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.

Now that school is back in full swing, there are millions of children playing on playgrounds every day. Playgrounds provide kids with an opportunity to have fun, unwind, and engage in creative play. But when playground equipment is not properly maintained, or supervision is poor, injuries can occur.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), more than 200,000 children go to the emergency room annually for playground injuries. Although the vast majority of these injuries are minor, children do suffer serious and life-threatening injuries every year. These include bone fractures, concussions, internal injuries, and amputations. In some cases, playground injuries can be fatal. Between 1999 and 2000, an average of 12 children died from playground-related injuries each year.

Was Negligence a Factor?

Playgrounds can be found at schools, daycare centers, community parks, and on private property. That being said, most playground accidents occur at school or daycare. To determine liability, you must first determine whether negligence played a role in your child’s injuries. A Boston personal injury attorney can help you determine how to proceed if your child has been injured due to another’s negligence.

Factors to Consider

When determining negligence, several factors will be considered. These include:

 

  • Was the equipment properly maintained? If a child is injured on playground equipment that is worn, broken, sharp, or that has rusted, the school or daycare may be liable. It is their job to properly maintain equipment, and replace broken or damaged parts immediately. If the playground is located in a community park, the municipality may be responsible.

 

  • Was there adequate supervision? Schools and daycare centers are responsible for providing adequate – and competent – supervision when children are on a playground. One adult might not be enough; there should be an appropriate child-to-teacher ratio at all times. However, you can’t expect someone to supervise your child outside of school hours, at community playgrounds, or on private property unless a specific arrangement has been made. If you leave your son alone at a community park, for example, and he falls off the climbing wall while you’re gone, you can’t claim another’s negligence.

 

  • Were reasonable safety measures taken to prevent injuries? Playgrounds should be designed and installed to prevent injuries. That’s why you see soft ground surfaces instead of concrete, and equipment with round edges instead of sharp corners. If a playground lacks these safety measures, the school, playground designer or installer, business, or municipality might be on the hook for resulting injuries.

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In 2014, Monica Broughton filed a lawsuit against the doctor who delivered her son six years earlier. Amari Broughton-Fleming, now nine years old, suffered nerve damage during birth. During his delivery – which was induced – Amari’s shoulder became trapped behind his mother’s pelvic bone. The doctor dislodged the arm by tugging on the infant’s head. Following Amari’s birth, doctors discovered that his right arm was paralyzed, and that some of the nerve damage was permanent.

Multiple surgeries have improved Amari’s condition, but he still has difficulty with even the most basic tasks, such as zipping his pants, riding a bike, and playing sports. Some of his fingers twitch when his arm is at rest, and the damaged arm is four inches shorter than its healthy counterpart. In addition to the physical challenges, Amari has also suffered emotional trauma. “He asks if his arm is ever going to be normal,” said Broughton. “He wants it to grow.”

A pediatric neurologist diagnosed the permanent nerve damage, saying that two of the five main nerves had been torn in half. Broughton claims that the nerve damage is the result of her doctor’s negligence. She believes that the OB-GYN’s forceful pulling of her son’s head caused the damage, and that he never told her about the potential risks of such a procedure. Apparently, the New Castle County, Delaware jury agreed with Broughton, because they awarded her $3 million. A MA birth injury lawyer can help you obtain the compensation you deserve if medical negligence harmed you or your child.

Common Types of Birth Injuries

When birth injuries are life-altering, juries are often quite sympathetic to the victim(s). The following birth injuries are commonly linked to medical negligence:

 

  • Brachial plexus injury: Also known as Erb’s palsy or Klumpke’s palsy, this birth injury occurs in about one out of every 1,000 births. In many cases, this injury is the result of improper practices during labor and delivery. Nerve damage can be minor and can heal on its own, or nerves can be completely torn from their root, resulting in total or partial paralysis.

 

  • Cerebral palsy: This permanent condition is characterized by impaired movement and motor skills. It may be caused by oxygen deprivation or trauma during labor.

 

  • Premature birth and neural tube disorders can occur due to overdosing with folic acid, a supplement commonly given to pregnant women.

