Boston Injury Lawyer Blog
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More than 100 patients have become infected with antibiotic-resistant superbugs after being treated with the medical device known as a duodenoscope. The camera manufacturer, Olympus, also makes about 85% of the duodenoscopes on the market today. After 25 superbug outbreaks and three deaths linked to the scopes, Olympus has announced it will finally recall the defective device. Unfortunately, this decision comes too late for many patients. Contact a Boston Personal Injury Lawyer Today.

A design flaw in the duodenoscope makes it nearly impossible to disinfect the device between uses. This defect has exposed hundreds of patients to an antibiotic-resistant bug called carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE).

What is a duodenoscope?

The duodenoscope is a medical device used to perform internal examinations of the body. Specifically, it is a flexible tube with a light that allows physicians to treat and diagnose intestinal problems related to the bile ducts and the pancreas. These reusable scopes must be disinfected and sterilized after each use. However, a problem with an internal mechanism has made proper sterilization virtually impossible.

In addition to a design flaw, improper sterilization is also related to inadequate training. Many of the duodenoscopes simply aren’t being cleaned well enough. “The cleaning protocols for flexible endoscopes need improvement, such as guidelines tailored to the type of scope or identifying if there is a critical step missing in the manual cleaning process, and documented quality-control measures,” said Marco Bommarito, lead research specialist at 3M Infection Prevention Division. “These types of improvements could have a positive impact on patient safety.”

What is CRE and What are the Symptoms?

CRE is a family of bacteria that have developed a high level of resistance to antibiotics. This bacteria can cause a range of health problems, including gastrointestinal illness and blood infections.
CRE can also cause urinary tract infections, ventilator associated pneumonia, intra-abdominal abscesses, and death. Symptoms include sores that don’t heal, fevers and chills, and extreme fatigue.

Olympus Knew About the Risks in 2012

Although Olympus knew about this serious health risk as far back as 2012, the industry giant failed to properly warn the medical community and neglected to recall its defective devices. In addition to not recalling the devices, Olympus actually began increasing duodenoscope prices as hospitals started to ask for safer scopes.

According to a Congressional report, Olympus and two other duodenoscope manufacturers, “failed at every level to meet basic expectations of transparency and openness and to actively engage with FDA to address contamination issues.” The U.S. Justice Department is currently investigating the company’s role in the CRE outbreaks. Continue reading

On June 21, two pedestrians were struck by a vehicle on Boston’s Commonwealth Avenue. Fortunately, the injuries were not life threatening. But the accident reconfirmed the need to tackle the growing problem of accidents involving pedestrians. In response to the rise in accidents, Boston’s Vision Zero effort is currently underway. Vision Zero aims to reduce to zero accidents involving motor vehicle collisions with pedestrians and bicyclists. Contact a Boston Personal Injury Lawyer Today.

Vision Zero plans to make design improvements to several roadways, but one corridor in particular, from the Massachusetts Avenue to Beacon Street, hones in on the spot of last week’s accident. At a meeting last week, city planners unveiled improvements that can be made quickly, leaving the longer-term improvements for a later date.

According to Charlotte Fleetwood, a City transportation planner, Vision Zero wants to focus on protecting the most vulnerable. “We want to understand why crashes are happening,” said Fleetwood. “We want to focus on the most vulnerable uses – the walkers and bikers. If you make the streets safer for the most vulnerable, it is safer for everyone. Pedestrian and cyclist accidents are on the rise. We had four pedestrians killed in January. Whatever the reason, that’s unacceptable.”

Massachusetts Avenue is of Special Concern

In Mayor Martin Walsh’s own words, walking and cycling on Boston’s streets “should not be a test of courage.” Unfortunately, the increase in accidents tells otherwise. Mass Ave seems to be a particularly dangerous area for pedestrians, which is the main reason Vision Zero’s task force has chosen Mass Ave as a starting point. According to residents, dangerous situations are exceedingly common along the corridor. Poorly-timed lights, heavy traffic, and impatient drivers only exacerbate the problem. “First of all, speed matters,” Fleetwood said. “One major goal is to reduce speed on the street.” According to Fleetwood, the risk of an accident at 20 mph is 18 percent, but it jumps to 77 percent at 40 mph. That’s a major difference.

