December 10, 2012

Snowmobile Accident Attorney in Rhode Island and Massachusetts

This winter has been extremely mild for us here in New England which seems to rule out the risk of a snowmobile accident or injury, but if you are injured this winter during a snowmobile accident it is imperative that you speak with an experienced personal injury attorney right away to protect your rights and obtain compensation for you. There is no need to contact a national law firm to help you with a snowmobile accident because our firm is local and ready to fight for you.

Snowmobile accidents can occur in a number of ways. Collision between two snowmobiles, operator error, and product malfunction can all lead to an accident. Injuries sustained in a snowmobile accident can be serious and permanent including but not limited to head injuries, fractures, paralysis and even death. Do not delay in contacting a personal injury attorney. Your attorney will need to act quickly to establish the facts of loss and identify potential coverages for you to be compensated. Many insurance companies are now covering so called "small lines" vehicles such as jet skis, motorcycles, ATVs, and snowmobiles. Because of this increase in coverage there is a strong likelihood that the vehicle which caused your injuries has an insurance policy protecting it. In some instances the homeowners policy may also cover your damages. As with other personal injury cases you are entitled to past and future medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

Because it is unlikely for the police or other government agency to investigate a snowmobile accident, there may be no incident report. Therefore, if AND ONLY IF, you are able, it is imperative for you to try and identify witnesses and take pictures of the scene. This will help establish the facts when trying to recreate the accident at a later date.

Snowmobiles and Product Liability

If your snowmobile accident was caused not by operator error but by a defect in the machine itself, it is worth looking at your accident as a product liability case. If your snowmobile has a defective design that made it unsafe for its intended use, or was manufactured in such a way as to be dangerous, then you may have a product liability lawsuit against the manufacturer. Recently both Ski-Doo and Bombardier have recalled snowmobiles for various unacceptable risks that caused serious injury to users.

Continue reading "Snowmobile Accident Attorney in Rhode Island and Massachusetts" »

December 7, 2012

Good Week in Criminal Court

I don't use this forum to discuss criminal cases too often, but after an exceptional week in Court, I want to share some good results. This week I secured the dismissal of a DUI case and the dismissal of a domestic assault charge. My approach to my client's case whether personal injury or criminal is to aggressively pursue the matter and prepare every case as if we are going to trial. I never assume an injury case is going to settle and I never assume that a criminal case is going to result in a plea... this approach is the most effective way I know to ensure great results for my clients. This week was a good one in the criminal courts.

My first client was arrested for DUI following an auto accident with significant property damage and injuries. Although it was the first offense, the prosecution was looking for severe penalties because of the accident. After aggressively fighting this case, the DUI was dismissed for lack of evidence and my client was left to face only civil penalties.

The second charge dismissed this week was for domestic assault. In this case, the client had a prior record which was resolved by a criminal filing. His year for the criminal filing had not yet passed and the new domestic assault charge also meant that he would be violated on the filing charge. After a full hearing in front of the Judge, the violation was dismissed. This was a major victory for a client who was facing jail time should he be found in violation.

If you or a friend or family member has been arrested in Rhode Island or Massachusetts, contact my office right away for a free consultation. Make sure you hire an attorney with a plan and commitment to go the distance. I don't take shortcuts or take the easy way out.

December 3, 2012

7 Car Pile-Up Caused by a Commercial Dump Truck...And Other News

The Providence Journal is reporting on a real mess of an auto accident that occurred on the Sakonnet River Bridge this morning. It is reported that traffic was slow and tight across the bridge because police had previously responded to a minor auto accident. The driver of the dump truck approached the scene in the passing lane and when traffic narrowed, he sideswiped a van and continued forward striking several additional vehicles including the two police cruisers responding to the earlier car crash. The driver of the commercial truck which caused the accident claimed to police that his brakes failed. As a result, the Sakonnet River Bridge was shut down for nearly three hours! The Journal has not reported or indicated if there were any injuries.

As it concerns the commercial truck driver, he has done quite a bit wrong and his company may have one heck of a tab on their hands. For one, an oversized vehicle carrying rocks should not be in the passing lane to begin with. Second, if we accept as truth that the driver's brakes failed, then the company will be liable for poorly maintaining their trucks. The more likely scenario is that the driver was not paying attention to the stopped traffic and caused the mess. As most people are wont to do following an accident, he tried to shift attention away from himself by blaming faulty brakes.

