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Over the past few years, thousands of product liability cases have been filed against consumer product giant, Johnson & Johnson, based on the company’s baby powder and other talc-based products. Those in Massachusetts who have been affected by Johnson & Johnson baby powder may be able to recover compensation for any injury or illness they suffered as a result of using Johnson & Johnson baby powder through a Massachusetts product liability lawsuit.

According to a recent article by the New York Times, Johnson & Johnson currently faces upwards of 16,000 lawsuits. The plaintiffs in these cases suffered serious illness from using the company’s talc-based baby powder, including lung disease, ovarian cancer, and mesothelioma, which is a cancer of the lining of internal organs that is most often associated with asbestos exposure.

Recently, in an interesting development in the baby-powder litigation, the State of New Mexico filed a claim against Johnson & Johnson claiming that the company misled consumers about the safety of the company’s baby powder. In his complaint against Johnson & Johnson, the Attorney General of New Mexico states that the company continued to market and sell the baby powder for decades, all while knowing the safety risks the product posed. What makes the New Mexico case especially interesting is that it alleges for the first time that the company specifically targeted children and black and Hispanic women.

Winter weather, including snow and ice, is a major cause of Massachusetts car accidents. Each year, Massachusetts gets about four feet of rain and another four feet of snow. On top of that, there are on average 90 days in which the temperature reaches below freezing. As a result, Massachusetts roads can be very hazardous to both drivers and pedestrians during the winter months.

Poor weather conditions can impact road safety in several important ways. Of course, when roads are covered in snow or ice, drivers have a harder time maintaining control of their vehicles. This is especially the case the morning after a heavy storm, when frozen snow or ice has had a chance to melt and then re-freeze as temperatures decrease overnight.

Winter weather can also result in a driver’s inability to evade a hazard that they may otherwise have been able to avoid. For example, just last week there was a 69-car pile-up on a Virginia highway. According to the New York Times, the chain-reaction accident began in the westbound lanes of the highway shortly after 8 a.m. Evidently, the roads were icy and a heavy fog had rolled in that morning.

In a recent Massachusetts insurance dispute, the state’s high court found that consent-to-settle clauses are enforceable and do not violate public policy. The decision came in response to an engineering malpractice lawsuit that Massachusetts homeowners filed against a professional home engineer.

According to the court’s opinion, the homeowners hired the engineer to design and construct portions of their new home. The engineer signed an agreement with the town but underestimated the number of loads in his calculations. The engineer filed several inaccurate control reports and falsely certified that they complied with the applicable building codes. Shortly after construction, the defects became apparent, and after a confrontation, the engineer admitted to his miscalculations. The homeowners filed several claims against the engineer and his insurer.

The insurance company and the engineer had an agreement that the insurance company would not settle any claims without his consent. The homeowners asked for over $1 million in damages, but the engineer refused to settle for more than $100,000, despite the insurance company advising him that he faced a seven-figure settlement. The engineer was found liable for $460,000, which was paid partially by his insurance company. The homeowners then amended their complaint against the insurance company, arguing that they violated a state law that requires prompt settlements.

Massachusetts laws provide nursing home residents with protections when residing in a nursing home or assisted living facility. These residents are entitled to appropriate medical care, a habitable environment, rights to make decisions regarding their care, daily care and attention, and freedom from abuse and neglect. Nursing home facilities that do not comply with these requirements may face liability for injuries that their residents sustain through a Massachusetts nursing home negligence lawsuit.

Despite strict rules and regulations regarding safety standards, many nursing homes barely pass inspections. Others outright engage in prohibited behaviors. Residents may not be able to articulate their injuries effectively, and loved ones must remain vigilant in spotting signs of abuse or neglect. Some common forms of nursing home abuse include:

  • Verbal abuse, such as yelling threats and derogatory comments;
  • Emotional abuse, such as withholding care;
  • Physical abuse, such as shaking, kicking, and punching;
  • Financial abuse, such as unlawfully taking control of a resident’s bank accounts; and
  • Sexual assault.

