Articles Tagged with negligence

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, motorcycles make up only 3 percent of all registered vehicles in the United States.  Despite those low numbers, the NHTSA reports there is an increase in motorcyclists killed each year in Massachusetts.  Motorcycle fatalities occurred 28 more times frequently that automobile fatalities.   Some of the common characteristics that contribute to motorcycle injuries and fatalities are other vehicles, speed, alcohol impairment, weather, lighting, and roadway conditions.

According to the Massachusetts State Police, a motorcyclist traveling on an uneven roadway in Kingston, Massachusetts crashed and died after losing control on the uneven pavement and was struck by another vehicle.

Pot holes, uneven pavement, construction or other roadway inconsistencies are flaws more dangerous to the operator of a motorcycle than a car.  If roads are not properly maintained, motorcyclists can crash.  If it was the negligence of the city or town to keep roadways safe, or whether it was the negligence of another driver, we can help.

nursesWhen you entrust a loved one to the care of a nursing home, you understand that there are certain risks and that certain bad things can happen. The chances are, though, that you don’t expect that those things include having your loved one brutally killed by their roommate in an unprovoked attack. Depending on the circumstances of the attack and the events leading up to the attack, the nursing home may have some responsibility for creating the conditions that led to the death. If that happens, your family might have certain legal rights against the nursing home. A knowledgeable Massachusetts nursing home negligence attorney can advise you about your options.

One of the most recent fatal roommate-on-roommate nursing home attack cases, reported by the Boston Globe, occurred at a nursing home in Randolph. The 86-year-old James was lying in bed when his roommate, the 58-year-old Walter, attacked him with a heavy ceramic flower pot. The next day, the injured man died from severe head trauma.

James’ death is not the first of its kind in Massachusetts. A few years ago, a family pursued a wrongful death action on behalf of their 100-year-old loved one. Elizabeth died after her 98-year-old nursing home roommate, Laura, beat her and then strangled and suffocated her with a plastic bag. Elizabeth’s family was unable to win their wrongful death lawsuit against the nursing home because they simply didn’t have the evidence they needed to show that the nursing home knew or should have known that Laura was at risk of murdering her roommate.

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.

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.

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.

elderly womanA development in a Massachusetts nursing home negligence case serves as an important reminder of many things, but one in particular. That one particular thing is just how incredibly important it is to be ready to oppose, and defeat, a facility owner’s motion to derail your case via arbitration. Failure to avoid arbitration at this stage means never getting to argue your case in front of a jury, and having to present your case in a setting where it may be harder to get the full amount you deserve. A success at this stage opens up a variety of opportunities for obtaining the compensation your family needs. To ensure you are equipped to take on the other side and succeed, be sure you have experienced Massachusetts injury counsel in your corner, advocating for your needs.

An example of this type of situation played out in a Massachusetts wrongful death action, with the plaintiff receiving a $500,000 settlement recently. The case involved a 100-year-old resident of a Bristol County nursing home, whom her 98-year-old roommate allegedly suffocated with a plastic bag. After the resident’s death, the deceased woman’s son filed a wrongful death claim against the nursing home.

There are many possible ways that a nursing home can be liable for the injury to, or death of, a resident. One way, of course, is through neglect of the resident. Neglect can manifest through untreated bedsores, malnutrition or dehydration. Another way, however, is inadequately providing for resident safety. For residents with memory/cognitive issues, this can involve inadequate systems to prevent residents from wandering away.

A “cold joint” or “construction joint” is formed during the process of laying concrete when the second batch of concrete is placed after the first set of concrete has begun to settle. As a result of the delay, the two batches are unable to form a completely uniform mix, resulting in a possible “plane of weakness.” This definition is according to The Concrete Society a website dedicated to providing independent concrete advisory services that include impartial technical advice on concrete.

cold joint

A common cold joint

While cold joints happen during the concrete process, sometimes due to the limits of how much concrete can be poured in a day or in some cases additional support such as rebar is needed before continuing; regardless of these circumstances proper planning and execution is required to ensure the cold joint will not jeopardize structural integrity, or cause harm to a civilian. Claire LaPosta was one such civilian who had the misfortune of tripping over a negligently placed cold joint resulting in her injury.

