Dangerous Work Site Accidents

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Personal Injury Trial? – What to Expect

If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident in which another party, entity or organization could be at fault, you have the right to file a personal injury claim in order to receive the compensation you deserve. When seeking a consultation with a personal injury attorney in Massachusetts, the attorney will advise you as to whether or not you have a case.

In many situations, the other party may choose to settle the personal injury lawsuit out of court. However, there are also many instances in which the proposed settlement doesn’t seem fair, and insurance adjusters refuse to negotiate any further. At this time, you may decide that you prefer to take the case to trial. This is an important decision because a personal injury lawsuit that goes to trial can last anywhere from several days to several months, and possibly even longer than a year or two.

Your personal injury attorney can certainly advise you as to the best course of action, but it also helps to have a very good idea of what to expect at a personal injury trial. A lengthy process can sometimes be stressful and daunting, but with knowledge of what might happen if you choose to go to court, you’ll be better equipped to make an informed decision and limit any frustrating surprises.

What to Expect at the Beginning of a Personal Injury Trial

Unfortunately, the beginning of a personal injury trial isn’t very exciting, though there is a lot going on behind the scenes. Your attorney will be working diligently on your behalf to research all aspects of the case.

This involves visiting the scene of the accident, interviewing witnesses, taking photographs, and collecting and researching the police reports, medical records, witness statements, as well as conducting any additional investigation as deemed necessary to put together a strong case.

This process can typically take anywhere from one to six months. When all this has been completed, the personal injury lawsuit can be formally filed. The court then has a period of one to two months to serve the summons to the defendant, who then has 30 days to file a response. At this time, it is still possible to ask for a settlement, and many defendants may ultimately decide to settle in your favor than go to trial.

At the Start of the Personal Injury Trial

If a settlement is not agreed upon, the trial proceedings will continue. Both your lawyer and the defendant’s lawyers will send investigatory questions to each other regarding the facts of the case and the claims being made. Depending on how complex the case may be, this could take several months to complete.

It is also probable that the defense will require their own examination of your injuries or condition by a physician they appoint. The examination will be done in the presence of an attorney. At this time or shortly afterward, oral depositions occur in which witnesses and other individuals inherent to the case are interviewed by both sides. This can take a long time to prepare and complete — approximately three months.

If at this time, both sides cannot reach an amicable negotiation, the personal injury trial will proceed to go to court.

Preparing for Court in a Personal Injury Trial

The first step when proceeding to court for a personal injury lawsuit would be to select a jury. Both your attorney and the defense will conduct interviews with potential jurors. The jury selection process can take some time, unless, both sides manage to agree on jurors in a fairly quick manner.

When jury selection is complete, a date will be set for the beginning of the trial. Depending upon the complexity of the case, the trial can be over in as little as one day or as long as a few months. Both sides will have opening statements prepared, and then all involved parties and witnesses will be called to testify. Essentially, stories will be told as to how the accident occurred, how negligence on the part of the defendant was the cause, what injuries were sustained, and how those injuries will have affected your life or the life of a loved one.

Witnesses will also be called to testify, and the defense will be allowed to cross-examine them, as well as present their own experts or parties to attempt to expose any weaknesses or fallacies in your case.

Both sides will have a chance to call witnesses, cross-examine witnesses and experts, and then make closing arguments, leaving the verdict in the hands of the jury. At this point, your judgment is in the jury’s hands. However, if your case is just and you have chosen an experienced personal injury attorney to represent you in your lawsuit, it is possible to receive the compensation you deserve for your injuries, future medical treatment, lost wages, and other monetary losses due to the accident.

At the Boston law firm of Colucci Colucci Marcus & Flavin, PC, our attorneys 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.

The Wrongful Death Double Whammy

No event is as painful and life altering for a person as the sudden loss of a loved one. The unexpected and preventable wrongful death of a family member is emotionally scarring and often financially devastating.

There are frequently many unanswered questions which tend to anger and frustrate surviving family members and these questions complicate the grieving process. Additionally, vulnerable family members are forced to abruptly confront anxiety provoking issues like unpaid medical bills, funeral expenses, loss of income and other unexpected and substantial financial consequences.