There are some less obvious signs that abuse may be occurring, such as unexplained weight fluctuations, sedation, unexplained illnesses, depression, and infections. Nursing homes must abide by federal regulations regarding the care of their patients and the condition of their facilities. If they do not, they may face criminal and civil liability.

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Car accident victims who hope to recover compensation for their injuries from a negligent motorist must be able to provide the court with evidence supporting their theory of fault and liability. Massachusetts plaintiffs can meet their burden by presenting police reports, medical records, eyewitness accounts, and expert testimony. Whether expert testimony is required (or even allowed) largely depends on the particular facts of the accident and the issues that are involved.

Expert witnesses are a valuable resource in personal injury lawsuits because these witnesses can provide specialized opinions based on technical knowledge that typically goes beyond the scope of knowledge of a layperson. Attorneys frequently utilize expert witnesses in personal injury lawsuits to support a client’s position. Some common types of expert witnesses are accident reconstructionists, city planners, toxicologists, and medical examiners.

Expert witnesses are generally people who possess education, experience, and training in a particular field relevant to the issues at hand. When qualifying a professional as an expert, courts will look at factors such as the individual’s academic background and peer-reviewed publications, as well as their professional experience, recognition, and reputation. Expert witness testimony is presumed to be unbiased based on their specialized knowledge, and courts will permit their opinions as long as they meet certain criteria. Experts’ opinions must assist the judge or jury in understanding the evidence, and an opinion must be based on the facts of the case and research conducted by the expert. Notably, the expert’s methods must be trustworthy, and the processes must have been appropriately applied to the present issue. When an expert is necessary, plaintiffs must retain a qualified expert to ensure that the court permits their opinion.

Injuries resulting from medical malpractice are very disturbing and can have lifelong effects on the victim and their family. However, pediatric medical malpractice can be even more devastating because, in many instances, the victim cannot articulate their damages or advocate on behalf of themselves. Massachusetts medical malpractice lawsuits are typically complex, and victims and their families should retain qualified and experienced attorneys to handle these lawsuits.

Pediatric medical malpractice lawsuits often stem from birth injuries, misdiagnoses, delayed diagnoses or treatment, medication errors, or mismanagement of symptoms and diseases. For example, the American Academy of Pediatrics states that meningitis is one of the most commonly misdiagnosed illnesses. When medical professionals fail to diagnose or treat meningitis appropriately, the damage may be irreversible and potentially fatal. Furthermore, another frequently mistreated pediatric ailment is appendicitis. Other common conditions, such as urinary tract infections and pelvic inflammatory disease, often mask the symptoms of appendicitis. However, trained doctors and medical professionals should be able to accurately and quickly diagnose appendicitis. A misdiagnosis can cause young children to encounter unbearable pain and lifelong issues.

Finally, medication and vaccine errors can cause young children to experience a severe and potentially irreversible injury. Research indicates that over five percent of pediatric medical malpractice lawsuits occur after a medical professional incorrectly orders a medication, improperly administers a vaccine or medication, or provides incorrect information regarding a dose. For example, recently, a federal appellate court addressed a case in which a premature four-month-old died after receiving his routine vaccines. In that case, medical examiners concluded that the child died as a result of SIDS; however, the incident highlighted the importance of proper administration and follow-up care of particularly high-risk patients, including premature babies.

Semi-trucks are large vehicles, and operators face many difficulties when driving them, both on the highway and on smaller city streets. And while any traffic accident carries the potential to cause serious injury or death, generally, the injuries caused in a Massachusetts truck accident are often severe. Indeed, the fatality rate is highest among accidents involving large commercial vehicles such as semi-trucks and tractor-trailers.

Recovering after a Boston truck accident can be a lengthy process. Initially, accident victims have to overcome their physical injuries. This may include periods of hospitalization followed by physical therapy. Even then, many accident victims find that they suffer from lingering pain or other effects of the collision, including emotional or psychological stress associated with driving or riding in a car. Additionally, those involved in a serious truck accident will also miss work during their recovery. This makes dealing with the sizable medical bills even more difficult.

