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Articles Posted in Personal Injury

A little girl suffered a fatal fall on a Carnival cruise ship last week, raising questions about whether cruises are safe for young children. Zion Smith, an eight-year-old from the Bahamas, was waiting with her family to disembark the ship. Smith and her brother were leaning on an upper-deck railing to watch other guests disembark when she fell two stories to a deck below. According to Miami Dade Police, the ship was docked at PortMiami at the time of the accident. The child was rushed to the hospital, where she later died.

Jennifer de la Cruz, a spokeswoman for Carnival, assured the public that Carnival is an extremely safe cruise line for everyone, children included. She said that the railing from which the girl fell was 47-inches high.

“We hold broad appeal to the family market based on the fun, safe and secure vacation experience we provide,” said de la Cruz. She went on to say that more children cruise on Carnival than any other cruise line. Approximately 800,000 children are expected to sail on Carnival in 2017.

Lifeguards on Duty?

Other cruise lines, including Norwegian and Royal Caribbean, have made headlines in recent years for drownings on onboard swimming pools. In response, several cruise lines have added lifeguards, but it’s still “swim at your own risk” on many cruise ships. A Boston personal injury lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured on a cruise ship.

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, there were 30 reported incidents during the three-month period between April and June 2017. These included 19 sexual assaults and a missing person. And in 2016, the Carnival Pride struck a gangway while docked in Baltimore, causing more than $2 million in damages.

Types of Cruise Accidents

The numbers above may sound high, but remember that millions of people take cruises without incident every year. When accidents do occur, they are generally classified as one of the following:

  • Mechanical – power loss, fire
  • Weather related – storms, hurricanes, heavy fogs
  • Illness – gastrointestinal problems, such as Norovirus and Influenza, and other outbreaks of food poisoning or fever
  • Injuries – fractures, assault, sexual assault
  • Criminal offenses – theft, indecent exposure, drug possession
  • Deaths – missing persons, onboard drowning, falling or jumping overboard, murder, suicide, heart attack
  • Disasters – collisions, sinking, pirate attacks, capsizing

Although the above accidents and incidents are all possible, most are rare. Norovirus illness is actually one of the most common cruise injuries, with an average of 15 outbreaks annually. Continue reading

Hundreds of thousands of people in the United States have what are known as “metal-on-metal” hip implants. These all-metal implants were thought to be stronger and provide better range of motion than their ceramic and plastic counterparts. Although all-metal hip implants may be more durable, they are definitely not safer.

The Worst Offenders

All hip implants come with a risk of complications, but the all-metal hip implants with the worst failure rates are the following:

  • Depuy ASR
  • Depuy Pinnacle
  • Stryker Accolade
  • Stryker ABGII
  • Stryker LFIT Anatomic Heads
  • Stryker Rejuvenate

The above hip implants are linked to unreasonably-high incidences of infection, nerve damage, dislocation, fracture, blood clots, and a serious condition called Metallosis. A Boston defective medical products attorney can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured by an all-metal hip implant.

Symptoms of Complications with a Hip Implant

The above medical complications can be quite serious if left untreated. So, how do you know if your hip implant is failing? Common symptoms of implant failure include:

  • Severe and chronic pain in the hip, groin, or leg
  • Mobility problems
  • Swelling around the hip joint
  • Clicking and grinding noises while walking

What Causes All-Metal Implants to Fail?

The hip implants listed above are made of chromium and cobalt, two different types of metal that create friction when rubbed together. Unfortunately, this friction may result in the release of metal debris into the blood stream and surrounding tissue. The release of too much metal debris can become toxic. When metal builds up in the blood and soft tissues, it can lead to a painful inflammatory condition called Metallosis. Left untreated, Metallosis can be fatal. A MA defective medical device lawyer can help you recover damages if you’ve been injured by an all-metal hip implant.

Thousands of patients have suffered serious medical conditions and debilitating pain after receiving an all-metal hip implant. In addition to the medical complications listed above, all-metal hip implants are linked to the formation of pseudo tumors (non-cancerous cell masses filled with fluid), kidney and thyroid problems, bone deterioration, and cancer. And most of these patients required costly, painful revision surgeries to remove and / or replace the failed implant. Hip implants are supposed to improve mobility, reduce pain, and make life easier. Unfortunately, for thousands of patients, the opposite has been true. Continue reading

Last month a fatal charter bus accident killed three people in Queens, New York. This tragedy has called attention to a glaring, and growing, problem. Thousands of private bus companies with countless violations and terrible safety records continue to operate in the United States every day. While public transportation is closely regulated by local governments, private bus companies are not.

