December 16, 2014

Earned Sick Time for Massachusetts Employees

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Employees in the Commonwealth will soon be legally entitled to up to 40 hours of earned sick time per year, thanks to Massachusetts voters. Starting next summer, employees will be able to earn and use sick time to: a) care for the employee's own physical or mental illness, injury, or medical condition; b) care for a child, spouse, parent, or parent of a spouse with a physical or mental illness, injury, or medical condition; c) attend routine medical appointments of the employee or the employee's child, spouse, parent, or parent of a spouse; or d) address the effects of domestic violence on the employee or the employee's dependent child. The new law goes into effect on July 1, 2015.

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April 26, 2013

Northampton Construction Accident at Massachusetts Department of Transportation Kills 1 & Injures 2

cranes.jpg Earlier this month, a tragic accident happened at a facility of a Massachusetts government building. Officials at the scene of a construction accident at the North King Street facility of the Massachusetts Department of Transportation reported that the incident resulted in one fatality and caused two others to be injured.

According to one official, a 911 call at came in at approximately 9:40 a.m., and indicated that there were three people pinned beneath two modular trailers that had been used as temporary office spaces. It was not immediately apparent why the workers were near the modular trailers, but one of the workers was able to get free and escape with injuries that were not life-threatening.

Emergency responders helped free the second worker with the assistance of a large crane and the worker was taken to the hospital with moderate injuries that were not life-threatening. The third worker sustained fatal injuries and was killed at the scene.

Emergency workers that arrived on the scene described the trailers as each being 50 feet in length and approximately 10 feet in width. The trailers had been set up next to one another in the back of the main building that was located on the property.

Authorities are looking into the cause of the accident in further detail. Specifically, the District Attorney, along with the local police department, federal Occupational Safety and Health Administrations, and the State Department of Industrial Accidents are all working on an investigation.

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September 17, 2012

Man Killed and Child Injured in Whitman Pedestrian Accident

1375248_untitled sxchu username JosephHart.jpgLast week, a 38-year-old man was killed and a four-year-old girl was critically injured in a Whitman pedestrian accident. According to accident witnesses, a maroon Dodge Ram pick-up driven by 46-year-old Richard C. Brown of Attleboro struck Edward W. Cordwell, Jr. of Whitman and his girlfriend's small child on Temple Street. The child, Kiera Crawford, was reportedly riding a bicycle equipped with training wheels across the street while Cordwell walked alongside her. According to Whitman Police Deputy Chief Tim Hanlon, Cordwell apparently attempted to shield the child from being hit the truck. Still, Kiera's small bicycle was found wedged under the front of the pick-up.

Witnesses stated the force of the impact threw Cordwell more than 10 feet. Despite that rescue workers responded within minutes, Cordwell died as a result of his injuries. Kiera was reportedly knocked unconscious during the collision. Immediately following the accident, the child was transported to Massachusetts General Hospital with serious injuries.

Although the cause of the fatal accident is still under investigation by the Whitman Police Department, Hanlon stated the accident victims were not in a crosswalk at the time of the crash. Still, Brown's driver's license was suspended until the results of the investigation are available. His driving record reportedly contains a number of moving violations and surchargeable accidents. It is unclear whether Brown will face criminal charges in connection with the tragic incident.

Too often, drivers fail to notice bicyclists and pedestrians as they speed down Massachusetts roadways. When a pedestrian is struck by a motor vehicle, the resulting injuries are normally life-threatening or fatal. Pedestrians are placed at risk every day by inattentive or impaired drivers, hazardous road conditions, and even automobile defects. The victim of a pedestrian accident may be eligible to receive financial compensation for medical costs, pain, suffering, lost wages, loss of enjoyment of life, any resulting temporary or permanent disability, and other damages. If you were hurt in an accident caused by a negligent driver, you should contact a capable Massachusetts personal injury lawyer as soon as you are able.

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August 27, 2012

Plymouth Teen on Leave from the Coast Guard Killed in Kingston Accident

800px-Chevrolet_TrailBlazer_--_06-05-2010 By IFCAR (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.jpgLast week, a 19-year-old Plymouth man was killed in an automobile accident while on leave from the U.S. Coast Guard. According to Kingston Police Chief Joseph Rebello, Chad Kierstead was riding in a Ford Explorer driven by 19-year-old Pat Donnelly when the sport utility vehicle (SUV) struck a utility pole while headed east on Route 80 in Kingston. The force of the crash reportedly snapped the pole into two pieces and sent the Explorer flying into a tree before the vehicle rolled and landed on its side. Chief Rebello stated the driver was walking around outside of the SUV when emergency responders arrived at the crash scene. Meanwhile, Kierstead, 19-year-old Tyler Barrows, and 19-year-old Chris Corbo remained inside of the vehicle. Two of the young men were transported to Boston area hospitals via emergency helicopter and the other two were taken to South Shore Medical Center by ambulance. A few hours after the crash, Kierstead was pronounced dead at Massachusetts General Hospital.

