Boston Injury Lawyer Blog
Disclaimer - By publishing this information on this Web site, the Boston, Massachusetts law firm of Altman & Altman LLP is not claiming to represent any clients or cases mentioned here. The content provided is designed to inform readers and is not intended as legal advice.

It is a widely known fact that crashes involving large trucks (a.k.a. 18-wheelers, big rigs, tractor-trailers) often result in serious injuries and deaths. It is also relatively common for long-haul truck drivers to spend significant hours behind the wheel during each work shift. In fact, in response to a rise in accidents blamed on driver fatigue, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration implemented hours-of-service rules in 2011. These rules govern the amount of hours that truck drivers can be behind the wheel in a single shift. Although efforts have reduced trucking accidents, approximately 4,000 fatal trucking accidents still occur annually. How can we reduce these  deadly crashes? One startup based in San Francisco thinks it has the answer. Contact a Boston Trucking Accident Lawyer Today.

Anthony Levandowski, an engineer who helped design Google’s driverless cars, left the technology giant to form a startup with two other Google alums and a robotics expert. His company, Otto, aims to power big-rigs with software, cameras, sensors, and lasers that will allow trucks to effectively navigate U.S. highways autonomously while their human drivers rest or complete other tasks. Levandowski believes that driverless big rigs will have an immensely positive effect on highway safety.

Driverless Cars are Already on the Roads

Although this might seem a scary idea to many, it is not a particularly new idea. Thanks to Google, driverless cars are already navigating city streets in Texas, California, Arizona, and Washington. Otto’s vision is to equip robot truckers with the ability to control highway travel. The more complicated task of weaving in and out of city streets would still be left to humans. “Our goal is to make trucks drive as humanly as possible, but with the reliability of machines,” said Levandowski.

Before you start checking every passing 18-wheeler for a robot driver, it might be a good idea to consider that autonomous big rigs may be decades away. Although driverless car technology has made great progress in a relatively short amount of time, the process is expected to move much slower with large trucks. According to Steven Shladover, the program manager for mobility at the University of California’s Partners for Advanced Transportation Technology, convincing government regulators to trust robot drivers to safely steer high-speed trucks on our highways is what’s going to take some time. “I don’t want to be on that highway when there is nobody there to take over a truck with 80,000 pounds of cargo and I don’t think I know anyone else who would want to be,” said Shladover. “The consequences of any kind of failure in any component would be too severe.” Continue reading

Abusers often target our most vulnerable citizens; young children, individuals with mental or physical disabilities, and the elderly. Considering that many nursing home residents are elderly and have an age-related physical or mental disability, these individuals are at an increased risk of abuse and negligence. Unfortunately, elderly residents often keep the abuse to themselves out of fear of retaliation or punishment. While the vast majority of nursing home staff have residents’ best interests in mind, there are far too many exceptions. A recent nursing home abuse case in Lowell, MA is yet another example. Contact a Boston Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer Today.

Jay Bousquet’s 76-year-old mother was a resident at the Wingate at Belvidere when employees humiliated the elderly woman on social media. Bousquet’s mother, Jane, was undergoing dementia and Parkinson’s treatments when two nursing aides took several unflattering videos of the confused woman and shared them on the video messaging app, Snapchat. “It breaks my heart for what happened to my mother, it breaks my heart for what happened to the other victims,” said Bousquet.

Nursing Aides Abused Patient Trust

According to prosecutors, Jane was not the only victim. “All of the victims in this case were vulnerable elderly women that had dementia,” said prosecutors. Kala Lopez and Sabrina Costa pleaded guilty to elder abuse in court in April. Although they apologized for their actions, their words provide little comfort to the victims’ families. “They abused their responsibilities, they abused the trust that they were given to take care of these people,” Bosquet said.

Furthermore, these incidents were not isolated events. In the Lowell area, there were at least four other nursing home violations over the last year. However, this most recent case is drawing attention to the violation of patient / resident privacy on social media, and federal action is being sought. Sen. Grassley (R-Iowa) sent a letter to the attorney general in March of this year, requesting a federal investigation into privacy violations involving nursing home residents and social media. In addition, Grassley is discussing improvements in nursing home inspections with Medicare and Medicaid. “This sort of abuse is just the opposite of human decency,” said Grassley.

