Articles Posted in Children’s Injuries

Altman & Altman LLP is actively reviewing claims regarding cases of nicotine addiction that have occurred due to the widespread use of Juul brand vaporizers. Specifically, we are pursuing claims from individuals who used a Juul vaporizer before they were 18 years of age, and used it prior to November 2018.

Juul vaporizers (also known as vapes and e-cigarettes) have long been marketed as a “safer” alternative to traditional cigarettes. They have utilized the advertising slogan “Make the Switch,” meaning they intend to be a replacement for nicotine-addicted individuals who are either trying to quit nicotine entirely or are looking for a supposedly less harmful way to consume nicotine. With a streamlined, sleek appearance about the size of a standard USB flash drive, and a simple two-piece design with replaceable nicotine-laden oil cartridges, Juuls have become incredibly popular.

Juul may be specifically targeted for children to use

Studies have revealed that Juuls are not only popular with adults. Children under the age of 18 regularly use Juuls in alarming numbers – as data shows that about 3.6 million kids under the age of 18 tried an e-cigarette device at least once in 2018, a 78 percent increase over the prior year.

Combine this knowledge with the fact that Juul pods contain a higher concentration of nicotine than other e-cigarettes, and that children are more susceptible to developing addictions, and what you’re left with is a ripe recipe for children to become nicotine dependent very quickly.

Not only has Juul been criticized for potentially exposing children to a harmful product without doing much to prevent them from accessing it – the company has also come under scrutiny for their development of flavored pods that would also appeal to children; such as mint and berry flavors.

Juul and “popcorn lung”

Juul vaporizers and other electronic cigarette products like them contain a chemical called diacetyl, an additive that supposedly makes the heated vapor less harsh and smoother when inhaled. Diacetyl is also a component added to movie theater popcorn butter to give it that well-known buttery flavor. The chemical is approved by the FDA for consumption as a food product.

However, overexposure to vaporized diacetyl may cause “popcorn lung,” which causes a constriction of the airways within the lungs to the point of total closure – which may lead to further respiratory complications including total lung collapse, a potentially fatal health complication. Continue reading

School is back in session across Boston and throughout Massachusetts, which means that school buses full of children are back on the roads each morning and afternoon as they are taken back and forth from bus stops and the school yard. As uneventful as transporting children should be, on occasion terrible incidents can occur regarding impatient motorists hitting kids who are getting onto or off the school bus. If your child was harmed or even killed following such an incident, contact an attorney from the Cambridge personal injury firm of Altman & Altman LLP today.

Stopping for school bus loading/unloading is the law in Massachusetts

If you are a motorist traveling in a vehicle and you come across a school bus stopping, accompanied by the stop sign arm extending from the driver’s side of the vehicle with lights flashing, it is your legal obligation to stop your vehicle and wait until the stop sign arm has retracted and the school bus continues forward.

Failure to stop in such a situation, or illegally passing by a school bus that has come to a stop to let children on or off the bus, can result in a minimum $250 fine. That fine can climb as high as $2,000 and also leave the perpetrator with a suspended license for a whole year.

School bus passing can have deadly consequences

The school bus stopping law is one that exists for very straightforward, good reasons. Kids as young as five years old utilize the school bus to get to school each day, and some must cross busy streets to do so. Ensuring that traffic has stopped on both sides of the road is the only way to make sure that they aren’t put at adverse risk of being struck by a vehicle, which at their age is always a potentially life-threatening accident to suffer.

According to a national survey conducted by the National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services (NASDPTS), where 38 states and Washington D.C. responded to inquiries regarding how many school bus passing incidents occurred during a school year, as many as 15 million motorists will illegally pass a stopped school bus – which demonstrates how disturbingly common such an incident is, and how many children are potentially at risk from this reckless behavior.