Between my time working for the insurance companies and now representing plaintiff's on my own, I can not tell you how many times I have heard "My brakes failed". It is such a well tread excuse following an auto accident, that the police do not even consider that it may be true.

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This follows what was already a tragic weekend in Rhode Island when another bridge accident resulted in the wrongful death of one of the drivers and serious injuries to several others. There was a head-on collision Saturday on the Mt. Hope Bridge, in which the deceased driver, Paul Matthews, was allegedly distracted causing his vehicle to go left of center. Mr. Matthews did not survive his injuries and multiple passengers in both vehicles were seriously injured, although no other injuries appear to be life threatening.

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These serious auto accidents present complications both for their complexity and severity. I wish every one a safe ride on the streets especially during this time of year.

Continue reading "7 Car Pile-Up Caused by a Commercial Dump Truck...And Other News" »

November 28, 2012

Auto Accidents in Parking Lots

Car accidents which occur in parking lots are actually extremely common and come with a host of unique problems and complexities that need to be understood. If you have been involved in an accident which occurred in a store or other parking lot, hopefully the following information can be of assistance.

For most auto accidents that occur on a public road, determining who is at fault is much easier than in a parking lot accident. On a public road there are traffic controls, stop signs, and well understood rules of the road. Violating a rule of the road or ignoring a traffic signal will put one at fault for the car crash. In a parking lot, a determination of fault is not always as easy.

Why is it Tricky to Determine Liability in a Parking Lot?

  • All parking lots are designed differently which can confuse unfamiliar drivers and make it difficult to follow the rules of the road;
  • The presence of pedestrians and so many other parked cars can effect visibility and create a potential hazard;
  • Lack of traffic controls (stop signs, red lights, etc) or clearly defined paths of travel can create confusion among drivers;
  • Because parking lots are private property most police are unwilling to take formal reports. The lack of a formal police report can mean that some facts are missing and allows time for drivers to change their stories.

This is not to say that all parking lot accidents are difficult cases. For instance, a very common occurrence in parking lot accidents is a driver reversing out of a spot into a pedestrian or other car with the right of way. In these scenarios, the driver operating in reverse is almost always 100% at fault.

What Can You Do to Help Your Case?

These suggestions apply to almost all car crashes but are particularly helpful in a parking lot accident. If AND ONLY IF it is safe to do so and you are physically able to:

  • Take pictures of the scene and the placement of all involved vehicles;
  • Search for witnesses who may have seen the accident and take their name and number;
  • Seek medical treatment if you have been injured, call for a rescue if necessary;
  • Contact an experienced auto accident attorney right away! You and your attorney can investigate the possible existence of cameras or video recordings of the parking lot.

A Common Misconception About Parking Lot Accidents

Many people wrongly believe that accidents in parking lots are not that serious because they generally occur at relatively low speed. This is true for some, but not all parking lot accidents. Last year, I settled a case for a woman injured in the Warwick Mall Parking Lot for $125,000! She was thrown into the dashboard fracturing her wrist and causing permanent nerve damage. If you have been injured in a parking lot, whether minor or serious, it is always imperative to contact an experienced personal injury attorney right away.

My office specializes in auto accident cases and I have handled hundreds of parking lot cases. If you have been injured in a parking lot accident contact our office right away for a free no pressure consultation.

November 14, 2012

Interesting Case from Maine Involving Commercial Truck Accidents and Insurance Coverage

A recent Supreme Court decision from the State of Maine brings to light some interesting considerations for accidents involving commercial work trucks and insurance coverage. The case, State Farm Mutual Auto Insurance v. Estate of Carey, stems from a tragic auto accident that claimed the life of James Carey. Mr. Carey was struck and killed by Roger Linton who was an independent contractor and former employee of Jennings Masonry. Linton was driving a large commercial truck owned and insured by Jennings but was not working at the time of the accident. State Farm insured the truck involved in the loss.

