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.

For many people, riding a motorcycle is more than just a hobby, it’s a way of life. When motorcyclists utilize safe riding practices, they dramatically reduce their risk of serious injury and death. But the fact is, motorcycle riding is a risky business. Without the enclosed protection of a car or truck, motorcyclists are significantly more vulnerable to injury in an accident. Motorcycles are also much less stable than their four-wheeled counterparts. Adult riders assume these risks every day, but what about children? Is it unsafe, or even irresponsible to ride with a child? According to experts, it depends. Contact a Boston Motorcycle Accident Lawyer Today.

Studies show that about 60 percent of riders with injuries that require hospitalization are under the age of 16. This means that – at least in most cases – they were passengers on motorcycles operated by adults. Although it is not possible to eliminate the risk of injuries, there are steps you can take to ride safely, and responsibly, with your child in tow.

Safety Tips for Riding with a Child in Tow

  • Children should always wear a properly fitted helmet. Serious head injuries, including traumatic brain injuries (TBI), are the greatest risk child and adult riders face when on a motorcycle. TBI can result in permanent disability and can severely impact a child’s development, social skills, and life expectancy. A well-fitted helmet reduces the risk of TBI and should be worn by all riders at all times.
  • The proper safety gear can be the difference between life and death when it comes to child passengers. Protective clothing can protect against cuts and lacerations. Even better, a harness or belt helps to keep the child safely on the bike. It’s safer for children to ride behind the adult, but there is still a risk of falling. A harness or belt prevents a child from falling off the back of a bike.
  • Never ride with a child in front of you. This makes it challenging to control the bike, and it is actually easier for a child to fall off the front of the bike than the back.
  • Education is crucial, for both you and your child. Any child that rides on a motorcycle should first be taught the basics of motorcycle safety. These lessons include how to get on and off a motorcycle, how to ride as a passenger, and how to adjust the helmet.
  • Always drive defensively and never drive distracted. Do not assume that other motorists can see you. The small size of a motorcycle makes it “disappear” easily behind other vehicles. Obey traffic signs and follow all traffic rules.

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Amidst all of the excitement of the upcoming summer months, tragedy struck back in June at Walt Disney World resort in Orlando, Florida.  While visiting the park with his family, 2-year-old Lane Graves was grabbed by an almost 7 foot long alligator and dragged into the Seven Seas Lagoon.  The boy and his father were playing in less than a foot of water located just outside the popular Grand Floridian Hotel.  Hours later, the boy’s body was discovered less than 15 feet from where the alligator had snatched him.  An autopsy later proved the cause of death was drowning and traumatic injuries.

This incident came as a major shock to the Walt Disney World community and to the entire country.  Every year, an estimated 17.2 million people travel through the Magic Kingdom of Walt Disney World resort.  Ever since the park opened in 1971, it has been a popular destination for families with children of all ages.  Therefore, when this 2-year-old boy was drowned by an alligator, millions were disturbed.  In response to the heartbreak, Walt Disney World has implemented several changes, both to make the park safer and to demonstrate its sensitivity to the incident.  The first step Disney took was to place warning signs along all bodies of water on the park’s property.  These signs warn guests to stay away from the water and not to wade in because of the potential presence of alligators.  Previous signs around the lagoon had said, “No Swimming” but did not warn of the potential presence of alligators.  Search teams also captured and euthanized five alligators found when they were searching for the body of the boy.  One of these alligators was the animal that attacked Graves.

Since the incident in June, Disney has also completely eradicated all references and depictions of alligators and crocodiles from its attractions at the Magic Kingdom.  There are no long alligators or crocodiles in any shows or parades and a more than 50-year-old warning sign telling parents to watch their children or “the crocodiles will” was removed from the Jungle Cruise at the Magic Kingdom.  In addition to purging all alligator/crocodile references from the park, Disney is also building a stone wall around the Seven Seas Lagoon where Graves was killed.  Immediately following the accident, Disney set up a series of ropes and nets around the water to keep guests away, but now the corporation is making the safety measures much more permanent.  The wall will essentially be four to five feet of rocks that will make it nearly impossible for anyone to reach the waters edge.  Officials from the park told the Orlando Sentinel that the wall is only part of a new security plan that the park will be executing.  Continue reading

With the start of school less than two weeks away in many areas, it’s the perfect time to discuss back to school safety. Whether your children take the bus or you drive them to school every day, there are steps you can take to reduce their risk of serious harm on their way to and from school. As the official Back-to-School Safety Month, August is a great time to remind drivers to use extra caution when commuting to work or transporting kids to school.

