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.

Pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson (J&J) has been ordered by a Texas federal jury to pay out over $1 billion in punitive and compensatory damages after a lengthy trial ultimately decided in the favor of six plaintiffs who claimed to have suffered severe consequences after being fitted with J&J’s “Pinnacle” hip implants, which are manufactured and distributed by Depuy Pharmaceuticals.  The Pinnacle hip implants are a type of implant that utilizes metal-on-metal components, meaning the artificial hip ball, socket and shaft pieces are all made of metal; usually a combination of titanium, nickel, cobalt and/or chromium. In many cases before, including about 93,000 different hip implants also distributed by Depuy and J&J, the metal-on-metal implants have been observed to cause serious health consequences for some users.

Why are these hip implants potentially dangerous?

Metal-on-metal hip implants have been observed to corrode over time and use, releasing microscopic pieces of metal into the patient’s blood stream, which can cause a type of blood poisoning known as metallosis.

Signs of metallosis can include:

  • General skin hypersensitivity that results in rashes
  • Cardiomyopathy (heart complications)
  • Sensory changes such as complications with vision or hearing
  • Depression or other unusual mental changes
  • Kidney complications
  • Thyroid issues such as a throbbing, painful neck, weight gain, fatigue or feeling cold constantly

Aside from these symptoms, the implants can degrade to a point where they can actually break, slip or otherwise malfunction, causing potentially horrible consequences. The plaintiffs in this case also specifically cite suffering from bone and tissue death as a result of the implants.

What if I have a metal-on-metal hip implant?

If you or somebody you love has received a metal-on-metal hip implant from any of these companies:

  • Depuy
  • Stryker
  • Smith & Newphew
  • OMNI
  • Biomet

Then do some research into the type of hip implant was given. It may very well be one of the hip implants that has been subsequently recalled, and may explain health problems that have emerged after the hip installation.  In the case of J&J and their most recent legal scandal, they plan to appeal the decision and maintain that they are not liable for the pain and suffering their devices have caused. The jury disagreed, and felt that J&J and Depuy did not do enough to warn patients of any potential risks associated with the hip implants. Although the enormous sum of over $1 billion will likely be reduced by the courts, the message to the huge companies is clear: you are not untouchable.

At Altman & Altman LLP, we feel the same way. No company, regardless of how big or how valuable, is above the law or above the moral standards and ethics that all medical device manufacturers, distributors and parent companies must adhere to. The responsibility to properly protect patients is far too great to accept anything less than perfection.  J&J and Depuy’s lengthy list of lawsuits proves that something is not right with these implants. This case was just one of over 8,000 similar lawsuits surrounding the hip implants, meaning this is not an anomalous problem, but more likely a design flaw which, again, is simply unacceptable. Continue reading

A Florida-based event company, Walker International Events, has momentarily ceased all of its business and has been fined $24,000 by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) after an investigation revealed multiple safety failures led to two deaths and multiple injuries when a tent collapsed in New Hampshire during a circus act in August of 2015.   In total, there were 14 total serious violations of workplace safety that were found as a result of the OSHA investigation. Primarily, the company most egregiously decided to go forward with their outdoor circus act, despite imminent and well-established thunder storms raging through the area.

The storm ultimately played a large role in the tent’s collapse, as did the company’s failure to properly set up the tent to adhere to OSHA’s workplace safety standards.

The fine and subsequent closing of the company (pending the creation of new safety regulations and standards) will do nothing to console those affected by the tragedy that claimed the lives of a child and their father and injured dozens more onlookers.

OSHA regulations exist to prevent these tragedies

No matter how unconventional or unexpected the setting, workers in America are put into dangerous situations every day, including circus workers and performers. These workers are all supposed to be properly protected by their employers, who are responsible for adhering to safety standards that ensure the workplace is as hazard-free as possible.  By choosing to ignore severe weather warnings and not properly constructing their tent, Walker International Events is complicit in the two deaths and dozens of injuries that resulted as a result of their negligence. In addition to the immediate implications this has for them financially and for their business, they will be liable for civil lawsuits from those affected by the incident as well.

All employers must take great care to not put their employees, or any civilians such as those coming to see a circus show, into any undue risk of injury or death. Failure to ensure this safety is simply unacceptable, and Walker International Events is learning that the hard way. Continue reading

When multiple vehicles are involved in an accident, whether 3 or 103, determining blame can sometimes be challenging. Liability depends on what – and / or who – caused the accident, and if factors such as bad weather, speed, or alcohol played a role. In many multi-vehicle collisions, experts must recreate the accident through a process called accident reconstruction to determine who is to blame.