Linton was not currently an employee of Jennings, but was in the past. He also frequently drove Jennings vehicles with permission. On the date of this accident, he was again driving in a Jennings truck but did not return the vehicle when he completed his work. Instead, Linton took the truck to several friends houses and a tavern. It was during this "excursion" that the fatal auto accident occurred involving Mr. Carey. Linton was legally drunk at the time of the accident and arrested.

Quickly, State Farm petitioned the Court for a declaratory judgment stating that they had no obligation to insure or defend Linton. Their position was that he did not have "permission" to use the vehicle at the time of the accident and was not using it for work purposes, and therefore, he was not legally operating the vehicle at the time of the collision. If he did not have the permission of the owner to operate the vehicle at the time of the accident, State Farm, would not be required to cover the loss. (As a side note, if that sounds unfair because it could leave the owner of Jennings Masonry holding the bag - you are correct. If an insurance company can avoid paying they will regardless of the harm it might present to their insured).

Some States with mandatory insurance coverage have taken the position that since the lawmakers intended all vehicles to carry liability insurance, that they would be inclined to find coverage in a situation like the one at hand, so long as permission was given, at any time, to operate the vehicle. This is the so called "initial permission" rule. The Maine Supreme Court did not accept this approach and instead held that the trial court would have to reconsider the case under the minor deviation rule. The minor deviation rule has long been the standard for determining whether an employees actions are covered under the employees policy. Clearly, an employee acting on behalf of his employer at the time of an accident is covered by the company's policy. Under the minor deviation rule, an employee who makes a slight or minor detour, such as stopping for lunch, while using a work vehicle will be covered. A major deviation, however, such as the one taken by Linton are unlikely to be covered because it was so far outside of the scope of his employment and work related use of the vehicle, that a jury would conclude that he did not have his employers permission to use the vehicle in that manner.

Auto accidents involving commercial trucks are very serious because of the size and weight of the vehicles involved. The injuries sustained can be catastrophic, or as in the case of Mr. Carey, fatal. It is imperative that you speak with an experienced truck accident attorney right away to ensure that you receive all of the compensation that you deserve.

Continue reading "Interesting Case from Maine Involving Commercial Truck Accidents and Insurance Coverage" »

November 5, 2012

Wrongful Death of a Fetus at Issue in Federal Lawsuit Arising out of a Car Accident

Abortion rights and wrongful death law seem not to have much in common, but a new federal lawsuit in Nebraska may have an interesting effect on both abortion laws and wrongful death laws across the country. The lawsuit stems from a tragic auto accident in which a Maryland couple was killed with their two children when a tractor trailer struck their stationary automobile. It turns out that the woman was also pregnant with the couple's third child. The estate brought the action for wrongful death on behalf of the entire family and cited a 2003 Nebraska law which extends legal protections to an unborn fetus. This is the first case to raise such a statute, but it appears that the law should also give wrongful death rights to the unborn fetus.

Readers can now probably see why this law is problematic when viewed in the light of Roe v. Wade and its subsequent cases. If an unborn fetus is considered a child in the eyes of the law, so that it can be granted legal rights, then it will legally (rather than morally) be murder to terminate the pregnancy. I assure you I am making no stance on the topic here.

Most of the States that have enacted laws similar to the one in Nebraska are right wing leaning States such as Utah, Florida and Nebraska, which are keen on stronger abortion laws and restrictions. The Rhode Island Supreme Court in Amica v. Miccolis held that a nonviable fetus could not maintain a cause of action for wrongful death because it is not a person within the meaning of the wrongful death statute. If this auto accident occurred in RI, the fetus would not have an individual cause of action. If the child, however, could have been delivered (by C-Section for instance) and then died from the injuries sustained in the automobile accident, then a cause of action for wrongful death could proceed.

It will be interesting to follow cases like this one as they unfold. It's mark on federal law could be wide reaching and may cause more States to enact similar liegislation.

Continue reading "Wrongful Death of a Fetus at Issue in Federal Lawsuit Arising out of a Car Accident" »

November 1, 2012

Property Damage - The Other Side of Your Auto Accident Insurance Claim

This blog has always focused primarily on questions of personal injury and pain and suffering recovery, yet there is another important part to an auto accident claim that is often not discussed. That is the property damage - the repair to your vehicle, replacement of a total loss and placement in a rental vehicle immediately following an auto accident.