 

  • Cerebral ischemia (reduced blood flow) can lead to brain damage in minutes. This condition can be caused by maternal overmedication, infection, and shoulder dystocia. A Boston birth injury lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if your child has been injured due to medical negligence.

 

  • Cephalohematoma (bleeding between the skull and brain) is often caused by improper use of forceps and other tools used to forcefully extract an infant. Fortunately, this condition usually heals on its own with time.

 

  • Spinal cord injuries: These are significantly more rare than the other birth injuries mentioned. Although spinal cord injuries involve varying degrees of cord disruption, most are quite serious. Spinal cord injuries may result in total paralysis, and even death. Trauma during labor, often involving breech births, is usually a factor in this type of birth injury.

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In more bad news for Home Depot, an Illinois man is suing the home improvements retailer for injuries he suffered in a Chicago-area store. On August 21, Calvin Horne filed a complaint in Cook County Circuit Court, alleging that Home Depot and Electric Eel Manufacturing Company Inc. failed to take adequate measures to prevent customers from being seriously injured. Horne claims that he severed a finger in July when an Electric Eel drain cleaning device malfunctioned as he was using it to unclog a drain.

The plaintiff in the above case is suing the defendants, alleging that they failed to provide necessary instructions for use, and to warn consumers of the product’s defect. Horne is seeking reimbursement for court costs, and damages in excess of $50,000.

Defective Products Liability

Generally speaking, a product needs to meet a consumer’s ordinary expectations. If an unexpected defect or dangerous feature results in injury, the product does not meet this legal standard.  Every year, thousands of people are injured by defective products in the U.S. But who is responsible when these injuries occur? When determining who is at fault in a product liability case, we must first consider the distribution chain.

Chain of Distribution

The chain of distribution for a particular product can be long, and convoluted. A Boston defective products attorney can help you determine who is at fault if you have been injured by a defective product. The distribution chain may include:

  • Product designer
  • Product manufacturer
  • Parts manufacturer
  • Product assembler
  • Wholesaler
  • Retailer

In most product liability cases, the responsible party or parties must exist within the product’s regular distribution chain. For example, if you purchase a defective product at a yard sale, you aren’t likely to recover from the home owner if you are injured by the product. However, the original manufacturer, retailer, and any parties in the distribution chain can still be liable, even though the product was purchased at a yard sale.

Types of Defects

When it comes to product liability, there are three types of defects that commonly cause injury. These are:

 

  • Defects in the product’s design: These defects were present even before the product was manufactured. If the design is inherently unsafe, the designer may be liable while the manufacturer is off the hook. However, if it can be shown that the manufacturer knew, or should have known about the defect, the manufacturer may also be liable.

 

  • Defects that occur in the manufacturing process: The product’s design was flawless, but a machine malfunctioned during the manufacturing process, and the finished product is too big, or too small, or too slippery, or too sharp. Whatever the defect – if it causes injury – the manufacturer may be liable.

 

  • Defective marketing: Improper labeling or inadequate instructions are the main culprits of injuries due to defective marketing. For example, we all know that a hair dryer is safe, but not when used in water. That is why all hair dryers come with a large warning label to keep the product away from water. If a product is missing an important warning label, or if you were injured due to misleading marketing, an experienced MA injury attorney can help you recover damages.

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Jesus Sanchez is suing Home Depot for injuries he sustained in a slip and fall accident in one of the store’s Florida locations. Sanchez claims he suffered damages due to the store’s failure to provide a safe environment. According to his claim, Sanchez was injured when he tripped on plastic wrapping left on the floor of one of the aisles. The defendant allegedly failed to provide adequate warning of a dangerous condition in one of the aisles, and to resolve the dangerous condition in a timely manner.

Store Liability in Slip and Fall Accidents

In order to determine whether a store is liable for your slip and fall injury, several factors must be considered. Did a dangerous condition exist? Did the store owner, manager, or landlord know about the dangerous condition? Did the store owner, manager, or landlord make a reasonable attempt to remedy the dangerous condition? Did you suffer damages? All of these questions will be addressed in a slip and fall case.

