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.

Mesothelioma is a type of cancer caused by exposure to asbestos, a naturally-occurring fiber commonly used in building for decades. Before the dangers of asbestos were known, construction workers and other professionals often spent hours working with this toxic substance every day. As mesothelioma is a particularly slow-growing form of cancer, it’s not uncommon for people who were exposed more than 30 years ago to just now be diagnosed with the disease.

Mesothelioma begins as small tumors that form on the lining of the abdomen or lungs. Symptoms don’t usually become apparent until the tumors begin to press against the abdominal cavity or chest wall, which usually occurs around state III or IV.

In addition to slow growth, mesothelioma is commonly overlooked or misdiagnosed because its symptoms often mimic those of less serious conditions. Initial symptoms may include pain in the chest or abdomen, shortness of breath, dry cough, and bloating.

Most Common Mesothelioma Signs and Symptoms

If you ever worked with asbestos and have developed any of the following symptoms, it may be in your best interest to speak with your doctor as soon as possible. Of course, all of the symptoms below can be related to other, less serious conditions. But when it comes to your health, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

  • Wheezing
  • Dry cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Abdominal pain
  • Abdominal distention
  • Bowel obstruction
  • Hernia
  • Fever
  • Night sweats
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle weakness
  • Pleural effusion (when fluid forms around the lungs)
  • Anemia
  • Weight loss
  • Difficulty swallowing

In most cases, mesothelioma is first detected by accident through a routine blood test or X-ray. Anyone who worked with asbestos for an extended period of time should inform their physician and request cancer screenings to improve the chances of an early diagnosis. If you have developed mesothelioma due to asbestos exposure, a MA work injury attorney can help you recover damages for your injuries.

Misdiagnosis

There are two main types of mesothelioma – pleural and peritoneal. Pleural affects the lining of the lungs, whereas peritoneal affects the lining of the abdomen. Both types of mesothelioma are frequently misdiagnosed. The pleural form is commonly misdiagnosed as COPD, pneumonia, or a bronchial infection, while doctors often think the peritoneal form is irritable bowel syndrome or ovarian cancer.

Is Mesothelioma a Work Injury?

In most cases, an individual’s asbestos exposure occurred at work, years ago. As such, resulting injuries are work injuries. Most work injuries are covered by workers’ compensation, but mesothelioma is typically an exception. Since symptoms of this deadly cancer often fail to show up until 20 or 30 years after exposure, few people still work at the employer responsible for their exposure. Many of these employers don’t even exist anymore. This is why it is so critical to obtain legal counsel as soon as possible. A Boston work injury lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been diagnosed with mesothelioma due to asbestos exposure. Continue reading

According to the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.), dog-related injuries accounted for more than one-third of U.S. homeowners insurance claims in 2014. That adds up to more than $530 million. Further analysis conducted by the I.I.I. revealed that the average per-claim cost had increased by 15 percent compared with the previous year.

“The average cost per claim nationally has risen more than 67 percent from 2003 to 2014, due to increased medical costs as well as the size of settlements, judgments and jury awards given to plaintiffs, which are still on the upswing,” said III vice president, Loretta Worters.

Shockingly Common

And dog bites are more common than most people think. Each year in the United States, about 800,000 dog bite injuries are serious enough to require medical attention. These attacks range from minor flesh wounds to life-threatening injuries, and even fatalities.

In Massachusetts, there are a number of laws relating to dog bite injuries, and the state’s dog owners and keepers are “strictly liable” for damages caused by dog attacks. If you suffer injuries caused by a dog bite or attack, you may be entitled to compensation.

Statute of limitations in MA

Statutes of limitation are laws that set time limits for filing civil lawsuits. In Massachusetts, most liability claims have to be filed within three years of the date of injury, including cases involving dog bites.

With statutes of limitations, it is important to know when the clock starts ticking, as well as when the time runs out. If you don’t file your claim before the deadline, you will likely be barred from bringing your case to court. The statute of limitations timeline on dog bites begins at the time of injury. A Boston personal injury lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured in a dog attack.