Dahlia Group, the bus line involved in last month’s fatal accident, has had two other fatal crashes. And the bus driver in the Queens crash, who is reported to have been speeding, has a past drunk driving conviction. As horrible as Dahlia’s record may sound, it’s far from the worst. Yep Tour is a private bus company currently operating in NYC. In the past two years, Yep has received more than 200 safety violations. Despite the fact that Yep has failed to pay more than $300,000 in fines, the city still issued a transportation permit to the Massachusetts-based company.

In the United States, there are currently more than 3,200 private bus companies, many of which have horrific safety violation records, and are notorious for overworking employees and overlooking vehicle maintenance. Unfortunately, these dangerous violations often go unnoticed until a tragic bus accident makes headlines. Budget bus companies certainly provide an in-demand service, but it shouldn’t come at the expense of riders’ lives. A Boston personal injury lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured by another’s negligence.

Public Transportation isn’t Always Safer

At least not when it comes to the Boston area. The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) has recently been in the spotlight for serious safety violations, injuries, and even fatalities. Crushing debt may be at least partially to blame. Trains catching fire, speeding and texting bus drivers, train collisions, and bus-pedestrian crashes are just a few of the high-profile accidents marring MBTA’s reputation in recent years. The transportation agency’s $7.3 billion repair backlog certainly isn’t helping. At about 1.3 million rides per day and counting, the MBTA is the country’s fifth-largest transit system, but funding is only a fraction of that of peer agencies.

“The problem we have is a problem of literally decades of disinvestment,” former Massachusetts DOT director Jim Aloisi told Streetsblog. A MA injury lawyer can help you recover damages if you’ve been injured in a bus accident.

Local Law takes a Back Seat to Federal Law

Despite MBTA’s checkered past, public transportation is generally safer, and held to higher standards, than private companies. California state lawmakers attempted to improve private bus line safety regulations last year, following a fatal charter bus crash that killed 10 people. When he proposed the addition of certain safety features, State Senator Ricardo Lara learned the hard way that federal law is king when it comes to private bus lines. Local laws took a back seat, and his requests for safety windows and better data keeping were replaced with markedly weaker legislation, such as requiring drivers to show passengers how to use emergency exits.

“It is frustrating that local legislatures can’t do more to make buses safer, even if it just means putting recommendations made at the federal level into state law,” said Mr. Lara. “We got the most we could with safety lights and training for passengers, but our hands were tied by outdated federal safety regulations.” Continue reading

If you’ve been bitten or attacked by a dog, who is liable for your injuries? In MA, a dog’s owner may be liable for any damages the dog causes, barring certain circumstances. For example, if the victim was trespassing at the time of the incident, the dog’s owner will likely be off the hook. Read on for more information about dog bite injuries in MA, and how to proceed if you’ve been bitten.

Negligence vs. Strict Liability

When it comes to dog bites, states generally operate under the theory of “negligence” or “strict liability.” MA is a “strict liability” state. This essentially means that the injured person does not need to show that the dog’s owner was negligent. The owner may even be liable if the victim had been informed that the dog was prone to biting before the incident. And the strict liability rule also applies to other injuries and damages caused by dogs. If a dog knocks an elderly person down, for example, the owner may be liable for resulting injuries.

Statute of Limitations

In MA, you have three years from the date of the dog bite within which to file suit. This state of limitations is extremely important; if you fail to file a court case before the specified deadline, your chances of success are almost non-existent. A Boston dog bite injury lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been bitten or attacked by a dog.

Dog Bite Statistics

The following facts and figures provide insight into the frequency and severity of dog bites in the United States.

  • About 4.5 million dog bites occur in the United States annually.
  • In 2016, dog-related injuries accounted for more than 30 percent of all homeowners insurance liability claims – a total of more than $600 million.
  • More than 6,750 U.S. postal workers were attacked by dogs in 2016.
  • Between 1993 and 2008 there was an 86 percent increase in hospitalizations involving dog bites.

When is the Owner Liable?

In Chapter 140, Section 155 of MA General Laws, a dog’s owner may be liable for injuries under the following circumstances.

  • The dog caused damages or injuries

            and

  • The victim was not trespassing at the time of the incident.
  • The victim was not committing a tort at the time of the incident.
  • The victim did not provoke the dog.

The above statute also applies to other injuries and property damage caused by dogs. If, for example, a dog chews through a neighbor’s fence, the neighbor may sue for property damages. A MA dog bite injury lawyer can help you recover damages if you’ve been injured by a dog.

Owner Defenses

As with most personal injury lawsuits, the individual being sued is likely to present a defense explaining why he or she should not be liable. When it comes to dog bites, the owner will usually present one of two defenses.

  • Trespassing: If the victim was trespassing on private property, homeowner liability is seriously limited.
  • Provocation: If the victim was provoking the dog, the owner may not be liable. The MA dog injury statute specifically states that the owner is not liable if the injury occurs while the injured person is “teasing, tormenting or abusing” the dog.

