Posts tagged with "personal injury lawsuits"

Product Liability Problems: When Healing Becomes Hurting

We’re in the middle of a cold New England winter and for many of us, that means we’re suffering the ubiquitous head cold. Not surprisingly, young children are particularly susceptible as their attendance in school subjects them to throngs of other children, many of whom are infected with a virus.

As parents, we seek to do all that we can to alleviate the unpleasantness experienced by our children when they are ill. Care must be taken, however, to ensure that our well-meaning efforts don’t create a bigger problem. Unfortunately, some of the products we buy are not designed with safety in mind and the devices we use to help our children can end up harming them.

For example, we recently represented a two-year-old girl who had previously developed symptoms of ordinary congestion. Her primary care doctor recommended she use a warm steam vaporizer. The girl’s parents purchased the defendant’s vaporizer, which contained warnings to keep the apparatus away from children. Even still, the parents placed the vaporizer on the child’s floor at bedtime.

The unit was equipped with a glowing orange night light that, the manufacturer advertised, promoted “safety.” The child unexpectedly woke in the middle of the night to notice a strange, glowing orange orb on her floor. When she approached closely to investigate, a burst of steam emanated from the vaporizer and scalded her face. She was left with a visible and permanent scar under her eye.

What Made This a Product Liability Case?

We hired an MIT engineer who tested the unit and opined that it emitted an exceedingly hot plume of steam which can disfigure upon only “momentary contact.” The expert also noted that the steam exhausted by the vaporizer should not have exceeded 160 degrees Fahrenheit, and should also have been equipped with a guard that would have diffused the scalding steam.

This device was not designed with personal safety in mind, and as a result, an innocent child was hurt. That’s the most heartbreaking aspect of product liability cases – the harm could easily be prevented if the company that made the device had just taken simple steps to ensure safety.

During several years of litigation, the manufacturer denied any responsibility only to ultimately settle the case with us for nearly $2 million.

The moral of the story is that sometimes products that we routinely purchase are not what they appear. Care must be taken to ensure that any such product can be used safely. This is particularly true if the product is being used around small children.

Protecting Your Family

If you or someone you know has been hurt because of a flawed product, give us a call at 1 (888) 330-6657 or contact us and we can talk to you about your options.

Radiation therapy injuries – The unplanned hazards of radiation therapy

Hazards of radiation therapy

Throughout the last few decades, the use of radiation in the medical field has increased dramatically – likely saving innumerable lives in the process. In fact, the New York Timesonce reported that the average dose of diagnostic radiation received by Americans has increased sevenfold since 1980. However, radiation is not only used to diagnose medical problems, but treat them as well. For instance, radiation therapy is used to treat more than half of all cancer patients.

Tragically, given the strength of radiation therapy, it can also have very negative effects if improperly used or monitored. Patients, including those here in Boston, need to be aware of the adverse consequences and injuries associated with radiation therapy accidents – injuries such as severe pain, ulcers, difficulty breathing, or even death, just to name a few.

Radiation therapy injuries

One need not look far to find examples of radiation therapy injuries. In fact, the New York Times has cited multiples examples in several past articles – including a Florida incident in which an incorrectly programmed linear accelerator led to 77 brain cancer patients receiving 50 percent more radiation than ordered. This disastrous event is even more frightening given the fact that the accelerator had been incorrectly programmed for almost a year with no one noticing.

Other events of radiation therapy accidents include a Philadelphia hospital that provided the incorrect radiation dose to more the 90 prostate cancer patients, a New Jersey veterans’ hospital that overradiated 36 cancer patients and a Louisiana prostate cancer patient who received 38 radiation overdoses in a row.

These are sadly only a few examples of the types of radiation therapy injuries occurring in the medical industry. In fact, these injuries led to a New York Times radiation therapy investigation in 2010.

Despite the fact that many of the accident details were private under the law, the investigation surprisingly discovered 621 mistakes during a period from 2001 to 2008. Of the radiation mistakes found, 284 involved treatments that missed some portion of the correct target area, with some treatments being done on the wrong body part all together; for instance, treating for prostate cancer when the patient actually has stomach cancer. Even more alarming is that investigators also found 50 patients who were administered radiation treatment that was supposed to be for another patient entirely.

Unfortunately, radiation therapy accidents like these continue to occur. Accordingly, if you or a loved one has been injured while receiving radiation therapy, it is important to speak with a knowledgeable personal injury attorney to understand your rights and options.

Automobile Accidents, At-Fault Surcharge Aids in Accountability for Massachusetts Drivers

Automobile Accidents, At-Fault Surcharge

In Massachusetts, there are real consequences for causing automobile accidents. One of these has to do with insurance.

When their insured was more than 50 percent at fault, state law allows insurance companies to tack a surcharge onto that driver’s insurance rate and put the incident on the driver’s record.

A so-called “at-fault surcharge” will be imposed if all of the following factors apply:

  • The driver is more than 50 percent at fault under the Massachusetts Standards of Fault
  • The at-fault vehicle is a private passenger car
  • The payment on the other party’s claim is more than $500
  • The claim payment is for Damage To Someone Else’s Property, Collision, Limited Collision or Bodily Injury To Others (for accidents in 2006 or later)

If the driver’s insurance company finds the driver was more than 50 percent at fault, it will notify the driver and the Merit Rating Board (MRB), which will add the accident to the driver’s record. Based on the insurance company’s merit plan (which adjusts rates based on performance) the accident may also result in increased car insurance premiums.

Within 20 days of the claim payout, the insurance company will notify the driver if he or she will be assessed a surcharge. If the at-fault driver is not the policyholder on the car, both driver and policyholder will receive a notice.

Appealing a Automobile Accident Surcharge Assessment

There is a formal appeal process for at-fault surcharge assessments. Within 30 days of receiving notice of the surcharge, a driver may pay a $50 fee to file an appeal with the Division of Insurance Board of Appeal.

The appeal process is almost like a mini-trial in which evidence is offered and witnesses may be called. The driver may appear in person, may provide a written statement or may elect a representative to appear on their behalf.

After the hearing, the matter is taken under advisement and the decision is mailed out within two to four weeks. A decision to “vacate” the decision means the board found the driver was not over 50 percent at fault. The board will remove driver’s license points and inform the insurance company of the decision.

Conversely, an “upheld” decision means the driver did not overcome the presumption of fault and the board agrees with the insurance company’s findings. An unfavorable board decision may be appealed to a county Superior Court.

Personal Injury Lawsuits

An at-fault finding can have significant financial consequences. It clearly has implications for the outcome of any personal injury lawsuit that may have been filed in connection with the accident. Talk to an experienced car accident attorney to discuss your specific case.