Tragically, in just a six-month period between August 2018 and March 2019, 12 children were killed in the United States and another 47 injured as they simply tried to get on and off of their school bus. According to the NASDPTS study, 73 percent of the students killed over a 48-year period in the country were 9 years old or younger. Continue reading

Juul Labs, the manufacturer behind the country’s most popular e-cigarette product, JUUL, are currently facing scrutiny from lawmakers in the United States House of Representatives for their alleged role in a sharp uptick in e-cigarette usage among young children and teenagers throughout the country.

The company has denied these claims, recently telling the economic subcommittee of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform that their goal has been to “eliminate cigarettes for good,” and that “Juul Labs isn’t big tobacco,” and that their top priority is “combating underage use.”

But can such a claim, that JUUL should not be compared to the villainous antics of big tobacco companies of the past, be taken for true at face value? After all, Altria – the parent company of Philip Morris USA, which manufacturers the iconic Marlboro brand of cigarettes – purchased a 35 percent stake of Juul Labs in December of 2018.

Experts have also found that Juul Labs has engaged in similar advertising campaigns – like using young, attractive models and marketing exciting names and tasty flavors – as tobacco companies of the past. These tactics, critics and lawmakers allege, have been specially crafted to make the products more attractive to young kids and teenagers. The brand used to have a strong presence on social media, but they have since shut those accounts down under increased scrutiny.

E-cig and JUUL use explodes among youth

According to government estimates and surveys, as many as 20 percent of high school students in America tried an e-cigarette product last year. Their widespread availability, price, variation of flavors and discrete size has made JUUL a common choice for teenagers. Electronic cigarettes also do not produce the pungent smell of a traditional cigarette, so they are able to secretly use them within buildings and in places that otherwise would be impossible with traditional cigarettes.

The prevalence of e-cigarette products pre-date JUUL, as they began to gain popularity in the mid-2000s, however JUUL has been able to capitalize on a market that has grown exponentially faster than scientific data has been able to keep up with.

Research on whether or not electronic cigarettes are less harmful than traditional cigarettes has taken time, and results remain inconclusive. As of this writing, there is no confirmed research to back up the claim that vaporized nicotine products are safer than traditional cigarettes. However, this hasn’t stopped e-cigarette manufacturers like JUUL from claiming their products to be a safer alternative. JUUL even includes testimonials on their website from people who “made the switch” from cigarettes to their products.

What research has shown, however, is that vaporized e-cigarette products contain other health risks that are still not well understood. For example, the chemical diacetyl – which is added to food products such as popcorn for its buttery flavor – is common in e-cigarettes and JUUL products for improving flavor and smoothness of the vaporized product. The problem is that when diacetyl is vaporized, it becomes a harmful respiratory irritant, potentially leading to serious complications such as popcorn lung. Continue reading

In November, five separate accidents involving school bus stops and distracted drivers resulted in the deaths of five children and injuries to six more. The tragedies, which occurred in Florida, Indiana, Mississippi, and Pennsylvania have prompted law enforcement officials nationwide to highlight the “huge problem” of distracted driving.

Three Children in One Family

Three of the fatalities affected one family in Rochester, Indiana; a nine-year-old girl and her six-year-old twin brothers were killed when they were struck by a pickup as they crossed the street to board their bus. Another child was airlifted to a local hospital. The driver of the pickup truck is facing charges for three counts of reckless homicide. A Boston personal injury lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured by the negligence of another.

In 2016, Melanie Sanders and 23 other infants contracted adenovirus infections during an eye exam in the neonatal intensive care unit of Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. The newborn infant was dead less than a month later.

Although premature, Melanie was born healthy and strong. Her family is suing the Children’s Hospital for wrongful death, alleging that Melanie’s fatal infection was due to negligence. In addition to developing a viral illness from unclean medical equipment, the lawsuit claims that the newborn went into respiratory distress and acquired a bacterial infection as a result. According to a report in the American Journal of Infection Control, each of the 23 affected babies suffered respiratory problems. The report went on to say that “observations revealed lack of standard cleaning practices of bedside ophthalmologic equipment and limited glove use.”

