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.

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

About 1,000 people are killed in train-related accidents each year and thousands more suffer non-fatal injuries. Despite these shocking statistics, train travel is generally quite safe. But concerns over recent – and tragic – accidents involving Amtrak have authorities questioning the railroad company’s safety culture.

In 2016, an Amtrak passenger train crashed into a backhoe on the track in Chester, PA. The operator claims he tried to stop when he noticed workers on the track, but failed to do so in time. Following the accident, toxicology reports showed that each of the three employees involved in the collision tested positive for drugs, including marijuana, cocaine and opioids.

Without Change, Another Accident is Inevitable

According to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), the accident occurred due to Amtrak’s failure to maintain a “clear, consistent and accepted vision for safety.” The NTSB went on to warn that another accident is inevitable if Amtrak does not make some dramatic changes, and soon.

An NTSB investigation into Amtrak’s 2016 derailment revealed the following problems as the main causes of the crash:

  • The train was permitted to travel on an unprotected track – while employees were working on the track – at maximum speed.
  • The train lacked shunting devices (a feature that indicates if and where workers are present on the railroad track).
  • Amtrak’s safety policies and management are inconsistent.
  • The presence of drugs in three of the workers’ systems further indicated the railroad company’s “weak safety culture.”

Sadly, the collision above is far from the only fatal crash in Amtrak’s recent history. In 2015, more than 200 people were injured and eight were killed when a train derailed in Philadelphia. And only a few weeks ago, two employees were killed and more than 100 people were injured in South Carolina when a passenger train collided with a parked freight train. Officials say that Amtrak’s safety culture was again to blame in the South Carolina crash. A Boston injury attorney can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured in a train-related accident.

Common Carrier Law

Under common carrier law, train operators, railroad workers and train companies are held to a higher standard because they are responsible for the safety of hundreds – even thousands – of people each day. In addition to implementing an effective drug-testing program, Amtrak and other common carriers (such as MBTA) should ensure that employees receive adequate training and that vehicles and equipment are properly maintained and in good, working order at all times.

Amtrak has failed to do its part to protect passengers and limit any harm that can come to them while using its transportation services. When a company like Amtrak neglects to adhere to safety standards and regulations – and injuries result – it should be held accountable for its actions. That being said, determining liability can be an overwhelmingly-complex process. In such a situation, it is essential to consult with an attorney who has extensive experience in cases involving common carriers.

The NTSB recommends that Amtrak overhauls its safety culture by implementing professional risk assessments and ensuring that workers are compliant with safety protocol. If Amtrak does not improve its safety culture, more deadly accidents are inevitable. A MA personal injury lawyer can help you recover damages if you have been injured due to another’s negligence. Continue reading

A recall affecting about 656,800 Toyota and Lexus vehicles was recently announced, involving vehicles manufactured between May 2015 and March 2016. According to Toyota, a defect in an open electrical circuit could prevent the air bag from inflating during a crash. As air bags are intended to prevent serious injuries and death in a motor vehicle collision, a non-deploying airbag could be fatal.

Toyota has announced that it will send recall letters to owners of affected models in March 2018. In the meantime, you may wish to contact Toyota if you own one of the defective models, which include:

  • Alphard
  • Corolla
  • Esquire
  • Highlander
  • Hilux
  • Levin
  • Lexus RX
  • Lexus NX SUVs
  • Noah
  • Prius
  • Probox
  • Sienta
  • Succeed
  • Vellfire
  • Voxy

As if the airbag issue wasn’t enough, one of Toyota’s most popular models, the 2018 Camry, is involved in a second recall. This time the defect involves an improper connection of fuel pipes and hoses, resulting in a potential fire hazard. Other vehicles involved in this recall are the Lexus TC-F, GS F and LC 500 vehicles manufactured in 2015 and after. A Boston defective products attorney can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured due to a dangerous or defective product.

Takata Airbags

The largest auto recall of 2017 involved vehicles equipped with Takata airbags. About 34 million vehicles have been affected by the recall, and more are expected. Takata airbags have exploded during deployment, causing serious injuries to vehicle occupants. According to the NHTSA, anyone with a vehicle model equipped with a Takata airbag should avoid driving the vehicle, except directly to the manufacturer to have the dangerous defect fixed. Several Honda and Acura models are involved, as are various Toyota, Lexus and BMW models.

