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.

One of the most common causes of product liability claims in the United States is defective children’s products. Any type of children’s product can be defective, including toys, bedding, car seats, and food. In 2013, approximately 74,900 children under the age of five were taken to the emergency room as a result of nursery related injuries. Of these injuries, 66% were associated with high chairs, cribs, mattresses, strollers, infant carriers, or car seats. When a product is considered defective, it is generally classified into one of three defective product categories – poor design, faulty construction, or improper labeling.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission

Founded in 1972 by Congress, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) serves to “protect the public against unreasonable risks of injuries and deaths associated with consumer products.” The agency regulates safety guidelines, recalls unsafe products, conducts research, and works toward decreasing the chance of injuries and fatalities to consumers. CPSC is a helpful resource for parents of injured children who believe a defective product is responsible for their child’s injury.

Defective Strollers

Car seats and strollers are two of the most commonly recalled children’s products. The most common injuries caused by defective car seats and strollers are generally due to:

  • Faulty stroller brakes causing uncontrollable and unexpected rolling
  • Unsafe center of gravity causing stroller rollovers
  • Faulty locking mechanisms causing strollers to fold while children are still inside
  • Inadequate restraints on strollers and car seats causing children to fall out

In late 2014, 11 models of strollers were voluntarily recalled by manufacturing giant, Graco, because of severe finger injuries, including amputation. Retailers such as Target, Walmart, Amazon, and Toys R Us had been selling these products since 2000. Continue reading

With Labor Day around the corner, the law offices of Altman & Altman would like to remind those around the Commonwealth to celebrate safely. In addition, we’d like to extend a reminder to those who are planning to host a party on the work-free weekend about keeping their guests safe.

Social Host Liability Law

What is Massachusetts Social Host Liability Law? According to Massachusetts’ law, a social host is defined as anyone who provides alcohol to a guest as an act of hospitality or allows a guest to consume an alcoholic beverage on his or her property. Properties usually someone’s home, but may also include beach property, rental property, boats, or any other type of property in which a host owns or controls.

Under Massachusetts law, a social host assumes responsibility for all injuries caused by or sustained by a guest as the result of consuming alcohol. Injuries most often result from some sort of accident, specifically drunken driving. Hosts are legally responsible for ensuring their guests do not consume alcohol to the point of intoxication. In layman’s terms, if you host a party and one of your guests is over-served and ends up hurting another person, not only is he or she at fault, but you are responsible as well.

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Nearly a dozen of the world’s largest automakers were sued last week in a civil suit by U.S. consumers alleging they knowingly withheld the risks of carbon monoxide poisoning in more than 5 million vehicles that were equipped with keyless ignitions. The suit claims that the companies concealed the risk faced by drivers whose cars had the equipment, and 13 deaths resulted from the dangerous switches.

Keyless ignitions have become wildly popular in newer model cars, for their convenience and modern appeal, as they lets a driver start a vehicle by pushing an on-off button, instead of inserting a key, once the vehicle senses the presence of a nearby electronic fob.

According to a complaint filed in Los Angeles, carbon monoxide is emitted even when drivers exit their vehicles after taking their electronic keys with them. Most drivers, according to the suit and Reuters, believe their engines shut off, however 28 plaintiffs said this mistaken assumption causes serious, sometimes fatal injuries to those who inhale the gas (most often passengers). Carbon monoxide can also be emitted when vehicles are left in garages that are attached to homes, posing a hazard to occupants inside. The plaintiffs also alleged that the vehicles greatly reduce in resale value because of the defect.

The companies named in the suit include BMW, including Mini; Daimler’s Mercedes Benz; Fiat Chrysler; Ford Motor Company; General Motors Company; Honda, including Acura; Hyundai, including Kia; Nissan, including Infinity; Toyota, including Lexus; and Volkswagen, including Bentley.

According to Reuters, the plaintiffs are alleging that automakers could have helped to prevent the 13 deaths and numerous injuries, by installing an inexpensive feature to automatically turn off unattended engines. The suit states that GM and Ford even took steps to patent a shut-off feature. To date, 27 complaints have been logged with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration over safety concerns with keyless ignitions.

“The automakers had actual knowledge of the dangerous carbon monoxide poisoning consequences of vehicles with keyless fobs that lack an automatic shut-off,” the complaint said, according to Reuters. The lawsuit seeks class-action status and a ruling that will require automakers to install automatic shut-off features on all existing and future vehicles that are sold with keyless ignitions. The lawsuit also seeks compensatory and punitive damages for victims affected by the safety issue.

