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The Massachusetts Attorney General this week announced settlements with seven nursing homes over the deaths of five residents.

One nursing home operator has been banned from participating in state-run healthcare programs for a period of seven years, while others agreed to fines ranging from $30,000 to $200,000 and will undergo retraining of staff. But the settlement falls short of criminal prosecution, which safety advocates contend needs to occur to hold large for-profit nursing home operators accountable for the health and safety of residents.

The Worcester Telegram reported more nursing home closures are expected across Massachusetts. Currently more than 400 Massachusetts nursing homes operate 45,000 beds. About 20 Massachusetts nursing homes closed last year.

The aging Baby Boomer population, consolidation of the industry into a few large for-profit nursing home operators, and a lax regulatory and oversight environment have created a perfect storm in the American nursing home industry. As our nursing home abuse attorneys in Massachusetts reported last year, instance of nursing home mistreatment or neglect can be even more likely at these for-profit facilities.

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Hospital mergers are in the news again, the latest warning sign when it comes to the risk of patient injury or death in the U.S. healthcare system.

The nation’s largest hospital and health-care conglomerates often tout economies of scale and improved services when announcing acquisitions or otherwise swallowing up the competition. However, The New York Times became the latest media outlet to question those assertions when it published a report this month that found a decline in level of care associated with hospital mergers.Accident at Route 212 in Methuen

While such mergers may offer cost-savings and other economies for providers, they result in fewer choices for patients and physicians, higher prices, and reduced quality of care, including an increase in mortality and major health setbacks as competition falls.

Our medical malpractice lawyers in Boston continue to fight for patient rights as the profit-motive erodes what few safeguards exist when it comes to protecting the American healthcare consumer from bad doctors, dangerous hospitals, deadly pharmaceuticals and defective medical products.

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The threat of fall injuries is a commonly overlooked risk, particularly through the long Massachusetts winter months.

As we recently reported, Massachusetts snow removal liability laws can hold business or property owners liable for falls or other injuries caused by the accumulation of ice or snow on public or private property. In some cases, even municipalities may be held responsible, although MGL c. 84, § 21 requires those making claims against a municipality to notify the county, city or municipality of injury or damage resulting from snow or ice within 30 days of an incident.download-2-2

Although winter’s wet and slippery conditions are far from the only cause of fall accidents, ice and snow do add substantial risks for New Englanders. Boston Code of Ordinances 16-12.16 contains addition information about the city’s snow-removal law.

Our Boston injury lawyers know fall injuries are often discounted as frivolous claims. It’s an opinion that is heavily promoted by big box stores, commercial property owners and insurance liability carriers. But the fact is that fall injuries remain a leading cause of serious accidental injury and death in the United States each year.

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Failure to clear ice and snow from your property may result in liability if someone falls or is otherwise injured this winter.

Many property and business owners may still be under the impression that Massachusetts law does not hold them accountable for injuries resulting from failure to remove ice and snow from sidewalks, parking lots or other locations on their property. However, a landmark 2010 ruling by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court in Papadopoulos v. Target Corp., changed Massachusetts snow-removal law for the first time in more than a century.

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The ruling rejected long-held common law, which generally held property owners were not responsible for injuries created by naturally accumulated ice and snow. In the court’s opinion, Justice Ralph Gants wrote it  “is not reasonable for a property owner to leave snow or ice on a walkway where it is reasonable to expect that a hardy New England visitor would choose to risk crossing the snow or ice, rather than turn back or attempt an equally or more perilous walk around it.’’

These are complex cases involve state law, and municipal ordinances and are best handled by an experienced Boston injury lawyer. Additionally, the law makes a distinction between naturally accumulated snow and ice and dangerous conditions that contribute to winter-weather risks.

While there is no set mandate regarding how quickly snow and ice must be removed under state law, many communities have passed snow-removal ordinances that include time limits. In most cases, liability extends to public sidewalks in front of a business or residence.

For example:

  • City of Boston gives business just three hours. Residents are given six hours.
  • Worcester’s ordinance states removal must occur within 12 hours.

 

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Recently, we wrote about the risks of parking lot accidents. However, parking lots are far from the only risks that come with the holiday shopping season.

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The risks of injury on commercial or retail property spike during the holiday shopping season for a variety of reasons. Winter weather brings the risk of ice, snow, standing water and wet or slippery floors. Overstocked shelves and displays create risk of being struck by overhead merchandise, which can result in very serious injuries. Crowds and short tempers can lead to falls, assaults, or other injury risks.