According to Snapchat, the incidents violated their guidelines and users are able to report violations. However, that does little to remedy this growing problem. For victims and their loved ones, stricter criminal penalties and changes in policy may be the only effective methods of reducing this form of abuse. “Anything to prevent these types of things from happening again in the future, I’m all for,” Bousquet said. Wingate’s attorney claims that the nursing home has banned employee cell phone use. Costa and Lopez received a sentence of three years’ probation for their actions. Continue reading

Sexual abuse cases are always highly sensitive. This is especially true when the offender is a trusted authority figure, such as a doctor or teacher. The Boston Globe recently called attention to a disturbing number of sexual abuse and harassment cases in New England private schools, churches, and a medical center. Contact a Boston Sexual Abuse Attorney Today.

Attorney Tyler Fox, Of Counsel to Altman & Altman, who specializes in representing the victims of sexual harassment and assault, is currently investigating and representing clients who were sexually abused while students at boarding/prep schools in New England.  Many more victims are expected to come forward as they gain the courage to tell their stories and seek justice for the abuse and cover-up by the schools.  Tyler is also representing victims of abuse by priests of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston. And he has recently been featured in a Boston Globe article about an ongoing series of sexual assault cases and negligence cases against a doctor from the Fertility Centers of New England.

Over 200 New England Private School Students Have Alleged Sexual Abuse

According to a recent Boston Globe report, more than 200 students at about 67 different schools have come forward since 1991, claiming they were sexually abused or harassed by teachers and staff. At least 90 lawsuits have been filed as a result. However, only about 37 of the accused have been fired for their alleged conduct, while several accused began working at other schools. Prior to the Globe’s investigation, elite private schools often ignored sexual assault cases, sometimes intimidating claimants into dropping their lawsuits. Fortunately, the tables are beginning to turn.

According to the New York Times, “This year at least eight New England private schools have started or disclosed investigations into sexual misconduct. At least five of those inquiries—at St. George’s School in Rhode Island, the Taft School in Connecticut, Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire, and Thayer Academy and Concord Academy in Massachusetts—have led to staff members being placed on administrative leave or fired, [The Globe] said.” Continue reading

In the wake of a tragic accident this past weekend, there has been a renewed call for a nationwide ban of duck boats. The amphibious vehicles have become an almost iconic part of the city of Boston. Duck boats are hard to miss as they transport loads of tourists past the city’s many attractions, on land and water. A rise in deadly accidents has people questioning their safety. Contact a Boston Personal Injury Lawyer Today.

The Victim Was Wearing a Helmet

The most recent accident occurred last Saturday, when a duck boat called the Penelope Pru collided with a scooter near Beacon Hill. The massive vehicle was stopped at a Charles Street stop light, directly behind a 29-year-old Beacon Hill woman and her male passenger. When the light turned green, the duck boat – apparently not seeing the scooter in its path, overtook the smaller vehicle, knocking it on its side and running over the scooter and its operator, Alison Warmuth. Witnesses shouted, trying to alert the duck boat driver, but he did not hear. One of the witnesses ran to Warmuth’s side, trying to help the injured woman, but it was too late. She attempted to speak but could not. Although Warmuth was not bleeding, witnesses say her body looked like a ‘rag doll’. Both she and her male passenger were wearing helmets.

Warmuth died shortly after the accident. Her passenger was not seriously injured.

Four Deadly Duck Boat Accidents Since 2010

This weekend’s accident was not the first of its kind. In 2010, a Philadelphia-based duck boat, ‘Ride the Ducks’, was struck by a barge, killing two tourists on board. In 2015, a Texas woman was struck and killed by a duck boat, also from a ‘Ride the Ducks’ tour while crossing a Philadelphia street. And in 2015, a Seattle duck boat struck a charter bus, killing five people.

