Are You Prepared for Winter?

In the middle of the summer heat, the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts was deciding whether there is a distinction between a natural and unnatural accumulation of snow. In Papadopoulos v. Target Corporation, the plaintiff was injured when he slipped and fell in the parking lot of the Liberty Tree Mall in Danvers. He filed suit against Target, the store in front of which he fell, and their snow removal contractors. Initially the jury found in favor of the defendant but the plaintiff appealed. On Appeal, the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts reviewed the case and determined that there would no longer be a distinction of natural and unnatural accumulation of snow and ice in Massachusetts. Prior to this ground-breaking decision, a plaintiff could only recover if he or she slipped and fell on an unnatural accumulation of snow, that is snow that had been moved or modified in any way such as by plowing or driving over or walking over it. The court also suggested that “the passage of time alone may be sufficient to transform a natural accumulation into an unnatural one.” For example, if snow falls and then the temperature warms and it melts a little and then the temperature drops and the melted snow refreezes, that would present a more hazardous condition than the original snow even though this state occurred naturally.

With this new decision, a property owner is now liable for any hazardous conditions on his or her property whether natural or unnatural and the owner must take reasonable care and has the obligation to make his or her property safe for lawful visitors. This obligation cannot be delegated. While a snow removal company may also be liable for its failure to properly remedy hazardous conditions on the property it has been contracted to clear, the landlord or property owner still has an obligation to oversee and ameliorate any hazardous conditions irrelevant of whether or not he has already hired someone to do so. The mere hiring of a third party for the purpose of snow removal does not exonerate the property owner from liability.

So are you prepared for winter? This doesn’t just apply to large corporations with parking lots or public areas. Make sure you clear your pathways to your front door and salt and sand all walkways on your property. Clear snow and ice from your driveway as soon as possible. If you are unable to do so, hire someone to help you but be sure you are satisfied with their job as you, the property owner, are responsible to do so.

Don’t Drive with the Wool Pulled Over Your Eyes!

John was rear-ended in a motor vehicle accident last August. He reported to the emergency room who diagnosed him with a concussion, acute cervical strain and a left knee contusion. Days after the accident, he received a letter in the mail from the insurance company of the man who slammed into him. They were “investigating” the accident. After it became clear that the accident was not John’s fault, an insurance adjustor contacted John and offered him $1500 to settle his personal injury claim. John accepted.

A few weeks later, John began to experience severe headaches. He went to a neurologist who diagnosed him with post-concussive syndrome related to the accident. These headaches continued unremitted for two years significantly impacting John’s quality of life. John missed so much work because of the headaches that he was eventually fired. He lost nearly $24,000 in lost wages. He had to struggle with unemployment for nearly six months before finding another position where he had no choice but to suffer through the work day with debilitating headaches.

Read more »

Bent out of Shape by a Fender Bender

It is common knowledge that a driver or passenger of a vehicle that is rear-ended can sustain injuries, such as whiplash, neck pain, or back pain. However the damage to the vehicle may be slight especially depending on what types of vehicles were involved in the crash. Any low impact crash can yield serious injuries without substantial damage to the car. However, the insurance companies do not want you to know that and unless you have been in a low impact crash yourself, you too may think that if the car wasn’t badly damaged, how could its passengers and driver? Simple. You wouldn’t want to put your hand or your head in between two cars in a low impact crash. Would you? The cars may not sustain much damage but your hand or head certainly would.

CNN has done a report on such low impact claims. Their article Auto insurers play hardball in minor-crash claims, reports that insurance companies have a strategy to deny, delay and defend a claim. Read more »

Jesus is my Health Insurance

A Note from the Webmaster: The Law Offices of Edward F. Wallace, P.C. would like to welcome Jeff Van Dell to our team. Jeff is a paralegal who started here in January 2009. Below is Jeff’s first blog.

What comes to your mind when I mention the biblical Book of Exodus? Iconic images from the movie “The Ten Commandments” of Charlton Heston playing Moses holding up his staff as God parts the Red Sea? Maybe you remember a Sunday school teacher describing the plagues God visited upon the Egyptians; the Nile turning to blood, hailstones wiping out their crops, or the death of every firstborn creature.

Although the Book of Exodus deals with the fledgling nation of Israel’s journey out of slavery and into the Promised Land, there are some very practical principles that allowed this group of former slaves to live together as a community and deal with the inevitable conflict that arises in every culture. Many of these principles transcend time and culture and have been adopted into our system of law. Three specific concepts that we deal with the field of personal injury are negligence, damages, and restitution.

Moses gives an example of how this dynamic plays out in Exodus 22:33-34. “If a man uncovers a pit or digs one and fails to cover it and an ox or a donkey falls into it, the owner of the pit must pay for the loss; he must pay its owner, and the dead animal will be his.”

Read more »


An insurance research group, the Pennsylvania-based Insurance Research Council, has recently forecast that the current recession will lead to an increase in the number of motorists driving without insurance. The number of uninsured motorists is expected to be more than 1 in 6 by next year, that;s over 16% of all drivers, according to the report.

My 30 years of experience in handling motor vehicle accident cases is consistent with the research group’s forecast that the percentage of insured motorists usually rises with the unemployment rate. Unemployment is expected to rise to over ten percent in certain areas in the upcoming months.