I have previously written posts about low bodily injury settlement offers from insurance companies if you do not have a personal injury attorney. But even when it comes to property damage, the insurance company's main objective is to cut costs and limit your total recovery. Since you need immediate help following a car crash, it is imperative that you call an experienced car accident attorney right away, so there are no delays or problems with the repair of your vehicle.

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What if my vehicle is repairable?

If your vehicle is repairable following a car accident it will need to be brought to a body shop. Rhode Island law holds that you are entitled to bring the car to the body shop of your choice and an insurance company can not steer you towards a preferred body shop. Many of the so called "preferred" body shops are VERY GOOD and will make a perfect repair to your car. These shops, however, have a very close relationship with the insurance companies and this always opens the door for a conflict of interest. Your vehicle and satisfaction should be the only priority!

It is usually best to have the vehicle inspected AT the body shop. An appraiser can not accurately write an estimate in a driveway or parking lot. It is better to have the vehicle in a shop where it can be disassembled and put on a lift during the inspection process. If the vehicle is to be repaired at a body shop, that shop will work with the appraiser to agree on an estimate for the repair of your vehicle. This process will need little input from you as the owner.

What if my vehicle is a total loss?

If your vehicle is a total loss that means that the cost to repair the vehicle exceeds the value of the car. Therefore, the vehicle will not be repaired, instead the insurance company will offer you the value of the car. Total losses can create a lot of headaches. Sometimes, a car owner is "underwater" in that they owe more for the vehicle than it is worth. Sometimes, the insurance company "valuation" of the vehicle is below your own opinion of the worth of the vehicle. This can happen if the insurance company takes excessive deductions for prior wear and tear or damage to the vehicle. An attorney can help look over the total loss paperwork and ensure that you are receiving a fair price for your vehicle.

If the car is a total loss it was likely towed from the scene of the car accident and not driveable. If the car is in storage, it is collecting storage fees. This means that you (or your lawyer) will need to work quickly with the insurance company to resolve the total loss, otherwise, the insurance company may not be willing to pay ALL of the storage fees.

What about a rental car?

If you're car is not drivable and you are not at fault for a car crash, then you are entitled to a rental vehicle. Not drivable does not necessarily mean that your car is a steaming pile of scrap metal... If your windshield is cracked in the accident or your headlights are damaged, then your car is technically not drivable because these are safety items. My office will assist in putting you in a rental car right away so that there is no disruption to your life and you can make your doctor's appointments and make it to work on time.

If your car is still drivable following an auto accident, then you will be entitled to a rental car while the vehicle is being repaired at the auto body shop. You are entitled to a vehicle similar to the one you currently drive. If you drive a truck for work, or a minivan because you have four kids, then the insurance company will have to pay the higher cost of renting these vehicles to accommodate you. Similarly, if you drive a Mercedes S class, the insurance company can not put you in a subcompact car.

The car accident lawyer that you hire, matters

Some personal injury law firms refuse to handle the property damage portion of your claim. This is because there is no money to be made from the property damage portion of your claim and it can be a lot of work for the law firm. I find this ridiculous, and in my humble opinion, you should find another attorney if you are told that they are unwilling to assist you with your property damage claim. Ignoring your property damage claim is ignoring a major part of your accident claim.

My firm not only helps you with your property damage claim for free but we will try to make the process as easy as possible for you. We will arrange a rental car for you right away while you are waiting for the insurance company to inspect and repair your vehicle. We will work directly with your body shop of choice and ensure that the process goes smoothly.

October 22, 2012

Sports and Sporting Event Injuries

After three years of maintaining this blog and drafting hundreds of blog posts, I sometimes wonder what questions I can answer, or what information is left to be shared with my readers. Today I was thinking about some of the less common personal injury claims and I was reminded of a few cases of mine stemming from sporting events. If you (or your child) was injured either playing a sport, or while attending a sporting event, you may be entitled to compensation for your injury.

Were you or your child injured while playing a sport?

More than three million under the age of 14 are treated for sports related injuries each year. The vast majority of those are not candidates for a personal injury claim. We all understand that injuries occur in sports, particularly contact sports such as football, hockey or rugby. I know - I played rugby for ten years! Because we are aware of the danger, we accept the risk simply by playing. Similarly, parents sign waivers so that their children can play organized sports. Personal injury claims do not exist in such "normal" or "expected" types of sports injury.

