May 15, 2015

Breakstone, White & Gluck Participates in Bike Friday

Today was Bike Friday, sponsored by Boston Bikes, the city office which promotes safe cycling. Bike Friday is one of the last events of Bay State Bike Week. It included a number of organized rides and a gathering at Boston City Hall. Breakstone, White & Gluck was there to share information about our Project KidSafe campaign.
 

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Attorney David W. White and Attorney Marc L. Breakstone of Breakstone, White & Gluck participated in Bike Friday at Boston City Hall Plaza. The two attorneys were there to support the cyclists as they rode in and to share information about the firm's Project KidSafe campaign.


Boston Bikes organizes Bike Fridays to celebrate those who ride their bikes to work and to encourage others. More than two dozen organizations and vendors signed up for today's event. While 200 cyclists registered for the event, organizers estimated up to 350 cyclists actually pedaled in and enjoyed a free breakfast, courtesy of Boloco.

Breakstone, White & Gluck participated for the first time and set up our Project KidSafe tent to show support for the cyclists. Attorneys David W. White and Marc L. Breakstone were among the crowd waiting for the cyclist convoys, which came in from Lexington, Newton, Somerville and many other communities.

Other organizations which participated included MassBike, Boston Cyclists Union, Livable Streets Alliance, Hubway and Landry's Bicycles.

Marc and David spoke to a number of cyclists about our Project KidSafe initiative, through which we donate bicycle helmets to children who need one in the Boston and Worcester areas. We have donated more than 4,000 bicycle helmets since 2013, through partner organizations such as CYCLE Kids of Cambridge, Somerville and Cambridge public schools, Bikes Not Bombs, Massachusetts Safe Routes to Schools, the Westborough Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee. We have also worked with Boston Bikes' Roll It Forward program, which refurbishes used bicycles and donates them to city residents who may not otherwise have access to a bicycle.

After the event, Marc said, "It is rewarding for us to be able to give back to the community in a way that promotes safety for children. We look forward to continuing our Project KidSafe program, and to expanding it in the years to come."

The next Bike Friday events are scheduled for June 26th, July 24th and August 28th. Read more about the event.

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The cyclists came in in convoys this morning, traveling in from Lexington, Arlington and other communities. While 200 cyclists registered in advance, organizers estimate 350 actually rolled in.

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Continue reading "Breakstone, White & Gluck Participates in Bike Friday" »

May 11, 2015

Bay State Bike Week is Here: Breakstone, White & Gluck to Donate Children's Bicycle Helmets in Somerville

20150511-bike-helmets.jpgFor cyclists, this is one of the best weeks of the year: Bay State Bike Week. It started Saturday and runs through next Sunday, May 17th.

May is National Bike Month and Bay State Bike Week is how we celebrate in Massachusetts. This is a truly statewide event, with groups organizing gatherings, rides and photo exhibits throughout Massachusetts. These events are a great way to learn about cycling in Massachusetts, as well as safety. There are some groups working hard to prevent bicycle accidents in our state and this is the time to see their work.

Bay State Bike Week is a partnership between the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT), MassBike and MassRides. If you are a cyclist, check out the list of events.

Here are a few events of note. Watch for us! We may be participating in a few.


A few events to watch:

Cambridge. This will be a busy week in Cambridge, with a wide range of events, from pancake breakfasts to lunches with the Cambridge Police Department and city planning staff, where cyclists can ask questions. On Saturday, cyclists gather for a two-hour ride in honor of the late talk host Tom Magliozzi of Cambridge, who was best known for hosting Car Talk on NPR alongside his brother.

There are also bicycle maintenance workshops throughout the week, where cyclists can take home a few tips for free.

Waltham. Waltham is hosting its Second Annual City of Waltham Bicycle Update on Wednesday at 6 p.m., at the Government Center Auditorium on School Street. With more than 60,000 residents, large employers and colleges, the city is looking to encourage safe cycling as an alternative form of transportation.

Lexington. Free bike safety checks will be offered throughout the week. On Friday, a light breakfast is free on the Minuteman Bikeway, near the Lexington Depot. Then Richard Fries, executive director of Mass Bike Director, will lead a bicycle convoy from Lexington to Boston City Hall.

Bike Friday at Boston City Hall. On Friday, the commuters will ride in from all over for Bike Friday, where they are rewarded with a free breakfast. This is a popular event organized by Boston Bikes. It is held once a month in the summer and will be one of the last events of Bay State Bike Week. Attorney David W. White will be out with our Project KidSafe tent as the cyclists pull in.

Somerville Bike Day. For the third year, we will join the Somerville Kiwanis at the city's annual Bike Day at Argenziano School on Washington Street. We will donate 120 new helmets and help fit the helmets for the children. Children will receive a free bicycle inspection, reflectors, and safety pamphlets and get to test their skills on a bicycle obstacle course. The Somerville Police Department will be on hand to register bikes for children.

Western Massachusetts Events. There will be commuter breakfasts, mayor's rides and photo exhibits in Westfield, Amherst, Springfield and Northampton.

Cape Cod Events. There are several rides and interesting events in Cape Cod this week, but one of note is the Cape Cod Summer Citizens - Bike Safety Outreach Program. Each year, thousands of international students arrive on Cape Cod to arrive in work and travel programs. They primarily have to travel on bicycles and this program starts this week. This program provides education to all cyclists throughout the busy tourist season.

