We are reprinting a Letter to the Editor which ran in today’s Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly. The letter was written by Attorney Reza Breakstone of Breakstone, White & Gluck in Boston and J. Paul Hoybjerg of Sacramento, California.

reza-breakstone-webTo the editor:

The Oct. 3 page 1 story “PI bar eyes ‘driverless’ technology carefully” raises important questions regarding the future of auto injury claims and the potential impact on tort lawyers.

One of the central questions is: Should all auto injury claims involving a self-driving car be treated as product liability claims? Our contention is no; tort law will be perfectly suited to address claims involving self-driving cars.

Although self-driving cars seem like an imminent reality, they are, in fact, still many years away from hitting the roads en masse. The technology will be phased in like other automatic features on cars. Responsibility for control of vehicles will diminish gradually.

Even after cars become more autonomous, humans will remain involved in many aspects of the operation of the vehicles. For example, there will be times when a person must take over the car or bring it to a stop. One must also keep the car in good condition, not permit operation in adverse weather conditions, and maintain the vehicle according to manufacturer recommendations (i.e., it may be negligent to make after-market changes such as lowering a vehicle or installing a new exhaust or programming chip to increase the speed).

Although product liability claims may be appropriate in certain instances, we are confident that the common law of negligence claims will evolve with the technology. A wholesale transformation of the practice is unnecessary. It is wise to look to trends to predict disruptions in the practice. But the self-driving car need not be that disruptive.

As long as humans are involved in the operation, maintenance, modification or repair of autonomous vehicles, tort jurisprudence will apply.

Reza Breakstone

J. Paul Hoybjerg
Sacramento, California

Read the Letter to the Editor here or it is available on Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly with subscription access.

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milton-2016-2Breakstone, White & Gluck cares about bicycle safety in Boston and across Massachusetts. Over the past four years, our attorneys have donated brand-new bicycle helmets to children who need one through our Project KidSafe campaign.

Wearing a helmet is the most effective step a cyclist can take to prevent a brain injury in a car accident or fall on a bicycle. While important for all cyclists, wearing a helmet is especially important for children, who are still growing and in development.

Breakstone, White & Gluck is nearing the end of the fourth year of our Project KidSafe campaign. Since 2013, our campaign has donated over 10,000 new bicycle helmets to children who needed one. Along the way, over 40 community groups, bicycles safety organizations, police departments and schools have pitched in to help us protect children. Many of these groups help us year in and year out.

With a donation from Breakstone, White & Gluck’s Project KidSafe campaign, children at The Home for Little Wanderers are ready for safe riding.

We made a special donation of 100 bicycle helmets to The Home this week, for children and young adults in The Home’s residential and special education programs in Roxbury Crossing, Plymouth and Walpole. The Home serves children and young adults who need family support because of abuse, neglect or other reasons. For more than 200 years, it has filled a critical need in the Boston area, keeping children safe and helping them transition into foster care, adoption or independent living as adults. The Home provides the basic necessities of food, shelter and clothing for children, as well as mental health services, counseling, special education and many other services.

Photo:  Attorney David White stopped at The Home for Little Wanderers this week and delivered bicycle helmets from Breakstone, White & Gluck’s Project KidSafe campaign. He was greeted by (left) Paige Oldaker, Leadership Gifts Officer; Johanna Lauer, Volunteer Mentor; and Taryn Marino, Manager of Volunteer and Mentor Programs. (next to David).

Breakstone, White & Gluck is committed to keeping children safe through our Project KidSafe campaign. Since 2013, our law firm has donated over 10,000 bicycle helmets to children who need one in Massachusetts. Our goal is to encourage children to wear bicycle helmets every time they ride to prevent serious head injuries in bicycle accidents or falls.

We learned about The Home’s need for new helmets from a volunteer. She told us children at The Harrington House in Roxbury Crossing were wearing old and worn-down helmets. Then we learned about the need at the other programs and were told the children and young adults love to ride bikes. We saw an opportunity to help.

“We were very pleased to make this donation, especially since the children really enjoy riding bikes,” Attorney David White said. “The Home for Little Wanderers is a lifeline for many children who have been neglected or abused in Massachusetts. While receiving services, the children should have the opportunity to ride bicycles, play and just be kids for a few minutes each day. We hope with brand-new bicycle helmets, they can ride safely and have a little fun.”

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Breakstone, White & Gluck recently teamed up with the Randolph Police Department to help children ride their bikes safely and prevent serious head injuries.

