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.

A New Jersey family is filing suit against Simon Property Group and an escalator manufacturer after a terrifying escalator incident in a Pennsylvania mall resulted in the amputation of a 7-year-old’s toes on his right foot in 2014.

According to NJ.com, the boy and his family were shopping at the Oxford Valley Mall (owned by Simon Property Group) in Langhorne, Penn. on Dec. 14, 2014 when the boy’s foot became trapped in the escalator while he was riding it down.

The boy’s foot became trapped off the side of one of the steps, and then kept moving downward, but luckily somebody was vigilant and responded quick enough to hit the emergency stop button on the escalator, preventing more tragic damage.

According to a recent investigation, thousands of deaths related to infections contracted in hospitals may have gone unreported. In one example, the death of a newborn was blamed on sepsis due to premature birth when the actual cause was an outbreak of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) in the hospital’s neonatal ward. Whether the lack of reporting is due to poor tracking or a more ominous cover-up is not yet known. But the firing of a New Jersey nurse may reveal some answers.

Catherine Tanksley-Bowe was a nurse at Cooper University Hospital in Camden, New Jersey, until she was fired in August of 2016. Tanksley-Bowe claims that her firing was in retaliation for her exposure of the hospital’s mishandling of a staph infection outbreak in the infant intensive care unit. She claims the hospital did not take the proper, state-mandated precautions to prevent the spread of MRSA in the neonatal unit. According to the New Jersey Department of Health, two of the eight infants who contracted the infection later died. Following the incident, the state’s inspection of the hospital uncovered “several infection control deficiencies.” If you have contracted an infection that you believe may be related to hospital cross-contamination, contact a Boston injury lawyer today.

What is MRSA?

This highly-contagious bacteria, known as a superbug, can cause infections in different parts of the body. Because it is resistant to many commonly used antibiotics, MRSA is much more difficult to treat than other infections. Symptoms vary depending on the infection site, but include sores or boils as well as more serious complications, such as lung and blood infections. When promptly identified and treated, MRSA infections are usually not life threatening. However, in cases such as the hospital outbreak above, when fear of legal action results in a lack of reporting and immediate treatment response, MRSA can be fatal. If you believe that another’s negligence has caused you harm.

Was NJ Nurse Fired for Calling Attention to Hospital Deficiencies?

According to Tanksley-Bowe’s lawsuit, on August 8 she informed the hospital’s environmental service representative and administrator about the failure to follow state guidelines for cross-contamination prevention. She also claims to have told the hospital’s Chief of Pediatrics that Cooper should stop accepting babies into the intensive care unit and inform other hospitals of the infection. Tanksley-Bowe says the hospital didn’t heed her advice, and she was fired three days later.

What is Medical Malpractice?

If the Court believes Tanksley-Bowe’s claims to be true, the hospital may be liable for wrongful termination as well as medical malpractice. However, for a medical malpractice claim to be successful, certain elements must be present. Simply making a mistake is not enough. If the elements below are all present, it may be wise to file a medical malpractice lawsuit:

  • An established doctor-patient relationship
  • Care that fell below the accepted standard
  • A link between the medical negligence and the harm to the patient
  • Quantifiable harm to the patient

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If another’s negligence caused a car accident and you were injured, the experience can be emotionally, physically, and financially difficult. If you were pregnant at the time, the experience can be devastating. In the wake of such an occurrence, it’s important to know how to act to protect yourself, your baby, and your financial future.

According to studies, the actions a pregnant woman takes following a motor vehicle collision have a significant impact on the health of her pregnancy. Pregnant women are uniquely vulnerable in any type of collision, even a minor fender bender. Without immediate treatment, trauma from a car accident can result in pre-term labor, hemorrhaging, birth defects, a high-risk situation that did not previously exist, and miscarriage. On a more subtle level, a car accident can result in emotional stress, which can be bad for both mother and baby.

Symptoms to Watch For

If you’ve been involved in a car accident while pregnant, seek immediate medical attention. Although you and your baby may be perfectly fine, it’s always better to be safe than sorry. In addition, if you notice any of the following symptoms following a car accident, contact your physician immediately:

  • Loss of consciousness
  • Vaginal bleeding
  • Leaking of vaginal fluid
  • Umbilical cord protrusion (if you believe that the umbilical cord is protruding into your vagina, contact your doctor and immediately get down to your knees, making sure that your buttocks are higher than your head. If your umbilical cord is indeed protruding, this will reduce pressure until help arrives).

