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Slip and Fall on Ice – Who is liable?

Slip and fall cases are one of the first scenarios the general public thinks about when they think of a lawsuit. A person walks into a business and slips on a patch of ice in the parking lot and is hurt on impact.

These cases are always premise liability cases, where a personal injury occurred because of a dangerous condition at a physical location.

However, we always stress to our clients that the liable party in a case is not always obvious. There may be multiple potential defendants that could be involved, such as the business where the injury occurred, the owner of the property, or the snow removal company that failed to clear away the ice.

Recent Developments

There is some good news for people who were hurt in a winter time slip and fall in Massachusetts: The laws got friendly to plaintiffs a few aears ago and businesses can no longer get away with not touching snow on their property.

Massachusetts used to give property owners a pass for not clearing snow and ice on their property. They would hold businesses liable if the snow and ice had been disturbed, such as with footprints, tire tracks or shovel marks, but anyone who stepped on virgin snow did so at their own risk. This was called “natural accumulation.”

In 2010 the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court threw out the natural accumulation rule in the case Papadopoulos v. Target Corp. where a customer of the Target retail store in Danvers fell on a chunk of ice that was near his car. The court opinion stated:

“It is not reasonable for a property owner to leave snow or ice on a walkway where it is reasonable to expect that a hardy New England visitor would choose to risk crossing the snow or ice rather than turn back or attempt an equally or more perilous walk around it.”

Because of that ruling, businesses in Massachusetts are now required to keep the walkways and parking lots around their locations clear of snow and ice for the safety of the public.

Protecting Your Family

If you or someone you know has been hurt because of a negligent property owner, give us a call at 1 (888) 330-6657 or contact us and we can talk to you about your options.

When Your Lawyer is Part of the Problem Rather than the Solution

When Your Lawyer Is Part of the Problem Rather Than the Solution

 

Ordinarily, people consult a trial attorney at a time when they are under the stress and strain caused by a significant problem in their life.  Perhaps they have suffered medical negligence, they are in the throes of a divorce or they are being sued in a business dispute.  They seek legal guidance, of course, but they also desire reassurance that their lives will eventually resume a state of normalcy.  The very best lawyers are good listeners, problems solvers and genuinely sympathetic to the particular needs of their client.  The foundation of every attorney/client relationship is trust.  At first, the client may be reluctant to genuinely place their full confidence in their lawyer.  This is understandable.  Trust is earned over time.  Indeed, most attorneys work hard to earn their client’s trust and achieve their client’s goals.  Regrettably, there are those instances each year when some lawyers will actually compound their client’s problems due to inattention and malfeasance.

According to the American Bar Association’s “Profile of Legal Malpractice Claims” publication, incidence of legal malpractice are most common in the area of Personal Injury law- (19.96% of claims); Real Estate- (16.46% of claims); Family Law-(9.58% of claims); and, Estate, Trust, and Probate law-(8.63% of claims).

When a lawyer makes a mistake, there are nearly always significant and undesirable consequences for the client.  Legal malpractice may take many forms:

  • Failure to meet court deadlines;
  • Failure to act within the statute of limitations;
  • Failure to return phone calls or communicate with a client;
  • Failure to resolve conflicts of interest;
  • Failure to know the law or perform adequate research;
  • Abuse or misuse of a client’s trust account, including commingling trust account funds with the attorney’s personal account; and,
  • Failure to adequately prepare for hearings and trials.

The only remedy under these circumstances is for the client to pursue a legal malpractice claim against the lawyer.  Most, but not all lawyers, maintain malpractice insurance to cover incidence such as those listed above.

 

There are things a client can do, however, to minimize the chances of suffering the consequences of attorney neglect.  For example, clients should take an avid interest in their case. This means establishing early on that you expect frequent updates from your attorney.  Clients should expect to see their case progress over time.  When things appear stagnant, the client should request a meeting with the attorney.  This kind of client participation ensures that the attorney is on their toes and always looking to move the case forward to a resolution.

