Disclaimer - By publishing this information on this Web site, the Boston, Massachusetts law firm of Altman & Altman LLP is not claiming to represent any clients or cases mentioned here. The content provided is designed to inform readers and is not intended as legal advice.

This stretch of unseasonably warm weather has many thinking about spring. With spring comes longer days, warmer temps, greener landscapes, and the infamous Spring Break! For many of us, spring break has taken on a very different meaning than it had during our college years. But even mild spring break celebrations and vacations carry some inherent risks. Read on for more information about spring break hazards, and how you can protect yourself from serious harm.

Common Spring Break Injuries and How to Prevent Them

A little R&R may be just what the doctor ordered, but the spring break-related health risks below can ruin your vacation, and could even cost you your life. A Boston injury attorney can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been harmed by another’s negligence. By taking the following safety precautions, you can dramatically reduce your risk of serious injury and death:

A recent investigation has revealed shocking numbers of sexual abuse reports in nursing homes across the country. When you place your elderly loved one in a nursing home facility, it’s usually a last resort. An elderly parent or grandparent who requires around-the-clock care may not be able to safely live at home, or in the home of a child or grandchild. You take them to a nursing home to be cared for. To find out that your loved one is being neglected or abused, sometimes even enduring sexual abuse, is devastating. Although the vast majority of nursing home staff have residents’ best interests in mind, there are exceptions.

Vulnerability Can Make Elderly People Easy Targets for Sexual Abusers

As with young children, the elderly – especially when confined to a nursing home – can be quite vulnerable. This vulnerability makes them an easy target for predatory sexual abusers. The news outlet CNN recently analyzed state and federal data and interviewed experts and victims’ families to determine the severity of this problem. Just as disturbing as the abuse itself, was the study’s discovery that nursing homes and government officials overseeing these facilities often know about the abuse but ignore it.

The CNN report revealed that even when nursing homes took action, they were generally slow to investigate and report claims of abuse. Unfortunately, the same problems that make many of these victims an easy target for abuse – failing memories and confusion – also lead nursing home staff, and even law enforcement, to question the reliability of their accusations. A Boston nursing home abuse lawyer can help you determine how to take action following the abuse or neglect of a loved one.

At the 2015 sentencing of a nursing assistant who was convicted of raping an 83-year-old woman, the woman’s daughter, Maya Fischer made the following statement about her mother who had fled Indonesia as a child to escape rape and abuse by Japanese soldiers:

“At 83 years old, unable to speak, unable to fight back, she was even more vulnerable than she was as a little girl fleeing her homeland. In fact, she was as vulnerable as an infant when she was raped. The dignity which she always displayed during her life, which was already being assaulted so unrelentingly by Alzheimer’s disease, was dealt a final devastating blow by this man. The horrific irony is not lost upon me … that the very thing she feared most as a young girl fleeing her homeland happened to her in the final, most vulnerable days of her life.”

Eight Years of Abuse

The man convicted of raping this helpless victim, George Kpingbah, had previously been investigated over sexual assault allegations involving other victims. Prosecutors uncovered personnel records which show that he had been suspended three other times during sexual abuse investigations at the Walker Methodist facility. In two of those investigations, Kpingbah was the main suspect. Until he was actually caught in the act, he remained on the overnight shift for nearly eight years.

“Walker Methodist certainly failed to handle this appropriately with my mother and other residents, and there should be consequences,” said the son of another alleged victim after he learned of Kpingbah’s rape conviction. If an elderly loved one has been sexually abused, contact a MA nursing home abuse lawyer today.

Signs of Nursing Home Sexual Abuse

If you suspect that your loved one has been a victim of nursing home sexual abuse, report it immediately. Although abuse can occur without the following signs, these signs may be indicators that your loved one is a victim of sexual abuse:

  • Unexplained blood on clothes or bed sheets.
  • Bruising in the genital area.
  • Ripped undergarments.
  • Blood on undergarments.
  • Bruising on inner thighs, breasts, and / or buttocks.
  • Unexplained pain while sitting.
  • Diagnosis of an STD or genital infection.

