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Is Walgreens Partially to Blame for Boston’s Opioid Abuse Epidemic?

Pharmacist checking out customer's medication prescription

 

Our country currently faces one of the worst drug epidemics it has ever seen, and Massachusetts ranks among the top states grappling with the problem.

Opioid drugs, including prescription painkillers as well as illegally manufactured “street drugs” like heroin, have led to startling increases in drug overdose deaths in the past few years. Tens of thousands of people have died, and teens are among the groups most heavily affected.

While illegal activities have contributed greatly to this problem, state authorities also hold pharmacies partially responsible for the Massachusetts opioid abuse epidemic. For instance, Walgreens recently agreed to pay the Commonwealth a $200,000 settlement for their role in dispensing opioids through imprudent practices. Lapses in common oversights, like requiring patients to fill controlled substance prescriptions at a single pharmacy location, allegedly led to an increase in diversions and abuse that could have been avoided had Walgreens and other pharmacies held to established practices.

The settlement amount will contribute to a youth opioid education and prevention fund, but it also serves as a stern warning for pharmaceutical professionals to avoid playing an implicit part in making our painkiller abuse problem even worse.

 

Massachusetts Opioid Abuse Epidemic Among Worst Nationwide

Of the 33,091 deaths related to opioid overdoses nationwide in 2015, the most recent year that the CDC provides complete data on, Massachusetts contributed 1,724 of them.

This number puts us at the ninth-highest state in terms of overall opioid overdoses, but our drug overdose death rate of 25.7 per 100,000 ranks us just outside the top five worst states by rate. West Virginia has the highest rate of deaths, 41.5 per 100,000, and California has the highest number of total drug overdose deaths at 4,659.

Massachusetts also had the highest statistically significant increase in its drug overdose death rate from 2014 to 2015, jumping up 35 percent in just one year.

 

Why Walgreens and CVS Are on the Hook for Opioid Overdoses

Most deaths related to opioid overdose involve illicitly manufactured or diverted drugs like heroin, fentanyl, morphine, and tranquilizers, but prescription opioid pills dispensed at places like Walgreens and CVS play a role in getting kids under 18 hooked, says Mass. Attorney General Maura Healey.

Even when these prescriptions are legitimate, pharmacies can engage in practices that make abuse or diversion of opioid pills more likely. For instance, Healey asserted that pharmacy chains failed to monitor opioid use by high-risk patients. Pharmacies are expected to require high-risk patients to fill prescriptions at one location, and the pharmacy is required to track the patient’s pattern of prescription use to look for signs of abuse.

Pharmacies are also not supposed to accept cash payments from patients enrolled in MassHealth, the state’s Medicaid program. When cash is used, MassHealth does not have the opportunity to approve the dispensing of medication. They may never even be billed or notified, denying them the opportunity to reject the prescription or flag the patient record.

Walgreen’s settlement follows a similar $795,000 settlement from CVS pharmacies, which faced scrutiny for similar practices. Under the settlement agreements, Walgreens and CVS must use the state’s Prescription Monitoring Program database to track patients and look for patterns of drug abuse.

Hopefully, awareness on the part of pharmacies in addition funding of programs through the state’s new Youth Opioid Prevention fund will reduce the number of tragic and avoidable overdose deaths we have seen in recent years.

 

Holding Pharmacies Responsible for Dispensing Opioids Unethically

If you or a close family member of yours have encountered issues relating to prescription opioid drug abuse and have filled controlled substance prescriptions at a Walgreens or CVS location, you may possibly have grounds to claim damages for any resulting physical, medical or psychological harm.

Explore your options with a Boston personal injury lawyer today to receive a free case evaluation and weigh strategies for seeking damages. Contact Kiley Law Group now using the toll-free number or our quick contact form found below to potentially start your case today.

 

What If You Suspect a Child Is Being Abused or Neglected?

 

Child wearing green coat sitting on stairs

Child abuse and neglect have huge consequences on our society. As more and more children grow up in abusive or neglectful situations, they encounter developmental issues that affect their ability to function normally. Mental health issues and physical debilitations often result.

Because child abuse and neglect in Massachusetts can impact a person’s entire life, people must intervene as soon as possible. By learning more about what constitutes child abuse or child neglect and learning how to recognize the signs of child abuse, you can notify the Massachusetts Department of Children & Families immediately, hopefully sparing a child from further harm.