The stark financial realities that a family must face can be overwhelming — particularly at a time when they are struggling to cope with such devastating news. Not only did you just lose someone you love; you could be on the cusp of losing your home too.

Our firm, Colucci, Colucci, Marcus & Flavin, P.C., can help.

 

No Time To Spare

“Time is of the essence” is our informal motto. From the first moment we are consulted, our team employs an urgency that is truly unique in the legal profession. Our aggressive investigations find critical witnesses before they disappear, secures evidence that would otherwise have been lost or gone unnoticed, and ultimately uncover the truth so that our clients can eventually begin to achieve some measure of acceptance and peace of mind. Our long case track record of holding accountable those responsible and obtaining maximum recoveries for our clients speaks for itself.

The sudden loss of a loved one always causes more questions than answers. We can make your life a little less uncertain.

Over the years, many hundreds of vulnerable clients have honored us with their trust to guide them during some of their most difficult days. During all of that time, our philosophy has remained unchanged: “Do today what others won’t do so that tomorrow you can do what others cannot.”

It’s Time to Act

If you’ve lost someone close to you, give us a call at 1 (888) 330-6657 or contact us and we can get started right away and help you get through this difficult time.

Legal Malpractice Practice Area

Can a regular person can stand up to a big company’s legal team?

All personal injury cases we handle are done on a contingency basis. Stated simply, that means that unless we’re successful, they don’t owe us any money at all. Nothing.

We love contingency work, and for three basic reasons.

First, we’re betting on ourselves. We love that, it makes us comfortable in every sense.

Second, we’re in it with the client. We have a joint interest. We’re joined together and we only win if our client wins.

Third, it gives regular people access to really good attorneys because they’re not paying for it out of their own pocket. It levels the playing field between a regular, everyday person and a huge company, which is often on the other side of a personal injury case.

So if a regular person can get their pick of top personal injury lawyers, why should they choose us? How do they know we’re the best. You don’t have to take our word for it, look at what Newsweek said when they featured us in their list of the very top lawyers in the country. If you’re still not sure, give us a call at 1 (888) 330-6657 and we’ll be happy to help you consider your options.

No lawsuit can happen without these three components, no matter how terrible the conduct of the people involved.

No matter how outrageous a defendant’s conduct may be, there’s one thing you can never sue for:

Picture this: A person is walking down the sidewalk, enjoying a warm Spring day, when out of nowhere a drunk driver hops the curb and strikes them over from behind. The pedestrian flies through the air, lands on his feet and finds himself to be completely unharmed. A miracle occurred, as most people would have been permanently injured or killed.

On what grounds can that pedestrian, unharmed only by a stroke of luck, sue that driver, who clearly acted negligently and was at fault for what happened.

The answer is, none. There is no chance of a lawsuit here. The pedestrian does not have a case.

Why? Because you can’t sue for what could have happened, only what did happen. In this case, no one was injured.

Lawsuits aren’t some kind of bad luck lottery ticket, where people profit off of their own misfortune. No, personal injury lawsuits are about compensating people for their suffering and to help them adjust to life-changing events.


The three elements of a lawsuit

A lawsuit requires liability, causation, and damages. In this example, the driver was liable for what happened as he got behind the wheel of a car while intoxicated, which is a clear case of negligent behavior. He is also the one who caused the pedestrian to be struck, it wasn’t a faulty steering wheel or other mechanical problem. Both of those elements are required for a case, but so is damages. In this example, there were no damages as no one was injured.

Sometimes people say things like “I could have been killed.” They rightly find themselves shocked by how terribly things could have gone because of someone else’s bad behavior. Those issues shouldn’t be ignored. There may be some kind of legal consequence that will fall on the person who caused that problem. However, a lawsuit is not the solution for things that could have happened but didn’t.

These are the three elements of a personal injury lawsuit

If you don’t have these three things, you don’t have a case

Personal injury litigation is a complex subject and we never expect clients to come in knowing what all of their rights are. We’re always ready to listen to someone about their experience and let them know if they have a case or not.

Every case needs to have the following chain of three things: Liability, causation and damages. If it misses one, a lawsuit is not possible. For an example, imagine a person became violently ill after eating food at an expensive vacation resort.