Cleanliness should be first and foremost in a hospital, especially when patients are newly-born infants who require intensive care. Improper cleaning and failure to wear gloves resulted in the contamination of medical equipment in the hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit. As a result, one child is dead and nearly two-dozen others became seriously ill. A Boston birth injury lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if your newborn has been injured by another’s negligence.

Was Negligence a Factor?

Hospitals, medical centers, and the people who work there (physicians, nurses, and other health care staff) can be sued for wrongful death if their negligence caused a patient to die. In addition to more obvious examples of negligence, such as not washing medical equipment, medical negligence can involve actions that are more difficult to pinpoint, such as improper hiring processes. Negligent hiring can result in serious injury or death, but the patient or his/her family may not know to consider this possibility. This is one of the many reasons it is so important to consult with an experienced MA wrongful death attorney if you have lost a loved one due to another’s negligence.

Proving hospital or medical negligence is not an easy task. In the case above, if the courts determine that Melanie Sanders’ death was due to improper cleaning practices, the hospital and/or medical professionals involved will likely be found liable for negligence. The fact that 23 other babies were also affected makes it easier to track the infection to a specific occurrence. But the picture isn’t always as clear it was at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Even in the Sanders’ case, evidence will be crucial. The medical journal report on the viral outbreak will likely prove invaluable in any lawsuits against Children’s Hospital.

What is Adenovirus?

It’s hard to believe that such an outbreak could occur, due to uncleanliness, in a U.S. hospital in 2018…but it did. The CDC describes Adenovirus as “common viruses that cause a range of illness. They can cause cold-like symptoms, sore throat, bronchitis, pneumonia, diarrhea, and pink eye (conjunctivitis). You can get an adenovirus infection at any age. People with weakened immune systems or existing respiratory or cardiac disease are more likely than others to get very sick from an adenovirus infection.”

Preventing an adenovirus outbreak is similar to preventing an outbreak of any virus: frequently wash hands and avoiding contacting with an infected person. And, at least in the case of hospitals, proper cleaning and sterilization of medical equipment is also of paramount importance. Continue reading

Summer camp is a wonderful opportunity for kids to enjoy nature, make new friends, and get healthy exercise all summer long. Whether it’s a day camp or sleep away camp, safety is always a number one concern. Scrapes and bruises are common, but what about more serious injuries? How can you ensure that your child stays safe and healthy at summer camp?

Summer Camp Safety Checklist

  • Is the camp accredited? To obtain accreditation, a camp is required to pass hundreds of health and safety tests. If the camp is not accredited, it doesn’t necessarily mean you shouldn’t send your child there, but ask why they are not.

When we put our children on the school bus each day, we hope that the bus driver will be responsible, drive safely and look out for the best interests of everyone on board. Fortunately, background checks and driving-history screenings help to ensure that most bus drivers will do just that. But it’s far from a fool-proof system.

A recent tragedy involving a school bus accident resulted in the death of six-year-old Ariana Haynes. According to police reports, the school bus rolled onto its side after taking a left turn too fast, then attempting to veer to the right. Ariana was ejected from the bus and suffered critical injuries. She died in the hospital the next day.

According to Ariana’s parents, the negligent and reckless bus driver is responsible for their daughter’s death. As a result, they have brought a lawsuit against the driver and Houston County schools. The driver has been criminally charged with vehicular homicide and reckless driving. A Boston motor vehicle accident attorney can help you determine how to proceed if another’s negligence has caused you harm.

The lawsuit alleges that the bus driver’s use of excessive speed and failure to use caution, make a legal left turn and apply the brakes in a proper manner all contributed to Ariana’s death. The family is seeking damages, including punitive, from the bus driver and school district.

When a School Bus Accident Occurs, Who is Responsible?

