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gettyimages-52212197_wide-86123ab2adf0f3ee0b7fea6f0865a1f9fbbd2be7-s800-c85-300x169Over 25% of serious nursing home abuse cases go unreported to the police according to the Office of the Inspector General in the Department of Health and Human Services; despite laws requiring that serious nursing home abuse cases must be reported to the police.

Here in Massachusetts, on February 8, 2016, an elderly resident of the Woodbriar Health Center fell off her bed according to Boston Globe. Although she sustained no injuries and was shortly after placed back on her bed with the assistance of the nursing home workers, a physician ordered that the resident be checked on every two hours for signs of medical issues until the next day. But by 5:30 a.m. the next morning, this elderly resident was found dead in bed. After an investigation by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health into this death, it was found that no evidence of the checks was ever carried out. Following the investigation, the Department issued a letter to Woodbriar stating, “There was no evidence to indicate that following the fall, the facility’s policies and procedures regarding neurological checks were reviewed, and that all staff were trained on assessing and documenting a resident’s status following a fall….” This facility was already under fire by the Department for another resident’s death that took place just days before. In the first incident, an elderly resident fell and dislocated a hip when he was supposed to be assisted in walking but received no aid. Woodbriar Health Center now faces fines as high as $10,000 a day until safety is restored.

Horror stories like these unfortunately are not uncommon, and according to the National Center on Elder Abuse have been acknowledged as a widespread concern since the 1970s. To address these issues of abuse and to protect the interests of nursing home residents, Congress established the State Long Term Care Ombudsman Program in the Older Americans Act Amendments of 1978. According to the National Center on Elder Abuse, in 2014, about 7.6% of the complaints submitted to Ombudsman programs concerned abuse, gross neglect, and exploitation. In general, elderly who experienced abuse have a 300% higher risk of death.

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Man-lift-accident-300x149You see man lifts at construction sites, malls, scaling the sides of tall buildings in order to wash the windows. WFSB News reported that a tree worker in Ledyard, Connecticut, sustained serious injuries and was hospitalized when the orange man lift he was using suddenly tipped over into a family home that was nearby. That man lift was extended to its maximum length before the entire truck it was attached to flipped over.

In Massachusetts, operators of mechanically powered machines that have temporary elevator cars or are used for hoisting building materials are required to obtain a license or temporary permit to operate. Pursuant to M.G.L. c. 146, § 53, anyone who will operate derricks, cableways, machinery used for discharging cargoes, and temporary elevator cars used on excavation work or used for hoisting building material, when the motive power to operate such machinery is mechanical and other than steam, including but not limited to excavators, backhoes, front end loaders, uniloaders, skid loader, skid steer loaders, compact loaders or similar devices, lattice cranes, derricks, cranes with or without wire rope; all fork lifts, powered industrial lift trucks, overhead hoists (underhung), overhead cranes, underhung cranes, monorail cranes, lifting devices, cableways, and powered platforms, or any other equipment that has the minimum capability of hoisting the load higher than 10 feet, and either the capability of lifting loads greater than 500 pounds or the capacity of the bucket exceeds 1/4 cubic yards must hold a license from the Department of Safety.

To receive a license to operate, a person must take and pass the hoisting operator examination, which tests the operator’s knowledge of the machinery as well as safety practices. To learn more about operating licenses, visit Hoisting License and Operators FAQs. Pursuant to M.G.L. c. 146, § 54A, whoever violates § 53, which necessitates licenses for operators, shall be fined not less than five hundred dollars ($500) and not more than three thousand dollars ($3000). Under this statute, any person that allows an unlicensed person to operate a hoisting machine shall be fined not less than one thousand dollars ($1000) and not more than three thousand dollars ($3000), or by imprisonment for not more than three (3) months, or both.

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accident-construction1-300x1561,000 construction workers are killed every year due to accident on the job. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) attribute the bulk of these accidents to the “fatal four.” The fatal four are falls, electrocution, workers being struck by objects, and workers getting caught between objects on the job. Falls are the most common of the final four that result in death of workers. In 2015 364 out of 937 construction site deaths were a result of a workers falling. This correlated with the most common OSHA violation given being lack of fall protection. This violation states that an employer must provide guardrails, harness, and ropes to protect their employees from failing from heights 6 feet or higher. Although these rules are in place, they are still violated which leads to workers being hurt on the job.