Negligence can occur, however, that causes injury and which is not part of the "accepted risk" of playing a sport. The most common causes of preventable sports injuries are:

  • Inadequate or defective equipment;
  • Inadequate or defective playing surfaces or fields;
  • Abusive coaches or trainers;
  • Training or practice that is excessive for a child's age and experience.
Most sporting organizations carry insurance for these types of negligent acts that lead to injury. The most common types of injuries to young athletes are muscle sprains/strains and fractures. More serious injuries, such as spinal injuries, head injuries, permanent muscle damage, paralysis and even death, can and have occur from the playing of sports. Injured persons are entitled to compensation and should contact an experienced sports injury lawyer right away.


Were you or your child injured AT a sporting event?

Much like playing sports, we accept a certain amount of risk everytime that we go to a game. We understand that foul balls will enter the stands and may injure spectators. Public address announcers warn several times that hockey pucks, baseballs or other objects might fly into the stand. They even agree to refund your ticket if you are unwilling to accept such risk.

Again, like playing sports, there are some injuries that spectators sustain that was not foreseeable or preventable. These types of injuries may be compensable under a personal injury claim. Some examples of injuries at sporting events that might be covered:

  • Assault by another intoxicated spectator (maybe a rival fan). Much like restaurants and bars have an obligation to not over serve customers, so too do sporting venues;
  • The protections meant to prohibit injury the stands are inadequate or defective;
  • Slip and fall at the venue.

Continue reading "Sports and Sporting Event Injuries" »

October 9, 2012

Deadly Meningitis Outbreak Linked to Massachusetts Continues to Spread

This is an unfortunate story that seems unable to run out of steam. A nationwide outbreak of meningitis is being linked to a specialty pharmacy company here in Massachusetts. Every day the Center for Disease Control has increased the number of victims who have caught a deadly strain of meningitis after receiving a tainted steroid shot intended to relieve back pain. The current number stands at 119 cases of meningitis with 11 documented deaths related to the tainted steroid injections. The cases of reported illnesses has spread to ten States.

The company voluntarily recalled the steroid that was sent to clinics in 23 States after a tainted vial was found on their own premises. They have since expanded the recall to include everything they have distributed.

While there are no confirmed cases of meningitis here in Rhode Island, the Department of Health continues to notify potential victims of the possible exposure. An additional 50 patients have been notified of the link today. Victims who have contracted meningitis from the tainted injections will have a strong product liability case against the manufacturer who clearly released an unsafe and defective product into the market.

Meningitis is an inflammation of the protective membranes covering the brain and spinal cord. It is an extremely serious and potentially fatal disease because of the bacteria's proximity to the brain and spinal column. The most common symptoms of meningitis include headaches, neck stiffness, photophobia (aversion to bright light), fever and confusion. Antibiotics and antiviral drugs are used to treat meningitis once discovered by lumbar puncture.

UPDATE - October 30, 2012

Yesterday, the first confirmed case of meningitis has extended into Rhode Island. The total number of people sickened by the tainted injections is now over 300 with 25 associated deaths. This is a sad story that continues to develop each day.

If you or anyone that you know contracted meningitis after receiving the tainted steroid injections, should contact our office right away. Our experience in product liability and medical malpractice cases will help ensure that you obtain everything to which you are entitled.

September 24, 2012

Pedestrian Accidents on the Increase in Providence

My office has represented many injury victims who were struck by a car while crossing a street, or simply walking along the road. These injuries are almost always traumatic and frequently result in broken bones, head injuries, scars, etc. Providence has seen a recent surge in pedestrian accidents over the past couple of months including two pedestrians struck this weekend alone. Most recently, Stephen Petrick, 19 of Providence, was struck and hit by a vehicle while crossing a crosswalk near Providence College.

Pedestrian accidents can occur for a variety of reasons. Distracted driving may be one of the leading causes of the increase in pedestrian accident frequency. Distracted driving, most typically while using a smartphone to text, read emails, check Facebook or Twitter, is possibly the greatest danger on the road right now, more dangerous even than drunk driving. Drivers who use their smartphone while driving their vehicle are completely distracted for an average of 5 seconds at a time. That is sufficient time for a vehicle to travel several hundred feet.

