Posts tagged with "Massachusetts"

Boston Car Accident Lawyers

Uninsured and Underinsured Motorists Issues in Massachusetts

Uninsured and Underinsured Motorists

Far too many drivers venture out on the road without adequate car insurance. According to the Insurance Research Council, the number is nearly one in seven drivers across the country.

In Massachusetts, the percentage of uninsured drivers is about four percent, or one in twenty-five drivers. Though this means Massachusetts is better than the national average, issues still arise when drivers without insurance get into motor vehicle accidents. Drivers need to be aware of the consequences of driving without insurance and how underinsured and uninsured motorist coverage on an insurance policy can help mitigate the problems that arise.

Consequences for Driving without Insurance

When uninsured drivers get into an auto accident with insured drivers, serious consequences can result. People who drive without auto insurance may face civil and criminal penalties for failing to comply with state laws mandating insurance coverage. They may also lose their houses, cars, savings and other assets if they cause an accident and an injured person sue to recover for his or her injuries.

Different – but no less serious – issues arise for insured drivers who get involved in accidents with uninsured drivers. Those drivers can choose to sue the uninsured at-fault driver personally for the medical bills, lost wages, property damage and pain and suffering that result from the accident. In practice, however, the uninsured driver may be “judgment-proof,” meaning that the insured driver will never collect anything because the uninsured driver simply has no money or other assets.

Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage

One way that drivers can protect themselves from uninsured drivers is by purchasing uninsured motorist (UM) or underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage as part of their own insurance policies. UM coverage pays medical bills, lost income and property damage expenses when the policyholder is involved in an accident with an uninsured driver.

UIM policies pay expenses that exceed the limits of the at-fault driver’s insurance policy. This is often necessary when drivers carry only the minimum amount of insurance that state law requires. Damages from automobile accidents frequently exceed these state-mandated minimums and a UIM policy can make up the difference so the injured driver does not have to pay personally.

Some drivers may be tempted to try to save money by carrying the least amount of insurance possible and foregoing UM or UIM coverage – or by driving without insurance altogether. However, the problems that arise when people get into auto accidents and the parties do not have enough insurance to cover the damages are too big to make the risk worthwhile.

 

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.

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.

 

We do not have information on the cause of the crash in Weymouth

What the tragedy in Weymouth needs to remind us

The recent tragedy in Weymouth really underscores just how dangerous driving can be.

Who knows why their car veered off the road and struck a utility pole, but those teenagers lives are forever changed. My heart goes out to all of them, especially the family of the young girl who was killed.

Again, I don’t know what happened and I’m not casting aspersions that are baseless, but parents need to reinforce that texting and driving is a fatal combination. I’ve seen people who simply cannot resist the impulse to look at their phone when it sounds with a message. It’s become Pavlovian.

The problem is obvious, however, in that it takes the driver’s attention off the road ahead. Texting and driving is an epidemic that will cost people dearly. Please be mindful of this and act accordingly. In certain instances, there simply will be no second chance.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How do federal hours of service regulations prevent truck accidents?

Though many people may not be familiar with them, federal hours of service regulations play a key role in preventing large truck accidents caused by driver fatigue. These HOS rules, implemented by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, govern the working hours of commercial truck drivers in the U.S. who move goods from one state to another.

According to the FMCSA, fatigue is a significant factor in commercial truck accidents. The longer a truck driver remains behind the wheel without an eight hour break, the greater the risk that he will be involved in a crash caused by fatigue. Commercial trucks are, of course, much larger than passenger vehicles and the effects of these crashes can be devastating.