An accident witness reportedly told police the Explorer was speeding at the time of the crash. It is unclear whether Donnelly was racing another vehicle when he lost control of his SUV. According to Chief Rebello, police are currently investigating whether drugs or alcohol played a factor in the fatal crash. The cause of the accident is presently under investigation by the Massachusetts State Police Accident Reconstruction Unit.

Car accidents are one of the most common causes of personal injury and death in Massachusetts each year. Collisions like this one are often caused by reckless, careless, distracted, or impaired drivers. Unfortunately, motor vehicle crash victims frequently suffer devastating and costly injuries. If you were injured or a loved one was killed in an automobile collision, you may be eligible to receive damages for your medical costs, suffering and pain, permanent or temporary disability, lost wages and benefits, and funeral expenses. Contact a capable Massachusetts automobile accident lawyer to discuss your legal rights and options for recovery.

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July 8, 2012

Haverhill Teenager Sentenced to One-Year in Jail Over Fatal Texting While Driving Collision

1307593_mobile_phone_in_hand sxchu username sqback.jpgIn what is being heralded as a landmark case, an 18-year-old Haverhill man was recently ordered to serve a one-year sentence in the Essex County House of Corrections after a jury convicted him of causing a deadly crash while driving and texting behind the wheel of a car.

In February 2011, Aaron Deveau was driving when his car allegedly crossed the center line of a roadway and struck a vehicle headed in the opposite direction head-on. 55-year-old Daniel Bowley reportedly suffered extensive injuries in the crash and died in a Boston hospital 18 days later. Bowley's girlfriend, Luz Roman, was also injured in the crash.

In 2010, Massachusetts passed legislation making it a crime to harm someone in an automobile accident while texting behind the wheel. In addition to charging Deveau with motor vehicle homicide, prosecutors also charged him with violating the recently enacted law. In a bench trial, Deveau testified he was not texting and driving at the time of the collision, and that he did not remember doing so at all that day. According to prosecutors, evidence that Deveau was in fact texting two minutes before the crash proved his negligence.

District Court Judge Stephen Abany reportedly imposed the maximum sentence on Deveau in an effort to deter other would-be texting while driving offenders. A portion of Deveau's 2-year and 2 ½-year concurrent sentences were suspended, however, because he was only 17 at the time of the accident and had no prior criminal history. Deveau's driver's license was also suspended for 15 years.

A spokesman for the Massachusetts State Police, David Procopio, said that the criminal case was important and the maximum sentence sought by prosecutors was appropriate. He also said it was vital for drivers to remember that distracted driving is both dangerous and deadly. According to Judge Abany, although a criminal sentence normally takes into account punishment, rehabilitation, public safety, and deterrence, his primary concern when he handed down Deveau's sentence was deterrence. Judge Abany said that his goal was to send a message that all drivers need to "keep their eyes on the road."

Automobile accidents are one of the leading causes of personal injury and wrongful death in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Crashes are frequently caused by distracted, careless, inattentive, or impaired drivers. Unfortunately, car accident victims often suffer devastating and costly injuries. If you were hurt or a family member was killed in a motor vehicle collision, you may be eligible to receive compensation for your medical expenses, pain, suffering, disability, lost wages, and funeral expenses. A qualified Massachusetts auto and motorcycle accident attorney can help.

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December 15, 2010

Boston Jury Hits Tobacco Company For Giving Cigarettes to Children

1214675_cigarette.jpgAccording to a Boston.com report, a Boston jury awarded a woman's estate $50 million and her son $21 million in damages yesterday in a products liability lawsuit against the makers of Newport cigarettes. The plaintiff showed that back in the 1950s and 1960s, The tobacco company had given free cigarettes to children as young as nine years old in a Boston housing project. Most of the children were African-American, and studies show that 75% of African-American smokers today prefer menthol brands like Newport. the plaintiffs argued that the company engaged in a free givaway marketing strategy to get African-American children hooked on smoking Newports.

Marie Evans died of lung cancer at the age of 54 in 2002. She recalled, in testimony that was videotaped before she died and played to the jury during the trial, how she was given free Newports from a white truck that looked like an ice cream truck when she was nine years old. She traded the cigarettes at first, but started smoking them when she was 13. She said she tried to quit several times, but could not, and smoked until she died.