A number of parties could potentially be liable in a school bus accident that causes injury or property damage. The nature of the accident and the underlying cause will factor heavily into making this determination. If a school bus accident occurs, the following parties may be responsible:

  • Driver
  • School district
  • Private school
  • Non-school operator of the bus: church, sports team, etc.
  • Private contractor providing transportation to a school or other organization
  • Manufacturer of the school bus
  • Parts manufacturer
  • Third party repair company
  • Entity responsible for roadway construction and maintenance, or design
  • Driver of another vehicle

When school bus accidents occur, it is essential to hire an experienced MA motor vehicle accident attorney because these lawsuits can become overwhelmingly complicated. And school bus accidents do occur. In fact, according to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), school buses account for more bus fatalities than any other type of bus, 37 percent to be exact. Even so, school busses are still the safest way for children to get to and from school.

Always Use Caution Around a School Bus

You can do your part to help prevent school bus-related accidents, by following the tips below.

  • When approaching a school bus stop in your vehicle, slow down even if you don’t see any children. Kids may dart into the street, especially when they’re running late.
  • Obey bus laws and familiarize yourself with the flashing lights system: yellow lights mean the bus is preparing to stop, red lights mean the bus is stopped and children are getting on or off.

Kids are 70 times more likely to get to school safely on the bus than via any other mode of transportation. If we all work together to ensure the safety of our children – to and from school, in school and at home – we can dramatically reduce the incidence of childhood injuries and death. Continue reading

A two-year-old girl was killed in a tragic accident inside a Payless ShoeSource store last week. Ifrah Siddique was crushed when a large mirror fell as she was trying on shoes. The child was rushed to the Southern Regional Medical Center, but died from her injuries.

This tragedy calls into question the legal responsibilities of stores and other businesses, as well as the legal rights of those who are injured on their premises. Sadly, serious injuries and deaths in retail stores occur with relative frequency. Stores and other businesses open to the public often have heavy foot traffic, leading to an increased risk of something going wrong, eventually. Usually these incidents are minor, but not always.

Add frequent moving and re-arranging of displays and other heavy items to the inherent hazard of heavy foot traffic, and the risk of slip and fall accidents, traumatic brain injuries and death increases dramatically. Although minor accidents are sometimes difficult to predict – or prevent – serious injuries and fatal accidents should never occur. But they do. If you are injured due to a store’s negligence, a Boston personal injury lawyer can help you determine how to proceed.

Who is Liable?

Patrons of retail stores and other businesses open to the public have legal rights protecting them from harm. When a patron or guest is injured, property owners can be liable under the theory of premises liability. In many cases, the property owner and business owner are two different parties. Because there may be multiple parties involved, determining liability can be a complex process. The property owner may be entirely off the hook if the injury was a result of negligence on the part of the business itself, or its employees. In some situations, all three are liable. And if an outside vendor was involved, things can become even more complicated.

When negligence – whether on the part of the property owner, business owner, employees or outside vendor, or any combination thereof – results in a patrons death, the family may bring a wrongful death lawsuit against the responsible parties. A MA wrongful death attorney can help you recover damages if you have lost a loved one due to another’s negligence.

Premises Liability in MA

If a property owner owes you a legal duty of care and breaches that duty, you may be able to recover compensation for any injury or damage that results. That being said, whether you are entitled to compensation – and the level of that compensation – will be dependent on multiple factors. Why you were on the property is one of the most important factors.

  • Customers and others invited onto a property for the purpose of doing business are classified as invitees under MA law. Invitees are owed the highest duty of care.
  • Under MA law, friends and others who are invited onto a property for the purpose of a casual visit are classified as licensees. The duty of care owed to them is intermediate.
  • Trespassers are, of course, owed the lowest duty of care.

Continue reading

Most U.S. parents work outside the home. As a result, most small children receive some type of child care. Although many of these child care arrangements involve another family member (grandparent, aunt, or sibling), nearly one-quarter of young children are place in some type of organized child care, such as a day care center or preschool.

There is nothing more important than the health and safety of our children. If you need to find child care from someone other than a family member, it is important to ensure that the child care arrangement you choose is best for your child. With so many kids in day care centers across the country, injuries and accidents do happen. Fortunately, most of these injuries are minor and are not a symptom of negligence or abuse. But there are exceptions.