Children 14 and Under Most at Risk of Pedestrian Injuries

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a pedestrian is injured every 7 minutes in the United States. In 2013, about 76,000 pedestrians were injured in traffic-related accidents. With the upcoming surge of children walking to and from school and busses, it’s crucial to pay extra attention on morning and afternoon commutes. Children under the age of 14 are most at risk for these types of injuries and deaths due to their lack of experience and small size. The CDC reports that nearly one in five traffic-related deaths for children under 14 are pedestrian deaths.

Back to School Safety Tips for Drivers

  • Use extra caution, and low speeds, in school zones and residential areas
  • At intersections, double check for children before accelerating
  • When entering and exiting driveways, drive slowly and use extra caution
  • When driving during early morning and afternoon school hours, look for children on and near roadways
  • Do not drive distracted; put down your cell phone and keep your focus on the road at all times

Back to School Safety Tips for Kids

  • Until children are at least 10 years of age, they should always cross the street with an adult
  • Children should always cross the street at corners, and use crosswalks when available
  • Remind children to never run out into the streets
  • Never walk between parked cars
  • When entering or exiting the bus, always walk in front of the bus
  • Tell children to always make eye contact with drivers before crossing in front of them. It’s never wise to assume a driver can see you
  • Before crossing a road look left, right, and left again

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If you’ve been injured in a slip and fall accident, there are certain steps you can take to ensure a positive outcome in your case. Because falls can be embarrassing, we are often quick to dismiss another’s negligence and assume the fall was due to our own clumsiness. However, in many circumstances, dangerous conditions caused the injury. Whether it is a stairwell that may not have been properly maintained, a wet spot on the floor, an uneven doorway threshold, or any other improperly maintained surface, your fall may have been the result of the negligence of another person or company. Not every slip and fall accident results in a case.   It’s generally a good idea to speak to an experienced injury lawyer to fully understand your rights.

Following a slip and fall accident, you may be facing significant medical bills and lost wages from time off work. When another’s negligence caused your injuries, you may be entitled to compensation for expenses, including pain and suffering and lost wages. But how do you ensure your claim is successful? The tips below can help you recover the damages you’re entitled to after a slip and fall accident.

Slip and fall injuries account for about one million emergency department visits every year, and they are the number one cause of workers’ compensation claims. Even more frightening, about half of all accidental deaths in the home are the result of slip and fall accidents.

Evidence from the Scene of the Accident

Physical evidence from the scene of the accident is immensely helpful to the outcome of a slip and fall case. Slip and falls can happen as easily in someone else’s home as in a store parking lot or other place of business. It is the duty of the property owner, including homeowner’s, to maintain reasonably safe conditions for guests. If a dangerous condition was present and the property owner knew about it – or should have known about it – he or she may be liable for your injuries.

  • One of the most compelling pieces of evidence you can present is the clothing and shoes you were wearing at the time of the accident. This will allow you to show that your footwear was reasonable and appropriate, and that your clothing didn’t inhibit your movement or present the risk of falling.
  • It is also a good idea to document the scene of the fall through photographs and video, if possible. For example, if there was spilled liquid on the floor, or you tripped over clutter or debris, photograph these hazards.
  • Witness testimony is also helpful. If anyone was around at the time of your slip and fall accident, ask for their contact information. That way, if you need their account of what happened at a later date, you can follow up with them via phone or email.

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Across the United States, over 3.2 million adults are currently residents of nursing homes or similar long term care facilities.  Up to 40 percent of adults will live in a nursing home at some point during their lives, and this percentage is expected to increase as the population ages.  Although many of these adults are well taken care of at these facilities, many of them suffer abuse by the nursing home and facility staff.  Abuse that occurs at elderly facilities can be difficult to detect; for every case of abuse that is reported, there are five cases that go unreported.  Aside from the pure fact that this abuse is inherently wrong, it can also have other effects on the health of those abused.  For example, seniors who have been abused are 300 percent more likely to die within the 3 years following the abuse compared to those who do not suffer abuse.  This abuse is more prevalent than many would like to believe.  One particular survey of residents of nursing homes showed that 44 percent of residents reported being abused while living at the nursing home and 95 percent said they had witnessed another resident mistreated by caregivers.   Even with the anti-elder-abuse laws enforced in all 50 states, abuse in nursing homes still runs rampant.

