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New England in March can be warm, sunny, and framed by blooming flowers and emerald green grass. It can just as easily be dark and gloomy with grey skies, snow and ice, and slushy, muddy roads. Thankfully, this March is shaping up to be quite beautiful. Now that the days are longer, and the winter doldrums are beginning to fade away until next year, everyone’s mind is on spring. And for many people that means spring break. This term may conjure images of bathing suit-clad college students doing keg stands in Miami, but spring break is much less wild for many of us. That being said, during the upcoming spring break weeks, accidents and injuries do spike.

A significant increase in traffic as people head to various vacation destinations, results in a substantial uptick in motor vehicle accidents. By following the tips below, you can help dramatically reduce your risk of serious injuries or death in an accident. Contact a Boston Personal Injury Lawyer Today.

Spring Break Safety Tips

  • Limit the amount of alcohol you consume, especially if you’re driving. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a person is killed in an alcohol-related crash every 31 seconds. With more people on the road during spring break, including more drunk drivers, avoid drinking and getting behind the wheel. But use caution, even if you’re not driving. Excessive drinking (binge drinking) can cause a litany of other health problems, and can place you in dangerous situations.
  • Protect your eyes and skin from the sun. Many people incorrectly assume that because it’s March and the temperatures are still relatively cool, they can’t get sunburned. This is a big mistake. Being outside all day, without sunglasses, protective clothing or sunblock, can result in serious burns, blistering, and long-term skin damage which can become cancerous. Use brimmed hats and protective sun gear to protect your skin from direct rays, and use sunblock on areas of unprotected skin if you’ll be outside for an extended period of time. For eyes, wear sunglasses with 100% UV ray protection.
  • Be safe on the open water. If your spring break plans include cruising around Boston Harbor in a boat, or swimming in the ocean in Florida or another warm-weather locale, use your head. Avoid alcohol when swimming or boating. Regularly apply sunblock. Drink plenty of water. And never swim alone. If you’re boating, wear a life jacket and consider taking a boating safety course before you head out.
  • Stay safe on the road. If your spring break plans involve a road trip, be prepared. Alternate drivers to make sure that nobody is feeling sleepy behind the wheel. Take a map in case you get lost in an area without cell service. Avoid drinking and driving, speeding, and reckless driving. Do not use your cell phone or any other hand-held device while driving. If you must make a call, send a text, or navigate with your GPS, have a passenger do it for you or pull over in a safe area until you are done.

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The decision to hire a personal injury attorney is typically preceded by a difficult, sometimes even traumatic, situation. You may have been involved in a motor vehicle accident, developed a serious medical condition after taking a prescription medication, or slipped on the icy walkway of a local business. Injuries suffered due to the negligence of another can be doubly challenging. In addition to the pain and potential financial consequences of a serious injury, you may be experiencing an overwhelming sense of anger and frustration. If negligence played a role in your injuries, you may be entitled to compensation for related expenses, including medical bills, pain and suffering, lost wages, and transportation costs. However, the process of filing a personal injury claim can be complicated and confusing. Experienced legal help can make all the difference in the world. Contact a Massachusetts Personal Injury Attorney Today.

Hiring the right legal counsel can make or break your case. Although it is in your best interest to consult with an attorney as soon as possible following an accident or injury, blindly rushing into a decision is not wise. If you’ve been injured in any type of accident, begin searching for an attorney immediately. However, do your homework. The checklist below can help you determine if a certain lawyer is the right fit for you and your particular case. Continue reading

Fox NFL Sideline reporter, Erin Andrews, is suing Marriot International and multiple other defendants, claiming they were guilty of negligence and invasion of privacy. Andrews, 37, claims that a stalker named Michael David Barrett filmed her through a peephole while she was staying at a Nashville Marriot in 2008. Andrews is seeking $75 million in damages. For local negligence or ‘invasion of privacy’ cases, contact a Boston injury lawyer.

