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.

According to a recently-released National Safety Council (NSC) report, the number of accidental deaths and injuries is at an “all-time high.” In fact, the rate of accidental deaths spiked more than 7 percent in 2015, accounting for an additional 146,571 lives lost that year. As a result, accidental deaths have become the fourth-leading cause of death in the United States. Only heart disease, cancer, and chronic lower respiratory disease take more lives.

According to the NSC’s Ken Kolosh, we shouldn’t refer to these deaths as accidental because “they’ve been proven over and over again to be 100 percent preventable.” By using terms like accidental or unintentional, we create the assumption that nothing can be done to prevent these injuries and fatalities. The reality is, when people follow certain safety precautions, the risk of accidental injury or death drops dramatically.

Over the past thirty years, U.S. deaths have actually dropped by nearly 20 percent, while “accidental” deaths have risen about 27 percent. To further emphasize the severity of this problem, consider the following calculation: if accidental deaths had followed the trend of overall deaths, nearly 60,000 lives would have been saved in 2015. A Boston injury lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured due to another’s negligence.

Why the Increase in Accidental Deaths?

According to the NSC, factors contributing to the increase in accidental deaths may include:

  • An increase in unintentional poisonings, fueled mostly by the nation’s opioid crisis (opioid overdoses are involved in 46 deaths every day in this country);
  • An unexplained rise in fall-related deaths;
  • Rise in deaths related to car crashes (nearly 38,000 deaths in 2015)—many experts believe distracted driving is to blame, but there are also simply more motor vehicles on the road than at any time in history.

The NSC predicts that the 2016 figures will be even higher—it estimates a six percent or greater increase (these figures won’t be released for at least several months).

How to Prevent Accidental Deaths

Accidental poisonings by way of opioid and other prescription drug overdoses can be avoided by discussing possible drug interactions with your doctor and ensuring that all medications are properly labeled and stored in your medicine chest. You should also:

  • Take medications exactly as prescribed;
  • When first taking a medication, report any problems to your physician immediately;
  • Never take another person’s painkillers’
  • Use a pill box to organize multiple medications;
  • Keep a diary of how much medication you are taking and when you take it.

Motor vehicle accident fatalities can be reduced by following the safety precautions below:

  • Never drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol;
  • Do not speed;
  • Always wear a seatbelt;
  • Avoid driving in inclement weather whenever possible;
  • Avoid driving late at night whenever possible;
  • Never text or talk on the phone while driving;
  • Make sure your vehicle is in good working order at all times;
  • Obey traffic rules.

Accidental deaths related to falls can be reduced by following the tips below:

  • Avoid getting excessively drunk;
  • If you need glasses, wear them;
  • Area rugs should have non-slip backing, and corners that stick up should be nailed down;
  • Place a rubber mat in your tub or shower;
  • Keep walkways well lit and clear of clutter and debris;
  • If using a ladder, make sure that it is in good repair and you know how to use it properly;
  • Avoid walking on icy sidewalks or wet floors;
  • If you have balance problems, use a walker or cane;
  • Maintain your health and physical fitness through regular exercise.

A MA injury lawyer can help you recover damages if you’ve been injured in any type of accident. Continue reading

Earlier this month, a pedestrian bridge collapsed at the Florida International University. Six people were killed and nine were injured. One of those injured—a cyclist—has filed the first lawsuit following this tragic accident.

According to the lawsuit, 24-year-old Marquise Rashaad Hepburn was cycling under the bridge when a large section of the bridge fell onto the roadway below. To avoid being crushed by the 174-foot span of concrete, a motor vehicle driver swerved, crashing into Hepburn. A Boston personal injury lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured by another’s negligence.

Hepburn’s lawsuit claims that the negligence of three companies contributed to the bridge collapse. It names the company responsible for designing and constructing the bridge, the company responsible for providing inspection services, and the company responsible for reviewing the bridge’s design.

Tests Were Being Performed at Time of Collapse

The brand-new pedestrian bridge wasn’t even officially open when the collapse occurred. All of the victims were on the roadway below. Inspectors had noticed some cracking a few days earlier, but said the cracks were not a safety issue. According to the complaint, stress tests of the bridge were being conducted on the morning of the collapse. Workers adjusted the bridge’s tension rods, a delicate process which can become problematic if a rod is over-tightened or made too loose.

