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.

Choosing the right daycare facility is one of the most important decisions we make when our kids are young. Although we all want our kids to have the best possible start at life, there is more to consider than whether the facility serves organic food, teaches your toddler French, and provides lessons on impressionist art. Safety should be the most important factor to consider when choosing a daycare facility for your little one. Unfortunately, daycare negligence, and even abuse, do occur. Read on for more information about how to ensure that your child is safe and well cared for when you head to work each day.

Observe Staff

Pay attention to how daycare staff interact with the other children. Before enrolling your child in a specific daycare program, take a tour of the center. A tour doesn’t have to be limited to a five-minute walk through; you can spend several hours there if you so choose. You should observe the staff playing with the children, smiling, holding young children and babies, and engaging all children with loving interactions. There should be appropriate staff-to-children ratios to ensure that your child will get the one-on-one attention that he deserves. If staff seem stressed, overworked, or annoyed with the children, this could indicate a problem.

Staff Commitment

Ask about staffing turnover. Have most of the employees been at the facility for at least one year? Young children need stability, and this is best achieved by choosing a school with committed, long-term staff. A MA injury lawyer can help you recover damages if your child has been neglected at a daycare facility.

Credentials and Licenses

Check the facilities accreditations and licensing. In MA, daycare centers cannot practice without a state license. In addition, they should have insurance and a business license. These are the bare minimums. Special accreditations and credentials indicate a commitment to providing high-quality daycare.

The Surprise Visit

Drop in unannounced. Most people schedule an appointment to visit a daycare facility. Although daycare staff may appreciate being given notice, unannounced visits are your best bet at witnessing actual day-to-day operations. Dropping by unannounced means that things may be a bit more chaotic than during a scheduled visit; this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. What you want to look for is general cleanliness, how staff is interacting with children, and if the environment appears safe and free from obvious hazards.

Special Care Policies

Ask staff about special care policies, such as how or if they discipline children, and how naps and special diets are handled. A good daycare facility will have policies for special situations and needs. If they don’t, you may want to keep looking. A Boston daycare negligence and abuse attorney can help you determine how to move forward if you suspect your child is being harmed at a daycare facility. Continue reading

The past few years haven’t been good for Chipotle. The “healthy” burrito chain made headlines in 2015 following an E.coli outbreak in several of its restaurants. After extensive marketing efforts – and the passing of two years – Chipotle was just beginning to recover. But those efforts may have been in vain; a Sterling, VA Chipotle recently closed after several complaints of food poisoning. A total of eight people reported illnesses, including fevers and violent vomiting. Will Chipotle be able to bounce back after this latest food-poisoning scandal?

Chris Arnold, a spokesman for Chipotle, issued the following statement earlier this week:

“We are working with health authorities to understand what the cause may be and to resolve the situation as quickly as possible,” said Arnold. “The reported symptoms are consistent with norovirus. Norovirus does not come from our food supply, and it is safe to eat at Chipotle. We plan to reopen the restaurant today.”

According to Arnold, the Sterling, VA restaurant closed this week so that professionals can “conduct a complete sanitization.” Eight people reported poisonings that occurred between July 14 and 15 on iwaspoisoned.com. Apparently, 13 people became sick following the introduction of Chipotle’s new queso sauce. A Boston personal injury lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured due to another’s negligence.

Will Chipotle Ever Recover?

It seems that this recent outbreak is linked to the same norovirus as the 2015 outbreak. The norovirus is highly contagious and may cause severe vomiting, cramping, and diarrhea. In response to the news, Chipotle shares dropped 4.3 percent on Tuesday. This comes on the heels of Chipotle’s June announcement that second-quarter profits may be low due to an increase in marketing spending in the wake of the 2015 health scare. A MA food poisoning attorney can help you recover damages if you’ve become ill due to another’s negligence.