Proposed improvements include creating a protected bike lane running from Huntington Avenue to Beacon Street, improving pedestrian crossings in various locations, and “daylighting” which refers to the process of building a kind of “bumper” on curbs to prevent cars from parking there. In certain locations, such as at the corner of St. Botolph and St. Stephen Streets, pedestrians who are crossing may not be visible due to parked cars at that corner.

“The changes we want to make are rapid changes,” Fleetwood said. “We want to focus on quickly, with things like markings, signal timing, flex posts, and speed radar signs.” VIsion Zero’s task force includes the Boston Fire Department, Boston Police, Boston Transportation, the Bicyclists Union, WalkBoston, and Boston EMS, among others. Continue reading

A truck driver is receiving thousands in compensation after his employer recently fired him after he refused to violate federal safety regulations in order to make his delivery on time.  The driver was making a delivery from Massachusetts to New Jersey when he became concerned he would not complete the delivery on schedule without breaking safety regulations and putting his safety and the safety of others at risk.  The driver thought he planned a route that would allow him to run on time without breaking regulations, but his employer fired him as a result.  His employer, NFI Interactive Logistics Inc., violated the anti-retaliation clauses of the Surface Transportation Assistance Act, as found by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).  As a punishment, OSHA is demanding the company reinstate the driver, as well as pay him over $276,000 in back wages and damages.

The driver was assigned by NFI to deliver a truckload of Poland Spring bottled water from Northborough, Massachusetts to Jersey City, New Jersey on August 15, 2012.  The trip was prolonged to due severe weather, including thunderstorms, flooding, heavy traffic, and multiple accidents.  With the delay, the driver did not believe that he would be able to make the delivery and still get home without violating the hours of service restrictions included in the U.S. Department of Transportations Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration regulations.  Specific hours of service rules depend on if the driver is carrying property or passengers, but all rules limit the amount of hours a truck driver can drive consecutively.  When the driver realized that he would be driving longer than he was technically permitted, he arranged to deliver the water to a closer customer facility near Kearny, New Jersey.  NFI opposed that the driver making the delivery Kearny.  It was later arranged that another driver would pick the load up from Kearny and drive it to its final destination in Jersey City.

Both NFI and the customer approved this change.  The driver made the delivery to Kearny and successfully returned to Northborough, MA without violating the hours of service restrictions.  However, the following day, NFI terminated him for “insubordination”.  Afterward, the driver filed a whistleblower complaint with OSHA to which the agency found the driver had a valid complaint.  In a statement made by Kim Stille, OSHA’s New England regional administrator, “The driver found a way to do his job and ensure motor carrier safety. Rather than receiving credit for doing the right thing, he received a link slip. The law is clear: Drivers have the right to raise legitimate safety concerns to their employee—including refusing to violate safety regulations—without fear of termination or other retaliation.”  OSHA is ordering NFI Interactive Logistics respond to a laundry list of remedial actions including: Continue reading

The benefits of bicycling are hard to deny. This form of transportation is great for your health, your pocket, and the environment. But if you live in a major city, such as Boston, it can also be dangerous. With proper equipment, training, and safe-riding practices, you can dramatically reduce your risk of injury or death in a bicycle accident. The two scenarios below are responsible for a significant number of serious bicycle accidents every year. Contact a Boston Bicycle Accident Lawyer Today.

Dooring

If you’re not an avid cyclist, you probably have no idea what the term ‘dooring’ means. But cyclists, especially those who frequently ride in cities, know exactly what dooring is. In Boston, most cyclists are required to ride in specified bike lanes or on the right-hand side of traffic. This requirement often places bicyclists dangerously close to parked cars. Because motor vehicle passengers and drivers are required to look for bicyclists prior to opening a door, the door opener is typically liable in a dooring accident.

