Articles Tagged with Personal Injury Attorney

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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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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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The summer is a great time to go outside and enjoy the nice weather and sunshine, and a time when many people take advantage of the ability to be more active and participate in a variety of sports. However, people do not always consider the liability ramifications of participating in sports, or even merely being a fan in the stands. A few weeks ago, a woman got hit with a piece of a broken bat at a Red Sox game. This is a reminder that sometimes we can encounter danger when we least expect it. See the stories in the Boston Globe and in USA Today for more information on that accident.

The Baseball Rule discussed regarding the Red Sox fan’s injury basically states that the stadium is not legally responsible for spectator injuries sustained when a foul ball or broken bat flies into the stands. The rule was most recently applied in the case of Costa v. Boston Red Sox Baseball Club, 61 Mass. App. Ct. 299, 809 N.E.2d 1090 (2004), upholding a ruling of the Superior Court granting summary judgment to the defendant. The theory behind the baseball rule is rooted in assumption of risk, an area which remains very much alive in sport. The Baseball Rule does not shield stadium operators for liability in their entirety. A duty does remain to provide protective screening where the risk of immediate and unavoidable danger is at its highest, called the “zone of danger,” not just in baseball, but also in other sports, most notably hockey. A recent law review article by James Kozlowski, Professor at George Mason University discussed this rule in greater detail. The screening behind home plate at a ballpark, the netting behind the boards at a hockey game, and the prohibition of leaving your seat at a hockey game during live play are all examples of the limited duty that the stadium operator owes fans due to the Baseball Rule.

Assumption of risk does not just apply to spectators, but to participants as well. Generally, athletes assume the risk of injury incurred by participating in sports. This is true of being struck by a golf ball on the course, as in Gray v. Giroux, 49 Mass. App. Ct. 436, 730 N.E.2d 338 (2000). Additionally, there are two trial court level rulings, Orth v. Novelli, No. CIV. A. 95-0990-A, 1997 WL 805469 (Mass. Super. Nov. 11, 1997) and Mangone v. Pickering, No. CIV.A. 95-0357, 1997 WL 197232 (Mass. Super. Apr. 14, 1997) which detail the culpability standard for being struck by a golf club. In Orth the standard that must be met is negligence. In Mangone the standard that must be met is recklessness. This split of opinion must be resolved at the appellate level, and presumably will be heard at some point in time. This also applies in a contact sport context. In the case of Gauvin v. Clark, 404 Mass. 450, 450, 537 N.E.2d 94, 95 (1989), a hockey player was not held liable for injuring an opponent by hitting him with the butt end of his stick during a faceoff. The action was in violation of the rules of hockey, but not so egregious as to impose liability.

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The other night, a Ford commercial ran repeatedly throughout the basketball game.  Within the ad for the Ford Fusion the narrator provides a subliminal message. The language in the add is  “You never know what might be out there. The ambulance racing by, the ambulance chaser chasing the ambulance…. It’s 360 degrees of chaos”.  The reference to the ambulance chaser has nothing to do with the ad for the Ford Fusion. It is simply Ford’s subliminal message that we all/you all/the public should all hate lawyers because we are nothing but ambulance chasers bringing groundless awsuits creating chaos in your world.

http://www.marketmenot.com/ford-fusion-whats-out-there-commercial/

After the game, the news came on. The lead news story was that Ford has recently recalled 1.4 million vehicles in North America. They include  915,000 Ford Escapes and Mercury Marina SUV for the years 2008 through 2011. The problem is with the power steering control module. The defect could turn off the power steering which makes it harder to steer and increase the risk of a crash. Ford has stated that is aware of six injury allegations related to this problem. In addition, Ford has recalled approximately 200,000 Ford Explorers for the years 2011 through 2013 with a problem with the electrical power steering gear. The intermitted electrical connection can cut off power steering and the cause defaults to manual steering which could lead to an accident. A total of 15 accidents have been linked to the problem. Ford has also recalled approximately 200,000 other Ford Taurus Sedans for the years 2010 through 2014 with a license plate lamp plate issue that can lead to a short circuit and potential fire hazzard. Ford is aware of 18 reports of injuries related to that defect. Finally, Ford is aware of approximately 83,000 Ford Fusions, Mercury Milans, Lincoln Zephyrs and MKZs for the years 2006 through 2007 with optional all-weather floor mats that can shift out of position and interfere with the accelerator pedal. Starting in the 2010 model year Ford changed the design adding a second attachment to keep the mat from moving.  All of these recalls were reported in CNN Money [HTTP.//money.cnn.com/2014/05/29/auto/ford-recalls].

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Some companies may attempt to enforce safety policies that deviate from OSHA standards. Usually these companies allege that their own standards are safer and more stringent than OSHA’s. Those deviations, however, may ignore the tremendous effort and thought that is typically given to establishing the OSHA standards and may subject workers to new dangers.

For example, contrary to OSHA’s policy, general contractors may require all iron workers, including connectors performing leading edge work, to tie-off at heights over 6 feet. But in recognition that connectors need to be unfettered so they can escape an incoming load if necessary, OSHA’s Subpart R does not require connectors performing leading edge work to be tied off at 6 feet. In fact, OSHA regulation § 1926.760(a)(1) allows connectors not to use their personal fall protection to avoid hazards while working at heights between 15 and 30 feet. Further, workers engaged in decking in a controlled decking zone may work without conventional fall protection at heights between 15 and 30 feet.