According to the CDC, about 48 million food poisoning cases occur annually. Most people recover within a few days, but food poisoning can be deadly. This is especially true for vulnerable individuals, such as young children, the elderly, and people with suppressed immune systems. Food poisoning is most commonly caused by one of the following bacterium:

  • Coli
  • Hepatitis A
  • Norovirus
  • Listeria
  • Salmonella
  • Cyclospora
  • Cryptosporidium
  • Shigella

Avoid Food Poisoning

According to the CDC, approximately 325,000 people are hospitalized for food poisoning every year, and more than 5,000 people die. Food poisoning may occur in restaurants, but it can also occur with purchased food that we prepare at home. Although it is difficult to determine the safety of food we eat in restaurants, we can dramatically reduce our risk of becoming sick from food we prepare ourselves. When shopping for and storing food, keep the following tips in mind:

  • Is the store clean (in appearance and smell)?
  • Separate raw meat and seafood from the other items in your shopping cart. Put meats in plastic bags to prevent juices from contaminating other items.
  • Don’t purchase food in jars or cans that are bulging or cracked.
  • Shop for meat last.
  • Perishable food items should be refrigerated as soon as possible and should not be kept at room temperature for more than two hours.

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Whether you’re a leisure cyclist or you commute to work on your bike each day, it’s important to use safe cycling practices at all times. As cycling continues to grow in popularity, so do related accidents. Boston has taken numerous steps to improve bicycle safety, but we still have a long way to go. Read on for more information about bicycle safety and how to avoid being seriously injured or killed in a cycling accident.

Bicycle Safety Tips

In the United States, more than 700 people are killed in bicycle accidents each year. Of those accidents, about 30 percent involve a motor vehicle. Non-fatal but serious injuries are even more common, and the most frequently occurring of the serious cycling injuries is head trauma. Follow the safety tips below to avoid becoming a statistic. A Boston bicycle accident lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been involved in an accident.

 

  • Know the rules of the road, and obey them. As a bicyclist, you should follow the same rules of the road as other vehicles. Stop at stop signs, ride in the direction and flow of traffic, and yield to pedestrians. If there is a bike lane, use it. If not, make sure to use hand signals to tell other drivers which way you intend to turn, left or right.

 

  • Wear brightly colored clothing. When it comes to cycling, what you wear does make a difference. In addition to a good helmet, you should wear brightly colored clothing, and use lights and reflective gear when it’s dark. If you bike after dark frequently, consider purchasing a reflective jacket. You may also want to use a horn rather than a bell. Horns are louder and will attract more attention in an emergency situation. A MA injury attorney can help you recover damages if you’ve been injured due to another’s negligence.

 

  • Understand that drivers may not know how to handle cyclists. Some drivers have no idea who has the right of way when they approach a cyclist. Assume all drivers are clueless, and drive defensively. Stay out of the blindspot of other vehicles, and avoid sudden swerving or pulling out in front of traffic.

 

  • Focus on the road at all times. Make eye contact with vehicles before you cross their path at an intersection, and never, ever ride distracted. Keep your cell phone and any other distractions safely out of reach. If you need to make a call, send a text, or check directions, find a safe place to stop before doing so. And listening to music while you cycle may make your ride more enjoyable, but it also dramatically increases your risk of being involved in an accident. Keep the headphones at home.

 

Who is Most at Risk of Being Injured in a Bicycle Accident?

  • People between the ages of 50 and 59 have the highest rate of bicycle-related fatalities.
  • Children between the ages of five and 19 have the highest rate of non-fatal injuries involving bicycles.
  • Male bicyclists are six times more likely to die in bicycle accidents than their female counterparts.
  • More than one-third of all bicyclist deaths involved alcohol with either the bicycle rider or motor vehicle driver, or both.
  • The majority of cyclist deaths occur in urban locations.

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Multiple recent studies have revealed that head injuries in young children – particularly traumatic brain injuries (TBI) – can affect IQ, cognitive function, and even behavior for an extended period. Study results also showed, however, that recovery can continue for years. Several factors have a significant impact on recovery, including the child’s home environment and the presence or absence of certain genes.

Each of three studies (two conducted in Australia, and one in the U.S.) concluded that a loving, stable home environment has an immensely positive impact on a child’s recovery after a TBI. One in 30 children will experience a TBI by the age of 16. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), TBIs often occur when a child suffers a bump or blow to the head. As such, young children have the greatest risk of a TBI, and approximately one-third of children who suffer a TBI will have permanent or long-lasting damage. A MA injury attorney can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve suffered a brain injury due to another’s negligence.

