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Articles Posted in Personal Injury

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

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

How much time do I have to file a claim?

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

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

Who may file a wrongful death claim?

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

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

Who may be liable in a wrongful death suit?

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

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

How are wrongful death claims paid?

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

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

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

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

How is Wrongful Death Defined in Massachusetts?

Mesothelioma is a deadly, highly-aggressive form of cancer that is commonly caused by exposure to a substance called asbestos. Asbestos was used in building and construction for decades, before it became apparent that the toxic substance was causing serious, life-threatening health problems. Unfortunately, mesothelioma symptoms often take years – sometimes even decades – to appear, and the disease is often mistaken for more common, less-serious ailments until it’s too late.

How Does Mesothelioma Develop?

Pleural mesothelioma occurs when asbestos fibers are inhaled into the lungs over a period of time. Fibers become trapped in the pleura, the lining of the lungs, resulting in irritation and inflammation. The inflammation subsequently causes the pleural layers to thicken and a buildup of fluid to occur around the lungs. As such, the lungs cannot fully expand, and the patient may experience chest pain and trouble breathing. A MA personal injury lawyer can help you determine how to move forward if you’ve been diagnosed with mesothelioma.

As stated above, symptoms of mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases, such as asbestosis, may take years to appear. Therefore, if you are concerned about past exposure to this substance, it may be in your best interest to consult with your healthcare provider about your risk. Blood tests and X-rays may indicate a problem before symptoms appear. Additionally, if you notice any of the following symptoms, contact your physician immediately:

  • Dry cough
  • Respiratory problems (wheezing, shortness of breath)
  • Pleural effusion (fluid around the lungs)
  • Chest pain
  • Abdominal pain
  • Fever or night sweats
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle weakness
  • Body aches
  • Anemia

What are the Most Common Precursors to a Mesothelioma Diagnosis?

A 2011 study of 221 mesothelioma patients revealed that the disease was discovered in the following ways:

  • 30 percent experienced weight loss
  • 36 percent developed a chronic cough
  • 64 percent suffered chest pain
  • 79 percent experienced shortness of breath
  • 90 percent developed pleural effusions

Misdiagnosis can delay mesothelioma treatment until it’s too late. Physicians may mistake this deadly disease for less-serious conditions, such as COPD, pneumonia, influenza, asthma, and bronchial infection. A Boston personal injury lawyer can help you determine how to recover damages if you are suffering from mesothelioma or another asbestos-related disease. Continue reading

Choosing the right daycare facility is one of the most important decisions we make when our kids are young. Although we all want our kids to have the best possible start at life, there is more to consider than whether the facility serves organic food, teaches your toddler French, and provides lessons on impressionist art. Safety should be the most important factor to consider when choosing a daycare facility for your little one. Unfortunately, daycare negligence, and even abuse, do occur. Read on for more information about how to ensure that your child is safe and well cared for when you head to work each day.

Observe Staff

Pay attention to how daycare staff interact with the other children. Before enrolling your child in a specific daycare program, take a tour of the center. A tour doesn’t have to be limited to a five-minute walk through; you can spend several hours there if you so choose. You should observe the staff playing with the children, smiling, holding young children and babies, and engaging all children with loving interactions. There should be appropriate staff-to-children ratios to ensure that your child will get the one-on-one attention that he deserves. If staff seem stressed, overworked, or annoyed with the children, this could indicate a problem.

Staff Commitment

Ask about staffing turnover. Have most of the employees been at the facility for at least one year? Young children need stability, and this is best achieved by choosing a school with committed, long-term staff. A MA injury lawyer can help you recover damages if your child has been neglected at a daycare facility.

Credentials and Licenses

Check the facilities accreditations and licensing. In MA, daycare centers cannot practice without a state license. In addition, they should have insurance and a business license. These are the bare minimums. Special accreditations and credentials indicate a commitment to providing high-quality daycare.