 

Legal Definition of Child Abuse and Neglect in Massachusetts

According to the Code of Massachusetts Regulations, Title 110, § 2.00:

‘Abuse’ means the nonaccidental commission of any act by a caregiver upon a child under age 18 that causes or creates a substantial risk of physical or emotional injury, or constitutes a sexual offense under the laws of the Commonwealth, or any sexual contact between a caregiver and a child under the care of that individual.

The section goes further to explain neglect:

‘Neglect’ means failure by a caregiver, either deliberately or through negligence or inability, to take those actions necessary to provide a child with minimally adequate food, clothing, shelter, medical care, supervision, emotional stability, and growth, or other essential care.

So, essentially, abuse and neglect are intentional behaviors that the child’s caretaker knows (or should know as a “reasonable person”) are likely to result in harm to the child. Note that the abuser or neglectful caretaker does not have to intend harm as the result; they just have to know that the actions are likely to result in harm.

For instance, if a babysitter locks a child in a cupboard for several hours with no light, food or water as a form of discipline, their goal could be to punish the child and change his or her behavior. But the likely outcome is that the child will feel significant emotional distress while suffering from a lack of needed food and water, possibly leading to permanent damage to their psychological or physical well-being. If the babysitter has disciplinary alternatives that are less likely to result in harm and that could have been just as effective if not more effective as locking them in a cupboard, then they made a conscious decision to be abusive and/or neglectful.

 

Warning Signs of Child Abuse and Neglect

Common warning signs of physical abuse include:

  • Unusual bruises or injuries that cannot be explained — Although getting hurt is a part of childhood, injuries to areas like the face, neck, lower back and bottom are not commonly caused by rough play or accidents, especially if they appear consistently or in clusters
  • Anxious behavior that is fearful, withdrawn or overactive
  • Cigarette burns and other injuries not likely to come about during play

Common warning signs of sexual abuse include:

  • Difficulty sitting or walking
  • Rips or blood in underclothing
  • Fear of physical contact
  • Premature understanding of sex acts or inappropriate play that recalls sex acts
  • Reports of the child receiving alcohol, drugs, or pornography from adults

Common signs of emotional abuse include:

  • Mental disorders or extreme anti-social behavior
  • Delayed emotional or intellectual maturity
  • Problems sleeping, talking or relaxing
  • An inability to engage in healthy play with other children

Common signs of neglect include:

  • Medical and dental issues that go without intervention
  • Sporadic school attendance
  • Children who are chronically dirty or always wear the same clothing without washing
  • Reports of child being unsupervised
  • Self-destructive tendencies or feelings
  • Poor nutrition

While these warning signs are common, recognize that every situation involving child abuse or neglect is different.

Some children may suffer from subtle physical or psychological damage, for example, and they may also have parents who try to be “loving and caring” but who nevertheless commit neglectful or abusive acts that any reasonably competent person would assume will lead to harm. A parent who allows their child to drink heavily underage so they can “learn their own lessons” is enabling their child to enter into a situation that is likely to cause harm, for instance, so although the parent is avoiding being confrontational, they are actually neglecting their child’s needs.

Also, note that the state of Massachusetts allows parents to use physical discipline upon their child as long as the force is “reasonable” and “related to the purpose of safeguarding or promoting the welfare of the child.” (See Comm v. Dorvil 472 Mass. 1 2015)

 

What to Do if You Suspect Child Abuse or Neglect

If you suspect that the well-being of a child may be in danger as a result of child abuse or neglect, you should file a report with the Massachusetts Department of Children & Families (DCF) immediately. Certain people like physicians, psychologists, school teachers, child care workers, clergy members and police officers are mandated reporters, meaning that it is a crime for them to not report their suspicions to the DCF.

The report can be filed anonymously by all non-mandated reporters. A social worker will respond to the report with a home visit in most instances, beginning the state’s investigation into the matter. In cases where the state fears immediate harm to the child, they may preemptively take temporary custody of the child before the investigation begins.

Children and their advocates often face tremendous difficulty when trying to seek justice for abuse and neglect. If you wish to represent a child who has been injured by neglect or abuse, you can contact the experienced Boston child injury attorneys at the Kiley Law Group to represent the case and use every resource at their disposal to bring about justice.