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While she was suffering from a drug overdose, a woman was transferred by ambulance from Baptist Memorial Hospital in Oxford, Mississippi to another BMH facility about 100 miles away. The Jane Doe now claims that during the transfer, she was sexually assaulted by a paramedic. Bryan Englebert, the EMT accused of sexual assault, plead guilty and is currently serving a minimum of five years in prison. But the victim is blaming more than her assailant.

When we go to the hospital – or any health care professional, for that matter – we have no choice but to put our lives and well-being in their hands. Hospitals and medical professionals owe us a duty of care to protect us from further harm, at the very least, while in their care. Medical professionals can make honest mistakes; they’re only human. But when negligence is a factor, a provider and / or health care facility may be liable for any resulting damages, including medical expenses, pain and suffering, and lost wages. A Boston personal injury lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured by another’s negligence.

Doe alleges that the hospital’s failure to provide proper training and supervision to its employees, as well as its lack of an adequate safety policy, put her in harm’s way. In her lawsuit, she claims that Englebert sexually battered and assaulted her while the driver, Matthew Austin, videotaped the assault. Doe was incapacitated during the incident, and has a history of mental health issues. As such, the hospital owed her an even higher duty of care. She is suing for negligence and negligent infliction of emotional distress. According to her lawsuit, Doe suffered significant physical injury, and mental trauma and suffering.

Hospital Liability

So, when is the hospital liable, and when is it just an honest mistake? Fortunately, the vast majority of medical professionals have the best interest of patients in mind at all times. However, even good doctors can make serious mistakes when fatigued or under extreme pressure or stress. Sometimes, mistakes are due to inexperience. Other times, lack of communication, administrative problems, and even bad handwriting are the culprit. And occasionally, health care-related injuries can be a result of gross negligence. A MA personal injury lawyer can help you determine whether negligence played a role in your particular case.  Continue reading

In 2014, Monica Broughton filed a lawsuit against the doctor who delivered her son six years earlier. Amari Broughton-Fleming, now nine years old, suffered nerve damage during birth. During his delivery – which was induced – Amari’s shoulder became trapped behind his mother’s pelvic bone. The doctor dislodged the arm by tugging on the infant’s head. Following Amari’s birth, doctors discovered that his right arm was paralyzed, and that some of the nerve damage was permanent.

Multiple surgeries have improved Amari’s condition, but he still has difficulty with even the most basic tasks, such as zipping his pants, riding a bike, and playing sports. Some of his fingers twitch when his arm is at rest, and the damaged arm is four inches shorter than its healthy counterpart. In addition to the physical challenges, Amari has also suffered emotional trauma. “He asks if his arm is ever going to be normal,” said Broughton. “He wants it to grow.”

A pediatric neurologist diagnosed the permanent nerve damage, saying that two of the five main nerves had been torn in half. Broughton claims that the nerve damage is the result of her doctor’s negligence. She believes that the OB-GYN’s forceful pulling of her son’s head caused the damage, and that he never told her about the potential risks of such a procedure. Apparently, the New Castle County, Delaware jury agreed with Broughton, because they awarded her $3 million. A MA birth injury lawyer can help you obtain the compensation you deserve if medical negligence harmed you or your child.

Common Types of Birth Injuries

When birth injuries are life-altering, juries are often quite sympathetic to the victim(s). The following birth injuries are commonly linked to medical negligence:

 

  • Brachial plexus injury: Also known as Erb’s palsy or Klumpke’s palsy, this birth injury occurs in about one out of every 1,000 births. In many cases, this injury is the result of improper practices during labor and delivery. Nerve damage can be minor and can heal on its own, or nerves can be completely torn from their root, resulting in total or partial paralysis.

 

  • Cerebral palsy: This permanent condition is characterized by impaired movement and motor skills. It may be caused by oxygen deprivation or trauma during labor.

 

  • Premature birth and neural tube disorders can occur due to overdosing with folic acid, a supplement commonly given to pregnant women.

 

  • Cerebral ischemia (reduced blood flow) can lead to brain damage in minutes. This condition can be caused by maternal overmedication, infection, and shoulder dystocia. A Boston birth injury lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if your child has been injured due to medical negligence.

 

  • Cephalohematoma (bleeding between the skull and brain) is often caused by improper use of forceps and other tools used to forcefully extract an infant. Fortunately, this condition usually heals on its own with time.

 

  • Spinal cord injuries: These are significantly more rare than the other birth injuries mentioned. Although spinal cord injuries involve varying degrees of cord disruption, most are quite serious. Spinal cord injuries may result in total paralysis, and even death. Trauma during labor, often involving breech births, is usually a factor in this type of birth injury.

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In more bad news for Home Depot, an Illinois man is suing the home improvements retailer for injuries he suffered in a Chicago-area store. On August 21, Calvin Horne filed a complaint in Cook County Circuit Court, alleging that Home Depot and Electric Eel Manufacturing Company Inc. failed to take adequate measures to prevent customers from being seriously injured. Horne claims that he severed a finger in July when an Electric Eel drain cleaning device malfunctioned as he was using it to unclog a drain.