The Surprise Visit

Drop in unannounced. Most people schedule an appointment to visit a daycare facility. Although daycare staff may appreciate being given notice, unannounced visits are your best bet at witnessing actual day-to-day operations. Dropping by unannounced means that things may be a bit more chaotic than during a scheduled visit; this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. What you want to look for is general cleanliness, how staff is interacting with children, and if the environment appears safe and free from obvious hazards.

Special Care Policies

Ask staff about special care policies, such as how or if they discipline children, and how naps and special diets are handled. A good daycare facility will have policies for special situations and needs. If they don’t, you may want to keep looking. A Boston daycare negligence and abuse attorney can help you determine how to move forward if you suspect your child is being harmed at a daycare facility. Continue reading

The past few years haven’t been good for Chipotle. The “healthy” burrito chain made headlines in 2015 following an E.coli outbreak in several of its restaurants. After extensive marketing efforts – and the passing of two years – Chipotle was just beginning to recover. But those efforts may have been in vain; a Sterling, VA Chipotle recently closed after several complaints of food poisoning. A total of eight people reported illnesses, including fevers and violent vomiting. Will Chipotle be able to bounce back after this latest food-poisoning scandal?

Chris Arnold, a spokesman for Chipotle, issued the following statement earlier this week:

“We are working with health authorities to understand what the cause may be and to resolve the situation as quickly as possible,” said Arnold. “The reported symptoms are consistent with norovirus. Norovirus does not come from our food supply, and it is safe to eat at Chipotle. We plan to reopen the restaurant today.”

According to Arnold, the Sterling, VA restaurant closed this week so that professionals can “conduct a complete sanitization.” Eight people reported poisonings that occurred between July 14 and 15 on iwaspoisoned.com. Apparently, 13 people became sick following the introduction of Chipotle’s new queso sauce. A Boston personal injury lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured due to another’s negligence.

Will Chipotle Ever Recover?

It seems that this recent outbreak is linked to the same norovirus as the 2015 outbreak. The norovirus is highly contagious and may cause severe vomiting, cramping, and diarrhea. In response to the news, Chipotle shares dropped 4.3 percent on Tuesday. This comes on the heels of Chipotle’s June announcement that second-quarter profits may be low due to an increase in marketing spending in the wake of the 2015 health scare. A MA food poisoning attorney can help you recover damages if you’ve become ill due to another’s negligence.

According to the CDC, about 48 million food poisoning cases occur annually. Most people recover within a few days, but food poisoning can be deadly. This is especially true for vulnerable individuals, such as young children, the elderly, and people with suppressed immune systems. Food poisoning is most commonly caused by one of the following bacterium:

  • Coli
  • Hepatitis A
  • Norovirus
  • Listeria
  • Salmonella
  • Cyclospora
  • Cryptosporidium
  • Shigella

Avoid Food Poisoning

According to the CDC, approximately 325,000 people are hospitalized for food poisoning every year, and more than 5,000 people die. Food poisoning may occur in restaurants, but it can also occur with purchased food that we prepare at home. Although it is difficult to determine the safety of food we eat in restaurants, we can dramatically reduce our risk of becoming sick from food we prepare ourselves. When shopping for and storing food, keep the following tips in mind:

  • Is the store clean (in appearance and smell)?
  • Separate raw meat and seafood from the other items in your shopping cart. Put meats in plastic bags to prevent juices from contaminating other items.
  • Don’t purchase food in jars or cans that are bulging or cracked.
  • Shop for meat last.
  • Perishable food items should be refrigerated as soon as possible and should not be kept at room temperature for more than two hours.

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Whether you’re a leisure cyclist or you commute to work on your bike each day, it’s important to use safe cycling practices at all times. As cycling continues to grow in popularity, so do related accidents. Boston has taken numerous steps to improve bicycle safety, but we still have a long way to go. Read on for more information about bicycle safety and how to avoid being seriously injured or killed in a cycling accident.

Bicycle Safety Tips

In the United States, more than 700 people are killed in bicycle accidents each year. Of those accidents, about 30 percent involve a motor vehicle. Non-fatal but serious injuries are even more common, and the most frequently occurring of the serious cycling injuries is head trauma. Follow the safety tips below to avoid becoming a statistic. A Boston bicycle accident lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been involved in an accident.

