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Articles Posted in Wrongful Death

When most people think of IKEA, they think of affordable, sleek, modern furniture that customers assemble themselves. However, three recent tragedies may change the way some of us think about the stylish Swedish furniture company. Three wrongful death cases have been filed against IKEA for the deaths of three toddlers who were crushed when defective dressers fell onto them. The lawsuits, for three separate incidents, were filed in the state court in Pennsylvania. IKEA has agreed to settle the lawsuits, which claim the company was negligent in its manufacturing of the dressers, for $50 million.

Although these recent tragedies are especially disturbing, they are not the only wrongful death lawsuits filed against IKEA for defective furniture. In fact, there have been a total of seven deaths linked to the company’s unstable furniture. Further, new evidence shows that IKEA may have known about the risk of death. If you have been injured by a defective product, contact a Boston injury lawyer today.

In the cases involving the three toddlers, IKEA initially denied blame, arguing that the parents were at fault for not properly anchoring the dressers to a wall. The manufacturer’s assembly instructions did, indeed, include this last step. However, the court ruled in favor of the victims’ families, saying that consumers commonly ignore instructions to anchor furniture to a wall. Although this last step may provide better stability, a reasonable person wouldn’t think that ignoring it would result in the death of a child. User error is certainly taken into account in defective product cases, however, it can only go so far. In the above cases, a warning to anchor the dresser was not sufficient to insulate the company from liability.

Massive IKEA Recall

Earlier this year, nearly 30 million IKEA dressers were recalled because they didn’t meet safety and stability standards. In addition to the recall and the large settlement, IKEA is increasing efforts to raise awareness about the importance of furniture anchoring through its “Secure It” program. If you’ve been injured by a defective product, contact a MA injury lawyer today.

The Four Elements of a Defective Product Liability Claim

If you have suffered personal injury or property damage because of a product, you may have a defective product liability claim. To win your case, you must prove that the elements below existed:

  • You were injured or suffered a loss as a result of using the product
  • The product was defective
  • The product’s defect directly caused your injury
  • You were using the product for its intended use

If any of these elements did not exist, you may have a difficult time winning a defective product lawsuit. With the help of a skilled defective product attorney, however, your chances of a successful lawsuit are dramatically improved. Defective product liability is a complex area of the law; find an attorney who has extensive experience in this specific area. Continue reading

A Florida-based event company, Walker International Events, has momentarily ceased all of its business and has been fined $24,000 by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) after an investigation revealed multiple safety failures led to two deaths and multiple injuries when a tent collapsed in New Hampshire during a circus act in August of 2015.   In total, there were 14 total serious violations of workplace safety that were found as a result of the OSHA investigation. Primarily, the company most egregiously decided to go forward with their outdoor circus act, despite imminent and well-established thunder storms raging through the area.

The storm ultimately played a large role in the tent’s collapse, as did the company’s failure to properly set up the tent to adhere to OSHA’s workplace safety standards.

The fine and subsequent closing of the company (pending the creation of new safety regulations and standards) will do nothing to console those affected by the tragedy that claimed the lives of a child and their father and injured dozens more onlookers.

OSHA regulations exist to prevent these tragedies

No matter how unconventional or unexpected the setting, workers in America are put into dangerous situations every day, including circus workers and performers. These workers are all supposed to be properly protected by their employers, who are responsible for adhering to safety standards that ensure the workplace is as hazard-free as possible.  By choosing to ignore severe weather warnings and not properly constructing their tent, Walker International Events is complicit in the two deaths and dozens of injuries that resulted as a result of their negligence. In addition to the immediate implications this has for them financially and for their business, they will be liable for civil lawsuits from those affected by the incident as well.

All employers must take great care to not put their employees, or any civilians such as those coming to see a circus show, into any undue risk of injury or death. Failure to ensure this safety is simply unacceptable, and Walker International Events is learning that the hard way. Continue reading

Deaths resulting from accidents are becoming increasingly more prevalent.  According to a report from the National Safety Council, there were more than 136,000 accidental deaths of Americans in 2014.   This is up 4.2 percent from 2013 and up 15.5 percent over the past ten years.  The rate of accidents has risen even though there has been a 22 percent decrease in automobile related deaths since 2005.  Most shockingly, overdose and accidental poisonings are up 78 percent over the past ten years, killing 42,032 in 2014.  Falls are also up 63 percent over that last decade, but experts attribute this to an aging society.  The element of these statistics that is difficult to grapple with is that these are all deaths caused by accidents; accidents by their very definition are preventable.  Ken Kolosh, statistical manager of the National Safety Council notes that these increases in accidental deaths are not due to people becoming more prone to accidents, but rather due to society not implementing enough preventative measures.  Statistics show that an American dies of an accidental injury every four minutes, and one American needs medical help as a result of an accident every second.  The region in which you live also can drastically affect the rate of accidental deaths.  Maryland, California, and New York have the lowest rates, 30 per 100,000 people, while West Virginia has the highest rate, 75.2 per 100,000.  The national average is 41.3 accidental deaths per 100,000 people.  Drug abuse is rapidly becoming more deadly while accidents like car crashes have become less deadly.  In 1999, overdoses, poisonings, and falls only accounted for 25 percent of accidental deaths but now account for over half of them.  In the annual Injury Facts report, the top three causes of American deaths continue to be diseases: heart disease, cancer, and lower respiratory diseases.  However, unintentional deaths come in at the fourth spot, beating out stroke, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, flu and suicide.  People often worry about murder as a real hazard in America.  Yet, there are eight accidental deaths for every homicide and twice as many suicides as murders.