Dooring occurs when a cyclist crashes into an open car or truck door. However, it’s rarely an open-and-shut case (no pun intended). Depending on the circumstances, the door opener can argue multiple reasons why the dooring wasn’t his or her fault. For example, if there was no other traffic at the time of the accident, the door opener might claim that the bicyclist had ample time and space to avoid the open door. Although it may sound like a ‘freak accident’, dooring is actually quite common. In fact, about 10% of all motor vehicle-bicycle crashes are due to dooring. Also, dooring accidents can be very serious, head injuries and spinal injuries can occur from this type of accident. If you have just parked your car make sure you look out your mirrors to see who and what may be driving by.  Continue reading

Deaths resulting from accidents are becoming increasingly more prevalent.  According to a report from the National Safety Council, there were more than 136,000 accidental deaths of Americans in 2014.   This is up 4.2 percent from 2013 and up 15.5 percent over the past ten years.  The rate of accidents has risen even though there has been a 22 percent decrease in automobile related deaths since 2005.  Most shockingly, overdose and accidental poisonings are up 78 percent over the past ten years, killing 42,032 in 2014.  Falls are also up 63 percent over that last decade, but experts attribute this to an aging society.  The element of these statistics that is difficult to grapple with is that these are all deaths caused by accidents; accidents by their very definition are preventable.  Ken Kolosh, statistical manager of the National Safety Council notes that these increases in accidental deaths are not due to people becoming more prone to accidents, but rather due to society not implementing enough preventative measures.  Statistics show that an American dies of an accidental injury every four minutes, and one American needs medical help as a result of an accident every second.  The region in which you live also can drastically affect the rate of accidental deaths.  Maryland, California, and New York have the lowest rates, 30 per 100,000 people, while West Virginia has the highest rate, 75.2 per 100,000.  The national average is 41.3 accidental deaths per 100,000 people.  Drug abuse is rapidly becoming more deadly while accidents like car crashes have become less deadly.  In 1999, overdoses, poisonings, and falls only accounted for 25 percent of accidental deaths but now account for over half of them.  In the annual Injury Facts report, the top three causes of American deaths continue to be diseases: heart disease, cancer, and lower respiratory diseases.  However, unintentional deaths come in at the fourth spot, beating out stroke, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, flu and suicide.  People often worry about murder as a real hazard in America.  Yet, there are eight accidental deaths for every homicide and twice as many suicides as murders.

There may be several moving gears that explain accidents as a cause of death moving up to the fourth spot.  The U.S. has made great strides in preventing and treating diseases, causing deaths as a result to decrease.  That being said, the U.S. has not been as proactive about preventing accidental deaths, causing these to rise.  The Injury Facts report also shows data how far the country has come in reducing motor vehicle deaths.  In 2014, these deaths were at 35,398 annually, down from a high of over 53,000 in 1980.  It’s clear that far less young people are dying on the road than before, but U.S. numbers are still higher than those of other developed countries.  Kolosh attributes this to our relatively loose drunk driving regulations and other laws when compared to other comparable countries.  Continue reading

Last Tuesday, June 14, 2016, a two-year-old boy was with his family at Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida when he was attacked by an alligator.  The boy was playing in less than a foot of water when an almost 7 foot long alligator grabbed him and dragged him into the Seven Seas Lagoon by the popular Grand Floridian Hotel.  After hours of searching, the boy’s body was found the next day less than 15 feet from where the alligator originally snatched him.  An autopsy was performed, and the cause of death was determined to be drowning and traumatic injuries.  Since his death, there have been many questions of liability regarding the incident.  There were “No-swimming” signs posted around the beach and warnings regarding deep water and steep drop-offs, but there were no signs that warning of alligators.  Now the question is can Disney be held liable for this boy’s death for having prior knowledge of these alligators and failing to warn its guests of the potential dangers?

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission estimates that there are about 1.3 million alligators in Florida, most of these being found in the wild.  Of these alligators, most do not cause problems, but there are time when alligators attack or can be a pest to communities.  The Statewide Nuisance Alligator Program (SNAP), the program responsible for dealing with alligator-related complaints, reported receiving 13,962 nuisance alligator complaints in 2015.  Disney was aware of the presence of alligators in their lakes and lagoons; it even has its own wildlife-management team.  One Disney grounds keeper confirmed this and also said that the gators rarely come on shore but “you should not go in the water.”  The so-called Seven Seas Lagoon where the attack happened is a man made lagoon but it is connected to other bodies of water in areas packed with alligators.  During the search for the boy’s body, five alligators were removed and all were euthanized to see if one of them was the gator who attacked the child.  Continue reading

