THE SLG ADVISOR
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A Matter of Integrity
When Mistakes Are Made
B usinesses like to claim they have integrity. It’s the kind of thing that sounds good in an ad. But integrity isn’t a buzzword to use boastfully. In fact, when genuine, having integrity won’t get you any sort of fanfare. Integrity is done quietly, and it’s doing the right thing when no one is watching. Over the last 20-plus years, we’ve represented close to 5,000 injured clients in personal injury cases. The practice of law can be a rough-and-tumble business, and I’m humbled by what we’ve accomplished over the decades. One thing I am truly proud of — and I’m probably jinxing things by even mentioning this — is that after representing thousands of people, we have not had one complaint about our firm to the Massachusetts Board of Bar Overseers, which is an independent administrative body established to investigate and evaluate complaints against attorneys. No one has ever felt the need to call the Board to complain about our firm or practices. In our line of work, such a statistic is noteworthy. While reflecting for this article, I thought back over my years of work and tried “Building trust requires nothing more than telling the truth.”
to remember instances where we made an error that “could” have been reported to the Board — the kind of situation that had the potential to negatively impact our client and their case. Only two such cases came to mind. I wish that number was zero, but you’ve got
It’s not good for any business to make consequential errors, but owning up to these mistakes really cemented the trust we had with our clients. We didn’t try to deflect blame or spin the story. We were honest, even when it didn’t make us look good. In doing so, our clients walked away thinking, “I have the kind of lawyers who will make sure I’m the first to know about a problem if it happens and are honest.” In both situations, I was reminded that people are very forgiving. Most just want to be treated fairly and honestly. Building trust requires nothing more than telling the truth. Acting with integrity doesn’t earn you showy accolades, and it’s not always comfortable, but it does have its rewards. The culture of integrity we’ve cultivated at Spada Law Group is the reason we’ve been able to help close to 5,000 people without having a single Board complaint. We want our clients to know that we will put their well-being over our own self-interests should a mistake ever occur.
to admit that two out of 5,000 isn’t too bad. And I am talking about honest errors, not anything unethical. In both situations, our error posed a threat to the case and could have made it harder or impossible for our clients to recover damages. Since I’m the leader of the firm, any errors ultimately rest on me. These two mistakes happened many years apart, but in both cases, the first thing I did after discovering the problem was get on the phone with the client and invite them in for a meeting. The clients and I sat down, and I explained what happened, how it could possibly impact their case, and what their legal rights were in that situation. We were completely transparent about what had happened. In both cases, I was pleasantly surprised by how the clients reacted. Neither client was happy about the situation, understandably so, but they both decided to stay with us as we tried to remedy the situation. Not only did these clients not fire us, not call the Board, nor hire new lawyers, but in the years following their cases, both clients referred other clients to us!
This is something I am truly proud of.
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When Good Dogs Attack
W ho ’ s R esponsible for a D og B ite ? This past spring, we addressed the dangers of dog bites and the steps that can be taken to avoid dog bites altogether. However, over the summer, we saw a concerning increase in inquiries about dog bite cases. This month, we’re looking at what to do after a dog bite and who is responsible. While most dogs never seriously bite or harm anybody during their lifetime, it’s important to remember that any dog can attack in the wrong situation. Dog attacks can and do result in serious injury or even death. Around 4.7 million dog bites occur in the United States each year, and 800,000 of these bites are serious enough to require medical attention. Massachusetts is a strict liability state. This means that dog owners are automatically liable for any injuries their dogs may cause, even if the dog had never been aggressive before the attack. Under the strict liability statute, even if the dog owner took the proper precautions to restrain the dog — like securing them with a leash or behind a fence — the owner is still liable if the dog escapes and injures someone. These injuries aren’t limited to bites. If a dog jumps on a pedestrian and causes them to fall and break their ankle, the pedestrian may sue the owner for damages. This rule also applies if a dog chases someone on foot or on a bike and causes an accident. There are certain situations in which the dog owner may not be liable if their dog injures someone, such as the following:
• Trespassing – if the injured person was on private property without permission when the injury occurred. This does not apply to persons carrying out a legal duty, like mail carriers. • Provoking the dog – if the injured person was “teasing, tormenting, or abusing” the dog and provoked it to attack, they may not recover damages under the dog bite law. After a dog attack, victims have three years to file a claim before the statute of limitations runs out in Massachusetts. If you suffered a dog bite or dog-related attack and believe the dog owner is liable for your injuries, you may be entitled to compensation. Call Spada Law Group today at 617.889.5000 to discuss your situation with a member of our team.
review of the month
“My experience with The Spada Law group was extremely positive. From the moment I called, the team was very caring, kind, efficient, and knowledgeable. In particular, Robyn Cartwright made me feel like I was the only client in the office. She carefully guided me through each and every step of the process. I was amazed at how the team did such a wonderful job with my case. The team was completely honest and open throughout the entire process. I could not have asked for a more positive experience.” –Kyle Amato July 23
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“My experience with The Spada Law group
From Powerless to Empowered
All Your Car Accident Questions Answered!
