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Articles Posted in Workers’ Compensation

Mesothelioma is a form of cancer that affects the membranes surrounding your lungs and abdomen. Between 70 and 80 percent of mesothelioma cases are caused by the inhalation of asbestos particles – a naturally-occurring, fibrous mineral that was used for decades as a fire retardant and insulation in homes and businesses across the world.

Since asbestos was used for decades in every different kind of building possible, the people most at risk for exposure to asbestos are construction workers and demolition technicians who work on renovating or destroying older homes and business buildings. Asbestos is harmless when it is left unbothered, but when asbestos is disturbed, it releases microscopic particles that can enter the body and cause many health issues.

Health professionals have known since at least the 70s that exposure to asbestos could result in negative health complications, but recent studies have shown that even a single exposure event to asbestos could result in developing respiratory and other diseases at some point down the line. Asbestos particles are jaggedly-shaped and do not clear out of the body once they are introduced.

Sometimes symptoms of asbestos exposure do not become apparent in patients until 20 to 50 years after the exposure event, so even if an exposure to asbestos happened a long time ago, please contact Altman & Altman LLP if you or a loved one are experiencing any of the following symptoms:

  • Breathing difficulties, chest pain or a combination of both
  • A general feeling of illness
  • Weight loss
  • Fevers
  • Persistent coughing
  • Night sweats
  • Developing a mass or swelling in the chest cavity
  • Increased presence of fluid in the lungs

The only way to be certain if you are suffering from mesothelioma is to be diagnosed by a doctor, usually through various tests such as MRIs and tissue samples. Sometimes, invasive surgery is required to observe the membranes in your body to determine a diagnosis one way or another.

Should you find out that you or a loved one is suffering from mesothelioma or another asbestos-related illness, you may be eligible to make a claim to collect financial compensation for your pain and suffering, as well as money spent on medical bills and money lost due to being unable to work during your treatment.

Thousands of cases involving exposure to asbestos have been filed in recent years, many of them stemming from exposure events that happened many years ago. Do not feel as though you don’t have a case to make simply because it occurred in the past. The only way to find out if your case is eligible for compensation is to team up with legal professionals who can look at the unique details of your situation.

At Altman & Altman LLP, we have over 40 years of experience handling suits involving everything from personal injuries to negligent companies causing harm. The costs stemming from dealing with mesothelioma can be significant, and without proper legal representation you may have to suffer through these challenges alone. Continue reading

A recent study completed by the California Workers’ Compensation Institute reviewed data on over 18,000 California work injury claims from accidents between 2000 and 2014 that resulted in one or more spinal fusions.

The data showed that 60 percent of the claims made involving spinal fusions started off with an injury that was initially reported as a simple sprain or a strain. In a majority of cases, spinal fusion surgery had to be performed within two years of the initial injury, and 20 percent required at least one additional fusion at some point further down the line.

Men accounted for more than 64 percent of the claims in each year that was reviewed, and men received more compensation through temporary disability and permanent disability, as well as more money for medical treatment than women did.

The second-leading cause for filing a claim after a back injury was cumulative trauma, including mental stress, which made up 14 percent of claims.

What is a spinal fusion?

Spinal fusions are major surgery procedures that seek to alleviate chronic back pain by ceasing the motion of a problematic vertebral segment. In simpler terms, spinal fusions join two problematic pieces of your spine into one larger piece that should, in theory, make chronic back pain better.

A spinal fusion may be necessary because of a degenerative condition that the patient has had since birth, or they may need one because of a traumatic injury that caused a serious injury to one or more of their vertebrae. In regards to this situation, workers who were injured on the job required spinal fusions years after they incurred an injury that they thought – or were told – was just a minor sprain.

Clearly, the spine is not something that can be healed from major injury just by resting it. Surgeons must perform hours of surgery and utilize bone grafts to join the two problematic vertebrae and stimulate a biological response to make the graft grow between the vertebrae, creating one fused bone.