Legal News GavelFor many people, the decision to enter (or to place a loved one in) a nursing home is a difficult and stressful one. The time when the patient first goes into the facility is one filled with many changes and many necessary things to consider. One thing that may be easy to overlook is the paperwork that must be signed as part of the admissions process. Don’t make the mistake of just “glossing over” this step and automatically signing everything put in front of you without legal counsel. Some of these documents may be optional, and signing them may not be in your family’s best interests in the event that you or your loved one is harmed as a result of negligence by the facility staff. Instead, make sure you are armed with knowledge before you sign by relying on the representation of a knowledgeable Massachusetts nursing home negligence attorney.

Knowing before you sign is important because, once you sign, you may not be able to “take it back,” and that signature could be a significant negative for your family. For example, take the federal case involving Emma, an elderly woman who entered a Chestnut Hill nursing home in early February 2013. Later that month, Emma’s daughter Jackalyn signed several documents related to the nursing home admissions process. Over the course of the month, the daughter signed in excess of a dozen documents, ranging from DNR to an authorization for assignment of insurance benefits. Among the numerous other documents Jackalyn signed, one was something called an “Arbitration Agreement,” which the daughter signed but didn’t date.

Early the following December, Emma died. Jackalyn subsequently filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the nursing home. According to the daughter’s complaint, Emma died due to an extreme sepsis infection brought on by the pressure sores (or bedsores) on the woman’s body.

Legal News GavelWhen a loved one has been hurt, or has died, while in the care of a nursing home, it is a stressful time, and you very likely have a lot on your mind. Worrying about whether or not that arbitration agreement document you or your sibling signed when your mom or dad was admitted to the nursing home is valid is probably not at the top of your list of immediate concerns. However, it can make all of the difference when it comes to getting compensation for the nursing home’s negligence. Whether it is overcoming an arbitration agreement or defeating some other challenge in your negligence or wrongful death action, contact an experienced Massachusetts nursing home negligence attorney about your options in your case.

Last summer, the Georgia Court of Appeals ruled in a case in which a daughter sought to sue her late mother’s nursing home for negligence. In that case, a daughter named Carol signed several papers on behalf of her mother when the mother was first admitted to the nursing home in 2013. Among those documents was an agreement stating that all disputes between the resident and the home would be resolved through arbitration instead of litigation. Carol did not have authority under any legal documents to sign on behalf of her mother. Her mother was not present when Carol signed, and the daughter did not discuss the document with the mother before the signature was made.

In early 2015, the mother died. A few months later, another daughter, Jeannette, who was also the administrator of the mother’s probate estate, sued the nursing home for negligence and wrongful death. The nursing home tried to invoke the arbitration agreement and get the judge to compel arbitration, but the court refused. The appeals court upheld that decision, concluding that there was no proof that Carol had any kind of authority to sign binding documents on behalf of her mother, and the absence of the mother’s signature, or the signature of someone legally empowered to act on her behalf, made the agreement unenforceable.

Discount Retail StoreWhen you are injured in a trip-and-fall case, there are several hurdles you will necessarily have to clear. There are also some additional pitfalls that you may encounter depending on the specifics of your case. One of those potential pitfalls is the “open and obvious” rule, which says that, if a hazard is open and obvious, a property owner is not obligated to fix it or post warnings about it; the property owner or possessor has no legal obligation to do anything about an open and obvious hazard. Fortunately, there are many ways to counter a defense argument that a hazard was open and obvious. To make sure that you are prepared for everything that may come your way in your premises liability case, be sure to retain the services of a skilled Massachusetts premises liability attorney.

One case that showed how it is possible to overcome an “open and obvious” argument was an accident that occurred at a Watertown discount retail store. Jean was walking toward the entrance of the store when she tripped and fell, suffering significant injuries. It was not raining, and the area was not wet at that time.

The customer tripped along a curb area in front of the store, which she alleged was unsafe. Specifically, she presented a negligence lawsuit that argued that the curb was dangerous and defective and that the store either knew or should have known that the curb was dangerous and defective.