Articles Tagged with Massachusetts

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Amanda Phillips of Cambridge, a 27-year-old bicyclist was killed on Thursday, June 23, 2016 after she was hit by a truck while riding her bicycle through Inman Square in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The crash is still under investigation.

In a statement made last Friday, Massachusetts State Police stated that a preliminary reconstruction of the crash indicated that Phillips had maneuvered from the sidewalk to the open roadway where she struck the open door of a parked jeep as a person prepared to get out. The impact then pushed the cyclist into traffic where she collided with a landscaping truck.

The crash occurred at around 12:17 p.m. at the intersection of Hampshire and Cambridge streets, in Cambridge’s Inman Square. Inman Square is an exceptionally busy four-way intersection often packed with cars, pedestrians, MBTA buses, and bikers. Following the accident, Phillips was rushed to Massachusetts General Hospital, where she was later pronounced dead.

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Massachusetts’ state and local law enforcement have launched a statewide effort to stop and cite drivers who are texting while driving in an effort to combat accidents, injuries and fatalities caused by distracted driving.  Last year 6,131 citations were given to distracted drivers. This was a huge bump from the 1153 given to drivers in 2011, which marked the first full year after Massachusetts passed its ban on texting while driving. Continue reading

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Earlier this week, an 18-year-old Billerica, Massachusetts man died after being struck by a vehicle on Route 128 South in Lynnfield, near the Route 1 tunnel, north of Boston. A 17-year-old Massachusetts woman, also from Billerica, sustained severe personal injuries following the pedestrian accident. Massachusetts State Police and Lynnfield Police and Fire responded to the scene. The teens were rushed to Massachusetts General Hospital following the accident.

According to the state police, the young man died at the scene and the young woman was left suffering from life-threatening personal injuries. Traffic was halted on Rte. 128 South and nearby on-ramps were closed as a result of the motor vehicle accident. The Massachusetts State Police report noted that the two teens were occupants of a car that had stopped in the median of Rte. 128 South, when they “exited the vehicle and were standing in the travel lane when they were both struck by a second vehicle.” The pedestrian accident remains under investigation. Troopers with the State Police Detective Unit and the Collision Analysis and Reconstruction Section, plus the Crime Services Section, are among those investigating.

Pedestrian accidents are a growing concern in Massachusetts. According to the Massachusetts Office of Public Safety and Security, nearly 1/4 of all motor-vehicle related fatalities in Massachusetts involve pedestrians. Non-fatal pedestrian injuries are even more common. The National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration notes that a pedestrian injury occurs once every 8 minutes.

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The UMass Memorial Medical Center has recently increased its efforts to identify and combat negligent nursing care, which has resulted in the preventable patient deaths at the hospital. The initiative came after the Massachusetts hospital became aware of the problem called “alarm fatigue,” where nurses are unconsciously tuning out patient monitor warning alarms after persistent exposure to their sights and sounds. In Massachusetts, at least two patient deaths at UMass Memorial Hospital and one at Massachusetts General Hospital have been attributed to alarm fatigue and inadequate nursing response to patient crises. Alarm fatigue has also been linked to serious personal injuries and medical errors.

Earlier this fall, the second patient death in four years involving alarm fatigue occurred at Umass Hospital. In that case, a 60-year-old Massachusetts man died in the intensive care unit after alarms signaling heart and respiratory distress were disregarded for nearly an hour. Massachusetts state investigators found that the death occurred in August 2010, but was not reported to the Department of Public Health until the following spring. Investigators cited various violations by the UMass Memorial Medical Center, including not responding to patient warning alarms “in a timely manner.” Four years ago, similar nursing negligence was blamed for another preventable death, when nurses at the hospital ignored alarms that warned of an elderly Massachusetts man’s cardiac maladies. In the ensuing Massachusetts Department of Health report, it was found that the decedent’s monitors were sounding alarms for over an hour, warning that his heart rate and breathing had sped up and his blood oxygen level had fallen. This was followed by a higher pitched “critical alarm,” which warned that the patient had stopped breathing. Investigators noted in the report that “there was no evidence that nursing had responded to the alarms during this period of time.”