Spinal fusions are incredibly difficult, finicky procedures that do not guarantee success, and may require additional surgeries later on in life. Twenty percent of workers injured in this study required at least one additional fusion surgery. Continue reading

Every year in Massachusetts, hundreds of gas line accidents are caused by contractors, construction workers, and utility companies. In addition to being extremely dangerous, these accidents are costly and can lead to closed roads and other problems. In 2015, an explosion in Springfield injured 18 people and damaged 42 buildings when a utility worker accidentally hit a high-pressure gas line. Unfortunately, these accidents occur with relative frequency. Although most incidents are contained, larger explosions can result in serious injuries and fatalities.

WWLP 22News launched an investigation into these accidents, reviewing state records and interviewing contractors and utility companies. The findings were shocking – between November 2012 and December 2015, a total of 1,434 gas line accidents were reported. That’s an average of more than one accident per day. Outside of Boston, Springfield and Chicopee had the highest reported number of accidents, with Springfield registering 48 and Chicopee registering 50. “There’s so many roads in Chicopee that are under construction, and more work being done, there’s more of an inherent chance that something might get hit,” said Mark Galerneau, Chicopee’s Fire Captain, “If the contractor is doing their due diligence and do what they’re supposed to do I think they can minimize the problems.”

The problem is, employers don’t always do their due diligence, and workers can suffer the consequences. If you have been injured due to employer negligence, it is in your best interest to consult with a MA work injury lawyer as soon as possible. You may be entitled to compensation for your injuries.

Hundreds of Violations Discovered

According to state records, adequate precautions were not taken in 522 of the reported gas line accidents, and the lines were incorrectly marked or not properly maintained in 413 of the accidents. And in many cases, Dig Safe was never called. Dig Safe is a communication network that exists to notify utility companies when excavation work will be performed near their installations, and state law requires that individuals and companies performing excavations call Dig Safe prior to beginning work. Although Dig Safe training is not mandatory, following established laws is. Fines for violating these laws include:

  • First offense: $1,000
  • Second or subsequent offenses within a 12-month period: $5,000 to $10,000

Follow OSHA Regulations to Avoid Gas Line Explosions

The Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) has established excavation requirements to protect workers from accidentally causing damage to underground gas lines. Prior to beginning any type of excavation, workers should:

  • Establish the location of underground gas lines.
  • Contact appropriate utility companies or property owners to establish exact location of underground gas lines.
  • If utility companies or property owners do not respond to the request within 24 hours, workers may proceed with caution with the assistance of detection equipment.
  • Use a safe and acceptable method to determine the exact location of gas lines.
  • When the gas line is located, it should be protected, supported, or removed as deemed necessary for the protection of workers and the local area.

Continue reading

Following an inspection by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), a Wolcott, Connecticut contractor has been cited for multiple safety violations. When inspectors drove by a work site at 55 Rodgers Lane on May 4, 2016, they observed workers on the property’s roof, without proper fall protection gear. Although they were wearing safety harnesses, the harnesses were not connected to any type of anchor. The inspectors instructed the foreman to remedy the issue, and the workers immediately anchored their harnesses.

During a follow up visit two days later, and another on May 12, inspectors again found workers atop a roof with unanchored safety harnesses. An unanchored harness can actually be more dangerous than no harness at all; it provides a false sense of protection. “This employer exposed its employees deliberately to potentially deadly or disabling falls on multiple occasions, and has a history of fall-related violations at job sites in Connecticut. This is unacceptable,” said Patrick Griffin, OSHA’s local director. “Falls are the leading cause of death in construction work. That won’t change unless employers take seriously their responsibility to provide safe working conditions for their employees.”

OSHA cited M&M Roofing for multiple violations, including:

  • A willful violation for inadequate fall protection.
  • Failure to properly train employees on fall hazards.
  • Improper ladders for the job; for purposes of stability, ladders must extend a minimum of three feet above the next level. The contractor’s ladders did not.
  • Open, unguarded holes in the roof. In 2013 and 2014, OSHA cited M&M Roofing for similar violations at Manchester and Watertown work sites.
  • Failure to provide adequate ladder safety training for workers.
  • Failure to provide adequate eye and face protection for certain workers, specifically those who use pneumatic nail guns and a leaf blower.