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With the baseball season in full swing—pun intended—and football season just beginning, fan safety at stadiums continues to be heavily scrutinized. THREE sports-related incidents have made headlines in the past week alone as the debate for greater fan safety regulations continues to heat up.

Monday night’s Red Sox-Yankees game saw some serious drama in the stands as Brian McCann’s bat slipped out of his hands and hit a female fan near the Boston Red Sox dugout in the seventh inning. This is the third sports-related injury to occur at Fenway Park this summer.

In addition, Boston Globe’s Travis Anderson reported this week that Brookline resident Stephanie Taubin, 46, is suing Red Sox principle owner John Henry for injuries she sustained after being struck by a foul ball last year during a Red Sox game at Fenway Park. Taubin and her attorneys are alleging Henry was negligent and failed to take adequate measures to ensure the safety of his fans. Taubin’s complaint stated that she was in an area above home plate, known as the EMC Club, in June 2014. Protective glass protecting that area had, at the time, been removed because of renovations, leaving the area (and fans) more susceptible to being hit by foul balls. Taubin was struck by a foul ball and subsequently suffered serious injuries including facial fractures and neurological damage, The Boston Globe reported. She incurred a substantial amount of medical expenses, lost wages, and diminished earning capacity, according to her lawsuit.

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Thousands of people filter into various sporting stadiums across the country to experience the joy of watching their favorite team play a game. These events take place on a near constant basis for a wide variety of sports in all different types of stadiums. Typically, these cheerful events take place without any serious incidents occurring during the time of the game. Perhaps there will be an altercation or two or an exchanging of strong words, but usually everyone goes back home unscathed at the end of the evening. In light of the recent tragic event that happened at an Atlanta Braves game however, safety standards within stadiums are calling for a review to prevent any future tragedies from occurring.

A 60 year old man fell to his death from the upper deck at Turner Field in Atlanta on Saturday night while the Braves played a game against the New York Yankees. The man has been identified as George Murrey from Alpharetta, Georgia. According to witness reports, George Murrey fell at least 40 feet from the top deck of the stadium onto the concrete floor of the first level below. Fans in the proximity of where Murrey had been sitting have said that the man fell over when he was attempting to yell onto the field at Alex Rodriguez—a practice that many in the stadium also partook in at the same time. “When they called A-Rod coming to bat, he got all excited, and his momentum took him over,” said Marty Burns, a fan who witnessed the accident take place. Continue reading

The recent death of a bicyclist on a busy intersection in Boston has prompted city officials to make safety improvements to the surrounding area. On August 7th of this year, 38 year old Anita Kurmann was struck and killed by a tractor trailer when she was riding her bike along Massachusetts Avenue and Beacon Street in Boston. That particular intersection has been the site of multiple accidents in recent years, and those who frequently travel along the route believe that significant changes need to be made in order to prevent further tragedies from arising.

The director of planning for Boston’s Transportation Department, Vineet Gupta, has stated that improvements have already begun at the dangerous intersection in an effort to increase safety for bicyclists and motor vehicle operators alike. The road where Massachusetts Avenue and Beacon Street intersect has already been repaved following the accident, and workers are applying new striping as well. Gupta went on to say that flexible posts will be installed this week to protect the bike lane. “Our goal is to make it safe for everyone at that intersection,” Gupta said.

In addition to the measures already being taken, the Transportation Department will also install bike boxes marked with green paint that will permit cyclists to rest within those designated areas while they wait for signal changes on the road. The bike boxes will be placed in front of motor vehicles lining up in the same area and will primarily be located in the southbound lane of Massachusetts Avenue and Beacon Street. Continue reading

The decision to file a lawsuit for wrongful death is typically made in the wake of tragedy. Negligence leading to wrongful death can occur in the form of medical malpractice, defective products, catastrophic vehicle accidents, and work-related accidents, to name a few. The categories of losses to be paid by the defendant – known as damages – vary from state to state. Survivors representing the victim’s estate may receive compensation for three different categories of losses – economic damages, non-economic damages, and  punitive damages.

Economic Damages

Any financial losses suffered from the event of the victim’s death are considered economic damages. Medical expenses incurred by the victim’s family can range from one-time emergency room costs to long-term nursing care and pharmaceutical costs prior to the victim’s death. Reimbursement for funeral expenses may also be included. A lesser-known kind of economic damage exists in the form of lost income and may include:

  • Loss of benefits (medical coverage, pension plans)
  • Loss of expected earnings
  • Loss of inheritance
  • Loss of the value of goods and services that would have been provided had the victim not died

Non-Economic Damages

Sometimes referred to as “pain and suffering” damages, these are the more intangible losses suffered by a wrongful death victim’s family members. Although these factors are more difficult to place a value on, they are often more devastating than economic damages.