According to court records, Barrett obtained the video by removing the peephole in Andrews’ room and videotaping her while she was undressing. Barrett then posted the video online which resulted in an FBI investigation after the video went viral. He was sentenced to 30 months in prison for felony stalking. Andrews is also suing the Marriot, claiming that its employees not only told Barret that she was staying at the hotel, but also placed him in the adjacent room.

“A Lot of People Just Looked at it as a Joke”

In an interview with Redbook last year, the NFL reporter and “Dancing with the Stars” co-host talked about how difficult the experience has been for her. “I’m not sure it will ever be entirely over for me,” Andrews said. “What made that experience even more horrible was that a lot of people just looked at it as a joke — like I pursued litigation to become famous. It’s proved to me how strong I am. I couldn’t pretend like it wasn’t a big deal. It was.”

The trial, which is slated to begin in late February, is expected to last no more than 10 days. Andrews filed the lawsuit back in 2011, but was recently asked to name a specific amount for her damages. Some are criticizing the $75 million figure as being absurdly high, however, the 2008 Nashville incident wasn’t the first time Barrett had filmed Andrews in the nude. He was convicted of stalking her at two other hotels and filming her on another occasion. Although Barrett received a 30 month prison sentence for the 2008 incident, he is now free. “You violated me and you violated all women,” said Andrews at the 2011 trial. “You are a sexual predator, a sexual deviant and they should lock you up.” Continue reading

The family of Eric Munsell, the 24-year-old Boston man who drowned in Boston Harbor in February 2014, has sued the Financial District bar that ousted him.

According to Boston Globe staff writer Amanda Hoover and the wrongful death suit, Munsell was kicked out of the Market bar and lounge after a bouncer saw him drunkenly stumbling and bumping into other customers. Despite the below-freezing temperatures, the bouncers, allegedly, refused to allow Munsell to retrieve his coat or tell his friends he was leaving the bar. The suit claims that the establishment “kicked him out and left him to ‘fend for himself.’”

According to the suit, Munsell was celebrating his birthday with friends at his North End apartment, and walked to Market after consuming a number of alcoholic beverages. The group arrived at the bar around 10:20 p.m.; Munsell was kicked out about an hour later. Munsell reportedly wandered his way back toward the North End but was too disoriented to find his way, according to the lawsuit.

“It was foreseeable that ejecting Mr. Munsell from the bar to fend for himself in his intoxicated state and without a coat created a dangerous situation that placed Mr. Munsell at increased risk of injury and death,” the suit said, according to Hoover. The suit claims that the bouncer stood and watched as Munsell “stumbled off toward the street, weaving unsteadily,” and did not notify the victim’s friends of his departure or call the victim a cab. “Neither the bouncer who threw out Mr. Munsell nor any other Market employee made any effort to avoid or mitigate this unsafe situation,” the suit states, according to Hoover.

Munsell’s body was retrieved from the water near Long Wharf in April 2014, two months after he disappeared into the night.

According to the Boston Globe, the family is seeking an unspecified amount of damages from the owners and operators of the bar, JPC Venture Corp. and the Cronin Group. The family alleges that the defendants “did not have appropriate policies for removing drunk patrons and acted negligently by failing ‘to take reasonable steps to ensure his safety when removing him.’”

The Munsell family’s lawyer spoke openly about the suit, saying that the family hopes this lawsuit encourages other bars to take more care when ejecting drunken patrons.

While Market was not cited for any violation following the incident, a spokesperson for the establishment said that the company “takes its ‘responsibilities very seriously.’”

In conflicting reports, the city’s licensing board found Market with no violation for failing to provide aid to an intoxicated person. The board made the decision after hearing testimony from bar staff, who said Munsell was asked to leave because he offended a group of female patrons, and that they did not believe he was impaired (according to Hoover). He was reportedly asked by bar staff if he had a coat, to which he replied “no,” and subsequently left without incident.