The vast majority of motor vehicle accidents are caused by negligence, and many multi-vehicle accidents are caused by multiple counts of negligence. For example, if car A is speeding on wet roads and hydroplanes, crashing into car B, it seems logical that car A is at fault. But what if car B failed to see car A approaching because car B’s driver was texting? As a result, car B crashes into car C. If the driver of car C is injured and claims to have seen the driver of car B texting while driving, the driver of car B could be partially liable, even though the initial accident was caused by car A. Determining fault in a multi-vehicle collision can be an extremely complicated process, especially when large pile-up accidents occur. If you’ve been injured in an auto accident, contact a Boston injury attorney today.

In multi-vehicle accidents, drivers at the front are often asked how many bumps they felt. In a three-car collision, for example, if the front driver felt one impact, it is likely that the rear car is at fault. However, if the front driver felt two impacts, it is more likely that the middle car hit the front car, then the rear car hit the middle car, causing the second impact. In this case, the middle car will likely take the blame. However, the rear car – and even the front car – can be liable under certain circumstances.

How Does Accident Reconstruction Work?

Following a multi-vehicle accident, accident reconstruction experts are often called in to examine the evidence, including the number of “bumps” felt by vehicles at the front of the accident, and witness statements. In addition, experts will use police reports, photographs of the scene and damages, and statements from the drivers to determine fault. If multiple people are found liable, the next step is to figure out who pays, and how much each person is responsible for. Contact a MA auto accident lawyer today.

Comparative Negligence or Contributory Negligence?

Some states use comparative negligence to determine what percentage of damages a responsible party will pay, while other states use contributory negligence.

  • Comparative: When the driver is found to be at least 25 percent at fault, any damages recovered will be reduced by that amount.
  • Contributory: When the driver is found to be even one percent at fault, they cannot recover any damages.

In Massachusetts, we have a modified version of comparative negligence. MA uses the 51 percent rule, which means the driver can only recover if they were less than 51 percent at fault. If the driver was 51 percent or more at fault, they cannot recover any damages. In addition, the damages recovered will be reduced by the driver’s share of the blame. For example, if the driver was 15 percent at fault for the accident and was awarded $100,000 in damages, the total payout would be reduced by 15 percent and the driver would receive an award of $85,000. Continue reading

In some situations, birth injuries and birth defects are unavoidable. However, when the negligence of your doctor, the medical staff, or a pharmaceutical company results in harm to you or your baby, the responsible party should be held accountable for their actions. If you think your baby’s birth injuries may be a result of medical negligence, contact a Boston birth injury lawyer today.

Is a birth defect considered a birth injury?

A: No. A birth defect is a condition that occurs before birth. Birth defects can be related to something that happened before or during the pregnancy, or they can be a result of genetic defects. Birth injuries, on the other hand, occur during the actual delivery process.
When should I sue for a birth injury?

A: If you believe that your doctor’s negligence caused birth injuries to you and/or your baby, you may want to file a birth injury claim. Consider the following example: For days, you couldn’t feel your near-term baby moving. You called your doctor multiple times to explain the sudden lack of movement, but she dismissed these complaints, saying it was “just nerves.” A few days later, your baby was born with Cerebral Palsy due to lack of oxygen to the brain. The cord was wrapped around his neck. In this situation, your doctor may be found liable for negligence.

What is my chance of success with a birth injury lawsuit?

A: Well, it depends on several factors. For starters, some birth injuries and defects are unavoidable. For example, a baby’s collarbone may need to be broken if the birth canal is too narrow to allow the baby’s shoulders to pass through. In a birth injury case, it all boils down to whether the doctor was negligent. Did he or she do what a competent doctor would have done in a similar situation? If the doctor, medical staff, or a pharmaceutical company failed to provide adequate and appropriate care during pregnancy or delivery, you will likely have a successful injury lawsuit.

Are birth injuries common?

A: Currently, in the United States, about five out of every 1,000 babies will be injured during the birth process. Birth defects are present in about seven percent of U.S. births.

If I bring a birth injury lawsuit, what evidence does a jury use to determine if my doctor is liable?

A: Evidence in birth injury lawsuits often focuses on expert testimony and medical records / reports. Typically, expert testimony will come from other doctors who explain why your doctor’s actions did, or did not, fall below acceptable standards of care. If your doctor is a specialist, such as an obstetrician, he or she will be held to a higher standard of care than would a non-specialist.

What are teratogens” and do they cause birth defects?

