Serious Injury

2 men looking at car accident damage

Injured by an Uninsured Driver – What’s Next?

Being in a motor vehicle accident can be a stressful and traumatic experience. The first and most immediate concern is, of course, ensuring that any injuries suffered by the driver and passengers are treated. But regardless of whether the accident was serious or just a minor fender bender, at some point, the insurance companies get involved.

Under normal circumstances, if there is a clear case of who was at fault, then the responsible party’s insurance company will end up footing the bill for the accident and additional resulting expenditures. In some cases, if the insurance claims adjusters are offering a seemingly unfair amount, you may want to retain a personal injury attorney to help settle the case and ensure just compensation.

But what happens if you are in an accident with an uninsured driver? You certainly can’t file a claim with the negligent party’s insurance company if that person has no insurance, but there is no reason you should have to handle the financial costs on your own, no matter how minor or huge.

Of course, in most states, including Massachusetts, automobiles are required to have insurance, but many people still manage to drive without it. This could be because they have allowed their insurance to lapse or they simply never acquired any in the first place. Regardless, if a negligent party was at fault for an accident, you are entitled to compensation, and there are steps you can take when dealing with a driver who does not have insurance.

What to do when you are injured by an uninsured driver

Many of the initial steps that you would follow when in an accident caused by an uninsured driver in Massachusetts are the same as what you would do if the driver was insured. First, call the police. You will want an accident report, as it can help you with a personal injury claim later on. Besides, the individual driving without insurance was also breaking the law.

Even if the driver doesn’t have insurance coverage of any type, that person may still be liable for paying for some of the damage to your car out of his or her own personal assets due to at-fault laws. The police report will be an important document in determining fault.

Get all the information you can

Make a note of the driver’s contact information, the license plate number on the car, and the car make and model. Write down all the details of the accident while they are still fresh in your mind. And even though the information may be on the police report, it is a good idea for you get the contact information of any witnesses as well.

Additionally, use your cellphone to take pictures of both cars and the area where the accident happened so that you can better describe the details to a personal injury attorney.

Call your insurance company

It is always important to call your insurance company in a timely manner. Some policies may have a time limit on how long you have to make a claim. Additionally, you may want to consider adding uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage to your policy. This protects you in case of an accident with an uninsured driver. And since Massachusetts doesn’t require a high amount of coverage for drivers, the insurance will also protect you if the negligent driver is underinsured — that is, doesn’t have enough coverage to adequately compensate you for damages and injuries.

If you don’t have uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage, you may have a collision or personal injury protection part of your policy that provides compensation for your medical bills in addition to the damage to your car. It is always wise to know everything your insurance policy covers so that there are no surprises after an unfortunate accident.

Call a personal injury attorney

If, after speaking with your insurance agent, you have been left without a means of compensation for the damages and injuries you’ve suffered, it would be a good idea to contact a personal injury attorney in Massachusetts. An experienced personal injury lawyer will be able to help you file a claim with your insurance company against the negligent driver and attempt to recoup monetary compensation from the driver’s personal assets.

Recovering funds may be difficult, especially if the negligent driver doesn’t have much in the way of personal assets. However, there may be other avenues that can be pursued. The driver might actually have insurance coverage under someone else’s policy, or more than one party may be responsible for the car accident, leaving you other options to pursue a personal injury lawsuit.

Contact Us

An experienced personal injury attorney in Massachusetts can help research and discover all possible avenues leading to potential sources of compensation. At the Boston law firm of Colucci Colucci Marcus & Flavin, PC, our attorneys help 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.

Recognizing and Stopping Elder Abuse

The National Center on Elder Abuse has come out with their most recent statistics and the results are truly staggering. It begins by acknowledging that the “Boomer Generation” effect will continue for decades and predicts that between 2012 and 2050, the United States will experience considerable growth in its older population.  In fact, by 2050, the population aged 65 and over is projected to rise to 83.7 million souls, which is almost double its current population.  Older women will continue to outpace older men.

The survey concentrates on all forms of elder abuse and ranks the most common in the following order: financial, neglect, emotional, physical and sexual mistreatment.  Low social support is most commonly associated with elder abuse and seniors who are afflicted with dementia are 50% more likely to be exploited than their counterparts.  Approximately half of all people over the age of 85, the fastest growing segment of the population, have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia.  In addition, this trend continues to   ascend.  Seniors who have previously suffered domestic violence were found to be at increased risk for emotional, sexual and financial mistreatment and women were at greater risk to be abused in this regard than were men.  Who are the perpetrators?  Surprisingly, family members were identified as most likely to engage in financial exploitation (57.9%) followed by friends and neighbors (16.9%) and home health care aides (14.9%).