The $71 million award was for compensatory damages alone, and the jury now will take up whether to award punitive damages. The plaintiffs also have a claim under the Massachusetts Consumer Protection Act, which the judge will decide, and which could lead to the doubling or trebling of the damage award.

The tobacco company will ask the trial judge to set aside the verdict, and will file an appeal, and big awards against tobacco companies are often overturned on technicalities. But there is no doubt that cigarette manufacturers have been forced to change their ways because products liability lawyers have gone after them. Lawsuits caused Congress and the Surgeon General to act, and lawsuits have made life safer for the children growing up today.

At KJC Law Firm, we are proud to be part of that movement to use the law to make the world more safe.

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November 21, 2010

Airbag Performs Heimlich Maneuver

1227906_the_sultans_wife.jpgRichard Silvia was driving down Route 28 in Falmouth, Massachusetts, last week when he choked on some raisins he was eating. He passed out. His truck crossed the road, hitting two cars, and nosed into an embankment. The impact stopped the truck and his airbag deployed. The force of the airbag expelled the raisins, and Silvia regained consciousness with only a scraped wrist. The other drivers also suffered only minor injuries. The incident made national news.

Silvia was ticketed for impaired driving. I guess he should have pulled over as soon as he choked and died safely by the side of the road.


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October 30, 2010

A Seatbelt Saves a Life

602535_seatbelt.jpgOn I-495 near the US Route 1 interchange in Plainville, a 1996 Toyota Avalon went off the road and crashed into a tree last Saturday, according to the Attleboro Sun Chronicle. The 18 year old driver was not wearing a seatbelt. She was airlifted to Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, where she died. The 21 year old passenger was wearing a seatbelt. She was treated for minor injuries at Sturdy Memorial Hospital in Attleboro. Seatbelts save lives -- but only when they are worn.

Massachusetts has a law requiring that all drivers and passengers over 11 years of age must wear a seatbelt when riding in a car. But not everyone obeys this law. A recent Massachusetts study found that on average more than one out of four front seat drivers and passengers were not wearing their seat belt. There were some interesting but predictable variations on the rate of seatbelt use among different groups.

The rate of seatbelt usage among women was 79%; among men it was 68%. The rate for people over 65 was 82%; for other adults it was 73%; for teens it was 67%. People driving commercial vehicles buckled up only 50% of the time, and pickup truck drivers only 61%. Those figures are depressing and somewhat scary. We have worked hard to make manufacturers put out safer cars by forcing them to pay for the injuries they could have prevented by providing airbags and seatbelts. But we have to do our part and use these safety features, too.

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October 9, 2010

Traffic Safety Lights Installed on the Logan Tarmac

1864_zrich_airport_air_view.jpgPeering out the little oval window on the side of the aircraft as it taxied around Logan International Airport in Boston, I often wondered how pilots knew when to cross a taxiway, turn right or left, or move out onto the runway. I studied the markings on the ground, cryptic signs in the grass along the pavement, and the lights that seemed interspersed at random. I always assumed that somebody was looking out for the hundreds of bodies captive in the metal tube with wings as other tubes full of bodies zoomed past or lumbered nearby. I felt most secure when we joined a line waiting for the front spot for takeoff. After all, if everybody else was going this way, it must be ok.

Turns out, I was right to worry. A recent Boston.com entry reports that there have been 117 "runway incursions" at Logan in the last 10 years, 11 so far this year. That means unless we have only .7 of an incursion in the next couple of months, we are ahead of the yearly average. A runway incursion is when a plane turns onto the wrong runway or when there is a near-collision between two planes or a plane and some other service vehicle. Of course, we can take comfort that we are only fourth worst in this regard, behind Los Angeles, Chicago, and Philadelphia.

Now they are trying out a new system of red lights imbedded in the tarmac which, through a series of sensors, transponders and radar, light up when it is unsafe for the plane to enter or cross the runway. "It's simple," said Randy Babbitt, an administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration. "Pilots have to stop when they see a red light."

Maybe we won't have that last .7 of an incursion. I'll be looking out my little oval window to help.

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September 28, 2010

Will The New Texting While Driving Law Work?

1131636_no_cells.jpgOn September 30, 2010, the new, highly publicised Massachusetts law banning texting while driving takes effect. The same law bans any cell phone use while driving for those under 18 except for certain emergency calls, generally 9-1-1 calls for police or medical assistance.

