Posts tagged with "liability"

When Your Lawyer Is Part Of The Problem

Hating lawyers is as American as grass stains on a kid’s blue jeans, but is it justified?

A recent Pew Research Center study reveals that just 18 percent of those polled believe that lawyers make a positive contribution to society. Having practiced myself for nearly 30 years, I know that most lawyers do good work, are reliable, trustworthy and honorable. We’re good people, and we work hard.

There are times, however, when “One Bad Apple” seems to spoil the whole barrel. Our office handles cases against negligent lawyers, many of whom maintain insurance in the event of their malpractice. When a lawyer gets sued for legal malpractice, his or her insurance company customarily selects and pays for counsel to mount a defense to the lawsuit. In this unique instance, both counsel and client are lawyers.

Several years ago we won a jury trial against a negligent lawyer whose insurance company ultimately disclaimed coverage on the grounds that the insured acted intentionally. Insurance, they argued, covers accidents, not intentional acts. Simply put, we proved our case and won the trial but had no source from which we could recover the judgment that the jury had awarded to us. It subsequently came to light that the defendant/lawyer had previously and repeatedly requested that his assigned counsel make an effort to settle the case and thereby avoid the possible personal liability that a jury verdict could impose. These pleas fell on deaf ears, however. The verdict that we ultimately achieved created personal liability for the defendant/lawyer who could ill afford to pay a judgment in excess of $1,000,000. We instituted a new lawsuit against the defendant/lawyer’s counsel under the theory that he did not properly represent the interests of his client, (the lawyer being sued), but rather acted in a manner that was beneficial only to the insurance company, (the entity that selected him and paid his bills throughout the lengthy litigation). Through this new lawsuit, we learned that assigned counsel was so optimistic of his success at trial that he actually (and secretly), urged the insurance company not to settle the case prior to a jury verdict—all in defiance of the wishes of his client, the defendant/lawyer. We ultimately settled this case against the assigned counsel for more than the underlying judgment that we obtained against the original defendant/lawyer.

It’s well settled that a servant can’t serve two masters. The obligation of a lawyer is to his or her client, not the insurance company, (even though the insurance company is solely responsible for paying counsel’s bills). Why is this precept important to you? Because should you get into a routine car accident, your insurance company will select and pay for a lawyer to defend your interests. You want to make sure that whoever is assigned as your counsel acts in your best interests, rather than in the best interests of your insurance company.

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.

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.

 

 

Three Things You Need to Hold a Facility Liable for Nursing Home Negligence

We’re always eager to take on nursing home negligence cases. There’s a large industry that far too often takes advantage of people and consistently understaffs its facilities, despite making a lot of money from families and the government. People get hurt when the staff can’t stay on top of everyone’s needs, and if you know someone who has been hurt please give us a call and we can talk about the legal options you have.

We are happy to explain to you over the phone or in person as to what is needed to make a case against a retirement home. In the meantime, here’s an overview of the three basic steps needed:

 

Liability

Just like any other personal injury case, a nursing home negligence case requires that the resident was harmed while they were under the care of the defendant. Was the resident hurt because of the negligent actions of the nursing home staff or administration?

As an example, we’ll use bed sores, which are the most common type of nursing home negligence injuries we see. Bed sores happen when someone is allowed to lie down for long stretches at a time and the pressure of their weight on a surface harms the body. We need to show that the resident received these injuries while lying in a nursing home bed owned by the defendant.

 

Causation

Causation means that the injury was caused by the actions of the staff or administration. In our bed sores case, did staff members fail to turn over or move the patient from time to time? Were there too few people on staff to keep up with each and every nursing home resident? It’s not enough that the injury occurred while at the nursing home, it also has to be caused by the actions or lack of actions from the people who work there.

 

Damages

Lastly, now that we’ve established where the bed sores occurred and why they occured, we have to show that the bed sores harmed the senior we represent. Bed sores are an actual injury, and they are both easy to spot and easy to demonstrate that they are harmful. We can then show the medical intervention needed to care for the victim. These have to be actual sustained injuries, not potential injuries that were narrowly avoided.

With liability, causation and damages all demonstrated, we are able to continue the case and seek compensation from the nursing home who causes the inexcusable injuries. Remember, we’re the experts, you don’t have to come to us with the proof of liability, causation or damages. We will investigate to make your case as strong as it can be.

The most important thing you need to do is contact us as soon as you suspect there is a problem, as the sooner we get started the better your chances will be of receiving justice. You can visit our website at www.ColucciLaw.com or give us a call at 1 (888) 330-6657.

Can you win with a bad lawyer?

We’ve been in existence as a firm for over 20 years, and during that time we have handled every foreseeable type of personal injury case. From regular motor vehicle accidents, construction accidents, and nursing home negligence, to quirky cases where a plane struck a house and injured people while they slept. We represented a poor woman who took medication that was mislabeled for over a month.

One of our attorneys had three tree cases, where someone was cutting down a tree and didn’t know what they were doing and the tree fell and injured someone. In one case, the tree fell and killed a gentleman.

With all of this experience I can tell you this unequivocally, it all comes down to your lawyer. Whether or not you’re going to get compensated, and more importantly, the amount of that compensation, comes down to the skill of the attorney you choose.

For the plaintiffs, it really is simple. They care about only one case: Theirs.

If it’s important to your family and your family’s future, then why take a chance? You want to go with someone who has experience and who has been there before.