Types of Product Defects

Thousands of people are injured by defective or dangerous products every year. Defective product lawsuits can be quite complex as determining liability across multiple parties in a distribution chain can be a challenge. Defects can occur during the design, manufacturing, or sales process of a product, vehicles included. If a vehicle malfunctions while being used for its intended purpose, and the malfunction causes injury or property damage, who is liable?

  • Design defect – If the flaw occurred during the vehicle’s design, before it was even manufactured, the design company may be liable. In some cases, this is the same company as the manufacturer, but not always.
  • Manufacturing defect – If the design was safe but a manufacturing error caused a dangerous defect, the manufacturer may be liable.
  • Marketing defect – The design and manufacturing processes may have both concluded safely, however, missing warning labels or improper instructions could result in injury. If a car is equipped with a feature to turn off the side airbags, but there is no warning that using this feature also turns off the front airbags, any resulting injuries would likely be classified as a marketing defect.

A MA personal injury lawyer can help you recover damages if you’ve been injured by a defective product. Continue reading

A side impact collision is commonly referred to as a T-bone or broadside accident. It occurs when one vehicle hits the side of another vehicle, usually at a 90-degree angle. Unfortunately, these types of crashes often result in serious injuries or fatalities. Distracted driving and failure to yield are two of the most common causes of side-impact collisions. But who is at fault when a T-bone accident occurs?

Negligence is often a factor in side impact collisions. However, in order to obtain compensation for injuries and property damage, the plaintiff in a car accident case must be able to show that the other driver breached his duty to act with care while driving, and that the breach caused actual damages. A Boston motor vehicle accident attorney can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured due to another driver’s negligence.

Tips to Follow After a Side Impact Collision

For the most part, side impact accidents should be handled like any other motor vehicle accident, with some minor exceptions.

  • Exchange information with the other driver; get their insurance information, name, address and phone number.
  • Ask any witnesses for their contact information.
  • Document any injuries and damage to your vehicle by using your cell phone’s camera to take pictures from as many angles as possible.
  • Do not speak with the other driver’s insurance company. The only people you should speak to about the accident are your attorney and your
  • When a side impact collision occurs, it may be unclear who is at fault; skid marks are often highly useful in determining fault. Photograph any skid marks, as well as the scene of the accident; snap pictures of street lights and signs, trees that may have been blocking visibility, the atmosphere (is it foggy or raining hard?), icy or wet spots on the road, and any debris.

Use Extra Caution in Intersections

Many T-bone accidents occur at intersections, and they often involve secondary crashes as the force of a broadside collision can push a vehicle into oncoming traffic. Because there is very little buffer in a side impact collision (no engine or trunk to cushion the blow), this type of motor vehicle accident is often fatal. In fact, about 8,000 people are killed in side impact crashes annually. A MA auto accident lawyer can help you recover damages if you’ve been injured due to another driver’s negligence.

Memories Fade

Determining fault in a T-bone collision may seem an easy task, but that’s not always the case. Even if the driver broadsided a vehicle at high speeds, the other driver may have driven through a red light or stop sign, causing the accident. That is why witness information and photographs are so important. Not to mention, memories fade. Without documentation obtained and recorded immediately following the accident, your memory of that day’s events will become foggier with each passing day. This is one of the reasons that car accident statutes of limitation are so short. Continue reading

If you can no longer work due to a physical or mental disability, you may be eligible for Social Security disability insurance (SSDI). SSDI payments are based on your current earnings, with the average amount being $1,197 monthly in 2018. Let’s say you are receiving SSDI benefit payments for an injury or illness and you are injured in a separate accident due to another’s negligence. You file a lawsuit and are awarded a lump sum of money for your damages. Will this settlement impact your SSDI benefits in MA?

Fortunately, the answer to the above question is a resounding “No.” SSDI is not affected by a personal injury settlement in MA. SSDI is a federal program for individuals who cannot work due to disability. To receive these benefits, the disabled individual must go through a thorough screening process.