Everyone agrees that texting while driving is dangerous. If you look at your phone for three seconds to read or compose a text message while you are driving on the highway at 65 mph, you travel the length of a football field without looking at the road. Of course the same is true for checking out who is calling you on the cell phone or scrolling through your contacts list to make a call, or entering a phone number to call, none of which seem to be prohibited by this new law.

The Governor's press release makes it seem like we can expect much safer roads now. "Without question, this new law will save lives on our roadways," the Governor is quoted as saying. On the other hand, a new study released today by the insurance industry shows that such bans have no effect on crash statistics, and seem to have no effect on how much people text behind the wheel. The Boston Globe reports that texters may be causing more accidents by holding the phone down near the seat to avoid detection, and that police departments are talking about getting SUVs so they can ride higher and look down into potential suspects' cars. Of course if it's the police car driver who is doing the looking, that is pretty unsafe, too.

Some have suggested that parents have to set an example and stop using cell phones -- texting or talking -- if they expect their children to obey the law, and that they have to talk to their children about the dangers of distracted driving. Maybe the "shotgun texter," a friend in the passenger seat who will text for the driver, will become as popular as the "designated driver," who stays sober and drives his drinking friends where they need to go. It seems that education may be the best way to fight texting while driving, and that the new law may be more important as an expression of what is the right way to behave than as a means to prosecute violators.

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September 9, 2010

Tom Brady Car Crash Injures Passenger

1151556_semaphore.jpgWhen Tom Brady's car and Ludgero Rodrigues' minivan crashed in Back Bay, Boston, yesterday, what most people wanted to know first is whether the New England Patriots' star quarterback was injured. The answer was no, and we all breathed a sigh of relief. The outlook for the season was still good.

Next, we all wanted to know what happened and who was at fault. Rodriguez ran a red light, we were told, and crashed into Brady. Well, maybe. According to the Boston Police report, Rodrigues says the light was green when he went into the intersection of Commonwealth Avenue and Gloucester Street, and Brady ran into him. The physical evidence shows clearly that Brady's front end rammed the middle of the passenger side of the van. Brady says the light was green for him as he entered the intersection. A 74 year old woman who was walking her dogs says that as she was in the ambulance with Brady, he asked her if the minivan ran the red light, and she assured him it had. She reported that the walk light came on for her to cross Commonwealth Avenue just before the minivan came past. The police wrote Rodrigues a ticket for running the red light based on her evidence. Plus, the minivan's driver was a 21 year old with a poor driving record, though later we found out that the bad record had been exaggerated.

As an afterthought, seemingly, we heard reports that the minivan driver's 49 year old father, Rogerio Rodrigues, was in the back of the van and had to be cut out with the "jaws of life" and taken to the hospital. It turns out he has severe injuries -- a broken back -- and has undergone several operations with more to come. Local trial lawyers speculated on how much Tom Brady could collect from his insurance if Brady later found out he was injured. Nobody seems to be concerned about Rugerio Rodrigues' rights.

A passenger in a crash can sue either or both of the drivers. It is rare that the passenger has any degree of contributory fault. Rather, it is almost always one or both of the drivers whose negligence caused the crash. So to Rogerio Rodrigues, the red light controversy would seem to be unimportant. But the question is, how much insurance does the minivan carry? If Brady was not at fault, Rogerio would have to rely on the minivan's insurance to pay his entire claim. But if Brady was even 1% at fault, even if Ludgero was 99% at fault, Rogerio could collect the entire judgment against Brady. And that could be a sizeable amount.

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August 27, 2010

Two Fires, Three Hospitalized. Are You Ready?

1018822_firefighters.jpgSome 800 guests were forced to evacuate Boston's Intercontinental Hotel this morning after a 2:00 a.m. electrical fire was reported in the electrical room of the hotel garage. According to the Boston Herald, guests were forced to stay outside of the hotel for hours, while workers shut down the power in the hotel to deal with the fire. No one was hurt.

Outside of the city in Malden, two teenage girls were injured this morning when their house caught on fire. The Boston Herald reported that when police responded to the 911 call, they found that flames surrounded the house. The officers rushed into the burning house and were able to rescue a teenage girl on the first floor while another teenage girl, who was on the second floor, jumped from the burning building. Both girls were taken the Massachusetts General Hospital, and one of the police officers was taken to Melrose Wakefield Hospital.

Residential and building fires account for only 25% of fires nationwide according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), yet these fires account for 83% of deaths and 77% of injuries from fires across the nation. Cooking, heating and smoking are common causes of residential and building fires.

NFPA recommends that you check your smoke alarms regularly to make sure they are working and develop and practice a home fire escape plan.

