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Articles Posted in Personal Injury

National Dog Bite Prevention Week, which runs from April 9 to 15, aims to educate the public and dog owners about how to prevent dog bites. According to recent reports, dog bite claims over the past 10 years have skyrocketed. The information below provides insight into why these claims have been on the rise, and provides helpful tips on how to avoid becoming a victim.

The Insurance Information Institute, in collaboration with State Farm, released a report earlier this month to call attention to the shocking increase in dog bite claims. According to the report, 18,000 dog bite claims were filed in 2016 alone. This is nearly 3,500 more than were filed in 2006. So, what’s going on? Are there more “vicious” dogs today than there were 10 years ago? Are irresponsible owners to blame?

The real answer may have more to do with the potential payout than with the dogs or owners; the average payout on a dog bite claim has risen by more than $11 thousand in that same period of time. Total payouts for all dog bite claims in 2016 increased by nearly $280 million. This doesn’t mean that people are taking advantage of the system, however. In the past, dog bite claims weren’t taken as seriously as they are today, thus, they usually resulted in a lower payout. As filing a legal claim can be a complex process, it is likely that less people chose to go this route when the potential payout was less substantial.

Dog Bite Facts

But an increase in attacks, and more serious bites, may also play a role in the rise in dog bite claims. According to analysts, there has been an uptick in severe dog bites, especially those involving children. This combination of an increase in attacks and an increase in payouts may be responsible for the nearly 20 percent increase in annual dog bite claims. A Boston injury lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if you have been the victim of a dog bite or attack.

  • According to the CDC, about 4.5 million dog bites occur annually in the United States
  • Of these bites, about 900,000 become infected.
  • In 2016, 41 people died due to dog bites
  • Of those deaths, 31 percent were three to six-day-old infants

Who is Liable?

In most cases, the dog’s owner is liable for any injury caused by their dog. Of course, in some instances it is the victim, not the dog or owner, who is to blame. If an individual is thought to have “provoked” a dog, the owner may not be liable for resulting injuries. An ignored “Beware of Dog” sign could further complicate the issue. A skilled MA personal injury attorney can help you recover damages if you’ve been injured in a dog attack.

How to Prevent Dog Bites

Before we talk about how to prevent dog bites, let’s consider why dogs bite in the first place. In most cases, dogs bite because they are stressed, because they feel threatened, or to protect themselves or their puppies. They may also react aggressively if they are not feeling well.

  • Avoid approaching an animal that you do not know.
  • Avoid running from a dog.
  • If you are approached by an unfamiliar dog, stay completely still and avoid direct eye contact.
  • Avoid disturbing a sleeping dog.
  • Avoid disturbing a dog who is eating.
  • Before attempting to pet an unfamiliar dog, allow the dog to sniff you.
  • If a dog begins to attack, roll into a ball and stay very still. Cover your ears and neck, and avoid eye contact.

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In a time period of growing division, people from every corner of the internet found a common cause to decry on Monday and Tuesday when video surfaced of a man being forcibly removed from a United Airlines plane because the airline needed to free up space for four of their own employees.

The man, identified later as a doctor who was taking the Louisville-bound flight out of Chicago’s O’Hare Airport to see patients the next morning, becomes visibly and vocally distressed when security personnel violently grab at him after he refused to leave the plane voluntarily at their demands.

Passengers looked on with shock and horror as the innocent flier is yanked from his seat and then falls, slamming face-first into an arm rest on the opposite side of the aisle. His body goes limp – apparently knocked unconscious – as the security personnel drag his motionless body down the aisle and out of the plane; some blood visibly running down his face.

Reaction

Overbooking flights is nothing new for airliners, however getting overbooked passengers off of an overbooked flight rarely requires more to fix than offering travel vouchers (usually between $500 and $1,000 depending on the value of the ticket purchased) in exchange for finding another flight. In this case, United ceased their offers to passengers at $1,000, refusing to go over that number even though they could have gone to a max of $1,350.

What occurred in this instance can be described as nothing less than a public relations nightmare for United, who actually saw a visible stock plummet of over one percent by the end of Tuesday, and saw hundreds of thousands of shocked and outraged social media reactions pointed in their direction.

But beyond the PR consequences this incident will have for United’s image – especially since the floodgates have seemingly opened with other stories emerging of misconduct performed by United – the airline could very likely face a lawsuit from the doctor they violently removed. The man underwent treatment at a hospital in Chicago after the event unfolded.

It would be hard for anybody to defend the actions of United in this case, especially since there are multiple in-person witnesses and video footage of the incident, which paints a clear picture of unnecessary force used without just cause. The security official who pulled the man from his seat has apparently been put on leave, the airline saying his conduct “was not in accordance with our standard operating procedure.”

United could have handled the matter in many different, more appropriate ways. According to United, the employees that they were trying to clear room for on the flight actually didn’t need to be in Louisville until the next day, meaning they could have taken any number of different flights to get them there on time, or even had them driven there, since it is only a four to five hour drive from Chicago to Louisville.

