Posts made in March 2018

Can Social Media Ruin My Case?

In today’s day and age, social media is a large part of everyone’s life. You can tweet, share to “the gram” (Instagram), or share intimate details of your every move on Facebook.  If you’re a party to a personal injury case, it’s a good idea to keep an eye on all of your social media accounts.

If you’re a plaintiff in a personal injury matter, you’re seeking compensation for your injuries, and will have to present evidence that you’re genuinely hurt. Usually, this can be proven by medical records, witness testimony, testimony of those who knew you before the accident and can say how you’ve changed since, and expert testimony.  The defense then puts on opposing evidence, and tries to prove you either aren’t hurt, or that your injuries aren’t related to your accident.

So what if you’re claiming you have a debilitating injury, but continue posting on your social media photos of yourself doing physically strenuous activities? You can bet that the defense will be googling your name to see if any of your social media comes up and whether it is visible or not.  The defense can then introduce that post you’ve made, showing yourself not that hurt, and can use it against you.

Everything you post, tweet, share, etc. can be used against you in today’s world, and can potentially ruin your personal injury case.

The law firm of Colucci, Colucci, Marcus & Flavin, P.C. has been recognized by Newsweek.com as one of the Top 10 Best Law Firms for Personal Injury in the Country. Attorney Darin Colucci has also been recognized by Newsweek.com for 3 consecutive years as one of the Top 10 Best Personal Injury Attorneys in the Country. 

Tales From Our Files: Nursing Home Abuse Is A Crime

A substantial portion of our clients are seniors who have unfortunately been neglected or abused while living as patients in a nursing home.  While the resulting harm may prove to be the same, there is a stark difference between the concepts of “negligence” and “abuse” in a nursing home setting.  Nursing home staff members are considered “negligent” if they fail to employ proper precautions in keeping their residents safe.  This can take many forms: accidentally dropping a patient; failing to dispense proper medication; giving a patient with a recognized choking risk foods that are notoriously hard to swallow, (like a hot dog or “sticky” bun).  “Abuse” on the other hand is a more sinister phenomenon which may also prove to be criminal in nature. One such act of cruelty was recently brought to our attention for redress. Suspicious that aides were abusing their loved one, our client secretly placed a “nanny cam” in their grandmother’s room.  The camera recorded video only, (as recording audio without the express permission of the participants is itself a crime).  Sure enough, the hidden video demonstrated aides brutally manhandling, slapping and pulling the hair of an aged and defenseless Alzheimer patient.  As a result of exposing this reprehensible conduct, the aides were promptly dismissed and criminally prosecuted.  Our clients promptly sought to remove their relative from the facility and we prosecuted a civil claim for money damages as a result.

Do I recommend that hiding a camera is always the appropriate solution?  No.  Nor would most facilities welcome such clandestine efforts. Rather, ordinary vigilance by family members is the key to assuring quality care and a safe living environment. By being intimately involved in the care of your loved one, you serve notice that you are closely watching what goes on.  You are also ensuring that the nursing home staff are taking the proper precautions to keep their residents safe.

If you suspect that your loved one has been abused while a resident of a nursing home, you should promptly consult an attorney to review your options.

Dino M. Colucci, Esquire, is the founder of Colucci, Colucci, Marcus & Flavin, P.C., a law firm dedicated to representing victims of neglect. For many years he has lectured and served as an adjunct Professor of Law at Suffolk University Law School.  He has also been consistently named as a “Super Lawyer” by his peers as published by Boston Magazine.

 

 

 

Product Liability

There is absolutely no doubt that products are safer today than ever before, and in large part that is due to lawsuits. I know that nobody wants to give lawyers credit for anything, but it is the truth. When a lawyer rightfully sues because a product is defective and hurts someone, they effect change.  Manufacturers don’t want to continually get sued, so when they realize that there is a legitimate problem with something that they’ve designed and put it into the flow of commerce, they address it.  If they do it on their own it’s entitled a “recall”; when they change it because of a lawsuit it is called progress.  It all really makes sense.   Manufacturers make money by putting products into commerce for people to use.  That’s the system we live in and it’s the American way.  There is absolutely nothing wrong with it.  But when you introduce any item for public consumption, you are silently warranting that that product is safe for its intended use.

We recently handled a case where a 55 year old banker was riding a bicycle that broke. He didn’t hit anything, there was no pothole encountered, there was no rock in the middle of the road.  The frame of the bike simply broke.  A case like that could come down to faulty design, faulty materials, faulty workmanship or owner error. The lawyer’s job is to take the facts and have them analyzed to come up with the most likely cause of the accident.  In that instance we gave the bike to a mechanical engineer at MIT who then performed tests on the metal to see how much stress it could take.  It became a matter of science that the bicycle was woefully inadequate and that the metal simply wasn’t strong enough to deal with the fatigue associated with normal wear and tear.