  • Compensation for mental anguish (pain and suffering)
  • Loss of the victim’s care, protection, guidance, and nurturing
  • Loss of the victim’s love and companionship
  • Loss of consortium from the deceased partner

Recently ignited debate within the legal community focuses on each state’s choice to place caps on non-economic damages. Because this type of compensation is “higher-priced” yet less concrete than financial-based damages, lawmakers are calling for a re-evaluation of the constitutionality of these cap statutes. Today, 38 states uphold caps at varying levels. Massachusetts’ non-economic damages cap is $500,000, unless a jury specifically pronounces that amount to be unfairly low in relation to losses suffered by the victim’s representative. Continue reading

Every year, an estimated 11,000 spinal cord injuries occur in the United States. Motor vehicle accidents, falls, sports, and an array of medical issues are commonly to blame and can result in catastrophic injuries and death. Damage to the nerves and tissues along the vertebrae often cause debilitating pain and typically require a long recovery period. Additionally, the psychological and physical adjustments required after a spinal cord injury can be overwhelming for the entire family, sometimes resulting in depression and anxiety.

Spinal cord injuries occur when either the nerves attached to the spinal column or the bones and soft tissues enmeshed in the spinal cord are damaged. These nerves are vital in transporting messages from the brain to the rest of the body, controlling everything from movement to digestion to breath. This impairment can include numbness, loss of feeling, or complete paralysis.

What Are the Two Types of Spinal Cord Injuries?

The nervous system is extremely complex. Spinal cord injuries can have very different effects on the body, depending on the severity and location of the injury. The two categories of spinal cord injury are:

  • Complete Injury – This is when physical trauma to the spinal cord results in absolute loss of function or sensation below the site of the injury.
  • Incomplete Injury – This occurs when the victim is left with some sensation or motor function.

The site of trauma typically determines the extent of nerve damage. Full paralysis, or quadriplegia, is often the result of trauma to the neck area, preventing nerves from carrying the brain’s impulses beyond the damaged part of the spine. Paraplegia – partial paralysis of the lower half of the body – usually occurs when the lower vertebrae are damaged. Continue reading

Employment discrimination occurs when an employee is treated unfairly based on factors unrelated to job performance. It is illegal to use an individual’s race, gender, age, religion, disability, or sexual orientation against him or her with regard to hiring, firing, workers’ compensation, and eligibility for disability. These laws are federally regulated by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). In Massachusetts, the Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD) enforces these laws. Any assumption made by an employer based on generalizations or stereotypes violates a variety of equal opportunity acts and is cause for a potential discrimination claim.

Harassment

The EEOC defines harassment as any form of uncomfortable and unwelcome behavior based on race, color, religion, gender, age (40 or older), nationality, disability, or genetics. The basis of a harassment charge stems from two elements:

  1. The plaintiff must tolerate the offensive behavior as a condition of employment.
  2. The severity of the offensive behavior creates a hostile work environment.

In addition, it is unlawful to use harassment against any employee to keep him or her from testifying or disclosing any necessary information in a legal proceeding.

Harassment claims can be filed against a supervisor, agent of the employer, coworker, or non-employee. The person being harassed may not necessarily be the plaintiff. Any employee exposed to consistent offensive behavior may file. Continue reading

A gas explosion inside of a New Braintree home has left one man seriously injured and investigators looking for more answers. At approximately 1:10 PM Wednesday afternoon, a fire occurred when a contractor was installing a propane-fueled furnace at a New Braintree residence, according to reports provided by a spokeswoman for the state fire marshal by the name of Jennifer Mieth.

Law enforcement officials responding to the scene have stated the preliminary investigation into the matter has provided them with a probable cause for the explosion. Based on the initial findings, investigators believe the fire was started when leaking propane became ignited by the hot water heater pilot. It was at this time that the explosion occurred, seriously injuring the contractor who had been tending to the furnace at the time. The man, who has yet to be identified by police officials, was airlifted by a medical hospital to a Boston-area hospital to receive treatment for his wounds. The nature and severity of his injuries was not made immediately available. Fire marshal spokeswoman Jennifer Mieth also stated that there was no one else inside the home located on 791 Wine Road in New Braintree at the time of the explosion and that with the unfortunate exception of the contractor, no one else had been injured at the time of the accident. Continue reading