With all the experience we have in the building, and having seen all these cases in every format, we feel comfortable with anything that comes in the door. We’re not the only one who say that, find out why Newsweek listed us as one of the top personal injury law firms in the country. Come give us a call at 1 (888) 330-6657 and we’ll be happy to let you know what your options are.

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.

Helpful tips when choosing a safe daycare center for your child

How to find a safe daycare for your kids

Finding a reliable daycare for your children is an anxiety-provoking event. You are turning your child over to others to take care of during the day, completely out of your sight. Very often people ask attorneys at our firm what they can do to ensure that their child is going to be looked after appropriately.

We always give them the same advice and tell them to go to the daycare center, make sure that it’s clean, talk to the people that run the daycare center and really try to feel them out and get to know them. Find out if they’ve taken a CPR course. See if they’ve taken a first aid course.

Find out if they’re insured.

Many people are shocked to learn that daycare centers in Massachusetts don’t need to be insured. There’s currently no law here requiring that they have insurance.

You want to ask those questions and determine whether or not if this is a place that you would want to leave your child. If you do, make sure you return a day or two later unannounced just to see how they’re taking care of the other children. That will give you some level of comfort in knowing that you’ve picked the right place.

Like anything, the more avid the parent is in making sure that their child is going to be safe, the greater the likelihood that the child will be safe in daycare.

If it’s too late for your family to avoid a daycare accident, or you want to hear what your legal rights are, give us a call at 1 (888) 330-6657 and we’ll be happy to talk to you.

The legal system will award more money to an injured pro athlete than an injured homeless person, why is that?

Why can pro athletes sue for more than an average Joe?

A warning: This post isn’t about what is fair in a cosmic justice sense. Instead it’s about the reality of the legal system and the logic behind it. Our firm doesn’t make the rules, it just plays by them.

Lawsuits are not a fun pay day for people who have suffered at the hands of others, or a chance for people to become rich by seizing the assets of someone else. Instead, litigation is about making someone “whole” again after someone else’s actions have harmed them.

Imagine this, two people are waiting in line at an outdoor coffee business. A third party loses control of his car and strikes them both. Both people in line are severely injured and now have to use wheelchairs the rest of their lives. Both file lawsuits against the driver.

Let’s imagine the two victims are the same age and suffer identical injuries that prevent them from working. Both have spouses and two kids. The only difference is one of them earns $50,000 a year and the other is a professional basketball player and earns several million annually.

In normal circumstances, the basketball player will receive  much higher compensation. It’s not because they are more deserving or renowned. It’s not because society values them more. It’s because both victims are being compensated on wages they will never earn because of the injury.

The lifetime earning potential of the pro athlete is much higher than that of the average person, and personal injury lawsuits factor in the lost wages that person will miss out on. As a result, the pro athlete is likely to receive a higher settlement.

That’s the legal system as we have it, and that’s the reality we have to navigate when we litigate. While money can never truly make a person whole again, it can help them make their mortgage payments and provide for their family.

We have strong ties to expert witnesses, skilled professionals who have solid backgrounds

Will an expert say whatever we want on the witness stand?

There are a lot of cynics out there that think expert witnesses are often shady character who will lend their credibility to any lawyer if there’s a buck in it for them. Picture someone like Dr. Nick Riveria on The Simpsons who blatantly lies and exaggerates whenever he testifies.

While that may make great television, it’s not reality. In the real world, judges and juries care about the credentials of expert witnesses – they have to be actual experts, and real experts care about their professional reputations.

What happens on a witness stand is part of the public record and typically goes on the expert’s Curriculum Vitae, or CV.

Our firm has been working with expert witnesses for decades and a lot of that cooperation is only possible because of the relationships we’ve established with well-qualified experts. They have day jobs as professors, engineers, doctors, etc. Their careers would suffer if the testimony they provided was flawed.

When we hire an expert witness there is usually a substantial cost, but we’re not paying for them to compromise their integrity. We need their integrity to be rock-solid for this case and any future cases we may bring them into. We don’t want malleable experts, we want skilled ones with excellent reputations because they help us win cases. And if we’re reaching out to hire an expert, we believe in our case and know that they will agree that our client has a viable matter.

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.

A tragedy in Boston gives us an important lesson

This weekend brought a terrible tragedy to Boston. A young woman operating a moped was struck and killed by a so-called Duck Boat. Events like this should make everyone take a moment to try and appreciate how precious life is.  And if you’re a parent, like me, that feeling is heightened.

None of us truly knows what tomorrow holds, and the stark truth of that statement is brought into focus when an accident like this occurs. Most mistakes that take place on a day in, day out basis have no consequences, thank God. But every once in a while a mistake has catastrophic consequence. Our hearts and prayers go out to the victim’s family. It’s hard to even conceive of receiving such a phone call.

After representing families who have endured similar fates, I can tell you that the responsible parties need to be held accountable. When you hear about an accident such as this, most people’s immediate reaction is to merely blame the operator of the vehicle that struck the victim. It’s been our experience, however, that someone needs to look deeper to find all responsible parties.

Truth be told, you can never really tell at the outset where the investigation will lead, but the need to drill down is there. Does the company skimp on safety; are their employees properly trained; was the vehicle in proper working order; are undue expectations placed on the drivers to meet schedules or deadlines, etc. It is as true as it is tragic to recognize that no law suit can ever bring a life back  But thoroughly and aggressively investigating each detail will almost always bring about change that may save another’s life.