Continue reading "Bay State Bike Week is Here: Breakstone, White & Gluck to Donate Children's Bicycle Helmets in Somerville" »

May 6, 2015

A Day of Donating Bicycle Helmets in Westborough

We had a great day in Westborough last weekend: Two fun community events, great weather and we handed out 160 free bicycle helmets to children. For this, we partnered up with the Westborough Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee and the Boroughs Family Branch of the YMCA of Central Massachusetts.

Breakstone, White & Gluck donated the bicycle helmets as part of our Project KidSafe outreach. Attorney David W. White helped distribute the free helmets at Westborough's Spring Festival, an event featuring just about everything which is hosted by the Rotary Club of Westborough. In addition to bicycle helmets, there was an amateur dog show, children's carnival, road race, food vendors and the list goes on.

Attorney White and Bruce Tretter, chairman of the Westborough Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee, then went to hand out helmets at the Boroughs Family Branch of the YMCA of Central, which is nearby in Westborough.

"We had a lot of fun, though at times it was a little hectic because so many people were anxious to get helmets for their kids," attorney David White said. He added, "Wearing a bicycle helmet is the most important step you can take to protect yourself as a cyclist and I hope the children and families left with new helmets and a new commitment to wear them every time they ride."

Breakstone, White & Gluck donated these bike helmets through our Project KidSafe initiative. We have donated over 3,500 helmets to children in Massachusetts since 2013. By year's end, we expect to have donated 6,000 helmets. Read more about our Project KidSafe outreach or our bicycle safety tips.

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Photo: Attorney David W. White of Breakstone, White & Gluck helping a child at the Boroughs Family Branch of the YMCA of Central Massachusetts in Westborough.

20150502-IMG_1751[1]-Edit.jpgPhoto: From left in back: Bruce Tretter, Chairman of the Westborough Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee; Betsy Moquin, Director of Marketing & Advancement of the Boroughs Family Branch of the YMCA of Central Massachusetts; and Attorney David W. White of Breakstone, White & Gluck.

20150502-IMG_1747[1].jpgPhoto: Bruce Tretter, Chairman of the Westborough Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee, helps a child find a helmet.

Continue reading "A Day of Donating Bicycle Helmets in Westborough" »

May 5, 2015

Jury Awards $1.5 Million to Attorney Marc L. Breakstone's Client in Medical Malpractice Case Against American Medical Response Ambulance Company

Ambulance Crew Dropped Patient from Stretcher onto her Head, Causing 

Fatal Head Injuries and Wrongful Death

American Medical Response, the largest ambulance company in Massachusetts and the United States, has been found responsible for the death of Barbara J. Grimes and awarded her family $1.5 million in wrongful death damages.

The May 4, 2015 verdict followed a two week trial in Middlesex Superior Court.
The jury found that EMTs Wesley Garber and Peter Crowell negligently dropped
Ms. Grimes, a 67 year old dialysis patient on her head while rolling her on a
stretcher which tipped over. The incident occurred on January 31, 2009 in the
parking lot of Fresenius Medical Care in Plymouth, Massachusetts.

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Photo: Barbara J. Grimes on right, next to her sister Patty Zaccarelli

Comments from the Family and Family Attorney Marc L. Breakstone

According to family attorney Marc L. Breakstone, Barbara Grimes, then 67 years old, was being transported on an ambulance stretcher after receiving dialysis treatment in Plymouth, MA. While rolling the stretcher to the back of the ambulance, the AMR crew carelessly tipped the stretcher over causing Ms. Grimes to strike her head on the pavement. The blow caused a massive brain hemorrhage which took her life 5 days later.

The incident was investigated by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health
which found numerous clinical deficiencies. AMR was cited by the Massachusetts
Department of Public Health for these deficiencies. During the trial, it was revealed that AMR withheld documents from a state investigator from the Office of Emergency Medical Services, which regulates ambulance services in Massachusetts.

Attorney Breakstone:
"This was an unnecessary death which should have been prevented by simple precautions. If the ambulance crew had only followed company safety policies regarding stretcher operation, it would not have toppled over. This needless death was easily preventable," Breakstone added.
Breakstone also said "The ambulance crew claimed that the stretcher malfunctioned, but AMR never inspected the stretcher and no defect was ever found. Their explanation was simply not believable and the jury rejected it squarely."
Family Members:

Peter Zacarelli, Jr., the brother of Ms. Grimes, called his sister's death "senseless." He said, "These EMTs should have been more careful. They were not paying attention when they rolled the stretcher sideways without holding it to make sure it did not tip over. It is shocking that they could be so careless. Our family is haunted by this senseless loss. We are so thankful to the jury for seeing through the lies and deceptions of AMR which treated our sister like a sack of discarded trash. After more than six years, the truth finally came out at trial."

"Barbara was the most caring and loving person you could ever want to meet," according to her sister Patricia Zacarelli. "She was all about doing for others and taking care of family. It is such a shame that she should die in the hands of EMTs whose job it was to safely transport her home from dialysis," Ms. Zacarelli stated.

American Medical Response, based in Greenwood Village, Colorado, is the largest ambulance company in the United States. It has more than 18,000 employees in 40 states, 2100 communities and boasts more than 3 million patient transports in 2014.

View the PDF version.