Take the above case for example. If a store manager knew about the plastic wrap on the floor but decided to take her lunch break before removing it, Sanchez’s injury claim may be successful. However, if the plastic wrap had been left on the floor because an employee was responding to an urgent situation in another aisle, and it had only been there for two or three minutes, Sanchez isn’t likely to receive a substantial award for his damages.

Slip and fall accidents in stores are commonly caused by spilled liquids or slippery substances, debris in aisles, uneven pavement or walkways, and icy or snowy walkways. Stores have a duty to maintain reasonably safe conditions at all times. When an unsafe condition in a store results in injury, the plaintiff may be compensated. However, whether he is compensated, and how much he is compensated, is largely dependent on the unique details of the case. A Boston personal injury attorney can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured in a slip and fall accident.

Slip and Fall Accident Statistics

Slips, trips, and falls are a leading cause of personal injury claims in the United States, accounting for 15 percent of all accidental deaths. Anyone can be injured in a slip and fall accident, but who is most at risk? And where are slip and fall accidents most likely to occur?

  • Approximately one million Americans are injured in a slip and fall accident annually.
  • Among older Americans, slip and fall accidents are the most common cause of traumatic brain injuries (TBIs).
  • About 65 percent of all slip and fall accidents occur on same-level walking surfaces, not from higher levels.
  • Falls are the second leading cause of accidental death among people between the ages of 65 and 84.
  • Falls are the leading cause of accidental death for people aged 85 years and older.
  • Annually, more than 60 percent of nursing home residents fall.
  • Approximately 85 percent of workers’ comp claims arise from workers falling on slick or slippery floors.
  • In the U.S. alone, fall-related injuries are estimated to cost up to $14 million annually.

A MA slip and fall lawyer can help you recover damages if you’ve been injured due to another’s negligence. Continue reading

For many people, nothing beats riding a motorcycle during early autumn in New England. The mild weather and vibrant foliage are perfect for long, weekend rides through the countryside. But riding a motorcycle comes with inherent dangers. In fact, you are six times more likely to die in a motorcycle crash than in a car crash.

But it’s not all bad news. The vast majority of these accidents are easily preventable. Don’t become a statistic. By following the tips below, you can dramatically reduce your risk of being seriously injured or killed in a motorcycle accident.

Motorcycle Safety Tips

  • If you ride, wear a helmet. The argument for helmets is water-tight. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), of the more than 4,000 fatal motorcycle accidents in 2011, approximately 40 percent of the riders were not wearing a helmet. That same year, NHTSA estimates that the lives of 1,617 riders were saved by wearing a helmet. And those figures don’t even take into account the statistics on injury accidents. Countless riders have avoided traumatic brain injuries and other serious injuries by wearing a helmet.
  • Never use drugs or alcohol when you ride. Drugs and alcohol are a no-no when you get behind the wheel of any motor vehicle, but the issue becomes even more dire when a motorcycle is involved. Operating any vehicle takes focus and attention, but riding a motorcycle comes with added responsibilities. The ability to maintain balance – which is of utmost importance on a motorcycle – is negatively impacted by drugs and alcohol. You should also use caution if you are currently on prescription or over-the-counter medications. Even something as seemingly benign as Benadryl can affect your ability to ride safely.
  • Do not speed…ever. According to the Insurance Information Institute (III), 33 percent of all fatal motorcycle accidents in 2015 involved excessive speed. Even on open stretches of road, speeding is dangerous; uneven pavement, loose gravel, and other debris can cause you to lose control of the bike. And losing control at high speeds is often deadly. A Boston motorcycle accident lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured due to another’s negligence.
  • Keep your bike in good shape. As with any motor vehicle, it is extremely important to maintain your motorcycle. Frequently check tires, turn signals, and lights to ensure that they are in proper working order, and have your bike’s engine and brakes checked at least annually.
  • Remember that cars and trucks may not see you. Due to a motorcycle’s small size, it is easy for a bike – and its rider – to disappear in a driver’s blind spot. Never assume that a driver can see you. Avoid making sudden lane changes in close proximity to other vehicles, and never ride between lanes of slow-moving or stopped traffic (called lane splitting). A MA injury lawyer can help you get the compensation you deserve if you’ve been injured in a motorcycle accident.
  • Whenever possible, avoid road hazards and riding in inclement weather. Especially during summer and fall months, road construction is a major hazard for motorcyclists. Use extreme caution when riding through these areas which are often riddled with loose gravel, uneven pavement, pot holes, and other debris. And don’t ride when weather is bad. Heavy rains, and icy or snow-covered roads can be deadly.

