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Articles Posted in Personal Injury

At first glance, this might sound like a silly question – how can shopping carts be dangerous enough to result in a personal injury lawsuit? But studies show that about 24,000 kids are injured by shopping carts every year. Injuries are most prevalent during peak shopping hours and peak shopping days (a.k.a. Black Friday). If your child is injured by a shopping cart inside our outside of a store, who do you sue?

Elements of a Personal Injury Claim

For a personal injury claim to be successful, you have to show that another’s negligence caused your injuries. When it comes to accidents involving shopping carts, the following four elements must be present:

  • The other shopper had a legal duty to use the shopping cart with reasonable care, or the store employee had a legal duty to use reasonable care under the circumstances.
  • The shopper or store employee breached that legal duty.
  • The breach of duty caused the injuries.
  • Actual damages occurred, whether property or bodily, or both.

Is the Store Responsible?

In some cases, the store itself may be responsible for damages. You can sue the store under three legal theories. These are:

  • Premises liability: This occurs when the store owner or property manager knew about, or should have known about, a dangerous condition.
  • Negligence: This may be a factor when, for example, an employer fails to properly train or supervise employees.
  • Vicarious liability: Under certain circumstances, a store can be held liable for the negligent actions of an employee.

Shopping Cart Injury Statistics

The questions of if, how, and who to sue following a shopping cart injury can be difficult to answer. The help of an experienced Boston personal injury lawyer is essential to a favorable outcome. Although shopping carts don’t seem particularly dangerous, young children actually have a relatively high risk of injury in a shopping cart. Between 1990 and 2011, more than 65 children ended up in emergency rooms with shopping cart-related injuries every day. Among them, most were under the age of four, and more than 80 percent of the injuries were to the head, 15 percent to the upper extremities, and six percent to the lower extremities. In order of frequency, cart injuries were caused by:

  • Children falling out of carts
  • Carts tipping
  • Children running into a cart
  • Extremities becoming trapped in the cart

In 2004, voluntary shopping cart standards were introduced. However, the frequency of injuries has not dropped. “The take-home message is that the standard can be strengthened and we can do much better,” said Dr. Gary A. Smith, director of the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital. “These injuries can be prevented.” A MA personal injury lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if you or a loved one has been injured in an accident involving a shopping cart. Continue reading

When a person is injured due to another’s negligence, he or she may choose to file a personal injury claim to recover damages. But what if the injury occurred out of the state in which the victim lives? If I live in Massachusetts, my injury occurred in Oregon, and the company responsible for my injury is headquartered in California, where do I file the lawsuit? The answer may have just gotten a bit more complicated.

Earlier this week, the Supreme Court ruled that a railroad company based in Texas couldn’t be sued in Montana for injuries sustained in a third location. This decision will likely impact future injury cases, nationwide. A Boston injury lawyer can help you determine how to recover damages if you’ve been injured by another’s negligence.

Two unrelated injury lawsuits were brought against the BNSF Railway Company; the first by Robert Nelson, a former truck driver for the company and resident of North Dakota who claims that he was injured in a work-related slip and fall accident, and the second by Kelli Tyrrel, a resident of South Dakota who claims that the company is responsible for her late husband’s fatal kidney cancer. Nelson was injured in Washington State, and Tyrrel’s husband was allegedly exposed to carcinogenic substances in Iowa, Minnesota, and South Dakota.

Despite the company’s location in Texas, and the injuries occurring in four other states, both plaintiffs sued in Montana, where nobody lived, worked, or was injured. This is because Montana is considered to be a friendlier venue for plaintiffs. The lawsuits alleged that filing in Montana was appropriate because BNSF conducts business in the state frequently, employing thousands of Montana residents and investing more than $400 million in the state over a four-year period. But the Supreme Court didn’t agree.

Doing Business In-State is Not Enough

The Supreme Court ruled that to exercise jurisdiction over a company, simply doing business in-state is not enough. Specifically, the ruling stated that the circumstances of the two BNSF lawsuits did “not suffice to permit the assertion of general jurisdiction over claims like Nelson’s and Tyrrell’s that are unrelated to any activity occurring in Montana.” Basically, this means that in order for state courts to hear injury claims, the companies must be based in the state, or the injuries must have occurred there.

The Supreme Court’s ruling was not unanimous. Justice Sonia Sotomayor believes the ruling will benefit large multistate and multinational corporations and cause further harm to the already-injured victims. “It is individual plaintiffs,” wrote Sotomayor, “harmed by the actions of a far-flung foreign corporation, who will bear the brunt of the majority’s approach and be forced to sue in distant jurisdictions with which they have no contacts or connection.”

What are “Minimum Contacts”?

