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.

The Angry Bull Saloon, a bar in Hartford, Conn., will not reopen following a tragic incident that occurred on March 3 involving a teenager who fell from the roof level of the building that housed the bar.

An investigation by police concluded that the death of an 18-year-old female was an accident, but the police also believe that the teenager was at the bar before she fell four stories to her death. Toxicology reports have yet to be released, so it is unknown whether or not the teenager was intoxicated at the time of her fall.

The Angry Bull agreed to turn in its liquor license and close its doors during the investigation, and has now officially decided to close indefinitely because the city of Hartford would have imposed costly new security measures as an ultimatum to reopen. As requested by the chief of police, the bar would have had to have paid the city for police details on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, a cost of about $584 a night.

Police reported that the teenager was able to gain access to the bar with a “very good” fake ID, and that she still had a wrist band from the bar on her wrist when she accidentally fell from the fourth-floor of the building. Police said she was able to get onto the roof by simply walking up a set of outdoor stairs and then climbing a ladder up to the roof. It is believed she was alone at the time of the incident.

The Angry Bull had already caught the attention of Hartford police before the tragic incident, as they had been the subject of three referrals to the Liquor Control Commission since November; including two for allegedly allowing underage drinking.

One of these referrals was closed without any action taken, and the other remained under open investigation. According to the Courant, state and local police were in the midst of planning an undercover operation at the bar at the time of the accident.

Many responsible for this tragedy

Although you should never climb to the roof of an unfamiliar building without any supervision or proper safety precautions (and especially not if you have been drinking any amount), it should not have been so easy for a teenager to gain access to a roof that is four stories high. It should not have been possible for an underage person to gain access to a bar, no matter how convincing her fake identification was.

While the bar has done the right thing in closing down their business following such a horrific event, they are still not out of the woods when it comes to liability for the death of the teenager. If it turns out that she was intoxicated at the time of the accident, the owner and bartenders who served the young woman will be in significantly more trouble.

Likewise, the owner of the building that housed the bar would be liable for the tragedy as well, since they did not prevent access from the foreseeable and dangerous situation of somebody gaining access to the roof. Both the owner of the bar and the owner of the building may eventually be taken to court due to their negligence that helped contribute to a death.

Ensuring that your place of business, and ensuring that any property you own, doesn’t become a hazard to those that patronize it is a fundamental responsibility of the individuals that own these properties. Continue reading

Bicycling with your kids is healthy, good for your wallet, good for the environment, and it can be a wonderful family bonding experience. When children are too young to ride on their own, some parents still choose to bring them along for the ride, using either a rear-mounted bicycle seat or trailer. Although both options can provide countless hours of family enjoyment, they also come with risks. Read on for more information about how to choose the best option for your family, and how to keep your child safe.

Which Option is Safest?

A study published in the Archives of Pediatric Adolescent Medicine reported that trailers are safer than mounted seats. According to the study’s authors, “When compared with bicycle-mounted child seats, there were fewer reported injuries to children associated with the use of bicycle-towed trailers. Motor vehicle involvement and need for hospital admission were similar among injured children in both groups, and the head or face was the most common site of injury.” So, while there were more reported injuries linked to mounted seats, the extent of injuries suffered seems to be about the same for trailers as for mounted seats. A MA injury lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been involved in a bicycle accident.

Tips to Keep Your Child Safe in a Bicycle Seat or Trailer

As the parent, it is up to you to decide which bicycle seat option is best for your family. By following the tips below, you can help ensure that your child stays safe while riding in a mounted seat or bicycle trailer. If your child was injured due to a defective bicycle seat or trailer, a Boston bicycle accident lawyer can help you determine the next steps.

  • Never put your child in a mounted bicycle seat until they are at least one year of age. Prior to one year, a child’s skull is too soft and can be easily damaged, especially on bumpy roads.
  • Pull-behind trailers should be adequately padded for shock absorption. A very young child can suffer brain damage from too much jostling around while seated in mounted seats and trailers.
  • Whether inside a trailer or in a mounted seat, children of all ages should always wear a helmet.
  • Due to a bicycle trailer’s low profile, they can be hard for drivers of motor vehicles to see. To call attention to the trailer, equip it with a high-visibility orange flag.
  • Avoid riding after dark, but if you must, make sure your trailer and bicycle are equipped with lights.
  • Do not ride on the shoulder of the road if you have an attached trailer.
  • If purchasing a mounted seat, make sure your bike is compatible with your seat of choice.
  • Always follow the same rules of the road that motor vehicle drivers use when bicycling.