A: Over the years, many drugs that were intended to help a woman deal with pregnancy-related issues, were found to cause birth defects. These drugs, known as teratogens, include Delalutin – used to prevent miscarriages, and Bendectin – an antinausea medication.

What is Cerebral Palsy?

A: Cerebral palsy is actually a general term for multiple disorders that affect brain function. It is often a result of lack of oxygen to the baby during delivery, and can be caused by any type of injury to the baby’s brain while still in the womb. Cerebral palsy can cause lifetime mobility and body movement issues, as well as cognitive impairments.

Who receives money in a successful birth injury lawsuit?

A: In almost all cases, any compensation awarded will go to the child. If the child is still a minor, the funds will typically go into a trust. However, parents can also receive compensation for pain and suffering due to emotional distress. Continue reading

The spectacle of watching spirted competition is an entertainment draw that attracts tens of millions of Americans to huge stadiums every year. Whether it’s football, baseball, basketball, hockey or one of dozens of other sporting events, there’s something primal and special about going out to a venue and cheering your lungs sore for your favorite team.  Some of these sporting events are so popular that the venues required to house them must be humongous, sprawling structures that tower hundreds of feet in the air. Some stadiums, like the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the world’s biggest sports stadium, can accommodate more than 200,000 fans.

Many of these stadiums must stretch their seating sections high up into the air, and certain sections of the stadium will always pose a risk for serious falls, such as falling over the side of a railing from a high-up seating section, or down a steep stairwell.  Now take into consideration that nearly every major professional sports stadium in the United States serves alcoholic beverages to their patrons, and the potential for disaster certainly increases. There are incidents, seemingly every year, of fans falling from great heights and receiving serious injuries, or worse, actually dying from the incident.

Simply factor in the amount of people present at these events, the possibility of liquids being spilled in dangerous areas, the physical necessity of stadiums being tall structures, and the presence of alcohol, and it isn’t hard to imagine a situation where an injury can occur.

When is the stadium liable?

As with most other personal injury cases, to win a case that alleges your injury was caused by the direct result of the stadium owner or operator, you must prove that the owner or operator was negligent in their responsibility to reasonably protect you against the injury.  For example, if you simply trip over your shoelaces and fall down a flight of stairs, the stadium is not liable, since this was simply an accident that they could not control or foresee. However, if you slipped and fell down those stairs because there was a water spill that they failed to clean up in a reasonable amount of time, you may have a legitimate personal injury case.

What if I’m injured by the sporting event itself?

If you get nailed by a foul ball in baseball, or a basketball player runs uncontrollably out of bounds and lands directly in your lap, these types of events are most likely not something that you can pursue legal action over. Sports venues place disclaimers on each ticket that outlines the potential risk of injury from action occurring during the event, and by purchasing and using the ticket, you agree to those terms.  However, in some cases, if the stadium did not take proper precautions – such as utilizing a big enough ball screen to prevent harm from fast foul balls in areas that are likely to produce them – there may be potential for a successful case. A woman sued the Red Sox in 2015 after such an occurrence. Continue reading

A new cyclist safety website is striving to help give cyclists a better way to report motorists who illegally park their cars in bike lanes.

The site, carsinbikelanesboston.com, uses GPS technology to populate a real-time map that encompasses the entire Greater Boston area, displaying violating motor vehicles with a big, red “X” on the map and listing their license plate information and the area that they are located in the same window.  The data is all submitted by users of the site, who can take pictures of the violating vehicle and upload the info directly, where it is then available for all to see and be aware of. The creators of the site hope that it will enable cyclists to be more aware of what routes are problematic, and enable legislators to study which areas of Boston are consistently popping up on the site to potentially make signage adjustments to make more people aware.

When dealing with a tightly-populated, confined metropolitan area like Greater Boston, protecting pedestrians and cyclists is paramount to creating a safe commute and an overall safe atmosphere. It is estimated that nearly 10,000 people cycle to work every day in Boston, and many more thousands enjoy at least some bike riding activity throughout the week.  In Cambridge, a few fatal accidents involving cyclists in recent months has upped the populace’s awareness of cyclist safety and making motorists more aware of how to properly share the road with their less-protected fellow commuters.

Cyclists must always be aware

When taking to the streets of Boston on a bicycle, one must always be hyper aware of their surroundings. These streets are as unforgiving as they are congested and confusing. City administrators are conscious of cyclists, and are enacting more and more measures each year to protect them, but at the end of the day, the only thing truly preventing a cyclist from suffering a tragic accident is their own awareness.

