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.

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

With the arrival of spring, more bicyclists will be on the roads. Although bicycling is an extremely healthy, cost effective, environmentally sound mode of transportation, it is not without risks. Between 2000 and 2012, the number of people who commute to work by bicycle in the U.S. rose from 488,000 to 786,000. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), bicycle accidents involving a motor vehicle were responsible for 743 cyclist deaths and 48,000 fatalities in 2013 alone. In crashes involving motor vehicles, the cyclist is the most likely to be seriously injured or killed. Contact a Boston Bicycle Accident Attorney Today.

Bicycle Accident Statistics

  • In 2012, cyclists accounted for about 2% of total traffic fatalities.
  • About 48% of bicyclist fatalities take place between the hours of 4 p.m. and midnight.
  • Approximately 69% of bicyclist fatalities occur in urban areas.
  • Nearly 1/4 of bicyclists killed in crashes had a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08%.
  • The vast majority of cyclists killed are male (88%).
  • The top three states for bicyclist fatalities are: California (141), Florida (133), and Texas (48).
  • The average age of those killed in bicycle / motor vehicle crashes is 44.
  • The most common causes of bicyclist injuries are: being hit by a car, falling, roadway conditions, rider error, crashing, and an animal running out.
  • Bicycle Safety Tips

By following the safety tips below, you can dramatically reduce your risk of serious injury or death in a bicycle accident.

  • Always ride with traffic, on the right side of the road.
  • Use bike lanes whenever possible.
  • Obey traffic signals and signs.
  • Always wear a helmet.
  • Wear bright clothing.
  • Don’t ride at night.
  • If you must ride at night, make sure your bike is equipped with reflectors and a light, and wear reflectors on your clothing.
  • Even if you have the right of way, yield to other vehicles if there’s any doubt about a car or truck driver’s next move.
  • Avoid riding when under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Continue reading

Every March, the Brain Injury Association of America (BIAA) works to raise awareness about brain injuries. The theme for this year’s Brain Injury Awareness Month is ‘Not Alone.’ The campaign is focused on educating the public about the incidence of brain injuries, as well as how they can help victims and their families. The campaign also aims to reduce the stigma surrounding this type of injury, empower survivors, and help people locate the support they need. Contact a Boston Injury Lawyer Today.

Brain Injury Facts and Figures

  • Each year, more than 3.5 million people experience an acquired brain injury (ABI), an injury typically caused by electric shock, oxygen deprivation, infectious disease, stroke, seizure disorder, drug abuse, trauma, or certain tumors.
  • Currently, there are more than 12 million Americans living with ABI.
  • Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a type of ABI caused by external-force trauma.
  • Annually, about 2.5 million people suffer TBIs in the United States. Of those, about 2.2 million are treated in the emergency department, 280,000 are hospitalized, and 50,000 die.
  • Someone in the U.S. sustains a TBI every 13 seconds.
  • One out of every 60 Americans lives with a TBI-related disability (about 5.3 million people).
  • The most common causes of TBIs are falls (40.5%), being struck by something (15.5%), motor vehicle accidents (14.3%), and assaults (10.7%).Concussions are Brain Injuries Too

Physicians are taking this opportunity to highlight the importance of treating youth sports-related injuries. These injuries are often downplayed, sometimes resulting in long-term damage that may have otherwise been treatable. Dr. Jeffrey T. Barth, a brain injury expert in Virginia, is working in collaboration with a team of brain injury professionals to educate young people on the prevention and treatment of concussions. The team will reach out to students, parents, teachers, coaches, and the community at large to help them learn how  to identify concussion symptoms, and what steps to take when an injury occurs. To do so, Dr. Barth and his team will work with athletic directors and sports coaches on baseline assessment programs he created. These programs help coaches, players, and other team members to evaluate the severity of a head injury based on cognitive tests conducted on each athlete prior to the injury. Continue reading

Adverse drug interactions account for approximately 700,000 emergency room visits and 100,000 hospitalizations annually. In fact, nearly 5% of hospitalized patients suffer from medication errors, putting them at the top of the list for inpatient errors. It is likely that outpatient medication errors are even higher. Contact a Boston Drug Injury Lawyer Today.

The Institute for Safe Medication Practices keeps a list of medications with a high potential for error. These include drugs that have dangerous side-effects, as well as look-alike and sound-alike drugs that have similar names and /or appearances but entirely different properties. The biggest culprits, especially among geriatric patients, are antidiabetic agents (insulin), antiplatelet agents (aspirin), and a­­nticoagulants (warfarin). Combined, these drugs are responsible for nearly half of all medication error-related E.R. visits for Medicare patients.

Nearly one-third of American adults are on five or more medications, and that figure is likely to keep growing. The good news is, about half of all medication errors are preventable. Through a process called medication reconciliation, adverse drug events can be dramatically reduced by ensuring that new prescriptions don’t have negative interactions with medications you’re already taking. Even over-the-counter medications can result in dangerous drug interactions. For example, if you are prescribed a drug with high levels of acetaminophen (Tylenol), and you are simultaneously taking over-the-counter acetaminophen for a headache, you may unknowingly exceed the safe dosage. In this case, overdosing could result in liver damage. Some adverse events, such as liver damage from an overdose of acetaminophen, may gradually worsen over time. Other types of medication errors can result in emergency health complications, and even death.