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“All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent.” – Thomas Jefferson

The role of a whistleblower is indispensable in any truly democratic, free society. Whistleblowers throughout history have put aside their own fears of persecution, belittlement and, in some cases, imprisonment or death in order to stand tall as purveyors of truth and justice.

A whistleblower is defined as any person or persons which reveals information pertaining to harmful or illicit actions taken by an individual or a governmental, corporate or private group, which may in turn lead to a criminal investigation and/or penalties levied against that group. An essential part of the whistleblowing definition is the distinction that such information would not likely otherwise become known if not for the action of the whistleblower.

Multiple deadly accidents involving duck boats have occurred in cities throughout the country over the past few years. Duck boats are amphibious vehicles originally used during World War II to transport goods and troops across land and water. In more recent times, duck boats have been transformed into the ultimate tourist attraction, sightseeing vehicles that can float in the water and drive down the road alongside cars and trucks. Currently, more than a dozen American cities have duck boat tours, and Boston is one of them.

Boston’s fondness for duck boats is understandable; they have been used in parades and to celebrate sports championships for years. In fact, the New England Patriots just celebrated their Super Bowl win by riding down Boston’s streets in two dozen duck boats.

A String of Fatal Duck Boat Accidents Has Raised Concerns

Unfortunately, not everyone in Boston – and across the country – is as fond of these land-water vehicles. In fact, some advocates want to see them banned altogether. Five college students were killed in Seattle in a duck boat accident in 2015. In Philadelphia, three people were killed in two separate duck boat crashes. And right here in Boston, a duck boat ran over 28-year-old Allison Warmuth, killing her, last year. A Boston injury lawyer can help you determine if you should file a personal injury lawsuit after any type of motor vehicle accident, including those involving duck boats.

Ivan Warmuth, the father of the young woman who was killed by a duck boat last year, believes the vehicles should be banned. According to critics, the massive vehicles are dangerous due to their current design. Drivers have to deal with multiple blind spots, more than with other motor vehicles, making it difficult to see the road directly below them. In addition, the drivers typically double as tour guides, pointing out and talking about various historical landmarks as they drive through Boston.

Improved Safety Measures in Boston

Warmuth’s parents are lobbying for new legislation that will improve the safety of duck boats. They have already seen some success; MA has passed a law requiring duck boats to be equipped with proximity sensors and blind spot cameras. In addition, duck boats are now required, by law, to have a second employee on board. This will prevent the driver from being distracted by having to narrate the tour while operating the vehicle.

Following the accident that resulted in Warmuth’s death, the National Transportation Safety Board examined video showing the driver turning in his seat to point to landmarks while driving. ‘‘I hear again and again from Boston Duck Tours and any of these other companies that safety is their No. 1 priority, and if that’s the case, you can’t argue that the safest way to operate the vehicles is for the driver to also be giving the tour,’’ said Kevan Moniri, who was a passenger on Warmuth’s scooter when the accident occurred. He says he realized, as the duck boat approached, that the driver could not see them in his path.

Less than three months after Warmuth’s fatal accident, a woman from New Jersey was seriously injured when a duck boat struck her on a Boston street. If another’s negligence has caused harm to you or a loved one, you may be able to recover damages by consulting with a MA injury lawyer. Hopefully, duck boat tour companies nationwide will take the proper safety measures to reduce the risk of serious injury and death. In the meantime, consider the risks before taking a duck boat tour, and use caution when approaching a duck boat as a cyclist, passenger, or while operating a motor vehicle. Continue reading

Snowmobiling accidents? Slipping on icy walkways? Shoveling injuries? Although all of the above would make sense, they are not more likely to happen in MA than other states. And the actual answer comes as a bit of a surprise. It’s concussions. MA reports more concussions than any U.S. state. Why? Read on for more information about this surprising statistic and why MA seems to have such a high rate of concussions.