You can contact the Kiley Law Group today using the toll-free number or the brief contact form below.

5 Deadliest Massachusetts Jobs

Industrial worker with welding tool

Most people would consider working conditions in the state of Massachusetts fairly good compared to many other regions around the world and, indeed, many other states.

According to the state’s Occupational Safety and Health Statistics Program, Massachusetts had a lower-than-average rate of nonfatal injury and illness compared to the country as a whole. Total nonfatal injuries and illnesses in the state have decreased as a whole since 2004 on a consistent downward trend.

Despite these positive numbers, the state does not have a completely unblemished record. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics recorded 55 deaths in 2014 and 69 deaths in 2015. Putting together 2015 – 2011 yields 58.6  worker deaths per year on average.

Among these numbers, some industries and occupations are more dangerous than others. Learn the top five deadliest Massachusetts jobs and other interesting facts by reading on.

 

Top Five Deadliest Massachusetts Jobs

5. Waste Management and Remediation Services

2014 saw 8 worker deaths and a rate of 4.0 serious injuries or illnesses per 100 workers.

 

4. Air Transportation

2014 saw 13 worker deaths in the air transportation industry and a rate of 5.5 serious injuries or illnesses per 100 workers.

 

3. Fishing

Fishing used to be Massachusetts’ most dangerous job, but the declining industry and a rise in safety protocols reversed that trend. The BLS reports only 18 fishing industry deaths between 2015 and 2011, but the AFL-CIO reports that 41 fishermen lost their lives between 2000 and 2008,  and data from 1991-1999 shows 156 deaths, albeit with a low relative rate of 1.5 deaths per 100,000 workers.

 

2. Trucking, Transportation

This BLS-designated industry includes truck drivers, warehouse workers, and many others, but it’s broadness does not excuse its high corresponding numbers. 60 workers died in this industry from 2011 to 2015, and data from 1991-1999 shows a high 5.6 deaths per 1000,000 workers, making the industry dangerous in both the past and present.

 

1. Construction

Construction is without a doubt Massachusetts’ deadliest and most dangerous occupation. 69 construction worker deaths occurred from 2011 to 2015, and 136 died from 1991 to 1999. This trend is shared nationwide since 2015 BLS data shows that 937 construction deaths occurred that year at a rate of 10.1 workers in 100,000.

 

Most Common Causes of Injury and Worker Death in Massachusetts

  • Transportation accidents are the leading cause of worker death in Mass., including vehicle accidents on public roads as well as incidents related to hauling and loading equipment in private areas.
  • Workplace violence is the second leading cause of worker deaths in the state. Violence can include criminal activity such as being shot during a robbery or while someone is resisting arrest, but it can also include co-worker violence.
  • Falls are the third most-common cause of worker death in Massachusetts, communicating the need for diligent safety practices, training, and adequate equipment.
  • Machinery accidents and exposure to harmful chemicals are additional occupational risks with potentially deadly consequences.

 

What to Do if You Have a Workplace Accident in Massachusetts

If you are injured on the job in Massachusetts, seek medical attention immediately and notify your supervisor as to the injury. You can go ahead and fill out the paperwork for a worker’s compensation claim in most instances.

Even if you file under worker’s compensation, you should not expect your employer or their insurer to automatically give you the maximum amount to which you are owed. You may also wish to bring a claim against your employer or a third party for excess or peripheral damages related to the incident.

Therefore, if you are injured at work, you should contact a Boston worker accident lawyer as soon as you can. Contact our offices today to receive a free case review and to potentially start your claim immediately.

 

Infographic: What To Do After A Car Accident?

kiley-what-to-do-after-caraccident

The first few moments after you get in a collision are critical, so make sure you know what to do after a car accident by following these simple guidelines:

What to Do After a Car Accident:

Check on Everyone, Then Call 911

The longer you wait to call the police, the more issues you could face when trying to document evidence, file a report and ultimately submit an insurance claim. So make sure to call 911 as soon as possible, but before you do, there is one thing you need to take care of: check if everyone’s ok.

When you call emergency dispatch, they will need information if they are going to send out EMTs and an ambulance. If there are any injuries, they will need to know the nature of those injuries to send the right response team and to take the injured person to the appropriate medical facility.