The three elements of a personal injury case

Liability is the first step. Did the the defendant, or defendants, act carelessly that allowed the accident to occur. For this example, did the resort staff serve undercooked or spoiled food? Can we prove that they did?

If we can prove liability, we move on to the next step: Causation. Did the negligent behavior from the defendant cause the accident or injury? It’s not enough that the plaintiff was staying at the resort and ate the food, can we show that it was the resort’s food that made them sick, and not something else? If not, the lawsuit won’t happen.

Once we have causality established, we then have to show that the plaintiff suffered real damages. Did the victim require expensive medical treatment, miss work, or suffer excruciating pain? Did the foodborne illness cause a permanent injury or disfigurement?

It’s not enough to say the patient was in danger, they must have had real damages to be compensated through the lawsuit. You can’t sue for what could have happened, it needs to have caused them to directly suffer harm.. Without liability, causation and damages, no personal injury case can proceed.

Medical Negligence Now Identified As The Third Leading Cause of Death In U.S.

As unbelievable as it may seem, a study undertaken by Johns Hopkins has concluded that medical negligence is now deemed to be the third leading cause of death in the U.S. behind heart disease and cancer.  The facts surrounding this revelation are nothing short of staggering.  For example, the study concludes that the majority of medical negligence incidents are typically unreported.  This means that the documented 251,454 deaths occasioned last year by medical negligence omits entirely the larger number of unreported cases.  It also omits deaths caused by negligence at nursing homes throughout the U.S.  This trend has been in escalation for quite some time.  For example, in 1999 the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office reported that as many as 180,000 premature deaths were caused by medical negligence among Medicare patients alone.

Owing to disinformation perpetuated by a very effective, expensive and protracted marketing campaign, insurance companies have created the widely held impression that frivolous medical malpractice lawsuits have resulted in an exorbitant increase in physicians’ malpractice premiums.  This phenomena, so the fiction goes, has both escalated the consumer’s cost of health care while driving a certain percentage of qualified physicians to leave their  profession altogether.  Nothing could be further from the truth, however.  That the nation’s healthcare system is broken is undisputed.  The reason for its dysfunction, however, is the endless bureaucracy and red tape machinated by the insurers themselves.  As presently constituted, the  system foists artificial burdens and barriers on doctors who, after all, should make recommendations and decisions based upon a patient’s need and not upon the need to successfully navigate the insurance industry’s draconian rules.

In Massachusetts, there are other safeguards to prevent meritless lawsuits against physicians.  For example, in each instance, a Tribunal is convened in court which is comprised of a judge, a lawyer and a medical professional.  Unless a majority of the tribunal is adequately convinced that a potential case has merit, the case is dismissed.  This gate-keeping function, along with the not unsubstantial expense of pursuing a medical malpractice case usually discourages frivolous cases from being pursued in the first place.

Vigilance is the key to avoiding medical negligence.  You should seek to be your own advocate and ask your doctor lots of questions to satisfy yourself that you are receiving appropriate care.  To this end, there is no such thing as a “stupid” question.  Seeking a second opinion is yet another way of increasing your odds of avoiding malpractice.  While the United States enjoys the finest health care in the world, like all other things in life, it isn’t perfect.  Your avid awareness and participation in your medical care ensures the best possible result.

Bill would make Massachusetts state workplaces subject to OSHA standards

Bill would make Massachusetts state workplaces safer

Since 1970, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration has set standards to protect workers in the private sector. If there is an accident at a construction site, or if someone is injured at a manufacturing facility, OSHA will investigate the incident, order the employer to make any necessary changes and even levy fines in particularly egregious cases.

In Massachusetts, there is a notable legal loophole that means that some workers may find themselves in an unsafe workplace. Although OSHA standards cover private employers and Massachusetts law mandates safety standards for municipal employees, neither law applies to state workers – including those who work on the state’s highways. A new bill, recently introduced in the state legislature, would give state workers the same workplace protections that are given to municipal and private sector employees.

Specifically, the bill would not only provide OSHA protections to state employees, but would also allow the Massachusetts Department of Labor to set safety regulations and standards. The author of the bill, State Senator Marc R. Pacheco, says that its purpose is to prevent workplace accidents.

