Resolution: Make It A Safer New Year in 2019

As I was pondering what to write about this New Year’s Eve 2018, I thought about various topics of Massachusetts injury law that I could talk about to my readers.  Defective and dangerous products? Medical negligence?  Commercial property slip & fall accidents?  Construction site accidents?  Workers compensation?  Wrongful death?  There’s a lot that I could write about.

But two areas stand out as requiring greater attention and vigilance both in the new year, and every year.  And they are these:

  1.  Cell phone use when driving, and 2)  Nursing home neglect & abuse.

As a Boston accident & injury lawyer, these are the two most problematic areas of injuries that I noticed in 2018.  Certainly not the only problem areas – but two fast growing ones.  The reasons why are obvious:  Cell phone use while driving continues to be a growing area of injuries that my practice has seen, and our aging population has resulted in a surge of nursing home residents, and that unfortunately means a growing number of Massachusetts nursing home neglect & abuse incidents.  The growth of both of these areas of accidents and injuries is very troubling.

When it comes to cell phone use and driving, I’ve said it a thousand times, and I’ll say it again:  Put that phone down — in fact, turn it off, whenever you are behind the wheel of any kind of motor vehicle!  No matter how many times this warning is said, by how many people or public safety organizations, too many people just will not listen and break this habit.  Driving while talking on a phone — or using it in any manner such as texting or surfing the web – is on a cognitive level equal to driving drunk.  For the sake of the pedestrian and motoring public, this awful – and in Massachusetts, illegal – habit must stop.  So make a New Year’s resolution that you can keep – and turn that phone off once you get behind the wheel.  The life you save could very well be your own.

On the subject of nursing home neglect & abuse, yes, there is something you can do:  Through your spoken advocacy to facility management and your behavior inside a nursing home, make it clear to both senior management of the nursing facility, as well as floor managers and staff – that you are constantly looking out for signs of neglect or abuse of your loved one.  Do NOT just “assume” that your loved one will be adequately cared for — that is a very dangerous assumption on the part of anyone who has had to place a loved one in a nursing home — whether it’s called a “skilled nursing facility”, and “assisted living facility”, an “Alzheimer’s care facility”, a “Memory Care Center” or anything else.  Warning:  Those are just new-found marketing terms – do not be impressed by them.  Two important behaviors that family members and concerned visitors need to regularly practice: 1)  Regularly make it clear to the Director of Nursing that you are not taking anything for granted when it comes to the care of your loved one or family member; that you are watching for signs of neglect.  And 2)  Shake up the days and times that you enter the facility to visit your loved one.  Do NOT visit on a predictable basis, on regular days or times.  Doing this signals to the staff when you will & won’t be there, thus allowing them to “slack off” in the care of your loved one, when they know that you won’t be there, and “fake it” – clean things up or make it appear that your loved one is always cared for properly – when they know that you will likely show up. As a Massachusetts nursing home neglect & abuse lawyer, I’ve seen far too many sickening cases of patient neglect, and abuse, and I can assure you that constant vigilance is needed by family and loved ones.  Click here for some more detailed tips.

Stay safe in 2019, and my best wishes.

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