So, first check on yourself, and then check on the status of everyone involved in the crash. Then, call 911 immediately.

 

Find a Safe Spot to Wait

Accidents, especially ones on major highways, can often cause other accidents. You and anyone involved in the collision will want to get to a safe spot away from the road to wait on police and stabilize anyone who is hurt.

 

Consider Moving the Vehicles and Large Debris

One of the leading causes of secondary accidents is vehicles swerving to avoid wreckage and debris. If you can safely move one or more vehicles or some larger debris, you should do so quickly to lessen the danger to others.

However, you should always take a few pictures first so that the accident scene is documented before being altered.

Remember that safety is the priority, so if you feel in danger entering the road to move your car, or you feel like handling vehicle parts could cut or hurt you in some way, then simply stay in your safe spot.

 

Gather Information, But Do Not Discuss the Accident Itself

You should exchange basic personal and insurance information with the other driver. If you can take photos of their driver’s license, license plate, and insurance card, all the better.

At the very least, get the following: first and last names (have them spelled out), home address, best contact number, driver’s license number, license plate number, name of insurer, and their policy number.

Most importantly, do not discuss the accident with anyone other than the responding police officer and your attorney. Definitely do not apologize or admit fault, but also do not make allegations or share your opinions on the incident with other parties involved.

 

Take More Photos, and Engage Witnesses

Gathering evidence as close to the time of the accident as possible is critical. You will want photos of the vehicles, close-up photos of any damage, photos of debris and skid marks, and wide shots of the scene of the accident as a whole. If you are injured, do not hobble around taking photos; see if someone else can do it for you.

You will also want to engage anyone who witnessed the accident and get their full first and last names and their contact information. See if they are willing to make a recorded statement or video using your phone to tell their side of the story.

 

File an Accident Report, Notify Your Insurer, Talk to an Attorney

When the police respond, give them your complete version of the incident with as much detail as you can remember. If you are hazy on certain details, say so rather than making guesses.

You will need to contact your insurance company to notify them of the accident as soon as you are done exchanging information and gathering evidence. Then, contact an attorney who can represent your rights and help you file a claim with insurers. Their expertise can guide you through this stressful time and help you avoid mistakes that can end up literally costing you.

If you have been in a car accident, contact the Kiley Law Group today by using the toll-free number or the convenient contact form below. You will receive a free case review and could potentially start filing your claim immediately.

 

Is Cycling in Boston Getting Safer?

Cycling in Boston

Strategic improvements have made the streets of Boston safer for cyclists according to a recent Harvard University study. Data from the study published in the most recent issue of American Journal of Public Health shows that bicycle accidents injuries in Boston were reduced by 14 percent during the period from 2009 to 2012.

 

Researchers attribute this significant reduction to a number of strategic changes made by the city. Among the most important of these changes are: adding many more miles of bike lanes, improving crosswalks, installing more traffic-directing signs and the inception of the Hubway bike-share program in 2011. Overall, the study’s main author concluded that “improvements in infrastructure result in increases in safety.”

 

While these improvements are heartening to cycling enthusiasts and proponents of alternative transportation, bicycle accidents still happen all too often in Boston. Hopefully the conclusions drawn by the study will impel the city of Boston — and other cities nationwide — to take concerted steps to reduce the number of cycling accidents every year.

 

Progress in Bicycle Accident Injuries, But Not Accidents Overall

While the study had good news as far as a reduction in injuries resulting from a cycling accident, it did have sobering data indicating that the rate of accidents has remained flat overall even despite the city’s strategic improvements.

 

For instance, cycling accidents actually increased during the study period from 2009 to 2012. However, the number of active cyclists increased during that time, as well, creating a steady accident rate overall. According to the data, there were 488 bicycle accidents in 2012 compared to 358 in 2009.

 

Despite an uptick in the absolute value of accidents, city officials and transportation advocates point to the lowering of accident injuries as a positive sign that improvements are keeping cyclists safer. As an example, cyclists are 37 percent less likely to be injured on a main road in the city even though traffic levels are heavier on them. This correlation likely exists because main roads are more likely to have painted bicycle lanes on them.