Personal injury settlements are an entirely different animal. When negligence is acknowledged between two parties, the injured party will likely receive an agreed upon sum of money as compensation for medical expenses, pain and suffering, lost wages, and other associated costs. SSDI benefits and personal injury settlements are not in conflict with one another. Your SSDI benefits will not be reduced if you receive a personal injury award, even if it’s substantial. A Boston injury lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured due to another’s negligence.

SSDI Benefits and Unearned Income

SSDI benefits are intended to help you stay afloat if a disability prevents you from working for a period of time, or indefinitely. These benefits can even extend into retirement and provide support for dependents. Unlike Supplemental Security Income (SSI) – which is the low-income version of the program – SSDI does not limit the amount of unearned income or assets you are allowed to have. There is a limit on the amount you can earn by working, but that does not apply to personal injury settlements. And just as there are no limits on funds you can receive through an injury lawsuit, there are no limits on other types of unearned income if you are on SSDI. This includes interest income, a spouse’s income, and income from investments.

How Can I Apply for SSDI?

If you are unable to work due to a disability, you may wish to apply for SSDI benefits. In addition to being able to demonstrate that you cannot perform your usual job tasks, you must also prove that you are unable to reasonably be trained for another job due to your age, physical or mental fitness, or your level of education. Further, you must have paid into Social Security at some point during the past 10 years through your previous job(s), and you must have worked a minimum amount of years during that time frame (usually five).

The process to apply for SSDI benefits can be long and complex, and most claims are denied at first. This shouldn’t discourage you; many previously-denied claims are accepted during an appeals process. As such, it is imperative that you obtain legal counsel if you wish to apply for SSDI. A MA injury lawyer can help you obtain the benefits you deserve if you are unable to work due to injury or illness. Continue reading

Transitioning to a nursing home can be emotionally and physically challenging for your loved one. He or she will need to adapt to a new living environment and the loss of certain freedoms and autonomy. The reliance on caregivers for basic daily needs – such as nutrition, bathing, hydration and medical care – places nursing home patients in increased danger of neglect and abuse. Fortunately, the majority of nursing homes have the best interests of patients in mind at all times. Exceptions do exist, however.

Nursing home staff have a responsibility to protect patients from harm. Although not every accident is preventable, staff should take precautions to ensure that patients don’t suffer injuries caused by their own limitations. One of the most common easily-preventable injuries is facial trauma. According to a recent study in the Journal of the American Medical Association, the high incidence of facial trauma in nursing homes is cause for concern. The study used data from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS) to track reports of facial injuries in U.S. nursing homes over a five-year period. The results showed that:

  • more than 100,000 nursing home patients received emergency treatment for facial injuries,
  • 84 was the median age of patients with this type of injury,
  • about 65 percent of the patients were female,
  • injuries involved lacerations, fractures, and injury to soft tissues, and
  • nasal and orbital fractures were the most common.

If you suspect that your loved one is being neglected or abused in a nursing home facility, it’s imperative that you take immediate action. In addition to reporting the suspected mistreatment to management, you should contact a Boston nursing home abuse attorney as soon as possible.

Fall Injuries are Not Inevitable

The loss of balance and coordination that often accompanies aging makes elderly nursing home patients more prone to falls. Brittle bones and the body’s diminishing capacity to heal itself can turn a simple fall into a debilitating or deadly injury. Patients are most at risk of facial injuries when they are being transferred to another bed or to a chair, or when they are walking without proper supervision or the assistance of a walker. All fall injuries can be life-threatening to an elderly patient, but facial injuries can also damage the patient’s ability to speak, or even breathe.  Although elderly patients have a higher risk of falling than their younger counterparts, falls are not inevitable. Don’t let nursing home staff tell you otherwise.

Was Negligence a Factor?

Nursing home staff have a duty to provide your loved one with reasonable care based on his or her unique needs. When understaffing, inadequate training or negligent hiring results in an injury, the nursing home or its employee(s) should be held accountable. To prove negligence, you must be able to show that the following situations existed:

  • The nursing home owed a duty of care to the patient.
  • The nursing home breached its duty of care.
  • The injury was a direct result of that breach.

If you believe that your loved one’s fall injury is a result of neglect, a MA nursing home abuse lawyer can help you recover damages. Continue reading