March 2012 Archives

March 28, 2012

Daycare and Nursery Negligence

Today it is the norm for both husband and wife to work full-time requiring the ever increasing need for daycare centers and nurseries to look after young children. Families often struggle to pay the huge cost of children's daycare which are undoubtedly, very expensive. Because of the great expense and because nothing is more important to us than our children, we absolutely insist that our children be well taken care of in a safe and attentive environment. Unfortunately, accidents occur and mistakes are made and our children can be injured while at a daycare or nursery. In these cases, it is absolutely imperative that you speak with an experienced daycare negligence attorney.

Most professional and high quality day care centers will have insurance in case accidents occur. Day care center negligence might include:


  • Improper supervision of children (i.e. allowing them to play dangerous games);

  • Failure to provide required medication;

  • Unsanitary conditions leading to sickness;

  • Defects in the building (i.e. broken stairs) that lead to injury;

  • Accidents from unsafe toys or equipment;

  • Injuries caused by one child on another.

These are examples of negligence that can occur even in well cared for facilities with highly trained staff. In such cases, your child is entitled to recover damages for past and future medical bills as well as pain and suffering. If the injury is very serious or catastrophic, this money can be used to help pay for necessary medical expenses over the course of a lifetime.

Some daycare negligence cases are more obvious and upsetting. Verbal, physical and sexual abuse has and may occur in a day care center. Be sure that NO level of verbal or physical abuse is acceptable regardless of the reason or the circumstances. If you would not slap your child to discipline him or her, your daycare center is certainly not allowed to do so.

These are almost always serious cases because of the long term mental and physical implications that may occur. My firm is experienced in representing parents whose children were injured while in the care of another and I am happy to speak with you for free if your child was hurt while at a daycare facility.

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March 22, 2012

Hiring a Personal Injury Attorney for a Food Poisoning Case

My office has represented many victims of food poisoning, or foodborne illness, including victims of some high profile Rhode Island food poisoning cases. I have helped victims of the DeFusco's Bakery salmonella outbreak as well as six (6) victims of the norovirus outbreak that led to the Rhode Island Department of Health temporarily closing Uncle Sushi restaurant. Outside of high profile cases like this, food poisoning occurs much more often than people may think and it can range in seriousness from a relatively minor 24 hour stomach bug all the way to death. The Center for Disease Control suggests there are as many as 76 million cases of food poisoning each year of which 300,000 people seek medical treatment and 5,000 people die. Some of the most common pathogens that result in food poisoning are bacterias such as : Salmonella, E. Coli, Clostridium Perfringens, Shigella, Listeria, and more.

There are several theories of liability available in a foodborne illness case. Essentially, food poisoning lawsuits are product liability cases. The argument is that the product released from the manufacturer was in a dangerous and defective condition when it left the hands of the producer and remained in that dangerous condition when it was received by the consumer. We then have to show that the consumer used the product in the manner it was anticipated (this obviously refers to eating the product in food poisoning cases) and that the product caused the food poisoning and associated injuries.

You can also proceed with a food poisoning case under the more common theory of negligence. As in any other case of negligence, with a food poisoning case, the plaintiff looks to prove that the defendant owed the consumer a duty of care and that through its negligent actions breached that duty of care resulting in ultimate harm to the consumer. For example, a restaurant buys eggs that are not tainted with bacteria and are safe to consume. They leave the eggs outside of a refrigerator, however, for several days and then use the eggs in the preparation of a dish. Because of their negligence in not properly handling the eggs, they have grown salmonella which was transferred to the consumer while eating the prepared dish. By ignoring all state law and well known food safety handling guidelines, the restaurant committed an act of negligence and would be liable.

There are a number of serious complications in winning a food poisoning case. The primary difficulty comes in determining what food led to the illness. Humans eat 3-4 times a day and foodborne illness can sometimes take 24 hours to show symptoms. Looking back on your day it may be difficult to identify what food was the direct cause of the poisoning. Furthermore, even if you know what food caused the illness, it remains the plaintiff's burden to show that the specific food was contaminated and led to the illness.

In some cases, the Rhode Island Department of Health will receive several complaints about a particular food or food source and will begin an investigation which can aid in proving that the food was contaminated. In more difficult cases, your food poisoning attorney may order independent laboratory testing of the suspect food. Of course, this requires that you still possess an uneaten sample of the food. Finally, if there is no direct evidence to link the food with the sickness, your food poisoning attorney may file a lawsuit against the food producer or manufacturer to try and obtain its history of similar complaints. If the defendant has a poor record of food handling and safety, it will help build your case against the defendant.

Based on the above problems, you can see that it is imperative that you call a foodborne illness attorney right away if you sense that you were the victim of food poisoning. Time is absolutely critical in these types of cases. If you feel that you are the victim of food poisoning, try to retain or preserve some of the suspect food (if possible), keep any and all receipts showing that you purchased the suspect food and contact your doctor and/or the Rhode Island Department of Health right away.