Background Information About Marc L. Breakstone

Marc BreakstoneMarc L. Breakstone has established a reputation as one of the top personal injury and medical malpractice lawyers in New England. He has been selected as one of the Top 100 Super Lawyers in New England (2009, 2011, 2012, 2013) and one of the Top 100 Super Lawyers in Massachusetts (2006-2014). He has also been selected by
his peers as one of the top medical malpractice plaintiff's lawyers in the Super Lawyer balloting from 2004 to 2014. In 2002, Mr. Breakstone was honored as one of ten "Lawyers of the Year" in 2002 by Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly.

May 1, 2015

Check if Your Trek Bicycle Has Been Recalled

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Nearly one million Trek bikes have been recalled after a cyclist was left paralyzed by an accident caused by a defective front disc brake.

About 900,000 bicycles in the U.S. and 98,000 bicycles in Canada were recalled recently by Trek Bicycle Corporation of Waterloo, Wisconsin. The recall involves bicycles sold nationwide from September 1999 through April 2015 for between $480 and $1,650.

Bicycles involved in the recall have a quick release lever on the bicycle's front wheel hub that can come into contact with the front disc brake assembly, causing the front wheel to come to a sudden stop or separate from the bicycle, posing a risk of serious injury to the rider. Defective bicycles have a front quick release lever that expands beyond 180 degrees.

Trek issued the recall after reports of three injuries, including one person who suffered quadriplegia. A second person suffered facial injuries and another suffered a fractured wrist.

Consumers should stop using these Trek bicycles immediately. Call an authorized Trek retailer for a free inspection and installation of a new quick release on the front wheel of your bike. Trek is trying to encourage cyclists to seek the repair by offering a $20 coupon toward Bontrager merchandise.

Trek has not released a list of specific bicycle model numbers. Cyclists need to check their own bicycles and see if they are impacted by this recall. Some bicycles involved in this recall were purchased many years ago and owners may not have the original paperwork. Or you may have purchased one of these bicycles secondhand.

Do your due diligence and seek out a Massachusetts bicycle shop which sells Trek bicycles. Ask for a free inspection and have them make the free repair if needed.

Find a Trek bike dealer.

Continue reading "Check if Your Trek Bicycle Has Been Recalled" »

April 30, 2015

Free Bike Helmets for the Children at Framingham Earth Day Festival Last Weekend

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Photo left to right: Bill Hanson, chair of the Framingham Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee, volunteer Maura Kelly, Framingham police officers and Attorney David W. White of Breakstone, White & Gluck.

Breakstone, White & Gluck, the Framingham Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee, and the Framingham Police Department teamed up and gave away 120 bicycle helmets to children last weekend at the 5th Annual Framingham Earth Day Festival.

Breakstone, White & Gluck donated the helmets through our Project KidSafe initiative and attorney David W. White participated in the event, along with advisory committee members, including Bill Hanson, chair of the advisory committee, member Joseph Repoli, volunteer Maura Kelly and Framingham police officers.

Framingham Earth Day is held on the Framingham Centre Common and each year the event grows. It began in 2011 with 55 vendors encouraging residents to make eco-friendly choices. This year, nearly 100 vendors turned out. Breakstone, White & Gluck first participated in the festival last year.

Through our Project KidSafe initiative, Breakstone, White & Gluck has donated over 3,500 bicycle helmets to children in the Boston and Worcester areas. We expect to have donated more than 6,000 bicycle helmets by year's end. Our goal is to encourage children to wear a bicycle helmet every time they ride.

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Cyclists of all ages should wear bicycle helmets to protect themselves from a serious head injury. But bicycle helmets are especially important for children, and they are required to wear them by law in Massachusetts.

Children suffer more than half of all bicycle-related injuries and deaths which require emergency department care each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Some 26,000 of these bicycle-related injuries to children and teenagers are traumatic brain injuries treated in emergency rooms.

Watch this video on how to properly fit a bicycle helmet or visit our bike safety web page.

Continue reading "Free Bike Helmets for the Children at Framingham Earth Day Festival Last Weekend" »

April 23, 2015

iCan Shine Bike Camp Teaches Bicycle Safety to Children and Teenagers with Disabilities

The iCan Shine bike camp is back in Arlington this week, teaching local children and teenagers with disabilities how to ride bicycles. iCan Shine is a national charitable nonprofit which provides cycling training for children and teenagers with autism, Down Syndrome and other disabilities. Breakstone, White & Gluck donated bicycle helmets to the camp for the second year and attorney Ronald Gluck visited with them this week.




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Photo: Attorney Ronald Gluck with the volunteers at the iCan Shine bike camp in Arlington, where Breakstone, White & Gluck donated bicycle helmets to the children and teenagers with disabilities who are learning to ride a bicycle this week. A few staffers from the national iCan Shine organization travel in to teach while local volunteers organize and fund-raise for the camp. Many volunteers also attend, giving their time to guide, steer and support the riders through each lesson.



Local communities throughout the U.S. coordinate these one-week camps and the national organization sends instructors with specialized training. The Pennsylvania organization, which was founded in 2007, serves nearly 3,000 people with disabilities each year. By the end of each five-day program, 80 percent of the bicyclists who attend an iCan Shine bike program are able to ride a two-wheel bicycle independently.

Arlington resident Nina Fischer brought the iCan Shine camp to Massachusetts in 2013, so her own daughter could learn how to ride a bicycle. She continues organizing and fund-raising for it each year. Other Massachusetts camps are now offered in Scituate, Groton and Upton. The Arlington camp was held this week at Ottoson Middle School on Acton Street, with help from volunteers. Each rider requires several volunteers to help steer, guide and direct. Volunteers included students who were on school vacation, longtime cyclists who wanted to help and town board members.