“Many people think that the soft skull of a baby may give them some advantage because if they fall they are not likely to sustain a skull fracture. Also, because a baby’s brain is growing so quickly, it seems like the brain may be able to fix an injury. In reality, the soft skull and growing brain of a baby put them at a greater risk of future problems,” said Louise Crowe, an author of one of the studies and a postdoctoral research officer at Melbourne’s Murdoch Children’s Research Institute.

“Children with significant head injuries do recover, but they are generally slower to learn concepts, and some high-level skills are often too difficult for them,” said Crowe.

Therapy May Still be Effective Years Later

However, until now, few studies have tracked long-term effects of brain injuries in children. According to Vicki Anderson, a professor in critical care and neuroscience research at the Murdoch Institute, therapy and intervention may still be effective years after the initial injury.

“Although this does not suggest that children catch up to peers, it does imply that the gap does not widen during this period,” said Anderson.

Further, home environment has a significant impact on a child’s recovery. The more stable the home, the better the chance of full recovery. “It’s difficult to predict outcome,” Anderson said. “A quality home environment and access to appropriate rehabilitation is critical to maximize outcomes. Or, the young brain is plastic, and so the better the environment, the better the outcome.” A Boston TBI lawyer can help you recover damages if you’ve been injured by another’s negligence.

Meanwhile in the United States, researchers from Cincinnati Children’s Hospital conducted a study on long-term TBI effects for an average of seven years from initial injury. Individuals with mild to moderate TBIs were twice as likely to develop attention disorders, compared to five times more likely for those with severe TBIs. This study also emphasized the importance of home environment. Children with moderate injuries from poor home environments demonstrated worse outcomes than children with severe injuries who live in stable, loving homes. Although the reason for these outcomes is still unknown, it may have to do with early family response, which seems critical to the overall outcome of the child’s long-term prognosis.

More than 630,000 children visit the E.R. for TBIs annually in the U.S. Predictors of recovery, however, remain unclear. These studies provide greater insight into this grey area; particularly when it comes to the roles of environment and specific genes. Cincinnati Children’s Hospital is currently working on ways to identify the genes essential to TBI recovery, and how environmental factors may interact with these genes. To do so, they are collecting DNA samples from hundreds of children who have suffered a TBI. Continue reading

When someone is injured in a drunk driving accident, the first instinct is often to seek compensation from the intoxicated driver. Although the driver is certainly one of the sources from which you can recover damages, there may be others. In MA, dram shop liability laws allow victims to seek compensation from a business that over-serves alcohol to an intoxicated person.

A “dram shop” is a business that sells alcohol, and may include bars, nightclubs, social clubs, sporting venues, and liquor stores. Historical note – the term dram shop comes from alcohol’s traditional unit of measure, the dram. A MA injury lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured by a drunk driver who was over-served.

Last year, an Oregon man filed a $3.9 million wrongful death lawsuit against the driver that injured him and killed his father, as well as against the bar that served the visibly-intoxicated driver. The fatal accident was initially a hit and run, but police eventually tracked down the driver. In addition to the driver’s own negligence, the lawsuit alleges that the bar was negligent in over-serving her.

Dram Shop Responsibilities

Those who serve alcohol – bartenders, servers, and liquor store clerks, to name a few – have a responsibility to determine when a patron is visibly intoxicated. They are required to observe slurred speech and other associated behaviors. To do so, they must receive proper training, the provision of which is a requirement of the establishment’s owner. Dram shops in MA typically carry liability insurance to protect themselves in the event that an intoxicated driver leaves their establishment and causes an accident, or in any way harms another.

Wrongful Death Claims and Dram Shops

When a dram shop over-serves a patron and someone is injured as a result, the victim can sue for damages, including pain and suffering, medical expenses, lost wages, and other associated costs. If someone is killed, the victim’s family may bring a wrongful death lawsuit against the intoxicated driver and the dram shop. In a wrongful death lawsuit, medical expenses may be recovered, as well as damages for funeral costs, the loss of the victim’s income, and loss of consortium. A Boston wrongful death attorney can help you recover damages if you’ve lost a loved one to another’s negligence.