The plaintiff in the above case is suing the defendants, alleging that they failed to provide necessary instructions for use, and to warn consumers of the product’s defect. Horne is seeking reimbursement for court costs, and damages in excess of $50,000.

Defective Products Liability

Generally speaking, a product needs to meet a consumer’s ordinary expectations. If an unexpected defect or dangerous feature results in injury, the product does not meet this legal standard.  Every year, thousands of people are injured by defective products in the U.S. But who is responsible when these injuries occur? When determining who is at fault in a product liability case, we must first consider the distribution chain.

Chain of Distribution

The chain of distribution for a particular product can be long, and convoluted. A Boston defective products attorney can help you determine who is at fault if you have been injured by a defective product. The distribution chain may include:

  • Product designer
  • Product manufacturer
  • Parts manufacturer
  • Product assembler
  • Wholesaler
  • Retailer

In most product liability cases, the responsible party or parties must exist within the product’s regular distribution chain. For example, if you purchase a defective product at a yard sale, you aren’t likely to recover from the home owner if you are injured by the product. However, the original manufacturer, retailer, and any parties in the distribution chain can still be liable, even though the product was purchased at a yard sale.

Types of Defects

When it comes to product liability, there are three types of defects that commonly cause injury. These are:

 

  • Defects in the product’s design: These defects were present even before the product was manufactured. If the design is inherently unsafe, the designer may be liable while the manufacturer is off the hook. However, if it can be shown that the manufacturer knew, or should have known about the defect, the manufacturer may also be liable.

 

  • Defects that occur in the manufacturing process: The product’s design was flawless, but a machine malfunctioned during the manufacturing process, and the finished product is too big, or too small, or too slippery, or too sharp. Whatever the defect – if it causes injury – the manufacturer may be liable.

 

  • Defective marketing: Improper labeling or inadequate instructions are the main culprits of injuries due to defective marketing. For example, we all know that a hair dryer is safe, but not when used in water. That is why all hair dryers come with a large warning label to keep the product away from water. If a product is missing an important warning label, or if you were injured due to misleading marketing, an experienced MA injury attorney can help you recover damages.

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Jesus Sanchez is suing Home Depot for injuries he sustained in a slip and fall accident in one of the store’s Florida locations. Sanchez claims he suffered damages due to the store’s failure to provide a safe environment. According to his claim, Sanchez was injured when he tripped on plastic wrapping left on the floor of one of the aisles. The defendant allegedly failed to provide adequate warning of a dangerous condition in one of the aisles, and to resolve the dangerous condition in a timely manner.

Store Liability in Slip and Fall Accidents

In order to determine whether a store is liable for your slip and fall injury, several factors must be considered. Did a dangerous condition exist? Did the store owner, manager, or landlord know about the dangerous condition? Did the store owner, manager, or landlord make a reasonable attempt to remedy the dangerous condition? Did you suffer damages? All of these questions will be addressed in a slip and fall case.

Take the above case for example. If a store manager knew about the plastic wrap on the floor but decided to take her lunch break before removing it, Sanchez’s injury claim may be successful. However, if the plastic wrap had been left on the floor because an employee was responding to an urgent situation in another aisle, and it had only been there for two or three minutes, Sanchez isn’t likely to receive a substantial award for his damages.

Slip and fall accidents in stores are commonly caused by spilled liquids or slippery substances, debris in aisles, uneven pavement or walkways, and icy or snowy walkways. Stores have a duty to maintain reasonably safe conditions at all times. When an unsafe condition in a store results in injury, the plaintiff may be compensated. However, whether he is compensated, and how much he is compensated, is largely dependent on the unique details of the case. A Boston personal injury attorney can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured in a slip and fall accident.

Slip and Fall Accident Statistics

Slips, trips, and falls are a leading cause of personal injury claims in the United States, accounting for 15 percent of all accidental deaths. Anyone can be injured in a slip and fall accident, but who is most at risk? And where are slip and fall accidents most likely to occur?

  • Approximately one million Americans are injured in a slip and fall accident annually.
  • Among older Americans, slip and fall accidents are the most common cause of traumatic brain injuries (TBIs).
  • About 65 percent of all slip and fall accidents occur on same-level walking surfaces, not from higher levels.
  • Falls are the second leading cause of accidental death among people between the ages of 65 and 84.
  • Falls are the leading cause of accidental death for people aged 85 years and older.
  • Annually, more than 60 percent of nursing home residents fall.
  • Approximately 85 percent of workers’ comp claims arise from workers falling on slick or slippery floors.
  • In the U.S. alone, fall-related injuries are estimated to cost up to $14 million annually.

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

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