Whether you live in Massachusetts or New Hampshire, you need to insure yourself against uninsured motorists. You should review your automobile policies to be sure that you have adequate uninsured motorist coverage. If you are hurt by an uninsured motorist you will only be able to collect up to the policy limit of your uninsured coverage.

Note from the Webmaster: For those of you living in New Hampshire, you may have noticed that on February 2nd 2009, the Nashua Telegraph did an article entitled Uninsured on the road could swell by Melanie Plenda. You can view the article on the Nashua Telegraph’s website. The good news is that in New Hampshire, the insurance companies are not allowed to deny coverage to anyone because of bad credit, low income or other factors with the exception of out of state residency and legally not allowed to drive. The bad news however is that auto insurance is voluntary in New Hampshire. If you are uninsured and get in an accident with another uninsured vehicle, there is nothing to collect, leaving you responsible for all your bills. Therefore, automobile insurance is highly recommended.

Insurance: In Good Times, Not in Bad, In Health but Not in Sickness

Attorney Wallace is now a member of the American Association of Justice (AAJ), formerly known as the Association of Trial Lawyers of America (ATLA). This week, all members received two documents from the AAJ and were encouraged to share them on their blogs. We would like to share them with you.

The first is called Tricks of the Trade: How Insurance Companies Deny, Delay, Confuse and Refuse. If you have ever placed an insurance claim, you may be familiar with these tactics. For the best results, hire a lawyer to deal with your insurance claims especially in the event of an accident. Click here to view in PDF

The second article is called The Ten Worst Insurance Companies in America: How They Raise Premiums, Deny Claims, and Refuse Insurance to Those Who Need It Most. We have had on our blog this past month a survey that you can participate in, entitled “How Satisfied Are You with Your Automobile Insurance Company?” We have been encouraging readers to fill this out and were interested in seeing the results. Now with this article out, it will be even more interesting to see how satisfied people are with their automobile insurance companies especially if their insurance coverage comes from one of the Ten Worst. Click here to view article in PDF

Have you had issues with your insurance company because you were in an accident in Massachusetts or New Hampshire? Contact the Law Offices of Edward F. Wallace, P.C. today for a free consultation.

Tough Times Need Not Be Made Tougher By An Injury.

Use your time to heal from your injuries. Let us deal with the insurance company.

Another Piece of the Pie

In season 7, episode 7 of The Simpsons, Homer Simpson decides that he is fed up with his job and wants to work from home. He comes up with a master plan to gorge himself to massive proportions so that he would qualify for disability and be allowed to work from home. This got me thinking. Is obesity a disability? I decided to approach this from a legal perspective and do some further investigation.

Read more »

Did you know…

We all know how expensive medical treatment can be and how easy it is to rack up the bills. This scenario becomes all the more apparent when someone is the victim of a motor vehicle accident and suffers debilitating injuries. Given the high cost of affordable health insurance, there is a way to protect yourself against skyrocketing health costs associated with a motor vehicle accident.

Did you know that for relatively short money (e.g. $15 to $25 depending on your insurance company) you can add optional Medical Payments coverage on your automobile insurance policy? Medical Payment insurance covers the reasonable and necessary medical expenses incurred as a result of a motor vehicle accident involving any of the following people:

  • Anyone who is occupying your vehicle at the time of the accident with consent (including you or a household member) and
  • You or any household member if struck by an automobile as a pedestrian or if occupying someone else’s vehicle at the time of the accident with consent.

Optional Medical Payments coverage is usually purchased in $5000 increments and will provide coverage for your medical expenses in addition to the $8000 mandatory coverage under the compulsory PIP (Personal Injury Protection) coverage. However, because the PIP coverage also reimburses one for lost wages resulting from the accident, often times there is not adequate coverage for all of one’s medical expenses and lost wages resulting from an accident from the mandatory PIP coverage. Medical Payments coverage offers additional protection and allows one to obtain the medical treatment necessary for injuries resulting from a motor vehicle accident and we highly recommend purchasing this coverage.

Welcome to Our Blog!

Welcome to the Legal Blog of the Law Offices of Edward F. Wallace.

A quick introduction into our lawyers:

Ed Wallace

Edward F. Wallace has been practicing law for over 30 years. He received his law degree from Suffolk University Law School in 1978. He is admitted to practice before all the courts of the States of Massachusetts and New Hampshire, the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts and the United States District Court for the District of New Hampshire, and the Supreme Court of the United States. Attorney Wallace is certified as an Advocate by the National College for Advocacy and a member of the Association of Trial Lawyers of America.

Laura Sheppard

Laura Sheppard received her law degree from the Massachusetts School of Law in 1996. She is admitted to practice before all the courts of the States of Massachusetts and New Hampshire, the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts and the United States District Court for the District of New Hampshire. Attorney Sheppard is a member of the Association of Trial Lawyers of America and the New Hampshire Trial Lawyers Association.

A quick introduction to our webmaster:

Nicole Wallace

Nicole Canavan received her B.A. in English and Medieval Studies from Smith College in 2002. She received her M.A. from University College London in the UK in 2003 in Scandinavian Studies. She is currently the webmaster and designer of In addition to her work at this law firm, she moderates two unrelated websites.