Sometimes symptoms don’t present for several days following a car accident. If any of the following symptoms appear days or weeks after a motor vehicle collision, seek medical attention:

  • Swelling of the face
  • Swelling of the fingers
  • Vaginal bleeding
  • Increased vaginal discharge
  • Constant headaches
  • Pain in abdominal area
  • Pain in shoulder area
  • Fever or chills
  • Vomiting not associated with morning sickness
  • Change in frequency of baby’s movements
  • Painful urination
  • Dizziness

Even when the mother has not suffered physical injury, it is still possible for the fetus to be injured. A contra-coup injury occurs when a concussion or shock is produced by a blow or jolt to another area of the body. For example, a violent stopping motion could jostle the baby within the mother’s womb, resulting in a concussion to the baby. If you have been involved in a car accident while pregnant, contact a Boston car accident lawyer today.

If another drivers’ negligence caused you harm, it’s in your best interest to seek the counsel of an experienced motor vehicle accident attorney. In addition to helping you obtain the compensation you deserve, a skilled attorney can help reduce the stressful impact of legal proceedings and dealing with insurance companies at a time when you should be focused on your health, and the health of your baby. Continue reading

Bicycling has seen a massive increase in popularity over the last decade, namely due to its health, environmental, and economic benefits. This is especially true in cities, where riding a bike reduces traffic congestion during the daily work commute. Boston is no exception. Miles of designated bike lanes, new legislation protecting bicyclists, and pro-cycling campaigns have had an immensely positive impact. But what about during the winter months? No Boston winter would be complete without sub-zero temperatures and snow-covered, icy, or slushy roads and walkways. Is winter bicycling safe?

If bicycling was solely a sport, it would probably have a season. And that season probably wouldn’t be winter. But cycling is no longer only a sport. More and more people use the bicycle as their main mode of transportation, and we are all better off for it. That being said, bicycling in Boston in the winter does have some drawbacks. But with the proper safety measures, winter cycling can still be a safe means of transport. If you have been injured in a bicycle accident, contact a Boston injury lawyer today.

It’s All About the Gear

When icy walkways, cluttered aisles, or dimly lit hallways result in a slip and fall accident, you may be entitled to damages for injuries. But what if you fall down the stairs? Can negligence play a role in stairwell falls. The answer is – absolutely.

You may think that all stairwells are created equal, but they actually come in all shapes, sizes, and conditions. When stairwells are poorly designed, constructed, or maintained, or if lighting is poor, the risk of serious injuries and death is a very real concern. If you have suffered injuries due to a stairwell fall, contact a Boston personal injury lawyer today.

If a stairwell is improperly designed or constructed, it can result in falls. Dangerous stairwells aren’t necessarily old and in disrepair. A brand new stairwell can be poorly designed and / or constructed. For example, if the designer miscalculated appropriate depth on some of the steps, this would fall under the category of poor design. If the designer’s plans were accurate, but the construction crew mistakenly made some of the steps too short or too wide, this would be an example of poor construction. Alternatively, if the steps were designed and constructed perfectly, but wear and tear has made a step wobbly, this could indicate poor maintenance.

Concussions are brain injuries caused by trauma to the head, usually associated with motor vehicle collisions, sports injuries, and falls. In addition to blunt trauma, concussions can also occur when the brain is “jostled around” in the head. For example, the brain may move back-and-forth in the head during a violent, high-impact car crash even if the head remains untouched. Concussions are often classified as “mild” brain injuries because they are usually non-fatal. However, complications arising from concussions can be extremely serious.

Emergency departments see more than 2.5 million concussion and traumatic brain injury (TBI) patients every year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The most challenging aspect of treating a concussion, and identifying the exact cause, is that concussions often don’t appear for days, weeks, or even months following the injury. This is why it is so important to get immediate medical attention following a high-impact accident, or one involving direct trauma to the head. Symptoms can be temporary, or they can be permanent.

Concussions and Car Crashes

The controversy surrounding Bair Hugger surgical warming blankets doesn’t appear to be going away anytime soon. Just one year ago, there were approximately a dozen lawsuits pending against the medical device’s manufacturer, 3M. Today, there are nearly 900. Lawsuits claim that the warming blankets caused surgical site infections. Even worse, new evidence shows that 3M may have known about the risks for years, but failed to warn patients and physicians.

Most commonly used in knee and hip replacement surgeries, surgical warming blankets are associated with an even greater risk of causing infections in people with certain conditions. Some of these high-risk conditions include diabetes, immune deficiencies, obesity, and peripheral vascular diseases. Although the Bair Hugger warming blankets continue to be used widely throughout the medical world, questions about the device’s safety are quickly taking center stage. If you’ve been injured by a surgical warming blanket, contact a Boston defective medical product attorney today.