Black Friday has been particularly dangerous in recent years, as stores promote outrageous deals to draw large crowds. Employees and customers alike are at risk of injury. Nor do the risks abate once you return home. We bring more new products into our homes during the year-end holidays than at any other time of the year, making dangerous or defective products another common risk, particularly for children’s toys or products otherwise marketed to children. From Thanksgiving fryers to New Year’s Day fireworks, dangerous products are a much more common risk than many consumers would like to believe.

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An 18-year-old Bridgwater man has pleaded not guilty to charges in connection to a Massachusetts car accident that killed four of his friends.

It’s a stark reminder of the risks as we head into the fall holiday season and the return of winter weather. These are tragic cases that change families’ lives forever. There is no adequate compensation for the loss of a child. And too often in these cases we see multiple deaths involving young relatives or close family friends. Our Boston injury lawyers urge you to talk at length with your young drivers, and to set clear rules and consequences when it comes to driving behavior. images-6

The Associated Press reports the teenager has been charged with manslaughter by motor vehicle, operating under the influence and motor vehicle homicide by reckless operation. Authorities say the young man was responsible for a May 19 crash in East Bridgewater that killed four teenagers from Stoughton High School. Prosecutors contend he lost control of his car while trying to pass another vehicle, causing it to roll over and strike a tree. Police also report finding marijuana at the scene.

Investigators are trying to determine cause of a gas explosion and series of fires that rocked parts of Massachusetts last week and are focusing on the safety procedures and preparedness of Columbia Gas of Massachusetts.

NBC News reports thousands were allowed to return to their Massachusetts homes over the weekend after a gas leak set dozens of homes on fire. At least one person was killed and 25 others were injured. The Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency said some 8,600 gas meters and 15,000 power outages had been restored in Andover, North Andover and Lawrence. FireFighters-300x200

The National Transportation Safety Board was on scene to investigate, and determined the explosion had been caused by excessive pressure in the system. Fourteen pressure regulators in the area receive gas at 75 psi and dispense it at .5 psi. Low pressure can cause outages and so the system is designed to compensate for low pressure situations by releasing more gas. Investigators are looking at whether a sensor attached to a gas line that was capped and being taken out of service could have contributed to the over-pressure situation. The NTSB reports gas flowed into homes at significantly higher pressures than was necessary. Investigators are still working to determine the cause.

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A recent report by the USA Today Network found the United States is the most dangerous place in the developed world to give birth.Injury Accident on Fairhaven Road

The investigation found 50,000 mothers are injured in child birth each year in the United States. More than 700 mothers die. About half the deaths and injuries could be prevented with basic safety practices that are routinely ignored, despite being the standard of care for a generation.

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Three years ago, a fan was attending a Red Sox game at Fenway Park in downtown Boston when she was hit by a part of a bat.  The bat was broken when swinging at a pitch, and this is something that happens on a somewhat regular basis during the game of baseball.

Boston Personal Injury This piece of the broken bat went flying into the crowd and made contact with a fan’s head, resulting in traumatic brain injury (TBI).  While it is true there are signs posted warning fans to pay attention for objects leaving the field of play, and there are even announcements on the scoreboard before the game, these announcements often do little good when it comes to protecting defenseless spectators. Continue reading

Firefighters Rescue Woman and Child from Burning HomeEverett, MA (July 14, 2018) – A fire raging through a multi-family home unit on Friday left two firefighters and one resident with serious injuries.  Around 2:00 pm Friday, fire crews with the Everett Fire Department responded to a three-alarm fire at the complex, located at 13 Morris Street.  Many residents were fleeing the complex as firefighters arrived.   The fire had originated from the basement, but quickly engulfed the entire building as fire personnel worked to extinguish the flames.

A woman trapped inside the building was rescued from the second floor.  She was transported to Massachusetts General Hospital with serious injuries sustained in the fire.  Two firefighters suffered second and third degree burns in the rescue effort. One firefighter was treated and released later Friday while another remained hospitalized with serious injuries as of Saturday morning.

In total, 19 tenants were affected by the fire and have been displaced from their homes.  The American Red Cross is working with victims to help find temporary shelter.  Fire chief Tony Carli said they are investigating the cause of the fire.  At this time, it is believed that a faulty electrical panel is to blame.  Carli said that the department is looking into possible issues with building and fire codes which may have contributed to the fire occurring.