Massachusetts Dog Bite Statute

When it comes to dog attacks, Massachusetts is a strict liability state. This means that the injured victim is not required to prove negligence to collect damages. As long as the victim can show that the injury was caused by the dog, and the injury meets other state requirements, he or she may be eligible to obtain compensation. Further, the injury itself does not necessarily have to have been caused by the actual bite. The victim may file a claim even if the injuries were caused by tripping and falling over the dog, for example, or if the dog ran into the road, causing a bicycle or motor vehicle accident.

Compensation for Injuries

If you are attacked or bitten by a dog, the first thing to do is get medical treatment and make sure that the dog’s shots are up-to-date. As is the case with any personal injury claim, the value of dog bite or dog injury claims depend on multiple factors, including:

  • the severity of the physical injury,
  • the duration of your symptoms,
  • and any potential damages caused by the injury (lost wages, pain and suffering, medical expenses, etc.).

In Massachusetts, dog bite and attack injuries are usually covered by homeowner’s insurance, which should compensate the victim for bodily injury and damages. If the owner/keeper has no insurance coverage, the victim may have to seek direct reimbursement for any damages. A MA personal injury lawyer can help you recover damages if you’ve been injured by another’s dog. Continue reading

With the snow and ice of New England winters comes an increased risk of winter weather-related slip and fall accidents. If you fall in a public place, due to snow or ice, what are your rights?

Most snow and ice-related slip and fall accidents occur on sidewalks and in parking lots. Property owners must exercise reasonable care in keeping these areas well maintained at all times, including during wintry weather conditions. A business or property owner who fails to promptly remove snow and ice may be liable if someone is injured. A MA personal injury lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured in a slip and fall accident.

When it comes to public businesses, such as malls, grocery stores, and restaurants, property owners often contract with snow and ice removal companies to maintain their parking lots and sidewalks. Ultimately, it is up to the property owner to ensure that these areas are safe. If, for example, the contractor doesn’t show up with a plow during a snow storm, the property owner must still figure out a way to remove the snow. It might be time to call another contractor, or the property owner may just need to pick up a shovel.

Reasonable Care

All of that being said, customers and the general public must also use reasonable care when walking or driving in a snowy or icy area. If a customer – who wants to quickly get inside the warm store – sprints across the parking lot during a snow storm, he is not exercising reasonable caution. A Boston slip and fall accident attorney can help you recover damages if you have been injured by another’s negligence.

Natural Accumulation

It is difficult, if not impossible, for a parking lot to be kept entirely clear of snow during a blizzard. A property owner’s responsibility, therefore, is not to keep walkways and parking areas free of snow and ice, but to keep them “reasonably” free of snow and ice. Some states have what is known as the “natural accumulation” rule, which holds that a property owner is not liable as long as she did not interfere with the natural accumulation of snow. This was also the case in MA until 2010, when the Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) overturned a 125-year old rule, replacing it with the “reasonable person” standard.

The SJC made the following statement: “If a property owner knows or reasonably should know of a dangerous condition on its property, whether arising from an accumulation of snow or ice, or rust on a railing, or a discarded banana peel, the property owner owes a duty to lawful visitors to make reasonable efforts to protect against the danger.” 

Take Pictures

If you are injured in a slip and fall accident, it is crucial to document your case in as detailed a manner as possible. Photographs provide some of the most compelling evidence, and they should be taken as soon as possible following the accident. This is especially true when snow and ice are involved, as weather conditions can change quickly and without warning. If you have been injured, photograph your injuries and the scene of the accident. With today’s smart phones, most of us have a good camera at our fingertips at all times. If you are unable to take pictures, ask a witness if he or she could do so on your behalf. Also, be sure to ask any witnesses for their contact information, in case you need to ask them a question about the accident at a later date. Continue reading

In order to recover damages following a slip and fall accident, you will have to prove that your injuries were caused by another’s negligence. As such, the more evidence you can collect, the greater your chances of a successful claim. One of the most compelling types of evidence is pictures. In the past, getting pictures of an accident scene immediately following the accident was dependent on one of the witnesses having a camera. However, with today’s smartphones, just about everyone is equipped with a high-quality camera at all times.