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August 24, 2010

Lyme Disease is Dangerous, Often Misdiagnosed, and Spreading

tick.jpgThe Boston Globe reported yesterday that cases of Lyme disease had dramatically increased in Metrowest communities like Framingham and Natick. Lyme disease cases have more than quadrupled in Middlesex, Norfolk, and Worcester Counties since 2000. In Middlesex County, the numbers went from 136 cases in 2000 to 767 cases in 2008. The cause appears to be the rise in the deer population in these areas, and the development of new housing in areas where deer live. Lyme disease is caused by tiny deer ticks which are hard to spot because they are the size of a poppy seed.

Often Lyme disease is misdiagnosed. The early symptoms are not unlike the flu: fever, headache, fatigue, and sometimes, but not always, a rash. If untreated, the disease can progress to include severe arthritis, neurological problems including numbness, weakness, paralysis, and memory loss, meningitis, and heart problems. Commonly, doctors misdiagnose chronic Lyme disease sufferers as having multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, or fibromyalgia. There is also a controversy about treatment of Lyme disease, with the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA) and insurance companies advocating a short term treatment, and others, like the International Lyme and Associated Diseases Society (ILADS) arguing for a longer term treatment. Within the last two months, a statute was passed providing patients and doctors the right to choose which treatment regime to follow.

If you have Lyme disease and have been misdiagnosed or not treated effectively, you should consult a lawyer who specializes in medical negligence law.

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August 17, 2010

Insidious Discrimination

887816_business_world_3.jpgWhen it comes to discrimination, people often talk in code. Rarely do we hear the classic hateful epithets for races, gender, or sexual orientation, at least not from employers when they are making decisions about employees. A few recent articles point out the subtle, or sometimes not so subtle, code words and phrases that have now taken the place of overt discrimination.

A Cleveland, Ohio, TV station reports that a local temp agency was sued by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) because when they sent the applicants' resumes to employers, they attached a notecard with a code phrase on it. "Chocolate cupcake" was a young African-American woman. "Hockey player" was a young white man. "Small hands" was for women in general. "Ballerina" and "basketball player" were two other codes, which the article does not translate, but we might guess what they mean.

A Boston Globe article reports that the Acton-Boxboro School District is being sued after it fired a lesbian softball coach. She says that some parents complained that she set a bad example because she was a single mother, though she and her female partner were raising five children together, and in fact three of their children attended the school where she worked. Other parents complained because she brought her partner with her on a team trip. The biggest complaint seemed to be that she swore too much, and that the students were uncomfortable with her vulgar language. She says that if she were a heterosexual man, these actions would not result in complaints or dismissal.

Finally, the San Francisco Chronicle reports that Google, Inc. is being sued by a 54 year old manager who was fired after co-workers called him "fuddy-duddy" and an "old man." Management was more subtle when they let him go -- they said he was a bad "cultural fit" in the youth oriented company.

Discrimination in employment is far more subtle today than years ago. Code words, stereotypes, and an acceptance of the way the "majority" -- usually meaning white men -- view the world can lead to treating people of other races, women, and gay, lesbian, bisexual and transsexual people badly. But if that happens in the employment context, it is still illegal.

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August 11, 2010

Summertime Can be Dangerous for Children

1286629_happy_kid_2.jpgThe Massachusetts Department of Children and Families and Department of Public Health want to remind you that summertime carries special dangers for children. In a press release, they highlight three areas: windows, water, and cars.

In the summertime, we open our windows up, and children fall from open windows, sometimes to their death. A window screen creates a visual barrier that makes us feel like the window is safe, but a window screen is not strong enough to keep a child, even a toddler or a crawling baby from falling out. There are window guards you or your landlord can install, or you can open windows from the top, not the bottom.

Drowning is a leading cause of death for children in Massachusetts and nationwide. Kids can drown in shallow water as well as deep, in bathtubs, swimming pools, lakes and ponds, or the ocean. You must have your eye on small children in or near the water at all times, and even larger children should be supervised. If you have a swimming pool on your property, make sure there is a fence at least four feet high around it, with self-latching gates that are above the reach of children.

Cars are always dangerous, and you should always make sure children are not around moving vehicles or left unsupervised in cars that are running or have the keys in them. But summertime poses a special risk: overheated vehicles. Children should never be left alone in a car in the summertime. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) says that a car with the windows down 2" in 80 degree weather can reach deadly heat levels in ten minutes.

We hope these tips will help you to do what you can to protect your children from harm. At KJC Law Firm, we are dedicated to making your life safer. By holding landlords, property owners, drivers or manufacturers responsible for the injuries they cause, we give them good reasons to act more responsibly and safely. And if you or your children are injured, we will help you to get proper compensation.

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