Needham vehicular accident critically injures one person

An individual was taken to the hospital after said victim was hit by a motor vehicle along the railroad tracks at Main Street in Needham in Norfolk County, Massachusetts. According to Patch, the accident occurred around 6:15 a.m. on Tuesday, September 27.

The victim was transported to Beth Israel Medical Center in Boston, Massachusetts by the Needham Fire Department for the treatment of a head wound and other serious injuries. At the time of the transport, the victim was at least semi-conscious. The accident is still under investigation by the Needham Police Department and the Wellesley Police Department crash reconstruction team.

Our attorneys at Crowe & Mulvey, LLP provide legal services for clients in the state of Massachusetts. We handle personal injury accident cases ranging from automobile accidents and trucking negligence to drunk driving accidents and malfunctioning vehicles, among others. Call our offices today at (617) 426-4488 to learn more about our practice and see what we can offer you.

Springfield man pleads not guilty after fatal accident

28-year-old Springfield, Massachusetts resident Thomas Murphy pleaded not guilty last Wednesday, June 22 to charges that include leaving the scene of a personal injury accident that resulted in death and driving an unregistered vehicle. The charges come after Murphy hit a pedestrian, 52-year-old James Heath, and caused his death around 10:30 p.m. on May 29, 2016.

According to an article of The Hastings Tribune, Murphy was released on personal recognizance after entering his plea. Heath died at the hospital as a result of the mortal injuries he incurred. Murphy was incarcerated in 2010 after he was convicted of a bank robbery.

The  personal injury lawyers at Crowe & Mulvey, LLP provide comprehensive legal services to our clients in the state of Massachusetts. We attend to the legal needs of injured victims to help them recover the compensation they deserve as a result of their injuries. Call our offices at (617) 426-4488 to discuss your personal situation and learn more about our services.

Bridgewater, Raynham vehicular accidents result in multiple injuries

Two serious car crashes which happened less than half an hour apart resulted in injuries to three individuals and the delay of public traffic along Route 24 in Bridgewater and along Interstate 495 in Raynham, both in Massachusetts, on Monday, December 7.

A two-vehicle collision that occurred at around 2:40 p.m. on Route 24 South near Route 104 in Bridgewater critically injured two individuals and also caused the sides of Route 24 to close temporarily. The roads were opened to traffic about 40 minutes later. The injured victims were airlifted to Rhode Island Hospital and Beth Israel Deaconess Center in Boston, according to Massachusetts State Police trooper Paul Sullivan.

The Bridgewater Fire Department and the Massachusetts State Police responded to the scene of the accident and secured the area.

Meanwhile, a second accident occurred at around 3:10 p.m. when a pickup truck flipped over and came to rest on its roof on I-495 South near Exit 8 in Raynham, causing a 21-year-old New Bedford resident to suffer minor injuries.

Massachusetts has second lowest rate of injury-related deaths in U.S.

A new report states that Massachusetts has the second lowest rate of injury-related deaths in the United States.

Massachusetts scores points for safety in a few different categories, including having a law that requires booster seats in vehicles for children, instituting vaccination programs for residents, and having a bicycle helmet law. However, the report also identified areas for improvement in the state, such as mandating the use of ignition interlock devices for drunk drivers as well as creating a primary seatbelt law.

The report noted that the leading cause of injury-related deaths in the state is drug overdose, which exceeds statistics for automobile accident cases.

Northampton public health director Merridith O’Leary said that more than 1,000 deaths in the state can be attributed to opioids – heroin and prescription drug use – in 2014, and said that number is bound to increase because three of the largest cities in the state have yet to report their data regarding the matter.

Despite these promising and encouraging statistics, the attorneys at Crowe & Mulvey, LLP, know that residents of Massachusetts still can do more to decrease the number of preventable accidents, deaths, and injuries that occur every year. If you or someone you love has been injured because of someone else’s recklessness or negligence, we are here to help. Call us today at (617) 426-4488 to learn more.

Hospitals may have to pay when outsourced doctors are negligent

A Massachusetts judge recently ruled in Beauregard v Peebles that a hospital can be held responsible for the medical mistakes of a physician who is classified as an independent contractor, the Legal Laser reported on March 2.

A patient who underwent surgery at a private hospital Metrowest Medical Center in Framingham and Natick became paralyzed after a doctor at the hospital gave her anesthesia, inserting it directly into her spine before the surgery to manage the level of pain she would feel while under surgery. Although the doctor was not classified as an employee, his title was Chief of Anesthesia, he wore a coat with his name and the hospital’s name on it, and the form the patient signed did not indicate that he was an independent contractor.

Many hospital have begun hiring doctors and other staff on a contract basis to limit their liability, but this can seriously limit a medical malpractice victim’s options for recourse.

