Posts made in April 2013

Nursing home fails to provide residents with heat, hot water

As our loved ones age, we put our trust and faith in nursing homes to provide them with the care they need. Unfortunately, nursing home negligence is a very real matter that has the potential to cause victims and their loved ones serious physical injuries and mental anguish.

The 25 residents of a Massachusetts nursing home have been relocated after a disturbing discovery was made. Apparently, the facilities were operating without heat or hot water for several days, due to a broken boilerplate. The situation was discovered by the daughter of one of the residents, who during a recent visit observed residents eating off paper plates and wearing coats indoors. In addition to sanitary concerns involving the lack of hot water for activities such as cooking and bathing, the lack of heat itself was of particular concern, due to unseasonably cold temperatures.

Town health officials promptly shut down the nursing home, and the residents were sent to other nursing homes in the state owned by the same company. The Board of Health had jurisdiction to take these drastic actions without seeking a court-order, because it was deemed necessary to protect the health of the public.

While the residents in this situation made it through the ordeal in good health, many of those suffering from nursing home neglect are not so lucky. Neglect can take many forms, but any actions or conditions that result in the failure to provide for the health and safety of residents, whether intentional or not, may be considered neglect.

Fortunately, there are legal actions that a victim of nursing home neglect can take. Victims may pursue a civil lawsuit on the grounds of negligence or in certain cases breach of contract. In the most extreme of cases, some states allow criminal charges to be brought against those engaging in elder abuse.

Elderly people can be particularly vulnerable to nursing home abuse, especially if they are already physical or mentally frail. A personal injury attorney may be able to provide more insight as to what actions a victim of nursing home neglect may take.

Source: woonsocketcall.com, “Nursing home shut down,” Joseph Fitzgerald, April 23, 2013

Massachusetts motorcyclist seriously injured in car wreck

Motorcycling can be an enjoyable and exhilarating activity for many Massachusetts residents. However, should a motorist fail to see a motorcycle in their path, an exciting ride can turn into a devastating motor vehicle accident.

Recently, an accident involving a car and a motorcycle has sent the motorcyclist to the hospital after sustaining serious injuries to his leg. A motorist driving a Ford Explorer was attempting to make a left-hand turn into a parking lot, when he allegedly struck the motorcyclist, sending the motorcyclist hurling off of his vehicle. The driver of the Ford claimed he did not realized the motorcyclist was there, and as of right now will not face any charges. The motorcyclist was sent to Boston Medical Center via ambulance where his condition has since been upgraded from critical to serious.

Due to their small size, motorcycles can be difficult to see in the best of conditions, but especially at intersections. In addition, motorcyclists are more prone to injuries in a car crash than are passengers of automobiles, as their vehicles do not provide the same amount of protection that an automobile does. Studies show that motorcyclists are 26 percent more likely than automobile drivers to be killed in a motor vehicle accident. Because of this, motorists must always be aware of motorcyclists in their vicinity. Should a motorist cause a car accident that injures or kills a motorcyclist, they could find themselves subject to a negligence lawsuit.

Damages a motorcyclist may be compensated for include past and future medical expenses, lost wages and pain and suffering. This compensation may go a long way towards helping the motorcyclist or their loved ones recover from the incident.

Source: The Enterprise, “Whitman motorcyclist still hospitalized following Brockton crash,” Amy Carboneau, April 17, 2013

3.4 million car recall may affect Massachusetts consumers

Automobiles are a mainstay of our culture, and may be considered a necessity by many. Every day Massachusetts residents drive their cars to work, school, shopping and to visit loved ones. No innocent driver expects to become the victim of a defective product. Yet defective automobiles have the potential to cause serious damage and injuries to people nationwide.

Four major automakers have issued massive recalls affecting nearly 3.4 million vehicles sold worldwide. The vehicles were sold with an allegedly defective airbag system. When the passenger side airbags deploy, they do so with enough power to cause fires or injure passengers with flying debris. The vehicles affected were made by Toyota, Mazda, Nissan and Honda. All the airbags came from a single supplier. Although the vehicles are being recalled world wide, specifically, 561,000 Hondas sold in the United States and 170,000 Toyotas sold in the United States are subject to the recall. Nissans and Mazdas sold in the United States may also be affected, although it is not yet known how many vehicles will be recalled.

When a victim is injured due to a defective vehicle, in order to hold the manufacturer and seller of the vehicle liable, the victim may bring a lawsuit under the doctrine of strict liability. Through this doctrine, if the victim may be awarded damages if they can prove they were injured because the vehicle or one of its parts were unreasonably dangerous. In addition, the victim must show that they were injured even though they were using the vehicle in its intended manner and had not altered the vehicle in any substantial way. It is becoming increasingly common for punitive damages to be awarded in strict liability lawsuits, as a means to hold the makers and sellers of defective vehicles accountable and to encourage these entities to fix these defects in the future.