How Can Surgical Warming Blankets Cause Infections in Patient?

It may seem far-fetched to imagine a blanket causing life-threatening infections in a patient. How is this possible? Well, it’s not really the blanket itself that causes the infection, but rather the warming system that forces warm air into the blankets to keep a patient warm. Because the warming system sits on the floor, it can easily become contaminated. If contamination occurs, the warm air being forced into the blankets can also be contaminated. Having just undergone surgery, the patient will likely have at least one open wound on his or her body. If contaminated air reaches a surgical incision or wound, the bacteria may enter the patient’s body, resulting in infection. Basically, the warming system can circulate the contamination from a hospital floor into warming blankets that are placed directly on the patient’s skin. If you’ve been harmed by a defective medical product, contact a Boston injury lawyer today.

Why Are Bair Hugger Warming Blankets Still Being Used?

If these devices are so dangerous, why are they still being used? Short answer – it’s complicated. For starters, the same question could be asked of a seemingly-infinite number of medical devices, pharmaceuticals, vehicle parts, and other consumer goods. The desire to get products to market fast can cast a dangerous shadow on potential dangers. Furthermore, determining the exact source of an infection is not exactly easy. This is especially true in hospitals. Patients acquire infections in hospitals with shocking frequency. In addition, infections can take weeks to become apparent. Proving that the nearly 900 claimants acquired infections via surgical warming blankets, therefore, can be challenging. That being said, the medical community isn’t going to voluntarily shoulder the blame for warming blanket infections.  And in light of new evidence, physicians are becoming increasingly skeptical of the product’s safety. Continue reading

Seat belt use first became regulated in 1983, when many states adopted laws requiring drivers and front-seat passengers to wear seat belts. Beginning in 1989, laws went into effect that required children in the back seat to buckle up as well. Although injury accidents have seen a dramatic reduction since the beginning of seat belt regulation, seat belts aren’t perfect. They can’t prevent every injury and sometimes they can actually cause them.

What Ford Models are Affected?

Seat belt-related injuries are usually a result of improper use or a manufacturing or design defect. In recent years, multiple vehicle recalls have been issued due to seat belt defects. The most recent recall comes from Ford Motor Company and involves the recall of about 680,000 Ford vehicles due to a seat belt issue. The models affected by the recall include:

  • Ford Modeo cars: 2015-2016
  • Lincoln MKZ: 2013-2015
  • Ford Fusion passenger cars: 2013-2015

Apparently, in all of the models above, heat generated can cause seat belt cables to break during the deployment of a belt pre-tensioner. The pre-tensioner tightens the seat belt in a crash, therefore, this defect may result in less protection during a collision. In fact, two injuries associated with the defect have already been reported.

Ford says it will instruct dealers to fix the problem by injecting a substance into the pre-tensioner that will protect the component from increased temperatures. Ford Dealers should begin fixing the defect at no cost beginning the week of January 16, 2017. If you’ve been injured due to a defective vehicle part, contact a Boston injury lawyer today.

Major Vehicle Recalls of 2016

In many ways, 2016 has been a year of controversy, and lots of folks are ready to see this year come to an end. In addition to a politically-divisive presidential campaign and the loss of several music legends, 2016 saw a significant number of vehicle recalls. As this challenging year comes to a close, let’s look at some of the largest vehicle and vehicle part recalls of 2016.

  • Takata airbag recall: Due to defective inflator and propellent devices, metal fragments could shoot from the airbags when deployed, injuring or killing vehicle occupants. One of the largest vehicle part recalls in history, the Takata airbag recall impacted about 34 million vehicles worldwide.
  • Honda airbags: Nearly three million Honda vehicles were affected by this recall. In some Honda airbags, moisture intrusion could cause the inflator to rupture upon deployment.
  • Nissan passenger occupant classification systems: More than three million Nissan vehicles were impacted by a faulty occupant classification system which could incorrectly register an occupied seat as empty or an adult occupant as a child. This error could, in turn, result in the shut-off of a front passenger airbag.
  • Continental Automotive Systems airbags: Nearly five million vehicles with these airbags were involved in this recall. Due to possible corrosion of the power supply component, these airbags could fail to deploy during a crash or could accidentally deploy for no reason.

