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.

Parking lots and mechanical garages throughout Massachusetts often have automatic gates to control the flow of traffic coming and leaving. Unfortunately, equipment malfunctions can result in serious injuries to pedestrians, cyclists, and motorists who enter and exit through defective or poorly-maintained gates. When a person is struck in the head by the arm of an automatic parking gate, he may be seriously injured, or even killed. Possible injuries include traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, lacerations to the face, and paralysis.

Who is Responsible?

Public and private office buildings, schools, shopping malls, hotels, and parking garages are responsible for maintaining a safe environment for visitors to their property. When someone is injured due to a malfunctioning parking gate arm, the victim may decide to file a personal injury claim against the responsible party. But who is responsible? Depending on the circumstances of the accident, multiple parties may be liable for parking lot gate injuries, including:

  • Property owners
  • Gate manufacturers
  • Parking lot or parking garage managers
  • Maintenance workers

A Boston personal injury lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured by another’s negligence.

Determining Liability

Consider the following scenario: Linda is struck in the head by an automatic gate arm as she walks out of a hotel parking garage. Should she file an injury claim against the garage manager on duty that day? What about the hotel’s property owner?

Let’s say the hotel had just purchased an automatic gate last month. It was brand new at the time of purchase, was properly installed, and has been well maintained ever since. The garage manager on duty was properly trained on the gate’s use and was highly attentive on the day that Linda’s accident occurred. An investigation into the incident reveals a defect in the gate’s design.

In the case above, the property owner and garage manager upheld their duties to provide a safe environment. They were unaware of the design defect, and are not likely to be liable for Linda’s injuries. The manufacturer and / or designer of the gate, however, is another story entirely. If the design defect caused Linda’s injuries, the manufacturer is likely to be liable for any damages.

It’s all in the Details

But what if the details of Linda’s incident were slightly different? What if the injury was caused by a design defect but the property owner had been warned about the defect shortly after purchase? The property owner could have placed a warning sign next to the gate to warn of potential problems, or she could have replaced the gate with a different model. Instead, she chose to do nothing. In such a situation, the property owner will likely share at least some of the responsibility. In fact, she may be solely responsible, depending on various factors. For example, if the gate manufacturer had recalled the gate but the property owner had ignored the recall, the manufacturer may be off the hook entirely. A MA injury lawyer can help you recover damages if you’ve been injured due to another’s negligence. Continue reading

In 2015, Peter Godefroy was seriously injured when his bicycle struck a pothole in Sherman Oaks, California. Godefroy sued the City of Los Angeles, saying that he suffered a “severe traumatic brain injury,” and that poor maintenance and lighting turned the pothole into a dangerous trap.

Last week, the L.A. City Council voted 11- 0 to approve a $6.5 million settlement in the case. Earlier this year, the council settled for $4.5 million with the family of a man who was killed in a cycling accident involving the city’s uneven pavement.

Bicycle Accident Statistics

In 2015, more than 800 people died and about 45,000 were injured in bicycle accidents. As high as these numbers sound, they are probably an underestimation; hospital records show that only a small percentage (as low as 10 percent) of bicycle accidents are even reported. According to the National Safety Council, bicyclist injuries and fatalities cost more than $4 billion annually.

What to Do After a Bicycle Accident

Cycling accidents are generally treated like auto accidents; if another party was involved in the accident, you should exchange insurance information, document and photograph injuries and property damage, and contact the police if injuries or property damage are severe. Keep records of any associated medical bills, bicycle repairs, and lost wages as well. If the cause of the accident was related to poor roadways or bike lanes, the fault might lie with the city or municipality.

When is the City Liable?

When poor maintenance of city streets, sidewalks, or bike lanes contributes to a cycling accident, the city may be liable for any resulting damages. Obtaining experienced legal counsel can help you determine if the city is liable, and will help to ensure that you file an injury claim or civil lawsuit within the allotted time frame. Cities and municipalities have a responsibility to exercise reasonable care in maintaining roadways, bike lanes, and sidewalks. When they fail to do so, they may be on the hook for your injuries and property damages. Proving that the city knew about  – or should have known about – the dangerous condition, however, can be challenging. For this reason, among others, hiring a skilled MA personal injury lawyer is crucial to the outcome of your case. Continue reading

When we’re given a prescription, we have little choice but to trust that the prescribing doctor knows what’s best for us. Unfortunately, doctors are humans and humans make mistakes. Maybe your doctor is having a bad day, or maybe she’s feeling ill. She inadvertently overlooks that you are currently taking a drug that is contraindicated for use with the drug she is prescribing. If this mistake causes you injury, can your doctor be liable for those injuries? Is this an example of medical negligence, or just an honest mistake?