Vote Yes on Question 1 and Keep Nurses and Patients Safe

Unfortunately, ballot questions in Massachusetts have become less about the issue concerned, and more about whoever has the better ad campaign.  This year’s Question 1 is not different.  But when you study the issue, I can’t see how anyone could credibly vote No.  Nurses, who are actually the ones  in the best position to weigh in on the issue seem to overwhelmingly support the measure.  And when all is said and done, the insurance company’s position in opposing the initiative is solely based on cost.  Insurance companies see this as something that will cut into profits.  They then invariably intimate if not explicit state, that they will pass these costs onto the consumer.  With profits and wages and astronomical levels, they do show a certain amount of unmitigated gall when then state that Question 1, if passed, will cause insurance rates to rise.  At its barest essence, Question 1 is about reasonableness and, in the end, safety.  There is only so much that a nurse can safely accomplish when dealing with these high stress matters that require laser focus; and often life and/or death hang in the balance.  Limiting their patients to a manageable number is a safety measure based in reasonableness and experience.  I would strongly urge people to Vote Yes on 1.

Massachusetts Question 1 has Nurses Divided

Few ballot questions have vexed Massachusetts voters more in recent times than Ballot Question #1 which seeks to put strict limits on the number of patients that nurses care for in a hospital setting.  How can we say that it is so controversial?  A WBUR poll of 500 registered nurses reveals that 48 percent plan to vote for the ballot question that would establish maximum nurse-to-patient ratios in state law, and 45 percent say they’ll vote against the very same measure. Only seven percent are undecided.  “Nurses are split on the question,” says pollster Steve Koczela, president of the MassINC Polling Group, which conducted the survey for WBUR.

Those in favor of the measure believe it will enhance patient safety while those against claim that a “one size fits all” approach is too inflexible and will lead to a host of unintended consequences from greater waiting times in emergency rooms to forcing smaller, rural hospitals to close due to their inability to afford the extra nursing staff that will be required.  Should the measure pass, the maximum patient to nurse ratio would be set at 4 to 1 but that ratio can vary depending on the condition of the patient or the unit that they’re in.  For example, in units with post-anesthesia care or operating room patients, the measure would mandate a ratio of one patient under anesthesia per nurse or a maximum of two post anesthesia patients per nurse.

While everyone desires a safer hospital environment for patients, there is no consensus that passing Ballot Question #1 will serve that end.

To Avoid Nursing Home Negligence, Know Your “Rights”

TO AVOID NURSING HOME NEGLIGENCE, KNOW YOUR “RIGHTS”

 

 

Making the decision to admit a loved one to a nursing home can be an agonizing experience.  We are tempted to think of the care rendered by such facilities as impersonal and vastly inferior to that which we would provide to our loved one at home.  This is not always true, of course.  It is an undeniable fact, however, that the resources and attention offered by these facilities are often being stretched beyond the limits of what is safe.  As life expectancy increases, incidents of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease have commensurately risen as well.  Population in the nation’s nursing homes has therefore swollen in recent times.  Most alarmingly, perhaps, is that these numbers are projected to dramatically increase over the course of the next several decades.  Our seniors find themselves at increased risk while a patient at these facilities.  The best guard against neglect, is to “know your rights.”  Massachusetts General Laws c. 111 section 70E provides a “bill of rights” that protects every patient.  While the statute is long and comprehensive, several provisions are particularly helpful to nursing home patients.

 

Massachusetts General Laws c. 111 section 70 E provides, in part:

 

Every patient or resident of a facility shall have the right:

*to privacy during medical treatment or other rendering of care within the capacity of the facility;

*to prompt life saving treatment in an emergency without discrimination on account of economic status or

source of payment and without delaying treatment for purposes of prior discussion of the source of payment                                                                  unless such delay can be imposed without material risk to his health, and this right shall also extend to those persons not already patients or residents of a facility if said facility has a certified emergency care unit;

* to informed consent to the extent provided by law;

* upon request, to obtain from the facility in charge of his care the name and specialty, if any, of

the physician or other person responsible for his care or the coordination of his care;

*to confidentiality of all records and communications to the extent provided by law;

Darin Colucci Wins Newsweek’s Best Personal Injury Lawyer Award for Fourth Year in a Row

Darin Colucci Recognized as One of the Best Personal Injury Attorneys for Fourth Consecutive Year

What is a prospective client’s greatest assurance that they’ve made the right choice when selecting a lawyer?  Consistent recognition for being the very best.  Consistent recognition for excellence isn’t something you can fake.  It isn’t something you “luck into.”  It’s something that is earned, day in and day out; year in and year out.  Colucci, Colucci, Marcus & Flavin, P.C., has consistently been recognized by trustworthy authorities like Newsweek.com, Super Lawyers and U.S. News and World Report as a “Best Law Firm” in the area of personal injury law.  Their results speak for themselves.  No bluster.  Just a team of dedicated professionals with one goal in mind: success for you and your family.