Attorney Ronald Gluck visited on "Tandem Tuesday," when the students learn to ride on a tandem bicycle, with a trained instructor guiding them on back. This allows them to build strength and become more comfortable with riding.

"Seeing the smiling faces of these new bike riders as they rode around the gym was something to behold," Attorney Gluck said. "It was a pleasure to visit."

Breakstone, White & Gluck will donate more than 2,500 bicycle helmets to youth in Massachusetts this year through its Project KidSafe initiative. Our goal is to help educate children and families on the importance of wearing a bicycle helmet and how to properly wear one. This is the third year of our program and by year's end, we will have donated more than 5,000 helmets to children to help them ride safely. To learn more, visit our Project KidSafe page or our bike safety page.

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Instructor from the national iCan Shine organization riding on a tandem bicycle with a student at the Arlington iCan Shine bike camp. 

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A rider makes her way around the gym. She is riding a bicycle with so-called rainbow rollers on the back, the first step toward learning how to ride a bicycle. Volunteers walk along.

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A bicyclist making their way around the gym with support from volunteers.

April 13, 2015

For Parents: Treat Your Child's Sports Injuries Properly and Take Steps for Prevention

20150413_soccer-2.jpgApril is National Youth Sports Safety Month, an annual event sponsored by the Stop Sports Injuries organization.

All parents of young athletes fear sports injuries - and there are a large number out there. A 2013 ESPN article reported that more than 21 million children and teens (between ages 6 and 17) are playing organized sports in the U.S.

But a large number of children and teens are also playing, then quitting because of injury. Some 29 percent of boys quit due to a health problem or injury and 27 percent of girls quit for the same reason, according to ESPN's report.

A few other noteworthy figures:

  • Roughly 2.7 million kids under age 20 were treated for sports and recreation injuries between 2001 and 2009.

  • There was a 62 percent increase in the number of children under 19 who were treated for traumatic brain injuries (TBIs).

  • Football concussions among children age 10 to 14 more than doubled from 2000 to 2010.

Sports programs are a big part of many children's lives. The experiences will shape them into adulthood and should be enjoyed. But parents, children and coaches must also remember the rules of safety and learn the symptoms of a concussion and the proper ways to treat a head injury.

Symptoms of a concussion may include headaches, dizziness, trouble concentrating, amnesia surrounding the traumatic event, confusion or feeling in a fog, ringing in ears, nausea, vomiting, slurred speech, delayed response to questions and fatigue. Other symptoms may set in later, including memory and concentration problems, personality changes, sleep disturbances, psychological adjustments, depression and problems with taste and smell. When someone shows signs of these symptoms, they should receive immediate medical attention. But anytime a child suffers a concussion or head injury, they should be evaluated by a medical professional regardless of these symptoms.

Here are a few tips for parents:

Listen to Concussion Safety Information. Listen when your child's coach talks about sports injuries and concussion prevention at the start of the season. In Massachusetts, middle school and high school sports coaches are required to provide training and prevention information related to concussions, under a state law passed in 2010.

Properly Warm Up. Make sure your child properly warms up, even if you drop them off late. Lack of proper warm ups make your child vulnerable to muscle and other injuries.

Football. Make sure your young football player properly warms up, takes proper precautions on those warm late August days to prevent overheating and is educated about symptoms of a concussion. This is important in all sports, but football players are especially vulnerable due to the high contact involved in the game.

Baseball and Softball. Make sure your baseball player properly warms up to protect against arm and shoulder injuries. Then make sure your child pays attention to the coaches and umpires and always focuses on the batter to avoid getting hit. Paying attention is more important than anything else in baseball because balls and bats are always moving quickly. Read more tips on our website.

Soccer. Players are vulnerable to head and other injuries from contact with the other team. Players are often running fast, with their full attention on the soccer ball, neglecting to see other players coming at the ball with just as much force. When someone gets hurt like this, they should step off the playing field and be evaluated by a coach or yourself.

For more safety tips, visit the Stop Sports Injuries website for more tips.

Continue reading "For Parents: Treat Your Child's Sports Injuries Properly and Take Steps for Prevention" »

April 6, 2015

Parents: Time to Talk to Teen Drivers About Safety

10528911_s.jpgWith the snowbanks nearly gone, your teen driver is likely asking for the car keys. Now is a very good time to talk to them about paying attention on the roads and following traffic laws.

Young people ages 16 to 19 are nearly three times more likely to be in a fatal motor vehicle crash than other age groups. While cell phone use is a frequent cause, there is also simple inexperience. If you are a parent, you know this conversation takes a lot of work and a lot of repetition.

We offer these safety tips for teen drivers:

  • Always wear your seat belt.
  • Keep your hands on the wheel and your eyes on the road.
  • Do not take phone calls while driving. The caller can leave a voicemail.
  • Remember that under Massachusetts Junior Operator License, teen drivers are not allowed to use cell phones behind the wheel. You cannot send texts or make phone calls. If you are caught, you may be fined and your license suspended. It is important to think about these steps for the safety of others and to keep yourself out of trouble.
  • If you must use your phone, pull off the road to a safe area. Put the car in park and remove the keys. Or ask a passenger to call or answer for you.
  • Travel with the phone in the best place to reduce distraction. If your phone ringing or lighting up with messages distracts you, set it in a bag in the backseat.
  • Remember that whatever is happening on your phone can wait, whether it is a social media post, e-mail or photo. It really can.
  • Be mindful of distractions created by loud music or intense conversation. Explain to passengers you need to limit conversation while driving.
  • Remember you cannot carry passengers under the age of 18 during the first six months with a Massachusetts Junior Operator License. The one exception is you can drive with siblings.
  • Do not look up phone numbers or GPS directions on your phone while driving.
  • Many cars have dashboard GPS systems and infotainment systems. Turn them off until you are more experienced.