March 19, 2012

Proposed Rhode Island Bill Would Order Drug Testing After Serious or Fatal Auto Accidents

A controversial bill has been proposed in Rhode Island that would require drivers involved in serious or fatal auto accidents to submit to a blood test. Should the driver be unwilling to comply, police would have the authority to restrain the person even if he or she is not under arrest. It is a controversial proposal and is being challenged by the Rhode Island ACLU because it is a potential invasion of privacy that forces persons to submit to a blood test even if not under arrest. It is also problematic because the Fifth Amendment ensures that a person need not incriminate himself, yet forcing the person to hand over potentially incriminating evidence against his will may be a violation of that Constitutional protection.

The broad scope of the bill raises additional concerns. Drivers who were not at fault for an accident may be required to submit to blood and alcohol tests against their wills. The concern is that police, who would otherwise lack probable cause, may arrest a person for drunk or impaired driving, although they were injured through no fault of their own. Even if the driver is not drunk or impaired, being forced to submit to a blood or alcohol test after a serious auto accident can be traumatic and upsetting itself.

The bill is pending, however, in light of another tragic and fatal auto accident that occurred in Rhode Island over the St. Patrick's Day weekend. Corey Johnston has been arraigned in the drunk driving killing of Domenic Izzi after Corey was driving the wrong way on Route 95 causing a head-on collision. It is unclear from news reports if Corey Johnston submitted to a chemical test, but he is being charged with drunk driving, death resulting.

Should the proposed bill pass the Rhode Island legislation, police would be able to force a person such as Corey Johnston, to a blood test thereby confirming their physical state at the time of the accident. As tragic accidents like this appear on a regular basis in the paper, public sentiment may push this law or a similar law through the legislation.

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March 13, 2012

To No One's Surprise, Americans are Unlikely to Dine at Restaurants with a History of Slip and Falls

A recent study has highlighted the foreseeable fact that Americans are far less likely to dine in restaurants in which a known slip and fall accident has occurred. The study, conducted in an effort to show restaurant owners the heavy cost of slip and fall accidents, indicated that one in three Americans would be unlikely to dine at a restaurant where someone was injured in a slip and fall. Cintas corporation, the group behind the study, has long held that slip and fall accidents increase costs from litigation, damages and increased insurance premiums, but this study also highlights an additional loss from loss of revenue and business.

It seems an odd study because most people would be unaware that a slip and fall recently occurred at a restaurant unless the injuries were incredibly severe. Nevertheless, it does demonstrate the importance of properly caring for a property or appropriately warning visitors of dangers on the property. The study did reveal an astonishing fact, namely that more than one million patrons are injured in slip and fall accidents at American restaurants each year! Slip and fall accidents are often serious resulting in broken bones, head injuries and in some cases spinal injuries. This means a potentially large loss in damages and a huge increase in insurance premiums.

A property owner is responsible for injuries to visitors on their property caused by the owner's negligence or failure to warn. In other words, if the property is not properly maintained (i.e. broken railings, loose steps, holes and craters in the pavement, etc) and leads to a person's injury, then the owner will likely be responsible for the personal injury damages including but not limited to medical bills, lost wages and pain and suffering. A property owner may not be held responsible if he or she can show that they made reasonable efforts to warn visitors of the danger or if he or she was genuinely unaware that the danger existed.

Slip and fall accidents are complex cases and often require litigation and an experienced personal injury attorney. Litigation is the result of the defense arguing that the property was not defective or because the severity of the injuries results in a battle over appropriate settlement amounts. For whatever reason a case like this may end up in litigation, you need to hire an attorney who is experienced in trying complex slip and fall cases. My law office has this experience and is ready to fight for all of the money that you deserve.

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March 6, 2012

Who Is at Fault in an Accident if One of the Drivers Falls Ill or Blacks Out

This weekend's fatal accident in Coventry between Randy Moore and Stephen Volpe has brought to our attention a very scary possibility that occurs quite often in serious auto accidents. Rhode Island news outlets are reporting that Mr. Moore was not feeling well and was actually driving himself to the hospital at the time of the accident. He complained of chest pains to his sister and an eyewitness to the auto accident noticed that Mr. Moore had slumped over the steering wheel just prior to the accident. Once unconscious, his vehicle drifted over the center lane and caused a head-on collision with Mr. Volpe. Mr. Moore, unfortunately, did not survive the accident and prayers go out to his family.

It is not as uncommon as one may think that a driver passes out or falls asleep at the steering wheel while driving leading to a serious car accident. I recently settled a claim for a client under almost exactly the same circumstances. In my case, an elderly man suffered a heart attack on Phenix Avenue in Cranston, drifted over the center lane and struck my client, an elderly woman, head-on. She suffered very serious injuries as a result of the accident.

In these situations, the driver who blacks out or passes out at the wheel, is civilly responsible for the damages sustained in a car accident. Even though they were not actively negligent in causing the accident, and even though it occurred through no "fault" of their own, they will be responsible to the injured party. Every time that we get behind the wheel of a car we are responsible to everyone else on the road and we must ensure that we are physically healthy and alert enough to operate a vehicle. Even if the illness is unforeseeable, the burden remains on each driver to operate their vehicle in a safe and courteous manner at all times. It is not unlike the driver who, despite his or her best efforts, loses control of their car in the snow, or the driver whose brakes fail leading to an accident. In these circumstances, the at-fault driver was not "actively" negligent. Nevertheless, they have breached their duty to operate the vehicle safely and are, therefore, liable for any and all damages. Insurance companies will accept liability under these circumstances and pay the claims.

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