Had traffic been re-routed during these tests, the injuries and fatalities could have been avoided. Further, a March 13 voicemail left by the bridge project’s lead engineer for an official of the Florida Department of Transportation, reveals the engineer’s comments about visible cracks in the bridge. According to the lawsuit, the engineer didn’t seem overly concerned with the cracks.

In addition to the pending civil lawsuit, the Miami-Dade Police Department is launching a criminal investigation into the matter.

What Causes a Bridge to Collapse?

Bridge failure can occur for myriad reasons. Some of the most common include:

  • Design defects
  • Improper construction materials
  • Inadequate maintenance
  • Inadequate inspections

Continue reading

Spring is only days away, and with warmer weather comes more bikes on the roads. Bike accidents can occur for many reasons, but when motor vehicles are involved, crashes are often deadly. According to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 818 bicyclists were killed in accidents involving motor vehicles in 2015. Thousands more were injured.

To dramatically reduce your risk of serious injury or death on a bicycle, follow the tips below.

Always Wear a Helmet

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reports that wearing a helmet reduces the risk of head injury by up to 85 percent. In fact, according to the Snell Memorial Foundation, “the number of bicycling head injuries requiring hospitalization exceeds the total of all the head injury cases related to baseball, football, skateboards, kick scooters, horseback riding, snowboarding, ice hockey, in-line skating, and lacrosse.”

Stay Visible

Wearing bright clothing and gear will help motorists see you, even from blocks away. At night, you should ride with a headlight and tail light and wear a white helmet and clothing. If you don’t frequently ride at night and don’t want to outfit your bike with lights, you can adhere a temporary blinking red or white light to your clothing if you happen to be out after dark. But the absolute best way to stay safe is to avoid riding after dark, whenever possible. A MA bicycle accident attorney can help you recover damages if you’ve been injured in a bicycle accident involving a motor vehicle.

Tips for Drivers

Unfortunately, drivers of motor vehicles can occasionally get aggressive with cyclists. This is especially true in the spring, when bike traffic spikes. Although road rage is never a good idea, it’s even worse when a cyclist is involved. The lack of a safe enclosure can be deadly in a car-bicycle collision. Follow the tips below when you are driving this spring / summer season.

  • When you pass a cyclist, give them several feet and pass quickly.
  • Never honk at a cyclist. This can scare them, resulting in a serious accident. Don’t worry, cyclists can hear a car approaching, there is no need for your horn.
  • Before opening your car door, always check to see if a cyclist is approaching. It is known as “dooring” when a cyclist crashes into a just-opened car door. Dooring can be deadly.

A Boston bicycle accident lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured by a motor vehicle driver.

Bicycle-motor vehicle collisions commonly involve one of the following situations:

  • A motor vehicle turning in front of a cyclist;
  • A motor vehicle pulling out of a driveway or parking spot directly in front of a cyclist;
  • A motor vehicle failing to yield at a stop sign or red light;
  • A distracted motor vehicle driver;
  • A motor vehicle driver’s failure to look both ways;
  • A motor vehicle driver who is under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Continue reading

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

Spring is only days away, and with warmer weather comes more bikes on the roads. Bike accidents can occur for many reasons, but when motor vehicles are involved, crashes are often deadly. According to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 818 bicyclists were killed in accidents involving motor vehicles in 2015. Thousands more were injured.

To dramatically reduce your risk of serious injury or death on a bicycle, follow the tips below.

Always Wear a Helmet

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reports that wearing a helmet reduces the risk of head injury by up to 85 percent. In fact, according to the Snell Memorial Foundation, “the number of bicycling head injuries requiring hospitalization exceeds the total of all the head injury cases related to baseball, football, skateboards, kick scooters, horseback riding, snowboarding, ice hockey, in-line skating, and lacrosse.”

Stay Visible

Wearing bright clothing and gear will help motorists see you, even from blocks away. At night, you should ride with a headlight and tail light and wear a white helmet and clothing. If you don’t frequently ride at night and don’t want to outfit your bike with lights, you can adhere a temporary blinking red or white light to your clothing if you happen to be out after dark. But the absolute best way to stay safe is to avoid riding after dark, whenever possible. A MA bicycle accident attorney can help you recover damages if you’ve been injured in a bicycle accident involving a motor vehicle.

Tips for Drivers

Unfortunately, drivers of motor vehicles can occasionally get aggressive with cyclists. This is especially true in the spring, when bike traffic spikes. Although road rage is never a good idea, it’s even worse when a cyclist is involved. The lack of a safe enclosure can be deadly in a car-bicycle collision. Follow the tips below when you are driving this spring / summer season.

