Articles Posted in Personal Injury

You might imagine that the winter time is the most dangerous time for drivers. Especially in New England, and Altman & Altman’s home base of Cambridge and the Greater Boston Area, the thought of wintry storms causing whiteouts and freezing temperatures producing black ice conjures reasonable fear in many of us and absolutely causes deaths every year.

However, you may be surprised to find out that the most dangerous months to drive are actually the summer months – specifically June July and August – for a variety of reasons. Those months are actually responsible for 29 percent more fatalities than the most wintery months of December, January and February, according to a recent study from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) that examined 24 years of traffic accidents in America.

What makes summer driving more dangerous than winter driving?

There are many factors that contribute to car accidents, but some of the biggest reasons for traffic accidents increasing during the months where the weather is nicer and more predictable are as follows:

There are more people on the road

According to the NHTSA study, summer months lead to an approximately 20 percent increase in the number of total vehicles on the road at any given time. Simply put, more cars on the roadways lead to a higher probability of you becoming involved in an accident.

There are more young people on the road

Partially responsible for the uptick in the number of vehicles on the road is the number of students and young people on the road due to being on summer vacation and out of school. Younger drivers have less experience on the road and in control of their vehicles, which increases the likelihood of them being in serious accidents. Teenage drivers have the highest accident rate among any driving demographic.

Hotter temperatures lead to more tire incidents

While cold temperatures cause your tires to restrict and contract, hotter temperatures cause your tires to expand. With older tires and tires that have not been maintained, rapid expansion and the hot temperatures of asphalt during summer months can lead to an increased chance of a blowout, leading to serious accidents.

Summer time is construction time

When the weather gets nicer and asphalt plants open up, municipalities rush to get as much road construction done as possible. This work leads to road closures, detours and lane changes that can surprise motorists and cause congestion, leading to rear-end accidents and other crashes. Continue reading

Cycling is among the most popular ways to get around within the city, especially on the highly bike populated streets of Cambridge and the surrounding Greater Boston Area. However, cyclists must share the roads with motorists at all times, even if they are safely biking in bike lanes. Sometimes, when a motorist isn’t paying attention, they may open their car door right in the path of an oncoming cyclist. These incidents are known as “dooring” or being “doored,” which can result in horrendous injuries to cyclists. If you have been involved in a dooring incident, contact the Cambridge personal injury attorneys at Altman & Altman LLP right away to see if you may be able to file a personal injury claim.

Being doored is more common than you may think. One study of Cambridge bicycle accidents found that being doored accounted for about one in five cycling accidents, and the injuries sustained from these incidents can be quite severe, since they often involve high speeds and harsh impacts. Injuries from dooring incidents can include:

  • Deep skin lacerations
  • Road rash
  • Broken bones or teeth
  • Concussions or other brain injuries
  • Coma and death

Who is responsible for a dooring incident?

Massachusetts, along with many other states, has specific laws that are intended to protect cyclists from dooring incidents. In Massachusetts, passengers and drivers in automobiles are required to check their surroundings before opening their doors, and should not be distracted (for example, by a cell phone) when they do open their door.

These laws mean that, in the vast majority of dooring cases, the individual who opens the door without first adequately checking their surroundings will be at fault for any injuries that occur as a result. However, there are some important factors to keep in mind after being injured in a dooring incident in Massachusetts, due to how the state handles injuries from events that are covered by mandated personal insurance.

In Massachusetts, such incidents may first have to be covered by the “no fault” provision of insurance, which means a minimum of up to $8,000 of medical expenses can be covered by the at fault individual’s insurance. However, this provision may not always apply, especially if the dooring incident caused especially damaging injuries – like permanent scarring or debilitation. An experienced personal injury attorney from Altman & Altman LLP will be able to assess whether it makes more sense to go through personal insurance claim or to pursue a separate personal injury claim following your dooring incident. Continue reading

A hip replacement surgery is no simple task, but it is a necessity for thousands of Americans every year. Hip replacements can improve quality of life, but they can also cause further medical issues, especially if the hip replacement was an improperly designed product that led to a recall. If you or a loved one has suffered as the result of a metal hip replacement which was later recalled, contact the Cambridge personal injury firm of Altman & Altman LLP today, as you may be eligible for financial compensation.

If a product has been recalled, this indicates that the federal government has ruled a product to be unsafe and that its use could potentially cause harm or even death to those who may use it. Unfortunately, hip replacement recalls often come far too late before thousands of people have already been fitted with these faulty devices.