The Massachusetts attorneys of Crowe & Mulvey, LLP, passionately represent medical negligence victims and may work on your behalf for the funds you need to recover. Call our offices at (617) 426-4488 today to learn more.

Study sheds light on public’s perception of medical malpractice

A new report released by researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health provided a look into how the citizens of Massachusetts perceive medical malpractice in their state.

Some key issues discussed in the fall 2014 study included:

  • What were residents’ recent experience with medical malpractice?
  • Did they report these safety concerns if there were any?
  • Did they feel like they were adequately informed about past medical malpractice cases brought against hospitals or medical professionals?

State data shows that approximately 25% of adults in Massachusetts have fallen victim to medical errors in the past five years; half of these cases resulted in serious consequences. Additionally, only about half of those who experienced medical errors reported it. It is also important to note that respondents overwhelmingly reported that they feel like more transparency is needed regarding wrongdoing or negligence in the medical field.

Our attorneys at Crowe & Mulvey, LLP are committed to serving the legal needs of injured victims in Massachusetts due to the medical errors of their respective health care providers or physicians. Call our offices today at (617) 426-4488 to discuss your case with us.

Wrong-way driver arrested on multiple charges

Thirty-eight-year-old Springfield, Massachusetts resident Hugo Gonzalez was confined to the Baystate Medical Center after being involved in two separate crashes while driving along Interstate 91 on December 28.

Police officers received dozens of calls about the wrong-way driver but they were not able to reach him until after he caused two vehicular accidents.

Authorities said that Gonzalez will be taken into state police custody for arraignment in the Springfield District Court on charges of operating under the influence of alcohol (second offense), operating a motor vehicle with a license revoked for OUI, leaving the scene of a personal injury accident, leaving the scene of a property damage accident, a marked lanes violation, reckless operation of a motor vehicle, and a state highway wrong-way violation.

Massachusetts State Police Sergeant Alan Joubert said Gonzalez had been living under many false names and that his license to drive had been revoked under one of those identities.

Our attorneys at Crowe & Mulvey, LLP, in Massachusetts provide diligent representation to personal injury victims who have suffered expense due to negligent drivers. Call our offices today at (617) 426-4488 to speak with a member of our legal team.

Friend With Care

facebook screenThe ever-increasing use of social media sites such as Facebook, and the tendency of many people to post personal photos and details on their pages, present an almost-irresistable temptation to lawyers in search of potentially damaging information about witnesses or parties involved in their cases.  Yet despite the ready availability of this information, lawyers need to be mindful of their ethical obligations as they try to gain access to personal sites.

The overarching principle for lawyers to remember is that they must not be deceitful or misleading in attempting to access information from social media.  It is pretty clear that this means that a lawyer cannot use a false name or identifying details to induce the target to “friend” him.  However, different jurisdictions disagree about whether lawyers must inform potential “friends” of their connection to the case or the true purpose of their friend request.  Some states say that as long as the lawyer tells the truth–even if it’s not the whole truth–that’s enough.  Other jurisdictions suggest that the omission of significant information (especially when that information might cause the target to reject the friend request) is misleading and therefore unethical.

The second basic principle is that the lawyer can’t use someone else to do what he himself would not be permitted to do.  So it doesn’t solve any ethical problems to ask a paralegal, or even a friend, family member, or private investigator to make the request.  The lawyer is permitted to use information obtained by someone else, as long as the person was not acting at the lawyer’s direction.

Simply viewing a page that is accessible to any member of the public (even if it requires Facebook registration) is generally approved, because it does not involve any “communication” with the page’s owner.  Likewise, sending a friend request that contains all of the lawyer’s identifying information and connection to the case is not unethical, so long as the target isn’t represented by counsel–it’s just not likely to be successful!

While the Massachusetts Office of Bar Counsel has not yet addressed the social media issue, other jurisdictions are beginning to weigh in.  Just last month, the New Hampshire Bar Association issued an ethics opinion outlining the permissible methods of accessing social media under that state’s rules.  The New Hampshire opinion contains a helpful review of emerging ethics opinions from other jurisdictions.

But it’s pretty clear that if the owner has restricted access to the desired information, and refuses a proper friend request, the only safe way to access this type of information is through a proper discovery request such as a deposition subpoena directed to the witness and/or Facebook.  Anything short of complete transparency and honesty is a recipe for disaster.

The Great Investment Nobody Wants

Interest-Rate-300x300Last week, Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly published an editorial advocating that the interest rate on tort judgments be reduced from 12%, where it has stood since 1982.  Noting that the 12% rate is “dramatically higher than commercially available rates,” the local legal newspaper claimed that the rate ignor[es] the economic realities of 2013.”  The local defense bar has called the rate a “windfall” and a “lottery.”