Common Medication Errors

Medication errors can result in serious injury, and even death. A patient may suffer an overdose, an allergic reaction, or a delay in care due to a medication error. And these errors are shockingly common. In fact, medication errors injure about 1.3 million people and are responsible for nearly 700,000 emergency room visits annually in the United States. Maybe we shouldn’t be so surprised, considering that about one-third of American adults take at least five medications. Common medication errors include:

  • Incorrect dosage
  • Wrong medication
  • Interference with other medications due to failure to check already prescribed meds
  • Allergic reactions due to failure to check patient’s allergies
  • Adverse reactions due to failure to check past prescription use
  • Failure to warn about side effects and risks
  • Failure to provide dosing instructions

All of the above scenarios can be a result of medical negligence, but proving negligence is rarely an easy task. To prove negligence, you must first show that a “duty of care” existed and that a medical professional breached that duty. In order for a duty of care to exist, there must be a contractual relationship between patient and doctor at the time of the injury. Further, the medical professional must have done something that falls outside of what a qualified medical professional would have done under the same or similar circumstances. An experienced MA medical negligence attorney can help you prove that your injury is the direct result of a breach of duty on the part of a medical professional.

How to Prevent Medication Errors

If you are given a prescription, don’t just assume that your doctor knows best. Ask the following questions:

  • What is the name of the drug?
  • What is the correct dosage?
  • What is the purpose of the drug?
  • How long should I use the drug?
  • What is the proper method of storage for the drug?
  • Will it interact with any of the medications or vitamins I am currently on? (List these for your doctor, including over-the-counter meds, herbs, and dietary supplements)
  • How will this drug affect my other medical conditions? (If you have other health problems, list them for your doctor)

In addition to the above questions, tell your doctor if you have ever had an allergic or adverse reaction to any drug, herb, or supplement. A Boston injury attorney can help you recover damages if you’ve been injured due to another’s negligence. Continue reading

According to an August 2017 National Public Radio (NPR) article, more than 25 percent of severe nursing home abuse cases go unreported. NPR obtained this information from the Office of Inspector General for the Department of Health and Human Services. Considering that in New York state alone, approximately 260,000 nursing home residents reported some form of abuse in 2010, the estimated number of unreported cases is staggering.

In 2000, the National Center on Elder Abuse conducted a study of 2,000 nursing home residents. The revealing study discovered that 44 percent of those surveyed had been abused, and a shocking 95 percent had suffered neglect or had witnessed others being neglected. And surprisingly, more than half of the nursing home staff members surveyed admitted to mistreating their patients. A Boston nursing home abuse attorney can help you determine how to proceed if your loved one has been the victim of abuse.

Signs of Nursing Home Abuse

Some of the signs below can be the result of an honest mistake or a medical condition. However, if any of these issues arise and seem persistent or unexplained, they may indicate abuse or neglect:

  • Bedsores
  • Unexplained injuries, bruises, or medical conditions
  • Malnutrition
  • Dehydration
  • Poor hygiene
  • Lack of food or water
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Dirty bed linens
  • Unsanitary living conditions
  • Missing eyeglasses, dentures, walkers, or other necessary items
  • Depression
  • Confusion
  • Cigarette burns
  • Sprains, fractures, or broken bones
  • Overmedication
  • Victim seems fearful, angry, or withdrawn
  • Torn or bloody undergarments
  • Infections in the genital or anal area
  • Painful urination or defecation
  • Pain when sitting or walking

What to Do if You Suspect Nursing Home Abuse

If your loved one is in a nursing home, it is crucial to know how to recognize signs of nursing home abuse and neglect. The following tips can help you protect your loved one from becoming a victim.

  • Ask: It might sound simple, but asking your loved one if he or she is being mistreated is the best way to assess their situation. In some cases, victims of elder abuse will remain silent out of fear of retaliation. Questions such as, “do you feel safe?” or “who is your favorite staff member?” may elicit a more honest response.

 

  • Use extra caution when your loved one has Alzheimer’s disease or dementia: The sad reality is that dementia patients have a higher risk of elder abuse. For this reason, friends and family should pay special attention to possible warning signs, such as withdrawal, unexplained bruises, or poor hygiene.

 

  • Maintain close ties with your loved one: There is evidence that nursing home patients whose family members visit often are less likely to become victims of abuse or neglect. When family visits often, it is easier to detect changes in behavior, hygiene, and overall health. A MA nursing home abuse attorney can help you recover damages if your elderly loved one has been been the victim of abuse or neglect.