If you have been injured, you must file your personal injury lawsuit in a court that has jurisdiction over the claim. In addition, the state in which you’re filing the lawsuit must have jurisdiction over the person, business or entity responsible for your injuries. Suing where the injury occurred is the most straightforward way of ensuring proper jurisdiction, but this may not be the easiest option for you, especially if your injury occurred far from home. If the person or entity responsible for your injuries has minimum contacts in your home state, you may be able to file the lawsuit where you live. To pass the “minimum contacts” test, the person or entity should meet at least one of the following criteria:

  • A company that conducts business in your state.
  • A person who has a home in your state.
  • A company or person who is party to a contract that was formed in your state.

The Supreme Court’s ruling is likely to make injury claims more complicated. A MA injury lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured due to the negligence of a large corporation, especially if the injury occurred out of state. Continue reading

Boating season is upon us in Massachusetts. If you are planning to take to the open water this summer, you have a responsibility to help prevent accidents by using safe boating practices. Boating tragedies occur with shocking frequency, but nearly every accident is easily preventable. Read on for more information about boating accidents, and how to avoid becoming a statistic.

Boating Accident Statistics

  • According to the U.S. Coast Guard, in 2013 approximately 77 percent of boating-related fatalities were caused by drowning.
  • Among those drowning victims, about 84 percent were not wearing life vests.
  • Of the victims, 22 were children under the age of 13.
  • The main causes of boating accidents include operator inexperience, operator inattention, faulty machinery, and the use of excessive speed.
  • In 2013, alcohol was the main contributing factor in boating deaths.

That same year, the five leading types of boating accidents were:

  • Collisions involving recreational vessels – 947
  • Flooding – 430
  • Collisions with other objects – 427
  • Grounding – 399
  • Accidents involving water skiing – 332

Tips for Preventing Boating Accidents

Any person operating a boat should be licensed to operate the vessel, and should have completed a boater safety course. By following the tips below, you can dramatically reduce your risk of serious injury or death in a boating accident. A MA boating accident attorney can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured by another’s negligence.

  • Establish a “float plan” and leave it with a friend or family member before leaving dry land. A float plan should include identifying information about the boat, where you are headed, and the names and contact information of everyone on board.
  • Ensure that your boat is equipped with an adequate number of personal flotation devices, and wear a life vest while on the water.
  • Keep a safe distance between your boat and other vessels at all times.
  • Avoid using excessive speed.
  • Monitor weather conditions. If a storm is approaching, it is safest to head back to shore until the storm has passed.
  • Use extra caution when towing a water skier. Prevent water skiers from getting too close to other boats, swimmers, or fixed objects.
  • Never operate a boat under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Even a low blood alcohol concentration (BAC) can be deadly.

Tragic Boating Accident in Boston Harbor

Boston Harbor made the headlines in 2015, when a gruesome boating accident resulted in severe injuries to a young woman. Alexander Williams, a 26 year old OUI attorney, pleaded guilty to charges of negligent operation of a boat and furnishing alcohol to minors, among other charges. As a result of the accident involving Williams’ boat, the Naut Guilty, 19-year old Nicole Berthiaume lost her right arm. A MA injury attorney can help you recover damages if you’ve been injured in a boating accident. Continue reading

Pressure cookers are food preparation devices which utilize a pressurized chamber (kept sealed by special lids) and electricity to heat up water to well beyond boiling temperatures while the food ingredients inside are quickly cooked.

The combination of pressure and highly-heated water (among other possible liquids depending on what is being cooked) is not only a recipe for nutritious food cooked fast, it is also a recipe for potential disaster – as unfortunately too many people have learned through experience.

Injuries caused by malfunctioning pressure cookers can range from superficial, minor burns to life-altering third degree burns that can permanently scar and disfigure victims. Many of these injuries may occur from incorrect use of pressure cookers, but other accidents have occurred in recent years that have led to lawsuits against certain pressure cooker manufacturers.

These lawsuits allege that there are serious design flaws in some of these cookers that enable the lid to become compromised, allowing the scolding hot contents to explode out of the pressurized chamber and burn those using the cooker.

Tristar pressure cooker the subject of multiple suits

The “Power Pressure Cooker XL,” manufactured by Tristar Products, is one of the few “As Seen on TV” pressure cooker products available. In its advertisements, the cooker is touted to be almost miraculous in how quickly it can deliciously prepare a huge range of different foods. The product even makes a point to tout how safe it is, with a special lid that locks and prevents opening until the cooking is done.

However, people have filed claims against Tristar in recent years because of serious allegations that the cooker has a design flaw which leads the cooker to exploding randomly and without warning, hurling its dangerously-hot contents everywhere and burning the consumer.

The first lawsuit against Tristar was filed on June 12, 2015 by a Texas couple who had unplugged the cooker, only to have the lid explode a full two hours later, sending boiling liquid and pinto beans flying at them. The wife wound up spending 20 days in the hospital to treat her severe burns.