Perhaps most alarming, however, are the statistics on abuse by caregivers, the very people who are charged with caring for the elderly.  The particular study cited revealed that 47% of the participants with dementia had been mistreated by their caregivers.  A previous study revealed that 50% of the people with dementia experienced some kind of abuse at the hands of their caregivers.

The study concluded by estimating the associated Medicaid costs of elder injuries at $5.3 billion per annum.

Discouraging elder abuse requires vigilance and action.  As is now a common societal refrain,  “if you see something, say something.”

 

Dino M. Colucci, Esquire, is the founder of Colucci, Colucci, Marcus & Flavin, P.C., a law firm dedicated to representing victims of nursing home 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.

 

 

 

Wheelchair parked in front of a large picture window

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.

Who’s Liable When an Autonomous Car Crashes?

With the rise of interest in self-driving cars, two questions commonly comes up – Are they actually safer, and who is liable if a self-driving car crashes?

In 2013, the National Highway Traffic Administration released a 6-level classification system for autonomous cars. Level 0, the lowest level, means the automated system may issue warnings to the driver, but the driver is completely in control of the vehicle. Level 5, the highest level, means that no human interaction is required – the vehicle completely drives itself.

At anything lower than a level 3 autonomous vehicle, the level at which a driver can safely focus their attention on tasks other than driving, a driver is responsible since they clearly need to interact with the car in order to prevent accidents. At level 2, it is required that a driver keep their hands on the wheel and must be ready to intervene should something go amiss with the automated system.

On March 18, a pedestrian in Arizona was killed when she was struck by an autonomous car.  Although it was simply a test run, the car, which was operated by UBER, had an emergency driver in the car.  The victim was walking with her bicycle, and it appeared that the car did not slow down at all prior to striking her.  She was struck at 40 mph.

Later that week, on March 23, a Tesla autonomous vehicle – this one operated by Tesla – slammed into a concrete lane divider on the highway and burst into flames. The driver later died from his injuries.  The driver in the Tesla was repeatedly told by the car’s system that his hands needed to be on the wheel even though the car was on auto-pilot.  In this case, even though auto-pilot was in, the vehicle did state to the driver that auto-pilot is just a driver assistance tool – it is not meant to take the place of an actual driver, and takes care to note that the driver is responsible for their own safety and the safety of others.

Currently, laws have not been able to keep up with technology, and technology has not yet advanced to the stage where level four or level 5 autonomous cars should be on public roads. It is expected that as cars move towards being more and more autonomous, eventually, liability will shift from the driver to the car/its manufacturer.  Autonomous cars in the future may even be programmed not to commit certain traffic offenses, such as speeding, traffic violations, etc. This would mean that autonomous cars might even be the safest option for vehicles in the future – as studies have shown, the vast majority of crashes occur because of human error.

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.

What to do if your child was injured on the school playground

What to do if your child was injured on the school playground

A playground is supposed to be a place where children can go and enjoy themselves while engaging in a range of activities on swing sets, slides, jungle gyms and other common recreational equipment. The interaction with other children while under the supervision of their parents is fun and beneficial, and playgrounds are also a great place for children to exercise and make friends.

However, as fun as the school playground might be, it is also a place where accidents can occur and where children can sustain injuries. Sometimes such an incident might be just an accident, but quite often it can be the result of negligence on the part of the school. The last thing you want to hear as a parent entrusting your child to a school’s care each day is that your child sustained an injury, especially if it is a serious one. Your child’s welfare is, of course, your main concern and should be the school’s as well.

School, city, and county playgrounds are supposed to be properly maintained in order to ensure safety for your children. The playground equipment should be in proper working order, and school playgrounds should be supervised at all times children are present. Negligent supervision, improperly maintained or manufactured equipment, damaged equipment, and unsafe grounds, in general, can put your child at risk for an injury.

If your child has been hurt at a school playground, as a result of negligence, improper supervision, defective equipment or improperly maintained equipment, you may be able to take legal action against the school district, an individual employed by the school or the school board.