 

  • Do your homework: Before choosing a nursing home for your loved one, research multiple facilities. Visit the home in person, ask for referrals, and do a google search. The facility should be clean and residents should appear happy. Visiting during shared meal times allows you to see if the food looks nutritious and if residents and staff are engaged in positive interactions. Does the facility have social programs? How long do staff members typically stay on board? Do staff members appear to enjoy their jobs?

Continue reading

According to the National Safety Council (NSC), slip and fall accidents are the third leading cause of accidental death in the United States. In 2014 alone, nearly 32,000 people died from injuries sustained in a fall. Although slip and fall accidents are the number one cause of workers’ compensation claims, they are even more common in the home or community. Read on for more information about slip and fall accidents at home and in the workplace, and how you can avoid becoming a statistic.

  • Falls are the second leading cause of injury-related fatalities in individuals between the ages of 65 and 84, and the leading cause for those 85 and older.
  • Most fall-related injuries occur at ground level.
  • More than 60 percent of nursing home residents are injured in a fall-related accident annually.
  • Approximately 85 percent of workers’ comp claims cite slipping on slick floors as the cause of injury.
  • Nearly one-quarter of all slip and fall accidents result in at least one month off work.
  • Total costs for workplace slip and fall accidents reach about $70 billion annually.

How to Avoid a Slip and Fall Accident

The risk of being injured in a slip and fall accident rises with age, and is most likely to occur in the home or community. But workplace slip and fall accidents can also be fatal (nearly 600 deaths and 47,000 injuries in 2013). The tips below can help you dramatically reduce your risk of being seriously injured or killed in a slip and fall accident. A Boston personal injury lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured in a slip and fall accident.

  • Clean spills immediately.
  • Wait until freshly mopped floors have dried completely.
  • Walking paths should be clear of all electrical cords, boxes, books, toys, and other clutter.
  • Avoid using small throw rugs. If you must use them, apply non-skid adhesives to the underside.
  • Frequently used items should be stored in easy to reach areas.
  • Wear slip-resistant shoes.
  • Furniture should be arranged so as to provide open pathways for walking.
  • Drawers and cabinet doors should be kept closed.
  • Install handrails on staircases.
  • Install gates at top and bottom of staircases if you have little ones.
  • All walking pathways – indoors and outdoors – should be well lit at all times.
  • Check outdoor walkways for damages. Repair as needed.
  • Never stand on a chair or table to reach something.
  • When using a ladder, maintain at least three points of contact at all times (i.e. one foot and two hands or one hand and two feet).
  • A ladder should always be placed on a stable surface.
  • When climbing down a ladder, step one rung at a time.
  • Never lean or overreach when on a ladder.

A MA slip and fall attorney can help you recover damages if you’ve been injured due to another’s negligence. Continue reading

Losing a loved one is amongst the most difficult thing a person can experience. This pain and sorrow may be multiplied if they were killed as a result of the actions of somebody else’s negligence, which may have been entirely avoided. After dealing with the emotional trauma caused by the death, a loved one left in the wake of such a tragedy may wish to pursue a wrongful death suit.

But how does filing a wrongful death suit work? Who may file one? And how may you be successful in such a claim? This guide will help navigate you through these questions.

How much time do I have to file a claim?

“An action to recover damages under this section shall be commenced within three years from the date of death.” – MA General Laws, Chapter 229, Section 2

Recovering from a tragic, wrongful death isn’t something that happens overnight. It is an ongoing process that may require counseling, therapy and much self-exploration before any amount of peace may be achieved. Knowing this reality, the law of Massachusetts allots three years between the death of the individual and the ability of a wrongful death suit to be filed.

Who may file a wrongful death claim?

Following a death, only the representative of the deceased’s estate may serve as a plaintiff in any wrongful death suit. This representative may be appointed in the deceased’s will. However, if the deceased did not leave a will, a family member or other eligible party must petition the court in order to be named the legal representative of their estate.

This representative may be represented by an attorney to assist them with the complex legal issues that come up in any wrongful death suit.

Who may be liable in a wrongful death suit?

Chapter 229 of the Massachusetts General Laws defines a few specific instances where someone would be liable in a wrongful death case, including: anyone whose negligence causes a loss of life, including someone whose job required carrying passengers (such as a bus driver).

However, the law also points out that certain individuals are not liable for certain instances that cause a death, such as a person operating a train killing someone who trespasses and walks on the train tracks. In this case, the deceased was not following the law and the train operator could not be held liable for the unlawful and unexpected actions of such an individual.

How are wrongful death claims paid?