The federal HOS regulations focus on when and how long a driver may remain behind the wheel by placing specific limits on the amount of time a person may drive and how many hours he can work before he is no longer allowed to operate a commercial vehicle. There are three general on-duty limits that truck drivers must follow at all times:

  • Fourteen hour duty limit: drivers are allowed a period of 14 consecutive on-duty hours after being off-duty for 10 or more consecutive hours. This period begins whenever a driver starts any kind of work. Once a driver reaches the 14 hour limit, he may not drive again until he has been off duty for at least 10 consecutive hours. Even if a driver takes some off-duty time during this 14-hour period, his driving time is still limited to 14 hours.
  • Eleven hour driving limit: a driver may be behind the wheel for only 11 of the 14 consecutive on-duty hours. Once a driver has been behind the wheel for a total of 11 hours, he must be off-duty for at least 10 consecutive hours before driving again.
  • Sixty/Seventy hour duty limit: this rule is designed to limit a driver’s weekly driving hours and differs according to trucking companies’ schedules. If a driver’s company does not operate every day of the week, he is not allowed to drive after being on-duty 60 hours for seven consecutive days. If a driver’s company does operate every day of the week, he may not drive after he has been on-duty 70 hours in eight consecutive days. In either case, the regulations allow a driver to reset his on-duty calculations after spending at least 34 consecutive hours off-duty.

Truck drivers subject to the FMCSA’s HOS regulations must keep log books to keep track of their time worked and distance traveled, among other information.

Law Aims to Stop Misuse of Antipsychotic Medications in Nursing Homes

Across the country, nursing home residents are put on strong antipsychotic medications to treat such ailments as aggression and agitation. Often times, they are given these powerful medications for “off-label” uses without their consent or without the knowledge and consent of family members – sometimes leading to nursing home injuries. Some U.S. legislators would like to change that.

Antipsychotic medications are typically used to treat psychotic disorders such as schizophrenia or bi-polar disorder, psychotic symptoms such as delusions and hallucinations, and sometimes even dementia. Since more than half of nursing home residents suffer from some form of dementia, the use of antipsychotics in nursing homes has skyrocketed. Nursing homes across the country also report using antipsychotic medications to treat their residents for anxiety; in addition, some use them as a sleep aid or in place of antidepressants.

Some Side Effects of Antipsychotic Medications in Nursing Homes

Although antipsychotics can help in off-label situations, they are not approved for such uses and carry far too many risks to do so lightly. Antipsychotics are strong medications that carry grave potential side effects. Some of the side effects of antipsychotic medications include:

  • Weight gain, which can lead to diabetes
  • Sudden cardiac arrest
  • Movement disorders
  • Stroke
  • High blood pressure

These are especially dangerous for the elderly.

Efforts to Curtail Antipsychotic Medication Use in Nursing Homes

In light of these side effects, three U.S. senators have proposed a bill that would require nursing homes to gain written consent from a family member or designated health care agent before administering these powerful drugs to their residents. The bill would require nursing homes to provide information to family members about the possible side effects and risks associated with antipsychotics, as well as other treatment options available. The goal is to reduce the number of users at nursing homes and encourage alternative therapies. Other types of therapies include:

  • Message therapy
  • Music therapy
  • Distraction techniques
  • Social interaction
  • Calling family and friends
  • Water therapy

The three senators believe nursing homes have abused the use of antipsychotic drugs among the elderly for far too long. They are seeking to make sure nursing homes only use antipsychotic medications as a last resort, and that proper consent for such medications is given before administering them. In the meantime, family members of nursing home residents who have been given antipsychotics without their knowledge or against their will may wish to consider discussing their rights and options with an attorney, especially if their loved ones have suffered injury as a result of the facilities’ misuse of these medications.

Tales From Our Files – Lessons Learned Concerning Nursing Home Negligence

My legal practice is concentrated in assisting victims of nursing home negligence throughout Massachusetts and Rhode Island. Over my twenty-five year career, I believe I’ve seen nearly every conceivable fact pattern concerning neglect and abuse at these facilities. It recently occurred to me that providing examples of the problems that my clients have encountered over the years might serve a useful purpose in helping others to avoid common lapses in nursing home care.

This second installment addresses a common problem encountered by nursing home patients—the risk and dangerous consequences of dehydration.