Social Host Laws

In MA, it is against the law to allow a minor (anyone under the age of 21) to consume alcohol on your property. If you are caught doing so, you may face criminal penalties under MA’s social host laws. However, social host laws differ from dram shop laws in that a social host cannot be liable if a guest – adult or minor – becomes intoxicated and harms another. A dram shop case is a civil case in which a business is sued for over-serving someone who, in turn, causes harm to another. A social host case, on the other hand, is a criminal case in which a social host is charged with serving an underage guest on their property. Continue reading

Tennis Superstar Venus Williams was involved in a crash on June 9 that fatally injured another. The victim, 78-year-old Jerome Barson, died two weeks after the incident. According to Palm Beach Gardens police, Williams ran a red light and the other driver crashed into the side of her 2010 Toyota Sequoia SUV.

The victim’s wife, Linda Barson, was driving the couple’s 2016 Hyundai Accent at the time of the crash. Williams was crossing an intersection at low speeds when Barson crashed into the SUV, according to a report. However, despite the low speeds, Williams “violated the right of way” of Barson’s vehicle when she ran the red light. Barson suffered non-life threatening injuries. Williams was not injured.

No Drugs or Alcohol Suspected

Although the incident is still under investigation, neither driver is suspected of having been under the influence of drugs or alcohol, according to Williams’ attorney Malcolm Cunningham.

“This is an unfortunate accident, and Venus expresses her deepest condolences to the family who lost a loved one,” said Cunningham in a statement.

Wrongful Death Lawsuit Filed

Barson’s family has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the tennis celebrity, alleging negligence. According to the lawsuit, Linda Barson suffered a shattered right arm and cracked sternum, among other injuries to her wrist and hand. Jerome Barson suffered multiple injuries, including “severed main arteries, massive internal bleeding, a fractured spine, and massive internal organ damage.” He succumbed to these injuries after two weeks in the intensive care unit, on his wife’s 68th birthday. Barson claims that Williams cut in front of her car and she had no time to stop.

This case illustrates the difference between a civil wrongful death lawsuit and a criminal manslaughter or murder case. To be liable for the wrongful death of another, a person doesn’t need to have acted with malice. In Williams’ case, she hadn’t tried to harm Barson, nor was she necessarily reckless. But at least according to the court, she was negligent. A Boston wrongful death attorney can help you obtain compensation if you’ve lost a loved one to another’s negligence. Although money can’t bring back a loved one, it can help provide you with the time and space to heal.

Elements of a Wrongful Death Case

In order for a wrongful death claim to be successful, four elements must have been present. These are negligence, breach of duty, causation, and damages.

  • Negligence: The person responsible for the wrongful death must have acted in a reckless or careless way. For example, if someone is texting while driving, he will likely be found negligent in the event that an accident results. A MA wrongful death attorney can help you determine if negligence played a role in your loved one’s death.

 

  • Breach of duty: The person responsible must have owed a duty to the victim. For example, a driver has a duty to remain focused and follow the rules of the road when she’s driving. If she ignores these rules, she has breached that duty.

 

  • Causation: The death must have been caused by the responsible person’s negligent actions. For example, Venus Williams allegedly disobeyed the rules of the road when the accident occurred. As such, she was negligent. But did her negligence cause the death of Jerome Barson? In this particular case, the answer is likely yes. However, had Barson’s wife been speeding and intoxicated at the time of the accident, the outcome may have been very different.

 

  • Damages: In order for a wrongful death claim to be successful, someone must have actually died. This isn’t hard to prove. However, damages may add up to more than the death itself; there may be property damages, loss of income, loss of consortium, funeral expenses, and more.

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Philando Castile’s tragic death garnered worldwide attention earlier this month when the officer who had fired seven shots into the chest of the African-American man was found not guilty of manslaughter. This case provides an illustration of the differences between a criminal charge, such as manslaughter, and the civil nature of a wrongful death lawsuit. Although Officer Yanez isn’t being held criminally liable for Castile’s death, civil liability is another story altogether.