Under state law, truck accident victims can pursue a claim for compensation against any of the parties they believe to be at fault for their injuries by filing a Massachusetts personal injury case. In a personal injury case arising out of a truck accident, most often, the named defendants include the truck driver and that driver’s employer. However, depending on the specific circumstances of the accident, there may be additional parties that should be named.

The question often arises whether an accident victim who was not wearing their seat belt can still recover for their injuries through a Massachusetts personal injury lawsuit. The short answer is yes; however, seat belt non-use evidence may be admissible in certain situations. However, the fact that an accident victim was not wearing a seat belt will not prohibit them from bringing a case or recovering for their injuries.

When someone is injured in a Massachusetts car accident, they are entitled to bring a personal injury case against the parties they believe to be at fault for their injuries. To prove a case against another driver, an accident victim must show that the other driver was negligent, and that their negligence resulted in the accident victim’s injuries. However, even if an accident victim can meet each of these elements, they may still encounter issues.

When it comes to determining a defendant’s liability in a car accident, Massachusetts car accident law allows for juries to assess the accident victim’s role in bringing about their own injuries. This is referred to as their “comparative fault.” Typically, an accident victim will have their total damages award reduced by their percentage of responsibility. For example, if a motorist incurs $300,000 in damages but is found to be 10 percent at fault, the most they could recover from other motorists involved in the accident would be $270,000. Under this rule, even an accident victim who is partially at fault for the collision can recover for their injuries, provided they are not more than 51 percent at fault.

Massachusetts law requires that owners and managers of public and private businesses and properties maintain and secure their property to limit harm to their residents, guests, and patrons. Typically, land and property owners will face liability if they fail to meet their standard of care, and the failure creates a dangerous hazard and causes an injury. Massachusetts injury victims may be able to recover for the damages they sustained because of the hazardous condition.

Premises liability lawsuits often occur because of injuries from slip-and-falls, trip-and-falls, broken or poorly maintained entrances and exits, or inadequate lighting and security. However, business owners may also face liability for damages resulting from toxic chemical exposure. Chemical exposures in workplaces, restaurants, stores, schools, and laboratories can pose a severe danger to a person’s health and well-being. Toxic poisoning usually occurs from inhaling an airborne substance or ingesting contaminated food or water. There are various toxins such as sulfates, gasoline, lead, mercury, and bleaches that may cause severe injuries to a patron or visitor. Exposure to these chemicals may cause various symptoms and illnesses, such as nausea, lightheadedness, shortness of breath, vomiting, rashes, and even death.

For example, recently, a national news report detailed the harrowing chemical incident at a Massachusetts Buffalo Wild Wings. Emergency officials arrived at the restaurant after receiving calls that patrons were becoming ill because of chemical fumes in the establishment. The fumes were released after an employee mixed a popular food service cleaning detergent with a bleach cleaner to sanitize the kitchen floor. The mixture resulted in a toxic chemical reaction that spread throughout the restaurant. Thirteen patrons were hospitalized because of exposure to the fumes and the general manager died. The product manufacturer included a safety information sheet that indicated that the detergent should not be mixed with strong acids; however, it is unclear the employee was trained on the product and whether the products have ever been used in conjunction before this incident.

Anyone who has lived through a Boston winter knows that they are no joke. In fact, each year, Boston gets about 47 inches of rain and 48 inches of snow. Both of these figures are significantly higher than the national average, which is 38 inches of rain and 28 inches of snow. Given this reality, it is no surprise to learn that winter slip and fall accidents are a significant source of injury in Boston.

Many slip and fall accidents are caused by accumulations of snow or ice in parking lots, sidewalks, and entryways. As a general matter of Massachusetts premises liability law, Boston businesses have a duty to those their customers to ensure that the property is safe and free of potentially hazardous defects. The accumulation of snow or ice is no exception.

However, that was not always the case. It used to be that businesses could only be liable for unnatural accumulations of snow or ice on their property. An example of an unnatural accumulation of snow is a pile of snow that was pushed to one side of the parking lot to clear the rest of the lot. Under the previous law, if a person was injured due to a natural accumulation of snow, the business owner could not be held liable. However, in a 2010 opinion, the state’s high court reversed the century-long distinction between natural and unnatural accumulations.