Amino, a company that analyzes electronic insurance claims, recently conducted an analysis of claims for each U.S. state. According to the company’s data, Massachusetts reports more concussions than any other state in the nation. Now, to be clear, this does not mean that concussions are the most common injury in MA, only that they are more commonly reported in MA than in other states. The most common injury in nearly every state was actually open wounds or bruising. Whatever the injury, consulting with a Boston injury lawyer can be instrumental in helping you obtain the compensation you deserve.

Amino studied about 244 million health insurance claims filed from 2012 to 2016. If nothing else, the results were interesting. New York reports more fist fight-related injuries than other states and residents of Missouri suffer more animal bites than residents of other states. So what’s the deal with MA’s high rate of concussions? Interestingly enough, many conditions were seen with abnormal frequency in multiple states, but MA was the only state with a higher-than-average rate of concussion diagnoses. So, it must be more than a coincidence, right?

Could Increased Awareness be the Reason?

A 2016 Blue Cross Blue Shield report may shed some light on these results. According to the report, MA diagnoses more youth concussions than any other state. In states with strong concussion education campaigns (such as MA), patients may be more likely to seek medical attention immediately after a head injury. Early treatment is extremely important when it comes to concussions. However, seeking medical attention for head injuries more often than other states may also raise the rate of concussion diagnoses. Basically, we may not get more concussions, we may just diagnose more concussions. The strong medical and health community in MA is likely at least partially responsible for our high rate of reported concussions. But that’s actually a good thing.

Beyond the medical community, other contributing factors could be regulations imposed by the state (to seek medical attention or test for concussions, for example), higher participation in sports than some other states, and higher rates of physical activity than many other states. If you have suffered a concussion due to another’s negligence, it is in your best interest to consult with a Boston injury lawyer as soon as possible.

Warning Signs and Symptoms of a Concussion

What seemed like a bit of bad news may actually be quite positive. Stricter regulations, strong healthcare, and a physically-active community all contributed to the Amino study’s findings. That being said, it’s still a good idea to be aware of the risk for concussions and to watch out for warning signs and symptoms following a car accident, any type of head trauma, or if you engage in high-impact sports. Symptoms of a concussion include:

  • Thinking and remembering symptoms: Inability to think clearly or concentrate, a general feeling of “slowness”, difficulty remembering new information.
  • Physical symptoms: Nausea and vomiting, headache, blurry vision, problems with balance, a feeling of dizziness, sensitivity to noise or light, fatigue.
  • Emotional or mood symptoms: Feeling sad, nervous or anxious, becoming easily upset, generally feeling more emotional than usual.
  • Sleep symptoms: Sleeping more or less than usual, difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep.

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The birth of a newborn baby is as natural of a miracle that we can observe in our world. A newborn baby represents hope, potential, and a clean start. Hundreds of thousands of births occur every single day, and unfortunately many of them have complications that result in various difficulties for the newborn baby and its family.

One form of complication, Erb’s Palsy, occurs in infants who sustain nerve damage in their brachial plexus, a cluster of nerves that root in the shoulder, near the neck, and flow down into the arms. These nerves can be injured in various ways, such as during a difficult or abnormally stressful breach birth or when the baby is excessively large.

Sadly, one of the ways Erb’s Palsy can also happen is as a result of a doctor pulling on a baby too forcefully during a challenging birth. It most commonly manifests when a newborn’s head is twisted too sharply in one direction, tearing or cutting off circulation to the nerve cluster. The condition can cause long-lasting or permanent physical disabilities in the child, from temporarily being unable to move its arms or fingers to having full limb paralysis throughout its life.

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.

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What is a hernia?

The use of surgical hernia mesh is the one of the most commonly-utilized medical devices used to repair hernias – which occur when a muscle or organ protrudes through another piece of muscle or connective tissue due to increased amounts of pressure in the area of the body where the hernia occurs.