Causes of Slip and Fall Accidents

Slip and fall accidents can occur anywhere and at any time. Common causes include:

  • Ice or snow
  • Uneven steps or flooring
  • Debris or clutter in walkways
  • Poor lighting
  • Exposed wiring
  • Cracked pavement
  • Wet or slippery flooring
  • Missing handrails
  • Holes in flooring
  • Lack of warning signs
  • Worn carpet
  • Broken tiles

Types of Slip and Fall Injuries

According to the National Safety Council, slip and fall accidents send nearly nine million people to the emergency room each year. Some of these injuries are minor, but injuries can be serious, and even fatal. Common slip and fall injuries include:

  • Cuts and scrapes
  • Bruises
  • Sprains or fractures
  • Shoulder dislocation
  • Broken hips
  • Back and spine injuries
  • Neck injuries
  • Traumatic brain injuries

Elderly people have a significantly higher risk of being seriously injured in a slip and fall accident, but all ages are at risk. A Boston personal injury attorney can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured in a slip and fall accident.

Was Negligence a Factor?

If your slip and fall accident was a result of another’s negligence, you may be able to obtain compensation for medical expenses, pain and suffering, and lost wages. But to do so, you have to prove negligence. Collecting solid evidence to substantiate your claim is the best way to prove negligence. Read on for more information about collecting evidence.

Take Pictures

If you are immediately able to take pictures, do so. Photograph any visible injuries, such as bruises and scrapes, as well as the accident scene and all surrounding areas. Did you slip on a spilled substance? Photograph it. Take pictures from multiple angles to show other potential factors. For example, did staff fail to place a “wet floor” sign next to the spill? Is there a visible clock on the wall showing the time? The more pictures you take, the better.

Ask a Friend to Take Pictures

If you do not have a camera on you, or you are physically unable to take pictures, ask a friend, relative, or witness to do so for you. It is important to get pictures before anyone alters the area in which the accident occurred – by placing a “wet floor” sign after the fact, for example. This is especially true of ice and snow-related slip and fall accidents. These conditions can naturally change within minutes. A MA personal injury lawyer can help you recover damages if you’ve been injured in a slip and fall accident. Continue reading

Child product manufacturer Fisher-Price recently recalled about 65,000 of its motorized infant soothing motion seats because of their potential to catch fire. According to reports, there have been more than three dozen cases in which the seats have overheated. One device actually caught fire. Fortunately, no injuries have occurred, but the recall serves as a reminder that infants and small children should never be left unattended, even in a child “safety” seat.

Product Liability

If you have been injured by a dangerous or defective product, you may be able to recover damages by bringing a product liability lawsuit against the responsible party or parties. When it comes to determining responsibility, the fault can lie with any party in the product’s distribution chain. Parties can include the product’s designer or manufacturer, the manufacturer of component parts, the product assembler, the wholesaler, or the retail store that initially sold the product.  A Boston product liability attorney can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured by a dangerous or defective product.

Types of Defects

In order to win a product liability case, the plaintiff must be able to show that the injury was caused by a defective product, and that the product was made unreasonably dangerous by the defect. The three types of product defects are:

 

  • Design defects – These defects are present even before the product is manufactured.
  • Manufacturing defects – These defects occur during the product’s manufacturing or assembly. The design may have been perfectly safe, but an error in production caused the defect.
  • Marketing defects – When improper labeling or lack of safety instructions causes someone to get injured, this may be considered a marketing defect.

 

As mentioned earlier, the defect must make the product unreasonably dangerous. What does this mean? Well, consider a butcher knife. A butcher knife is dangerous by necessity. In fact, it would be made useless if the blade was too dull to injure someone. Although a knife is a dangerous product, a reasonable person would understand the inherent dangers. The knife would likely come with appropriate safety warnings, but it would be up to the consumer to use the knife responsibly and keep it out of the reach of children, for example. If a child injured himself on a such a knife, it would be difficult to argue that the injury was the fault of the knife’s manufacturer, designer, or retailer.

Possible Defenses

Product liability is a complex and constantly evolving area of the law. You might feel confident that a product defect caused your injury, but the manufacturer might argue that you altered the product once it was no longer under the manufacturer’s control. Another potential defense might be that your misuse of the product caused your injuries, and that the manufacturer couldn’t have anticipated this type of misuse. A MA product liability lawyer can help you recover damages if you’ve been injured by a dangerous or defective product, pharmaceutical, or medical device. Continue reading

Last week, three people were killed and dozens more were injured when Amtrak’s 501 Cascades high-speed locomotive derailed on its inaugural journey between Seattle and Portland. Excessive speed was a factor. More disturbing, however, was the fact that the automatic braking system (ABS) was installed on the tracks and train, but was not functioning. Such a system would have likely prevented this deadly accident from occurring.