In 2016, officer Jeronimo Yanez stopped Castile for a busted taillight. Although the 32-year-old cafeteria supervisor of a Montessori school informed Yanez that he had a weapon in his car, the officer claims he feared for his life when Castile reached for something. That’s when Yanez opened fire. During a routine traffic stop, Castile had announced the presence of a weapon and – based on video footage of the stop – appeared to be cooperating with the officer the entire time. Further, there was a four-year old child was in the backseat when Yanez fired multiple rounds into the car.

Not Guilty

On July 16, 2017 Yanez was acquitted on manslaughter charges, prompting nationwide (and global) outcry. If you have lost a loved one due to the negligent or willful actions of another, a Boston wrongful death attorney can help you determine how to move forward.

Castile’s mother has reached a $3 million settlement in the wrongful death case she brought against the man who killed her son. Those funds will be paid by the League of Minnesota Cities Insurance Trust. In addition to dimming the media spotlight on the family so that they may move on with their lives, the settlement prevents a civil murder trial, which could drag on for an extended period of time.

Michael Brown

With this settlement, Castile’s family can focus on making an impact through their foundation. The Philando Castile Foundation was established to help victims of police violence and gun violence. The news of the Castile settlement comes days after a settlement was reached with the family of Michael Brown, the black teenager who was shot and killed by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri. According to reports, Brown’s family settled for $1.5 million. Although the Yanez acquittal has outraged people around the world, these civil successes and large settlements are a small step in the right direction. Settlements of this size dominate headlines and let the world know that racial injustice will not be tolerated.

What is a Civil Murder Trial?

Although Yanez was found not guilty on criminal charges, proving guilt in a civil murder trial may have been an easier process. Civil cases have a lower burden of proof than criminal cases. In layman’s terms, you don’t need as much evidence to prove a case. In a criminal case, allegations must be proven “beyond a reasonable doubt,” whereas in a civil case, they just need to be more likely true than not. This is known as a preponderance of evidence. A MA wrongful death attorney can help you recover damages if you have lost a loved one to another’s negligence or harmful actions. Continue reading

Riding horses can be an enjoyable and healthy – albeit expensive – hobby. Although less dangerous than many other sports, horse riding is not without risks. Jenna Tatoulian knows this all too well. In 2014, the experienced equestrian was thrown from a horse during training. As a result, she suffered multiple fractures to her tailbone and pelvis, and is now suing the riding club that she says is responsible for her injuries.

Tatoulian claims that a water truck at California’s Paddock Riding Club backfired, spooking her horse. She filed a lawsuit against the club, her trainer, and one of the club employees in Los Angeles Superior Court. The employee, Javier Del Angel, was driving the club’s water truck when it backfired. According to Tatoulian, the loud noise frightened the horse, causing the large animal to gallop off. She was thrown to the ground.

Working around horses, the club and its employees should have known that sudden, loud noises can spook horses. At least that’s what Tatoulian alleges in her lawsuit. She also claims that the club was negligent in employing the inexperienced Del Angel, who Tatoulian says was unfit to work there. A MA personal injury can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured in an accident involving a horse.

$7.8 Million Awarded in Horse-Related Wrongful Death Case

Another recent equine-related injury occurred in Pennsylvania, at the Parx Casino and Racetrack. Mario Calderon was killed when the horse he had been exercising dragged him and repeatedly kicked him in the head and torso. According to the family’s wrongful death lawsuit against the track, the horse was startled by chickens that were permitted to roam the track. The victim’s family was awarded $7.8 million when it was revealed that Parx had known the chickens were an issue before Calderon’s death. In fact, Calderson himself had already been injured in a similar incident.

How to Determine Who’s at Fault

Horse-related injury claims can be extremely complicated; who’s at fault – if anyone – depends on multiple factors. If any of the scenarios below are present, someone will likely be liable for any resulting injuries or property damage.

  • If damages occurred when a horse was running loose, the owner may be at fault for improper or inadequate fencing.
  • If the horse has previously injured another person, or has exhibited aggressive tendencies such as biting or kicking, the owner may be at fault if the victim wasn’t properly warned.
  • If the injury or property damage occurred on a road or another space not designated as “open range,” the owner may be liable because of improper fencing or gate locks.
  • If the horse’s owner was negligent in caring for or handling the horse, he or she may be liable if the horse “acts out” and inflicts injury or property damage.

