Posts tagged with "Boston Massachusetts"

Summer Camp Negligence – What to Watch for

There are two usual reactions parents have when seeing their kids off to summer camp: One is a relief that everyone will have a fun vacation, especially the parents who can focus on unwinding and having more time to themselves. The other is fear and worry, as their children could be in danger and they won’t be able to help them.

Without exception, it’s more fun to be in that first group, but the parents in the second group have a point: When you sign up with a summer came, you are giving control of your child’s safety over to the staff, and if that staff isn’t prepared to take the problem seriously, then you should be worried.

What A Safe Camp Looks Like

 

If you want to stay in the happy, carefree first group, look over the camp in person when the camp counselors are there. Make sure there are enough people old enough to show maturity and responsibility, instead of a pack of young teens who are going to have their eyes on other counselors the entire time.

Are there enough counselors to look over all of the kids, is there a nurse on staff who can treat any minor injuries that do occur? Does the camp have a good reputation with other parents? These are all important questions to answer before the summer begins.

It doesn’t matter if it’s a day camp or an all-summer camp: Your kids will be under the care of someone else, and there will be chances where a negligent person could fail to keep them safe. It’s no different than a daycare center, where children don’t go overnight but can still be at tremendous risk if not looked after carefully.

Camps needs to have the correct safety gear for the activities they promised they will perform. It would be pretty egregious to take kids out on a boat without life jackets, and fortunately, safety regulations are so well known on that subject that we’re not aware of anyone who has done that. You should be more concerned about games of tackle football played without helmets and pads.

Negligent behavior, where summer camp staff fail to protect kids from common, preventable risks are the makings of a lawsuit. Some injuries, like a twisted ankle, are fairly hard to prevent and would generally not be appropriate for a civil suit.

Now, What Can You Do?

 

If someone from your family has been hurt at summer camp, give us a call at 1 (888) 330-6657 or contact us and we can talk to you about your rights and possible next steps.

 

Can I Sue for my Child’s Brain Injury During Sports?

Organized sports can be an extremely positive experience for adolescents and teens, where they practice setting personal goals, cooperating with a team, and competing with rivals. Unfortunately, youth sports can also lead to serious injuries and even death. What happens if your child is injured while playing a game in an organized school sport? Can you sue your public school?

In a word, no.

High school sports like football are known to be dangerous, and injuries including concussions are a foreseeable risk that players and their parents are aware of when they choose to participate. It’s expected that cheerleaders may take an unexpected tumble now and then. Both minor and serious injuries are risks people accept when they play.

What’s more, Massachusetts protects its public institutions, including schools, from lawsuits. This is because municipalities could go bankrupt if enough lawsuits were resolved, and the state legislature wanted to prevent that from happening.

 

Serious Injuries From Other Causes

 

What happens if the injury was caused by a faulty piece of equipment, such as a helmet that failed to protect a player’s head? That is a potential product liability case, but from our experience, those cases are difficult to win.

Here’s another scenario: A high school pitcher gets mad and throws a baseball at his own dugout, walloping a teammate in the head. The victim gets a serious injury. Can his family sue the pitcher’s family?

This is a little tricky. As we’ve written before, civil suits are not for harm caused intentionally such as an assault. Those are criminal matters, and theoretically, this would be a criminal matter and not grounds for a lawsuit.

It’s rare that someone would admit he threw the ball and tried to injury another player. Most likely, he would say he never meant to hit anyone, or he lost control and didn’t realize what he was doing. Still, it’s difficult to find a firm that would take that case.

Here’s another scenario: The coach is driving a student home from practice and gets in a car accident. The player is injured. This could be grounds for a lawsuit, against the driver or of another person who causes the accident, but this isn’t really a school sports scenario anymore. There’s nothing inside the game you can sue for, but we’re not outside the game and into the world at large.

 

What can you do?

Every case is unique. If someone in your family has been hurt in any scenario, give us a call at 1 (888) 330-6657 or contact us and we can talk to you about your options.

Jury members and judges are supposed to keep their emotions out of settlements in the courtroom. We don't let them.

The Power of Infuriating a Courtroom

Years ago I sat through a criminal trial where a judge threw the book at two young men who casually murdered a house cat.

That’s not what the charges read for the case. Officially, they were tried for an armed robbery case. There were no animal cruelty charges in the trial. The two men allegedly held up a corner store, then piled into an old car to get away. Right after they left the store the passenger aimed his gun out the window and shot someone’s kitty cat that was lounging on a porch.

Like I said, officially they were tried for the hold up, but it was clear that what really motivated the judge to issue the maximum sentence was knowing that they killed that cat.