It’s an unspoken agreement between the consumer and the manufacturer that if a product is put into commerce that it has been designed adequately and tested properly. That the materials chosen are of sufficient strength and that the consumer can use it in an anticipated manner.  Same is true for any product.  Your airbag should not go off for no reason, your toaster should not catch fire and vaporizers should not burn children.  We’ve handled all those cases at one time or another.  If you are injured because of any product, and you were in the course of using the product appropriately, a case probably exists.  If you find yourself in this unfortunate situation please know that there will be two goals:  the first is that you will be adequately compensated for the injuries you sustained; and the second will be that the company will now be on notice that the product is not fit for its intended purpose and that they need to notify people of the danger or recall the product to address the concern.

Texting While Driving is Deadly

Recently in Washington, DC a gentleman stopped his car, got out and tore apart a traffic cam. The theory being that over one million traffic tickets had been given out in Washington, D.C. via these traffic cams raising over $100,000,000.00 in revenue.  I had mixed emotions of this event from a legal perspective. Certainly, if people are breaking the law and it is caught on film it is actionable by the governing body.  I am sure the argument is that the traffic cams are there for safety reasons. In other words, to dissuade people from driving above the speed limit and/or recklessly.  If it is there as a tool to garner revenue from the City, there is something seriously objectionable about that.  However, who would disagree with a camera specifically designed to catch people texting while driving.  I would be all for that as well as any police officer who set up his cruiser in a way to detect who is staring at their phone while driving.

Texting and driving is a scourge that is going to cost thousands of lives across this country. In any random day as I drive a half hour toward work, I rarely pass someone who is not staring at their phone.  It borders on an addiction, but one that is highly dangerous to other people.  Addictions normally endanger only the person addicted.  In this case, it is the public at large that is at risk.  I have witnessed elderly people staring at their phone and slowly trying to tap out a response to a text.  Making it illegal is not enough.  Most people get away with it and pay the $25.00 fee if caught.  This is a public health hazard that needs to be taken seriously and dealt with in a more significant way. I do, though, understand the difficulty in dealing with the situation.  You are permitted to look at any part of the instrumentation on your dashboard, radio, heating and air conditioning system, etc.  However, none of these are written in paragraphs which require attention.  And not one of these require responses that could be more in depth than a mere push of a button.

People should also consider that the felony of vehicular homicide will not cut people slack because they are otherwise law-abiding citizens. If you are found texting and you take someone’s life, you could be charged with vehicular homicide even though it was an accident. People should be more aware of this.

The law firm of Colucci, Colucci, Marcus & Flavin, P.C. has been recognized by Newsweek.com as one of the Top 10 Best Law Firms for Personal Injury in the Country. Attorney Darin Colucci has also been recognized by Newsweek.com for 3 consecutive years as one of the Top 10 Best Personal Injury Attorneys in the Country

 

Tales From Our Files: Lessons Learned Concerning Nursing Home Negligence

“Walter” was an 87 year old gentleman who suffered Alzheimer’s disease and became a full time resident at the defendant’s assisted living facility.

Internal documents obtained from the defendant during litigation revealed that “Walter” was last seen in the hallway outside his room at 2:30 a.m.  He was uneventfully redirected back to his room by a staff member.  At 7:00 a.m. a routine bed check revealed that he was missing and a search of the facility ensued.  Documents obtained in discovery revealed that the defendant had previously promulgated a “Missing Resident” policy which mandated that “a resident’s whereabouts are to be known at all times.”  In addition, the aforesaid policy provided that preliminary search efforts by the staff should last no longer than approximately one hour from the time that the resident was first reported missing.  After that time, the policy mandates that the staff contact the local authorities.   Moreover, documents obtained by our office revealed that the facility waited nearly four hours before contacting police once their initial search proved unsuccessful.  We argued that this delay enabled “Walter” to elope from the facility and slowly wander ever deeper into nearby woods.  During the time that he was missing, he was unable to avail himself of the basic necessities of life including sustenance, hydration, shelter and his daily medications which included Coumadin, a medicine used to thin the blood to prevent a stroke.  To compound his unfortunate circumstance, the area received substantial rain during the entirety of the time that the he was lost in the woods and we were prepared to demonstrate this fact with the assistance of climactic records from the National Weather Service.  A massive search was thereafter undertaken and “Walter” was finally recovered deep in the woods approximately 36 hours after it was first noticed that he was missing.  He was rushed to a nearby hospital and treated.  Sadly, he suffered a stroke the following day and later died.