Hip replacement products that have been recalled due to them being deemed unsafe include:

  • DePuy ASR Acetabular & Resurfacing System
  • Stryker Rejuvenate and ABG II Hip Recall
  • Smith & Nephew R3 Acetabular, Modular SMF, Modular Redapt Femoral Hip Systems
  • Wright Conserve Plus and Profemur Z Hip Stem
  • Zimmer Durom Acetabular Component

Stryker and DePuy accounted for over 380 recalls between 2002 and 2013 alone, and products have been recalled for a variety of reasons, such as improperly labeling them, manufacturing issues resulting in design flaws and some were improperly packaged.

What are the dangers of metal hip replacements?

Hip replacements are meant to be long-term solutions to major medical issues, often times offered to individuals who have suffered an injury that weakened their original hip or the elderly, who may suffer from decreased mobility or consistent pain as the cartilage in their original hip socket deteriorates and causes uncomfortable friction to occur from basic movement.

Metal hip replacements are supposed to be more durable than other hip replacement products, such as plastic or ceramic models. In these types of hip replacements, both parts of the hip replacement – the ball end that attaches to the femur, and the socket that attaches to the hip – are made of metal. However, despite them supposedly being more durable than other types of hip replacements, metal hip replacements can degrade and cause serious issues, such as:

  • Requirement of another replacement or an additional surgery sooner than advertised, as the metal pieces grind against one another and degrade through friction
  • Blood poisoning, known as metallosis, which can occur through tiny particles of metal shearing off the hip replacement and getting into the bloodstream over time
  • Constant, debilitating hip and leg pain
  • Reduced mobility
  • Development of tumor-like growths in the area of hip replacement

If you suffer from a faulty hip replacement, it can not only result in seriously debilitating issues, it can require additional surgery or medical intervention to correct. This can mean more even more medical expenses and time spent recovering in a hospital, which you may not be able to afford financially or in time missed from work. Continue reading

Any surgical procedure comes with risks, but in the case of hernia surgeries those risks may not have been adequately communicated to patients. Hernia mesh products have faced recalls and significant legal scrutiny over their tendency to shrink, degrade or migrate, causing serious medical consequences. Anybody who has suffered pain or additional medical procedures following the application of surgical hernia mesh should contact a personal injury attorney at Altman & Altman LLP today.

What is surgical hernia mesh, and how is it dangerous?

Surgical hernia mesh is a medical device made from either organic or synthetic materials, usually the latter, which is intended to hold a hernia in place during surgery and prevent it from reoccurring following a surgery to repair it. It is a thin piece of woven mesh that is intended to not only be safe for the patient, but actually help them towards a successful surgery and recovery.

Last weekend, passengers aboard the Carnival Sunshine got more excitement than they paid for when the ship tipped sharply to one side, causing general panic and sending items falling and sliding all over the vessel. The incident occurred as the ship was headed for the Caribbean, only hours after leaving its port of origination, Port Canaveral, Florida.

“I was shifting, falling out of my seat,” said passenger Kyla Williams. “This was very much the ship rolling to one side and everything falling down from that, and it was something you’ll never forget.” She says her husband had to keep her from falling over.

Another passenger, David Crews, was unfazed at first, knowing that ships commonly rock from side to side. But when it didn’t rock back, he became concerned.

“Plates and silverware started sliding off the tables. Then the tables themselves started to slide. Glasses and plates started to fall and shatter. At this point, it was pure chaos. Screams. Cries. Panic,” said Crews.

Like a Scene from Titanic

Another guest reported to an Orlando news station that she was “at the table where the window broke and the water came in,” when they were seated for dinner that evening. “Next thing we know, the whole boat tilted … we were literally hanging on for our lives, dangling…it was really like a scene from the Titanic.”

“[We went] down to our room and got our life jackets and literally carried them around the rest of the night … that’s how scared we were, every time you felt the boat move you were like, oh, crap, is it happening again?” reported another angry passenger.

Several people took to social media, tweeting and posting that elevators were taking on water, cans were falling from shelves and exploding, and bottles were flying through the air. A Boston personal injury lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been harmed by another’s negligence.

Carnival’s Response

According to a spokesperson for the cruise line, the rocky incident—which Carnival says lasted approximately one minute—was the result of a “technical issue.” The next day, each guest received an explanation letter and a $50 on-board credit. But many passengers were unsatisfied with the meager consolation prize.

One passenger posted the following on social media: $50 credit is not enough. I did not sleep at all we got no explanation until this morning. My cruise is ruined. I cannot wait to get off this ship. I’m terrified.