There’s a lesson for us in the personal injury world. Most people absolutely despise people who text behind the wheel. If someone causes a car accident while texting, a judge or jury may respond differently than they would to a driver who reached down to pick up a CD off the floor boards.

This is an example of the human factor coming into law and impacting court results in way not intended by the law, unless there is a specific law that distinguishes texting while driving from other forms of distracted driving. It’s not supposed to work that way, but in practice it does.

It’s often irrelevant what distracted a driver. They could have been looking at birds or just not paying attention. The opposing counsel doesn’t have to prove what distracted the driver, but that they drove negligently. Drivers have an obligation to look at the road ahead of them, read street signs, obey traffic lights and leave space between vehicles. That is the most important thing to prove.

But if we can prove they were texting, we will. That involves subpoenaing the phone company’s meta data on when texts were sent from the other driver’s phone. We know that texting while driving can infuriate a courtroom and help our case. Even if we don’t plan to take the case to trial, we know opposing counsel or the insurance company will make a more generous settlement to avoid risking a wrathful courtroom.

Don't waste any time calling a lawyer if you've been hurt in a car accident

Distracted Driving Lawsuits – Why Victims Need To Contact a Lawyer Within 10 Days

After going through a serious car accident, most people naturally want to focus on healing and are not focused on their future distracted driving lawsuit. Some people need time to recuperate or may be stuck in a hospital bed for months. Family members may need to care for the victim at home. Survivors of fatal accident victims will need time to mourn. Many of these people will struggle to figure out how they’re going to pay their bills with one less paycheck coming in.

Because of the unexpected tragic nature of these issue, it’s common for people to put off contacting a lawyer. That’s a big mistake when filing a distracted driver lawsuit or any other kind of personal injury lawsuit.

You really want to contact an attorney as soon as possible. Not only are there potential deadlines to file legal documents, but as time passes it becomes harder to gather evidence to demonstrate what caused the car accident. Skid marks fade, damaged cars get destroyed. Witnesses scatter to the wind.

Say you were struck by someone who was texting while driving, it is important to pursue distracted driving lawsuits within 10 days. The victim’s attorney can subpoena the phone company for a record of when texts were sent from that phone. If the crash happened on a highway 10 miles from the nearest exit and the driver who caused the crash was alone in the vehicle, and the driver’s phone had sent messages every 30 seconds right up to the crash, that’s a great piece of evidence for distracted driving. That helps the distracted driving lawsuits and cases remarkably.

But there’s a hitch. The phone company usually deletes text message data 10 days after it is sent. It’s expensive for the company to store that much information. Some companies wait 30 days, but most wipe the information in 10 days. If the victim waits too long to call a lawyer that evidence is lost in distracted driving lawsuits.

We fully understand how a personal tragedy can dominate someone’s priorities and that people need time to grieve. No matter what your situation is, if you do need to contact an attorney, you should to do so immediately to best protect your family and loved ones. It won’t be the disruption that you may imagine it to be, and what’s more, It’ll allow you to concentrate on your family while someone else handles the legal issues.

 

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.

Nursing Home Negligence And Protecting The “Greatest Generation”

Nursing Home Negligence

Our country’s annual celebration of the 4th of July holiday always brings to mind the many sacrifices that have been made down the years to guarantee the freedom that too many of us take for granted during the remainder of the year. From the “baby boomers” who lived through the strife of the Viet Nam era to the most revered members of the “greatest generation”, our ranks of senior citizens is dramatically swelling. Indeed, conservative estimates suggest that the number of people aged 65 and older will more than double between 2010 and 2050. This equates to 88.5 million people or 20 percent of our entire population. In addition, those aged 85 and older will rise three-fold, to 19 million citizens, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Recent times have also seen a dramatic increase in Alzheimer’s disease. The Alzheimer’s Foundation of America suggests that 5.1 million Americans currently suffer from Alzheimer’s disease—most of whom currently reside in a nursing home facility. This number is expected to dramatically increase over the next 25 years and researchers are at a loss to explain why.

With an ever increasing population of senior citizens comes the obvious need for medical services and long-term nursing home care. As a result, traditional nursing home facilities are often overwhelmed and find that their resources are stretched beyond the limit of what is generally considered safe. Reliable projections reveal that this already overwhelming burden is ever increasing with more seniors necessitating a greater level of supervision and skilled nursing home care year to year. Unfortunately, it is apparent that the increased demands on nursing home care are proportional to a steady rise in medical mistakes. Nursing home patients are most commonly elderly, fragile and particularly susceptible to suffering life threatening consequences in instances that involve seemingly minimal instances of neglect. For example, leaving an elderly patient who is a known fall risk unattended for even a brief period of time can frequently lead to a fractured hip, the onset of pneumonia and eventually, premature death.