Other Safe Driving Habits

  • Never consume alcohol and drive. No driver should, but you are more likely than older drivers to get in car accidents because you lack driving experience.

  • Before entering your vehicle, look around for other cars, trucks and hazards. Make sure you provide bicyclists and pedestrians extra time to pass.

  • Shift your eyes every two seconds and check the rear-view mirror every five to eight seconds. This will help you focus on driving.

  • Do not drive drowsy. If you are tired, you will be less capable of responding to potential car accidents. The Massachusetts Junior Operator License restricts young drivers from traveling between 12:30 a.m. and 5 a.m., unless accompanied by a parent. This is a good step but realize you always have to be aware of your fatigue level and make good decisions at all hours.

  • Even if you have your license, keep practicing. For instance, if you are weak backing up, practice backing into a parking space in an empty parking lot with a parent. Keep practicing because you will need these skills going forward and will not always have the time to practice.

  • There are construction work zones in many places. Be extra attentive, slow down and watch for workers.

  • Check your speed regularly and slow down. A little extra space between you and the car in front of you can make a big difference toward preventing a car accident.

  • Drive defensively. Expect the unexpected will happen and you may have to stop or change lanes.

  • Signal your intentions to turn or switch lanes early enough to give others time to prepare.

  • Do not drive on the highway on your own before you are ready.

  • Limit the number of times you drive your friends home after sports practices, to the mail or school events. Every teenager looks forward to driving around with their friends, but teens are more likely to become distracted this way.

  • Be careful in school zones and school buses. Slow down and watch out for teenagers and children walking or riding bikes. You are required to stop when school buses stop.

Continue reading "Parents: Time to Talk to Teen Drivers About Safety" »

March 23, 2015

Drive Safely Through Road Construction

1638064_s.jpgWe have all looked forward to Spring this year, waiting for those snowbanks to finally melt so we can drive and walk and ride our bikes more easily. But we will face other challenges soon as construction projects return to the roads.

National Work Zone Awareness Week is now being observed by safety officials across the country. The annual campaign is held at the start of construction season to encourage safe driving through highway work zones and construction sites. The goal is to protect drivers, passengers, construction workers and others from injuries.

Drivers


  • Drivers and passengers are at the greatest risk in a construction zone, accounting for an average of 85 percent of the deaths in highway work zone crashes, according to the Federal Highway Administration (FHA).


  • In 2010, 576 people died in work zone crashes, the equivalent of one work zone fatality every 15 hours in this country, according to FHA.

Construction Workers


  • Construction workers face many risks on highway work zones. In 2013, 105 construction workers died at road construction sites in this country, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Other injuries are not included in this figure.
  • Transportation accidents accounted for 66 percent of roadway work zone fatal occupational injuries in 2013. In 69 percent of these cases, a pedestrian worker was struck by a vehicle. Backing vehicles out accounted for 27 of the 48 pedestrian vehicular accidents.

Safety Reminders for Drivers

  • Move Over. It's the law in Massachusetts and most other states. Make sure you move over when you see construction signs and lights. And if additional room is not available, slow down.
  • No Speeding. In Massachusetts, you can face double the original fine for speeding in a work zone and cause a serious car accident.
  • No Distracted Driving. Pay extra attention to the roads as you travel through work zones; reduce distractions in your car from information systems and passengers.
  • No Cell Phone Use. Eliminate distracted driving. Do not use your cell phone to text, check e-mail or social media. If you need to use your phone, use a hands-free system.
  • Expect the Unexpected. You may not have any notice of a work zone until you are stuck in it. Be patient and be prepared to follow the signs and traffic cops and flaggers. This may mean not following the traffic signals at times.


  • Pay Attention to the Signs and Look for Alternate Routes. Look for signs which direct you to detour routes and share other important information. Do not use your GPS until you are safely outside of the construction work zone.
  • Mass511. The state's traffic information system may help you avoid construction areas. Visit the webpage or call.

Safety Reminders for Pedestrians

  • Use crosswalks in construction areas if it is safe to do so. If not, follow pedestrian pathways which have been marked by the construction operation.
  • Watch how traffic flows before you step out into the street. You may be able to identify a safer path.
  • If you know you will be walking through a work zone, consider carrying a neon glow vest and wear it as you cross a street. You want to stand out to road traffic, police officers and flaggers and the construction crew.

Safety Reminders for Cyclists

  • Cyclists want to learn about roadway construction ahead of time. After all, there is nothing much worse than a mile of recently milled black top to shake your fillings loose. Call the local town or city hall or call the Mass511 service.
  • Some of the cycling clubs in the Boston area also do a good job of alerting members of safety issues. One popular source of information is the Charles River Wheelmen's safety articles. Look for cycling clubs in your area and ask if they offer a members forum or a newsletter.

Safety Reminders for Construction Workers

  • Be vigilant about following OSHA and other safety procedures of your profession.
  • If you are working on foot, make sure you are always aware of any vehicles around you and where there are flaggers and traffic cops.