 

Other study findings indicate that the city has a long way to go towards protecting cyclists from certain types of accidents. For instance, while the city shows a positive effect between having physical barriers between bike lanes and vehicle lanes, cyclists are still 225 percent more likely to get hit by a car door than any other type of accident. Since physical barriers reduce this risk, study authors and transit advocates are encouraging the city to build even more physical barriers adjacent to bike lanes.

 

A Long Road Ahead for Cycling Safety in Boston

Harvard’s study shows positive signs for progress in alternative transit in Boston, but other data shows that this should be only the beginning in terms of strategic infrastructural improvements. Last year, The Boston Globe reported on a 2014 study showing that the city had more fatalities per 10,000 cycling commuters than other cities like Minneapolis, Seattle, Portland, Denver and Washington D.C.

 

If you have been injured in a bicycle accident or have a loved one who was killed while cycling, you can use your legal right to pursue the maximum amount of compensation for your losses. Do not hesitate to call Kiley Law, your resident Boston bicycle accident attorneys, in order to obtain repayment for your medical costs and other losses you experience from a bicycle accident injury. You can also use the convenient contact form below to receive a free case review.

 

NuTonomy to Launch Autonomous Vehicles in Boston

nutonomy-carBoston has a reputation for rough streets filled with bad drivers, but one autonomous vehicle startup aims to make the streets safer through a pilot autonomous taxi program. nuTonomy, which was founded appropriately enough at MIT, will launch a fleet of manned autonomous taxis to brave the risky, crowded streets of Boston sometime in the near future.

When that might be is still up in the air as the company enters a tangled web of municipal, state and federal regulations. Since the program is a pilot, it may get more go-ahead than, say, a full-scale autonomous vehicle product launch, but it will still encounter delays in the immediate future.

Once autonomous vehicles are fully-realized as a technology through pilot programs like this one, many assert that they will dramatically reduce vehicle accidents and make the road a safer place. At the same time, autonomous vehicle accidents like one Tesla faced this summer signal that the transitional path will be far from smooth. Consumers will have to remain protective of their rights to safety and security even in light of such promising technologies.

Bots Turned Beantown Cabbies

When nuTonomy’s program does eventually launch in Boston, it will face a myriad of challenges. Winding roads, heavy snowfall and famously aggressive drivers will all make life difficult for the AIs behind the wheel of the nuTonomy fleet.

And that’s exactly the way the company wants it. The difficult conditions of Boston driving make the area a perfect test case for autonomous technology. Contrary to nuTonomy’s initial tests in more laid-back Singapore, Boston roads will present navigational challenges and unpredictable drivers. It will also have to contend with obscured lane markings once snow and ice blanket the roads.

This setting is absolutely perfect for the technology’s trial by fire.

“We’ll see challenges there we haven’t seen before,” Karl Iagnemma, nuTonomy’s co-founder and CEO, told Wired magazine.

As the vehicle system’s encounter unanticipated challenges, its AI and the entire development team backing the project will no doubt have missteps to learn from. With each mistake comes a correction that improves the dynamic capabilities of an autonomous vehicle in any setting.

However, this learning process may also impel nuTonomy to focus on location-specific programming to best-fit typical driving conditions. “If you’re in Boston, New York, Singapore, or Phoenix, you have to adapt software accordingly,” explains Iagnemma.

Broad Bureaucratic Support, But Concerns About Autonomous Vehicle Accidents

One of the biggest boons to nuTonomy’s program is the city of Boston’s active participation in it. Boston Mayor Marty Walsh worked alongside Mass. Governor Charlie Baker to clear the way for autonomous driving policies. Others in the local academic community are also highly eager to research and improve one of society’s most promising emerging technologies.

This enthusiasm does not mean that such programs won’t face barriers, though. Each participating company must fill out a stack of safety assessments as well as detailed reports of the exact nature of each trial run. Issues autonomous vehicles have encountered so far have also raised the concern of consumer advocacy groups, who want to ensure that companies are held accountable when their software leads to serious accidents — or even deaths.

Regulations and liability laws will have to be established in upcoming years as a result of accidents like these, helping injury victims get fair compensation when they are not the ones at-fault.

If you have any questions about corporate liability as it concerns autonomous vehicles, you can contact your nearest Boston car accident attorney, who can help explore emerging regulations and case law with you.