Child Care Safety Tips

Follow the advice below to ensure that your child is well cared for, happy and safe while at day care. In addition to protecting your child (and other children at the center) from abuse and neglect, the tips below can give you the reassurance and peace of mind you need to go about your day in a positive, healthy way.

  • Do your homework. Day care centers must be licensed and are required to follow state regulations. Part of the licensing process involves random site audits of the facility. When violations occur, they are generally made public via online databases.
  • Take a tour. Prior to enrolling your child in a day care center, it is important to understand the environment he will be in each day. Do staff seem to enjoy their jobs? Are they cuddling the babies, playing with the toddlers, and speaking to the children kindly? Are the kitchen and bathrooms clean, and are dangerous items, such as knives and scissors, placed out of children’s reach? Do the kids seem happy?
  • Talk to staff. Ask if they like their jobs, how long they have worked there, and what kind of qualifications they have. A high turnover rate (if most staff members have worked there for no more than a few months) can indicate a problem. And staff should have at least the minimum levels of training and education in early childhood development. A Boston day care negligence attorney can help you determine how to proceed if your child has been harmed due to another’s negligence.
  • Ask for the center’s safety policy with regard to handling injuries. Do their standards match your own? You can take this a step further by requesting a copy of their individual safety audits. Although this may feel like an uncomfortable question to ask, safety audits can provide important insight into the center’s history of safety and overall care.

Once your child begins going to a day care facility, it’s important to remain vigilant. Regularly reassess the level of care your child is receiving. Keep your eyes open for warning signs? Does she seem scared, anxious, or withdrawn when it’s time to go to day care each day? Is she always hungry or thirsty at pick-up time? Is she often covered in bruises, cuts, or bite marks? A MA child care abuse attorney can help you recover damages if your child has been harmed due to another’s negligence. Continue reading

If your baby has a VTech rattle or travel mobile, potential defects could result in serious injury. According to WebMD, the company issued a recall due to the risk of choking and “struck-by” injuries.

What Products were Recalled?

Although no injuries have been reported to date, the two products below pose a risk of serious injury or death. If you have either of these products, remove them from your home immediately.

  • Shake & Sing Elephant Rattle: At least five consumers have reported that the elephant’s ears have broken off. Being quite small, the ears pose a serious choking risk to young children and babies. As a result, about 280,000 rattles have been recalled. The affected rattles were purchased online and at retail locations, including Amazon and Walmart, between November 2015 and November 2017.
  • Lights and Lullabies Travel Mobile: The company indicated that this mobile can be “risky to kids” due to a “plastic arm that clamps to a crib can crack and cause the mobile to fall into the crib.” As a result, an infant can be struck by the mobile, resulting in head injuries or bruising. Between February and November 2017, approximately 37,000 of the affected mobiles were purchased online and at multiple retail locations.

If you have one of these recalled product’s, it is in your best interest to stop using it immediately. A Boston defective products lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured by a defective or dangerous product.

Child Injuries Related to Products or Objects in the Home

Fortunately, no injuries from the products above have been reported. However, defective and dangerous products injure thousands of children every year. Safe Kids Worldwide has released a report showing the severity of this problem. Some of the statistics from the report are included below.

  • The most common cause of serious injury to children in the home is suffocation. In fact, nearly 1,300 children died by suffocation in 2013.
  • In 2013, more than 22,000 children went to the emergency room for injuries related to suffocation.
  • The vast majority of children who die from suffocation are under age one (80 percent).
  • About 26 kids die annually due to furniture tip-overs and other “struck-by” injuries.
  • Approximately 188,000 children require emergency medical treatment every year due to injuries caused by children’s toys.
  • More than 150 children are fatally injured from choking each year.

Determining Liability

If your child has been injured by a product defect, who is liable? This is a complex question, requiring extensive research and the help of an attorney who specializes in product liability. The distribution chain for a product includes multiple parties; different companies often design the product, manufacture the product and sell the product, and any or all can be liable for a defect. Product defects generally fit into one of three categories – design, manufacturing or marketing. A MA defective products attorney can help you recover damages if you’ve been injured by a defective or dangerous product. Continue reading

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