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If you are injured in a slip and fall accident in a store, should you file a personal injury claim? And if so, who should you file the claim against? The following article will help you determine if you have a successful slip and fall case, and how to proceed if you do.

Was the Store Negligent?

If you’ve been injured in a slip and fall accident, step one is to determine if negligence played a role in your accident. Simply falling in a store doesn’t mean the store owners or managers are at fault. Tripping over your untied shoe laces, for example, wouldn’t justify a personal injury claim. But what if you slipped on a slippery substance that hadn’t been cleaned up? Well, it depends…

In the “slippery substance” scenario above, negligence may be a factor. Consider the following two scenarios:

  • Scenario A: A child grabs a glass bottle of iced tea from the store shelf and drops it, spilling iced tea all over the aisle floor. The mother notifies a store employee who immediately runs to the storage room to get a mop and a “Wet Floor” sign. In the moments before the store employee can get back to the spill, an elderly woman steps into the aisle and slips on the iced tea, breaking two ribs. No sooner has she slipped than the store employee returns with the mop and sign. He sees the woman on the ground and immediately calls for help.
  • Scenario B: A child grabs a glass bottle of iced tea from the store shelf and drops it, spilling iced tea all over the aisle floor. The mother notifies a store employee who says she’ll clean it up. But the store employee is on her cell phone, discussing plans for that night. Although she intends to clean up the spill, she forgets. The spill remains, untouched, for over an hour. An elderly woman steps into the aisle and slips on the iced tea, breaking two ribs.

In both scenarios above, the elderly woman may be able to file an injury claim based on negligence. However, proving negligence in scenario A may be difficult. In both scenarios, the woman slipped on a spilled substance that hadn’t been cleaned up. However, in scenario A, the store employee was doing everything in his power too quickly and effectively clean up the spill. In scenario B, the store employee prioritized a personal phone call over the safety of store customers. Continue reading

Parking lots and mechanical garages throughout Massachusetts often have automatic gates to control the flow of traffic coming and leaving. Unfortunately, equipment malfunctions can result in serious injuries to pedestrians, cyclists, and motorists who enter and exit through defective or poorly-maintained gates. When a person is struck in the head by the arm of an automatic parking gate, he may be seriously injured, or even killed. Possible injuries include traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, lacerations to the face, and paralysis.

Who is Responsible?

Public and private office buildings, schools, shopping malls, hotels, and parking garages are responsible for maintaining a safe environment for visitors to their property. When someone is injured due to a malfunctioning parking gate arm, the victim may decide to file a personal injury claim against the responsible party. But who is responsible? Depending on the circumstances of the accident, multiple parties may be liable for parking lot gate injuries, including:

  • Property owners
  • Gate manufacturers
  • Parking lot or parking garage managers
  • Maintenance workers

A Boston personal injury lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured by another’s negligence.

Determining Liability

Consider the following scenario: Linda is struck in the head by an automatic gate arm as she walks out of a hotel parking garage. Should she file an injury claim against the garage manager on duty that day? What about the hotel’s property owner?

Let’s say the hotel had just purchased an automatic gate last month. It was brand new at the time of purchase, was properly installed, and has been well maintained ever since. The garage manager on duty was properly trained on the gate’s use and was highly attentive on the day that Linda’s accident occurred. An investigation into the incident reveals a defect in the gate’s design.