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With Labor Day around the corner, the law offices of Altman & Altman would like to remind those around the Commonwealth to celebrate safely. In addition, we’d like to extend a reminder to those who are planning to host a party on the work-free weekend about keeping their guests safe.

Social Host Liability Law

What is Massachusetts Social Host Liability Law? According to Massachusetts’ law, a social host is defined as anyone who provides alcohol to a guest as an act of hospitality or allows a guest to consume an alcoholic beverage on his or her property. Properties usually someone’s home, but may also include beach property, rental property, boats, or any other type of property in which a host owns or controls.

Under Massachusetts law, a social host assumes responsibility for all injuries caused by or sustained by a guest as the result of consuming alcohol. Injuries most often result from some sort of accident, specifically drunken driving. Hosts are legally responsible for ensuring their guests do not consume alcohol to the point of intoxication. In layman’s terms, if you host a party and one of your guests is over-served and ends up hurting another person, not only is he or she at fault, but you are responsible as well.

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Nearly a dozen of the world’s largest automakers were sued last week in a civil suit by U.S. consumers alleging they knowingly withheld the risks of carbon monoxide poisoning in more than 5 million vehicles that were equipped with keyless ignitions. The suit claims that the companies concealed the risk faced by drivers whose cars had the equipment, and 13 deaths resulted from the dangerous switches.

Keyless ignitions have become wildly popular in newer model cars, for their convenience and modern appeal, as they lets a driver start a vehicle by pushing an on-off button, instead of inserting a key, once the vehicle senses the presence of a nearby electronic fob.

According to a complaint filed in Los Angeles, carbon monoxide is emitted even when drivers exit their vehicles after taking their electronic keys with them. Most drivers, according to the suit and Reuters, believe their engines shut off, however 28 plaintiffs said this mistaken assumption causes serious, sometimes fatal injuries to those who inhale the gas (most often passengers). Carbon monoxide can also be emitted when vehicles are left in garages that are attached to homes, posing a hazard to occupants inside. The plaintiffs also alleged that the vehicles greatly reduce in resale value because of the defect.

The companies named in the suit include BMW, including Mini; Daimler’s Mercedes Benz; Fiat Chrysler; Ford Motor Company; General Motors Company; Honda, including Acura; Hyundai, including Kia; Nissan, including Infinity; Toyota, including Lexus; and Volkswagen, including Bentley.

According to Reuters, the plaintiffs are alleging that automakers could have helped to prevent the 13 deaths and numerous injuries, by installing an inexpensive feature to automatically turn off unattended engines. The suit states that GM and Ford even took steps to patent a shut-off feature. To date, 27 complaints have been logged with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration over safety concerns with keyless ignitions.

“The automakers had actual knowledge of the dangerous carbon monoxide poisoning consequences of vehicles with keyless fobs that lack an automatic shut-off,” the complaint said, according to Reuters. The lawsuit seeks class-action status and a ruling that will require automakers to install automatic shut-off features on all existing and future vehicles that are sold with keyless ignitions. The lawsuit also seeks compensatory and punitive damages for victims affected by the safety issue.

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With the baseball season in full swing—pun intended—and football season just beginning, fan safety at stadiums continues to be heavily scrutinized. THREE sports-related incidents have made headlines in the past week alone as the debate for greater fan safety regulations continues to heat up.

Monday night’s Red Sox-Yankees game saw some serious drama in the stands as Brian McCann’s bat slipped out of his hands and hit a female fan near the Boston Red Sox dugout in the seventh inning. This is the third sports-related injury to occur at Fenway Park this summer.