We were pleased to donate 100 bicycle helmets to Randolph Police in August. Officers distributed the helmets to children who needed one at the Back to School Jamboree. The event was hosted by Randolph Public Schools and was held at the Randolph Community Middle School.

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Photo: Attorney David White delivered bicycle helmets from our Project KidSafe campaign to Randolph Police Commander John Hamelburg and Officer Miguel Cruz.

Boston Personal Injury Attorney Ronald E. GluckAttorney Ronald E. Gluck recently reached a $1.25 million dollar settlement in a case involving serious injuries resulting from a motorcycle accident which occurred in Massachusetts.

Attorney Gluck, who has successfully represented seriously injured motorcyclists for over thirty five years, obtained the full insurance liability policy limits for our client from the defendant’s insurance company.

The motorcycle accident occurred when the offending driver of a sedan made a sudden left turn in front of our client’s motorcycle, cutting off his path of travel and leaving him no room to stop. As a result he crashed into the side of the sedan, and suffered life altering injuries.

Attorney David White delivered 100 children’s bicycle helmets to the Everett Police Department earlier this week. He got a warm welcome from Everett Police Captain Richard Basteri, Lt. Mark Zielinski, Officer Joe Gaff, Officer Jeff Gilmore and Detective Jason Leonard. Breakstone, White & Gluck donated the helmets as part of our Project KidSafe campaign to keep children safe while riding their bicycles. Now in our fourth year, we have proudly donated more than 10,000 bicycle helmets to children in the Boston and Worcester areas. This is our first year partnering with the Everett Police Department.

We are excited about this donation because Everett Police have already started giving out helmets to children who need one. The department has very strong community policing programs for youth. Every July, Everett Police run a very popular Junior Police Academy for middle school students. This was the 15th year of the one-week program, which teaches its cadets about training situations through classroom training, hands-on police tactics and daily fitness and marching drills. This year, the cadets also got to visit the Coast Guard station in Boston, Breakheart Reservation and participate in diving operations. The academy is fun for the cadets and they get to consider police work as a career. During the school year, officers have a “Cops Corner” initiative and join high school students for lunch.

Attorney David White with Everett Police Captain Richard Basteri.

Attorney David White delivering new bicycle helmets to Everett Police Captain Richard Basteri on August 24th

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Attorney David White with Everett Police Captain Richard Basteri, Lt. Mark Zielinski, Officer Joe Gaff, Officer Jeff Gilmore and Detective Jason Leonard

Through the academy and other efforts, Everett Police have developed strong relationships with the community. We know officers will be able to put bicycle helmets in the hands of children who need them as we approach Back-to-School.

Video on How to Fit a Bicycle Helmet

If you are a cyclist or are the parent of a cyclist, visit our bicycle safety page. There is a video on the bottom, “Fitting a Bicycle Helmet,” by the National highway Traffic Safety Administration. With Back-to-School coming, now is a good time to check to make sure you have a helmet which properly fits and review the rules of safe bike riding with your family.

Wearing a bicycle helmet is required by law for cyclists under age 16 in Massachusetts. But it makes good sense for all cyclists and if you are a parent, your kids are more likely to wear one if you do as well.

It really is important. According to the bhsi.org website, almost three-quarters of fatal bike crashes involve a head injury. Study after study has shown helmets are the most effective way to prevent brain injuries if children fall or are involved in an bike accident. Through our Project KidSafe campaign, we have worked to prevent these injuries and are thankful for the support of Everett Police.

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Entourage Livery Service limousine

The tragic limousine accident in East Boston on August 21, 2016, in which one woman was killed and one woman was injured, is not the first serious accident involving the Entourage Livery service. Although Entourage Livery’s general manager issued a statement claiming, “We have been in the business since 1999, with no accidents ever on our record,” the company has actually been involved in at least one previous serious accident.

In 2012, Entourage Livery was found liable for a March 2010 accident. In that case the driver negligently discharged his limousine passengers across the street from their destination in a driving rain.

One young woman was seriously hurt when she was struck by a car as she attempted to cross the street. The case was handled by attorney Marc L. Breakstone of Breakstone, White & Gluck. The client recovered $697,000 for her damages. The following is a summary of that case.