My firm represented an elderly man I’ll call “Gus” who was admitted to the defendant’s nursing home facility. Two days previous, he had suffered a stroke. He was admitted to the defendant’s facility to undergo rehabilitation and therapy as a result of the stroke. It is important to note that during the time that he was a patient at the defendant’s facility, he was totally dependent upon the staff for the most basic necessities of life. This included, but was not limited to, needs such as nourishment, hydration and hygiene. During Gus’s stay in the defendant’s facility, he exhibited overt signs that he was not receiving sufficient hydration. A review of his relevant medical records reveals some telling facts: (1) his average daily fluid intake translated to 1,084 cc or 53% of his anticipated need. This is clearly inadequate and lead inexorably to his ultimate dehydration; (2) Gus was ultimately observed to be “very dry” following a routine examination by a dentist. Notwithstanding this fact, no notification to doctors and staff of this important finding was forthcoming; (3) three days later, he had decreased tolerance of fluids (i.e. “sips”); (4) it was noticed that he developed difficulty swallowing; and, (5) he experienced increased lethargy, a likely consequence of his progressive dehydration. Once again, this finding was not properly identified or treated. Neither was Gus’s relatively sudden and significant weight loss.

Gus became non-responsive and was transported to the hospital as a result. Despite the hospital’s attempt to aggressively hydrate him, he died the following day.

We hired an expert who opined that the facility contained a host of deficiencies including their failure to promptly identify, report and aggressively treat the various symptoms and consequences of drastic dehydration. Moreover, our expert concluded that “[i]t seems evident to me that the care provided to [Gus] was substandard and likely resulted in his premature demise.”

I filed a lawsuit against the nursing home for Gus’s wrongful death. We ultimately settled the case for a substantial sum.

My advice is for family members to take an avid role as an advocate for their loved one who is in the nursing home. Only by being actively “involved” can you possibly prevent an accident from occurring.

Dino M. Colucci, Esquire, is a 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 named as a “SuperLawyer” by his peers as published by Boston Magazine.

Let’s Stop Teen Driving Deaths that Occur During Summer Months!

You can help stop teen driving deaths this summer

It’s time to raise the car roof, or get loud and angry, about the many teen driving deaths that occur during the summer months each year. In addition to being out of school, there are other factors like road trips that lead to increased teen fatalities from motor vehicle accidents during the prime time between Memorial Day and Labor Day. There are things that parents can do to help prevent unnecessary car usage by their teenage children, while at the same time there are safety tips for teens to follow when driving during the summer.

Too Many Teen Driving Fatalities

According to Tire Rack Street Survival, a teen driving educator, the 100 days between Memorial Day and Labor Day are the most dangerous for teens. This is mainly due to teens spending more time on the roads because they are out of school, piling in too many other teen passengers, staying out later than during the school year and driving more fatigued. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that in 2009, an average of eight teens between the ages of 15 and 19 were killed each day in motor vehicle accidents.

Parents Can Help

Parents still have influence to help their teen children become safer drivers and less likely to be injured or killed in an accident. Being safe and model drivers for younger children is the first step. For those parents who set driving rules, by employing consequences for rule-breaking, teens are less likely to drink and drive, speed or use a cellphone while driving. Postponing car ownership can also help parents monitor teen car usage and staying calm when riding with a teen can create a supportive driving environment.

Tips for Teen Drivers

Teen drivers should take the safety of their own lives seriously by following rules set by both their parents and state and federal lawmakers. Teens who avoid driving with multiple passengers help to decrease the likelihood of crashes. Driving during daylight hours and without any distractions like talking or texting on cellphones are also effective ways to prevent injury or death in a car accident. Additionally, always using seat belts and choosing not to drink alcohol and drive can help to save teen lives during the summer.

Get Angry, Do Something

Motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death among teens in the U.S. There were around 3,000 teen driver fatalities and over 350,000 teens injured in car crashes on roads across the nation during 2009. It is time for both parents and teens to raise the car roof on preventing teen fatalities on U.S. roads by getting loud and angry about this issue. It is particularly important for parents and teens to be more aware and cautious about teen driving practices during the summer months, when car accidents are more likely to happen.

If you or your teenage child was recently involved in a motor vehicle accident, or you were in an accident where a teenager was at the wheel, contact a local personal injury attorney for advice about your legal rights and options.