If you got in a car accident today, what would you do? Do you call the police, the doctor, or a lawyer first? Would you be able to go to work tomorrow? Should you? If you’re injured, could you afford the ambulance ride to the hospital? No one ever pictures themselves getting into a car accident, so we’re completely unprepared to act in our own best interests when disaster strikes. This is why attorney Len Spada has written his latest book about car accident cases and is sharing that knowledge with anyone who needs it. Len’s new book, “What You Need to Know About Your Massachusetts Car Accident Case Before You Make Any Legal Decisions” is available for free now! Being able to walk away from an accident is a blessing, but most people quickly become overwhelmed with questions about what happens next. In Massachusetts, there are laws to protect people who have been in an accident. Victims are entitled to compensation so they can cope with life-changing injuries. But getting that compensation isn’t always straightforward. The wrong move can unravel your case. “What You Need to Know” aims to serve as a road map to help you successfully navigate the process and move on to the next phase of your life. As a personal injury firm, our job is to help people make smart decisions. We believe everyone is entitled to know their options after a life-altering event, regardless of whether or not they hire us to represent them. We’ve seen how powerless people feel when they don’t know the right move to make. This book answers many of the most frequently asked questions clients have as well as offers critical guidance on how to ensure you hire the right lawyer for your case. It will also explain the entire process step by step. You don’t have to be a lawyer in order to make smart decisions about your future. Claim your free copy of “What You Need to Know About Your Massachusetts Car Accident Case Before You Make Any Legal Decisions” by calling our office at 617.889.5000 today.
AUTUMN CANDY CARVE COSTUME
SCARECROW HALLOWEEN OCTOBER ORANGE
PUMPKIN FOOTBALL HARVEST LEAVES
New England Apple Pie Local Chef’s Corner
Inspired by New England Today
INGREDIENTS • 13-inch pie crust (store-bought or homemade) • 5 large, firm, tart apples • 5 large, firm, sweet apples • 1/3 cup granulated sugar • 2 tbsp firmly packed light brown sugar
• 1 1/2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon • 1/2 tsp kosher salt • 1 1/2 tbsp cornstarch
DIRECTIONS 1. Set oven rack to lowest position and heat oven to 425 F. 2. To make filling, peel, core, and cut apples into 1/2-inch-thick wedges. In a large pot, stir apples, sugar, brown sugar, lemon juice, cinnamon, and salt over medium-low heat. Cook until apples begin to turn tender. Remove from heat and stir in cornstarch. 3. Spread filling over large baking sheet and cool in freezer for 12–15 minutes. 4. Press crust into pie plate. Remove filling from freezer and transfer apples into pie plate with spatula. Cover with remaining crust. 5. Fold the bottom crust over the top crust and crimp with a fork to seal. Use a knife to make three slashes in the top crust. Brush top crust with milk and sprinkle a tablespoon of sugar over the top. 6. Carefully place pie in oven and bake for 10 minutes. Then reduce the heat to 350 F and bake for another 40–50 minutes. Remove and let cool for 45 minutes before serving with a slice of cheddar cheese.
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111 Everett Ave #1F Chelsea, MA 02150 617.889.5000 SpadaLawGroup.com
Inside This Issue
The Definition of Integrity
The Rising Danger of Dog Bites
Review of the Month
Autumn’s Best Apple Pie
The Most Important Thing to Do After a Car Accident
Grave Matters of the Law
Halloween Decorations or Fighting Words? A G rave L egal M atter We’ve all played a harmless trick or two, but sometimes, Halloween
“Bette wasn’t ready, but here she lies, ever since that night she died. Twelve feet deep in this trench, still wasn’t deep enough for that stench! 1690.” Insulted and a little afraid, Purtell’s neighbors called the police to have the headstones removed. After a couple of visits, Officer Bruce Mason arrived and threatened to arrest Purtell if he didn’t take the tombstones down. Purtell obliged, but the matter wasn’t put to rest. The Verdict Purtell sued Officer Mason on the grounds of violating his rights to free speech, and the case made it all the way to the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Judge Sykes ruled that the tombstones did not constitute fighting words and were protected under the First Amendment. However, she also ruled that Officer Mason was entitled to qualified immunity, as any reasonable officer would act the same under the circumstances. The bigger question might be how this case made it all the way to the U.S. Court of Appeals. As Judge Sykes wrote in her opinion, “Lawsuits like this one cast the legal profession in a bad light and contribute to the impression that Americans are an overlawyered and excessively litigious people.”
shenanigans get out of hand. They can lead to hurt feelings, outraged neighbors, and, in the case of Purtell v. Mason, a lawsuit. In the days leading up to Halloween, all was not quiet in the village of Bloomingdale. Previously parked in a storage unit, Jeff and Vicki Purtell’s 38-foot RV was now parked in front of their house. In protest, neighbors petitioned to town officials, wanting an ordinance put in place to prohibit RV parking on residential property.
While the ordinance was under consideration, Jeff Purtell took matters into his own hands. He erected six wooden tombstones in his front yard. They seemed to be innocuous Halloween
decorations, but these tombstones displayed a special message for the neighbors. Each headstone was inscribed
with a sarcastic message and house number, implying the occupants’ death dates. These messages soon caught the neighbors’ attention.
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