Michael S. Mehrmann

Understanding “Pain and Suffering”

If you or someone you know has been injured in an accident and you’re seeking compensation from a liable defendant, chances are very high you may have heard the phrase “pain and suffering” being used by Attorneys. While, most all of you reading are familiar with the use of these words, their use as legal terms carries a fair share of subtle distinctions.

Pain and suffering resulting from an accident is used as an umbrella term that encompasses the physical and emotional damages that are a result of the accident. To elaborate further, “pain” would include bruises, a broken arm, fractured rib, etc, while “suffering” would be the emotional fallout resulting from those injuries, emotional and mental injuries would be one way to understand “suffering.” These emotional injuries would include feelings such as depression, grief, anxiety, and even fear to name a few.

hospital bedNursing home negligence cases are particularly distressing because they represent a failure by someone (or several someones) to provide the standard of care that they should, and that failure resulted in someone’s beloved friend or family member getting hurt… or worse. Nursing homes and nursing home employees have both an ethical and a legal obligation to provide quality care to their residents. When a resident is hurt due to negligence, there may be a claim for compensation. To learn more about your rights and your options, contact and experienced Massachusetts nursing home negligence attorney about your case.

A report from the Salem News regarding the state of a nursing home in Essex County provided an example of the harm that can happen. An inspection report created by state inspectors laid out a long list of alleged errors by the Essex County facility’s staff. Some of the alleged varieties of misconduct were less severe in terms of risk of physical harm. Residents of the nursing home alleged that the staff mocked or insulted them in foreign languages and also gave the residents nothing to do, even during scheduled activity times, according to the report.

Other wrongdoing, however, was more concerning. The report asserted that, in one instance, a patient with a broken leg was left in bed for more than 24 hours before being transported to a hospital. The staff allowed the resident, who had “end-stage dementia,” to remain in bed despite the resident’s periodic cries of pain. In another instance, an employee allegedly pushed a resident while trying to get the resident into bed, the News indicated.

work injuryFor any worker who’s been hurt on the job, workers’ compensation benefits can serve as an essential aid, allowing them to meet their financial obligations while they are unable to work. This can be especially vital for manual laborers with limited academic backgrounds, as they may lack the skills to take on many types of jobs that involve lighter-duty work, meaning that they may take longer to get back on the job after an injury. Whether you are a manual laborer or not, getting the workers’ compensation benefits you need often comes down to how effective you are in demonstrating your disability and your wages. To be sure you get the benefits you need, reach out to an experienced Massachusetts workers’ compensation attorney about your case.

K.A. was an example of this type of manual laborer. He did not have a college degree or a high school diploma, and he had “reading comprehension issues.” The worker had no computer skills. He had worked in manual labor fields from the age of 18 until he suffered his workplace injury in his mid 50s. At that time, K.A. injured his back while shoveling gravel on the job. The accident happened in the completion of a public construction job.

In a case like this, there are essential calculations that must be made. Typically, calculating a worker’s average weekly wages involves taking the worker’s total gross wages (including overtime and bonuses) from the previous 12 months, then dividing that number by 52. That figure is then multipled by the appropriate percentage figure depending upon the type of disability the worker suffered.

vehicle keysIf you’ve been injured in a vehicle accident, you probably understand that the operator of the vehicle is someone who potentially is liable for your injuries. However, there may be others, even if they were not involved firsthand in the accident itself, who may owe you compensation. In order to pursue these others successfully, you have to be able to show that the ultimate incident that injured you was the foreseeable result of that party’s action or inaction. To be sure your case includes all of the individuals and entities who potentially may be liable to you, be sure you’ve retained an experienced Massachusetts injury attorney.

A recent ruling from the Appellate Court is a reminder that, even if someone took a vehicle without the owner’s authorization, there may be facts that allow you to pursue the vehicle’s owner. That recent case was actually a property damage case, not an injury action. A sand and gravel company’s employee left a front-end loader unattended during a snowstorm, with the keys in the ignition, idling. The employee left the vehicle at 10 P.M. and at 2 A.M., he returned to the lot. Sometime during the intervening four hours, an “unknown and unauthorized” person had taken the vehicle and smashed into two trucks belonging to another company, substantially damaging them.

The owner of the damaged trucks sued. The trial judge threw out his case, deciding that the damage was not a “foreseeable consequence” of leaving the keys in the front-end loader. The appeals court reversed that decision and revived the damaged trucks’ owner’s case.

work zone, injury, accident, personal, attorney

Approaching a work zone

As the flowers bloom and the trees leaf out, it’s a familiar sign as any that the warmer months are coming in Massachusetts. A sign nearly as familiar as the vibrant greens on the trees are the equally vibrant orange cones signifying a work zone. In Massachusetts there is only so much appropriate weather to get road work done in a given year, so as the leaves and flowers proliferate so to do the work zones. A great deal of effort goes into making work zones safe, from deploying state and local police, to temporarily dropping the speed limit, to reducing lanes of traffic, it would seem there’s no shortage of methods of increasing safety of workers in these zones, as well as the safety of the drivers passing through them. Yet despite attempts to improve safety precautions accidents involving personal injury and even fatalities continue to happen.