Many sports fans remember the tragedy shortly after the Fourth of July last year involving Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul.  At a holiday cookout in his hometown of Deerfield Beach, Florida, Pierre-Paul and his friends were celebrating the day by setting off $1,100 worth of fireworks for the whole neighborhood.  They had passed several hours enjoying the firework show and decided they would call it a night.  One friend, however, pointed out that there were only a few fireworks left, so they might as well set off the last few, right?  Pierre-Paul grabbed one of the last fireworks and attempted to light the fuse seven times to no avail as the wind kept blowing out his lighter.  Pierre-Paul stated in an interview with Sports Illustrated that he remembered thinking Let me try one more time… The firework finally ignited and immediately there was a deafening BOOM and a blinding green light that witnesses say engulfed Pierre-Paul.  The firework had exploded in his hand.  Pierre-Paul was in shock.  He had been setting off his own fireworks for his neighborhood since he was 15 years old, and this kind of accident had never occurred.  After this accident, Pierre-Paul had to endure 8 surgeries total and a skin graft in an attempt to make his hand as operational as possible.  Several of the bones in his fingers needed to be removed, and his hand is visibly deformed.  He has since returned to the sport, but his returning season has been underwhelming when compared to his seasons before his accident.

This is a case in point as to how dangerous lighting fireworks can be, and with the Fourth of July right around the corner, it is essential that we all take precautions to prevent such accidents from occurring.  According to the American Pyrotechnics Association (APA), more than 14,000 fireworks displays take place in the U.S. every fourth of the July.  The APA also estimates that backyard fireworks have more than doubled between 2000 and 2007, reaching 238 million pounds of fireworks.  “Backyard fireworks” are common but are extremely dangerous, even to those who have been setting them off for years.  Most people do not completely understand the potential risks they take when using consumer fireworks.  According to the National Fire Protection Association, U.S. emergency rooms treated an estimated 11,400 people for firework related injuries in 2013, 55 percent of these injuries being to the extremities and 38 percent to the head.  Typically, rates of firework related injuries are highest among infants and teenagers.  Males are also more likely to be injured by fireworks than females.  However, it is important to remember that anyone can be injured by fireworks, even observers at a town firework show.  There are precautions you can take in order to prevent severe injury while using fireworks.  These safety tips include:

  • Make sure fireworks are legal in your area before buying or using them.

In the past, the primary whistle blower act in place has been the Federal False Claims Act, which was enacted during the Civil War to combat fraud against the federal government by suppliers to the Union Army.  Also commonly called “Lincoln’s Law”, the False Claims Act was rarely used until it was completely overhauled in 1986.  The 1986 amendments were prompted by publicized reports of abuses in the defense contracting industry, in which the government was being exponentially overcharged for household items.  During the revamp, more financial incentives were put into place and barriers to actions against those who allegedly submitted false claims to the government were reduced.  Since the new 1986 amendments were passed, the False Claims Act has become the government’s most effective and successful tool in combating unneeded or fraudulent federal spending.

From 1986 to 2015, this Act has retrieved over $48 billion as an outcome of cases filed under Lincoln’s Act.  Although this Act proved to be quite successful with federal fraud, it cannot pursue cases of financial fraud that do not involve the government.  The Act does not protect against those who blow the whistle against financial companies or corporations unless the federal government is somehow also experiencing some financial loss.  With the Great Recession, came ample motive to enact a new law protecting whistle blowers of financial institutions.

In 2010, shortly after the housing bubble burst, the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act was passed.  This act was implemented to prevent any future reckless financial behavior as well as to incite, reward, and protect whistle blowers.  This act protects those who can provide novel insider evidence of financial fraud to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission.  If a whistle blower, also called a relator, brings original insider information forward and the agency can successfully have a suit against the accused, the relator can potentially receive 10 to 30 percent of the total fines the accused is charged with.  In addition to this financial incentive, the Dodd-Frank Act also protects whistle blowers from those trying to retaliate, such as the whistle blower’s boss or company.  The Act allows the relator to take those seeking retaliation to court.  The overall success of the False Claims Act has been due to the whistle blowers responding to the qui tam provisions of the Act.  These provisions essentially allow any person to file a case on the behalf of the federal government.  Qui tam provisions make it easier to sift through false claims made to the government.  Continue reading