Filing a Lawsuit Against a School for Injuries Sustained on a School Playground

There are many different scenarios that may give you the right to take legal action if your child sustained an injury on a school playground. These include:

  • Negligent supervision
  • Staff and/or teachers who have not been properly trained
  • Bad maintenance of grounds
  • A lack of proper security
  • Poorly maintained, poorly manufactured or damaged equipment
  • A failure to protect children against risks of foreseeable harm
  • A failure to repair defective equipment
  • An act of bullying that was not prevented

The school has a duty to ensure safety for all the children in and around a school playground. Failure to provide proper supervision or security and a safe environment can make the school legally liable for any injuries or accidents that occur on its playground. If your child has sustained an injury, it must be proven that the responsible party at the school acted in a negligent manner or failed to provide a safe and secure environment for the children.

If the injury was sustained as a result of an act of bullying, the offending child’s parents might also be held liable for the injury, as well as the school staff members who were negligent in preventing or stopping the incident of bullying.

Additionally, if the school is private, then there will likely be different parties or organizations that could ultimately be held responsible.

When seeking to file a claim, it is important that you speak with a lawyer who is experienced in playground injury cases. The attorney will know what questions to ask and what to investigate in order to find out who was ultimately responsible and whom the case should be filed against.

The playground injury lawyer will also investigate many of the facts of the case by traveling to the playground, inspecting the grounds and equipment, taking pictures, and building a case of evidence so that negligence or another cause of injury can be successfully proven, ensuring that you receive the compensation you need and deserve. Compensation can cover medical bills, pain and suffering, mental anguish, and any future medical bills or expenses for care that may be incurred as a result of the injury.

It is important to file a claim or lawsuit in a timely fashion, as cases such as this often have strict deadlines. Keep all records of the incident, including any photos you might have taken, notes on responses or communication with school staff and officials, any school or police reports, and medical paperwork and expenses. Having all this information organized and available will make it easier for the lawyer to file the necessary claim and paperwork in a timely fashion.

If your child has been injured at a school playground and you wish to know what your legal options might be and who might ultimately be held responsible, contact the experienced and professional attorneys at the Boston law firm of Colucci, Colucci, Marcus & Flavin, PC. You’ll find that our attorneys are experienced in cases involving school, city and county playground injuries and will fight hard for you to ensure that you receive the maximum possible compensation for your child’s injuries. For a free initial consultation with one of our seasoned personal injury lawyers, call us at (617) 698-6000, or get in touch with us via email.

I was injured in a motor vehicle accident by a person who fled the scene (‘hit and run’) or by a person who doesn’t have enough insurance to cover my injuries. What do I do?

Too often, individuals suffer serious and disabling injuries but the person or business responsible does not carry enough insurance to adequately compensate him or her.

For example, our office recently resolved a case where a man was permanently disabled after he was struck by a motor vehicle while he was walking to his car. The at-fault driver fled the scene and was unable to be identified.  This is typically called a ‘hit and run’ accident.  Our client suffered catastrophic injuries, underwent numerous surgeries and could not return to work.  Despite an exhaustive investigation by our firm, (reviewing surveillance video, interviewing witnesses, and working with police) the only insurance available to compensate him for his medical expenses, pain and suffering, and lost wages was the “Uninsurance” coverage in his own automobile insurance policy.  Many people aren’t even aware that this coverage option exists.  “Uninsurance” is coverage that is available from your own insurance policy if the person who injures you is either “un-insured” or can’t be identified, (like a “hit and run” driver).  It is “optional” coverage, however, and will cost you more in premiums—but it is worth it.

In the case described above, our client only maintained $20,000 of “Uninsurance” benefits. This meant that, despite his catastrophic injuries, the most he could recover was $20,000 from his own auto insurer.

How do I protect myself and the other passengers in my car?

When purchasing your auto insurance, the most powerful thing you can do to be responsible for yourself and your loved ones is to make sure you carry optional “Under Insurance” and “Uninsurance” coverage with the highest limits you can afford. “Under Insurance” coverage will protect you if your injuries and damages exceed the insurance coverage of the at-fault driver.  “Uninsurance” coverage will protect you if you are injured by an unidentified person (“hit and run”) or uninsured vehicle.

At minimum, we suggest carrying $100,000 per person/$300,000 per accident of Under/Uninsurance coverage. Generally this is referred to as a “$100/$300 policy.”

Finally, we also suggest carrying optional Medical Payments Coverage, which is referred to as “Med-pay”. Med-pay is supplemental medical insurance through your automobile insurance that will pay for medical bills and medical liens.  It is relatively inexpensive.  Generally, $5,000.00 in Med-pay coverage costs around $30 per year.  Consulting a qualified insurance agent is your best bet to find the coverage that’s right for your particular budget.

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.