When an employee is injured, on the job, they can bring forth a workers compensation claim against their employer to help pay for medical bills and lost wages. A worker’s compensation claim is one of no fault, which means there is no need to prove who caused the injury. A worker’s compensation claim substitutes as a law suit against your employer. This means that an employee may not bring suit against their employer for pain and suffering after they have filed for worker’s compensation. If an employee has a worker’s compensation claim against their employer, then they must bring their lawsuit against a third party (not their employer) whose negligence caused their injury.

Architects, engineers, general contractors, or a supplier of materials are some of the third parties that an employee might be able to bring a civil suit against, as long as this third party caused the employee’s injury. If a claim is brought against the third party, then the employee must show that this third party had a duty to act in a reasonable and safe manner, that they failed to perform that duty, and as a result of their failure the employee was injured.

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Researchers from the Boston University School of Medicine recently published the findings from their study of 202 donated brains of former football players in the Journal of the American Medical Association (“JAMA”). The study examined former National Football (“NFL”) Players and found that 110 out of the 111 brains exhibited

(“CTE”). CTE is a disease found in the brain of individuals who have suffered repeated blows to the head. What was remarkable about this study was that the CTE afflicted not only NFL players but high school football players as well! Out of the 202 deceased football players’ brains (NFL, college and high school players combined), 88% of them had CTE. Mild levels of CTE were detected in 3 out of 11 of the high school football players.  Currently, CTE can only be diagnosed after death, but there are signs that can point to an individual having CTE. Some typical symptoms of CTE, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”), are decline of recent memory and executive function, depression, impulsivity, aggressiveness, anger, irritability, suicidal behavior, and dementia. Although there are various symptoms to spot CTE, these symptoms usually do not appear until many years after the initial trauma.

Auto racing associations have also been looking at the effect that crashes have on the  drivers’ brains. In 2014, NASCAR, IMSA, and IndyCar mandated a concussion test for all drivers before their race season began. This test measured each driver’s neurocognitive functions in order to compare them to scans taken after the driver were involved significant collisions. This preseason concussion test had previously helped driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. in 2012 when he sustained two concussions in the span of 6 weeks. In a USA Today article, Earnhardt reported that the preseason testing had allowed his doctors to pinpoint exactly what type of brain injury he had suffered and bettered helped them address it.

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FabNFree-Free-Vintage-Brain-Graphic-256x300The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that approximately 2.8 million Americans suffer a traumatic brain injury (TBI) every year. Out of these 2.8 million, the CDC states: 50,000 die; 282,000 are hospitalized; and 1.365 million, nearly 80 percent, are treated and released from an emergency department.  Looking at this CDC’s report reveals the stark reality of the impact of TBIs:

“Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a major cause of death and disability in the United States. TBIs contribute to about 30 percent of all injury deaths. Every day, 153 people in the United States die from injuries that include TBI. Those who survive a TBI can face effects that last a few days or the rest of their lives. Effects of TBI can include impaired thinking or memory, movement, sensation (e.g., vision or hearing), or emotional functioning (e.g., personality changes, depression). These issues not only affect individuals but can have lasting effects on families and communities.”

The brain, although protected by the skull, is extremely sensitive. According to Mayo Clinic, the brain has the consistency of gelatin, and is cushioned from everyday jolts and bumps by cerebrospinal fluid inside the skull. A concussion is defined as “…a type of traumatic brain injury that is caused by a blow to the head or body, a fall, or another injury that jars or shakes the brain inside the skull. Although there may be cuts or bruises on the head or face, there may be no other visible signs of a brain injury.” These blows cause the brain to slide back and forth forcefully against the inner walls of the skull. Symptoms of a concussion may include, headaches, pressure in the head, temporary loss of consciousness, confusion, memory loss, dizziness, ringing in the ears, nausea, slurred speech, delayed response, appearing dazed, and fatigue.

