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When a loved one dies, their family members are met with the emotional burden and pain of the loss. In addition to the energy that is spent coping with the death, loved ones may also be responsible for covering funeral expenses and other financial hardships that can be overwhelming to manage. To help ease the financial strain that a death can cause, people will buy life insurance policies which can provide beneficiaries with the financial support that they need during a difficult time.

What does a life insurance policy cover?

Life insurance policies provide beneficiaries with a lump sum payment in the event that a policy holder dies. The amount that is paid out, called the death benefit, is dependent upon the amount specified in the policy. When a policy holder dies, their beneficiary will need to file a claim with the insurance company to begin the process of filing to receive the death benefit. As challenging as the task may be to file the claim, it’s important that beneficiaries submit the request as soon as possible. By filing the claim quickly, beneficiaries are closer to getting the financial security that the policy holder intended them to receive in their death.

Has your Massachusetts business been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic? Has your business been forced to lay off or furlough workers, or close down entirely due to the effects of the coronavirus? Have you been denied a business interruption claim by your insurance company despite clearly being affected by the impact of the virus? If so, contact the Cambridge attorneys at Altman & Altman LLP immediately to discuss options that may be available to you.  We have successfully been handling insurance disputes for over 50 years.

What is a business interruption claim?

Although it is not mandatory for businesses to purchase an insurance policy regarding the sudden and unforeseen halting of their business operations, many will understandably do so to safeguard themselves against significant losses that may be incurred from a sudden and unexpected fire, flood, hurricane or other natural disaster.

Even a minor car accident can be deadly when a pedestrian is involved. With advancing vehicle technology, it would seem logical to assume that motor vehicle accidents – including those involving pedestrians – would decrease. But just the opposite is true. According to the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA), “nearly 6,000 pedestrians were killed in motor vehicle crashes in the U.S. in 2017, marking the second year in a row at numbers not seen in 25 years.”

What is responsible for the increase in pedestrian deaths? Although the cause is not certain, the two-year increase does correlate with two trends in particular – marijuana legalization and smartphone use.

Pot and Cellphones?

The GHSA report doesn’t claim that pedestrian deaths are directly linked to either of the trends mentioned above; rather it states that “more recent factors contributing to the increase in pedestrian fatalities might include the growing number of state and local governments that have decriminalized the recreational use of marijuana, which can impair judgment and reaction time for all road users.”

Car and Driver delved deeper into the potential link between pedestrian deaths and legal pot. It reported a 16.4 percent increase in pedestrian deaths in states that had legalized marijuana and a 5.8 percent decrease in all other states. A Boston motor vehicle accident lawyer can help you protect your rights if you’ve been injured due to another’s negligence.

The Dangers of Distracted Walking

In addition to weed, the GHSA noted increasing smartphone use as another potential cause of the rise in pedestrian deaths. And it wasn’t focused on smartphone use behind the wheel – although that is likely also a factor. We’ve all seen pedestrians who are not paying attention to the walkway or road ahead of them, entranced by whatever is on their smartphone screen. The reality is – distracted walking can be deadly.

In 2015, the National Safety Council officially added distracted walking as a cause of “unintentional death or injury.” And more than half of all adult cell phone users surveyed by the GHSA admitted to accidentally running into something while distracted by their phones.

The Problem isn’t Likely to Go Away Anytime Soon

More than 2,000 people visit the emergency room annually for injuries related to distracted walking, but orthopedic surgeon Claudette Lajam believes the problem will only increase as more features – a.k.a. distractions – are added to our devices.

Pedestrian Accident Statistics

The following statistics were outlined in the GHSA report:

  • Most pedestrian accidents occur after dark – 72 percent in 2014.
  • In the first half of 2016, there were 2,660 fatal pedestrian accidents, compared to 2,486 during the same period in 2015.
  • Nearly 6,000 pedestrians died in 2016.
  • About 15 percent of all auto accident fatalities involve pedestrians.
  • Pedestrian deaths increased by 22 percent between 2014 and 2016.
  • The following four states accounted for 42 percent of all pedestrian deaths – New York, Texas, Florida and California.

A MA personal injury lawyer can help you recover damages if you’ve been injured due to another’s negligence. Continue reading

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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