 

  • Know the rules of the road, and obey them. As a bicyclist, you should follow the same rules of the road as other vehicles. Stop at stop signs, ride in the direction and flow of traffic, and yield to pedestrians. If there is a bike lane, use it. If not, make sure to use hand signals to tell other drivers which way you intend to turn, left or right.

 

  • Wear brightly colored clothing. When it comes to cycling, what you wear does make a difference. In addition to a good helmet, you should wear brightly colored clothing, and use lights and reflective gear when it’s dark. If you bike after dark frequently, consider purchasing a reflective jacket. You may also want to use a horn rather than a bell. Horns are louder and will attract more attention in an emergency situation. A MA injury attorney can help you recover damages if you’ve been injured due to another’s negligence.

 

  • Understand that drivers may not know how to handle cyclists. Some drivers have no idea who has the right of way when they approach a cyclist. Assume all drivers are clueless, and drive defensively. Stay out of the blindspot of other vehicles, and avoid sudden swerving or pulling out in front of traffic.

 

  • Focus on the road at all times. Make eye contact with vehicles before you cross their path at an intersection, and never, ever ride distracted. Keep your cell phone and any other distractions safely out of reach. If you need to make a call, send a text, or check directions, find a safe place to stop before doing so. And listening to music while you cycle may make your ride more enjoyable, but it also dramatically increases your risk of being involved in an accident. Keep the headphones at home.

 

Who is Most at Risk of Being Injured in a Bicycle Accident?

  • People between the ages of 50 and 59 have the highest rate of bicycle-related fatalities.
  • Children between the ages of five and 19 have the highest rate of non-fatal injuries involving bicycles.
  • Male bicyclists are six times more likely to die in bicycle accidents than their female counterparts.
  • More than one-third of all bicyclist deaths involved alcohol with either the bicycle rider or motor vehicle driver, or both.
  • The majority of cyclist deaths occur in urban locations.

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Multiple recent studies have revealed that head injuries in young children – particularly traumatic brain injuries (TBI) – can affect IQ, cognitive function, and even behavior for an extended period. Study results also showed, however, that recovery can continue for years. Several factors have a significant impact on recovery, including the child’s home environment and the presence or absence of certain genes.

Each of three studies (two conducted in Australia, and one in the U.S.) concluded that a loving, stable home environment has an immensely positive impact on a child’s recovery after a TBI. One in 30 children will experience a TBI by the age of 16. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), TBIs often occur when a child suffers a bump or blow to the head. As such, young children have the greatest risk of a TBI, and approximately one-third of children who suffer a TBI will have permanent or long-lasting damage. A MA injury attorney can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve suffered a brain injury due to another’s negligence.

“Many people think that the soft skull of a baby may give them some advantage because if they fall they are not likely to sustain a skull fracture. Also, because a baby’s brain is growing so quickly, it seems like the brain may be able to fix an injury. In reality, the soft skull and growing brain of a baby put them at a greater risk of future problems,” said Louise Crowe, an author of one of the studies and a postdoctoral research officer at Melbourne’s Murdoch Children’s Research Institute.

“Children with significant head injuries do recover, but they are generally slower to learn concepts, and some high-level skills are often too difficult for them,” said Crowe.

Therapy May Still be Effective Years Later

However, until now, few studies have tracked long-term effects of brain injuries in children. According to Vicki Anderson, a professor in critical care and neuroscience research at the Murdoch Institute, therapy and intervention may still be effective years after the initial injury.

“Although this does not suggest that children catch up to peers, it does imply that the gap does not widen during this period,” said Anderson.

Further, home environment has a significant impact on a child’s recovery. The more stable the home, the better the chance of full recovery. “It’s difficult to predict outcome,” Anderson said. “A quality home environment and access to appropriate rehabilitation is critical to maximize outcomes. Or, the young brain is plastic, and so the better the environment, the better the outcome.” A Boston TBI lawyer can help you recover damages if you’ve been injured by another’s negligence.