General Motors has just introduced a feature they call the “Rear Seat Reminder” for their U.S. customers.  This feature prompts drivers to check the back seat as they leave their vehicles under specific conditions.  This technology is believed to be the first of its kind in the automobile industry.  There have been too many tragic stories of children being left in cars and dying while their parents run errands.  About half of the children under age 14 who die of heatstroke in cars are actually forgotten.  From 1998 to the present, 673 children have died from heatstroke after being left in cars, 54 percent being forgotten.  The consumer website for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration notes the extreme temperatures that the interior of vehicles can reach.  It only takes ten minutes for the temperature inside a vehicle to rise over 20 degrees Fahrenheit.  Even if it’s 60 degrees outside, the temperature inside a vehicle can be as high as 110 degrees.

Although parents or pet owners may not even consider the hazards of temperature when it’s a breezy 60 degrees outside, children and pets can easily die of heatstroke if left in cars for any amount of time.  In addition to this negligence, belongings left in the back seat of cars are often targets for theft.  Almost 23 percent of theft in 2014 involved items from a motor vehicle.  Spreading this kind of awareness of the dangers of leaving children and belongings in cars can prevent unnecessary deaths or robberies, but GM goes further by trying to prevent deaths from busy parents who genuinely forget their children through their new Rear Seat Reminder feature.  GM global safety strategy engineer Tricia Morrow states, “Whether it’s your lunch, laptop, pet or most importantly, your child, it’s easier than it seems to forget what’s in the back seat when moving between life’s events.”   This new feature will appear as a standard feature first in GM’s 2017 GMC Acadia SUV to U.S. customers.  Continue reading

Most people think they would know what to do in the event of a car accident. If there are no serious injuries, you just exchange information and call the insurance company, right? But many of us underestimate how shaken up we would be in a collision, even if no serious injuries are immediately apparent. Rear-end collisions can be especially frightening. One minute you’re sitting at a stop light, thinking about what you’re going to make for dinner, and then CRASH. Even without injuries, the effects of such an accident can leave you emotionally shaken and unsure of what to do next. Contact a Boston Car Accident Lawyer Today.

The 4 R’s of Motor Vehicle Collisions

The good news is, there’s an easy way to remember what to do in the event of a rear-end collision. Just remember the 4 R’s; review, report, record, and reach out.

  • Review: Although you can never really be ‘prepared’ for a car accident, there are steps you can take to increase your chances of reacting appropriately if an accident occurs. For starters, immediately following an accident, review the situation. Is anyone injured? Injuries, minor and severe, take priority over property damage. If no injuries are present, review property damage. Is your car damaged? What about the other driver’s car? What about surrounding property? Take a quick mental note of any visible damage and move to step 2.
  • Report: If no injuries or damages are apparent, you probably don’t need to report the accident to the police. However, if there is significant damage or anyone suffered injuries, you should immediately contact the police. In addition to offering protection if emotions become heightened, police can investigate the accident and create an official report. This can be immensely helpful in a lawsuit. Once the police have been contacted, call your insurance company. Timely reporting is crucial if you wish to file an insurance claim.
  • Record: A permanent record of the accident scene, contact details, witness statements, medical expenses, and property damage can be your best friend after a car accident. Record every detail possible, and do it as soon as possible. While you’re still at the scene of the accident, talk to other drivers, passengers, and witnesses to get their perspective on what happened, before their memories fade. Jot down your own account of what happened as well. Take pictures of the scene, including damage to the car(s) and any other property, and any factors that may have contributed to the accident, such as an icy road, or a difficult-to-see stop sign positioned behind a large tree or improperly-parked vehicle.
  • Reach out: If you or anyone else involved in the accident suffered injuries, or if there was significant property damage, you should reach out to a skilled motor vehicle accident attorney. Many personal injury lawyers will be willing to work on a contingency basis, meaning they don’t get paid unless your claim is successful. Whether you’ve been injured, or someone is blaming you for their injuries, you will want the help of an experienced auto accident lawyer.

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