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Even a minor car accident can be startling. Feelings of fear, frustration, anger, and embarrassment often follow. This mix of emotions can make it difficult to determine the appropriate way to handle the next steps. However, what you say and do following a car accident can have a profoundly positive or negative impact on the outcome. The information below provides key steps to take if you’ve been involved in any type of motor vehicle accident.

  • Do not leave the scene. Fleeing the scene of an accident is probably the worst decision you can make following a crash. If someone was injured, or if property damage occurred, you could be facing a “hit and run” charge, which carries harsh penalties and hefty fines. Stay at the scene until the police arrive. If, for any reason police are not called, do not leave before exchanging insurance and contact information with the other driver.
  • Make sure everyone is safe. The first step following a motor vehicle accident is to check for injuries. If you are unharmed, check your passengers first, then proceed to other drivers and passengers, pedestrians, or bicyclists that may have been involved. If someone is injured, call for first aid immediately. Do not move an injured person. If no injuries are apparent and property damage to vehicles is minimal, move vehicles to a safe location before exchanging information. If damage is extensive or injuries are present, call the police immediately. The police will create an incident report, which can be immensely helpful if you decide to file a personal injury claim.
  • Exchange information with other drivers and witnesses. Although tensions may be high, it is still important to exchange information with anyone involved in the accident. Jot down or record in your smartphone the following information from other drivers:
  1. Names
  2. Addresses
  3. Phone numbers
  4. Insurance
  5. License plate numbers
  6. Driver’s license numbers
  • If witnesses were present, you should also ask for their contact information. Whatever you do, do not discuss the accident with any other parties involved. What you say can be used against you. Even something as innocent as “I’m sorry” can come back to bite you. Simply ask if everyone is ok, and then proceed with the recommended steps.
  • Take pictures. If you have a cell phone, you likely have a decent camera on you at all times. Detailed pictures of injuries, property damage, and the scene can make all the difference in the world when it comes to personal injury lawsuits. Take photos from multiple angles. In addition to injuries and damage, photograph any contributing factors, such as an icy patch on the road, a hidden yield sign, or construction debris. Skid marks and tire tracks should also be photographed. Don’t worry about taking too many pictures, or taking the “wrong” pictures. A Boston car accident attorney can help you determine which pictures will be useful to your case.
  • Call a lawyer. Following an accident, the quicker you contact a lawyer, the better your chances of success with a personal injury claim. In addition to negotiating with the insurance companies, a MA motor vehicle accident attorney can handle any disputes that may arise during the claims process. A good lawyer can shoulder the burden of dealing with insurance companies and the complicated claims process, but he or she can also ensure that you get the compensation you deserve if you were harmed due to another’s negligence.

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Alan Lavender, the former city councilor and mayor of Newburyport MA, was fatally injured when his single-engine plane crashed into the Prides Crossing condo complex in Methuen last month. The plane was approaching Lawrence Municipal Airport when the accident occurred, leaving the plane’s tail poking out of the building’s roof. Fortunately, nobody was home in the two condos impacted by the crash.
The National Transportation Safety Board’s investigation into the crash will consider several factors, including Lavender’s qualifications, the weather at the time of the crash, and whether the plane may have had mechanical issues. Witnesses reported that the plane “took a steep descent and disappeared behind the trees” prior to the crash. Investigators are urging any witnesses who haven’t yet come forward to do so, especially if they have photos or video of the incident. A Boston injury lawyer can help you determine how to proceed following an accident or injury.

Witness Accounts

The former mayor’s plane was home-built from a kit. The two-seat Sonex plane is actually a relatively common aircraft, and known to be of high quality. Emergency responders arrived at the scene of the crash shortly after the incident occurred. Although nobody was home in the two condos damaged by the crash, Nancy Downey was inside the building when the accident occurred. “I heard a loud boom and when I looked outside there was insulation coming down like snow,” she told the Herald. “It scared me half to death. … I hear planes all the time,” said Downey. Ron Coholan, a resident in an adjacent building, said this was the second accident in two decades. “I hope Lawrence airport will redirect flights,” said Coholan.

Was the Plane Defective?