  • When you pass a cyclist, give them several feet and pass quickly.
  • Never honk at a cyclist. This can scare them, resulting in a serious accident. Don’t worry, cyclists can hear a car approaching, there is no need for your horn.
  • Before opening your car door, always check to see if a cyclist is approaching. It is known as “dooring” when a cyclist crashes into a just-opened car door. Dooring can be deadly.

A Boston bicycle accident lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured by a motor vehicle driver.

Bicycle-motor vehicle collisions commonly involve one of the following situations:

  • A motor vehicle turning in front of a cyclist;
  • A motor vehicle pulling out of a driveway or parking spot directly in front of a cyclist;
  • A motor vehicle failing to yield at a stop sign or red light;
  • A distracted motor vehicle driver;
  • A motor vehicle driver’s failure to look both ways;
  • A motor vehicle driver who is under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Continue reading

When we put our children on the school bus each day, we hope that the bus driver will be responsible, drive safely and look out for the best interests of everyone on board. Fortunately, background checks and driving-history screenings help to ensure that most bus drivers will do just that. But it’s far from a fool-proof system.

A recent tragedy involving a school bus accident resulted in the death of six-year-old Ariana Haynes. According to police reports, the school bus rolled onto its side after taking a left turn too fast, then attempting to veer to the right. Ariana was ejected from the bus and suffered critical injuries. She died in the hospital the next day.

According to Ariana’s parents, the negligent and reckless bus driver is responsible for their daughter’s death. As a result, they have brought a lawsuit against the driver and Houston County schools. The driver has been criminally charged with vehicular homicide and reckless driving. A Boston motor vehicle accident attorney can help you determine how to proceed if another’s negligence has caused you harm.

The lawsuit alleges that the bus driver’s use of excessive speed and failure to use caution, make a legal left turn and apply the brakes in a proper manner all contributed to Ariana’s death. The family is seeking damages, including punitive, from the bus driver and school district.

When a School Bus Accident Occurs, Who is Responsible?

A number of parties could potentially be liable in a school bus accident that causes injury or property damage. The nature of the accident and the underlying cause will factor heavily into making this determination. If a school bus accident occurs, the following parties may be responsible:

  • Driver
  • School district
  • Private school
  • Non-school operator of the bus: church, sports team, etc.
  • Private contractor providing transportation to a school or other organization
  • Manufacturer of the school bus
  • Parts manufacturer
  • Third party repair company
  • Entity responsible for roadway construction and maintenance, or design
  • Driver of another vehicle

When school bus accidents occur, it is essential to hire an experienced MA motor vehicle accident attorney because these lawsuits can become overwhelmingly complicated. And school bus accidents do occur. In fact, according to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), school buses account for more bus fatalities than any other type of bus, 37 percent to be exact. Even so, school busses are still the safest way for children to get to and from school.

Always Use Caution Around a School Bus

You can do your part to help prevent school bus-related accidents, by following the tips below.

  • When approaching a school bus stop in your vehicle, slow down even if you don’t see any children. Kids may dart into the street, especially when they’re running late.
  • Obey bus laws and familiarize yourself with the flashing lights system: yellow lights mean the bus is preparing to stop, red lights mean the bus is stopped and children are getting on or off.

Kids are 70 times more likely to get to school safely on the bus than via any other mode of transportation. If we all work together to ensure the safety of our children – to and from school, in school and at home – we can dramatically reduce the incidence of childhood injuries and death. Continue reading

Jacob Moore, an 18-year old gymnast, is the first man to accuse gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar of sexual abuse. Nassar was the team physician for USA Gymnastics for about 20 years.

One day after practice in April 2016, Moore went to Nassar’s office to receive treatment for an injured shoulder. According to Moore, after Nassar advised him that acupuncture would be the most effective treatment, the doctor pulled down Moore’s pants and began administering acupuncture to his genital area. A MA personal injury lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been the victim of sexual harassment or abuse.

Not surprisingly, the unorthodox “shoulder treatment” did not relieve Moore’s shoulder pain. It did, however, leave him feeling “quite uncomfortable.”

“I left his basement thinking that did not help at all,” Moore said. “It’s frustrating when you have an injury and thinking you’re gonna get legitimate medical treatment, and you’re not getting that, for sure.”