This new website is a valuable tool to help cyclists be informed about potential hazards in their path, but dangers exist that cannot be accounted for. If a motorist accidentally veers into a bike lane, or a car opens its door unexpectedly close to the path of a cyclist, the cyclist is mostly at the mercy of forces outside their control.  Sometimes, an accident cannot be avoided, and in these moments you should know that you have the right to receive financial compensation for an accident that was incurred through no fault of your own. This compensation can help pay medical bills, make expenses and help you maintain the quality of life you deserve. Continue reading

Deciding when it’s time to hang up the keys for good can be an emotionally-challenging process for elderly parents and their children alike. For the driver in question, giving up the keys can signal a loss of independence and freedom. But if driving has become dangerous, it’s in everyone’s best interest. If you are concerned that your elderly loved one is no longer safe behind the wheel, it’s important to step in. Avoiding the conversation can result in serious consequences, including injury or death. In certain cases, you can even be on the hook for your elderly parent’s auto accident.

Age alone doesn’t affect our ability to drive, but many aspects of aging do. There are 80-year-olds with clear vision, excellent cognitive abilities, and exemplary physical health who may continue driving safely for years, and there are 60-year-olds with poor vision, severe arthritis, and multiple prescription meds who should have stopped driving years ago. The ability to drive safely after a certain age has to be determined on a case-by-case basis. That being said, according to the CDC, “fatal crash rates increase noticeably starting at ages 70-74 and are highest among drivers age 85 and older.” Considering that there are nearly 36 million drivers over the age of 65 on the road today, this is a real problem. If you’re concerned about an elderly loved one’s driving, contact a Boston auto accident attorney today.

Does Massachusetts Impose Restrictions on License Renewal for Older Drivers?

In short, yes. In MA, if you are 75 or older, you have to renew your license in person, and the RMV will conduct unsafe driver investigations if requested. Also, after age 75, you must renew your license in person every five years. At these in-person renewals, a free vision test will be conducted. If indications of driver impairment are present, a written test and / or a road test may be required. If certain impairments are present, that doesn’t necessarily mean that the license renewal will be denied. The RMV may place restrictions on the license, based on the observed impairments. Examples of these restrictions include:

  • No driving at night
  • Driving only while wearing glasses or corrective contact lenses
  • Driving a vehicle equipped with an adaptive device
  • Only driving a vehicle with automatic transmission

But Can I Be Liable?

In most cases, you will not be liable for an elderly parent’s accident. However, if you loan your car to an elderly parent or loved one, and you should have been aware that he or she was no longer a safe driver, you could be liable under vicarious liability laws, or negligent entrustment. These laws typically pertain to parents who loan their car to a child, but it can be the other way around under certain circumstances. Your liability if your parent is driving his or her own car is limited. Chances are, you won’t be liable. But – and there’s always a but – it’s not impossible. If it can be shown that you were aware of your parent’s impairment, and you knew that your parent continued to drive, you could be liable for negligence. Continue reading

You’re the parent of a Massachusetts high school student and have done a tremendous job so far of encouraging your child to always be honest and always ask you questions, even the ones that make you uncomfortable. One day, you get a question you never truly expected to get: “Mom, dad, I want to invite over a few friends. They were going to drink, so I thought it would be safer for us to do it here. Is that okay?”  You know that your child is a good kid, and you know that teenagers will probably find a place to drink anyways, so you agree. After all, you’ll supervise the party and make sure that nothing goes wrong, right? By 2:00 a.m., the party has died down and mostly all of the teens are asleep. You feel like the coolest parent on the block and you finally allow yourself to go to bed.

In the morning you are jolted awake by a call from the police. One of your child’s intoxicated friends snuck out shortly after you dozed off and got into a severe car accident with another motorist. The child survived but the other driver was injured. Not only was your decision to host an underage drinking party illegal, you are also now completely liable for both the injured teenager and any action taken by the driver’s family.

Providing alcohol or a place to drink for anyone under 21 is illegal

Massachusetts has strong laws on the books about “furnishing” alcohol to any individual under the age of 21. To furnish means to knowingly and intentionally supply, give, or allow the possession of alcohol to those under 21. If found guilty perpetrators can face up to a $2,000 fine and up to a year in prison, not to mention the thousands, or potentially millions, of dollars in civil suits that could follow.  Adults will be liable for any individual who gets drunk on their property – even if it’s a rented hotel room – and proceeds to cause damage or harm to any property or other individual. Homeowners insurance likely won’t cover these costs, especially if the intoxicated, underage individual causes damage or harm after getting behind the wheel of a car.