According to statistics from the Federal Highway Administration on average in 2015 a work zone crash occurred once every 5.4 minutes, 70 crashes occurred in a day with at least on resulting in injury, and every week 12 work zone crashes resulted in at least one fatality. The data shows a trend with work zone crashes comparing similarly with non-work zone crashes. The problem is work zones are designed with the intention of reducing the risk for accidents, yet the data shows a negligible reduction in accidents in work zones versus those outside of work zones.

workers compEach workplace accident that ends in death is tragic as it cuts a life short far too soon. It is also traumatic for the loved ones left behind. In addition to emotional damage, workers who die as a result of industrial accidents can potentially cause major financial crises for their immediate loved ones, as they may be significant (or even sole) income earners for their families. In Massachusetts, the families of workers killed on the job have certain legal avenues available to them. One of these is seeking workers’ compensation death benefits. To make sure that you obtain the compensation your family needs to survive financially, talk to an experienced Massachusetts workers’ compensation attorney.

July 2018 was an unfortunately bad month for fatal industrial accidents in Massachusetts. In one instance, a 26-year-old died after entering a large industrial cutting machine that was under maintenance at a facility in Sharon. At some point, the man became stuck inside the machine’s workings. EMTs took roughly 90 minutes to free the man and rush him to the hospital. Although the worker was conscious and talking to the EMTs when they arrived, he died at the hospital from his injuries. Roughly a week later, a worker at a Concord hospital died from injuries sustained at his workplace. The 46-year-old man was working on the hospital’s boiler system when he entered its crawl space. He left behind a wife and two children.

Surviving spouses, children and other dependents of workers killed in a workplace accident (or who die as a result of complications from that accident) can obtain workers’ compensation survivor benefits. (Children are only eligible for benefits if they are under 18, are full-time students or cannot work due to their disabilities.)

Having insurance in Massachusetts is a legal requirement in order for an individual to legally operate a vehicle within the state. While the extent of one’s coverage may vary, in Massachusetts individuals are required to carry four types of compulsory auto insurance with their own minimum requirements. The types of auto insurance are Bodily Injury to Others, Personal Injury Protection, Bodily Injury Caused by an Uninsured Auto, and Damage to Someone Else’s Property.

  • Bodily Injury to Others: The minimum requirement in Massachusetts for Bodily Injury to Others is $20,000 per person/ $40,000 per accident. This type of insurance gives an individual protection against legal liability for the accidental injury or death of others caused by the operation of your car. This is only applicable to accidents that occur in Massachusetts. While this protects an individual from legal liability to individuals involved in an accident, the protections do not extend to your passengers.
Mass Insurance coverage

You must meet minimum Insurance requirements to be eligible to drive in Mass

A famous book once advised, “Don’t sweat the small stuff.” While that advice may work well in many areas, the law is not one of those areas. In legal matters, including workers’ compensation cases, small details can make big differences in outcomes. To make sure you have all of your bases covered in your workers’ compensation case, both great and small, be sure you have representation from a skilled Massachusetts workers’ compensation attorney.Legal News Gavel

C.P.’s workers’ compensation case was one example in which the details mattered a lot. C.P. was an assistant manager of a supermarket meat department in 2013 when, while pulling a box of chicken at work, he injured his back. The manager filed a claim for workers’ compensation benefits. The employer fought the manager’s request for benefits, but the workers’ compensation judge ordered the employer to pay temporary total disability benefits of $1,040 per week, starting on Dec. 2, 2013.

In the spring of 2016, the employee filed a request for permanent total disability benefits. The judge, however, only awarded the employer partial disability benefits. At the hearing, the judge had heard from a doctor who diagnosed C.P. with a protruding disc and, while concluding that the employee could not perform his old meat cutter duties, found that he could do light-duty work as long as it involved no prolonged standing or walking, and no lifting of more than 10 pounds.

To win a premises liability case in Massachusetts, you may have multiple options that you can use. If you seek a favorable judgment based upon the “traditional theory” of premises liability, you need proof that the hazard upon which you slipped was something of which the property owner knew or something that had existed for a long enough period of time that the owner reasonably should have known about it if it was being properly diligent. To learn more about your options if you’ve been hurt in a slip-and-fall (or trip-and-fall) accident, be sure you retain skilled Massachusetts premises liability counsel to handle your case.wet floor

A recent example of a slip-and-fall case with a “traditional theory” of premises liability was the accident suffered by D.K. D.K. was a shopper at a supermarket when she slipped and fell, suffering substantial injuries in the process. D.K. discovered that she slipped on an advertising sign that had fallen to the ground. The injured shopper’s lawsuit asserted that the store was liable to her and owed her compensation based upon the legal concept of “premises liability.”

If you slip and fall on something like the sign in D.K.’s case, you can win even without evidence that the store knew about the sign having fallen to the ground. The law in Massachusetts says that if a hazard had certain “physical characteristics” from which a jury could reasonably infer that a substantial amount of time had elapsed since the object was there, the injured plaintiff can still be entitled to a successful verdict.

Negligence is defined as a failure to use the level of care someone of ordinary prudence would have used under the same circumstances. Negligence consists of actions or omissions where there is an expected duty or responsibility owed by one person to another person. Events which cause injury not due to fault of another person involve negligence, and the elements of negligence are as follows.

  • Duty of Care: This boils down to, does the defendant have a responsibility to the plaintiff that it must legally uphold? Is it a responsibility of which the plaintiff is the intended recipient of the defendant’s actions? Establishing a legally defined duty and recognized responsibility of the defendant is the first step to determining a defendant’s negligence.Negligence
  • Breach of Duty: After the duty of care has been established, it must be determined whether or not the duty of care was breached. For example was the plaintiff lawfully on a premise owned by tenant? Did the person injure him or herself on the defendant’s premises? Did the owner of the business fail to reasonably prevent the injury? These are but one example of many situations involving a breach of a legally recognized duty.