Articles Tagged with Accident Lawyer

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In July 2015, an ironworker was seriously injured in the course of his employment when he fell 40 feet at the central parking garage at Logan Airport. Investigators revealed that the worker had fallen onto a piece of precast concrete that had also fallen.  The 53-year-old man, a resident of Connecticut, was transported by ambulance to Massachusetts General Hospital where he underwent treatment for life-threatening injuries

The investigation into the incident revealed that a 32-ton piece of concrete fell while it was being hoisted by a crane, as part of the garage construction.  The worker was apparently attempting to secure the panel when he fell.  All work at the construction site was halted pending an investigation by OSHA, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.  OSHA is the federal agency charged with overseeing compliance with Federal Safety Regulations under 29 CFR 1910.

This incident highlights the perils faced by construction site workers.  What many do not know is that workers injured during the course of scope of their employment not only have rights under Massachusetts General Law Chapter 152, the so-called “workers compensation statute”, but they may also have a cause of action against both the general contractor on the site as well as any sub-contractors whose negligence was a contributing factor in causing the injury.  While an employee is generally unable to file a civil lawsuit against their own employer due to the exclusivity provisions of M.G.L. Ch. 152, this statute does not prohibit the injured party from pursuing a claim or lawsuit against non-employer responsible parties.

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Many employers have complained about the nuisance and cost of certain workplace safety regulations.  While the effectiveness of any regulation must continually be evaluated, there is no question that government regulations requiring safety compliance have reduced the number of workplace injuries and deaths.

The Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) publishes commonly used statistics regarding workplace injuries.  Sadly, there were 4,585 reported worker fatalities in 2013.  As noted, that equates to an average of 12 per day.   Eight hundred and seventeen (817) of these fatalities were Hispanic or Latino workers.  One in five of the fatalities involved construction accidents.   See https://www.osha.gov/oshstats/commonstats.html.

No amount of money can make up for a lost loved one.  But pursuing all possible benefits may lessen the financial toll.  Family of workers’ killed and injured employees may be entitled to receive workers’ compensation benefits. Such payments may not be sufficient to make up for lost wages and lost fringe benefits during a disability.  Moreover, workers who are self-employed or work as independent contractors may have difficulty even qualifying for workers’ compensation benefits.

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Perhaps you voted yes on Question 4 on the state ballot on November 4, 2014 when voters passed a new sick leave law, and perhaps you’re wondering: “What now?”

Starting on July 1, 2015, employees who work at an employer that has 11 or more employees will have 40 hours of unpaid sick time each calendar year. Employees will be able to use sick time and miss work for reasons such as (1) caring for their child, spouse, or parent who has a physical or mental illness, (2) to handle their own illness, (3) to attend a routine medical appointment for themselves or a family member, or (4) to deal with the psychological, physical, or legal effects of domestic violence.

Employees do not receive 40 hours of sick time at the start of each calendar year. Instead, most employees will earn and accrue one hour of sick time for each 30 hours working. If an employer already provides paid sick time to its employees, the new law does not require an employer to provide additional time off so long as the existing policy allows employees to take time off for the same reasons outlined in the new law. When an employee leaves his or her job voluntarily or is fired, unlike accrued vacation time, an employer is not required to compensate an employee for accrued but unused sick leave. Importantly, the new law prohibits employers from retaliating against an employee who uses sick time under the new law or supports a co-worker for doing so. That means an employer cannot fire or demote an employee for using sick time under the new law.

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The other night, a Ford commercial ran repeatedly throughout the basketball game.  Within the ad for the Ford Fusion the narrator provides a subliminal message. The language in the add is  “You never know what might be out there. The ambulance racing by, the ambulance chaser chasing the ambulance…. It’s 360 degrees of chaos”.  The reference to the ambulance chaser has nothing to do with the ad for the Ford Fusion. It is simply Ford’s subliminal message that we all/you all/the public should all hate lawyers because we are nothing but ambulance chasers bringing groundless awsuits creating chaos in your world.

http://www.marketmenot.com/ford-fusion-whats-out-there-commercial/

After the game, the news came on. The lead news story was that Ford has recently recalled 1.4 million vehicles in North America. They include  915,000 Ford Escapes and Mercury Marina SUV for the years 2008 through 2011. The problem is with the power steering control module. The defect could turn off the power steering which makes it harder to steer and increase the risk of a crash. Ford has stated that is aware of six injury allegations related to this problem. In addition, Ford has recalled approximately 200,000 Ford Explorers for the years 2011 through 2013 with a problem with the electrical power steering gear. The intermitted electrical connection can cut off power steering and the cause defaults to manual steering which could lead to an accident. A total of 15 accidents have been linked to the problem. Ford has also recalled approximately 200,000 other Ford Taurus Sedans for the years 2010 through 2014 with a license plate lamp plate issue that can lead to a short circuit and potential fire hazzard. Ford is aware of 18 reports of injuries related to that defect. Finally, Ford is aware of approximately 83,000 Ford Fusions, Mercury Milans, Lincoln Zephyrs and MKZs for the years 2006 through 2007 with optional all-weather floor mats that can shift out of position and interfere with the accelerator pedal. Starting in the 2010 model year Ford changed the design adding a second attachment to keep the mat from moving.  All of these recalls were reported in CNN Money [HTTP.//money.cnn.com/2014/05/29/auto/ford-recalls].

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1518320_13264313_1George N Keches                Brian C Dever

A 50 year old carpenter was employed installing sheet rock at a construction site.  Plaintiff was working in a staircase with a co-worker who was passing the sheet rock down to the Plaintiff from the floor above.  The Plaintiff fell off the ladder and onto the mid-floor landing below sustaining head injuries and a fractured wrist.  The precise manner of the fall was unknown.  The co-worker heard the fall, responded and found the ladder upright in the designated location.  The Plaintiff was unconscious lying on the lower mid- floor landing, approximately three feet below the upper landing.