Related links:

Continue reading "Drive Safely Through Road Construction" »

March 18, 2015

Safety for Pedestrians, Cyclists and Drivers

cyclist-pedestrians.jpgSafety for pedestrians and drivers was in the spotlight this winter, as Boston endured a record snow fall and everyone stood divided by the tallest of snowbanks. Now, as the snow starts to melt, cyclists are back out too and we want to take a moment to share a few safety reminders.

Safety was a priority this winter because Massachusetts saw many car accidents, even though state officials called multiple snow emergencies, and many schools closed, to keep the roads clear. We also saw at least two fatal pedestrian accidents. In Weymouth, a woman was hit and killed by a snow plow as she walked in the parking lot of her condominium complex. A 60-year-old employee at a Medford Whole Foods store also was killed, hit by a snow plow in the parking lot, leaving after his work shift.

Safety advocates made progress on protecting cyclists and pedestrians in 2014. This will serve as a strong foundation as we dig out from this harsh winter. In Boston, the city has implemented a truck safety ordinance, requiring that city-contracted trucks use sideguards and other protections aimed at protecting pedestrians and cyclists.

MassBike and other safety advocacy groups have also proposed new legislation which may get attention after this hard winter. If passed, the Bike Lane Protection Bill would make it illegal to block established bike lanes. The Vulnerable Road Users Bill would define pedestrians, cyclists, emergency personal and others as vulnerable road users and define a safe-passing distance for them.

Here are a few safety tips and facts to remember for pedestrians, cyclists and drivers:

Pedestrians

  • Pedestrian accidents are too common. On average, in 2013, a pedestrian was killed every two hours and injured every eight minutes in traffic crashes, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

  • Walk on the sidewalks whenever possible. If a street only has sidewalks on one side, cross over.

  • If you have to walk on the street, walk so you are facing oncoming motor vehicle traffic. Walk as close as you can to the curb to increase the space between you and traffic.

  • Use crosswalks whenever they are available.

  • Limit use of cell phones, iPods and music players.

  • A common misperception is most pedestrian accidents happen at intersections. That is not true. Some 69 percent of pedestrian accidents occurred at non-intersections in 2013, according to the NHTSA.

  • Some 10 percent of pedestrian accidents happened off the road, in areas such as parking lanes/zones, bicycle lanes, shoulders/roadsides, driveway access and similar areas.

  • In the Spring of 2013, most pedestrian fatalities, 25 percent, occurred between 9 to 11:59 p.m., according to the NHTSA. Another 22 percent occurred between 6 to 8:59 p.m.

  • If you walk at night, purchase a neon glow vest so you stand out to traffic. Even if you never wear it, it pays to be prepared.

Bicyclists


  • Wear a bike helmet which meets the safety standard of the Consumer Product Safety Commission and properly fits.

  • Cyclists follow different rules than pedestrians. Go with the flow of traffic, traveling in the same direction as cars, on the right side of the road. Up to two cyclists can ride in the middle of the traffic lane abreast if necessary to stay safe, but you should move back onto the side of the road single file when you can safely do so.

  • State law prohibits biking on sidewalks in business districts. Not every city and town has a designated business district. But assume you are not allowed to ride on the sidewalk or ask the local police department for guidance.

  • Cyclists must use hand signals to communicate to drivers, unless it would be unsafe to do so. You can view this video to learn the proper hand signals. Cyclists should also use a bell to let pedestrians know they are approaching.

  • Watch out for dooring. This is when a car parks and the driver opens their door and hits you as you pass through. It is against the law, but it happens often.

  • You are required to use a white headlight and red taillight or rear reflector if you ride anytime from a half hour after sunset until a half hour before sunrise.

  • If you ride at night, consider purchasing a neon safety vest or clothing so you are more visible drivers..

  • If you are involved in a bicycle accident, file a police report, even if you do not think you are seriously injured at first.

  • Many drivers may not stop after cycling accidents. If you are hit and the driver does not stop, immediately contact police and file a police report.

Motor Vehicle Drivers


  • Look for cyclists and pedestrians at every intersection and yield to them.

  • Drivers must pass bicyclists at a safe distance. If you cannot, you must wait until it is safe to do so or change lanes.

  • Obey all traffic laws and signals. Look for areas designated as school zones. Reduce your speed and take extra care on these roads.

  • Do not park in bike lanes.

  • Do not use your cell phone in the car. It is against the law in Massachusetts for drivers to text and drive, but the best practice is not to use it for telephone calls or other reasons either. It only takes a few seconds to cause a distracted driving car accident.

  • A very dangerous practice is dooring. This is when a driver parks their car and opens the door without looking and hits an oncoming cyclist. It is against the law and violators can be fined. But drivers may also face a steeper penalty, a personal injury lawsuit, because cyclists can be seriously injured and the injuries can require months of recovery and hospital bills.

More Cycling Safety Resources

These are just a few rules of the road. To learn more, visit:

Shifting Gears: Bicyclists and Public Safety. Produced by MassBike, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and the Boston Police Department.

Bike Safety in Massachusetts, Breakstone, White & Gluck.

What Every Massachusetts Bicyclist Needs to Know About Car Insurance, Breakstone, White & Gluck.

Continue reading "Safety for Pedestrians, Cyclists and Drivers" »

March 2, 2015

Attorney Marc Breakstone Interviewed by Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly for Article About the First Two Years of Medical Malpractice Reform

marcbreakstone_125.jpgIt has been two years since Massachusetts implemented sweeping medical malpractice reform, which imposed new restrictions on plaintiffs and attorneys and forced them to wait out a "cooling-off" period before filing claims.

Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly recently interviewed some of Boston's leading medical malpractice lawyers on the law and how it has changed their work. They shared criticism but acknowledged there have been a few benefits. Attorney Marc Breakstone of Breakstone, White & Gluck was interviewed. The article appeared in this week's edition.

Under changes made to G.L. c. 231 ยง60L, plaintiffs became required to provide defendants with notice of intent to sue, then wait 150 days before filing a claim in court. This is meant to provide doctors and patients time to resolve a matter outside of court. During this time, doctors are now allowed to make apologies for medical mistakes. This has been one of the most controversial parts of the legislation. But these apologies are not admissible if a claim proceeds to court, unless a doctor makes a contradictory statement under oath.

While the legislation has brought challenges, Breakstone said doctors now have a space to explain to patients what happened during their care. Even if a doctor offers no apology, patients are often satisfied merely to receive an explanation of what happened and expressions of regret, he said.

"It is the betrayal that drives clients to lawyers in many cases," said the Breakstone, White & Gluck partner. "And under the new statute that encourages disclosure, transparency and apology, I surmise there is less feeling of betrayal."

Another change is some plaintiff's attorneys are now sending their initial letters of notice to sue with letters from experts laying out their case.

Breakstone said that is because most lawyers will not accept a case until they can get that letter, and they are happy to provide it at the outset since the statute provides a structure for "systematic information exchange."

"Before the statute ... I would not even bother to put a potential defendant on notice of the claim," he said. "I would just file the claim. To the extent this statute provides for forced exchange of information, one could say that's a benefit."

Read the Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly Article: Two years in, med-mal reforms show promise (Subscription Required).

Continue reading "Attorney Marc Breakstone Interviewed by Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly for Article About the First Two Years of Medical Malpractice Reform" »

February 10, 2015

Snow Plow Accidents Have Killed Two People in Boston Area

2464285_s.jpgDuring the past few weeks, snow plows have had little rest in the Boston area and Central Massachusetts. For most of us, they have been part of the background noise of a harsh winter and we have not even noticed them. But as of this week, two people have died as a result of snow plow crashes in the Boston area. Please be aware of the risks and talk to your family members about how you can stay safe.

On Monday afternoon, a 60-year-old employee at a Whole Foods store in Medford was struck and killed while walking across the store's parking lot. The employee was just leaving work. The area was not open to the public at the time. The snow plow was operated Yerardi Landscape and Design of Medfield, authorities said. The snow plow accident remains under investigation by Medford Police and the Massachusetts State Police.

A week ago, a 57-year-old Weymouth woman was struck and killed by a snow plow driver who was clearing the parking lot outside her condominium complex, Tara Gardens. The driver had just cleared the woman's parking space for her and a friend told The Boston Globe she had gotten out of her vehicle to ask him not to block her vehicle in as he left. Weymouth Police and the Norfolk County District Attorney's office are investigating the snow plow death.

We share a few safety tips:

1) Listen to Advisories. Follow the recommendations of state and local officials about when it is best to avoid walking or driving outside.

2) Wear Neon-Colored Vests and Bright Clothing. If you are walking in the street, a neon vest or bright clothing should be a requirement, even during the day. You want snow plow drivers, as well as other drivers, to see you.

Keep a vest in your car. You can use your vest when walking from your car to your destination. It may also come in handy someday if you break down.

3) Do Not Approach Plow Trucks. Pedestrians should never approach plow trucks. Let them stay focused on removing snow.

4) Contact the Property Owner Instead. If you live in an apartment or condo complex, keep the phone number of your building management company handy on your cell phone. If you have a complaint, take a photo to send to the building owner, who can share it with their plow company.

Do the same if you work at a business office, unless you are the owner; then safe snow removal is your responsibility.

5) Expect Plows Everywhere, Even After the Snow Ends. Expect plows everywhere for a while. Even when it is not snowing, expect plows will be out trimming down high snow banks and opening up narrow roads.

6) Do Not Follow Plow Trucks Too Closely. When driving, stay a few car lengths behind plow trucks. The snow plow could hit something hard unexpectedly and not be able to stop. Avoid passing snow plows.

7) If You Have An Accident with a Snow Plow Truck. If you are driving, make sure you stop in a safe place. As you do, take note of what the plow truck looks like and the license plate if you can do so safely. If the plow driver does not stop, immediately notify the local police department to file a car accident report.

Continue reading "Snow Plow Accidents Have Killed Two People in Boston Area" »

February 5, 2015

Will It Ever Stop Snowing in Massachusetts?

18424768_s.jpg
More snowfall today just means more frustration for many of us in Massachusetts. Before today, the Boston area had already seen more than 53 inches of snow this winter, 10 inches more than the total annual average. Worcester is also close to setting a record, recording 72 inches, just four inches away.

Much of the snow has fallen hard during the past two weeks, during the Blizzard of 2015 and other storms. A Washington Post headline summed it up best: "Boston's record-setting snow blitz - a winter's worth of snow in less than 10 days."

Those 10 days should be done now. But Mother Nature just keeps throwing down snow, though she gave the Patriots a reprieve, allowing them to hold their Super Bowl parade in Boston this week. But even the professional football team had to postpone a day to avoid the bitter cold and to let the City of Boston catch up on the clean-up.