And there was another person in the treatment room with Moore and Nassar during the incident – a young female gymnast. As he performed the disturbing treatment, Nassar asked the woman if she had ever seen a man’s body part before.

Moore made the decision to make his story public after nearly 200 girls – his own sister among them – came forward and testified against Nassar. Last week, the University of Michigan student joined a civil federal suit against the disgraced doctor.

“I was inspired by my sister and everyone else in this community to come out and help bring change to what allowed this to happen,” said Moore. “I don’t want (other victims) to be scared to come out because of stigma that guys can’t be sexually abused or taken advantage of.”

Nassar Sentenced to Decades in Prison

Earlier this year, Nassar admitted that he used his position of authority as a doctor to abuse his victims, and pleaded guilty to criminal sexual conduct. In addition to those charges, he was sentenced on multiple charges of child pornography.

According to the civil lawsuit against Nassar, “There is no known medical connection between shoulder pain which can be treated through acupuncture in the area of a male’s genitalia. Plaintiff Jacob Moore believes the conduct of Dr. Nassar was sexual assault, battery, abuse, molestation and harassment performed by Defendant Nassar for Defendant Nassar’s sexual pleasure and gratification.”

USA Gymnastics terminated Nassar in 2015 after receiving several complaints about the doctor. But he continued treating Michigan State University patients until further allegations were made public a few months later. In November 2016, Nassar was placed under arrest.

How Was the Abuse Allowed to Go On for So Long?

According to the lawsuit, USA Gymnastics failed to inform the public – or even other gymnasts – about the allegations against Nassar after the organization dismissed him in 2015. As a result, Moore and other victims continued to suffer abuse for nearly a year after Nassar’s dismissal. A Boston personal injury lawyer can help you recover damages if you’ve been the victim of sexual abuse. Continue reading

A two-year-old girl was killed in a tragic accident inside a Payless ShoeSource store last week. Ifrah Siddique was crushed when a large mirror fell as she was trying on shoes. The child was rushed to the Southern Regional Medical Center, but died from her injuries.

This tragedy calls into question the legal responsibilities of stores and other businesses, as well as the legal rights of those who are injured on their premises. Sadly, serious injuries and deaths in retail stores occur with relative frequency. Stores and other businesses open to the public often have heavy foot traffic, leading to an increased risk of something going wrong, eventually. Usually these incidents are minor, but not always.

Add frequent moving and re-arranging of displays and other heavy items to the inherent hazard of heavy foot traffic, and the risk of slip and fall accidents, traumatic brain injuries and death increases dramatically. Although minor accidents are sometimes difficult to predict – or prevent – serious injuries and fatal accidents should never occur. But they do. If you are injured due to a store’s negligence, a Boston personal injury lawyer can help you determine how to proceed.

Who is Liable?

Patrons of retail stores and other businesses open to the public have legal rights protecting them from harm. When a patron or guest is injured, property owners can be liable under the theory of premises liability. In many cases, the property owner and business owner are two different parties. Because there may be multiple parties involved, determining liability can be a complex process. The property owner may be entirely off the hook if the injury was a result of negligence on the part of the business itself, or its employees. In some situations, all three are liable. And if an outside vendor was involved, things can become even more complicated.

When negligence – whether on the part of the property owner, business owner, employees or outside vendor, or any combination thereof – results in a patrons death, the family may bring a wrongful death lawsuit against the responsible parties. A MA wrongful death attorney can help you recover damages if you have lost a loved one due to another’s negligence.

Premises Liability in MA

If a property owner owes you a legal duty of care and breaches that duty, you may be able to recover compensation for any injury or damage that results. That being said, whether you are entitled to compensation – and the level of that compensation – will be dependent on multiple factors. Why you were on the property is one of the most important factors.

  • Customers and others invited onto a property for the purpose of doing business are classified as invitees under MA law. Invitees are owed the highest duty of care.
  • Under MA law, friends and others who are invited onto a property for the purpose of a casual visit are classified as licensees. The duty of care owed to them is intermediate.
  • Trespassers are, of course, owed the lowest duty of care.

Continue reading

Most U.S. parents work outside the home. As a result, most small children receive some type of child care. Although many of these child care arrangements involve another family member (grandparent, aunt, or sibling), nearly one-quarter of young children are place in some type of organized child care, such as a day care center or preschool.