In recent times, advocacy groups like the National Quality Forum, a non-profit organization devoted toward developing a strategy for measuring the quality of healthcare in the United States, introduced the idea of “never events.” A “never event” is an event, mistake, or error that should never occur in the healthcare setting. The most common “never events” in a nursing home setting are:

  • bed sores;
  • pressure sores;
  • dehydration;
  • providing a patient with the wrong medicine;
  • providing a patient with the wrong dosage of medicine;
  • failing to properly assess a patient’s fall and choking risk;
  • dropping a patient thereby causing fractures;
  • failing to properly supervise a patient who is prone to choking;
  • failing to keep a patient from wandering or eloping from the facility; and,
  • failing to properly supervise a patient who is otherwise considered “at risk” of a particular danger or harm.

It is important to note that most nursing home staffs are comprised of competent, dedicated and generally well meaning individuals. The formidable burden that these medical professionals face, however, tax their ability to consistently deliver the type of quality healthcare that we would all want for our loved ones. To this end, greater vigilance is required of a patient’s family to identify perceived vulnerabilities and instances where care is seemingly substandard. A greater awareness of a patient’s ongoing needs and changing medical condition, (as well as a pro-active and collaborative relationship with a patient’s caregivers), is the best insurance against the often devastating consequences that follow from a “never event.”

Dino M. Colucci, Esquire, is a founder of Colucci, Colucci, Marcus & Flavin, P.C., a law firm dedicated to representing victims of elder abuse and neglect. He is also an adjunct Professor of Law at Suffolk University Law School.

Massachusetts Nursing Home Injuries May Increase Due to Budget Cuts

Massachusetts Nursing Home Injuries

As the U.S. population ages, more and more people have to confront the decision regarding whether to put a loved one into a nursing home. People want the best care for their loved ones and look for facilities that will be a good fit for their loved ones’ needs. In the current difficult economy, however, many states are considering budget cuts that will threaten the safety and quality of care of nursing home residents. Massachusetts is looking to reduce its Medicaid budget, which could lead to more seniors suffering nursing home injuries.

The Dangers of Nursing Home Injuries

Injuries are a serious problem for many nursing home residents. According to Center for Disease Control (CDC) statistics, an average-sized nursing home with 100 beds reports 100 to 200 falls per year. About 1,800 seniors die each year from injuries sustained during falls, the CDC reports.

Another common condition among nursing home residents that can be deadly is bed sores. The New England Journal of Medicine reported that approximately 60,000 people die from complications related to bed sores each year.

The Impact of Budget Cuts on Nursing Home Residents

As challenging as conditions already are in nursing homes, budget cuts are only making them worse. Massachusetts cut the state’s Medicaid funding in an effort to make up budget shortfalls, which could have a detrimental effect on the quality of care that seniors receive in nursing homes.

One of the first programs that Medicaid eliminated under its reduced funding was funding bed-holds to guarantee that nursing home residents who leave the nursing home for short periods of time, such as a sudden hospitalization, will have the same bed when they return to the nursing home. As of November 1, 2011, Medicaid will no longer pay to hold seniors’ beds in Massachusetts.

Federal law mandates that nursing homes must readmit a resident who leaves temporarily, but it does not require that the patient go back to the same bed. Many advocates for seniors argue that changing rooms for nursing home residents is the equivalent of putting them in an entirely new facility, because so many suffer from dementia. The confusion that results from being in an unfamiliar room increases the likelihood of falls and other injuries for these residents.

The federal government is also cutting Medicare and Medicaid funding to the states. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced that it will reduce its reimbursement rates to nursing homes by 11.1 percent beginning in October 2011. Nursing homes will be pressured to make up the funding elsewhere, either by cutting costs or raising rates for residents. One of the primary ways that nursing homes cut costs is by firing staff or paying them less. Understaffed nursing homes have the potential to lead to neglected patients and an increase in injuries such as falls, bed sores, malnutrition and dehydration.

Times are tough across the country and it is understandable that governments need to cut spending in a difficult economy. However, balancing the budget on the backs of senior citizens in nursing homes will cause unneeded suffering and possibly more deaths.

Most people don't understand Massachusetts no fault car insurance laws that have given way to Personal Injury Protection plans for car accidents

How Massachusetts Car Insurance Laws Can Limit Your Settlement

 

We handle a lot of car accident cases here in the greater Boston area. They’re fairly common because they can happen to anyone, even people who consider themselves safe and responsible, and the cars involved have both a large capacity for destruction and are driven frequently. That’s why you see a lot more people who have been hurt in car accidents as opposed to crashes from smaller, less frequently used vehicles like bicycles or snow mobiles.

