Articles Tagged with COnstruction Accident Attorney

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Claudine Cloutier

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By the second year of law school, every law student knows that in order to successfully pursue a personal injury claim based on negligence, the plaintiff must establish four elements: 1) duty of care; 2) breach of that duty of care; 3) damages; 4) a causal nexus between the breach and the damages.  But what do these mean if you’re the person injured? Although each of the elements has volumes of legal treatises attempting to interpret and explain it, a basic understanding is not difficult.

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Medical Records and Your Workers’ Compensation Casesteve_z

Insufficient medical documentation is, by far, the most common reason that workers’ compensation claims are denied or delayed. This is true at all stages of a workers’ comp. case.

Steve Zoni 508-822-2000

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When an injured workers misses time from work, workers’ compensation laws provide a system of wage replacement. In other words, workers’ compensation insurance companies must pay the injured workers a percentage of his or her former wages. It is often said that workers’ compensation is meant to compensate injured workers for having lost the ability to earn wages.

Generally, a totally disabled worker in Massachusetts is entitled to sixty percent of the former wage, and a person who is partially disabled is entitled to forty-five percent.

Often, issues arise when determining what the employee’s former wage is. The former wage, known as the “average weekly wage,” is generally determined by taking all compensation paid to the employee during his or her last fifty two weeks of work before the injury, divided by fifty two.

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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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3264313_1Brian C Dever

508-822-2000

During this wonderful time of the year we need to be concerned about frozen pipes in our homes. More specifically, when frozen pipes do occur, what actions can be taken and what protection does a homeowner need to have.

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by Claudine A. Cloutier

It may seem strange to see “Use Your Cell Phones” on an attorney’s blog when we repeatedly hear about the dangers of distracted driving due to cell phone use.  There’s no doubt that using your phone to text or talk when you should be focusing on the road can distract you and lead to tragic consequences.

But another more positive impact that widespread use of cell phones has had on personal injury claims is that almost everyone is carrying around a camera —- all the time.  More and more frequently an injured person or a witness has the abililty to photograph the accident scene immediately after the incident has occurred.

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by Loren E. Laskoski, Esq.

According to OSHA, falls are the leading cause of death on construction sites. In 2010 there were 774 construction site related fatalities with 264, roughly one-third, of these resulting from falls. Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and hazard free workplaces. The Occupational Safety & Health Administration (“OSHA”) is charged with ensuring compliance with the Act. OSHA acknowledges that protecting workers from falls is a priority and has enacted regulations requiring fall protection.

Under OSHA’s regulations adequate fall protection is generally required when performing work at heights greater than 6 feet. Fall protection can be in the form of harnesses and lanyards, guardrails, and/or safety nets. When performing work on a roof, for example, employers should provide their workers with harnesses that allow them to tie-off to a life line. All holes and openings should have guard rails and edges should also be properly guarded. When using ladders, workers are required to maintain three points of contact with the ladder at all times. Work from scaffolding is slightly different, in that protection is required when working at greater than 10 feet. 

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