In my previous post on this important topic, I noted how plaintiffs who suffered injuries due to slipping and falling at Massachusetts retail stores, usually had a tough time even getting their cases in front of a jury. This was because store owners could often get the cases dismissed due to the high evidentiary standard that an injured plaintiff would have to meet, in order to prevent the case from being dismissed. Continue reading
Slip & fall accidents can be a lot more serious than many people think. No, scraped palms and knees don’t make up the bulk of the injuries that result from these events: As a Boston slip & fall attorney, I can assure people: Broken limbs, herniated spinal discs and concussions are most often the types of injuries that result from these events. When people around age 70 or older are the victims, broken bones become even more common. A good deal of my injury law practice involves representing these types of injury victims, and I’ve seen more serious injuries result from these types of events than I can discuss here.
So it was very positive news when a Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) case was recently decided, which basically expanded the liability of retail business operators for slip and fall injuries. This type of case falls under an area of law known as “Premises Liability.” (There’s an entire section on Premises Liability at our website, which you can get to by clicking on the “Website” tab, above.) Explaining on a technical, legal level precisely why this decision expanded liability of retail stores for these types of injuries, would likely take a long time here and probably cause you to doze off. (I understand – for non-lawyers, these court decisions are pretty dry.) But – very briefly – I’ll try to explain the legal reasons for this decision: Continue reading
As I think many of you know, a good deal of my injury law practice involves representing victims of nursing home neglect and abuse. In this post, I’m asking you to prioritize just a few seconds in making a very time-senstive, important statement now to the federal government, on the subject of nursing homes across the United States. Believe me, the issue at stake here is anything but “unimportant” or “boring” -especially if a loved one or you needs to go into a nursing home. So I’ll try to make this quick, easy to understand, and importantly – easy to have your voice heard on.
The problem: Whenever anyone enters a nursing home for the first time, almost all nursing homes require the patient or family member to sign what is called a “Pre-Dispute Arbitration Clause.”
What these clauses say and do: They force the patient or family member to agree in advance that any problem or dispute concerning the care of the patient, will be decided by private arbitration, and not by the court system. Most of these types of claims involve patient neglect or abuse that often involves horrific harm, broken limbs, medication errors, dehydration, body ulcers, and untreated pain.
Politics is often a sickening business. A place where honesty, ethics, the public interest and conscience take a back seat to money, expediency, self-interest and cowardice. Money talks in politics – it is the fuel that drives it. And individual career interests are almost always the hands on the steering wheel, directing where something a given bill ends up. The realistic know this in the present; the idealistic will in the future.
But when the effort that is scuttled is a bill that would have increased the financial penalties that the state could slap scofflaw Massachusetts nursing home operators with – thus abandoning the weakest and most vulnerable members of the public – that is beyond sickening. You see, the Massachusetts Legislature seemed all set – in both the House and Senate – to include an amendment to the annual state budget, that would have empowered the state to do just that. The amendment was drafted and admirably lobbied for by state Sen. Mark Montigny of New Bedford. As a Massachusetts nursing home abuse attorney, I can assure you that he is to be hailed for that effort.
When Sen. Montigny attached the amendment a few months ago, appropriately named “Preventing Patient Abuse in Nursing Homes,” no one on Beacon Hill openly opposed it. Strategically, this is how it works – because any elected (or even appointed) official opposing such a laudable measure probably wouldn’t last too long in public life. But there were those in the legislature who opposed it – lurkign behind the scenes. They just kept their mouths shut until the “right time,” when they would act on behalf of their moneyed masters, otherwise known as nursing home lobbyists.
In my previous post on this story, I wrote of the recent, horrific death of a 2 year old boy killed in an alligator attack at Walt Disney World in Florida. Specifically, I discussed that Disney had more than adequate reason to know that guests and visitors to their “Polynesian Village” attraction there were at risk of being injured or killed by alligators in a lagoon they maintained on that property.
Now, let’s talk about the legalities of this situation.
