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Erica Pereira
Erica Pereira

508-822-2000


Under current Massachusetts law, drivers may carry as little as $20,000 in liability insurance. This can compound upon the otherwise unspeakable tragedy of losing a loved one to a fatal motor vehicle accident with economic hardship. In the event of an automobile accident resulting in death caused by negligence, most of the liability insurance would be consumed by hospital and funeral expenses. This would leave the family of the deceased with very little. It will also leave a family with dependent children in a serious economic predicament.

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According to the Massachusetts Port Authority — which manages Boston’s cruise ship port, Cruiseport Boston, — over 300,000 passengers pass through the port each year. The 2016 season will bring 117 vessels through the port, which is the home base for four ships as well as a port of call for numerous ships on 17 different cruise lines.

According to Mass Port, Massachusetts is one of the top ten states economically impacted by the cruise industry. By estimate, passengers and crew spent 36 million dollars in Boston in 2012. It is also estimated (in a 2013 report) that the industry brought 8,000 jobs to Massachusetts and $479 million in income.

With the cruise industry booming in Massachusetts, passengers, crew, and their families often require legal advice for injuries and deaths that occur aboard a ship or in a port of call. Generally, injuries that occur in port are treated the same way as any other injury that occurs in Massachusetts. Usually, injuries that occur in port are not caused by the cruise line or its staff, but by local vendors, tour guides, or property owners.

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Vehicle Recall Car Defect Injured Attorney
On Thursday, January 21, 2015, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration launched a new Public Awareness Campaign, “Safe Cars Save Lives.” The goal of this campaign is to encourage automobile owners to routinely check for any applicable vehicle recalls issued by their vehicle manufacturer. As the Department of Transportation’s release notes, there were close to 900 recalls affecting 51 million vehicles nationwide — and, each year, 25% of recalled vehicles are left unrepaired.

The NHTSA has implemented a VIN look-up tool, which allows vehicle owners to input their Vehicle Identification Number to determine whether any recalls remain outstanding that apply to their vehicle. The goal of the campaign is to encourage people to develop the habit of checking for recalls related to their vehicle at least twice every year.

While some vehicle recalls may be minor, many other recalls relate to defects that jeopardize the lives of drivers and passengers. For example, vehicle recalls related to faulty airbags could prevent serious injuries and deaths from occurring, as could complying with a vehicle recall related to faulty ignitions.

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On Thursday January 7, 2015, an explosion rocked the Dow Chemical Plant in North Andover, Massachusetts. As a result of the incident, police and firefighters as well as paramedics and EMT’s responded to the scene. Although the damage appears to have been contained, authorities have reported that four people were injured in the incident and brought to Lawrence General Hospital for treatment of burns and other serious injuries. A spokesman for the hospital reported that three of the patients were being transferred to other facilities while one was remaining at Lawrence General for treatment. The source and cause of the explosion are currently under investigation. A worker was killed in a chemical explosion at the same plant in 2013.

Chemical plants can be some of the most dangerous places to work because of the variety and large quantity of highly flammable and toxic substances. Not only can injuries be caused by fires and explosions but also simply by exposure to toxic chemicals, both of which are common at chemical plants.

Although injured employees are often limited to pursuing workers compensation claims for their injuries, if the injury is caused by the negligence of a third party or outside company, a civil lawsuit may also be pursued. Under the Massachusetts Workers Compensation statute, damages are typically limited to claims for lost wages, medical expenses, loss of function and scarring. However, in cases where an employer has exhibited gross negligence or extreme recklessness, employees may be able to pursue claims for double their typical compensation. If a civil of “third-party” claim is available against an outside company, the injured employee would also be able to pursue the, often more substantial, claims for pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life as well as claims by spouses and children for the damages caused by the impact the injured worker’s injuries have had on their lives. Such claims are referred to as loss of consortium claims.