There is nothing more important than the health and safety of our children. If you need to find child care from someone other than a family member, it is important to ensure that the child care arrangement you choose is best for your child. With so many kids in day care centers across the country, injuries and accidents do happen. Fortunately, most of these injuries are minor and are not a symptom of negligence or abuse. But there are exceptions.

Child Care Safety Tips

Follow the advice below to ensure that your child is well cared for, happy and safe while at day care. In addition to protecting your child (and other children at the center) from abuse and neglect, the tips below can give you the reassurance and peace of mind you need to go about your day in a positive, healthy way.

  • Do your homework. Day care centers must be licensed and are required to follow state regulations. Part of the licensing process involves random site audits of the facility. When violations occur, they are generally made public via online databases.
  • Take a tour. Prior to enrolling your child in a day care center, it is important to understand the environment he will be in each day. Do staff seem to enjoy their jobs? Are they cuddling the babies, playing with the toddlers, and speaking to the children kindly? Are the kitchen and bathrooms clean, and are dangerous items, such as knives and scissors, placed out of children’s reach? Do the kids seem happy?
  • Talk to staff. Ask if they like their jobs, how long they have worked there, and what kind of qualifications they have. A high turnover rate (if most staff members have worked there for no more than a few months) can indicate a problem. And staff should have at least the minimum levels of training and education in early childhood development. A Boston day care negligence attorney can help you determine how to proceed if your child has been harmed due to another’s negligence.
  • Ask for the center’s safety policy with regard to handling injuries. Do their standards match your own? You can take this a step further by requesting a copy of their individual safety audits. Although this may feel like an uncomfortable question to ask, safety audits can provide important insight into the center’s history of safety and overall care.

Once your child begins going to a day care facility, it’s important to remain vigilant. Regularly reassess the level of care your child is receiving. Keep your eyes open for warning signs? Does she seem scared, anxious, or withdrawn when it’s time to go to day care each day? Is she always hungry or thirsty at pick-up time? Is she often covered in bruises, cuts, or bite marks? A MA child care abuse attorney can help you recover damages if your child has been harmed due to another’s negligence. Continue reading

If your baby has a VTech rattle or travel mobile, potential defects could result in serious injury. According to WebMD, the company issued a recall due to the risk of choking and “struck-by” injuries.

What Products were Recalled?

Although no injuries have been reported to date, the two products below pose a risk of serious injury or death. If you have either of these products, remove them from your home immediately.

  • Shake & Sing Elephant Rattle: At least five consumers have reported that the elephant’s ears have broken off. Being quite small, the ears pose a serious choking risk to young children and babies. As a result, about 280,000 rattles have been recalled. The affected rattles were purchased online and at retail locations, including Amazon and Walmart, between November 2015 and November 2017.
  • Lights and Lullabies Travel Mobile: The company indicated that this mobile can be “risky to kids” due to a “plastic arm that clamps to a crib can crack and cause the mobile to fall into the crib.” As a result, an infant can be struck by the mobile, resulting in head injuries or bruising. Between February and November 2017, approximately 37,000 of the affected mobiles were purchased online and at multiple retail locations.

If you have one of these recalled product’s, it is in your best interest to stop using it immediately. A Boston defective products lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured by a defective or dangerous product.

Child Injuries Related to Products or Objects in the Home

Fortunately, no injuries from the products above have been reported. However, defective and dangerous products injure thousands of children every year. Safe Kids Worldwide has released a report showing the severity of this problem. Some of the statistics from the report are included below.

  • The most common cause of serious injury to children in the home is suffocation. In fact, nearly 1,300 children died by suffocation in 2013.
  • In 2013, more than 22,000 children went to the emergency room for injuries related to suffocation.
  • The vast majority of children who die from suffocation are under age one (80 percent).
  • About 26 kids die annually due to furniture tip-overs and other “struck-by” injuries.
  • Approximately 188,000 children require emergency medical treatment every year due to injuries caused by children’s toys.
  • More than 150 children are fatally injured from choking each year.

Determining Liability

If your child has been injured by a product defect, who is liable? This is a complex question, requiring extensive research and the help of an attorney who specializes in product liability. The distribution chain for a product includes multiple parties; different companies often design the product, manufacture the product and sell the product, and any or all can be liable for a defect. Product defects generally fit into one of three categories – design, manufacturing or marketing. A MA defective products attorney can help you recover damages if you’ve been injured by a defective or dangerous product. Continue reading