Contact Kiley Law Group today with any questions you have about Boston auto accidents, especially if you have been injured. You can use the simple form below to receive a free case review.

Happy Holidays, from Kiley Law Group

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As 2016 comes to a close and we take the time to reflect on the highs and places for improvement of the past year, everyone at Kiley Law Group wanted to take a moment to recognize the very best part of our year: You. Our clients and everyone who we work with are essential to the success of our firm. We have been fortunate to meet, work with, and work for some amazing individuals since the founding of our firm, and especially this year.

We are thankful to have the ability to work with and represent good people – period.

To everyone who has helped make 2016 a great year for Kiley Law Group, whether you are one of our clients who we have had the privilege to represent, a friend of the firm who has referred a friend or family member in need to us, or a vendor who provides us with essential items to make our business run smoothly, thank you.

May we all end the year on a positive note and make 2017 a prosperous one!

Happy Holidays and Happy New Year,
Kiley Law Group

The Most Common Holiday Accidents

 

Santa Claus's Disaster

‘Tis the season! For what, exactly? Well, for most, ‘tis the season of holiday cheer, family gatherings, festive theming and no small amount of gift giving.

For an unlucky few, ‘tis the season to spend Christmas Eve in the emergency room. That is because — as many personal injury lawyers know — the holiday season can correspond to a rise in certain accidents, such as the following:

 

Fires and Burns

One of the biggest risks to homeowners during the Holiday season lies in the various sources of fires. Foremost are electrical fires, which can occur when someone overloads an electrical socket or creates a short by using frayed wires or allowing water to contact a connected plug.

Christmas tree fires are also a frequent worry. Although most trees are not nearly as flame-friendly as they once were thanks to improvements in light strand designs, owners who forget to water their trees essentially have perfect kindling standing in their living rooms.

Other sources of fires include candles, lit fireplaces and space heaters being placed too close to flammable objects. Cooking burns are also common as people attempt to juggle multiple dishes while preparing holiday meals.

 

Falls While Decorating

According to one CDC study, around 5,800 people fall from their roofs every year while putting up holiday decorations. These falls can result in serious injuries, including spinal cord injuries, concussions, broken legs and traumatic brain injuries.

People decorating their homes should take care to use a ladder appropriately and avoid leaning too far in one direction. Fall prevention devices can also be used so long as they are properly anchored.

 

Trip and Falls

Aside from falling from roofs, people often fall on flat ground when they encounter icy walkways or trip over extension cords. To prevent such accidents, all extension cords should be taped down or at the very least marked with brightly-colored gaffer tape.

Lighting outdoor areas can help people avoid snow and ice, but shoveling and salting your walkways is the only way to effectively reduce the risk of slipping.

 

Winter Recreation Injuries

Winter sports are a joyous amount of fun and should be enjoyed and appreciated while the season allows for them.

At the same time, adults and families should exercise caution since over 35,000 sledding accidents are reported every winter.  Families should use only approved, safe sledding devices rather than improvised objects, and no one should be pulling a Clark Griswold by greasing their sled with cooking spray.

As for ice skating and hockey, ensure that all skate blades are straight and acceptably sharp. Ice hockey games should involve the same equipment mandated by recreational leagues, including a face mask, shin guards, gloves and body padding.

 

Hypothermia

While outdoors doing chores or having fun, take care that you rest and give your body time to raise its temperature. Many people succumb to exhaustion during these activities, greatly increasing the risk of hypothermia.

Always monitor outdoor activities and limit play sessions to two hours or less with breaks in between. Also, ensure that everyone is wearing an appropriate amount of winter gear.

 

Drunk Driving and Car Accidents

NHTSA data reveals drunk driving fatalities spike within the period around Christmas and New Years. In addition to drunk drivers, exhausted holiday-goers and adverse weather can contribute to a higher likelihood of car wrecks and resulting injuries.

 

Stay Safe During the Holidays and Call on a Personal Injury Lawyer When Needed

If you have been injured on someone’s property, in a car accident or as a result of a defective product, you should contact a personal injury attorney immediately. With their help, you can pursue the maximum amount of compensation for your associated costs from all liable parties.

Contact us today for a few case review, and try to stay safe out there this Holiday season!