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In July 2015, an ironworker was seriously injured in the course of his employment when he fell 40 feet at the central parking garage at Logan Airport. Investigators revealed that the worker had fallen onto a piece of precast concrete that had also fallen.  The 53-year-old man, a resident of Connecticut, was transported by ambulance to Massachusetts General Hospital where he underwent treatment for life-threatening injuries

The investigation into the incident revealed that a 32-ton piece of concrete fell while it was being hoisted by a crane, as part of the garage construction.  The worker was apparently attempting to secure the panel when he fell.  All work at the construction site was halted pending an investigation by OSHA, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.  OSHA is the federal agency charged with overseeing compliance with Federal Safety Regulations under 29 CFR 1910.

This incident highlights the perils faced by construction site workers.  What many do not know is that workers injured during the course of scope of their employment not only have rights under Massachusetts General Law Chapter 152, the so-called “workers compensation statute”, but they may also have a cause of action against both the general contractor on the site as well as any sub-contractors whose negligence was a contributing factor in causing the injury.  While an employee is generally unable to file a civil lawsuit against their own employer due to the exclusivity provisions of M.G.L. Ch. 152, this statute does not prohibit the injured party from pursuing a claim or lawsuit against non-employer responsible parties.

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Dole recently announced that a number of its bagged spinach products are being recalled due to salmonella poisoning. According to the US Food and Drug Administration, the spinach tested positive for salmonella in random tests performed by the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development. You can read more about the recall this CNN article and this Boston.com article.

Of particular note, this recall affects spinach that was sold in a number of states in the Northeast, including Massachusetts, Connecticut, and New York. The bags affected will have a code of A27409B and A27409A. Additionally, the UPC code on affected bags reads 7143000976. Please go through your vegetable drawer in your refrigerator and check any bags that you may have for those codes. If you do have affected bag, you can either return it to your supermarket or throw the bag away. Most importantly, do not eat the spinach. If you already have eaten the spinach, seek medical care immediately.

Symptoms of salmonella poisoning include stomach pains, nausea, and gastrointestinal problems. Salmonella poisoning can be a serious threat, causing severe discomfort for 4-8 days in healthy adults who seek treatment quickly. However, the elderly and small children are at a greater risk of severe symptoms. 380 people on average die from salmonella in the US every year.

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You may not realize it, but every time you sign up for a credit card, a cable company or a cell phone service, you are also signing a contract that will severely limit your rights in the event of a dispute with one of those providers.  Most people don’t know that what’s buried in the fine print of a consumer contract is an “agreement” that in the event the company does something wrong and you are harmed, you can’t sue them; you can only resolve that conflict by means of arbitration.  But not an arbitration where both parties agree to submit the matter to a neutral third party – you are agreeing to submit the dispute to a jurisdiction and to an arbitrator of their choosing.  Which means you could potentially have to take your dispute to Texas or Idaho or Minnesota, or wherever else the company decides it wants these things handled.  And they’ll pick the person who will decide who’s right and who’s wrong.  Not exactly a level playing field.

Are most people going to do this for a disagreement over $100 or $1,000?  Probably not.  But what these forced arbitration agreements also do is prevent class-action lawsuits – suits that are filed on behalf of a group of people who are in the same boat.  Class-action suits were designed as a consumer remedy that allows thousands of people to hold corporations accountable when they have all been harmed by the same wrongful conduct.

The Federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, created by Senator Elizabeth Warren, has undertaken a study and issued a report that shows that – guess what? – arbitration is good for businesses but not good for consumers.  And contrary to the claims by businesses that limiting lawsuits allows them to pass those savings along to consumers in the form of reduced fees and improved services – guess what again? – it doesn’t.

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On June 12, 2015, An MBTA bus struck a car in a Revere parking lot, causing significant damage to the car and injuries to the driver and a bystander.  On Monday, September 21, 2015, an MBTA red line train hit and killed a middle aged man at JFK station.  The man was pronounced dead at the scene of the incident. On October 1, 2015 Wellesley Police and the MBTA Transit Police responded to an incident involving an elderly woman struck by a train between the Wellesley Square and Wellesley Hills commuter rail stops. Non-life threatening injuries were reported.