 

Before you choose your quarterback, learn more at  https://www.newsweek.com/insights/best-personal-injury-attorneys-2018/colucci-colucci-marcus-flavin-p.c.

Merrimack Explosion

Merrimack Explosion

 

Our hearts go out to the thousands who have been adversely affected by the recent gas explosions on the North Shore, especially to the families that lost their homes or, more tragically, loved ones.  Our firm has handled numerous gas explosion cases.  They may seem easy but they aren’t.  Columbia  Gas fights hard and tries to hide behind the danger of the gas delivery business as an over-arching defense.  This is a specious argument because we all pay for this service and they have an absolute obligation to delivery their product in  a safe manner.  Further, they have an absolute obligation to update their systems and infrastructure precisely because they are engaged in a business that poses incredible risks to the public at large.  Columbia Gas apparently had plans to majorly overhaul their pipework and systems in 2019.  It certainly would appear that their upgrades were a year too late.  #Merrimackexplosion

Punitive Damages

PUNITIVE DAMAGES

 

As most people have heard by now Monsanto was hit with a $289 million-dollar verdict, which included $250 million dollars in punitive damages for its manufacture of the weed killer, Roundup.  I wanted to take a moment to explain the verdict.  “Actual damages” are what a jury believes is the value of what the plaintiff suffered.  In this instance this unfortunate gentleman would appear to have terminal cancer.  They valued his loss of life, and the loss to his loved ones at $39 million dollars.  This is separate and distinct from “punitive damages”.  Punitive damages should be thought of as a punishment.  It’s a jury’s way of telling a company that they got caught doing something that was egregious.  In other words, there must have been evidence that Montsanto knew, or should have known, that Roundup was likely to cause a particular type of cancer, yet they continued to manufacture.  I want to make clear that as someone who was not involved in the case, I don’t know that for a fact, but all indications point in that direction.  Many jurisdictions don’t allow punitive damages, but it is an important aspect of keeping companies honest.  Those who fight for tort reform and think that we should do away with punitive damages are ignoring a basic fact:  If a company does not do anything egregious they will not be held responsible for punitive damages.  It’s that simple.  Regardless, this is certainly not the last case Montsanto will see.  It is anticipated that untold numbers of people were exposed to this chemical in Roundup, and it could very well be responsible for cancerous outcomes.

 

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.

 

Motorcycle Accidents

MOTORCYCLE ACCIDENTS

 

For the past 25 years we’ve had the good fortune to represent some very fine people who were injured through absolutely no fault of their own.  This is never truer than in the case of motorcyclists.  Recently, a very promising young man was tragically killed as a result of a motor cycle accident.  Much like lawyers, motorcyclists have such a bad rap due to the crazy antics of a few.  We’ve all been on the highway and had someone speed past us at 130 mph on a motorcycle.  That person does not speak for the whole group.  Motorcyclists are passionate people who love the beauty of driving a motorcycle.  My father-in-law in law is 80 years old, God love him, and only recently felt as though he should sell his bike.  I cannot express what a loss it is to him.  The ability to get together with a bunch of friends and take a ride meant so much to him.  Simple pleasures like this are becoming a lost star (?) in our society.  But it is undeniable that there are risks involved that far exceed those associated with driving a car.  In fact, as a non-motorcyclist, I found it amazing that my father-in-law told me that it’s more dangerous to ride at 30 mph in a neighborhood than it is on the highway.  He told me that people pull out of driveways and from parking spaces without ever looking, endangering motorcyclists.  I will admit that I have harbored a desire my entire life to ride a motorcycle, but I am dissuaded by the horrible injuries I see as a personal injury attorney when motorcyclists are involved in accidents.

 

The motoring public needs to take greater care and with the emergence of texting while driving as the new scourge on American roads, motorcyclists are in danger in greater numbers than ever before.  We need to make more stringent laws about texting and even find ways to disable one’s ability to text from a cellular phone while driving.  It may sound extreme, but it is necessary to save lives.  Motorcyclists have every right to use the roads in as safe a manner as possible and should not be subjected to these dangers because of reckless or thoughtless operators of cars.

 

By in large I love representing motorcyclists as they are among the nicest people that I get to deal with.  For it to be a case the accident was not their fault, but we try our best to help them in every way be made whole when they are faced with someone else’s negligence.  And I will definitely own a motorcycle before I am through driving.

 

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.