Since 1969, train safety advocates have been pushing for the installation of ABS. According to an Associated Press analysis, since that year, more than 6,700 have been injured and 298 have been killed in accidents involving train derailments. Congress mandated the implementation of “positive train control” (PTC) on all trains by 2015. PTC is a communications system for passenger trains that includes ABS. Despite this mandate, most passenger trains in the United States are not equipped with PTC features. A Boston train accident attorney can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured in a train derailment-related accident.

Train was Clocked at Nearly Three Times the Posted Speed Limit

Just before the accident, the train was estimated to be traveling at over 80 mph, nearly three times the legal limit. Occurring to investigators, the train cars were tilting as they rounded the curve with a 30 mph speed limit, and it appeared that the engineer was applying the brakes.

Passengers who were being interviewed shortly after the accident were stunned. Emma Schafer, who was traveling to Portland for the holidays, was napping when her train car fell onto the highway below.

“Have you ever been on a 3D simulator where it shakes you around a pod? It was like that,” said Schafer.

“It felt like the end of the world, like we’d stepped out of a nuclear bunker amid the wreckage,” she continued. “It’s hitting me in waves. I’m suppressing some of it. Tonight is probably going to be rough.”

Amtrak said there were seven crew members and 77 passengers on board at the time of the accident. More than a dozen people suffered serious injuries, some of whom required surgery, and more than 100 people were rushed to the hospital.

Train Accidents are Relatively Common

More than 3,000 train accidents occur in the United States annually. Although not all of these accidents result in injury or death, most involve some level of property damage. The most common railroad accidents involve collisions with other trains or passenger vehicles, derailment, mechanical failure, poorly-maintained tracks, driver fatigue, and driver inexperience. Continue reading

If you are having a New Year’s Eve party to ring in 2018, there’s a good chance you’ll be serving alcohol. Although there’s nothing wrong with guests enjoying a few adult beverages, it may be your responsibility to ensure that they do so responsibly, and that they are of legal age.

Most people are well aware that the national drinking age is 21, but did you know that you can be liable if an underage guest drinks alcohol at your party? This is true even if you didn’t serve the guest, and even if you were unaware that a minor was drinking. Commercial establishments, such as pubs and restaurants, have an official “duty of care” to patrons who consume alcohol on the premises. In the case of a house party, that duty is transferred to the host of the party (a.k.a. the social host). A MA personal injury lawyer can help you recover damages if you’ve been injured by a drunk driver.

As stated in the Massachusetts General Law, Chapter 138 Section 34:

When we think about motor vehicle accidents in Boston, we typically imagine high-speed collisions that occur on the interstate or other roadways. But believe it or not, about 20 percent of auto insurance claims are actually related to accidents that occur in parking lots. The Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers Association conducted a study on parking lot accidents, and found that the main contributing factors are distraction and low visibility. Add snow and ice to the mix, and you have a recipe for disaster.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), nearly 92,000 people were injured in non-traffic motor vehicle accidents between 2012 and 2014. About 1,900 more were killed. Of those injured and killed, approximately a third were cyclists or pedestrians. A Boston auto accident attorney can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured due to another’s negligence.

Causes of Parking Lot Accidents

Parking lot accidents can occur year round, but they are most prevalent during winter months when snow and ice create hazardous conditions. The most common causes of parking lot accidents include:

  • Poor parking lot maintenance
  • Traffic congestion (especially during the holidays)
  • Distracted drivers
  • Vehicles backing out
  • Lack of enforcement of traffic laws

Tips to Prevent Parking Lot Accidents

The following tips will help you avoid being injured or killed in a parking lot accident. With an increase in parking lot chaos during the holidays, it’s especially important to use extra caution at this time of year. Simply looking both ways before you cross a road or intersection can save your life.

