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Two years ago, the family of a 4-year-old boy killed in a 2011 escalator accident at the Auburn Mall Massachusetts reached a settlement with the escalator manufacturer and owner of the store where the escalator accident took place. escalator

The child was fatally injured when a guardrail on the escalator pulled him through a gap between a plexiglass divider and the escalator and he fell 18 feet onto a display case below. He died at the hospital the next day of blunt force trauma to the head.

According to recent statistics published by the American Association for Justice, this case was indicative of so many escalator accidents that happen every year in that it:

  • Involved a young child;
  • Involved a fall.

The report indicated there are a growing number of escalator injuries in the U.S. every year, most involving children or the elderly, and a significant number involving not entrapment, but falls. Continue reading

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There is no question that it is dangerous to drive a car while using your smart phone.  Whether you are sending a text, reading a text, checking your email, or doing any number of other things on your phone, you are statistically much more likely to be involved in a car accident that is your fault than if you are not using your smart phone while driving.  For this reason, many car accidents claims are filed against the drivers of these accidents.

1225930_mobile_phone_1However, according to a recent news feature from Inside Counsel, a trade publication for attorneys that work as in-house counsel for large corporations, victims of distracted driving car accidents are now filing lawsuits against the makers of specific apps that are alleged to be more dangerous and more likely to be the result of a distracting driving accident. Continue reading

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These days, when it is harder to smoke in public places, and due to all of the health problems associated with smoking in general, many are turning to e-cigarettes as an alternative.  Smoking e-cigarettes, or vaping as it often called, involves loading an electronic cigarette with a nicotine and flavor cartridge or filling it with liquid nicotine and then smoking it as normal cigarette without the need to light it.

fuego-1178889-300x225A small battery inside the device will activate a system designed to vaporize the liquid, so the user can inhale it. The user will inhale and exhale the vapor, and it is claimed that provide the desired effects of nicotine without the dangers of smoking.  In reality, there has not been much testing on the practice of vaping, and there is no long-term usage data, so scientists do not know if these claims are true. Continue reading

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Punitive damages in a personal injury lawsuit in Boston are those that exceed merely simply compensation and are awarded with the intent to punish the defendant. Such damages often far exceed one’s actual losses and are intended to punish egregious or malicious action and to encourage reform or prevent the defendant – or others – from repeating their actions. wheelchair5

There have been cases in which courts have handed down eye-popping punitive damage awards, but that is usually only with the most serious of cases that involve catastrophic injury and death. The Massachusetts Legislature understands that there is unequal bargaining power between an individual claimant and, say, an international insurance company or a huge corporation. That’s why they have found that in some cases, monetary sanctions are the only to way to sway unlawful and unethical behavior.

Most of the time, these verdicts are affirmed. However in some cases, punitive damages may be deemed constitutionally excessive because they violate due process. Since 1989, the U.S. Supreme Court has decided at least nine cases that involve the question of constitutional punitive damages limitations, with seven of those using the theory of due process violations.

The high court’s precedent on this issue holds that a punitive damage award has to be set aside if the state court:

  • Finds the award grossly excessive;
  • Fails to provide defendant with a reasonable procedure to protect form grossly excessive awards.

Continue reading

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In Boston medical malpractice cases, sometimes the term “never events” gets thrown around. It’s a reference to the types of medical errors that health professionals agree should never happen. And yet, they do. Some examples:doctor5

  • Retained surgical instruments (surgical tools, sponges, etc. being left inside a patient after a procedure);
  • Wrong surgery site (a surgeon performs surgery on the wrong limb, body part, person, etc.);
  • Urinary tract infection from a catheter;
  • Pressure ulcers (Stage III and IV);
  • Falls and trauma;
  • Surgical site infections;
  • Medication error fatalities;
  • Administration of incompatible blood;
  • Air embolisms.