All this goes to say that the man removed from the flight has a legitimate legal case to bring forth due to the injuries he sustained during the incident and the manner in which he was treated. He did not commit a crime, he was not being belligerent or aggressive. He was instructed to get off a plane that he had paid to be on, and he needed to get to his destination just the same as the United employees. Continue reading

Social media video shows a United Airlines’ passenger being dragged from his seat and down the aisle of the Louisville-bound plane on his flight Sunday night. Apparently, United had intentionally overbooked the flight – a common practice – and asked the man to relinquish his seat to make room for crew members. According to the man, he is a doctor and refused the request because he had to be in Louisville for work.

Video posted to social media shows the man being forcibly removed from his seat, and dragged by his arms, amid disapproving shouts from passengers. Prior to the incident, the man wasn’t behaving badly; United staff simply needed to bump a passenger, and they picked him. But he didn’t want to be bumped.

“After our team looked for volunteers, one customer refused to leave the aircraft voluntarily and law enforcement was asked to come to the gate,” United said in a statement. “We apologize for the overbook situation.” If your rights have been violated by an airline or any other corporate entity, a Boston personal injury lawyer can help you recover damages.

NJ Senator Calls the Incident Disturbing

United’s Chief Executive Officer Oscar Munoz apologized on Monday for “having to re-accommodate these customers.” However, New Jersey Senator Robert Menednez called Munoz’s statement an “empty apology,” and said the incident was “disturbing.” Further, in an internal message sent to United employees, Munoz seemed less apologetic, alleging that the man became “belligerent” after repeated requests to leave his seat. Munoz went on to write that “the facts and circumstances are still evolving, especially with respect to why this customer defied Chicago Aviation Security Officers the way he did.”

One of the officers involved in the incident has been suspended by the Chicago Department of Aviation. United released a statement saying that “the incident on United flight 3411 was not in accordance with our standard operating procedure and the actions of the aviation security officer are obviously not condoned by the Department. That officer has been placed on leave effective today pending a thorough review of the situation.”

It is quite common for fully-booked flights to have multiple empty seats because people failed to show up for their flight. Overselling seats helps to maximize airline revenue. When too many people show up, the problem is usually easily solved by offering certain passengers money or free airline tickets to relinquish their seat in exchange for a later flight, a process referred to as “bumping.” However, Sunday’s incident shows that bumping can become confrontational in certain situations.

An Easy Solution

According to CFRA Research analyst Jim Corridore, United could have avoided this situation by offering more compensation. This may have enticed more passengers to volunteer to be bumped. “We think this situation was handled in a deplorable fashion, but note that United has the right to refuse boarding to any passenger for any reason,” said Corridore. A MA injury lawyer can help if you find yourself in a similar situation. Continue reading

Most personal injury lawsuits are subject to a statute of limitations…meaning, you probably can’t sue someone because you were injured in a slip and fall accident on their property 30 years ago. But what if your injury was caused by exposure to a substance that takes decades to wreak havoc on the body? Consider asbestos. This deadly substance, commonly used in building and construction for decades, was all-but-banned after it was discovered that exposure could cause serious health problems.

Further complicating asbestos-related lawsuits is the fact that it can take more than 20 years for deadly diseases like asbestosis or mesothelioma to be diagnosed. In many instances, once a disease like mesothelioma has been diagnosed, the patient’s long-term prognosis is not good. But even if decades have passed, it may not be too late to file a lawsuit. A Boston injury lawyer can help you determine your options if you have an asbestos-related health condition.

In addition to the length of time it may take for asbestos-related health problems to become apparent, it is also difficult to pinpoint exactly when and where the exposure occurred. And even if the exposure can be traced to a certain period of time – while working for a contractor, for example – that company may no longer be in business. For all of these reasons, courts have made several exceptions for asbestos claimants with regard to statutes of limitations and obtaining compensation from now-defunct past employers.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 1.4 million people suffer a brain injury in the United States annually. This type of injury is often the result of a motor vehicle accident, sports injury, or fall. Any kind of trauma to the head can cause a brain injury, which can range from a minor concussion to permanent brain damage.

If you are considering legal action after a brain injury, it is important to understand the complex legal and medical issues surrounding this type of injury claim. A Boston injury lawyer with extensive experience in this specific area can make all the difference in the world. Whether you’re filing for workers’ compensation benefits, negotiating with an insurance company, or determining if you have a successful product liability lawsuit, skilled legal representation is crucial to a positive outcome.

Proving Negligence

In order to prove that another party is legally responsible for your injury, you will need to show all of the following:

  • The defendant had a duty of care to the plaintiff: For example, an airbag manufacturer has to exercise reasonable care that its airbags are safe for the general public.
  • The defendant failed to exercise that duty of care: If a driver is injured when his airbag explodes for no reason, sending metal debris into the air, the airbag manufacturer may be liable.
  • The plaintiff’s injuries were caused by the defendant’s failure to exercise that duty of care: If the court finds that the airbag manufacturer knew about the risk of sudden explosion but failed to recall the airbags, the manufacturer will likely be found negligent.
  • The plaintiff suffered measurable injuries or losses: If the victim suffered a brain injury due to the exploding airbag, he will likely be awarded compensation for medical bills, pain and suffering, lost wages, and other associated costs.

