Michael S. Mehrmann

nurseWhen you entrust a loved one to a nursing home, you are entrusting them with one of the most important parts of your life. Sometimes, accidents are inevitable, even when proper care is provided. Other times, though, injuries happen (or are made worse) because nursing home staff don’t provide proper care, including sometimes not even following the facility’s own protocols. When that happens, you may be entitled to sue and obtain an award of compensation. Proof of things like a past history of similar problems or citations and fines following federal agencies’ investigations may help to strengthen your case further. Talk to an experienced Massachusetts nursing home negligence attorney about your situation and your options.

One recent case involved an accident with a tragic end. Walter was a highly accomplished accountant with many achievements, including helping to found a nursing home in Worcester. In 2016, after a diagnosis of Parkinson’s Disease, Walter moved into the nursing home that he helped to get started, according to a McKnights.com report.

In early August 2016, Walter got up in the night to go to the bathroom, but he fell and hit his head on a nightstand. A certified nursing assistant and a licensed practical nurse found Walter on the floor of his room. The pair helped Walter up, helped him to the bathroom, and then helped him back into bed.

nurseIn Massachusetts, the law gives you only a limited period of time to pursue a claim for workers’ compensation benefits. This fact serves as a reminder that, if you’ve been hurt on the job, it is important to reach out to an experienced Massachusetts workers’ compensation attorney promptly. A knowledgeable lawyer can help you assess your case and the period of time that you have in which to act.

The recent case of a nurse from Lynn was an example of how the statute of limitations can potentially matter in a workers’ compensation claim. Tammy was a registered nurse at a hospital when she first hurt her neck at work in January 2007. Two months later, she had a discectomy and fusion surgery because her pain was getting worse. She returned to work that summer. In 2012, her neck problem flared again, and she couldn’t turn her neck. She missed three months but then went back to work. Her neck problem flared again in April 2014, and she never returned to work. In July 2015, she underwent another discectomy and fusion surgery.

Three months after the second surgery, she filed a claim for temporary total disability workers’ compensation benefits. In her claim, she listed the date of her injury as April 15, 2014, her last day of work.

gavelIn Massachusetts, a property owner has a legal duty to those on their property to maintain it in a reasonably safe condition. While many people may associate this obligation with maintaining the property in a hazard-free condition to avoid trip-and-fall and slip-and-fall accidents, the duty actually goes beyond just that. One of the other obligations property owners have is to keep visitors to the property free from harm by certain third-party assaults. When a property owner fails to do so, and you suffer injuries as a result, you may have a claim against that property owner. An experienced Massachusetts premises liability attorney can help you assess your situation and the merits of your case.

An example of this type of scenario was a federal case that recently went before the First Circuit Court of Appeals, whose rulings affect federal cases in Massachusetts, Maine, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, and Puerto Rico. In the case, the plaintiff, Henry, lived in a condominium complex that was attached to a luxury hotel in downtown Providence. This residence came with access to the hotel’s services and amenities. One night, while waiting outside for his girlfriend, Henry noticed a large group of boisterous young people who were going in and out of the hotel’s entry area. At one point, the group appeared to chase and potentially attack an African-American passer-by.

Henry told a valet to get help, but the valet told Henry, “That’s not my problem” and went to go park a car. Henry retreated to the hotel lobby. He informed the hotel concierge of the problem, but before she could act, the mob attacked Henry. They punched, shoved, and kicked him. They held him down while one threw a table at him. In the end, Henry suffered a broken arm in the attack.

elderly ladyWhen a family makes the often difficult decision to place a family member in a nursing home, they are entrusting that facility with one of their most precious commodities:  a loved one. Nursing homes are supposed to be places where those requiring care and attention get what they need. Sometimes, though, that doesn’t happen, and the resident’s safety becomes compromised. When that happens, injuries or even death may be the result. In the case of an injury or death, knowledgeable Massachusetts nursing home negligence attorneys are available to help that family navigate the legal system.