Nursing home abuse can take several forms.  Physical abuse is one type of abuse that causes physical harm to a resident, either intentionally such as hitting or pinching or through neglect of the resident.  Sexual abuse is another type of abuse that can occur which involves unsolicited sexual attention or exploitation.  This includes sexual focus on patients who cannot verbally or physically express their wishes, a resident with dementia for example.  Psychological abuse is less clean cut, but can include yelling, humiliating, or shaming patients.  Financial exploitation occurs when caregivers take advantage of residents’ financials by directly stealing from them or participating in financial fraud using the patients’ names.  Neglect is a form of abuse that commonly occurs when homes are understaffed and can include insufficient food, water, and clothing provided to the patient or failing to take care of the patients’ personal hygiene.  The aforementioned abuses are most often a result of the caregivers actions, but there can also be resident-to-resident abuse in which patients are allowed to abuse each other.

There are several notable signs of the various kinds of nursing home abuse.  These include physically visible signs such as broken bones or fractures, bruising, cuts, bed sores, frequent infections, signs of dehydration, unexplained weight loss and poor physical appearance or lack of cleanliness.  Certain changes in the mental or emotional state of patients can also signify abuse.  These changes include general change in mental status, mood swings or emotional outbursts, reclusiveness or refusal to speak, refusal to eat or take medications and caregivers not wanting to leave patients alone with others.  Although these symptoms do not guarantee nursing home abuse, any of these signs should be further investigated to rule out possible abuse. Continue reading

Going for a walk is the healthiest thing that many of us do all day. Fresh air, exercise, and endorphins are all essential to physical and mental health. But walking isn’t without risks, especially in cities and high-traffic areas. As the number of cars, trucks, motorcycles, and bicycles on city streets increases, so does the risk of pedestrian injury accidents. If you are injured in a collision with one of these vehicles while walking, should you sue?

This is a question our firm receives frequently, some of the things to consider is of course is the severity of the injury. Also, if you will miss time from work? If you medical expenses will be ongoing? How much this accident will impact your life now and in the future? These questions and many others should be considered when deciding whether of not to file a lawsuit.

Struck by a Motor Vehicle?

When a pedestrian is struck by a car, truck, or motorcycle, legal liability will depend on whether or not the motor vehicle driver was negligent. How can you illustrate driver negligence? If it can be proven that the driver was speeding, failing to obey traffic signals, or distracted or intoxicated, you have a good chance of obtaining compensation for any injuries that were a direct result of the accident. How can you prove these things? It’s not always easy, but detailed information, witness testimony, police reports, and photographs can help your case immensely. Photograph the scene of the accident and any injuries you sustained from multiple angles, and do the same with property damage to the vehicle and any surrounding property.

Struck by a Bicycle?

Although not usually as serious as motor vehicle-pedestrian collisions, bicycle-pedestrian collisions can still result in injuries. As cycling grows in popularity – for much the same reasons as walking – so do accidents involving bikes and pedestrians. Similar to collisions involving motor vehicles, injured pedestrians must show negligence on the part of the cyclist to have a successful claim. If a cyclist was disobeying traffic signs or signals, intoxicated, or distracted due to texting or talking on the phone, you may be able to show that his or her negligence caused the accident. Continue reading

Bounce houses are temporary inflatable structures that are often rented for birthday parties, festivals, and other recreational purposes for use by children in and around Massachusetts. These houses are most common during the warmer weather.  Although a popular activity for parents to treat their youngsters with, bounce houses may have a hidden danger as a study published by the University of Georgia reports.  The new study highlights heat safety concerns with bounce houses that can endanger children.  The University of Georgia examines the theory of microclimates within the bounce houses.  The study investigated the potential heat-related risks that can be caused by microclimate environments in bounce houses, similar to microclimates in parked cars.  Parked cars have been notoriously dangerous on hot summer days, especially when children and pets are involved.  The report expands upon this danger and researches if the same risk could be applicable in bounce houses.  The paper titled, “Do Inflatable Bounce Houses Pose Heat-related Hazards to Children” was published July 28 in the early online edition of the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society.  Specifically, the study compared temperature and moisture conditions inside the bounce house to the open-air climate outside the bounce house, as well as any consequential health risks that could be sustained form such conditions.  “Heat illnesses like heat stroke can be deadly and occur in children participating in sports, left alone in parked cars, and as our study shows, potentially when playing in bounce houses,” said Andrew Grundstein, UGA professor of geography and co-author on the study.  “Children are more sensitive to heat than adults and parents need to carefully watch their children for signs of overheating when active on hot and humid days. Signs there is a problem may include fatigue, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, and flushed, moist skin.”  Continue reading

