Posts tagged with "Personal Injury Cases"

Boston landlords’ liability for dog-bites inflicted by tenants’ dogs

Under Massachusetts law, a dog owner is strictly liable for any injury caused by their dog, regardless of whether the dog has ever bit anyone before or possesses any violent tendencies. Specifically, the law states that a dog owner is responsible for any “damage to either the body or property of any person,” unless, of course, the person injured was trespassing or tormenting the dog at the time of the attack.

This statute applies evenly to all Boston dog owners, including those who live with their dogs in apartments and other types of rental properties. However, in situations in which the dog owner is a renter, there exists the possibility that another may also be held liable for a dog bite – specifically, the landlord.

Landlord dog-bite liability

Given that no statute exists in Massachusetts on landlord dog-bite liability, common-law principles are applied by Massachusetts courts to determine negligence on the part of the landlord.

This generally means that a dog-bite victim must first be able to show that the landlord knew, or reasonably should have known, that the dog had “dangerous propensities” before they can be held accountable – the mere presence of a dog on property owned by the landlord is not enough as common law generally regards dogs as harmless animals.

A Massachusetts court had an opportunity to apply this test in 2009 when a lawsuit was initiated against a landlord after a dog owned by one of the tenants attacked another tenant. The court noted that the breed of the dog involved in the attack – a bit bull – had been characterized by other courts as a breed “commonly known to be aggressive.”

Ultimately, the court ruled that even though the landlord cannot be held strictly liable based solely on the breed of a tenant’s dog, knowledge of the breed and its propensities may be considered when determining if the landlord was negligent or not.

Dog bites and homeowners insurance

It is important to note that dog bites are often covered under homeowner liability policies. In fact, according to a report issued by the Insurance Information Institute last year, roughly one-third of all homeowners insurance claims paid in 2011 were related to dog bites – nearly $479 million in all. An average dog-bite claim in 2011 was $29,396, up 12.3 percent from 2010.

Consequently, if you or a loved one has been injured by another’s dog, it is important to speak with an experienced dog-bite attorney to ensure your rights are protects and that you obtain the compensation you are entitled to.

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.