Until the investigation determines the cause of Lavender’s accident, we don’t know if it was due to weather, lack of training, or a mechanical problem with the plane. However, the incident serves as a stark reminder that defective and faulty parts can result in serious injuries and death. If the investigation uncovers that defective parts caused the crash, Lavender’s family may choose to pursue a defective product liability claim or a wrongful death lawsuit.

Different Types of Defective Product Liability Claims

If you believe that a defective product has caused you harm, a MA injury lawyer can help you determine which type of defective product liability claim to pursue. Most product liability claims fit into one of three categories. These include:

  • Defective design – this occurs when the product’s design is inherently dangerous or faulty.
  • Defective manufacturing – this occurs when an error is made during the manufacturing process, usually at the factory. This is the most common type of product liability claim.
  • Failure to warn – this occurs when a product that has some type of hidden danger does not include adequate warnings or instructions to prevent injury.

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Slip and fall accidents are among the most dangerous injury accidents in the United States. In fact, they account for about 15 percent of all accidental deaths, second only to motor vehicle crashes. If you are injured in a slip and fall accident in a store, a Boston injury attorney can help you determine who is liable for your injuries. Any business that openly welcomes the public onto its property has a duty to keep the property reasonably safe at all times. When injuries or property damages occur due to negligence, any number of parties may be liable – the property owner, the store owner, the property manager, or the lessee.

Examples of Injury Awards

Slip and fall accidents that occur on store properties are often the result of spilled liquids, cluttered walkways, poor lighting, or snow and ice accumulation in parking lots and on walkways. The following injury awards provide detailed examples of actual slip and fall accidents and the possible outcomes.

  • A woman injured her knee in a Home Depot parking lot when her shopping cart hit a manhole cover that was submerged in water. Despite Home Depot’s claim that the danger was obvious, the box store was found to be 95 percent at fault. The woman received an injury award of $950,000 from Home Depot.
  • In another case involving Home Depot, a man slipped and fell on an icy walkway leading into the store. The man suffered torn quadriceps as a result. Although Home Depot claimed that the area had been inspected only two hours before the incident, the home renovations giant was ordered to pay more than $159,000 to the man for his injuries.
  • In a third Home Depot slip and fall case, a Pennsylvania woman was awarded more than $44,000 after she slipped on an unknown substance in a Home Depot aisle. Her injuries sent her to the emergency department where she was treated for lower back pain.
  • A woman slipped on ice in a NY Walmart parking lot and was subsequently hit by a sheet of ice that fell from the roof above her. The accident resulted in a severe injury to her left arm. Walmart was ordered to pay the woman $600,000 for her arm injury, which required surgery to repair.
  • A woman injured her spine when an automatic entrance door at a Connecticut Walmart struck her in the back, knocking her to the floor. She was awarded more than $200,000 for her injuries. A MA injury attorney can help you determine if you have a legal claim following a slip and fall accident in a store.
  • While carrying a large package of paper towels, a 54-year old heart surgeon tripped over a trailer hitch in the parking lot of a Sam’s Club. When he fell to the ground, he suffered a severe spinal injury which subsequently ended his career. The surgeon received $3.96 million for his injuries.
  • When a woman slipped on liquid soap in a California Costco store, she shattered her kneecap, suffering partial loss of mobility. When evidence revealed that multiple employees had noticed the spill but failed to clean it up, the woman was awarded $400,000 for pain and suffering and medical expenses.

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Following a nine-month investigation by a security consulting firm, school officials at Massachusetts’ prestigious Milton Academy recently confirmed a decades-long sexual abuse scandal. Four teachers are alleged to have molested several students over the years. The school’s theater program director from 1975 to 1987, Rey Buono is accused of abusing at least 12 boys. Buono was fired in 1987 after admitting to molesting a male student. According to the consulting firm, Milton Academy “had some knowledge of Rey Buono’s misconduct in 1982,” but he continued to work there for an additional five years.

More than 200 Victims

The investigation extends beyond Milton to other schools in New England. All in all, more than 200 victims have come forward, and at least 90 legal claims have been filed against at least 67 private schools in the region. In an official apology letter, Milton school officials wrote, “On behalf of Milton Academy and its board of trustees, we want to acknowledge and deeply apologize for those failures.” That letter was but one in a series of apology letters sent by dozens of private schools in the New England region. In fact, a recent investigation by the Boston Globe discovered sexual abuse allegations in more than 100 New England private schools in the past 25 years.