Last weekend’s tragic accident is, however, the first deadly accident for Boston Duck Tours. The company has been in business since 1994. Although the recent surge in deadly accidents has sparked some controversy, some people want the duck boats to stay. “I think they are iconic and a great part of the city,” said Rockport’s Andrea Vinson. “It’s just so much fun to go through the city and then go right into the Charles in a vehicle… It doesn’t get more fun than that.” Continue reading

A duck boat loaded with tourists struck and killed a 29-year-old Beacon Hill woman over the weekend. The as yet unnamed woman and her male passenger were on a scooter when the accident occurred. They were stopped at a red light on Charles Street, directly in front of the Boston Duck Boat Tours’ vehicle. Both riders were wearing helmets. Contact a Boston Personal Injury Lawyer Today.

According to a witness, when the light turned green, “the duck boat just took off and actually went into the back of the people on the scooter.” The woman operating the scooter tried to accelerate and witnesses shouted, trying to alert the duck boat driver. But it was too late. The scooter fell to the ground and the duck boat ran it over.

Seattle Duck Boat Accident

Many have criticized duck boats, saying they are too dangerous for congested city streets. When a Seattle duck boat crashed into a charter bus, killing four students, there were national cries for a ban on the amphibious vehicles.

According to local authorities, this weekend’s accident near Boston was the first deadly accident for Boston Duck Boat Tours, a company that has been around since 1994. The scooter was crushed under the side front wheel of the massive vehicle.

Surveillance Video

The incident occurred within range of a surveillance camera owned by the city. In a statement, Officer Rachel McGuire, a spokeswoman for the Boston police, said the surveillance footage will be reviewed by investigators. “We’ll have to determine whether criminal charges have to be taken out against the operator,” said Evans.

The duck boat had approximately 26 to 28 passengers at the time of the collision. None of the passengers were hurt. Apparently, the driver stopped the vehicle and jumped out as soon as he realized he had hit something. According to a spokesman for Boston Duck Tours, the driver “has been with the company for years and has a great safety record.”

At the time of the accident, Jay Beausang was planting a tree near the intersection of Charles and Beacon streets. He saw the victim’s body pop out from behind the duck boat. “I ran over. I got on my knees, held her wrist for a pulse,” said Beausang. The woman attempted to speak, but was unable. Beausang said that although she wasn’t bleeding, the woman looked like a “rag doll”. The male passenger was not seriously injured. Continue reading

Johnson & Johnson is under fire again, only months after the company was ordered to pay $72 million to the family of a woman who died after using its talcum-powder based products. Studies have shown a link between ovarian cancer and the use of talcum powder, specifically in the genital area. The newest claimant is a Los Angeles man by the name of Soren Threadgill who filed a wrongful death claim following his wife’s death from ovarian cancer. Contact a Boston Personal Injury Lawyer Today.

Several pending lawsuits claim that Johnson & Johnson knew about the cancer risk but failed to warn consumers or stop marketing its talcum-powder based products. More than 1,000 lawsuits have been filed against the company, and more are likely to follow. Threadgill claims that his wife used Johnson & Johnson products, such as Shower to Shower, for 25 years. In 1998, she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer, and she succumbed to the disease in 2012.

Johnson & Johnson May Have Known About the Cancer Risk for More than 20 Years

According to Threadgill’s filing, Johnson & Johnson was notified of the “serious risk of ovarian cancer” by the Cancer Prevention Coalition in 1994. Furthermore, an internal memo from a medical consultant for Johnson & Johnson said “anybody who denies” the risk is “denying the obvious in the face of all evidence to the contrary.” This internal memo was released in 1997, one year before Threadgill’s wife was diagnosed with cancer.

According to the International Agency for Research on Cancer (ARC), the use of talcum powder-based products in the genital area is classified as “possibly carcinogenic to humans.”

As of today, Johnson & Johnson hasn’t responded to Threadgill’s lawsuit.

Ovarian Cancer Symptoms

If you develop any of these symptoms after using talc-based products, contact your health care provider immediately.