Although the bill may seem common sense, Pacheco is unable to determine whether state legislature’s Joint Committee on Labor and Workforce Development is likely to act on it. In fact, Pacheco says has introduced similar legislation before the legislature unsuccessfully for at least the past five years.

Proponents of the measure, including the Massachusetts Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health, say that it would not only make state workplaces safer, but would also save the state money. Each year, Massachusetts spends approximately $48 million on workers’ compensation claims. If setting safety standards and ensuring compliance with OSHA regulations prevents just 10 percent of accidents in Massachusetts, the measure could save the state approximately $5 million annually. This is in addition to the substantial liability the state faces due to unsafe construction sites and other workplaces.

Nevertheless, the bill does have opponents. Most of those opposed to the bill argue that the change would substantially increase costs and would create yet another state bureaucracy. Neither of these objections, however, addresses the need to prevent accidents or create safer workplaces for state workers.

Time will tell whether Pacheco’s bill becomes law, but it may well be a step in the right direction for Massachusetts. After all, those workers who put their health and safety on the line to perform jobs for the state deserve all the protection they can get.

Massachusetts Construction Workers Have High Risk for Injury

Construction workers play an important part in making our society better. Their worksites, however, are often very dangerous and both employers and workers must do their part to protect construction workers from the hazards on the construction site.

Workers Deserve Safety

Massachusetts employers are required by law to protect their workers. The law requires them to have a jobsite that is free from hazards that actually do cause, or are likely to cause, death or serious bodily injury. There are many potential hazards on construction sites of which employers and employees need to be aware. Some of the hazards include:

Employers should do all they can to prevent injuries from these and other hazards. Some things that employers can do is design the job sites so that exposure to certain hazards is far away from where employees will be working and having only certain types of activities happening in one place at a time.

Personal Protective Equipment

In addition to taking measures to make the workplace safer, workers need to be given personal protective equipment because accidents still happen. Pursuant to the rules provided by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, employers are required to provide, and assure that workers use, personal protective equipment whenever workers will be working under hazardous conditions. However, depending upon the type of equipment, some is purchased by the employee.

Employers must not only require the use of protective equipment, but they must also train employees to use the equipment properly. In some conditions, the personal protective equipment creates dangers of its own. Employees must learn of these conditions and must learn how to deal with the risks that the equipment itself creates.

Employers must also decide what types of equipment their workers need by performing a serious analysis of what hazards the job creates. Just as under-protection should be avoided, over-protection must be avoided too – which can further complicate things. Examples of common equipment include:

  • Gloves
  • Bright colored clothing to increase visibility
  • Eye protection
  • Heavy work boots
  • Respirators
  • Protection from natural elements

Workers deserve to be protected as construction workers suffer from the highest rates of fatalities, more than the national average of all other industries. If workers are killed or injured on the job because of improper safety, the workers themselves, or their families deserve to be compensated for their needless injuries. A personal injury attorney can help workers or their families get the compensation they deserve.

Workplace Fatalities under reported by OSHA Database

 

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is the division of the U.S. Department of Labor charged with protecting the safety of employees in the workplace. OSHA’s mission is to prevent construction accidents, industrial injuries, and other workplace accidents. It seeks to do this through setting and enforcing safety standards, designing and delivering education and training programs, and engaging in outreach activity.

Unfortunately, OSHA sometimes falls far short of accomplishing its mission. For example, OSHA officials admitted in November 2011 that one of the ways the agency uses to monitor workplace safety – a database tracking workplace fatalities – is deficient in several key respects. OSHA’s lack of information is troubling because people need to know how many workplace deaths occur and the reasons for them in order to improve workplace safety.

Causes of Workplace Fatalities

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there were 4,547 workplace fatalities in 2010. Massachusetts saw 51 workplace fatalities in 2010, down from 59 in 2009. The BLS reported that the causes of deaths in the workplace for 2010 were:

• Transportation incidents – 39 percent

• Assaults and violent acts – 18 percent

• Contact with objects or equipment – 16 percent

• Falls – 14 percent

• Exposure to harmful substances – nine percent

• Fire or explosions – four percent

OSHA Database Failure

OSHA has a Voluntary Protection Program (VPP), wherein OSHA partners with employers who have injury and fatality rates below the BLS average for their industries. In exchange for proactively working on safety measures, the employers in the VPP are exempt from regular OSHA inspections.