When changes to OSHA Subpart R, and specifically regulation 1926.760, were being debated, The Steel Erection Negotiated Rulemaking Advisory Committee [SENRAC] was formed and gathered testimony on the various proposed rules. This was an exhaustive process spanning years and with input from various sectors of the industry.

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3264313_1In January of this year the First Circuit Court of Appeals decided a Massachusetts case entitled Cracchiolo v. Eastern Fisheries, Inc., et al 740 F 3rd 64. That case involved the death of crew member of a ship that was docked in New Bedford. After a night out, the crew member was returning to the shipyard where the ship was docked. Ordinarily he would go through a gate but that evening it was locked. There was a second unofficial way into the facility. There was a gap in the fence near the water that allowed crew members to access their boats after hours. Even if a crew member came through this passageway there was a safer way once through the fencing to proceed to the boat. It was a longer route. There was a shorter and more dangerous way used on the night in question. It was icy and snowy which made this more dangerous route a fatal choice as the seamen slipped, fell into the water and drowned.

The court said that “to prevail on the negligence claim, a plaintiff must prove that the defendant owed the plaintiff a duty of reasonable care, that the defendant breached this duty, that damage resulted, and that there was a casually relationship between the breach and the duty and the damage. The court stated that the question of breach, damages and causation are the “special province of the jury”. However, the question whether or not the defendant owed a duty of care in the first instance is an issue of law, and may be settled on Summary Judgment if the risk posed by the defendant’s actions were not foreseeable”. The court went on to say Massachusetts may also make this determination after trial in light of all the evidence.

In this case the court sited Soederberg v. Concord Greene Condominium 76 Mass.App. Ct. 33 (2010) stating that “landowners do have a duty to remove snow and ice accumulations even though those accumulations present open and obvious hazards to visitors. The court explained that the open and obvious nature of the hazard does not negate an owner’s duty to remedy the hazard”.  Rather a landowner must remedy snow and ice hazards when he can and should anticipate the dangerous condition will cause physical harm to the invitee notwithstanding it is known or an obvious danger. It went on to say “ the plaintiff’s unreasonable decision to enter into an ice hazard could bear on the issue of comparative negligence but that this is a jury question in the plaintiff’s unreasonable behavior will not bar recovery as a matter of law even when other options that voided the ice hazard were available”.

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Mode of Operations

Massachusetts has long worked under a traditional constructive notice test on slip and fall cases involving Commercial Premises like a supermarket. That is, does the defendant know of the condition or did they have a reasonable opportunity to know and correct the condition.

In 2007 Massachusetts developed a “Mode of Operations” test to apply to a slip and fall accident at a supermarket self service section. Under the mode of operation the injured party must show that their injury was reasonably foreseeable based upon the supermarket self service mode of operation. If the plaintiff can prove the defendant failed to take reasonable measures involved with the self-service mode of operation than liability may rest with the supermarket.

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By: Erica L. Pereira

With the holiday travel season arriving, it is likely that many of us will have to rent a car. When you rent a car you are faced with an important decision; whether you need to pay an additional fee to the rental company at the counter in order to get an additional insurance coverage on your rental car. By asking yourself three questions, you can determine if this expense is necessary for you.

First, determine what sort of coverage your general automotive insurance policy will apply to your rental car use. This will likely cover your liability in the case of an accident, but often this policy will not protect you from having to pay for the rental car itself, if the car is damaged or stolen. Additionally, plans vary as to the amount of coverage they provide for things like loss of use or towing charges.  Also, although your auto insurance generally carries over into the car you are driving (as long as your own car is not being driven at the same time), often renters are misinformed in believing their cars will be covered because they have full coverage on their own automobiles.

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By: Brian Dever

Recently, a Barrington Rhode Island Doctor was arraigned on charges of violating Rhode Island’s social host law by serving alcohol to minors at a party thrown by his teenaged son. While the man denied procuring any of the alcohol for the party, and denied knowing that alcohol was being served at the party, he still may be found guilty of furnishing alcohol to minors and opens himself up to liability if any of the partygoers were to injure himself or herself or others. He also faces disciplinary action from the State Medical Licensing Board, up to and including removal of his license.

The Rhode Island laws are slightly tougher than those in Massachusetts on the issue of social host liability, but only slightly. In Rhode Island, you can be found guilty of serving alcohol to persons under 21 years of age and will be liable for any damage that they cause regardless of whether you furnished the alcohol, allowed the drinking to occur, or knew or should have known about its existence if the drinking party occurred on your property. Massachusetts does not allow for liability if a property owner did not procure the alcohol, did not give permission to use the property, and did not know of the party’s existence.However, whether you are from Rhode Island or Massachusetts, the consequences of violating the social host laws by serving alcohol to minors can be severe. Anyone who is a parent of a teenager can attest that he or she has been asked to allow a party to occur on his or her property. While the first time offender penalty might seem minimal, the real world consequences can be dire. In addition to the $350.00 fine, you will have a criminal record, possibly lose any professional licenses that you may have, and open yourself up to an immense amount of possible liability if any of the party-goers gets into an accident and injures someone.

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