Wrongful death suits which result in compensation being paid out are a burden to be paid by the responsible party. They are distributed to the deceased’s estate, which then must be disseminated according to their will, if such a document had been prepared.

For most wrongful death suits, the limit on damages is capped at $500,000. These damages may encompass damages described as “noneconomic,” which include punitive damages, mental anguish caused by the death as well as pain and suffering sustained as a result of the wrongful death. Continue reading

A birth injury is different from a birth defect. Birth injuries typically occur during the labor and delivery process and are often due to a medical mistake. Birth defects usually develop during pregnancy, beginning in utero. When a child suffers a preventable birth injury, the emotional and financial toll can be devastating for the family. Some birth injuries are minor and heal on their own with time. However, more serious birth injuries can cause permanent mental, physical and emotional damage.

A Boston birth injury lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if your child has suffered due to medical negligence. Birth injuries can be minor or severe, and they may or may not be caused by medical negligence. The most commonly-cited birth injuries include:

Brachial Plexus Injuries (BPI)

When the bundle of nerves originating from the upper spine are damaged during labor and delivery, the child may suffer a BPI. This injury can be temporary or permanent. A neuroma is one type of BPI in which a torn nerve fails to heal properly. Avulsion – the most serious type of BPI – occurs when the nerves are completely torn from the spine, resulting in total paralysis.

Bone Fractures

One of the most common birth injuries, bone fractures usually heal on their own. Bone fractures can be caused by medical negligence, but often they are the result of a difficult or complicated delivery. The most commonly-fractured bone in a newborn is the clavicle (collar bone), which may need to be broken if the infant’s shoulders are too wide to safely fit through the birth canal.

Perinatal Asphyxia

When a newborn doesn’t receive enough oxygen during the delivery process, he may suffer from perinatal asphyxia. Depending on the severity and length of oxygen deprivation, the child may be perfectly fine or he could have permanent damage to the brain.

Cerebral Ischemia

A newborn can suffer severe brain damage when there is a reduction in blood flow during labor and delivery. Cerebral ischemia may be caused by infection, shoulder dystocia, and overmedication of the mother.

Spinal Cord Injuries

Spinal cord injuries are generally severe and often result in permanent damage. The use of forceps is frequently a factor in cases involving spinal cord injuries in newborns. In addition to complete paralysis, spinal cord injuries can often cause neurologic problems. A MA birth injury lawyer can help you recover damages if your child has been injured during the labor and delivery process.

Cephalohematoma

A condition that generally occurs during the labor and delivery process, cephalohematoma is often linked to the use of forceps. Pooling of blood between the skull bone and inner layers of skin may result in a hematoma, which typically looks much worse than it is. In most cases, this condition is harmless and will heal on its own. However, if your child exhibits additional symptoms, such as anemia, jaundice, infection or unnatural bulging on the head, you should consult with your doctor immediately. Continue reading

Weeks after three-year old Myles Hill’s body was found in the back of a daycare van in Orlando, another child’s death is blamed on being left in a hot vehicle while under daycare supervision. Last week in Alabama, the body of five-year-old Kamden Johnson was found in a van belonging to the Community Nursery & Preschool.

The child’s family has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the daycare and its owners, Carl and Angela Coker, claiming that they were negligent in screening and hiring Valarie Rena Patterson, the employee responsible for leaving Johnson in the van on a 93-degree day. According to the lawsuit, Patterson has an extensive criminal record dating back to 1991.

In addition to the civil lawsuit, Patterson is facing manslaughter charges for her role in Johnson’s death. After finding the child’s body in the hot van, Patterson dumped him “on the side of Demotroplis Road,” according to court documents. Along with manslaughter charges, Patterson is also facing charges for abuse of a corpse.

Unfortunately, daycare negligence is surprisingly common. This summer alone, at least three children have died after being left in hot daycare vans. In addition to the two cases above, the body of a five-year old Arkansas boy was discovered in a similar scenario in June. And these are just the worst of the worst. Non-fatal daycare injuries occur due to negligence every day. A MA daycare negligence lawyer can help you recover damages if your child has been injured due to another’s negligence.

The Importance of Background Checks

A simple background check may have protected the daycare and its owners, at least to some extent. It would have almost certainly saved the life of five-year old Kamden Johnson. According to law enforcement, Mobile County jail records reveal Patterson’s extensive arrest history, including multiple theft charges and charges for failure to appear in court and driving without a license in the early 90s. She was also charged as a fugitive from justice in 1999 and for using the alias of Valarie Hardy during that arrest. Patterson was arrested a third time in 2007 on another fugitive from justice charge. A Boston wrongful death attorney can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve lost a loved one due to another’s negligence.