Now, a recent study by Castlight-Leapfrog reveals not only are these events occurring, they are happening with alarming frequency. Although there is always some risk a patient incurs with every type of medical treatment. And just because someone suffers a poor health outcome doesn’t necessarily mean medical malpractice is to blame. However, these “never events” are so egregious for the fact that they are deemed entirely preventable. We know what causes them. We know how to stop them. And hospitals should have procedures and policies in place that are strictly followed by staffers to ensure these kinds of things never happen. Continue reading

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The Iowa Supreme Court has set for retrial the case of Alcala v. Marriott Int’l, Inc., a slip-and-fall case that involves a hotel business guest who was injured after a fall on an ice-slicked walkway on the property. icewalk

Boston residents are well familiar with the phenomenon of ice and snow during the brutal winter months. Of course, it’s not something many want to spend time thinking about at the start of summer, but it’s worth keeping abreast of legal developments on this front because it does affect many in Massachusetts for a good six months out of the year.

In Massachusetts, the 2010 ruling of Papadopoulos v. Target Corp. upended the previous slip-and-fall standard when it came to snow and ice, which was that there was no liability for naturally-accumulated ice and snow, but there was for unnaturally-accumulated ice and snow. The Maine Supreme Judicial Court held that a property owner owed a duty to lawful visitors in both cases to protect them from hazards arising from snow and ice. Whether a property owner’s action is “reasonable” will depend on a myriad of factors, including likelihood of injury, probable seriousness of such injuries and how great a burden it is to reduce or avoid that risk altogether.  Continue reading

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High school students are well known for engaging in many activities that the average adult would not consider safe, or for that matter even a sane thing to do. According to a recent news feature from Lehigh Valley Live, a 14-year-old girl was injured when she jumped out of a moving school bus and hit her head on the pavement. Doctors are worried the teen may have suffered a traumatic brain injury and labeled her condition as “concerning.”schoolbus

Believe it or not, the reason she jumped out of the rear door of a moving school bus is because it is a well-known tradition in the area for students to do this on the last day school each year.  However, one school official said that while the acts do occur, they are not a tradition at this particular school.  He said he is hopeful that other students will learn about the dangers of jumping out of moving school bus and not repeat this same behavior each year. Continue reading

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While everyone is familiar with the video sharing site YouTube, you may not be aware that some people have formed bands that are popular enough to attract fans to concerts they promote themselves via social media.  According to a recent news feature from New York Magazine, two 16-year-old twins who have been making music videos online decided to hold a concert for their fans.

xray-1319306-mTheir fans consist mainly of girls between the ages of 11 and 15.  Their concert was held at a venue they booked, and, at one point during the show, one of the teen performers decided to take his shirt off to show off his abs to his screaming fans.  Witnesses say fans were so excited by the performer taking his shirt off that they started to basically stampede towards the stage to get a better look, and that resulted in 28 people being injured.   Continue reading

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One of the most effective ways to prevent food poisoning is to make sure too keep all food properly refrigerated.  When food is sitting out on the counter or on a hot picnic table, it is in what is known as the danger zone between 40 degrees and 140 degrees Fahrenheit.  Basically, once food is out of the oven and not in the refrigerator, bacteria can be growing, and the longer it stays in that temperature, the more dangerous it will become.

soup-2-1329592As discussed in a recent article from WTOP Health News, one in six people in the United States will become sick from poisoning each year.  This shows how high your risk is, and that risk only gets worse in the summer. The reason for this is because with the intense heat and people eating outdoors more often, bacteria will form a lot more quickly than it will indoors or at other times in the year. Continue reading

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With the weather getting a lot warmer and the days getting longer, more people will be taking to the outdoors for all kinds of fun activities.  Kayaking has become a popular pastime across the nation, including here in the Commonwealth.

kayaks-1533377According to a recent news feature from the Press Herald, rescue workers have just recovered the body of a 14-year-old boy from a river in the New England area.  Authorities say the young victim was riding in a two-person kayak when it capsized.  The other person in the kayak was a friend who was wearing a life jacket at the time of the deadly accident.  The victim was not wearing one, which likely contributed to him drowning. Continue reading