If you live in or around Boston, you are familiar with the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, also known as the MBTA or simply the “T”.  The MBTA is one of the many government agencies overseen by the Massachusetts Department of Transportation.  In January 2015, Governor Charlie Baker appointed Stephanie Pollack Massachusetts Department of Transportation Secretary and Chief Executive Officer to address issues involving finances and customer service.

Although the MBTA provides invaluable services to Massachusetts residents, it is frequently the subject of news stories involving injuries to riders, pedestrians or others.  The typical MBTA accident story often involves a bus or a train, but there are other types of personal injuries involving the MBTA.  Such injuries include slips or trips and falls at one of the many MBTA stations or facilities in and around Massachusetts or automobile accidents involving other types of MBTA vehicles such as “The Ride” vans or MBTA maintenance vehicles.   From minor injuries such as sprained or fractured wrists and ankles to neck and back injuries and even wrongful death, the MBTA has a long history of injuries and claims.  Finding the right attorney to represent you is crucial in obtaining a fair resolution of your claim against the MBTA.

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Many employers have complained about the nuisance and cost of certain workplace safety regulations.  While the effectiveness of any regulation must continually be evaluated, there is no question that government regulations requiring safety compliance have reduced the number of workplace injuries and deaths.

The Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) publishes commonly used statistics regarding workplace injuries.  Sadly, there were 4,585 reported worker fatalities in 2013.  As noted, that equates to an average of 12 per day.   Eight hundred and seventeen (817) of these fatalities were Hispanic or Latino workers.  One in five of the fatalities involved construction accidents.   See https://www.osha.gov/oshstats/commonstats.html.

No amount of money can make up for a lost loved one.  But pursuing all possible benefits may lessen the financial toll.  Family of workers’ killed and injured employees may be entitled to receive workers’ compensation benefits. Such payments may not be sufficient to make up for lost wages and lost fringe benefits during a disability.  Moreover, workers who are self-employed or work as independent contractors may have difficulty even qualifying for workers’ compensation benefits.

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It’s summertime, and we are right in the middle of baseball season. The Home Run Derby and the All-Star Game just took place, and the second half of the MLB season will kick off tonight with some teams thinking about a pennant and others weighing their options for next year. Behind the scenes, however, a movement has begun to drastically alter the way that we watch baseball from the stands. My colleague, Brian Dever, recently wrote a blog on the Baseball Rule, which states that stadium owners are generally not liable for injuries caused by balls and bats flying into the stands and hitting spectators. Instead, the onus is on the fans to be alert during the game. But this rule may now have to withstand a new challenge in federal court.

A San Francisco woman has brought a federal class action lawsuit against Major League Baseball and its commissioner, Rob Manfred. The lawsuit is not asking for money, but instead only seeks to have protective netting to be extended from foul pole to foul pole. Currently, protective netting is only required in certain sections behind home plate. The lawsuit claims that the protection afforded to those behind home plate should also be given to fans along the first and third base lines. The lead Plaintiff alleges that she, a longtime Giants fan, is fearful to go to the park because of foul balls. Interestingly enough, she states that the unprotected seats along the base lines are cheaper than the protected seats behind the plate, implying that some fans are given the choice to pay for greater safety. Please check out the ESPN article and the NBC Sports article on the lawsuit.

Simply from a legal standpoint, this is a very interesting issue. As Attorney Dever’s post details, the courts have long held that there are some “danger zones” in MLB stadiums that are required to have some sort of netting to protect fans. This is why the net is behind home plate (it’s also the reasoning that requires netting around shooting areas of hockey rinks). The court has also held that outside of this “danger zone,” the stadium does not owe any duty to protect. So instead of pursuing the claim under a theory that has been rejected by courts for decades, the new lawsuit instead seeks to expand the “danger zone” where the duty does exist. Only time will tell whether this action will be successful.