Plaintiff alleged negligence on the part of the General Contractor for failing to conduct a Job Hazard Analysis and by allowing the use of a ladder and not scaffolding while the Plaintiff was installing the sheet rock in the stairwell.  Further Plaintiff alleged that Defendant failed to provide fall protection, as Plaintiff was exposed to a fall of more than six feet based on the open stairwell behind the Plaintiff.

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3668152_1Sean C. Flaherty       508-822-2000

If you or someone you know owns their own business in Massachusetts, it is important to know  several things regarding Worker’s Compensation coverage. Sole proprietors and partners in a partnership are not automatically covered under worker’s compensation insurance.

A recent Department of Industrial Accidents decision denied coverage to a man who operated a home construction company. As a sole proprietor, he, alone, was the only person working for the business. Because he had a worker’s compensation insurance policy, he assumed he was covered. However, the policy only covered his employees in the event that he decided to hire people in the future. Given the seriousness of his injury, the man is now in an unfortunate situation.

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3264313_1In January of this year the First Circuit Court of Appeals decided a Massachusetts case entitled Cracchiolo v. Eastern Fisheries, Inc., et al 740 F 3rd 64. That case involved the death of crew member of a ship that was docked in New Bedford. After a night out, the crew member was returning to the shipyard where the ship was docked. Ordinarily he would go through a gate but that evening it was locked. There was a second unofficial way into the facility. There was a gap in the fence near the water that allowed crew members to access their boats after hours. Even if a crew member came through this passageway there was a safer way once through the fencing to proceed to the boat. It was a longer route. There was a shorter and more dangerous way used on the night in question. It was icy and snowy which made this more dangerous route a fatal choice as the seamen slipped, fell into the water and drowned.

The court said that “to prevail on the negligence claim, a plaintiff must prove that the defendant owed the plaintiff a duty of reasonable care, that the defendant breached this duty, that damage resulted, and that there was a casually relationship between the breach and the duty and the damage. The court stated that the question of breach, damages and causation are the “special province of the jury”. However, the question whether or not the defendant owed a duty of care in the first instance is an issue of law, and may be settled on Summary Judgment if the risk posed by the defendant’s actions were not foreseeable”. The court went on to say Massachusetts may also make this determination after trial in light of all the evidence.

In this case the court sited Soederberg v. Concord Greene Condominium 76 Mass.App. Ct. 33 (2010) stating that “landowners do have a duty to remove snow and ice accumulations even though those accumulations present open and obvious hazards to visitors. The court explained that the open and obvious nature of the hazard does not negate an owner’s duty to remedy the hazard”.  Rather a landowner must remedy snow and ice hazards when he can and should anticipate the dangerous condition will cause physical harm to the invitee notwithstanding it is known or an obvious danger. It went on to say “ the plaintiff’s unreasonable decision to enter into an ice hazard could bear on the issue of comparative negligence but that this is a jury question in the plaintiff’s unreasonable behavior will not bar recovery as a matter of law even when other options that voided the ice hazard were available”.

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aileen1Aileen C. Bartlett

508-822-2000

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recently cited a Massachusetts excavation company for willful and serious violations of excavation safety standards.  The Wakefield contractor faces over $144,000 in proposed fines following an OSHA inspection of a Milton work site last August.  According to OSHA’s Braintree office, the workers were installing water mains in a trench over six feet deep, with no cave-in protection or means of egress. The workers were also exposed to falling debris that accumulated above the trench.

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We find it commonplace during our daily routines to see construction and city workers maintaining and repairing the streets and infrastructure which we rely on so heavily, often times driving by them without giving their work a second thought. However, rarely do we contemplate the dangers that these men and women face on a daily basis in order to keep our streets safe and our utilities up and running.

It has recently come to my attention that, in a tragic turn of events, a long-time Natick employee was killed on February 4, 2014, while working on an emergency repair of a water line.  Anotheremployee was injured as well. As reported by Boston.com and Wicked Local, the deceasedworker had worked for the Town of Natick for 26 years before the tragic accident. The Natick Town Administrator, called the incident a “freak accident.”The reports indicate that the men were working when a backhoe was accidentally pulled forward, causing the stabilizer of the backhoe to strike the two workers. One passed away due to his injuries, while the other escaped with his life, having sustained serious injury. However, work could not stop entirely to allow the Natick DPW to mourn; they were out the very next day responding to a snow storm.

A few years ago, our firm came across, and settled, a similar case, which involved a backhoe which tipped forward, causing a worker to sustain serious bodily injury. The reoccurrence of such tragic, but preventable harm is discouraging. However, cases like these serve an important public purpose, putting the manufacturers of heavy machinery on notice that their products can be dangerous and extreme care needs to be put into their design. First and foremost, our thoughts and prayers go out to all of the families involved in this most recent accident.  Next time, as you drive down the road and see a crew of workers, take a moment to reflect on the sacrifice that they make on a daily basis, subjecting themselves to the possibility of serious injury or death in order to keep all of the people’s lives running smoothly in the community that they serve.

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4380849_1By: Erica L. Pereira, Esq.

508-822-2000

I’m sure all drivers out there are aware of the recent crackdowns on “distracted driving”, most specifically, texting while driving. In today’s technological age, it is nearly impossible for a person to go anywhere without receiving a text message, phone call, tweet or facebook post. This constant receipt of information via our phones has made it increasingly more likely that drivers will receive such information while driving and feel the immediate need to respond to the information, text or post. All drivers are aware that this practice of texting while driving is dangerous, but in this age of immediate gratification, drivers will take that risk to respond immediately to a text message.

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