There are six common forms of hernia, and they can occur throughout different areas of the body; from hernias that erupt through a surgical scar to hernias that occur near the belly button. Hernias can happen to anybody, from those who are chronically obese to Olympic athletes and can occur regardless of age or gender.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 1.4 million people in the U.S. suffer some type of brain injury annually. Brain injuries can range from mild concussions to severe brain damage. If your brain injury was caused by another’s negligence, you may be entitled to compensation for medical expenses, pain and suffering, and lost wages.

Most Common Causes of Brain Injuries

Any type of trauma to the head, or sudden, violent “jostling” of the body, can result in injury to the brain. However, the causes below account for the majority of reported brain injuries annually.

  • Slip and fall accidents: Falling accounts for about 40 percent of all brain injuries in the US. The very young and the very old are most at risk. In children between the ages of 0 and 14, more than half of brain injuries are a result of falls. More than 80 percent of these types of injuries in the elderly are fall-related. A skilled Boston slip and fall attorney can help you determine whether to file a lawsuit for your injuries.
  • Blunt trauma: About 15 percent of all brain injuries in the US are caused by unintentional blunt trauma to the head. Blunt trauma usually occurs when the victim is hit by an object. For example, if a child “sneaks up” on mom or dad while they are golfing and gets hit in the head with a golf club, the child could suffer blunt trauma, and thus a brain injury. Nearly one-quarter of all brain injuries in children are caused by blunt trauma.
  • Motor vehicle accidents: Car crashes are the third leading cause of brain injuries, accounting for about 14 percent annually. However, they are the second leading cause of brain injury-related fatalities, at about 26 percent. Brain injuries can occur even without blunt trauma to the head. For example, if a car accident causes the body to jostle back and forth violently, the brain could move within the skull, resulting in brain damage.

Types of Brain Injuries

An individual’s prognosis following a brain injury is largely dependent on the type and severity of the injury. A mild concussion, for example, will likely heal well on its own without long-term side effects. But the most serious types of brain injuries can result in cognitive and physical impairments, and even death.

  • Concussion: When sudden movement or impact results in injury to the brain, the victim may experience a concussion. This is the most common type of brain injury and can be caused by direct trauma to the head or through violent shaking or force. Car crash-related whiplash is a common cause of concussions, as are sports injuries. A brief loss of consciousness may or may not occur, and concussions can range from mild to severe.
  • Contusion: This type of brain injury is characterized by bleeding on the brain, and is generally caused by blunt trauma to the head. Some contusions may need to be removed through a surgical procedure.
  • Coup-Contrecoup: These injuries occur when the brain suffers damage at the site of impact as well as on the opposite side. If blunt force to the head causes an injury at the site of the impact, but is forceful enough to slam the brain into the opposite side of the skull as well, the victim may suffer a coup-contrecoup injury.

All of the brain injuries above can be mild or serious, even fatal. If you are concerned that you may have experienced a brain injury, seek immediate medical attention. If your injury was the result of another’s negligence, you may wish to consult with a Boston brain injury attorney to determine whether you have a successful lawsuit on your hands. Although it’s always best to file a lawsuit as close to the injury incident as possible, even an older injury may be worth looking into. Continue reading

Slip and fall accidents are the most common injury suffered at shopping malls. They can occur due to uneven pavement in parking lots, spills in food courts that haven’t been mopped up, and ice and snow on walkways. Shopping malls also have escalators, which can result in serious injuries if poorly-maintained. If you have been injured in a slip and fall accident at the mall, contact a Boston personal injury lawyer today.

If you are injured in a slip and fall accident at the mall, you are likely to have two personal injury claims, one against the mall and one against the retail store you were in at the time of the incident. In a situation involving a retail store, you will file a claim against the store first, and the mall second. For example, if you are injured when you trip over an electrical wire in Old Navy, you will file the primary claim against Old Navy and the secondary claim against the mall in which Old Navy is located. If, however, your injury occurs in a common area, such as the food court, restroom, or parking lot, the claim will be against the mall alone. There is also the possibility that the mall brings in third parties to provide services such as  clean, provide maintenance, plow, and they too may be liable if the cause was their fault.

Who is Liable?