In my view as a Massachusetts negligence and injury attorney, Disney is in an extremely precarious legal position in this matter. The reason for this is found in the basic elements of negligence that every first year law student is taught. Those elements are contained in four terms, as follows:
I usually write in this blog about primarily injury liability issues that occur in, or are likely to affect, Massachusetts residents. And an alligator attack isn’t exactly likely in this northeast state, that’s for certain. So why write here about the devastating tragedy that occurred in Walt Disney World in Florida, where a 2 year boy was killed by an alligator at Disney’s theme park there? Two reasons: 1) Because there are amusement parks and theme parks in Massachusetts, and the framework of the Disney accident illustrates in a fairly illustrative way, how and why theme parks can be held liable for injuries that occur on their property. 2) At least as reported so far, this tragic case illustrates corporate negligence at its worst.
The facts of this story, as reported this far, are nothing short of horrific: A young family from Nebraska travels to Disney World in Florida for a vacation. They were staying at the resort’s Grand Floridian Hotel, next to the “Polynesian Resort Village” attraction, which has a hotel abutting a man-made lagoon. The lagoon area recreates a beach environment, complete with beach loungers. The only warning signs present at the site are “No Swimming” signs. The couple’s two-year old son waded six inches into the water, when a six-foot alligator snatched the toddler, dragged him under water and killed him. As the boy’s horrified parents watched. Continue reading
For anyone who reads this blog, it’s no secret that I’m passionate about protecting the rights of elders and sick, disabled people in Massachusetts nursing homes and extended care facilities. Today’s post is Part Three of three recent posts I’ve dedicated to this subject, and it will outline the typical warning signs of nursing home patient neglect or abuse to look for. Continue reading
In my immediately previous post, I wrote of the steps that family members must take on their own, to assure that their loved one in a Massachusetts nursing home or extended care nursing facility is well cared for. If you haven’t read that post yet, I’d suggest that you take a look at it. Family members cannot rely on state regulators to asusre their loved one’s proper care – and it is far more important to prevent nursing home neglect or abuse, than to deal with it after it has been discovered.
In today’s follow-up post (sorry, I meant to post this last week, but have been preoccupied with a very busy trial) I’m going to address the common warning signs of nursing home patient neglect or abuse. Continue reading
In a previous post, I wrote of state & federal government agencies that family members can report suspected cases of Massachusetts nursing home neglect or abuse to. While you can & should copy the contact information for several agencies that are outlined in that previous post, I don’t want readers to get a false sense of security about the existence of these agencies. The sad and disturbing reality is that the families and loved ones of nursing home residents must be their own ‘first-line watchdogs,’ and serve as the primary point of monitoring the care of their loved one who is living in a nursing home. Government agencies, whether state or federal, are simply too-thinly staffed, too over-worked, and in some instances, simply too inattentive, or incompetent, to protect Massachusetts nursing home residents from abuse & neglect. It’s just one of the sad-but-true realities of the nursing home industry.
In today’s post, I want to offer some suggestions as to what family members can do to minimize the chances that their loved one will become the victim of nursing home abuse or neglect. Continue reading
Readers of this blog know how many times I’ve written previously in this blog about the atrocious conditions that many Massachusetts nursing home residents live in every day. It’s sickening, it’s cruel, it’s a stain on our society, and it’s a moral outrage. Yet it goes on, and on, seemingly unstopped.
Why? The answer lies in a collision of factors, but at the heart of the problem lies nearly one constant: Corporate greed and the never ending quest for profits at the expense of human dignity, exhibited in this industry by hiring incompetent and/or inadequate staff; cutting costs to bone, and reducing quality of care for the most vulnerable of patient populations. Yes, other factors do come into play also, not the least of which is the often abysmal ‘oversight’ by state and federal regulators charged with making sure that nursing homes and nursing facilities adhere to state and federal laws mandating quality patient care standards. Another major factor: The nursing home industry’s very conscious awareness that the regulators and inspectors charged with policing them, such as those employed at the Massachusetts Department of Public Health – Health Care/Nursing Homes Licensure Division – are woefully understaffed and lax in their “enforcement” of regulations that apply to them. Many, many Massachusetts nursing homes know full well that the Massachusetts DPH is a “paper tiger” – that the odds that any state or federal authority figures will “find them out,” or discover their lax care of patients – are extremely low. Understaffing at the DPH, state budget cuts, over-worked inspectors and staffers – all these factors coalesce to create the perfect environment, or “perfect storm,” for many Massachusetts nursing homes to flout laws, rules, regulations, and basic morality in how they run their facilities. Continue reading