For the above violations, OSHA proposed fines totalling $185,194.

Falls – Number One Cause of Construction-Related Fatalities

Of the 899 construction-related fatalities in 2014, 345 were due to falls. In every one of these cases, the death was preventable. OSHA’s “Fall Prevention Campaign” is a great resource for how to prevent serious injuries and deaths due to falls. The campaign includes three main points:

  • Plan ahead: Before the start of any project, employers must determine how the job will be accomplished, what tasks will be involved, and what safety gear and equipment is needed for each task. Cost estimates should include safety equipment.
  • Provide appropriate gear and equipment: Every job requires different equipment. For example, ladders must extend at least three feet about the next level. Some jobs require scaffolds, some do not. Rooftop workers should use personal fall arrest systems (PFAS), but it’s equally important to make sure the harness fits, is in good working order, and is always anchored.
  • Train workers on safe use of equipment: The best safety equipment in the world is useless if the user doesn’t know how it works. Workers should be trained in proper set up and use of all equipment, including ladders and scaffolds, and fall protection systems.

If you are concerned about unsafe working conditions at your place of employment, you can contact OSHA on their toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA. If you have been injured in a work-related accident, contact a MA work injury lawyer today. Continue reading

A tragic accident in Duxbury on Saturday left a 28-year-old man dead. Jason Sanderson, of Carver, was using a chop saw when the saw kicked back, striking him in the neck. Sanderson was rushed to the hospital with a severe neck wound, an injury that later proved fatal. Sanderson died at the Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital in Plymouth.  Sanderson and another worker were excavating an underground water line during the construction of a new home at 900 Tremont Street. In a statement, Duxbury Police Sergeant Dennis Symonds, said the accident occurred around 2 p.m. on Saturday.

According to investigators, the chop saw Sanderson was using “became bound”, then popped back, making contact with his throat. The company Sanderson was working for has not been released. The incident is currently under investigation by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Duxbury Police Department. No foul play is suspected. If you’ve been injured in a work-related accident, contact a MA work injury lawyer today.

Common Causes of Construction Injuries and Death

For anybody, but especially the elderly and the physically disabled, a simple slip or fall can result in horrendous pain, suffering and medical expenses. It is not uncommon for the elderly to fracture multiple bones after a slip or fall, and 818 workplace deaths were caused by slips and falls in 2014, according to the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries, one of the leading causes of death for American workers.  Many times, a slip or a fall is simply a tragic accident. Perhaps the floor hadn’t dried completely after cleaning, or there was a shoe left in the middle of a hallway or you simply lost your balance. These things happen, and hopefully you are covered by insurance or other means to get the medical treatment you need.

In other cases, however, your slip or fall may have been directly caused by the negligence of an employer, a property owner or a business. In these cases, where a tragic fall or slip could have been foreseen and prevented, you have a legal right to seek damages from the perpetrating party and they are fully, legally responsible for your pain, suffering and medical expenses that result from the incident.  If you have suffered from a slip and fall accident whether at work or as the result of someone’s negligence give us a call and speak to an experienced Boston injury lawyer to find out what rights you have and what benefits you may immediately be entitled to. 

Some responsibilities for preventing falls and slips on flooring include the following. If these steps are not taken, those who failed to maintain these precautions may be liable for your fall.

A tragic accident at a Salem, New Hampshire Sears Auto Center has left one young man dead and another seriously injured. On Saturday morning, 22-year-old Sears Auto employee, Justin Almon, suffered life-threatening injuries when a tire he was filling “exploded off the machine,” hitting both he and a customer in the head. According to Salem police, the 911 call came in just before 8:00 a.m. When police arrived at the scene, they found Almon with blunt force trauma to the head and 23-year-old Adam Sproul, a customer who had also suffered serious head injuries. Contact a Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Today.

Incident Under Investigation by OSHA

Almon was pronounced dead shortly after arriving at the Parkland Medical Center. Sproul, a resident of Boothbay Maine, was first transported to Lawrence General Hospital and then airlifted to Boston Medical Center. His condition has not been released. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Salem Police Investigative Services Unit are currently investigating the explosion, but preliminary investigation shows that Almon was using an industrial tire changer to fix a large truck tire at the time of the accident.