A Massachusetts newspaper recently reported on the deaths of two residents of a Westboro nursing home and the legal actions that followed. The first of the two seniors to die at the Westboro facility was 89-year-old Betsy. Betsy had dementia and a history of falling. Betsy’s personal recliner had a chair alarm that would notify staff when she exited the recliner. One day in late July 2015, a certified nursing assistant at the nursing home helped Betsy get into the recliner but forgot to turn on the chair alarm, according to information the CNA provided to authorities. Betsy was discovered an hour later, face down on the floor, according to the Worcester Telegram.

According to the Telegram report, the staff at the nursing home knew Betsy had a head injury but, allegedly, did not notify a doctor or a nurse practitioner about her, even though the woman complained of head pain and had problems keeping food, liquid, or medications down. Two days after the accident, Betsy arrived at the emergency department of a nearby hospital. A radiology scan identified that she had a brain bleed. She died a week later.

pedestrian signalIf you are injured in an auto accident, there are several things that are vitally important to achieving a successful result. Not the least of these things is making sure that the judge provides your jury with instructions that properly frame the issues regarding the law and the rules of the road, in order to give you a fair chance to win. Advocating for proper jury instructions is just one of the many ways that it helps to have experienced Massachusetts pedestrian accident attorneys working for you, giving you a better chance at a proper outcome.

One case from Cambridge was an example of a situation in which jury instructions were very important. Mikel was a pedestrian crossing a street in East Cambridge when a city truck, which was making a left turn, ran into her. The collision caused Mikel to suffer serious and long-term damage to each of her knees. Based upon the harm that she’d suffered, the pedestrian sued the city.

In any type of vehicle-related personal injury case (whether it’s car-versus-truck, car-versus-car, or vehicle-versus-pedestrian), one of the key parts of achieving success is the two-sided issue of fault. You must prove that the person or entity you’ve sued committed some act or omission that caused the accident, and you must establish that you were free from blame or bore only a lesser responsibility for the accident.

gravelIn many situations, there may be more than one type of legal theory that allows you to win your case and obtain a recovery of damages. For one woman who broke her hip trying to enter a Cape Cod garden store, she was able to advance her premises liability lawsuit even though she didn’t have proof that the store owner had actual notice or constructive notice of the tripping hazard that caused her to fall. The customer succeeded because she persuaded the courts that she should be allowed to go forward based upon something known as a “mode of operation” analysis. This alternate means of pursuing a premises liability case is just one example of how it can pay to have skillful and knowledgeable Massachusetts premises liability counsel on your side.

The injured woman, Linda, was a customer who was attempting to enter the store when she fell. The fall took place along a walkway that was surrounded by a gravel area that the store used to display products for sale. One of the gravel rocks had found its way onto the walkway and caused Linda to trip and fall, which resulted in her suffering a displaced fracture of her right hip.

The customer filed a lawsuit against the owner of the store for her injuries. The store moved for summary judgment, which would have ended Linda’s case before she even got to trial. The store’s argument was that the law of premises liability required an injured person to show the existence of actual or constructive notice, and Linda had proof of neither, so she had no case. “Actual or constructive notice” means that the owner or party responsible for a certain property either actually knew or reasonably should have known about a hazardous condition (such as gravel rocks in a walkway).

hospital workerIn any workers’ compensation case, your medical history has the potential to be an issue. If you have pre-existing conditions that already afflicted you prior to your workplace accident, your employer may try to argue that your disability is a result of those pre-existing conditions, rather than your workplace accident. The key is to have a workers’ compensation case that is strong enough to overcome these arguments. An experienced Massachusetts workers’ compensation attorney can help by providing zealous representation as you seek to defeat these and other arguments against your claim for benefits.

Employees can face a wide array of risks on the job. For workers in a psychiatric care facility, that array is especially broad. Daniel was an employee of the Commonwealth’s Department of Mental Health, working in the psychiatric area of the Tewksbury State Hospital, and his case was an example of that. On Aug. 7, 2010, a patient attacked Daniel, punching him in the head and then kicking him in the chest and abdomen until the worker lost consciousness. The attack caused Daniel to have chronic lower back pain along with deep vein thrombosis, pain, and instability in his right leg (which were tied to the lower leg fracture he suffered in the attack).