Dietary supplements and vitamins are a part of the daily routine of many Americans, but a recent report provides evidence that these daily supplements may actually be harmful to our health.  Consumer Reports published this report in which it showed that the makers of such dietary supplements do not have to adhere to many rules or regulations from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.  Without adequate guidelines for supplements, retailers and pharmacists may be unaware of potential side effects and drug interactions that can occur.  Another problematic element noted in the report is that these supplements are regulated as food, not as prescription drugs.  Therefore, the supplements do not need to be proven safe and effective and they are exempt from the rigorous procedures and testing that prescriptions drugs must undergo by the FDA.  Ellen Kunes, health editor at consumer reports, urges customers to do more research than just glancing at the label of supplements.  “Supplements have labels that don’t necessarily tell you what they are good for, how they are going to work, whether they will work,” she said. “You can’t trust that they’re going to work or that they will be safe just by looking at the label.”  In its report, Consumer Reports stated that almost 23,000 people are sent to the emergency room as a result of taking supplements every year.  Doctor Marvin Lipman, Consumer Reports’ chief medical advisor, offers a solution to concerned customers.   He instructs customers to look for a USP (U.S. Pharmacopeia) label, which signifies the company has verified the ingredients and information that is on the label.  “There’s a paucity of products that are taking advantage of the approval process for responsible companies,” said Lipman.  “Without verification, you cannot be sure that what’s on the label is in the bottle.” Continue reading

House and Senate lawmakers reached a decision late last night regarding online transportation companies like Uber and Lyft.  This brings an end to one of Massachusetts’s most high profile political debates.  Both chambers approved the bill and have sent it off to Governor Charlie Baker’s office.  The final bill that was agreed upon is a product of a six-member committee of House and Senate negotiators who developed a compromise between the two opposing “Uber bills” proposed by each chamber.  The final bill includes a state-run background check for Uber and Lyft drivers with a 20-cent-per-ride fee on the companies.  In the past, Uber and Lyft have stopped service in several cities in the U.S. for regulations they considered overly oppressive.  In this case of legislation, the two companies supported the Senate’s stance on the bill and outwardly condemned the House’s plan.

Lyft released a statement shortly after midnight applauding the final bill, saying it is a “common sense legislation that sets high safety standards.”  Uber did not make an immediate statement, but the compromised bill seems to conquer many of the problems the company had with the House’s proposal.  This bill was also good news for the riders that often use the Uber and Lyft apps.   One clause of the House’s bill proposal that would prohibit Uber and Lyft drivers from picking up from areas like Logan Airport, the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center was not included in the final bill.  Although Logan already has a ban that prohibits most Uber and Lyft drivers from picking up riders, the bill presented by the House would have solidified this ban for five years.  Now, it is possible for Logan to renegotiate with Uber and Lyft in the future and potentially lift this ban.  The convention center officials resisted the plan to ban the companies from their property.  Continue reading

Volkswagen AG has taken another step towards rebuilding relationships with its customers after the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) discovered the company cheated on vehicle emissions tests.  In September, Volkswagen confessed to installing software in its U.S. vehicles that identified when the vehicles were being tested, thereby altering the car’s performance accordingly to improve test results.  This resulted in the vehicles emitting 40 times the legal amount of pollution.  The consequential settlement includes almost 500,000 U.S. customers and government regulators and is valued at $4.7 billion.  The recent accomplishment by VW in the settlement includes preliminary approval for VW to buy back up to 475,000 vehicles from its customers with diesel engines.  U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer also set a date for potential final approval on October 18 in San Francisco.  The preliminary approval that has just been granted allows owners of 2.0 liter diesel-powered Volkswagen vehicles to determine how much money they are eligible to receive by going online a website.  Announced in June, the settlement is the largest automotive buyback in U.S. history, as well as the most expensive scandal rooted in the auto industry.  The future buybacks, potential vehicle repairs, and financial dues to government agencies account for $10 billion of the total settlement value.

Volkswagen has been working with regulators to establish various solutions to the emission problem, all which must be approved.  Two already discussed solutions are software renovations and the installation of new catalytic converters.  These fixes only apply to the 2.0-liter models, but VW is in the process of developing a proposal to fix 85,000 3.0-liter vehicles.  This comes after an initial proposal was rejected by the California Air Resources Board said a Justice Department lawyer.  This initial proposal included VW and Audi vehicle model years 2009-2016 but was deemed “insufficient” to adequately fix the emission problems.  Since the rejection, VW has been conversing with regulators about an improved proposal said Joshua Van Eaton, a Justice Department lawyer.  Breyer is hoping for updates on the solutions for 3.0 liter vehicles during an August 25 hearing.  Continue reading