In March 2010, our client, a 25-year-old woman, was a member of a bachelorette party that rented a limousine from Entourage Livery, Inc. for a night of barhopping and celebration. The group had purchased a “VIP Package” which entitled them to door-to-door service. At the time of the incident, the air temperature was in the mid-thirties. There was a wind-driven rain blowing at about 25 miles per hour. None of the women had rain gear, jackets or umbrellas, as they had expected door-to-door service. Immediately prior to the incident, the Entourage Livery, Inc. limo driver deposited the group across the street from the bar to which they were going. Each of the women got out of the limo and darted across Dorchester Avenue.

CarPlaintiff was the sixth woman to run across the street. Unfortunately, she did not make it. She was struck by a car driven by the co-defendant as she ran across Dorchester Avenue. She sustained massive facial lacerations as her head struck the windshield of the vehicle.

Plaintiff testified she looked but did not see the vehicle until her face was planted in its windshield. The driver testified he never saw plaintiff in the roadway until she was on his hood. Neither saw the other due to the severe weather and poor visibility at the time of the crash.

Plaintiff suffered severe facial lacerations to her mouth, chin and cheeks. Miraculously, she only suffered a non-displaced tibial fracture which required no treatment. She underwent three laceration repair/scar revision surgeries and was left with moderate facial scarring.

Entourage Livery, Inc. had an online training manual which stated that its drivers were never allowed to drop passengers in a place which would require them to cross the street to get to their destination. The manual stated that the driver should maneuver the vehicle so that passengers were dropped directly in front of their desired venue. Entourage Livery, Inc. claimed this was a customer service rule, not a safety policy.

Entourage Livery, Inc. moved for Summary Judgment on the theory that the company owed plaintiff no duty of care once she was discharged in a “place of safety,” namely, on the sidewalk across the street from their destination. The Court denied Entourage Livery, Inc.’s motion for Summary Judgment.

Plaintiff and Entourage Livery, Inc. agreed to submit the case to binding arbitration. Plaintiff settled separately with co-defendant operator of the vehicle which struck her for $25,000.00. Following a one-day arbitration which focused heavily on Entourage Livery’s legal defenses on scope and duty of care, the arbitrator found for the plaintiff, awarded $750,000 and reduced that amount by the 20% for plaintiff’s comparative negligence. Prior to the arbitration, the parties negotiated interest of 12% on the award. After adjustments for plaintiff’s comparative negligence and the 12% interest, the award totaled $672,000. Plaintiff’s net recovery totaled $697,000.

Read the case report on our website.

About Attorney Marc Breakstone
Boston Attorney Marc BreakstoneMarc L. Breakstone has established a reputation as one of the top medical malpractice and personal injury lawyers in New England. His record-setting settlements and verdicts have earned him the distinction of being selected as one of the Top 100 Super Lawyers in New England and Top 100 Super Lawyers in Massachusetts. He has also been selected by his peers as one of the top medical malpractice plaintiff’s lawyers in the Super Lawyer balloting. In 2002, Attorney Breakstone was honored as one of ten “Lawyers of the Year” by Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly. More on Marc Breakstone.

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Breakstone, White & Gluck, a longtime supporter of Bikes Not Bombs, was pleased to partner up with the organization again this year, by donating bicycle helmets to the Girls In Action Program. Attorney David White recently attended the graduation ceremony.

Bikes Not Bombs is based in Jamaica Plain and has two popular youth programs: Earn-A-Bike and Girls In Action. Both are terrific programs, which give children and teenagers a chance to learn bike repair, bike safety skills and make friends. At the beginning of class, the youth get to help select parts for a bike they will help build, eventually “earn” and get to take home.

Photo courtesy: Bikes Not Bombs.

Photo courtesy: Bikes Not Bombs

During the class, students are taught the rules of the road and to always wear a bicycle helmet. They get plenty of practice, taking group rides in the city. They are shown how to travel on bike lanes and navigate park and other areas. Earn-A-Bike is a co-ed program while Girls In Action is open to girls ages 12-18 and includes some field trips and activities outside the bike shop.

Bikes Not Bombs Safety Video
One of the Girls In Action programs created a safety video a few years ago. The first topic was bicycle helmet safety and the importance of wearing one every time you ride. Watch.

About Bikes Not Bombs

Bikes Not Bombs works locally and internationally, founded in 1984 as a response to the United States military backing of the Contra attacks on Nicaragua. The organization believes in using the bicycle as a vehicle for social change and each year, collects roughly 6,000 used bicycles and tons of parts from supporters in Boston and New England.

Some of the bicycles are used in its youth programming. But many bikes are sent to partner groups in other countries where a bicycle can increase access to economic opportunity, education, health care, and civic engagement. Bikes Not Bombs was founded in 1984 and has since shipped over 55,000 bicycles to partner groups in 14 countries in the Global South.