In response to the disgruntled passenger’s comments, the cruise line issued the following statement: “We appreciated our guests understanding of this disruption and provided compensation as a gesture of goodwill.

Was Anyone Physically Harmed?

At least one passenger explained having hurt her back when the ship tilted hard to one side. In fact, she claims to have been unable to partake in any of her planned excursions because of the pain from the injury. A Carnival representative confirmed that “some minor injuries” had occurred.

Some passengers were so upset by the terrifying incident that they cut their cruise short, flying home as soon as the ship docked in the Dominican Republic. A MA personal injury attorney can help you recover damages if you’ve been harmed by another’s negligence.

One of Carnival’s oldest-running ships, the Carnival Sunshine first went into service in 1996, under the name Carnival Destiny. At the time, it was the largest cruise ship in the world. Continue reading

In 2016, a 62-year-old man was seriously injured in a New York Costco store when a steel rod fell, striking him in the head. Peter Aurigemma Jr. has filed a lawsuit against the bulk retailer, alleging that he suffered damages due to dangerous and/or defective conditions.

According to the lawsuit, the victim was reaching for paper towels, which were located at least seven feet above floor level, when the steel pipe fell and struck him. Following the accident, Aurigemma Jr. suffered serious medical complications, including a concussion, loss of dexterity in his left hand, damage to the nerves and muscles surrounding his left eye, migraines, noise and light sensitivities, lapses in short-term memory, and even behavioral changes. As a result of these injuries, Aurigemma Jr. is seeking compensation for 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.

Premises Liability

Under premises liability law, property owners are responsible for maintaining reasonably safe conditions on their property so that visitors aren’t harmed. The “status” of the visitor is important when determining liability. For example, trespassers have less rights than invitees. If you are injured while trespassing on store property after hours, your chances of winning a premises liability lawsuit are quite limited. In the Costco case above, however, the victim was not trespassing. In this particular scenario, he would be considered an invitee, or someone who is invited onto the property for a certain purpose, such as shopping. When a store is open to the public, the invitation is implied.

What if Both Parties are at Fault?

Although fault in Aurigemma Jr.’s case is yet to be determined, it is possible that both parties could be at fault. Maybe he grabbed a ladder marked “employees only” to reach the paper towels, possibly making him partially at fault. And maybe the placement of a steel rod on top of a roll of paper towels also makes Costco partially at fault. In MA, when both parties are at fault, a “comparative fault” system is used to reduce the victim’s legal damages by his/her percentage of fault. Therefore, if the victim is found to be 25 percent liable for the accident, his/her personal injury award will be reduced by 25 percent.

And this isn’t Costco’s “first rodeo” when it comes to premises liability lawsuits. The company was ordered to pay more than $400,000 to a slip-and-fall victim with a fractured ankle in 2017, and a New York woman who was hit by a shopping cart on a Costco escalator was awarded nearly $10 million in 2014. In this most recent lawsuit, Costco will have to prove that it took reasonable precautions to ensure the safety of customers. The allegation that paper towels—intended for customer use—were stacked more than seven feet high may have the greatest impact on the outcome of the case. Aurigemma’s lawyers will also likely question why a steel pipe was placed in close proximity to those paper towels. A MA personal injury lawyer can help you recover damages if you’ve been injured due to another’s negligence. Continue reading

According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Fadil Delkic allegedly drove his car too close to a family in a Snellville, Georgia Walmart crosswalk. Troy Hunte and his girlfriend confronted Delkic, who remained in the vehicle and attempted to avoid an altercation (as evidenced by a surveillance video). Unfortunately, his attempts were in vain. Hunte shot and killed Delkic a few moments later. The victim’s widow, Bahra Delkic, has brought a wrongful death lawsuit against Walmart, claiming that the mega-retailer lacked adequate security.

“Given the history of violence in their parking lots,” the lawsuit claims, “and Wal-Mart’s [sic] knowledge they were not employing adequate security measures, it was foreseeable to Wal-Mart that the Plaintiff would be attacked in their parking lot and sustain serious injury or death.” A Boston wrongful death attorney can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve lost a loved one due to the negligence of another.

Nothing New for Walmart

Walmart has experienced somewhat of a crime wave in recent years. Last year, law enforcement was called to the four Walmarts in Tulsa, OK nearly 2,000 times. While most of those calls are for shoplifting, there are plenty of more serious offenses, including five armed robberies so far in 2018, a murder suspect who shot himself in the parking lot in 2017, and a 2014 parking lot shootout that killed one and injured several others. In fact, more than 200 violent crimes have occurred at the country’s 4,500 Walmarts so far this year, including stabbings, shootings, murders, and attempted kidnappings.