In a scenario like the one above, proving negligence should be a fairly straightforward task. But brain injury lawsuits are rarely this cut-and-dried. In many cases, simply proving that a brain injury occurred can be difficult. Broken bones and burns are easy to see, but brain injuries – unless severe – are not always apparent. As the victim, you may experience pain and cognitive difficulties on a daily basis, but proving this to the court may be an uphill battle.

Further, even when a brain injury is obvious, proving that the defendant’s negligence caused your injury can be a challenge. For example, if your brain injury occurred in a car accident involving another vehicle, proving that the defendant’s bad driving was the cause may be difficult. For this reason, gathering as much evidence as possible following a brain injury can have an immensely positive impact on the outcome of your case. A MA injury lawyer can help you determine whether you have a valid legal claim.

Symptoms of a Brain Injury

Brain injuries can be mild or severe, and so can the related symptoms. If you have suffered trauma to the head, or were involved in a high-impact accident, such as a motor vehicle accident, the following symptoms may indicate a brain injury.

  • Loss of consciousness
  • Confusion
  • Severe headache
  • Chronic headache
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Fatigue
  • Sleep problems
  • Dizziness
  • Balance problems
  • Blurred vision
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Sensitivity to sound
  • Memory loss
  • Problems concentrating
  • Mood changes
  • Depression
  • Anxiety

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For many New Englanders, nothing beats the first warm days of spring, when we clean off our porches and decks, and bring out the grill and patio furniture. Porches, decks, and balconies provide extra space for outdoor entertaining and relaxing. But worn, improperly-designed, or dangerous decks can collapse, leading to broken bones, spinal cord injuries, and traumatic head injures. When decks are especially high, collapses and falls can be fatal. If you have been injured in a porch or deck collapse, who is responsible?

Property owners or managers have a duty to ensure that porches and decks are well-maintained, inspected regularly, and structurally sound. If an inspection reveals problems, it is the property owner or manager’s responsibility to make sure that necessary repairs are completed in a timely manner. If you were injured due to a poorly-maintained porch or deck, a MA personal injury lawyer can help you determine if you have a successful injury claim.

When is a Property Owner or Manager Not Liable?

In certain circumstances, the owner or property manager may not be at fault if a porch or deck collapses and injures another. Some of these special circumstances are included below:

  • The injured person knew about the dangerous condition before the injury occurred.
  • The dangerous condition was obvious and the injured person should have seen it.
  • The owner or property manager had no way of knowing that the dangerous condition existed.
  • The injured person created the dangerous condition through his or her misuse of the premises.

Let’s consider the following scenario. You rent a Boston apartment, and the property owner lives in Florida. When you signed the lease, the deck was in perfect shape. Last month, a tree fell on the deck during a storm, causing severe damage. You noticed the damage, but failed to report it to your landlord. Last night, you walked onto the deck to smoke a cigarette, and the damaged portion of the deck collapsed. In this situation, filing a personal injury claim against your landlord for negligence will not likely result in compensation. If, on the other hand, you contacted your landlord immediately to report the damage, but he or she never responded (despite multiple phone calls and emails), you may be able to recover damages for injuries suffered. A Boston injury lawyer can hep you determine how to move forward. Continue reading

A recent study completed by the California Workers’ Compensation Institute reviewed data on over 18,000 California work injury claims from accidents between 2000 and 2014 that resulted in one or more spinal fusions.

The data showed that 60 percent of the claims made involving spinal fusions started off with an injury that was initially reported as a simple sprain or a strain. In a majority of cases, spinal fusion surgery had to be performed within two years of the initial injury, and 20 percent required at least one additional fusion at some point further down the line.

Men accounted for more than 64 percent of the claims in each year that was reviewed, and men received more compensation through temporary disability and permanent disability, as well as more money for medical treatment than women did.

The second-leading cause for filing a claim after a back injury was cumulative trauma, including mental stress, which made up 14 percent of claims.

What is a spinal fusion?

Spinal fusions are major surgery procedures that seek to alleviate chronic back pain by ceasing the motion of a problematic vertebral segment. In simpler terms, spinal fusions join two problematic pieces of your spine into one larger piece that should, in theory, make chronic back pain better.

A spinal fusion may be necessary because of a degenerative condition that the patient has had since birth, or they may need one because of a traumatic injury that caused a serious injury to one or more of their vertebrae. In regards to this situation, workers who were injured on the job required spinal fusions years after they incurred an injury that they thought – or were told – was just a minor sprain.

Clearly, the spine is not something that can be healed from major injury just by resting it. Surgeons must perform hours of surgery and utilize bone grafts to join the two problematic vertebrae and stimulate a biological response to make the graft grow between the vertebrae, creating one fused bone.

Spinal fusions are incredibly difficult, finicky procedures that do not guarantee success, and may require additional surgeries later on in life. Twenty percent of workers injured in this study required at least one additional fusion surgery. Continue reading

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

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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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