More snow is expected this weekend. A few things to remember:

Clearing Snow from Your Property. Homeowners in Massachusetts have a responsibility to clear the snow and ice from their driveways, walkways and other areas of their property. It is important to make sure your family and others, such as friends, postal carriers and delivery workers, can safely visit your property without slipping and falling.

If someone slips and falls on your property, you could be held liable for damages, even if they are uninvited. For a long time, Massachusetts law regarding snow and ice injuries exempted property owners from liability if someone was injured as a result of snow that naturally accumulated and had not been cleared. But in 2010, the Supreme Judicial Court overruled this nearly century old rule. There is now a clear directive that Massachusetts property owners must remove snow and ice. The case is Papadopoulos v. Target Corporation, SJC-10529 (July 26, 2010). Here is a past blog and a Lawyer Alert we wrote on the ruling.


Snow Blower. Make sure you read the instructions and understand your snow blower before using it in heavy snow conditions. If the snow blower is jammed DO NOT attempt to clear it by hand. Even if the blower is not running, it can have stored up mechanical energy that can deliver devastating injuries. Check with the manufacturer and the Consumer Product Safety Commission at the start of each winter to see if there have been any product recalls.

Here is a resource for safe use of snow blowers.


Shoveling Snow Safely. While you must clear the snow, you also have to be safe. Snow removal can lead to injuries, some minor and some very serious, such as heart attacks, dehydration, pulled muscles, broken bones from slip and falls and frostbite. Always consult with your doctor if you concerned about your ability to undertake this strenuous exercise.

If you shovel, drink plenty of water, stop periodically to stretch and dress in layers so you can easily remove one if you get overheated. Try to push the snow, rather than lift it, when you can. Here is an article about shoveling snow safely.


Driving and Taking Public Transportation. Be patient. Limit your time on the road if you can. The Governor of Massachusetts declared a state of emergency and travel ban during the recent blizzard. Many employers closed their offices then and since on other days of heavy snowfall.

When you have to travel, consider public transportation when you can or stagger your work day schedule if it helps and your employer allows this.

If you ride the MBTA, monitor the website, app or local TV stations. Red Line and Orange Line commuters faced significant delays this week, with 40 percent of the cars disabled for mechanical problems. Many commuters were left standing outside in the cold, waiting for trains or had to take buses. Systems are failing all over the state.


Walking. The snowbanks are tall and the roads narrow in many areas, making it hard to walk. If you must walk outside, wear visible clothing, including a bright safety vest if you have one, so you are visible to drivers. Walk on sidewalks and carefully look around snowbanks before stepping into the streets, even at crosswalks.

Watch out for regular traffic, as well as snow plows. A Weymouth woman was killed in a pedestrian accident this week when she was struck by a plow driver at her condominium complex.

Carry your cell phone in case of an emergency but do not use it while walking. Also do not wear headphones and listen to music when trying to face the complications of winter travel.

Continue reading "Will It Ever Stop Snowing in Massachusetts?" »

January 12, 2015

Honda Motor Co. Fined $70 Million for Failure to Report Injuries and Deaths

20150112_honda.jpgLast week we learned the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) issued Honda Motor Co. two safety fines totaling $70 million. The fines were announced last week but had been issued before the New Year. These are the largest penalties the NHTSA could impose. With them, automakers finish the year paying $126 million in civil penalties, the most ever for one year. The amount also exceeds the total amount collected in all 43 years of the NHTSA's operation.


Honda's Fines

  • Honda was fined $35 million for failure to report submit early warning reports (EWR reports) identifying potential or actually safety issues. The company failed to report 1,729 death and injury claims between 2003 and 2014.

  • Honda was fined a second $35 million for failure to report certain warranty claims and claims related to its customer satisfaction campaigns, in which a manufacturer quietly agrees to fix defects on cars even beyond the normal warranty period.

Honda was ordered to submit injury reports as part of the NHTSA's investigation on defective Takata airbags last year. Some of the drivers who died as a result of the Takata airbag defects were driving Honda vehicles. The airbag defects are linked to at least five deaths and dozens of injuries in the U.S. Automakers have recalled nearly 14 million cars with these airbags worldwide. Takata, a Japanese company, has limited its recalls to Florida, Hawaii and other warm weather states, despite pressure from the NHTSA to expand the recall nationwide.

Other Companies Which Were Fined
Among the companies the NHTSA fined last year: Gwinnett Place Nissan, Ferrari S.p.A. and Ferrari North America, Chapman Chevrolet LLC, Hyundai Motor America, General Motors Company and Prevost and Southern Honda Powersports.

Then of course there was General Motors, which was fined $35 million for how it handled a recall of more than 2 million vehicles with ignition switch problems. It also paid a separate $441,000 fine for failure to fully respond to a special order by a specified due date.

Toyota is not on the list of companies which paid civil penalties in 2014. But it paid the U.S. government a $1.2 billion criminal fine for it actions during a safety investigation.

Proposed Safety Changes for 2015
In the New Year, the U.S. Department of Transportation and NHTSA are proposing to increase the maximum fine for auto safety violations from $35 million to $300 million. The agencies also want the NHTSA to have additional authority to compel companies to recall unsafe products.

Related:
U.S. Department of Transportation Fines Honda $70 Million for Failing to Comply with Laws That Safeguard the Public, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Continue reading "Honda Motor Co. Fined $70 Million for Failure to Report Injuries and Deaths" »