What Happened?

Delkic was actually able to drive away from the initial confrontation and found a place to park. “Then, more or less, the fight was brought to him,” said Gwinnett County District Attorney Danny Porter. Hunte’s girlfriend allegedly smacked Delkic across the face just before Hunte took out his gun and shot him in the chest.

Bahra Delkic’s lawsuit against Walmart also names Troy Hunte, who was shortly thereafter arrested and charged with murder. She is seeking compensation for “the full value of the life of Fadil Delkic, in an amount to be determined by the evidence.” A MA wrongful death lawyer can help you recover damages if you’ve lost a loved one due to another’s negligence.

Is Walmart Doing Enough?

When Doug McMillon took over as Walmart CEO in 2014, he made crime reduction at Walmart stores nationwide a priority. As a result, the retailer allegedly maintains a detailed database of crimes occurring at their stores. According to reports from law enforcement in Port Ritchie, Florida, Walmart incidents comprise nearly 50 percent of all criminal offenses in that city. Even so, Walmart’s attorneys claim that the Delkic murder was an isolated incident and that Walmart had no way to know that the argument would escalate the way it did.

Is Walmart Liable?

In recent years, courts have become increasingly likely to hold retailers liable for parking lot crimes. Whether or not Walmart is liable in the Delkic case will come down to determining how foreseeable the murder of Fadil Delkic was. If this particular store has a history of crime, or is located in a high-crime area, Walmart is likely to be found liable. Continue reading

A grand jury issued a report last week revealing that more than 300 priests sexually abused at least 1,000 children over a 70-year period, in Pennsylvania alone. Nearly as disturbing is the discovery that the abuse was covered up by bishops and many others in Pennsylvania’s Roman Catholic Church, and that victims and law enforcement were “persuaded” to remain mum. According to the report, there are likely thousands of additional victims who are reticent to come forward, or who have died leaving no record of abuse.

The report includes detailed descriptions of abuse, including the rape of a young girl by a hospital chaplain after a tonsillectomy, a priest who impregnated a young girl and arranged for her abortion, a priest who tied up and whipped his victim with leather straps, and five sisters who were all abused, including the youngest who was 18 months old.

Pennsylvania Isn’t Alone

Boston is no stranger to sex abuse scandals in the Catholic Church. In 2002, decades of sexual abuse and cover ups were brought to light, resulting in the resignation of Boston’s Archbishop, settlements in the billions of dollars, and the addition of multiple prevention programs. But Boston and PA are far from the only places to be rocked by scandal in recent years; the former archbishop of Washington, Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick, recently resigned after being accused of sexual abuse against minors, and some of these cover-ups have gone as far as the Vatican. A MA injury lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been the victim of sexual abuse.

According to the report, some of the church officials who protected abusive priests were not only allowed to remain in office, they got promotions.

“Despite some institutional reform, individual leaders of the church have largely escaped public accountability,” wrote the grand jury in the report. “Priests were raping little boys and girls, and the men of God who were responsible for them not only did nothing; they hid it all. For decades.” A Boston injury lawyer can help you recover damages if you’ve been the victim of clergy sexual abuse.

Several bishops are rejecting accusations that the church has been covering up sexual abuse.

“There was no cover-up going on,” said Bishop David A. Zubik of Pittsburgh. “I think that it’s important to be able to state that. We have over the course of the last 30 years, for sure, been transparent about everything that has in fact been transpiring.”

They Put the Church First

But the grand jury doesn’t see it that way, saying that the Catholic Church knew what it was doing by following the “playbook for concealing the truth.” For example, any documentation about incidents used language such as “inappropriate contact” for actions that more accurately described rape. And when priests were removed for misconduct, church officials were advised to say the priest was on “sick leave” or “suffering from exhaustion.” According to Attorney General Josh Shapiro, the church put itself first. “They protected their institution at all costs. As the grand jury found, the church showed a complete disdain for victims.” Continue reading

Massachusetts has an abundance of coastline and waterways for every type of boating excursion. Boating can be great fun during the warmer months. From water skiing and wake boarding to fishing and summer commuting, boating is a favorite activity for thousands who live in, or visit, MA every year. But boating can become seriously dangerous—even deadly—due to inexperience, speeding, and alcohol use.

Boating Safety Tips

Follow the tips below to dramatically reduce your risk of serious injury or death in a boating accident.