 

Of course, the scenarios above are not exhaustive. There are multiple conditions in which a horse owner, trainer, or riding club or staff can be at fault for equine injuries. In many circumstances, horse owners believe that their homeowner’s insurance will cover any liability, but this is rarely the case. Even if it does, insurance companies will look for any loophole possible to excuse themselves from paying a dime. A Boston injury lawyer can help you recover damages if you’ve been injured in an accident involving a horse. Continue reading

When it comes to motorcycle accidents, myths and misconceptions abound. Those who ride motorcycles are often perceived as unlawful rule breakers with no respect for other motorists. Of course, these stereotypes are rarely accurate. Motorcycles provide an enjoyable and economical (when compared to cars and trucks) way to commute. Although daredevil motorcyclists certainly exist, the vast majority utilize safe riding practices at all times. Read on for more information about motorcycle accident myths and what to do if you’re involved in an accident involving a motorcycle.

Myth #1: When a motorcyclist crashes and no other vehicles are involved, it must be the motorcyclist’s fault.

Due to their “bad rep,” motorcyclists are often blamed for single-vehicle accidents. It’s assumed that they must have been speeding, driving recklessly, or maybe even that they were drunk. The reality is, single-vehicle accidents can happen for a variety of reasons that are not the fault of the rider. Potholes, loose gravel, a malfunctioning bike part, and animals darting in front of the bike can all lead to a single-vehicle motorcycle crash.

Myth #2: If you weren’t wearing a helmet, don’t even try to recover damages after an accident.

This is simply not true. Motorcycle helmets save lives, but not wearing one doesn’t exclude you from obtaining compensation in a personal injury lawsuit. For starters, helmets protect your head, not the rest of your body. But even if you sustain head injuries, you may still recover damages for medical expenses, pain and suffering, and lost wages if you were not wearing a helmet at the time of the accident. That being said, it’s always a good idea to wear your helmet. Helmets are approximately 67 percent effective at preventing injuries to the brain and 37 percent effective at preventing death. A Boston motorcycle accident lawyer can help you determine how to move forward if you’ve been injured in a motorcycle accident.

Myth #3 – Lane splitting is safe if done correctly.

In some states, such as CA, lane splitting is now legal. But that doesn’t mean it’s safe. Lane splitting is the practice of maneuvering through narrow spaces to pass cars and trucks when stuck in congested traffic. While it may allow motorcyclists to pass through congested traffic and reduce travel time, it also reduces maneuvering space and the reaction time of passenger vehicles. Legal or not, lane splitting is dangerous. And FYI, in MA, it is not legal.

Fact: Motorcycles are more dangerous than cars.

Remember that motorcycles are inherently more dangerous than cars and trucks because of their small size (less visible to other motorists), and lack of stability. Further, when motorcyclists are involved in a crash, they don’t have the protection of four sides and a roof. As such, motorcyclists are 27 times more likely to die in a crash than drivers of other motor vehicles. You can dramatically reduce your risk of serious injury or death by always wearing a helmet and utilizing safe riding practices at all times. A MA motorcycle accident attorney can help you recover damages if you’ve been injured in a motorcycle accident. Continue reading

Most people know that cars and passenger trucks have blindspots, so it’s no surprise that tractor-trailers do as well. However, large trucks have more blindspots than their passenger vehicle counterparts…and they’re much bigger. This is basically due to a truck’s large size, but tractor-trailers are not equipped with a rear view mirror either. As such, the visibility of large trucks is extremely limited in the front and back, and on both sides. Read on for more information about tractor-trailer blindspots, and how you can avoid being injured in a related accident.

In some ways, a truck’s height is an advantage. However, low-riding cars and vehicles close to the truck’s front and back can easily disappear into a very dangerous blindspot. This is equally true of motorcycles and bicycles. As stated above, trucks don’t have rear view mirrors. They rely solely on side mirrors to see their surroundings.

No-Zones