Just a couple weeks later, a Florida couple experienced almost the exact same thing; the lid of their Power Pressure Cooker XL blowing off for seemingly no reason. Both the wife and husband incurred burns as a result of this. Continue reading

In 2013, an unsecured brick wall collapsed onto a Salvation Army store in 2013, killing seven people and injuring another 12. The tragic incident occurred when the wall, which was located at a demolition site, fell onto the Philadelphia, PA thrift store. Following a 17-week long trial, victims were awarded a total of $227 million, to be divided among the survivors and family members of the deceased. In total, 19 families were affected by this devastating accident.

The demolition site owner, the architect and contractor managing the demolition, and the Salvation Army were all found to be liable for the collapse, and thus the resulting injuries and deaths. The Salvation Army will pay $200 million of the settlement, and the demolition site owner is responsible for the remaining $27 million. A Boston injury lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if another’s negligence has caused you or a loved one harm.

How Will the Settlement be Divided?

In cases where large settlements are divided among multiple recipients, juries decide how much each plaintiff should receive. In some situations, however, parties may agree to divide the award outside of court. That is exactly how the Philadelphia case is being handled; the survivors and families will divide the proceeds in arbitration. This is different from a class action verdict in that every plaintiff must be in agreement with the way the award is to be distributed. In smaller cases, this agreement may be reached with a conversation and a handshake, but with nearly 20 parties involved in the Philadelphia case, an arbitrator is crucial to a fair, friendly, and efficient distribution process.

What is Arbitration?

Arbitration is one form of alternative dispute resolution (ADR), a process that provides an alternative to going to trial. In arbitration, each individual involved will be asked to sign an agreement that describes what was agreed upon. This effectively means that plaintiffs will not be permitted to appeal the decision, with very few exceptions. Once all parties have agreed to be bound by the agreement, anyone who wishes to receive a portion of the award must submit evidence of their damages to the arbitrator. Following this process, and based on the findings, the arbitrator will divide the damages as deemed appropriate. Although the trial above lasted several years, arbitration is rarely as long. In fact, this case will likely be concluded within a few months.

Disadvantages of Arbitration

In some cases, arbitration can dramatically reduce stress and legal costs. But it’s not always the best course of action. For starters, you have limited recourse following arbitration; if the arbitrator’s award isn’t fair, there is little to nothing you can do to air your grievances in court. Arbitration may also present an uneven playing field, created by the arbitration clauses of large companies, for example. And the process of choosing an arbitrator is rarely an objective one. If you are unsure whether arbitration is right for you, a MA injury lawyer can help you determine how to move forward. Continue reading

In 2012, David Moradi was attacked by security staff in a Las Vegas nightclub, leaving him with a traumatic brain injury. The Cosmopolitan Hotel and Casino’s Marguee nightclub was ordered to pay Moradi a whopping $160.5 million for compensatory damages. But he also sought another $483 million in punitive damages to punish the nightclub for bad behavior and deter staff from engaging in similar behavior in the future. Moradi has since settled with the nightclub for an undisclosed amount.

The 2014 lawsuit alleges that security and a manager forced Moradi into a private room where they demanded that he show identification and give them a credit card. All of this occurred after, Moradi claims, he had already paid a $10,000 tab. According to the Marquee’s attorneys, there was an issue with Moradi’s signature on the original bill. Moradi, who claims he was a VIP guest at the Marquee, accuses staff of doing a lot more than just asking for his signature. A Boston injury lawyer can help you recover damages if you’ve been unlawfully detained.

Moradi Feared for His Life

“The Marquee security members and manager shoved David to the ground, causing his head to forcefully hit the concrete surface … The Marquee security members and manager repeatedly hit and smashed David’s head into the concrete and continually held his head and right eye against the concrete with a high degree of pressure … Still pressing his head to the concrete, they asked, ‘Are you going to cooperate and give your ID back?’ Believing he could be killed, David agreed in order to end the violent attack.”

At the time of the accident, Moradi was a hedge fund manager, earning approximately $11 million annually. Since then, he has been diagnosed with a traumatic brain injury (TBI) and his hedge fund closed its doors. Although the amount of the settlement remains unknown, it is likely that it was between the $160.5 million in compensatory damages and the $640 million in total that he asked for. Based on jury interviews, it is highly unlikely that the initial $160.5 million award was appealed. “I would have given him everything,” said juror Sara Sanguinetti, “the way we saw the evidence.” A MA injury lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been harmed by another’s negligent or intentional actions.

Security Guards, Bouncers, and the Use of Excessive Force

Individuals in these industries are more prone to using excessive force than other groups due to the nature of their work. Physical force is a factor of their jobs, and there is a fine line between appropriate and excessive force. Security guards and bouncers can easily cross this line, resulting in serious harm, and even death. When a security guard’s use of excessive force results in injury, it may be considered an “intentional tort.” An intentional tort is a civil – not criminal – act that is committed on purpose, rather than from negligence. In some cases, security guards and bouncers can be charged with assault and battery. False imprisonment is another common charge in cases involving guards and bouncers who misuse their authority. Unlawfully detaining a guest or patron for an extended period of time can result in a charge of false imprisonment or false arrest.  Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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.