There may be several moving gears that explain accidents as a cause of death moving up to the fourth spot.  The U.S. has made great strides in preventing and treating diseases, causing deaths as a result to decrease.  That being said, the U.S. has not been as proactive about preventing accidental deaths, causing these to rise.  The Injury Facts report also shows data how far the country has come in reducing motor vehicle deaths.  In 2014, these deaths were at 35,398 annually, down from a high of over 53,000 in 1980.  It’s clear that far less young people are dying on the road than before, but U.S. numbers are still higher than those of other developed countries.  Kolosh attributes this to our relatively loose drunk driving regulations and other laws when compared to other comparable countries.  Continue reading

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

In a tragic accident on Monday morning, a 31-year-old Sturbridge woman was killed and two children were seriously injured when her vehicle collided with a cement truck on Route 20 in Oxford. At approximately 8:30 am, the unidentified woman crossed the center line and hit the cement truck. The impact of the collision forced her car into a third vehicle, an SUV driven by RobesPierre LaFleur. According to police, the cement truck’s front wheels broke off and the massive vehicle skidded several hundred feet down the road on its side before coming to a complete stop. Contact a Boston Injury Attorney.

8-Month-Old-Baby on Life Support, 2-Year-Old Boy in Serious Condition

The driver of the truck and the SUV received non-life threatening injuries. However, the woman driving the car that collided with the truck has been confirmed dead. An 8-month-old baby boy sustained life threatening injuries and is currently on life support, and a 2-year-old boy is also in serious condition. The children were both taken to UMass Medical Center in Worcester. The other two surviving victims were each taken to a local hospital.

The driver of the SUV is in agony over the accident. RobesPierre LaFleur was in serious pain after the collision, but he immediately ran to the car when he saw it had been crushed by the cement truck. “I was trying to help the mother,” LaFleur said.  “I touched her, and I said, ‘Mom, are you OK?’ However, it didn’t take long to determine that the woman hadn’t survived the crash.

After checking on the woman, LaFleur saw the little boy in his car seat and attempted to get him out. “He was coming in and out of consciousness,” he said. It wasn’t until a few moments later that he noticed the baby, crushed against the door. First responders were able to free the infant, but he remains on life support. Continue reading

A man was struck and killed by a train Monday afternoon according to reports provided by The Boston Fire Department. Law enforcement officials received a call at approximately 2:30 PM stating that man had become pinned underneath a Red Line train at the JFK/U Mass MBTA station. Though responding officers worked to release the man from beneath the train, the victim was later pronounced dead on scene following the retrieval efforts.

The name of the victim has yet to be released by authorities are stating that the unidentified man is between the ages of 50-60 years old. The exact events surrounding the accident are currently under active investigation but police have stated that they do not suspect foul play in the matter. According to an MBTA police officer, the man allegedly stumbled onto the tracks in the Dorchester neighborhood that houses the JFK/U Mass MBTA station. It is not clear at this time if the man accidently stumbled onto the tracks or if he does so purposefully. He was subsequently struck by a Red Line train destined for the Braintree station shortly after falling onto the tracks.

Transit police detectives for the MBTA are currently investigating the incident with help from the Suffolk County District Attorney’s office in an effort to determine what lead to the fatal accident. Continue reading

The recent death of a bicyclist on a busy intersection in Boston has prompted city officials to make safety improvements to the surrounding area. On August 7th of this year, 38 year old Anita Kurmann was struck and killed by a tractor trailer when she was riding her bike along Massachusetts Avenue and Beacon Street in Boston. That particular intersection has been the site of multiple accidents in recent years, and those who frequently travel along the route believe that significant changes need to be made in order to prevent further tragedies from arising.

The director of planning for Boston’s Transportation Department, Vineet Gupta, has stated that improvements have already begun at the dangerous intersection in an effort to increase safety for bicyclists and motor vehicle operators alike. The road where Massachusetts Avenue and Beacon Street intersect has already been repaved following the accident, and workers are applying new striping as well. Gupta went on to say that flexible posts will be installed this week to protect the bike lane. “Our goal is to make it safe for everyone at that intersection,” Gupta said.