  • Avoid walking down the center of a parking lot aisle. Keep to the side and watch for cars at all times.
  • When walking in a parking lot in winter, wear non-slip footwear, such as boots or attachable treads.
  • NEVER talk on the phone, text, or send emails while you are walking through a parking lot. Keep your head up at all times.
  • If a vehicle is approaching you, make eye contact with the driver. Don’t assume they can see you.
  • Adjust your mirrors, stereo, and buckle up before you pull out of your parking space.
  • Parking lot speed limits signs and lane designations are put there for a reason. Don’t speed or cut across lanes.
  • Stop at a parking lot stop sign just as you would a roadway stop sign.
  • Keep in mind that a thick blanket of snow muffles sounds.
  • Be on the lookout for snow blowers, people shoveling, and snow plows. A MA auto accident attorney can help you recover damages if you’ve been injured due to another’s negligence.
  • Turn on headlights, even during the day.
  • Avoid the crowded areas, park away from the entrance.
  • Park in well-lit areas
  • Always wear your seatbelt, even in a parking lot.

About a quarter of all parking lot accidents involve a vehicle that is backing up. Fortunately, most of these accidents are easily preventable. Use your mirrors, never drive distracted, obey signs, drive slowly, and always wear your seatbelt. Doing so will dramatically reduce your risk of being seriously injured or killed in a parking lot accident. Continue reading

Choosing the right daycare center for your child is one of the most important decisions you will make during their early years. You want them to have fun and be happy, but their safety and well-being is the primary concern. It is crucial that parents do their due diligence by researching facilities, performing their own inspections, and interviewing staff.

Tips for Choosing the Right Daycare Center

The tips below will help to ensure that you choose the right daycare center, the first time.

A Philadelphia woman was awarded nearly $28 million for injuries she suffered while taking the anti-coagulant medication, Xarelto. The blood thinner, manufactured by Johnson & Johnson and Bayer AG, is linked to serious health risks, including excessive bleeding and death.

Lynn Hartman claims to have been taking Xarelto for more than a year when she was hospitalized for gastrointestinal bleeding. J&J and Bayer were ordered to pay $1.8 million in actual damages, and another $26 million for punitive damages. More than 20,000 Xarelto lawsuits are still pending against the companies.

J&J and Bayer recently won three Xarelto cases, after juries determined that the companies had provided adequate warnings about the drug’s risk of excessive bleeding. These wins were actually a victory for plaintiffs in other cases, however, including Hartman’s.

“The plaintiffs needed to put a win on the board to keep these other cases alive,” said Carl Tobias, a law professor at Virginia’s University of Richmond. “Otherwise, the rest of the cases may have been seen as having little value.” A MA drug injury lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured by a defective or dangerous drug.

Xarelto Lawsuits Up 27 Percent this Year

The pharmaceutical giants say they will appeal the verdict in Hartman’s case, claiming that their product’s labeling “has always warned of bleeding events.” According to J&J, Xarelto lawsuits increased by 27 percent in 2017.

“Bayer stands behind the safety and efficacy of Xarelto and believes there is no basis in fact or law for the verdict, including the punitive award,” said Bayer spokesman Chris Loder, in a recent statement.

According to the FDA, Xarelto has been linked to at least 370 deaths and thousands of serious injuries. Yet the drug, which is Bayer’s number one-selling product, remains on the market. In fact, Xarelto sales generated about $3.2 billion last year. A Boston drug injury lawyer can help you recover damages if you’ve been injured by a defective or dangerous drug.

Why is Xarelto So Dangerous?

Xarelto belongs to a new class of blood thinners that have been hailed as lower-maintenance alternatives to their predecessor Coumadin. All blood thinners carry a risk of excessive bleeding, but Coumadin has an antidote to stop the bleeding. Xarelto, unfortunately, does not.

According to 75-year-old Hartman, she required four blood transfusions to treat the effects of blood loss she experienced while on Xarelto. During her trial, former FDA Chief David Kessler, argued that the drug’s warning labels understate associated bleeding risks, as well as failed to warn physicians that certain patients may have a higher risk of excessive bleeding.

Symptoms of Xarelto Complications

If you are currently taking Xarelto and develop any of the following symptoms, seek immediate medical attention:

  • Unexpected or uncontrolled bleeding
  • Coughing up blood
  • Vomiting blood
  • Black or bright red stool
  • Headaches that don’t go away
  • Dizziness
  • Wounds that don’t heal properly

Continue reading