Massachusetts does have some limits on what car crash victims can receive in settlements. If you’re injured by someone else’s dangerous driving in Massachusetts, you can attempt to receive compensation for your medical bills, damages to your vehicle and for your pain and suffering. However, you won’t be able to receive any medical reimbursements if your medical bill comes under $2,000.

Massachusetts has a minimum threshold of $2,000 for medical expenses from crashes. If one of our case comes under that threshold and no money ends up exchanging hands, we handle that case for free. We only get paid when our client receives a settlement and we’re willing to use the experience for outreach so people know they can trust us the next time they need a lawyer.

To get a little more technical, in Massachusetts we have Personal Injury Protection, or n- fault insurance, where the insurance company will pay for damages regardless of who caused the accident. Part of the idea behind the law is to make insurance available for policy holders even when the are struck by an uninsured driver.

If the injuries of all the people in your vehicle during an accident exceed $2,000, your auto insurance will pay that first $2,000 of medical bills. Not your health insurance company, but your car insurance.

A Personal Injury Protection plan  in Massachusetts will pay for costs after $2,000 but before $8,000, and that can include lost wages, medical copays and funeral expenses. If you have health insurance, PIP will pay up to $2,000 for medical expenses. If you lack health insurance, PIP will pay whatever is needed until it reaches that $8,000 cap.

There is one wrinkle that can have a big impact on a case. When a car crash victim receives a settlement, the health insurance company can take some of that money for reimbursement for the medical bills. PIP benefits do not need to be reimbursed from a settlement. This won’t make much of a difference if the settlement is for $1 million dollars and the medical expenses were $5,000, but it will if the medical expenses are $5,000 of $15,000 settlement.

PIP insurance is confusing and obtuse to most people, and we’re happy to walk people through their options. Our firm will also deal with the insurance companies directly for you so you can concentrate on your recovery.

Our firm takes on small cases, not just big ones, even minor car accidents.

Why We Take on Even the Smallest Car Accident Cases

Car crash injuries are the most common type of car accident cases we take, and they can happen to absolutely anyone who so much as steps near a public road.

Our firm is eager to take on any of these cases and make sure people are compensated for the losses and injuries they suffer, which can make a crucial difference to a working family who suddenly can’t pay the bills with their breadwinner unable to work. Some people unfortunately assume that we only want to take on the big cases where large amounts of money are at stake and that we pass over smaller cases.

That’s absolutely wrong. We are eager to take on any case with merit, no matter how small. It’s good business for us, as there’s more at stake than the settlement fee.

We only accept payment for cases that we win, and while the profits from these cases helps us keep the lights on in our office near Boston, the cases also help us train new attorneys.

We put a partner from the firm and an associate attorney on every case, and these smaller cases give our younger lawyers valuable experience that only comes from pursuing real cases. We’re not leaving the client solely in the hands of a rookie, as an experienced partner collaborates on the case and provides insight and guidance when needed. These cases are good for our firm’s skill level.

They also act as a referral service for the firm. We’re confident that the solid results and attention to detail that our clients receive will make an impact. We know that if one of our clients ever gets into a situation where they need help or know someone who does, they’ll remember us.

There are no small cases for us. Our reputation is made, for better or for worse, by how we treat the latest client. We believe anyone who comes to us will come back if a future need arises. That’s why we’re eager to take on cases regardless of size.

What to prepare before calling a lawyer

No one expects to get hurt. When they are, they can be thrust into the unexpected situation of having to call a lawyer. They’ve already got a lot on their minds from dealing with the pain and fears of what will happen next. Not everyone knows how to prepare for that first case to make sure things move along as quickly as possible.

 

Your list of what to prepare before calling a personal injury lawyer

The most important thing for the attorney to know at the beginning is what are the basic facts.

They include:

How did the accident happen and what are the injuries?

What witnesses exist? How do we reach them?

What happened to you medically? Were you taken by ambulance, where did you go? What’s your understanding of your injury as it stands right now.

Do you remember exactly where you were when the accident happened, such as the name of a traffic intersection? In particularly, you will need the town or city so your attorney can get any police report on the incident.

If it’s convenient for you to get a copy of any police reports related to the case, gather them. If not, we’ll gather them for you.

Any further basic facts you have at the beginning will be helpful.

Do you have the name of your insurance company?

Has an insurance adjustor called and given you a claim number?

It would be extremely beneficial to have a copy of your insurance declarations page, or “Dec page.” That will tell you what your coverage is, such as if you have $20,000 of liability, $100,000 of liability or even more.

With that info in hand, your attorney will have a good start to helping you get your claim as fast as possible.