If you or a loved one is struck by a vehicle while walking or crossing a street, it is absolutely imperative that you speak to an experienced personal injury attorney right away. Even though, pedestrians have little control over these types of accidents, insurance companies will look at every possible reason to find you at fault. If you have been injured in this type of accident, you will be entitled to medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

My office is ready to assist you! We will come to your home or hospital and get your case started within minutes of meeting with us. There is no fee unless we are successful in obtaining money for you.

August 15, 2012

My Take on the Progressive Insurance Scandal - Did They Defend Their Policyholder's Killer?

The story that Progressive Insurance defended the person "responsible" (I put this in quotes and will explain the legality further on) for the death of a policyholder is completely taking over Twitter and the news circuits following a series of blog posts, tweets, and other correspondence between Progressive Insurance and the family of the deceased, Kaitlynn Fisher, nicknamed Katie.

I have tried to learn as much about this story as possible but there are some conflicting reports. I apologize to those intimately involved with this case, in advance, for any errors or misunderstandings.

The Facts of the case

Katie Fisher, a 24 year old John Hopkins graduate, was killed in an automobile accident on June 19, 2010. The accident occurred at an intersection and an independent witness seemed to indicate that the OTHER driver ran the red light and struck Katie, thereby causing her death. That driver seems to have been insured by Nationwide. Nationwide did defend the case as they are contractually obligated to do, but quickly paid out the entire limits of their auto policy (that amount has not been disclosed). Katie, however, also maintained an UNDERINSURED auto policy. This means that if the other driver does not have enough coverage to pay for your damages (and in the case of a tragic death - no amount is enough) then your own insurance company, in this case Progressive, should cover the difference. Katie was entitled to $100,000 under this policy.

Maryland, however, has very strict "contributory negligence" statutes which hold that if you are even 1% at fault for the accident, then you are barred from recovery. Luckily, here in Rhode Island and Massachusetts, where I practice, we do not have such a strict and incomprehensible law (at least, in my humble opinion.) This law is where the trouble for Progressive began!

Progressive, like all insurance companies, does not want to pay back the money they take from policyholders. Therefore, if they could prove that Katie was even 1% at fault for this accident, then they would not have to pay her estate any of the $100k policy. So, even though the facts seemed to suggest that Katie was not at fault for this accident, and even though, Nationwide already paid the full amount of their policy limits, it was not PROVEN that the other driver was at fault for this accident and Progressive refused to volunteer payment to their policyholders estate. Instead, the estate had to file a lawsuit. And this is where the trouble for Progressive Insurance gets worse!

The attorneys for Progressive Insurance (who are most likely employees of the Company which clearly creates a conflict of interest that no one seems to acknowledge or care about) went about the case as if Katie, their insured was at fault. They called witnesses who placed negligence on Katie and gave statements to the jury arguing that Katie was at fault. This means that Katies OWN INSURANCE company was at her trial, which as a result of her tragic passing she was unable to speak for herself, trying to prove her guilt.

The jury didn't buy it and awarded the family estate over $700,000.

And this is where the proverbial **** really hit the fan!

Katie's brother, Matthew Fisher, took to his personal blog to discuss the case and what his family had been through with Progressive. The story went viral on twitter and is absolutely everywhere now. Progressive initially only made a canned response to all of the Facebook postings and re-tweets that the story presented, but made a formal explanation soon thereafter. They explained that they were within Maryland law to act as they did and that they did not "defend" their policy holders killer, because that person was defended by his insurance company, Nationwide. Matthew Fisher responded with another post describing the way Progressive tried to prove her negligence at trial and RIGHTFULLY stated that this was, in fact, a defense.

It was already too late for Progressive - the public relations nightmare is already at full tilt!

My Take

This story is not unusual. It is only unusual that it is receiving so much attention. The reason every person injured in an accident needs an experienced personal injury attorney, is because insurance companies are only out to protect their own interests. Progressive (at least in Rhode Island) is not one of the worse insurance companies out there, and I almost wish this was an Allstate case because it is perfectly fitting to the way they do business. Nevertheless, insurance companies are corporations first and foremost with an eye on the bottom line - never mistakenly believe, no matter how cute their spokesperson or mascot, that they care about you.