Possible Signs of Daycare Negligence

Although the below signs can be due to factors other than negligence, you may want to investigate further if one or more of these signs is present, or if they persist. Common signs of daycare negligence include:

  • Unexplained scratches, wounds, or bruises
  • A child who appears withdrawn or depressed
  • A chid who is extremely hungry or thirsty when picked up from daycare
  • Frequent altercations or fights with other children at the facility
  • A child who is found outside of the facility

If you are concerned about daycare negligence, do your homework. Talk to the daycare about its hiring and screening procedures. Pay attention to your child’s mood at drop off and pick up. Assess whether staff appear happy and seem to enjoy their job. Drop in unannounced. And lastly, if something just doesn’t feel right, remove your child from the center. When it comes to our children, it’s always better to be safe than sorry. Continue reading

In 2015, a Maryland teen began having an asthma attack during gym class. Fourteen-year-old Taylor Walton requested permission to get her inhaler, but the gym teacher refused. A second request was also refused. By the third request, Walton explained to the teacher that she was having severe breathing problems and that she needed to leave class to get her inhaler. This time, the unnamed teacher granted permission, but nobody accompanied Walton – who was struggling to breathe – to the locker room. She was later found collapsed outside the gym. Efforts to revive the child were unsuccessful.

Walton’s family has filed a lawsuit against the gym teacher, the high school, and the county’s board of education, claiming that their daughter’s wrongful death was the result of gross negligence, and that the teen’s civil rights were violated. According to the lawsuit, the school was aware that Walton suffered from asthma. In fact, this wasn’t the first asthma attack she had suffered in that gym teacher’s class. The school also failed to distribute an “emergency treatment plan” to Walton’s teachers. As such, the teen’s family is seeking $10 million from the school district, alleging that multiple breaches of duty played a “substantial factor in proximately causing injury and then death of Taylor.” A MA wrongful death attorney can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve lost a love one due to another’s negligence.

How is Wrongful Death Defined in Massachusetts?

The fear of being in a bicycle crash in Boston is more than justified; in the first quarter of 2016, Boston streets saw 307 injuries and eight deaths related to bicycle crashes. This was a 20 percent increase from the previous year.

Most of these crashes would be easily prevented by the installation of protected bike lanes. In addition to separating bikes from motor vehicles, protected bike lanes also make pedestrians safer by keeping cyclists off sidewalks. Protected bike lanes are not just painted lines; they actually separate bicyclists from other traffic with solid barriers. A Boston injury lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured due to another’s negligence.

44 Percent of Copenhagen’s Commuters Use Bicycles

When cyclists can ride without fear, more people use cycling as their main mode of transportation, children and seniors included. In addition to being better for the economy and environment, more cyclists means less cars on the road. And considering Boston’s traffic problem, this could be a very good thing for everyone. In Copenhagen, Denmark, for example, nearly half of all commuters use bicycles. This has resulted in reduced traffic congestion, air pollution and noise, and healthier residents.

In Copenhagen, in addition to having protected bike lanes, the city also prioritizes the maintenance of bike lanes over other thoroughfares. For example, when snow needs cleared, the city clears the bike lanes first, followed by pedestrian walkways and – lastly – motor vehicle lanes. The same cannot be said for Boston.

Boston’s painted bike lanes are not as highly respected. Delivery trucks double park in painted bike lanes, and cyclists have no choice but to drive into traffic to get around them. Instead of protecting bike lanes with solid medians and barriers, Boston posts signs urging cyclists and drivers to be friendly to one another, just get along. As a result, cyclists make up only 1.9 percent of Boston’s commuter traffic. This means that the more aggressive cyclists are the ones most likely to make up that 1.9 percent. Unfortunately, those who are brave enough to risk life and limb on Boston’s streets are also those who are more likely to provoke driver rage.

Boston Bikes

Mayor Walsh and the Boston Transportation Department have established Boston Bikes to combat this problem and make bicycling safer and more affordable for everyone. By 2030, there are projected to be more than one hundred thousand additional commuters in Greater Boston. By creating more protected bike lanes, Boston can reduce some of this economic and environmental strain, keeping everyone safer. A MA injury lawyer can help you recover damages if you’ve been injured due to another’s negligence.

Bicycle Accident Facts

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), bicyclists accounted for approximately two percent of all traffic-related deaths in 2014. Bicyclist fatalities are most common between the hours of 6 and 9 p.m., and occur most frequently in urban areas. The vast majority of bicyclist fatalities are young men between the ages of 20 and 24. Just over 20 percent of these fatalities involved a bicyclist with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 or higher. Continue reading