  • Never combine alcohol and boating. According to the U.S. Coast Guard, alcohol consumption increases the risk of a boating fatality by 34 percent. And alcohol is a factor in nearly half of all boating accidents. Further, it is a federal offense to operate a boat under the influence. If convicted, you could face jail time and fines of up to $5,000.
  • Avoid speeding and reckless driving. You can be cited for speeding and reckless driving, but these dangerous behaviors also dramatically increase your risk of serious injury. A Boston boating accident lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured due to another’s negligence.
  • Leave the volume of your emergency radio at an easily audible level. A fatal duck boat accident in Philadelphia was a tragic reminder of the importance of emergency radios; the boat’s operator missed crash warnings because he had turned down the radio’s volume. As a result, two tourists were killed and the Philadelphia duck boat company settled with the victim’s families for $15 million.
  • There should be an experienced boat operator onboard at all times. In 77 percent of fatal boat accidents, the operator had inadequate boating safety instruction. In fact, the top five contributing factors in boating accidents are inexperience, inattention, speeding, improper lookout, and mechanical failures.
  • Ensure that your boat is well maintained and in proper working order. If you own the boat and someone is injured or killed because it is in poor condition, you could be found liable.
  • Follow life jacket laws. In MA, that means anyone under the age of 12 must wear a life jacket at all times, and that there are ample life jackets for each person onboard. The boat’s owner or operator is responsible for ensuring that life jacket laws are followed. In 2016, drowning was the main cause of death in 80 percent of fatal boating accidents, and of those victims, 83 percent were not wearing their life jacket.
  • Avoid overloading your boat. Too much weight on a boat can lead to capsizing or swamping (taking on water). Check your boat’s weight capacity and ensure that you never exceed it.
  • Be prepared for an emergency. Make sure that you have proper safety equipment onboard, that it’s in proper working order, and that you know how to use it. A MA personal injury lawyer can help you recover damages if you’ve been injured due to another’s negligence.
  • Check the weather before heading out. Getting caught in bad weather on open water can be deadly.

Continue reading

Are duck boats death traps? Following a tragic accident that claimed 17 lives in Missouri last week, many experts are saying duck boats should be banned nationwide. Duck boats are amphibious vehicles (originally used during WWII) that can travel on land and water, and they have a deadly history.

Anyone living in the Boston area is likely familiar with duck boat accidents; a woman was killed and a man was injured when a Boston Duck Tours vehicle ran over their scooter in 2016, and another woman was seriously injured months later when she was struck by a duck boat from the same company. A MA personal injury attorney can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured by another’s negligence.

The recent accident in Missouri resulted in the death of 17 people, at least one of whom was a child. The Ride the Ducks vehicle capsized on Branson’s Table Rock Lake when a sudden storm brought 65 mph winds. Only 14 of the 31 passengers survived. One of those passengers, Tia Coleman, lost nine family members in the tragedy—three children, her husband, two nephews, her mother-in-law and father-in-law, her sister-in-law, and an uncle. Only she and a nephew survived. Coleman claims that the boat’s captain told them not to worry, and that there was no need to use life jackets. When it became apparent that they needed the life vests to survive, it was too late.

“When that boat is found, all those life jackets are going to be there,” said Coleman.

Sinking Coffins

Not only was this not the first fatal duck boat accident in the country (not even close), it wasn’t the first for this particular company. Ride the Ducks has been sued multiple times for fatal duck boat accidents. Experts are calling these vehicles “sinking coffins.” After an accident that killed 13 people in Arkansas nearly 20 years ago, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) recommended that the canopies on all duck boats be removed for safer escape. In those 20 years, almost nothing about duck boat structure or operations has changed. Not only are the canopies still there, but the design on most duck boats is nearly identical to their original WWII design.

In addition to their on-water dangers, duck boats are considered to be dangerous when driving on land because their unusual design creates a deadly blind spot. In last year’s fatal accident in Boston, the duck boat driver couldn’t see the scooter stopped at a red light directly in front of him because of the duck boat’s shape. A Boston personal injury lawyer can help you recover damages if you’ve been injured due to another’s negligence.

In Seattle in 2015, a fatal collision involving a duck boat and a bus resulted in the death of five college students. Another 69 passengers were injured. Branson-based Ride the Ducks, who also manufactured the Seattle duck boats, was fined $500,000. And in 2015, a woman was struck and killed while crossing a Philadelphia street. That duck boat was also connected to Ride the Ducks. Continue reading

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