While parents might think that they are being cool and responsible by keeping a close eye on the activity, underage drinking is still underage drinking. The better approach is to always talk with your child about the dangers of underage drinking and what the consequences of such actions could be. While you can’t control every action your child makes, you can always control what goes on in your own home. Continue reading

Well, the short answer is, it depends. The fact that an injury occurred on your property does not automatically make you responsible. However, if negligence played a role, that’s an entirely different story. In addition, the rules of negligence are a bit different when children are involved. Read on to find out how to protect yourself from a lawsuit, and others from harm, due to premises liability and negligent supervision.

What is negligence?

Consider the following scenarios. In scenario A, an older gentleman with mobility issues injures himself when he falls on your dry, level, well-maintained driveway. In scenario B, that same gentleman steps into a large pothole in your driveway, falling and injuring himself. In scenario A, the fall wasn’t due to negligence. In scenario B, it was. When you fail to maintain your property by keeping it safe, you may find yourself at the center of a premises liability lawsuit. Contact a Boston personal injury lawyer today.

 

The issue becomes more complex when children are involved. Let’s consider scenario C. Your kids have friends over. One of the children is running on your dry, level, well-maintained driveway, when he falls and breaks his arm. A neighbor runs over to help the crying child. You are nowhere in sight. Ten minutes later, you return from a different neighbor’s house where you were having coffee. Even though the accident wasn’t caused by a poorly maintained property, you may be liable for negligent supervision because the child wasn’t properly supervised. In the scenario with the older gentleman, supervision wasn’t a factor. With the child, it is.

Attractive Nuisance

Another factor that is special to injury lawsuits involving children is something called an “attractive nuisance”. If your property contains an attractive nuisance, you don’t even need to invite a child onto your property, or be aware that he or she is there, to be found liable for an injury suffered on your property.

A swimming pool is the most obvious example of an attractive nuisance. If you have a swimming pool on your property, it must be properly secured at all times, even if you are not using it. As an attractive nuisance, a swimming pool increases your liability exposure. If you adhere to all rules and regulations, your risk of liability is much lower. For example, if a child sneaks in and drowns, but your pool had proper fencing, locks, a pool cover, alarms, and met all state requirements, you are much less likely to be found liable than if the locks were broken, the fencing wasn’t high enough, or a gate was open. In addition to swimming pools, trampolines and construction sites can also be classified as attractive nuisances. Contact a Boston injury lawyer today. Continue reading

There are more than 40 million people over the age of 65 living in the United States today. In fact, this demographic – known as the baby boomers – accounts for the largest percentage of our nation’s population. Many in this age group are living independently, working, and even traveling around the world. But some, especially those on the older end of the spectrum, are beginning to need help with everyday tasks, such as eating, bathing, and dressing. When older adults are no longer able to care for themselves, they are sometimes placed in nursing homes. Although the vast majority of these establishments provide excellent care, abuse and neglect is not uncommon. Some experts estimate that up to 40 percent of all nursing home residents have been abused or neglected at some point.

The disturbing reality is that much of the abuse and neglect suffered by nursing home residents goes unreported or underreported. In fact, a study recently published by Cornell University and the New York City Department for the Aging, reveals that elder abuse may be 24 times greater than the cases that are actually reported to the authorities. An earlier study done by the National Center on Elder Abuse in 2000, revealed that more than half of nursing home staff surveyed admitted to neglecting, or otherwise mistreating, residents in some way. If you are concerned about your loved one’s well-being, contact a Boston nursing home abuse lawyer today.

Abuse and Neglect Come in Many Forms

Abuse doesn’t always result in bruises and broken bones. Emotional abuse and other acts, such as withholding food, can be just as painful and traumatic. Below are common types of physical and emotional abuse suffered by elderly nursing home residents:

  • Over-medication or withholding medication
  • Over-feeding or withholding food
  • Falling or injuries due to neglect
  • Inappropriate physical restraints
  • Using isolation as punishment
  • Using threats to force residents to cooperate
  • Manipulating or intimidating residents to convince them not to report abuse
  • Assault or sexual assault

Signs of Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect

Considering that incidents of elder abuse and neglect often go unreported or underreported, it is important to watch for signs when a loved one is in a nursing home. The signs below are commonly associated with abuse and neglect:

  • Sudden and unexplained weight loss
  • Dehydration
  • Evidence that personal hygiene is suffering
  • Bedsores
  • Bruises
  • Fractured bones
  • Presence of unapproved restraints
  • A dirty or excessively-cluttered room
  • Lack of communication when your loved one’s health or quality of life has changed
  • Missing personal property
  • Loved one appears withdrawn, frightened, or confused

Continue reading