In addition, Boston Globe’s Travis Anderson reported this week that Brookline resident Stephanie Taubin, 46, is suing Red Sox principle owner John Henry for injuries she sustained after being struck by a foul ball last year during a Red Sox game at Fenway Park. Taubin and her attorneys are alleging Henry was negligent and failed to take adequate measures to ensure the safety of his fans. Taubin’s complaint stated that she was in an area above home plate, known as the EMC Club, in June 2014. Protective glass protecting that area had, at the time, been removed because of renovations, leaving the area (and fans) more susceptible to being hit by foul balls. Taubin was struck by a foul ball and subsequently suffered serious injuries including facial fractures and neurological damage, The Boston Globe reported. She incurred a substantial amount of medical expenses, lost wages, and diminished earning capacity, according to her lawsuit.

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Employment discrimination occurs when an employee is treated unfairly based on factors unrelated to job performance. It is illegal to use an individual’s race, gender, age, religion, disability, or sexual orientation against him or her with regard to hiring, firing, workers’ compensation, and eligibility for disability. These laws are federally regulated by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). In Massachusetts, the Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD) enforces these laws. Any assumption made by an employer based on generalizations or stereotypes violates a variety of equal opportunity acts and is cause for a potential discrimination claim.

Harassment

The EEOC defines harassment as any form of uncomfortable and unwelcome behavior based on race, color, religion, gender, age (40 or older), nationality, disability, or genetics. The basis of a harassment charge stems from two elements:

  1. The plaintiff must tolerate the offensive behavior as a condition of employment.
  2. The severity of the offensive behavior creates a hostile work environment.

In addition, it is unlawful to use harassment against any employee to keep him or her from testifying or disclosing any necessary information in a legal proceeding.

Harassment claims can be filed against a supervisor, agent of the employer, coworker, or non-employee. The person being harassed may not necessarily be the plaintiff. Any employee exposed to consistent offensive behavior may file. Continue reading

An alleged rape that took place off of the Stonehill College campus in Easton, Massachusetts has left one young woman still seeking justice. According to reports filed by Boston attorney Wendy Murphy, the unnamed victim has decided to file a Title IX complaint against the university in relation to events that took place in February of this year. The victim, a Stonehill student, believes her rights to an equal education were violated following the incident.

Attorney Wendy Murphy is representing the victim in this case, and has called for a federal investigation into the matter following the filing of the Title IX complaint. Her complaint was filed with the Office of Civil Rights within the U.S. Department of Education on July 30th 2015. According to the female victim, she was raped on February 15th at a location off campus by a fellow Stonehill student and athlete. The incident allegedly occurred in the bathroom of a private residence located near the school’s campus. The victim has stated in reports that she did not know the male attacker prior to the sexual assault.

The incident was not reported to campus police until March 29th, according to Martin McGovern, a spokesman for Stonehill. After receiving the initial report, campus police notified Easton police officials about the assault, and they also provided the victim with contact information for a police detective that could further help her with the issue. However, in an email exchange with Easton Police Chief Gary Sullivan, he had stated that his department does not have information regarding an alleged rape on or around the February 15th attack reported by the victim. Martin McGovern declined to provide the campus report received for the incident, and the police presence seems to go no further. Continue reading

Despite the powerful storms that rolled through the Northeast Monday and the National Weather Service’s warnings of severe winds and thunderstorms, a circus operator at Walker Brothers International Circus proceeded to host a show at the Lancaster Fairgrounds, in New Hampshire. The decision resulted in more than 30 people being injured and two spectators being killed, when 60 mph winds caused the main tent to collapse.

New Hampshire Fire Marshal Bill Degnan is still scratching his head as to why the operator let the show go on. According to Dengan, the operator had a duty to monitor the weather conditions; the National Weather Service issued a severe thunderstorm warning at 5:23 p.m. Monday and the show began seven minutes later, with the storm passing through at 5:46 p.m. while more than 100 people were inside the tent.

The victims were identified as Robert Young, 41, and his daughter Annabelle, 8. Degnan said preliminary autopsy showed blunt force trauma as the cause of their fatal injuries. Witness Heidi Medeiros, who was attending the show with her 3-year-old son, said she saw a pole lift out of the ground and then slam in to the bleachers where she and her son had been sitting.