Following the incident, Sears released this statement, “”First and foremost, our thoughts and prayers are with the family of our associate, and we send our deepest condolences to them.  We also send our thoughts and concerns to our customer who was injured in this tragic accident. We are working closely with local authorities as they investigate this matter.”

Defective Equipment Can Be Deadly

Certain occupations pose a much greater risk of serious injury and fatality than others. For example, mining, offshore drilling, and some construction-related jobs. However, freak accidents, such as the tragic incident above, can happen in any work environment. Even seemingly innocuous equipment should be operated with extreme care, and regularly maintained and inspected.

Further investigation into this case will likely reveal the cause. It may have been due to a design defect or manufacturing defect. If this is the case, the manufacturer may be liable. It is also possible that the accident was a result of employer negligence. If, for example, the equipment was sound at the time of purchase but hasn’t been adequately maintained, Sears may be liable for the employee’s death. Continue reading

Every year, an estimated 11,000 spinal cord injuries occur in the United States. Motor vehicle accidents, falls, sports, and an array of medical issues are commonly to blame and can result in catastrophic injuries and death. Damage to the nerves and tissues along the vertebrae often cause debilitating pain and typically require a long recovery period. Additionally, the psychological and physical adjustments required after a spinal cord injury can be overwhelming for the entire family, sometimes resulting in depression and anxiety.

Spinal cord injuries occur when either the nerves attached to the spinal column or the bones and soft tissues enmeshed in the spinal cord are damaged. These nerves are vital in transporting messages from the brain to the rest of the body, controlling everything from movement to digestion to breath. This impairment can include numbness, loss of feeling, or complete paralysis.

What Are the Two Types of Spinal Cord Injuries?

The nervous system is extremely complex. Spinal cord injuries can have very different effects on the body, depending on the severity and location of the injury. The two categories of spinal cord injury are:

  • Complete Injury – This is when physical trauma to the spinal cord results in absolute loss of function or sensation below the site of the injury.
  • Incomplete Injury – This occurs when the victim is left with some sensation or motor function.

The site of trauma typically determines the extent of nerve damage. Full paralysis, or quadriplegia, is often the result of trauma to the neck area, preventing nerves from carrying the brain’s impulses beyond the damaged part of the spine. Paraplegia – partial paralysis of the lower half of the body – usually occurs when the lower vertebrae are damaged. Continue reading

Andria Terrill, a jockey who sustained serious injuries when racing a horse at Suffolk Downs in 2013, is suing the East Boston track. She got hurt when the 3-year-old horse she was riding stumbled as it was heading out of the gate.

According to the Boston Globe, Terrill, then 30, fell off, losing consciousness and landing on the track. She sustained multiple fractures to her skull. According to her Massachusetts injury lawsuit, she continues to suffer balance issues, headaches, dizziness, problems with focusing and concentrating, and emotional instability. Now, she claims, that she won’t be able to race again.

Terrill is blaming Suffolk Downs contending that racing officials did not enforce Massachusetts’s safety helmet standard for jockeys. Because of this, she says that she did not wear the type of helmet that would have protected her from her injuries. She wants the racetrack to pay her $1.3 million for her Boston personal injuries, including loss of earnings.

According to officials, a mechanical issue may have caused the Jeep serving as the Gauntlet Haunted Night hayride vehicle at Harvest Hill Farms to go down a hill at rapid speed, strike a tree, and overturn earlier this month in Maine. 17-year-old Cassidy Charette sustained fatal injuries in the crash. 22 others were injured.

Charette was with seven other students from her high school for their annual hayride when the tragic vehicle crash happened. Among the injured were two with critical injuries, including 16-year-old Connor Garland and David Brown, 54, who was driving the Jeep. Garland was transported to Boston Children’s Hospital. According to Fox News, Brown was hauling a flatbed trailer as part of the ride.

Following the hayride accident, State Police impounded the 1979 Jeep CJ5a. A safety probe was conducted.