  • Abnormal vaginal discharge
  • Vaginal bleeding not associated with a menstrual period
  • Abdominal or pelvic pain
  • Back pain
  • Excessive bloating
  • A feeling of fullness while eating
  • Excessive / urgent urination
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea

Any of the above symptoms can be caused by multiple health conditions, many of them not serious. However, if you are concerned about medical problems, it’s better to be safe than sorry. If you have several of these symptoms, or if any of the symptoms last longer than two weeks, see your doctor right away. Time is of the essence. Ovarian cancer is one of the deadliest forms of cancer, but when detected early, the survival rate is significantly higher. Continue reading

As the warmer weather approaches, Boston and the surrounding areas begin to prepare for increased tourism and heavy traffic. This year, a major part of this preparation involves testing manhole and storm drain covers in and around the city. The Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) wants the public to know they haven’t forgotten the deadly accident earlier this year that resulted in the death of a young teacher. Milton elementary school teacher Caitlin Clavette was killed in February when a loose manhole cover became airborne and crashed through the windshield of her SUV. Contact a Boston Personal Injury Lawyer Today.

More than 1,100 Manhole Covers in Boston

In the wake of Clavette’s death, MassDOT has begun an investigation of the more than 1,100 manhole covers throughout the city of Boston. The cause of the accident, which occurred in the O’Neil Tunnel, is still under investigation. The manhole cover, which weighed approximately 200 pounds, may have become airborne due to an underground explosion. But the first step in preventing a similar tragedy is to physically test all manhole and drain covers, perform maintenance where necessary, and ensure that all covers are securely bolted down. “That’s something that should have been taken care of years ago,” said Randolph resident John Thermitus.

Many of the City’s Manhole Covers Remain Unsecure

Immediately following February’s freak accident, MassDot tested and performed maintenance on a total of 69 manhole covers. Despite their efforts, some Boston-area drivers are worried about a similar occurrence. Although MassDOT is continuing to inspect the city’s manhole and drain covers, some people are worried they’re not working fast enough. As of April, many covers remain loose, not securely bolted down. “I think that causes a lot of concerns for other drivers. Not only do we have to worry about potholes, now we have to worry about manhole covers that are loose,” said Thermitus.

To improve standards and follow best practices of other states, MassDOT “is revising road infrastructure inspections, which are done every two years … to include more physical tests of each cover site, such as checking the stability of the cover.”

MassDOT has come under fire in recent years for multiple issues, including bus accidents, train accidents, and massive breakdowns in the public transit system. Hopefully this will be a turning point for MassDOT’s reputation. Continue reading

As commuters become more health conscious, and environmentally and financially-minded, bicycling to and from work is growing in popularity. Of course, with more bikes on the roads, there are also more bicycle accidents. Depending on the circumstances of a bicycle accident, you may find yourself filing an insurance claim or even a personal injury lawsuit.  Contact a Boston Bicycle Accident Attorney Today.

If you are seriously injured in a bicycle accident involving a motor vehicle, you should consult with a Boston personal injury attorney as soon as possible. Time is of the essence with personal injury claims. If you have visible injuries, they should be photographed and documented before they fade away. Memories often fade just as easily. Document every detail you possibly can; photograph the location of the accident from multiple angles, and write down witness statements and contact info. It’s also important to exchange insurance information with other parties involved, even if you don’t suspect property damage or injuries. It may take several hours, or even days, for injuries to become apparent.

Auto Insurance Personal Injury Protection

In most places, bicyclists don’t need to purchase insurance the way motor vehicle drivers do. However, cyclists are not without coverage options. Insurance policies designed specifically for bicyclists exist, as do bicycle-accident provisions in some automobile and homeowner’s insurance policies. If, for example, you live in a no-fault state, you can obtain bicycle-accident coverage through auto insurance personal injury protection. You are also likely covered for injuries under your existing health insurance policy, but that coverage may come with an excessively high deductible. If, for example, your health insurance plan has a $10,000 deductible, you may not have any coverage for medical expenses until you’ve reached that threshold. For many people, this can spell financial disaster.

Bicycle Insurance Coverage Options

Two companies that have designed insurance coverage specifically for bicyclists are Spoke and Velosurance. Policyholders can choose from basic options, such as coverage for damage to the bike itself and rental reimbursement, as well as up to $10,000 of coverage for medical payments and $100,000 of coverage for liability. These policies can provide a significant benefit to avid cyclists, but what if you’re seriously injured? Insurance coverage isn’t always enough. If another party was at fault, you may be entitled to additional compensation for medical expenses, pain and suffering, property damage, lost wages, and other associated costs. Continue reading

Massachusetts’ Noble Hospital is facing lawsuits from 25 patients who claim that improper sanitization of medical equipment may have put them in harm’s way. The colonoscopy patients allege that they were potentially exposed to life-threatening viruses, including Hepatitis B and C, and HIV, due to improperly disinfected endoscopes. Although the potential exposures occurred in 2012 and 2013, the patients weren’t informed until January of this year. Contact a Boston Personal Injury Lawyer Today.