“Milton Academy’s leadership at that time failed to protect students and failed to investigate whether Rey Buono had abused other students during his tenure at the school,” said Todd Bland, the current head of school. If you have been the victim of sexual abuse or harassment, a Boston sexual abuse attorney can help you determine how to proceed.

After losing his job in 1987 due to sexual abuse allegations, Buono moved to Southeast Asia in 1988 and has been working in a similar capacity – with children – ever since. According to a spokesperson for Milton Academy, immigration authorities have been contacted with the findings of the investigation. In addition to Buono, three other Milton employees are alleged to have sexually abused three female students. The claims range from lewd comments to sexual intercourse. Milton Academy has not identified the other male employees, but says that reports have been filed with “appropriate officials and law enforcement agencies.”

Sexual Abuse Can Have Lifelong Repercussions

Milton Academy’s current school leaders have acknowledged the detrimental impact that sexual abuse can have on an individual, saying that these victims “can live with the repercussions of those acts for years.” The school is responding by offering to pay for counseling services for victims. A MA sexual abuse lawyer can help you determine your rights and options if you were a victim of sexual abuse at Milton Academy or any other school. Continue reading

A tire blowout can be extremely dangerous, especially at high speeds. When a blowout occurs, the incident often leads to damage, motor vehicle accidents, and injuries. However, determining liability is rarely an easy task. Negligence on the part of the vehicle owner / driver may have been a contributing factor, but it’s also possible that the tire was defective. If you have been involved in an accident caused by a tire blowout, a MA injury lawyer can help you determine who’s liable for any resulting injuries or property damage.

Do You Have a Product Liability Claim?

If your tire blowout caused an accident, you may have a product liability claim against the manufacturer of the tire or wheel. In these types of cases, it is common for experts to be consulted. They can analyze the details of the blowout and testify to how it most likely occurred. If the tire was relatively new, properly installed, and recently inspected, your chances of success will be much greater than if the tire is old and worn. Improper installation may have also played a role in the blowout. If a new tire blows out on the road, it is likely due to improper installation or driver negligence.

Driver Negligence

If you are injured or suffer a financial loss due to another driver’s tire blowout, you may have a claim against the driver. Did negligence play a role? This is generally easier to prove than a product defect or improper installation because you only need to show negligence on the part of the driver. And proving negligence, as it pertains to a tire blowout, may be a relatively easy task. The fact is, drivers rarely inspect tires as often or thoroughly as they should, even though they are bound by duty to do so. However, even individuals with brand new tires, a solid tire-maintenance schedule, and whose tires were properly installed can have a blowout due to driver negligence. If you have been injured due to a tire blowout, a Boston injury attorney can help.

Common Tire Defects

A tire can be defective for multiple reasons. Some of the most common include:

  • Manufacturing defects
  • Design defects
  • Improper or inferior materials
  • Old tires that appear new
  • Improper tires for the vehicle type

The side effects of the above defects may include:

  • Tread separation
  • Bead failure
  • Belt separation
  • Tire explosion or blowout

In most single vehicle accidents and rollovers, tire blowouts are to blame. When an older tire is sold as “new,” the tire may appear fine until the driver reaches high speeds. This can be especially dangerous in hot weather. If you are concerned about the safety of your tires, have them professionally inspected as soon as possible. Don’t let something as simple, and inexpensive to fix as a faulty tire, cost you your life. Continue reading

If a product you used caused injury or illness, you may be able to file a defective product liability claim. The injury itself isn’t enough to justify a claim. For example, if you trip over a space heater in your bedroom and are subsequently injured in a slip and fall accident, suing the space heater’s manufacturer isn’t likely to produce results. However, if you are injured when your new space heater catches fire for no apparent reason, it’s a different story. Unless you misused the product, the fire may have been caused by a product defect.

The Elements of a Defective Product Liability Claim

Three main elements must be present for a successful defective product liability claim. These are:

  • An injury or financial loss occurred.
  • There is a defect in the product.
  • Your injury was caused by the defect.
  • You were not misusing the product when the injury occurred.

Keep in mind, you must have actually suffered a loss. If a defective product caused you to slip and fall, but you weren’t injured and no property damage occurred, there’s not much point to filing any type of injury claim. A Boston injury attorney can help you determine if you should file a defective product liability claim for your injuries.

Design Defect or Manufacturing Defect?

If the product was designed correctly but an error occurred during the manufacturing process, the claim is generally easier to prove than if the product was manufactured correctly but the design was flawed.