Accordingly, we maintained that the facility’s negligence (1) allowed “Walter” to elope from his building (2) thereby preventing him from ingesting his ordinary dosage of Coumadin and (3) leading to his eventual stroke and death.  The case settled at mediation.

Nursing homes and assisted living facilities must take appropriate precautions to guard against the common phenomenon of residents seeking to wander or elope entirely.  As a concerned family member of a nursing home resident, you should make it a point to ask the facility’s director about the precautions that they take to avoid these serious problems.  Do they utilize and monitor closed circuit television?  Is there a staff person posted at the front door 24 hours per day?  Do they utilize a personal alarm for those residents who are known wandering risks?  How often do they “make the rounds” within the facility?  All of these are important questions that demand honest answers.

As always, vigilance is the key to safety.

What Should I Bring to My Personal Injury Case Initial Consultation

What Should I Bring to My Personal Injury Case Initial Consultation?

Suffering a serious injury can often be a traumatic experience, and in the days following the injury, you might experience anger, confusion, and stress. Take the time to get the rest you need and be sure to seek proper and thorough medical treatment. And once you are better able to think clearly, schedule an appointment for a consultation with a personal injury law firm.

Remember—experienced and professional personal injury attorneys will understand that you’ve been through a great deal. They also know that there is a way to lessen the stress. The number one thing you can do to ensure that a personal injury episode is not what defines you for the remainder of your life is to prepare for your personal injury case consultation. Simply follow these instructions and have the following items on hand for your initial consultation, and the process will go as smoothly and stress-free as possible.

Gathering Together Important Documents

Documents and records relating to the personal injury incident are of vital importance in your case and will serve to ensure you get the just compensation you deserve. Your first step in preparing for your personal injury case consultation is to gather together all the necessary documents.

Medical Records

Any medical records pertaining to your injury should be collected from the facilities you have visited for examination or treatment. You have a right to have copies of all your medical records—if they haven’t already been provided to you, you need only ask, and might possibly be required to sign a release form.

As medical records are often the basis for whether or not you have a substantial case, they are probably the most important documents you will need. The medical records will contain details of the medical provider or facilities you have been to, what help was provided, how much your care cost and the contact information for the professionals who administered treatment or oversaw your examinations.

The extent of your injuries and the cost of your care, as well as any possible costs for future care if needed, will serve to determine the strength of your case and what compensation you may be entitled to.

Police Reports

If police were called to the scene, you will also want to obtain a copy of the police report to bring to your personal injury consultation. The police report may contain important details pertaining to the incident that you are unaware of.

Receipts

If, as a result of your injury, you needed to purchase specific items (medical equipment, prescription pills, special clothing or items needed for in-home care) you should also bring the receipts for those items in order to claim them as additional expenses.

Paystubs

If your injury has caused you to miss work, your paystubs can show the financial loss you have suffered, which can also be used to strengthen your claim as well as recoup lost monies.

Records of Correspondence With Other Parties Involved

If there were other individuals involved when you suffered your injury and you have records of related correspondence, you should bring those as well. These can be emails, text messages, voicemail messages, legal documents that you were served by the other party, letters that were written, and even messages sent over social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter.

 

Preparing Your Own Notes and Documents

In addition to the above, you will want to be prepared with your own documents. These will include:

A Written Timeline of the Events

Write down everything you remember about the event—what time it occurred, where it occurred, the reason why the injury occurred, who was there, etc. All the details and circumstances surrounding the incident are very important when your attorney attempts to prove another party is at fault for your personal injury.

Photographs and Evidence

If possible, bring photographs of the area and any evidence relating to your case. Photographs and evidence can help prove that an area was unsafe, for example, or can help to corroborate your story if there is no police report. Your attorney will also gather their own photographs and evidence, but having your provisions early on will ensure that nothing is overlooked, especially if the scene is changed before the attorney visits it.

Any of Your Own Questions

You are likely to have plenty of your own questions. Write them down so that you are sure not to forget any of them on the day of your personal injury consultation. Asking questions will also give you a better feel for the attorney and help you to make an informed decision as to which attorney you would like to represent you in your personal injury case.

Contact us

At the Boston law firm of Colucci Colucci Marcus & Flavin, PC, our attorneys will help our clients recover the maximum possible compensation for their injuries. For a free initial consultation with one of our professional and experienced personal injury lawyers, call (617) 698-6000, or contact us online via our email form.