One of the main deficits in OSHA’s workplace fatality data is that it does not include deaths that happened at employers in the VPP. By cross-referencing OSHA data and BLS data, the Center for Public Integrity discovered that OSHA data did not include 15 workplace fatalities that occurred between 2000 and 2010 because these deaths happened at VPP participant employers.

Another area in which OSHA does not have data is workplace fatalities that occur in the 21 states that administer their own version of OSHA’s VPP.

These are major gaps in the database and make it difficult for OSHA to do its job properly.

OSHA officials say they are taking steps to fill the information gap regarding workplace fatalities in VPP participant employers. OSHA’s second-highest official concedes the importance of following up on fatalities at VPP participant employers and including that information in OSHA data. OSHA’s main office has issued memos on the topic to regional offices in the past few years.

Preventing Workplace Fatalities

OSHA and employers can take steps to make the number of workplace deaths decrease further. Some ideas include:

• Make safety a key value for owners and managers

• Train employees in safety techniques

• Engage employees in making the workplace safer

• Monitor employees’ actions to ensure compliance with safety regulations

• Analyze “near-miss” accidents so that they do not happen again and to discover any safeguards that functioned properly to prevent fatalities

People have the right to demand safe workplaces. If you have been injured in a workplace accident, contact an experienced personal injury attorney who can help pursue proper compensation for your injuries.

The federal government and OSHA do not report all worksite deaths and accidents

OSHA Database Underreports Workplace Fatalities

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is the division of the U.S. Department of Labor charged with protecting the safety of employees in the workplace. OSHA’s etission is to prevent construction accidents, industrial injuries, and other workplace accidents. It seeks to do this through setting and enforcing safety standards, designing and delivering education and training programs, and engaging in outreach activity.

Unfortunately, OSHA sometimes falls far short of accomplishing its mission. For example, OSHA officials admitted in November 2011 that one of the ways the agency uses to monitor workplace safety – a database tracking workplace fatalities – is deficient in several key respects. OSHA’s lack of information is troubling because people need to know how many workplace deaths occur and the reasons for them in order to improve workplace safety.

Causes of Workplace Deaths

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there were 4,547 workplace fatalities in 2010. Massachusetts saw 51 workplace fatalities in 2010, down from 59 in 2009. The BLS reported that the causes of deaths in the workplace for 2010 were:

• Transportation incidents – 39 percent

• Assaults and violent acts – 18 percent

• Contact with objects or equipment – 16 percent

• Falls – 14 percent

• Exposure to harmful substances – nine percent

• Fire or explosions – four percent

OSHA Database Failure

OSHA has a Voluntary Protection Program (VPP), wherein OSHA partners with employers who have injury and fatality rates below the BLS average for their industries. In exchange for proactively working on safety measures, the employers in the VPP are exempt from regular OSHA inspections.

One of the main deficits in OSHA’s workplace fatality data is that it does not include deaths that happened at employers in the VPP. By cross-referencing OSHA data and BLS data, the Center for Public Integrity discovered that OSHA data did not include 15 workplace fatalities that occurred between 2000 and 2010 because these deaths happened at VPP participant employers.

Another area in which OSHA does not have data is workplace fatalities that occur in the 21 states that administer their own version of OSHA’s VPP.

These are major gaps in the database and make it difficult for OSHA to do its job properly.

OSHA officials say they are taking steps to fill the information gap regarding workplace fatalities in VPP participant employers. OSHA’s second-highest official concedes the importance of following up on fatalities at VPP participant employers and including that information in OSHA data. OSHA’s main office has issued memos on the topic to regional offices in the past few years.

Preventing Workplace Deaths

OSHA and employers can take steps to make the number of workplace deaths decrease further. Some ideas include:

• Make safety a key value for owners and managers

• Train employees in safety techniques

• Engage employees in making the workplace safer

• Monitor employees’ actions to ensure compliance with safety regulations

• Analyze “near-miss” accidents so that they do not happen again and to discover any safeguards that functioned properly to prevent fatalities

People have the right to demand safe workplaces. If you have been injured in a workplace accident, contact an experienced personal injury attorney who can help pursue proper compensation for your injuries.