachusetts, a wrongful death lawsuit may compensate for:
- income the deceased could reasonably be expected to have earned in his or her lifetime;
- the care, companionship, comfort, guidance, counsel, and advice the deceased would have provided to family members; and
- reasonable funeral and burial expenses.
Punitive damages may also be available in a Massachusetts wrongful death case, but only if the court finds the death was caused by “malicious, willful, wanton or reckless conduct” or gross negligence. Punitive damages are not less than $5,000, although higher amounts may be awarded based on the evidence presented in any particular wrongful death case.
Unlike damages for lost income, care, and funeral and burial expenses, punitive damages are not meant to compensate the family or the estate for the untimely loss of the deceased person. Instead, they are intended to punish the party that caused the death for particularly bad conduct, and to send a message to similar parties that such behavior will not be tolerated.
After this tragic accident, Fox 25 has reported that the limo service had a “conditional rating” meaning it was out of compliance with at least one safety requirement. A 2013 safety audit of the company revealed at least 4 violations and resulted in fines totaling $35,800.00.
In another wrongful death matter, on July 11, 2016, The Herald News reported that a wrongful death lawsuit was filed with the Bristol County Superior Court seeking unspecified monetary damages for conscious pain and suffering endured by the parents of an 11-year old girl, Azriel Sage Estabrooks. Azriel had been at a friend’s birthday party when she died after choking on a marshmallow. The complaint filed by Azriel’s parents claims that the defendants (the parents hosting the birthday party) allowed Azriel to wander off without supervision, “unnecessarily and improperly delaying calling 911”, and for ‘allowing an “unreasonable amount of time’ to pass without discovering that Azriel was in life-threatening distress”. The complaint further alleges that “Azriel had already been without oxygen for an ‘extended period of time’ when she was discovered unconscious and lying on the floor”.
Wrongful death cases are tragic and involve loss and a great deal of emotion. If you believe you or a loved one may have a wrongful death case, contact an experienced injury lawyer to discuss your situation.