Meanwhile in the United States, researchers from Cincinnati Children’s Hospital conducted a study on long-term TBI effects for an average of seven years from initial injury. Individuals with mild to moderate TBIs were twice as likely to develop attention disorders, compared to five times more likely for those with severe TBIs. This study also emphasized the importance of home environment. Children with moderate injuries from poor home environments demonstrated worse outcomes than children with severe injuries who live in stable, loving homes. Although the reason for these outcomes is still unknown, it may have to do with early family response, which seems critical to the overall outcome of the child’s long-term prognosis.

More than 630,000 children visit the E.R. for TBIs annually in the U.S. Predictors of recovery, however, remain unclear. These studies provide greater insight into this grey area; particularly when it comes to the roles of environment and specific genes. Cincinnati Children’s Hospital is currently working on ways to identify the genes essential to TBI recovery, and how environmental factors may interact with these genes. To do so, they are collecting DNA samples from hundreds of children who have suffered a TBI. Continue reading

Tennis Superstar Venus Williams was involved in a crash on June 9 that fatally injured another. The victim, 78-year-old Jerome Barson, died two weeks after the incident. According to Palm Beach Gardens police, Williams ran a red light and the other driver crashed into the side of her 2010 Toyota Sequoia SUV.

The victim’s wife, Linda Barson, was driving the couple’s 2016 Hyundai Accent at the time of the crash. Williams was crossing an intersection at low speeds when Barson crashed into the SUV, according to a report. However, despite the low speeds, Williams “violated the right of way” of Barson’s vehicle when she ran the red light. Barson suffered non-life threatening injuries. Williams was not injured.

No Drugs or Alcohol Suspected

Although the incident is still under investigation, neither driver is suspected of having been under the influence of drugs or alcohol, according to Williams’ attorney Malcolm Cunningham.

“This is an unfortunate accident, and Venus expresses her deepest condolences to the family who lost a loved one,” said Cunningham in a statement.

Wrongful Death Lawsuit Filed

Barson’s family has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the tennis celebrity, alleging negligence. According to the lawsuit, Linda Barson suffered a shattered right arm and cracked sternum, among other injuries to her wrist and hand. Jerome Barson suffered multiple injuries, including “severed main arteries, massive internal bleeding, a fractured spine, and massive internal organ damage.” He succumbed to these injuries after two weeks in the intensive care unit, on his wife’s 68th birthday. Barson claims that Williams cut in front of her car and she had no time to stop.

This case illustrates the difference between a civil wrongful death lawsuit and a criminal manslaughter or murder case. To be liable for the wrongful death of another, a person doesn’t need to have acted with malice. In Williams’ case, she hadn’t tried to harm Barson, nor was she necessarily reckless. But at least according to the court, she was negligent. A Boston wrongful death attorney can help you obtain compensation if you’ve lost a loved one to another’s negligence. Although money can’t bring back a loved one, it can help provide you with the time and space to heal.

Elements of a Wrongful Death Case

In order for a wrongful death claim to be successful, four elements must have been present. These are negligence, breach of duty, causation, and damages.

  • Negligence: The person responsible for the wrongful death must have acted in a reckless or careless way. For example, if someone is texting while driving, he will likely be found negligent in the event that an accident results. A MA wrongful death attorney can help you determine if negligence played a role in your loved one’s death.

 

  • Breach of duty: The person responsible must have owed a duty to the victim. For example, a driver has a duty to remain focused and follow the rules of the road when she’s driving. If she ignores these rules, she has breached that duty.

 

  • Causation: The death must have been caused by the responsible person’s negligent actions. For example, Venus Williams allegedly disobeyed the rules of the road when the accident occurred. As such, she was negligent. But did her negligence cause the death of Jerome Barson? In this particular case, the answer is likely yes. However, had Barson’s wife been speeding and intoxicated at the time of the accident, the outcome may have been very different.

 

  • Damages: In order for a wrongful death claim to be successful, someone must have actually died. This isn’t hard to prove. However, damages may add up to more than the death itself; there may be property damages, loss of income, loss of consortium, funeral expenses, and more.

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