The truth of the matter is that no injured victim in his right mind would intentionally allow a case to go to a jury verdict simply to gain the “advantage” of the 12% interest rate.  Injured people deserve and need prompt, fair compensation, often simply to pay their medical bills and replace lost income.  When they don’t get it because of delays in the litigation process, the consequences often include massive debt and even financial ruin.  And incidentally, when those victims use their credit cards to cover their medical bills and living expenses, they don’t pay 12% interest on their debt–they pay 18% or even 21%!

So that 12% interest rate may sound like a great investment, but the reality is that it doesn’t begin to address the financial devastation caused by most serious injuries.  In fact, many of those same defense lawyers who decry the 12% interest rate for injured victims charge 1.5% per month (18% per year) on their own unpaid bills.

The 12% interest rate comes into play only when a case is tried to a verdict–it has no effect on the more than 95% of cases that are settled before trial.  And it applies only to general tort claims; an exception carved out for medical malpractice cases allows only a much lower interest rate in those cases.   Since 2004, the interest rate for malpractice cases has been established by M.G.L. c.231 s.60K at the one-year Treasury Bill rate plus 4%; last year, the legislature lowered it again, to the one-year rate plus 2%.

And in attempting to justify its position by referring to other states’ somewhat lower judgment interest rates, Lawyers Weekly ignored our neighbor to the immediate south.  The Rhode Island Supreme Court recently refused a defendant doctor’s pleas to toss out a similar interest rate that applies to Rhode Island cases.  In Oden v. Schwartz, the Rhode Island court held that the 12% interest rate on judgments in that state is constitutional, and serves the dual purpose of compensating successful plaintiffs for the delay in obtaining the compensation they are due, and encouraging pre-trial settlements.

The clamor for lower interest rates is simply another effort by insurance companies to increase their bottom line at the expense of injured people.  Before the legislature attacks this vulnerable group by lowering interest rates, it would do better to look at all the other industries where interest rates are much higher.

Medically Identical, Legally Different

generic drugMany patients see generic drugs as a cheaper alternative to brand-name medications.  Some people even specifically ask their doctors to write prescriptions for drugs by their chemical names rather than the proprietary label, so that they can reap the cost savings.  And in terms of medical effectiveness, there should be no difference between a generic and a brand-name pharmaceutical.

But in the wake of a recent United States Supreme Court case, there is an enormous legal difference between the two.  Although their liability is somewhat limited by federal statutes, Big Pharma manufacturers like Pfizer, Novartis, Merck and others can be sued if they don’t adequately warn patients about the side effects of prescription medications.  Yet when a company sells the same drug in its generic form, there is no liability even when devastating injury or death results.

In December 2004, Karen Bartlett, a New Hampshire woman in her late 40s, began to take Sulindac, a generic non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug, for shoulder pain.  Three months later, she suffered a rare but well-known reaction, Stevens-Johnson Syndrome, that caused more than half her skin to burn off, and left her severely scarred and blind.   She sued Mutual Pharmaceutical, the manufacturer of the drug, for failing to warn of the side effects, and a jury found in her favor, awarding $21 million to compensation for her horrendous permanent injuries.

The manufacturer of the drug, Mutual Pharmaceutical, claimed that it could not be liable for any problems with the drug, because it had no power under federal law either to change the drug’s composition or to alter the warnings.  The First Circuit rejected this argument on appeal, saying that, although Mutual had no power to change the drug or its warnings, it could opt not to sell it in a dangerous form, or it could accept the obligation to compensate injured consumers as a cost of doing business.  In essence, the First Circuit said, it was the manufacturer’s choice to sell the drug or not, and it could be liable for the consequences of that choice.

However, the United States Supreme Court reversed First Circuit and the jury’s verdict.  In Mutual Pharmaceutical Co., Inc. v. Bartlett, the Court held that the maker of a generic drug can sell the drug with no responsibility for side effects, as long as it produces and labels the drug in accordance with the information submitted to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) by the original manufacturer of the drug.  The consequences of this ruling are truly frightening for consumers.  According to Bartlett, even if a drug manufacturer is aware that a drug is dangerous as formulated, or that the warnings are inadequate and incomplete, it can continue to sell that drug with impunity unless and until the FDA steps in to change the warnings or take the drug off the market.

Tort reformers hail this decision as an important decision that protects manufacturers from liability for selling drugs that may help some patients.  But they ignore the reality of the situation: Karen Bartlett’s enormous medical expenses must be paid by someone.  The Supreme Court has decided that we, the public, should pay those costs, while the manufacturer of the drug that caused the damage continues to reap the profits from its sale.  This result turns on its head the important premise of tort law that all persons–and corporations–are responsible for the harm caused by their misconduct.

Read the Supreme Court’s opinion in Bartlett here.