293 Colonoscopy Patients May Have Been Exposed

Nearly 300 colonoscopy patients may have been exposed to the viruses. According to Baystate Health, 243 of the affected patients have been tested, and no evidence of colonoscopy-related infection has been found. At the time of the potential exposure, Noble was an independent hospital, but it has since been taken over by parent company Baystate Health.

Endoscope Lawsuits – The Noble Hospital case is not the first time that endoscopes have been linked to transmission of harmful germs, bacteria, and viruses. Olympus, the world’s largest endoscope manufacturer, is facing multiple lawsuits from patients who claim they became infected with an antibiotic-resistant ‘superbug’ called Carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE) after procedures using the company’s endoscope.  In January 2016, a report was released by the Senate Health Committee, announcing that Olympus knew about the risk of infection transmission but failed to warn physicians, consumers, or the FDA for three years. Shortly after, Olympus issued a recall to make design changes they claim will reduce the infection risk. These changes include improving the seal around the new channel to prevent patient tissues and fluids from getting inside the channel.

Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria

CRE is a life-threatening bacteria that is resistant to most antibiotics, earning it the title of “superbug”. Superbugs are, by nature, extremely challenging – if not impossible – to treat. They may lead to other serious, or even fatal conditions such as brain damage and organ failure.  Patients using certain medical devices, including catheters and ventilators, have a higher risk of contracting superbugs such as CRE. MRSA and C-diff are two other types of superbugs. Approximately 23,000 people die from antibiotic-resistant bacteria every year.

According to the Massachusetts Public Health Department, the new endoscopes were being cleaned using outdated protocol. The newer endoscopes contain an additional channel that administers saline solution to the patient’s body. Unfortunately, this channel was not properly cleaned, resulting in the possible exposure. Continue reading

A Pennsylvania-based manufacturer of sleep apnea masks is on the hook for millions of dollars due to alleged violations of the False Claims Act. According to the Department of Justice, Respironics Inc. has agreed to pay $34.8 million for paying illegal kickbacks to durable medical equipment (DME) suppliers that purchased its sleep apnea masks. The kickbacks came in the form of free call center services for the DME suppliers. The DOJ said the company provided some suppliers with the free service between April 2012 and November 2015 while charging other suppliers a monthly fee “based on the number of patients who used masks manufactured by a competitor of Respironics.” Contact a Boston Whistleblower Lawyer Today.

South Carolina Whistleblower to Receive $5.38 Million for Exposing Fraud

The whistleblower who exposed the violations being committed by Respironics Inc. was a South Carolina pharmacist by the name of Gibran Ameer. Ameer worked for various DME suppliers. Of the total $348.8 million settlement, $34.14 million will go to the federal government, $660,000 will go to state governments based on Medicaid participation, and $5.38 million will go to Ameer for his role in exposing the company’s fraudulent activities. Under the qui tam provisions of the False Claims Act, private citizens with knowledge of fraudulent acts against the government are permitted to file a lawsuit on behalf of the U.S. government and share in any recovered funds.

“The payment of illegal remuneration in any form to induce patient referrals threatens public confidence in the health care system,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Benjamin C. Mizer, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Division.  “Americans deserve to know that when they are prescribed a device to treat a serious health care problem, the supplier’s judgment has not been compromised by illegal payments from equipment manufacturers.”

False Claims Act has Helped Recover Billions in Health Care Fraud Since 2009

The U.S. government is coming down hard on health care fraud. The lawsuit against Respironics Inc. is yet another achievement for the Health Care Fraud Prevention and Enforcement Action Team (HEAT), which was launched in 2009 to combat health care fraud. HEAT, a partnership between the Secretary of Health and Human Services and the Attorney General, focuses primarily on reducing and preventing fraud against Medicare and Medicaid. As a result of the False Claims Act, more than $17.4 billion has been recovered in health care fraud cases since 2009. Continue reading