In addition to the measures already being taken, the Transportation Department will also install bike boxes marked with green paint that will permit cyclists to rest within those designated areas while they wait for signal changes on the road. The bike boxes will be placed in front of motor vehicles lining up in the same area and will primarily be located in the southbound lane of Massachusetts Avenue and Beacon Street. Continue reading

The decision to file a lawsuit for wrongful death is typically made in the wake of tragedy. Negligence leading to wrongful death can occur in the form of medical malpractice, defective products, catastrophic vehicle accidents, and work-related accidents, to name a few. The categories of losses to be paid by the defendant – known as damages – vary from state to state. Survivors representing the victim’s estate may receive compensation for three different categories of losses – economic damages, non-economic damages, and  punitive damages.

Economic Damages

Any financial losses suffered from the event of the victim’s death are considered economic damages. Medical expenses incurred by the victim’s family can range from one-time emergency room costs to long-term nursing care and pharmaceutical costs prior to the victim’s death. Reimbursement for funeral expenses may also be included. A lesser-known kind of economic damage exists in the form of lost income and may include:

  • Loss of benefits (medical coverage, pension plans)
  • Loss of expected earnings
  • Loss of inheritance
  • Loss of the value of goods and services that would have been provided had the victim not died

Non-Economic Damages

Sometimes referred to as “pain and suffering” damages, these are the more intangible losses suffered by a wrongful death victim’s family members. Although these factors are more difficult to place a value on, they are often more devastating than economic damages.

  • Compensation for mental anguish (pain and suffering)
  • Loss of the victim’s care, protection, guidance, and nurturing
  • Loss of the victim’s love and companionship
  • Loss of consortium from the deceased partner

Recently ignited debate within the legal community focuses on each state’s choice to place caps on non-economic damages. Because this type of compensation is “higher-priced” yet less concrete than financial-based damages, lawmakers are calling for a re-evaluation of the constitutionality of these cap statutes. Today, 38 states uphold caps at varying levels. Massachusetts’ non-economic damages cap is $500,000, unless a jury specifically pronounces that amount to be unfairly low in relation to losses suffered by the victim’s representative. Continue reading

A fraternity at the esteemed Yale University is facing charges after a car accident in 2011 left one woman dead and seriously injured two others. The lawsuit against the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity was filed in 2013 by the families of the victims. After years of waiting, the case is finally heading to trial.

According to reports, members of the Sigma Phi Epsilon were heading to a tailgating event for a Yale vs. Harvard football game that was taking place on November 19th, 2011. Members of the fraternity were driving to the event in a U-Haul truck that contained kegs when the driver of the vehicle, Brendon Ross, lost control of the truck. It was not made immediately clear what caused Ross to lose control at this time. Police responding to the scene have stated that Ross accelerated into a crowd of pedestrians in the area shortly before the U-Haul struck another truck nearby. The pedestrians had been gathered in an area typically used for tailgating outside of the Yale Bowl. At some point during the accident, Ross struck and killed Nancy Barry of Salem, Massachusetts. He also seriously injured two other women, one of whom was a student at Yale at the time by the name of Sarah Short. The two victims were treated for their injuries.

The families of Nancy Barry and Sarah Short want to hold the fraternity responsible for the actions of Brendon Ross. Brendon Ross entered a probation program following the accident which therefore absolved him of criminal charges. The families of Barry and Short wanted to sue Ross, Yale University, the national chapter for Sigma Phi Epsilon, and the U-Haul company for damages. The lawsuits for these are still currently pending. The lawsuit against Sigma Phi Epsilon includes charges against not only Brendon Ross, but all 86 members of the fraternity. Some of the 86 members included in the lawsuit were former members and some are still currently members of Sigma Phi Epsilon.

A pedestrian was struck and killed by an Amtrak train in Mansfield, Massachusetts early this morning, Thursday August 13th. In one news report, it was said that personnel from the MBTA Transit Police had reported a man trespassing in the area around Track 2 shortly before they received reports of an individual being struck and killed by a train. The identity of the individual that was unfortunately killed has not been disclosed at this time, as family notification is still pending. Responding officers have indicated that the victim is a man, which attests to earlier reports of a man seen trespassing along the tracks.

According to preliminary reports being released, MBTA police contacted the Mansfield Public Safety Dispatch at approximately 10:50 AM to report that a pedestrian had been struck by a train. The Amtrak train was traveling south at the time, and the accident occurred just south of the MBTA train station that is located near George Street in Mansfield on Route 128. After striking the victim, the train stopped on the tracks while they waited for emergency officials to respond to the scene.

According to a spokeswoman for Amtrak, Vernae Graham, the train was traveling a route from Boston to Washington D.C. at the time of the accident. She also stated that there were roughly 189 passengers on the Amtrak train at the time and that no injuries were reported for any of the passengers following the crash. Continue reading