Breakstone, White & Gluck and Bicycle Safety
The law firm of Breakstone, White & Gluck actively supports youth cycling safety in Massachusetts. Through our Project KidSafe campaign, Breakstone, White & Gluck has donated over 10,000 bicycle helmets to children who need one since 2013. If you are a cyclist, please remember to wear your bicycle helmet every time you ride. Here is a helpful video on how to properly fit your helmet.

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breakstone_150Attorney Marc Breakstone recently reached a $1.375 million settlement for a 77-year-old man who was struck by an MBTA bus while crossing Dudley Street in Roxbury. The plaintiff suffered a traumatic brain injury and multiple bone fractures. Even after two months of hospital and rehabilitation, he showed significant cognitive decline. Prior to the bus accident, the plaintiff had been a healthy, vibrant retired master barber.

The on-board video showed that the plaintiff was visible to the operator of the bus for at least three seconds before the driver took any evasive action to avoid striking the plaintiff. Analysis of the video also showed the bus was traveling above the speed limit.

Further, the bus driver reported to the MBTA Police that the pedestrian had run out from between parked cars. The video made clear that plaintiff stepped off the corner into the street and did not walk between parked cars. The video also demonstrated that he was not running.

The case was settled at mediation in May 2016 and later reported in Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly. Read the case report.

Our Experience: One of the Largest Bus Accident Verdicts in Massachusetts
The attorneys of Breakstone, White & Gluck have over 100 years combined experience representing those who have been injured by the negligence of others in car, truck and bus accidents. Bus accident cases are complex and many attorneys do not have experience investigating these cases or representing those who have been injured or killed. But our attorneys have this unique experience; we have handled motor vehicle and bus accident cases from the insurance claims level through trial and appeal.

Many cases can be settled prior to trial, but not every case. In 2008, Attorney Marc Breakstone took a client’s case against the MBTA to Suffolk Superior Court. After a two-week trial, his client was awarded $5.4 million, including interest. It was believed to be one of the largest verdicts ever in Massachusetts for an injury of its kind.

The MBTA filed a motion for a new trial and was denied. It then appealed the case. The state’s Appeals Court affirmed the judgment and the Supreme Judicial Court denied a petition for further review. By the time the MBTA had exhausted its options, the judgment rose to $7.1 million, with interest and medical expenses and lost earning capacity. Read about this case.

About Attorney Marc Breakstone
Marc L. Breakstone has established a reputation as one of the top medical malpractice and personal injury lawyers in New England. His record-setting settlements and verdicts have earned him the distinction of being selected as one of the Top 100 Super Lawyers in New England and Top 100 Super Lawyers in Massachusetts. He has also been selected by his peers as one of the top medical malpractice plaintiff’s lawyers in the Super Lawyer balloting. In 2002, Attorney Breakstone was honored as one of ten “Lawyers of the Year” by Massachusetts Lawyers WeeklyMore on Marc Breakstone.

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Breakstone, White & Gluck was pleased to donate 120 children’s bicycle helmets to the Dedham Police Department and the Dedham Bike Rodeo this year. This was our fourth year participating  in the rodeo and Attorney Reza Breakstone was on hand to fit children for new helmets and answer questions about bicycle safety.

20160727-P1130939The Dedham Police Department and the Dedham Parks & Recreation Department organize the annual rodeo, which is always held at the Endicott Estate. We always expect warm weather, but this year was especially hot and we were worried children may not come out. There was no cause for concern. We still had many parents and grandparents bring children, and children from local childcare programs stop in. Attorney Breakstone still fit about 75 children ages 4 to 10 for new bicycle helmets. The Dedham Police Department will give the remainder to officers to keep in their patrol cars and give to children who need one.

Breakstone, White & Gluck donated the bicycle helmets through our Project KidSafe campaign, which has now donated over 10,000 helmets to children in eastern Massachusetts. We started our safety campaign in 2013. The Dedham Bike Rodeo was one of our first events and it is always rewarding to return each year.

bike-safety-pageHow to Fit Your Child’s Bicycle Helmet
If you or your child need help fitting a helmet, we want to share this video. Putting a bicycle helmet on your child is a critical step in protecting them from a serious head injury. By wearing a helmet, cyclists reduce their chance for head injury by 50 percent, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Other studies have shown it provides even more protection so it is important for all cyclists to wear one, every time they ride. Continue reading