In the case above, the property owner and garage manager upheld their duties to provide a safe environment. They were unaware of the design defect, and are not likely to be liable for Linda’s injuries. The manufacturer and / or designer of the gate, however, is another story entirely. If the design defect caused Linda’s injuries, the manufacturer is likely to be liable for any damages.

It’s all in the Details

But what if the details of Linda’s incident were slightly different? What if the injury was caused by a design defect but the property owner had been warned about the defect shortly after purchase? The property owner could have placed a warning sign next to the gate to warn of potential problems, or she could have replaced the gate with a different model. Instead, she chose to do nothing. In such a situation, the property owner will likely share at least some of the responsibility. In fact, she may be solely responsible, depending on various factors. For example, if the gate manufacturer had recalled the gate but the property owner had ignored the recall, the manufacturer may be off the hook entirely. A MA injury lawyer can help you recover damages if you’ve been injured due to another’s negligence. Continue reading

In 2015, Peter Godefroy was seriously injured when his bicycle struck a pothole in Sherman Oaks, California. Godefroy sued the City of Los Angeles, saying that he suffered a “severe traumatic brain injury,” and that poor maintenance and lighting turned the pothole into a dangerous trap.

Last week, the L.A. City Council voted 11- 0 to approve a $6.5 million settlement in the case. Earlier this year, the council settled for $4.5 million with the family of a man who was killed in a cycling accident involving the city’s uneven pavement.

Bicycle Accident Statistics

In 2015, more than 800 people died and about 45,000 were injured in bicycle accidents. As high as these numbers sound, they are probably an underestimation; hospital records show that only a small percentage (as low as 10 percent) of bicycle accidents are even reported. According to the National Safety Council, bicyclist injuries and fatalities cost more than $4 billion annually.

What to Do After a Bicycle Accident

Cycling accidents are generally treated like auto accidents; if another party was involved in the accident, you should exchange insurance information, document and photograph injuries and property damage, and contact the police if injuries or property damage are severe. Keep records of any associated medical bills, bicycle repairs, and lost wages as well. If the cause of the accident was related to poor roadways or bike lanes, the fault might lie with the city or municipality.

When is the City Liable?

When poor maintenance of city streets, sidewalks, or bike lanes contributes to a cycling accident, the city may be liable for any resulting damages. Obtaining experienced legal counsel can help you determine if the city is liable, and will help to ensure that you file an injury claim or civil lawsuit within the allotted time frame. Cities and municipalities have a responsibility to exercise reasonable care in maintaining roadways, bike lanes, and sidewalks. When they fail to do so, they may be on the hook for your injuries and property damages. Proving that the city knew about  – or should have known about – the dangerous condition, however, can be challenging. For this reason, among others, hiring a skilled MA personal injury lawyer is crucial to the outcome of your case. Continue reading

When we’re given a prescription, we have little choice but to trust that the prescribing doctor knows what’s best for us. Unfortunately, doctors are humans and humans make mistakes. Maybe your doctor is having a bad day, or maybe she’s feeling ill. She inadvertently overlooks that you are currently taking a drug that is contraindicated for use with the drug she is prescribing. If this mistake causes you injury, can your doctor be liable for those injuries? Is this an example of medical negligence, or just an honest mistake?

Common Medication Errors

Medication errors can result in serious injury, and even death. A patient may suffer an overdose, an allergic reaction, or a delay in care due to a medication error. And these errors are shockingly common. In fact, medication errors injure about 1.3 million people and are responsible for nearly 700,000 emergency room visits annually in the United States. Maybe we shouldn’t be so surprised, considering that about one-third of American adults take at least five medications. Common medication errors include:

  • Incorrect dosage
  • Wrong medication
  • Interference with other medications due to failure to check already prescribed meds
  • Allergic reactions due to failure to check patient’s allergies
  • Adverse reactions due to failure to check past prescription use
  • Failure to warn about side effects and risks
  • Failure to provide dosing instructions

All of the above scenarios can be a result of medical negligence, but proving negligence is rarely an easy task. To prove negligence, you must first show that a “duty of care” existed and that a medical professional breached that duty. In order for a duty of care to exist, there must be a contractual relationship between patient and doctor at the time of the injury. Further, the medical professional must have done something that falls outside of what a qualified medical professional would have done under the same or similar circumstances. An experienced MA medical negligence attorney can help you prove that your injury is the direct result of a breach of duty on the part of a medical professional.