What Questions Should I Ask My Doctor?

Proper medication reconciliation involves having a thorough conversation with your physician about the medications you are currently taking (over-the-counter, prescription, and vitamins). To significantly reduce your risk of medication errors, go to all medical appointments prepared with the questions below.

  • What is the drug for?
  • How long should I remain on the drug?
  • Should I avoid any food, drinks, or other medications while on this drug?
  • Does the drug have any side-effects?
  • What is the best method of storing the drug? Does it require refrigeration?
  • What should I do in the event of an actual overdose?
  • Will the drug interact with other medications I’m on?

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Even a seemingly harmless social media post can be used against you in a personal injury lawsuit. For example, let’s say you are suing your insurance company for back injuries sustained in a car accident and the insurance company finds a recent Instagram photo of you at a yoga retreat. Of course, the simple act of doing yoga doesn’t mean you are lying about your injuries. Many factors may come into play, including the type of yoga you were doing. Maybe it was a mild, therapeutic yoga intended to strengthen the muscles supporting your back. However, even if a picture is deceiving, the insurance company may use it to call your credibility into question. Contact a Boston Personal Injury Lawyer Today.

In addition to pictures that make you look “less injured” than you claim to be, social media posts can also contain information that contradicts statements made by you or witnesses. If you claimed that an accident occurred daylight hours, but posted the following on Facebook at 10 pm the day of the accident, Sitting by the pool, drink in hand, loving life, you may have some explaining to do.

What About Privacy Settings?

For starters, your social media posts may not be as private as you think. I for one thought that nobody could see anything I posted on Facebook unless they were a ‘friend,’ until someone I barely knew congratulated me on buying a house. Turns out, photos that you’re ‘tagged’ in can be seen by the friends of everyone else who is tagged in them. If any of those people make their posts public, the posts can be seen by anyone, anywhere.

Even if you’ve chosen a Fort Knox-caliber privacy setting, courts still have the power to order you to disclose social media information. If the defense believes your social media accounts include information relevant to the lawsuit, this will almost certainly happen. In fact, a plaintiff may be ordered to refrain from deleting or editing any information posted to a social media account for the duration of the case.

The best way to avoid a sticky, social media situation if you’re involved in a lawsuit is to prevent the posts from occurring in the first place. Continue reading

New England in March can be warm, sunny, and framed by blooming flowers and emerald green grass. It can just as easily be dark and gloomy with grey skies, snow and ice, and slushy, muddy roads. Thankfully, this March is shaping up to be quite beautiful. Now that the days are longer, and the winter doldrums are beginning to fade away until next year, everyone’s mind is on spring. And for many people that means spring break. This term may conjure images of bathing suit-clad college students doing keg stands in Miami, but spring break is much less wild for many of us. That being said, during the upcoming spring break weeks, accidents and injuries do spike.

A significant increase in traffic as people head to various vacation destinations, results in a substantial uptick in motor vehicle accidents. By following the tips below, you can help dramatically reduce your risk of serious injuries or death in an accident. Contact a Boston Personal Injury Lawyer Today.

Spring Break Safety Tips

  • Limit the amount of alcohol you consume, especially if you’re driving. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a person is killed in an alcohol-related crash every 31 seconds. With more people on the road during spring break, including more drunk drivers, avoid drinking and getting behind the wheel. But use caution, even if you’re not driving. Excessive drinking (binge drinking) can cause a litany of other health problems, and can place you in dangerous situations.
  • Protect your eyes and skin from the sun. Many people incorrectly assume that because it’s March and the temperatures are still relatively cool, they can’t get sunburned. This is a big mistake. Being outside all day, without sunglasses, protective clothing or sunblock, can result in serious burns, blistering, and long-term skin damage which can become cancerous. Use brimmed hats and protective sun gear to protect your skin from direct rays, and use sunblock on areas of unprotected skin if you’ll be outside for an extended period of time. For eyes, wear sunglasses with 100% UV ray protection.
  • Be safe on the open water. If your spring break plans include cruising around Boston Harbor in a boat, or swimming in the ocean in Florida or another warm-weather locale, use your head. Avoid alcohol when swimming or boating. Regularly apply sunblock. Drink plenty of water. And never swim alone. If you’re boating, wear a life jacket and consider taking a boating safety course before you head out.
  • Stay safe on the road. If your spring break plans involve a road trip, be prepared. Alternate drivers to make sure that nobody is feeling sleepy behind the wheel. Take a map in case you get lost in an area without cell service. Avoid drinking and driving, speeding, and reckless driving. Do not use your cell phone or any other hand-held device while driving. If you must make a call, send a text, or navigate with your GPS, have a passenger do it for you or pull over in a safe area until you are done.

Continue reading