I believe that there is ample evidence here to support a conflict of interest on the part of Progressive Insurance. In Maryland, as in every State, an insurance company is legally obligated to act in good faith. It will be really interesting to see how this story plays out if the family pursues an action against Progressive Insurance directly. If Progressive did not act in good faith, they may be sanctioned by the State, required to pay huge fines, and may end up owing the family much more than the $100k the policy required them to pay. I think it was bad faith, I think it was a terrible business decision, and I wish the family the best of luck in their pursuits.

August 15, 2012

4 Million Bumbo Baby Seats Recalled

Approximately four million Bumbo Baby Seats have been recalled from the manufacturer due to increasing safety concerns. This story from Boston.com was sent to me by a friend and I took notice because both of my children have used and enjoyed the Bumbo seats. My wife and I have always been very careful with the Bumbo seats because there is no seat belt or other restraint to protect our kids and we were aware of the chance of injury. After reading this report, I am not surprised to find that dozens of cases have been reported of children suffering skull fractures and other very serious injuries after falling out of or escaping from Bumbo Baby Seats.

Bumbo Baby Seats were recalled once before several years ago when increased warning labels were placed on the units. While the unit has long since warned parents not to leave children unattended, the new warnings advised parents to never use the Bumbo Baby Seat on a raised surface, such as a kitchen counter, for fear that the child could fall a great distance. Unfortunately, even with the increased warnings, at least 50 known cases have been reported of children suffering very serious injury after falling from a raised surface. Following this new recall, the company that makes the Bumbo Baby Seat is voluntarily providing a free repair kit that includes a safety belt restraint.

If your child was injured while using a Bumbo Baby Seat, you may be entitled to compensation for medical bills, both current and future, and any pain and suffering that your child has experienced or will experience in the future. The reported skull fractures are obviously a very serious injury and can also result in long term permanent brain damage. The compensation may be made by filing a product liability lawsuit against the manufacturer of the Bumbo Baby Seat, and potentially the many retailers selling the product.

If you can prove that a product is defective, then you may be able to place liability on the manufacturer entitling you to compensation. There are three common methods of attempting to demonstrate that a product is defective:

  • Defective product design;
  • Defective product manufacturing;
  • Inadequate or insufficient warning.

From the outset, it looks like a viable case can be made against the manufacturers of the Bumbo Baby Seat under categories one and three above.

Defective Product Design

A product is defectively designed if it is dangerous even when assembled and used correctly. In this case, the fact that children can fall or "roll" out of the chair and injure themselves may be enough to establish negligent design. Furthermore, the fact that seat belts could easily be added to the Bumbo Baby Seat, increasing the safety of the chair, raises the question as to why seat belts were not included from the very beginning. Perhaps, some of these horrible injuries could have been prevented.

Ineffective or Inadequate Warning

The Bumbo Baby Seat was already recalled once for inadequate warnings about using the Baby chair on raised surfaces, but the warnings apparently did not get through to consumers. If it was not clearly explained that children can roll out of the Bumbo Baby Seat causing a fall, then the manufacturer may be liable. If the risk of injury was not clearly expressed, then the manufacturer may be liable.

If your child has been injured while using a Bumbo Baby Seat, contact my office right away for a free consultation. We are experienced product liability attorneys and will begin working on your case right away. A great deal of investigation and discovery will be required to prove that the manufacturer sold a defective product so it is imperative that you contact a personal injury attorney right away. There is never any fee unless we are successful in obtaining compensation for you and your child.

August 14, 2012

Institute for Highway Safety Reveals Increased Concern Over Offset Head-on Collisions

I have previously written posts about the extreme danger of head-on auto accidents and the increased likelihood of serious injury and death. Today, I came across an article discussing a report from the Institute for Highway Safety which highlights the fact that partial overlap front end crashes may be the most dangerous of all collisions. These accidents which may occur on indirect frontal crashes or accidents with a pole or tree, greatly compromise the integrity of the vehicles body and can result in extremely serious personal injury.