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When most people think of IKEA, they think of affordable, sleek, modern furniture that customers assemble themselves. However, three recent tragedies may change the way some of us think about the stylish Swedish furniture company. Three wrongful death cases have been filed against IKEA for the deaths of three toddlers who were crushed when defective dressers fell onto them. The lawsuits, for three separate incidents, were filed in the state court in Pennsylvania. IKEA has agreed to settle the lawsuits, which claim the company was negligent in its manufacturing of the dressers, for $50 million.

Although these recent tragedies are especially disturbing, they are not the only wrongful death lawsuits filed against IKEA for defective furniture. In fact, there have been a total of seven deaths linked to the company’s unstable furniture. Further, new evidence shows that IKEA may have known about the risk of death. If you have been injured by a defective product, contact a Boston injury lawyer today.

In the cases involving the three toddlers, IKEA initially denied blame, arguing that the parents were at fault for not properly anchoring the dressers to a wall. The manufacturer’s assembly instructions did, indeed, include this last step. However, the court ruled in favor of the victims’ families, saying that consumers commonly ignore instructions to anchor furniture to a wall. Although this last step may provide better stability, a reasonable person wouldn’t think that ignoring it would result in the death of a child. User error is certainly taken into account in defective product cases, however, it can only go so far. In the above cases, a warning to anchor the dresser was not sufficient to insulate the company from liability.

Massive IKEA Recall

Earlier this year, nearly 30 million IKEA dressers were recalled because they didn’t meet safety and stability standards. In addition to the recall and the large settlement, IKEA is increasing efforts to raise awareness about the importance of furniture anchoring through its “Secure It” program. If you’ve been injured by a defective product, contact a MA injury lawyer today.

The Four Elements of a Defective Product Liability Claim

If you have suffered personal injury or property damage because of a product, you may have a defective product liability claim. To win your case, you must prove that the elements below existed:

  • You were injured or suffered a loss as a result of using the product
  • The product was defective
  • The product’s defect directly caused your injury
  • You were using the product for its intended use

If any of these elements did not exist, you may have a difficult time winning a defective product lawsuit. With the help of a skilled defective product attorney, however, your chances of a successful lawsuit are dramatically improved. Defective product liability is a complex area of the law; find an attorney who has extensive experience in this specific area. Continue reading

More and more employers are using workers’ contracts to quietly strip workers from bringing lawsuits against them. In one of the most recent, and highest profile examples, Uber drivers have effectively signed away rights to sue the transportation-technology giant. Uber’s workers’ agreements have included an arbitration clause since at least 2013, which says that drivers must resolve legal disputes through arbitration rather than bring a lawsuit against the company. However, the impact of this clause hasn’t been particularly evident until recently, when a federal appeals court ruling put a potential $100 million class action settlement at risk.

In 2014, two California-based Uber drivers alleged that the company violated federal credit reporting laws. Both drivers filed lawsuits. In 2015, a U.S. District Court judge ruled that Uber could not force the plaintiffs into arbitration, calling it “procedurally and substantively unconscionable, and therefore unenforceable as a matter of California law.” Of course Uber appealed this decision, and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals panel overturned the ruling. As a result, the plaintiffs in the cases above will be forced into arbitration, removing their option for a class action lawsuit. This decision also impacts multiple pending lawsuits, and inevitable future lawsuits, against Uber. If you’re concerned about a workers’ contract you have signed, or are considering signing, contact a skilled MA lawyer today.

Hundreds of Thousands of Uber Drivers May be Affected

Last year, Uber agreed to pay a $100 million settlement, which would have been spread out to about 400,000 drivers in Massachusetts and California. But the settlement was rejected for being too small; the drivers could have won more than $850 million at trial. If Uber files a motion to apply the Ninth Circuit ruling to the pending case above – which it likely will – its success will mean that only drivers who opted out of the arbitration will be eligible for a payout. This would effectively exclude all but a few thousand of the 385,000 drivers included in the class action.

Compulsory arbitration is typically bad for the little guy and good for the company – in this case, Uber. In fact, arbitrators have a hidden motivation to be gentle with the big fish because large businesses are often involved in disputes and will continue to have a need for arbitrators. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that big companies can benefit from hiring arbitrators who typically decide in their favor.

The arbitration clause in Uber’s workers’ contract is intended to protect the company from being sued by its drivers for injuries and property damage. For example, if a driver hits a pedestrian because she was looking at the Uber app to determine her next ride’s location, she can’t sue Uber for damages. If you’ve been injured in any type of accident, work-related or not, contact a Boston injury lawyer today. Continue reading