Defective products, such as automobiles, can injure thousands of unsuspecting consumers. Those injured by defective products may wish to consult with a personal injury attorney, to see what compensation, if any, they may be entitled to.

Source: Christian Science Monitor “Toyota, Honda, Nissan recall 3.4 million vehicles for faulty airbags,” Schuyler Velasco, April 11, 2013

Massachusetts man behind the wheel in fatal car accident

When a person is killed in a car accident, their grieving family may feel they need some sense of justice that could only be found through a wrongful death claim. However, they should be aware that these claims must be brought in a timely manner, or else they may unintentionally waive their right to any compensation whatsoever.

A Massachusetts man was recently involved in a fatal motor vehicle accident. According to police, the 29-year-old man was driving a pick-up truck when he crossed over into the opposite land of traffic and collided with a minivan being driven by a 42-year-old woman. A 13-year-old boy was also in the minivan at the time of the accident. The woman was rushed to an area hospital, but ultimately succumbed to her injuries. The boy escaped with only moderate injuries. The driver of the pick-up truck was also hospitalized following the crash. The accident remains under police investigation.

When a loved one is killed in a car accident, the victim’s loved ones may wish to pursue a wrongful death suit. However, it is important to be aware that these suits are subject to a statute of limitations. This means that the claimant only has a certain amount of time in which they could file a lawsuit. If the claimant fails to do so, they may permanently give up the right to file suit later.

Usually the time for which a statute of limitations period begins in a wrongful death suit is the minute the claimant is or should be aware of the victim’s death and what caused it. In some states, if the claimant knows of the cause of the victim’s death before the victim actually dies, the statute of limitations period may start to run at that point. This is known as the discovery rule.

When a victim’s loved ones wish to file a wrongful death claim, they must take care to do so within the applicable statute of limitations. Should they fail to do this, it may extinguish any hope they have of recovery from the incident. A personal injury attorney may be able to provide more information on statutes of limitation.

Source: CBS Boston, “Police: Mansfield Man Involved In Fatal NH Car Crash,” April 7, 2013

Massachusetts boy attacked by dog may lose arm as a result

Children love animals. However, they may not be able to appreciate the risks associated with animals that are territorial or otherwise act aggressively. Unfortunately, it is this very innocence that makes a child particularly susceptible to dog bites.

Recently, a Massachusetts boy was attacked by the family bull dog after he let the dog into his house. The boy’s father has requested that the dog be put down, as it tends to act territorially. The bite damaged the boy’s brachial artery on his upper arm. The boy may lose his arm as a result of the attack.

There are many instances where someone could be attacked by a dog, be it a family pet or that of a stranger. When a person is a victim of an animal attack, they may be compensated through the pet owner’s insurance. Many times homeowner’s insurance will cover animal attacks. That being said, coverage may vary if the animal was not at the homeowner’s place of residence when the attack occurred. To this end, a person’s car insurance might also cover dog bites, if the bite occurred in an automobile. In addition, while the first attack may be covered by insurance, subsequent attacks may not be covered. So it is important for pet owners whose pets attack once to take measures to ensure the pet will not attack again.

Dog bites can be a serious threat to the community in which they live. Pet owners need to take all precautions necessary to ensure their pet will not bite another person. The failure to do so could result in an injured victim and an insurance claim or even a lawsuit against the pet’s owner.

Source: My Fox Boston, “Mass. boy in danger of losing arm after dog bite,” April 4, 2013

Farm Rich food products sold in Massachusetts may contain E. coli

Manufactured food products must be meticulously prepared with consumer safety in mind. The failure to do so could result in recalled products, sick consumers or even a product liability lawsuit.

Massachusetts residents are being warned of yet another instance of food contamination. This most recent incident involves certain products produced by Farm Rich, including mini-pizzas, mini-quesadillas and cheese steaks. The United States Department of Agriculture has recalled these products after determining they may have been contaminated with the E. coli bacteria. The products were sold in Walmart stores located in several states, including Massachusetts.

One of the most common causes of food poisoning is the E. coli bacteria. This bacteria lives in the intestines of various livestock animals. Improper or unsanitary slaughtering techniques could cause the bacteria to be transferred to the meat. If the meat is not thoroughly cooked, a person could become sick. The bacteria can also be found on improperly handled leafy greens, raw milk and contaminated drinking water. It is easily spread between people if they do not take care to thoroughly wash their hands.

Symptoms of E. coli include bloody diarrhea and in some cases kidney failure. In the most severe cases, people may become blind or may need to have some of their bowel removed. Because these long-term consequences are so life-altering, those sickened by E. coli bacteria may wish to pursue a products liability lawsuit against the company that produced the food that caused the illness. These victims may be able to recover for past and future medical expenses, as well as other damages.