Despite great advances in highway safety from the automobile industry, over 10,000 people per year are killed as a result of a car crash. A quarter of such fatalities may come from these so-called partial overlap accidents. Manufacturers score highly for direct frontal collisions, but according to this most recent study, only 3 out of 11 mid and high end vehicles (foreign and domestic) scored "good" or "acceptable" on the partial overlap collision test. The video included in the report is frightening.

The institute points out that on direct front end accidents, the force of the impact is spread across the entire front end of the vehicle allowing it to compress and protect the interior passengers. On a partial overlap accident, the entire force of the impact is isolated in a much smaller area and cars are simply not designed to absorb such dramatic force. The passengers inside experience the most serious of injuries: broken bones, scars, head injuries, paralysis and even death.

A serious auto accident requires a serious law firm. If you have been seriously injured in a front end collision you must retain an attorney who nows how to fight for you and win every dollar available for your case. You do not need an attorney looking to make a quick settlement. If you were involved in an auto accident resulting in a serious or catastrophic injury, contact this office right away for a free consultation.

Continue reading "Institute for Highway Safety Reveals Increased Concern Over Offset Head-on Collisions" »

August 1, 2012

A Major Victory for Injury Victims Scored in Missouri Should Have Widespread Implications

Missouri was one of many States that impose caps on noneconomic damages (i.e. pain and suffering) in personal injury cases, specifically medical malpractice. In Missouri, an injured person could receive no more than $350,000 above his or her economic losses (medical expenses and lost wages). While that may seem like a great deal of money, it is very little to someone catastrophically injured by another's negligence. For a simple example, consider a medical malpractice case where the doctor amputates the wrong leg (think it can't happen - look here). That person will spend the rest of his or her life in a wheelchair and would legally be unable to recover more than $350,000 in damages!

Yesterday, the Missouri Supreme Court in Watts v. Cox Medical Center, ruled that the cap on damages was an unconstitutional infringement of ones right to a trial by jury. The Federal Constitution (mirrored by the States) guarantees the right of anyone with cause to have a trial decided by a jury of his peers. It should always be the jury who decides the outcome of a case including the damages, and not lawmakers influenced by insurance companies.

It has long been an argument of the plaintiff's bar and American Association for Justice that caps on tort awards were unconstitutional, and this Supreme Court decision affirms our position. Hopefully, this decision will influence other States to make the same decision which they should agree is constitutionally mandated. This decision should also strike a blow for the tort reform movement (although this election campaign has not brought up the topic of tort reform nearly as much as four years ago). Numerous studies, including those conducted by independent groups with no stake in the tort reform debate, have shown that medical caps and restrictions on personal injury claims do not reduce health care costs and lead to lower quality patient care.

I want to personally applaud the attorneys behind this decision for their tireless work and to the Missouri Supreme Court for amending a wrong.

July 25, 2012

Massive Ground Beef Recall Following Report of 33 Illnesses

On July 22, Cargill voluntarily recalled 30,000 pounds of ground beef products. Now the CDC is reporting that at least 33 people have been sickened with salmonella linked to the Cargill ground beef. At least one of these persons is reported to be here in Rhode Island and several more in Massachusetts. It appears that these products were sold in Hannaford supermarkets throughout New England. It is highly likely that additional cases will be reported increasing this number well above 33 cases of food poisoning. The product has been recalled and the sell by date has passed so there should be no danger of buying the affected product any longer. Consumers, however, are instructed to look at products they placed in the freezer. If the establishment number Est. 9400 is in the USDA mark of inspection, you may want to dispose of the meat for possible contamination.

These victims of food poisoning range in age, remarkably, from 6 to 101! Food poisoning is particular hard on children and the elderly who have weaker immune systems. Of the 33 victims already reported, 11 have required some period of hospitalization. Thankfully no deaths have linked to this recent salmonella outbreak.

Food poisoning cases are largely product liability cases and require thorough and aggressive investigation. It is imperative that you speak with an experienced food poisoning attorney right away if you or a family member has been diagnosed with salmonella or other food borne illness. Attorney Joseph Lamy has recently handled many cases of food poisoning from high profile Rhode Island cases including the DeFusco's Bakery outbreak and a half dozen victims of the Uncle Sushi outbreak.