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In 2016, truck driving was ranked number 8 in Forbes magazine’s deadliest jobs in America. Truck driving is deadly because of the grueling shifts drivers must work. In 2013, the U.S. Department of transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) mandated that the average work week for a truck driver must decrease from 82 hours of driving in a week to 70 hours. Drivers must rest for 34 consecutive hours before they are allowed to start up another work week of 70 hours. In addition, to having to take a 34 hour break in between work weeks, drivers are also required to take a 30 minute break during the first 8 hours of a shift. These guidelines for drivers, and the companies they work for, are being strictly enforced by the FMCSA. Companies that allow their drivers to exceed the driving limits of 70 hours a week by more than 3 hours risk being fined $11,000 per offense. The drivers also could face being fined up to $2,750 for each offense.

Even though these FMCSA rules were put in place to ensure that drivers were getting enough rest and driving safely, we still see many serious crashes that involve trucks. For instance, the 2014 crash involving comedian Tracey Morgan’s limo and a Walmart truck shows what can happen when a driver does not get enough sleep. In 2014, Walmart truck driver Kevin Roper fell asleep at the wheel after being awake for close to 25 hours. Not only did Mr. Roper fall asleep at the wheel, but he was going 20 mph over the speed limit in a construction zone when he rear ended Mr. Morgan’s limo. As a result of this crash, Mr. Morgan was severely injured and comedian James McNair was killed.

Driver fatigue and traveling too fast for road conditions are two conditions that are the leading causes for truck related crashes, according to FMCSA. Other drivers are not the only individuals in danger during truck related crashes. A U.S. News article reported that 65% of truck drivers related deaths are due to crashes. It was also stated that the majority of these fatalities were drivers who were not wearing their seatbelts, which is not an uncommon practice among truck drivers. 14% of truck drivers admitted to not using their seat belts on every trip and even admitted that they would also speed and practice other unsafe driving habits. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Center for Motor Vehicle Safety encourage all trucking companies to provide driver safety programs to address the risk of driving a truck. These programs would also encourage drivers to wear seatbelts, not use their phones, and to get ample amount of sleep.

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On April 30, 2017 CBS Boston  reported that a cyclist was clipped by a car at 3:30 am in the Back Bay area of Boston. We now know that that cyclist was Rick Archer, a 29-year-old bike courier. Mr. Archer was riding with his friend down Commonwealth Ave. when he was struck by a car driver who fled the scene. Sadly, Mr. Archer passed away from his injuries two days after the crash. This CBS report, like many news stories, implies that the cyclists were in the wrong because they were not in the bike lane at the time of the crash. However, according to Massachusetts bicycling laws Mr. Archer and his friend had every right to be in a lane of traffic and not in the bike lane.

In Massachusetts, cyclists can ride anywhere, just like a car, with few exceptions. Mass. Gen. Law. Ch. 85 Section 11B states that cyclist have the right to use a full lane anywhere, anytime, and on any street even if there is a bike lane present. Cyclists riding on the road must follow the same rules of the road just like car drivers. Cyclists must travel in the same direction of traffic and stop at traffic lights and signs, just like cars. Cyclists may ride side-by-side according to Mass. Gen. Law. Ch. 85 Section 11B, as long as they stay in one lane and do not unnecessarily restrict other vehicles from passing them.

A recent Harvard study found an increase in the number of bike crashes in Boston in the last few years due to the increasing number of cyclists. Mayor Walsh and the City of Boston have started a campaign to improve biking safety and awareness through the “Vision Zero Boston Action Plan” which aims to eliminate all fatal crashes by changing the design of the roads and creating more designated bike areas. Unfortunately, there are still far too many bike crashes and injuries happening. To illustrate this point, one has only to look out for the many “Ghost Bikes” around the Boston area. Ghost bikes are white bikes marking crash sites where cyclists have died. A Ghost Bike ceremony was recently held in May for Rick Archer, who was the fourth cyclist to die in Massachusetts in this year alone.