Safe food handling both at the manufacturing plant, at stores and at the home can all contribute to ensuring no one falls ill to E. coli. But should someone become sick due to unsafe food products, they may be able to bring a products liability suit to recover for their losses.

Source: WoonsocketPatch, “State Health Department Warns of E Coli Contamination,” Rob Borkowski, April 2, 2013

East Boston man perishes in tragic auto-pedestrian accident

Everyday cars and people must share the road safely as they travel from one location to the next. People walking on sidewalks or on the side of the road must be able to do so without fear of being injured or killed in a car accident.

A devastating auto-pedestrian accident has claimed the life of a 67-year-old East Boston man. The man was struck by a car while walking down the street. The driver of the car remained at the scene of the accident while the victim was transported to an area hospital. Unfortunately, the victim did not survive. The accident remains under police investigation.

Auto-pedestrian accidents can cause serious injuries or even death. In fact, 5,000 people die annually from being hit by a car. It is therefore of the utmost importance that automobile drivers be aware of pedestrians sharing the road. Drivers who speed through crosswalks or fail to use their blinkers while turning could cause a pedestrian accident, because they are not driving in a predictable manner. While pedestrians must take care not to dart out into traffic or otherwise behave in an unsafe manner, they also need to be able to anticipate how the cars in their vicinity will be traveling.

If someone is injured in an auto-pedestrian accident, they may seek compensation for their injuries through a negligence lawsuit. Damages recovered may include past and future medical expenses, pain and suffering and lost wages. Such recovery may go a long way to helping a victim of an auto-pedestrian accident recoup some of the financial costs associated with their injuries.

Source: The Boston Globe, “East Boston pedestrian dies in Cambridge crash,” April 3, 2013

Nearly 80 residents escape Massachusetts apartment fire

It only takes one spark to start a blaze that has the potential to engulf an entire building in flames. And if that building is an apartment building, the apartment owner could face a premises liability lawsuit by injured residents.

Nearly 80 people are now homeless after a fire tore through their Massachusetts apartment building. Fortunately, there were no reports of injuries, as most of the residents were able to escape the four-alarm blaze via fire escapes. It is not yet known what caused the three-story building to catch fire. The former residents have since taken shelter in a nearby elementary school with the aid of the Red Cross.

Although this fire is still being investigated, it serves as a good example of the need for operable smoke detectors and fire extinguishers in the common areas of apartments as well as the need for proper evacuation routes, such as fire escapes. This is especially true considering approximately 80 percent of fire deaths occur in the victim’s place of residence. If the owner of an apartment complex fails to keep smoke detectors and fire extinguishers in common areas in good repair or if they do not provide an adequate and safe means of evacuation in case of a fire, then they could end up facing a lawsuit by an injured tenant. However, for the tenant to prevail, it must be demonstrated that their injury was directly caused by the landlord’s negligence.

Fires can not only damage buildings, they could also claim lives. In the end, proper fire prevention and a good emergency plan go a long way to keeping apartment residents safe in the event of fire.

Source: wggb.com, “Lynn Fire Displaces Dozens of Residents,” March 24, 2013

Police car crashes while responding to call in Massachusetts

The public relies on police officers to respond quickly to their calls for help when an emergency strikes. However, should the responding officers become involved in a car accident themselves, police are left with not one, but two emergencies on their hands.

Recently, a collision between a pick-up truck and a police cruiser in West Bridgewater sent the officer to the hospital via MedFlight with head and chest injuries. The driver of the pick-up truck was unharmed. The accident allegedly occurred when the officer was responding to another call. The officer was traveling southbound behind the pick-up truck, but when the pick-up truck began to make a left-hand turn, the police car attempted to pass the truck. Unfortunately, the police car ended up striking the left side of the pick-up truck. The force of the impact utterly destroyed the font end of the police car was and nearly severed the vehicle’s front wheel.

Incidents like this illustrate how essential it is for drivers to be aware of police cars in their vicinity, and vice versa. Drivers are under a legal obligation to drive reasonably under the circumstances. Part of this duty is to pull over when a police car is driving with its lights and sirens on. There are instances when officers responding to an emergency have the right of way. Although police officers still must exercise caution in these situations, it may become necessary for an officer to change lanes often, drive at a high rate of speed or even drive through a red light or stop sign. Other drivers on the road need to accommodate for this. Even a slight delay in responding to police sirens could lead to an accident that causes further damage and serious injuries. Likewise, responding officers also must take care not to drive recklessly, even in the state of an emergency.

Fortunately, the officer involved in this recent crash will recover from his injuries. But this incident serves as a stern reminder for drivers to take care when sharing the road with police cars on active duty.

Source: enterprisenews.com, “West Bridgewater police sergeant survives gruesome crash,” Amy Carboneau, March 27, 2013