Posts made in September 2013

On cyclist safety

The tragedy that happened in New Hampshire this weekend brings into stark focus the issue of cyclist safety. Our law firm’s affiliation with the Boston Cyclist Union has made us acutely aware of the dangers cyclists face from negligent drivers.

Be it texting while driving, drinking and driving, or just inattention, cyclists remain at risk. The New Hampshire State Police are treating this as a criminal matter, as they should. Who knows who may ultimately be at fault for this senseless act. But it’s high time that the entire country look to jurisdictions such as New Jersey, who are making it a crime to be texting someone who you know is driving. In other words, you don’t have to be the one behind the wheel to be responsible in such situations. We have gotten creative about bringing such actions and remain vigilant in this regard. Just glancing at a text message while driving can claim a life. Saddest part of all is that the texter’s life is not the only one at risk. Other motorists, and even more so, cyclists and pedestrians are at far greater risk of death or serious injury due to the sheer lack of protection. We as a society need to take aggressive steps to end the ability for drivers to send or receive texts. And that aim should be pursued as vigorously as steps to curb drunk driving.

Concerns from the Lynn, MA hit and run

The recent hit and run accident in Lynn, MA raises a number of serious concerns. Intentional acts are not covered by any insurance policy.

In situations where a hit and run accident takes place, and an injured party is left without any information as to who was responsible for the accident, there are mechanisms in place to obtain compensation. For example, the injured person could obtain compensation through their own car insurance under the uninsured driver provision. If the identity of the responsible party is ascertained, though, an aggrieved party would be relegated to the insurance limits maintained by the defendant driver. But as in the Lynn case, there is an allegation that the car was used as a weapon, or in other words, the accident was intentional. That would leave a victim without any real means of recovery, since intentional acts are never covered by insurance. Insurance policies are mine-fields that need to be navigated when accidents occur. I hope that the victim is well represented, because in reality, every situation comes down to the skill of the attorney chosen.

LESSONS LEARNED CONCERNING NURSING HOME NEGLIGENCE

TALES FROM OUR FILES

My legal practice is concentrated in assisting victims of nursing home negligence and medical malpractice throughout Massachusetts and Rhode Island. Over my twenty-five year career, I believe I’ve seen nearly every conceivable fact pattern concerning neglect and abuse at these facilities. It recently occurred to me that providing examples of the problems that my clients have encountered over the years might serve a useful purpose in helping others to avoid common lapses in nursing home care.

Recently we represented a woman I’ll call “Sandy.” She was a 56 year old, disabled woman with a long history of mental illness. Historically, she suffered from anxiety and depression. For this reason, she had long been under a psychiatrist’s care. Sandy first came under the defendant facility’s care in 2007. In conjunction with her treatment for her mental disorders, her doctor prescribed 400 milligrams of a powerful drug called Lamictal, (200 milligrams to be taken in the morning and 200 milligrams to be taken in the evening). This dosage was confirmed by a nurse who worked for the defendant facility. In July, 2007, however, the defendant nurse erroneously noted that the patient was taking two (2) 200 milligram doses of Lamictal in both the morning and the evening, (erroneously creating the impression that the prescribed daily dosage of Lamictal should be 800 milligrams). This was exactly twice the dosage that was originally prescribed for the plaintiff.

Over the course of the next ten months, Sandy continued to ingest a dangerously high dosage of Lamictal on a daily basis. Her symptoms included occasional dizziness, lethargy, forgetfulness, heightened anxiety, confusion and general malaise. On several occasions, Sandy expressed these symptoms to the defendant nurse and questioned whether it was possible that her medications were making her feel this way. She was reassured that both her medication and the respective dosages were correct.

Upset that her complaints were not seemingly taken seriously, Sandy’s family sought legal counsel. It was then that it came to light that she had in fact been overmedicated. When a subsequent doctor reduced her prescription of Lamictal, all of her symptoms began to dissipate and soon disappeared altogether.

We hired a medical expert who was prepared to testify that the very upper limit of a Lamictal dosage is 500 mg per day. As such, he deemed that the defendant facility breached the standard of care in treating Sandy. As a result, the case settled prior to trial.

Circumstances when patients are either over-medicated or given the incorrect medication occur much more often than you might imagine. Family members should always check to ensure that their loved one is receiving the proper medication and the proper dosage. As always, vigilance is the key to safeguarding your loved ones.

On Motor Vehicle Accidents

Motor vehicle accidents are among the most misunderstood of all personal injury matters. In short, all attorneys think that they can successfully handle these case. They are wrong. Knowing the ins and outs of car insurance and coverage can often be the difference between an large recovery and a minimal one.

With over 20 years experience, we know precisely how to maximize the value of cases, even when there are seeming problems with the case that may scare off other attorneys. Also, hustle, ingenuity, and aggressiveness are still qualities that bear fruit in the law. We recently were faced with a difficult work site accident case that appeared to all as unwinnable. In short, you cannot sue your employer in Massachusetts for personal injuries received on the job. Our client lost his foot in an industrial accident, but all those responsible were either coworkers or his employers, both of which are immune to suit. We figured out a way around the problem by researching Secretary of State filings and the way in which the defendant corporation was structured. The case that was “unwinnable” settled in the millions. It all comes down to your lawyer. Because we only work on a contingency (we only get paid if successful) there is simply no reason for anyone with a personal injury case to go anywhere else. If you want the best, Colucci, Colucci, Marcus and Flavin, P.C stands ready to help.

Fire at UMass building in Lowell

Another fire occurred at a UMass building in Lowell.  We remain of the opinion that landlords, particularly commercial landlords are ignoring key aspect of the Mass. Building Code that call for the installation of fire suppressant systems in certain circumstances, as well as particular types of smoke detectors that have proven far more efficient when it comes to early warning.  Most people, unfortunately, don’t know the difference between photoelectric and ionization smoke detectors, and wind up purchasing detectors based solely on cost or convenience.

Thankfully, this fire didn’t result in injury, but far too often, such is not the case.

Both catastrophic burns and even death by way of smoke inhalation are avoidable consequences if landlords would comply with the Code. We’ve handled a number of cases where people died in fires but were never burned. Had the buildings in question been equipped with fire suppression systems or the correct type of smoke detector, these people would likely still be alive.

Statistics show that early warning is the very best defense, and these systems provide that very thing. Perhaps if landlords lived in the buildings they own, better systems would be in place and the buildings would be Code compliant.