According to the Boston Globe, “alarm fatigue” is not a problem limited to nurses and hospitals in Massachusetts. In fact, a recent study shows that nationwide this type of medical malpractice has led to at least 200 patient deaths since 2005, and likely hundreds more that were not correctly reported. Maria Cvach, an assistant director of nursing at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore and specialist on medical alarm fatigue told the Globe that, “I don’t think any hospital has fully solved this problem.” The UMass Medical Center is now taking steps to eradicate the issue, informing the Massachusetts Department of Public Health that it is actively taking steps to improve patient care. These include monthly drills in the intensive care unit, where nurses are timed in responding to patient alarms. The hospital has also held seminars on preventing this type of alarm fatigue in Massachusetts and on the national stage. One proposal is for advanced monitoring devices, which more accurately gauge the seriousness of a patient’s condition before sounding alarms. Theresa Gallivan, associate chief nurse at Massachusetts General Hospital, told the Globe that she is a proponent for more advanced monitoring devices, which will reduce the number of false alarms and allow nurses to respond more efficiently to actual crises. According to Gallivan, though, “there is a mismatch of technology and what we are trying to achieve.”

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Last month, a Boston, Massachusetts woman sustained life-ending personal injuries after falling five stories through a skylight on the roof of a South Boston office building, located at 281 Summer Street. Boston police and the Suffolk County district attorney’s office are now investigating the incident. Officer Eddy Chrispin told the Boston Globe that the fatal fall appeared to be accidental and likely did not involve drugs or alcohol. Boston police did note, however, that the building’s roof was not readily accessible to inhabitants. The Suffolk district attorney’s office refused to identify the victim of the fatal fall, noting only that she was in her early 20s. Thus far, no premises liability charges have been brought against the New Jersey-based owners of the building, Normandy Real Estate Partners. However, the company is cooperating with investigators in Massachusetts to determine the cause of the accident. Although this tragedy seems rare, it follows another fall through a skylight in Massachusetts this past spring, when a young man fell through a skylight on a roof in Brookline. In that case, the victim was more fortunate, sustaining only minor personal injuries.

According to Massachusetts state and federal law, building owners have a duty to keep their property reasonably safe and free of hazards that are known or should be known to potentially cause personal injury. Failure to maintain safe premises can result in liability for property owners and/or property management companies. The duty to secure property not only includes the removal or repair of hazards, but precluding access to unsafe areas, like building rooftops, if there exists an unreasonable risk of injury by entering the area. To avoid premises liability for personal injury and/or death, building owners are required to at least provide adequate warning of such dangers. If property owners or management companies have negligently failed to maintain safe premises or provide adequate warning, they can be held liable for any damages. Boston attorney Peter Bellotti notes that “often, visitors of property have no way of knowing about potential hazards that exist on the premises. Thus, by law, property owners, and possibly property management companies, have a duty to reasonably secure the premises to minimize the risk of personal injury. At the very least, adequate warnings should be given to safeguard against tragic accidents like this recent fall.”

Under Massachusetts state and federal law, the exact duty owed to injured parties on premises varies with the class of the victim. For social guests and customers of a business, a property possessor has a duty to protect from all conditions concealed from the guest and known in advance by the property possessor. In short, the possessor of property must protect visitors of his property from defects to the extent of a reasonably prudent person. Pursuant to this case, a reasonably prudent person would likely not allow visitors on the roof of an unsecured building. A landlord may also be responsible for breach of warranty of habitability if the property is not maintained up to building code. If there exists a breach of warranty, both tenants and their guests can potentially recover for injuries sustained on the property. These issues will have to be explored further to determine if there existed any liable at the hands of the property owners in this case.