In Massachusetts, the law has done away with competing medical experts providing opinions on behalf of the employer and the injured worker. Instead, the law now requires that the injured worker undergo an examination by an impartial examiner. The judge in Daniel’s case relied heavily on the independent doctor’s opinions to conclude that Daniel was totally disabled.

calendarWhen you are hurt at work, just as if you are hurt in an auto accident or in a slip and fall, it is important to take prompt action. In general, the law gives you a limited period of time in which to pursue a claim for workers’ compensation benefits. In order to make sure that you are doing everything possible to protect your rights, it pays to retain knowledgeable Massachusetts workers’ compensation counsel, who can make sure that your case is handled properly and in a timely manner.

An example of how limitations periods in workers’ compensation cases can work was the case of an injured Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority employee. Michael suffered an injury at work on July 8, 2004. That injury resulted in his undergoing shoulder surgery that October. In May 2008, Michael filed a claim for workers’ compensation benefits. Unfortunately for Michael, he injured that same shoulder a second time at work. Ten months after the second injury, in July 2013, the worker filed another claim, with this one seeking benefits related to the 2012 injury.

Eventually, the judge issued an award of benefits to Michael in 2014. In 2015, he filed another workers’ compensation claim, seeking additional benefits relating to each of the 2004 and 2012 injuries. The judge dismissed Michael’s 2015 filing, ruling that he filed it too late. The judge wrote that the law requires “claims for compensation to be filed within four years from the date” the worker became aware of his workplace injury, and Michael filed his 2015 case more than seven years after he became aware of his injury. This meant that the statute of limitations had expired, and Michael wasn’t allowed to pursue a claim for any more benefits, according to the judge.

slip and fallSlip-and-fall or trip-and-fall accidents are relatively common, but they also can potentially be very serious situations that cause long-lasting or even lifelong impacts upon the people hurt in them. When this harm is a result of the inappropriate action or inaction of others, the injured person may be entitled to a monetary recovery in court. If you’ve been harmed in a slip-and-fall or trip-and-fall accident, there are many things that you should do right away. At the top of your list should be retaining an experienced Massachusetts premises liability attorney to represent you in your case.

Frances was someone who found herself in a slip-and-fall case. She was walking on the property of a senior living facility in Norwood when she fell, allegedly suffering injuries as a result of that fall. When you are hurt in a trip-and-fall or slip-and-fall accident, there are several things you can do immediately to help yourself. For example, if you have ready access to a camera, you can take pictures of the area where you fell to preserve an image of the area as it existed at the time of your accident. You can also request a copy of any incident reports the property owner or manager has written up.

Of course, as discussed above, one of the important things you should do is retain skilled injury counsel. Whether you need to collect and present the factual evidence of your case or make legal and procedural arguments before a judge, all of these things can be enhanced by having knowledgeable counsel. In Frances’ case, the latter half of this list (legal/procedural issues) took center stage. The ownership structure of the senior facility involved several layers of business entities, including corporations and LLCs.

cowsThere can be many different ways that you can be hurt in an auto accident in Massachusetts. You may be a passenger in a vehicle whose driver was at fault in an accident, you may be a driver struck by another driver, or you may be a driver who hits some other object, like farm animals. Regardless of how your case begins, there are many ways to achieve a successful outcome, including negotiation and settlement, mediation, or a trial and judgment. In any situation, it pays to have a skilled Massachusetts car accident attorney on your side to protect your rights and help you navigate the system to get a fair recovery for you.

One case that involved mediation and a settlement was the lawsuit filed by Maureen, a driver who suffered serious injuries as a result of a single-car accident in Worcester County. Maureen crashed into two cows that had wandered away from a nearby farm and onto the road. Maureen brought a lawsuit against the farmers – a husband and wife pair – who owned the cows that Maureen’s vehicle struck. In Massachusetts, the law requires owners of livestock animals to keep their animals properly contained inside a pen or fence. Since the farmers’ cows were in the road, Maureen’s case was that they weren’t properly fenced in, that this failure amounted to negligence on the part of the farmers, and that, because of their negligence, the farmers were liable for the damages the accident caused to Maureen.

As occurs in many cases, Maureen’s case against the farmers went to mediation. The mediation was a success, and the two sides reached a set of mutually acceptable terms. Maureen signed the agreement, as did the husband. The attorney who represented both the husband and the wife signed as well.