How to Prevent Medication Errors

If you are given a prescription, don’t just assume that your doctor knows best. Ask the following questions:

  • What is the name of the drug?
  • What is the correct dosage?
  • What is the purpose of the drug?
  • How long should I use the drug?
  • What is the proper method of storage for the drug?
  • Will it interact with any of the medications or vitamins I am currently on? (List these for your doctor, including over-the-counter meds, herbs, and dietary supplements)
  • How will this drug affect my other medical conditions? (If you have other health problems, list them for your doctor)

In addition to the above questions, tell your doctor if you have ever had an allergic or adverse reaction to any drug, herb, or supplement. A Boston injury attorney can help you recover damages if you’ve been injured due to another’s negligence. Continue reading

According to an August 2017 National Public Radio (NPR) article, more than 25 percent of severe nursing home abuse cases go unreported. NPR obtained this information from the Office of Inspector General for the Department of Health and Human Services. Considering that in New York state alone, approximately 260,000 nursing home residents reported some form of abuse in 2010, the estimated number of unreported cases is staggering.

In 2000, the National Center on Elder Abuse conducted a study of 2,000 nursing home residents. The revealing study discovered that 44 percent of those surveyed had been abused, and a shocking 95 percent had suffered neglect or had witnessed others being neglected. And surprisingly, more than half of the nursing home staff members surveyed admitted to mistreating their patients. A Boston nursing home abuse attorney can help you determine how to proceed if your loved one has been the victim of abuse.

Signs of Nursing Home Abuse

Some of the signs below can be the result of an honest mistake or a medical condition. However, if any of these issues arise and seem persistent or unexplained, they may indicate abuse or neglect:

  • Bedsores
  • Unexplained injuries, bruises, or medical conditions
  • Malnutrition
  • Dehydration
  • Poor hygiene
  • Lack of food or water
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Dirty bed linens
  • Unsanitary living conditions
  • Missing eyeglasses, dentures, walkers, or other necessary items
  • Depression
  • Confusion
  • Cigarette burns
  • Sprains, fractures, or broken bones
  • Overmedication
  • Victim seems fearful, angry, or withdrawn
  • Torn or bloody undergarments
  • Infections in the genital or anal area
  • Painful urination or defecation
  • Pain when sitting or walking

What to Do if You Suspect Nursing Home Abuse

If your loved one is in a nursing home, it is crucial to know how to recognize signs of nursing home abuse and neglect. The following tips can help you protect your loved one from becoming a victim.

  • Ask: It might sound simple, but asking your loved one if he or she is being mistreated is the best way to assess their situation. In some cases, victims of elder abuse will remain silent out of fear of retaliation. Questions such as, “do you feel safe?” or “who is your favorite staff member?” may elicit a more honest response.

 

  • Use extra caution when your loved one has Alzheimer’s disease or dementia: The sad reality is that dementia patients have a higher risk of elder abuse. For this reason, friends and family should pay special attention to possible warning signs, such as withdrawal, unexplained bruises, or poor hygiene.

 

  • Maintain close ties with your loved one: There is evidence that nursing home patients whose family members visit often are less likely to become victims of abuse or neglect. When family visits often, it is easier to detect changes in behavior, hygiene, and overall health. A MA nursing home abuse attorney can help you recover damages if your elderly loved one has been been the victim of abuse or neglect.

 

  • Do your homework: Before choosing a nursing home for your loved one, research multiple facilities. Visit the home in person, ask for referrals, and do a google search. The facility should be clean and residents should appear happy. Visiting during shared meal times allows you to see if the food looks nutritious and if residents and staff are engaged in positive interactions. Does the facility have social programs? How long do staff members typically stay on board? Do staff members appear to enjoy their jobs?

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