Olympus Duodenoscope Design Defect

A good example of a product with a serious design defect is the Olympus duodenoscope. This medical product was redesigned in 2010 to keep infectious material from entering the scope. Unfortunately, the new design, which involved closing off a narrow internal channel, actually allowed dangerous bacteria to remain in the product after cleaning. As a result, multiple superbug outbreaks occurred in hospitals throughout the country, and many people were seriously injured or died. Working with a skilled MA injury lawyer is crucial to a positive outcome in cases involving any type of product liability claim.

Takata Airbags

Determining whether a product is defective is not always an easy task. In some cases, the answer is clear. But proving that a product is unreasonably dangerous can be a complex process. Take airbags, for example. Airbags can cause injuries when they deploy, but most of these injuries are considered to be “reasonable” when you take into account their potential for saving lives. However, not all airbag injuries are reasonable. Takata airbags caused multiple injuries and deaths when a defective inflator caused airbags to explode with too much force, hurling metal debris at vehicle occupants. In fact, Takata was just ordered to pay $1 billion in criminal penalties after pleading guilty to wire fraud related to this ongoing case.

Did the Manufacturer Fail to Warn You of a Hazard?

If you can show that the defect was not obvious to an ordinary customer, you will have a better chance at winning your defective product liability claim. If the product had bright red warning stickers on it, you removed them, and got injured doing what the stickers warned you not to do, your chances of a successful claim are limited. If, however, the manufacturer failed to warn you about an inherent danger, you may have a solid case. Continue reading

If your negligent landlord has caused you physical injury or financial loss, you may be able to sue him or her to recover your losses. However, proving that negligence can be a complicated matter. In some cases, negligence is apparent. For example, if your landlord ignored multiple emails and phone calls about a propane smell in the home and a propane explosion occurred weeks later, proving negligence is likely to be a straightforward process. However, injury and property damage claims are rarely this cut and dried. A Boston injury attorney can help you determine if you have a successful personal injury claim.

Proving Landlord Negligence

If your landlord acted carelessly without regard for the consequences of his or her actions, and you were injured or suffered financial losses as a result, you may have a successful personal injury claim on your hands. When injury or property damage occurs on the property of another, the property owner may be found negligent under premises liability laws. To prove that your landlord’s actions caused your injury or property damage, the following conditions must exist:

  • The landlord owed a duty to you.
  • The landlord breached that duty.
  • The breach of duty caused the injury or property damage, and
  • An injury or property damage occurred.

In personal injury claims against landlords, the most common question is whether or not the landlord actually owed a duty to the injured person. What does that mean, exactly? Basically, a landlord generally has a duty to tenants and their guests. Landlords may even have a duty to the public if the public has access to common areas. The duty owed is generally to maintain the common areas in a safe and habitable condition at all times. For example, hazards such as live wires and broken steps should be remedied as soon as possible, railings should be secure, doors should open and lock properly, and there should be a plan in place for dealing with snow and ice. Consult with a MA injury lawyer if you’ve been harmed due to landlord negligence.

Was Notice Given?

Although remedying these hazards is a landlord’s responsibility, the landlord must have notice of the hazards in order to remove them. For example, if you are renting a house in New York and your landlord lives in California full time, how is she going to know when a formerly-intact step breaks? If you fall down that step and suffer injuries, can you sue? Well, if you never notified your landlord of the problem, your chances of success are limited. However, you may be in luck if you called and emailed your landlord for weeks, offering to pay for a renovation if she deducted it from your rent, but she failed to respond. There are some exceptions to the notice rule, however. For example, if the dangerous conditions were present before you moved in, it is possible that the landlord “should have known about” the conditions. Continue reading

This stretch of unseasonably warm weather has many thinking about spring. With spring comes longer days, warmer temps, greener landscapes, and the infamous Spring Break! For many of us, spring break has taken on a very different meaning than it had during our college years. But even mild spring break celebrations and vacations carry some inherent risks. Read on for more information about spring break hazards, and how you can protect yourself from serious harm.

Common Spring Break Injuries and How to Prevent Them

A little R&R may be just what the doctor ordered, but the spring break-related health risks below can ruin your vacation, and could even cost you your life. A Boston injury attorney can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been harmed by another’s negligence. By taking the following safety precautions, you can dramatically reduce your risk of serious injury and death: