Snow shoveling

Property owners, grab your shovels, some salt and a little patience. The snow is back in Boston and this is just the beginning.

Snow Removal Was Not Required in Massachusetts
We shouldn’t say the beginning. Snow and ice is the oldest story in New England. But for many years, Massachusetts law distinguished between “natural” and “unnatural” snow accumulation and held that property owners were not liable for injuries caused by a natural accumulation of snow and ice. But the Supreme Judicial Court abolished this distinction in Papadopoulos v. Target, 457 Mass. 368 (July 26, 2010).

In Papadopoulos, the plaintiff slipped on ice in the parking lot outside a Target department store in Danvers. After leaving the store, the plaintiff fell on a patch of ice on the pavement. The patch formed after a snowplow had worked in the area, followed by a snowstorm. He filed suit against Target Corporation and Weiss Landscaping Company, Inc., which was responsible for the snow and ice removal.

The trial court ruled the patch was a “natural accumulation” of snow. The Appeals Court affirmed this decision, but the Supreme Judicial Court rejected the distinction between natural and unnatural snow accumulation. With this decision, property owners had to accept the same duty of care in snow and ice cases as in other cases. They must keep their property reasonably safe.

Massachusetts Property Owners Now Have a Duty of Reasonable Care in Snow Removal
This was a good decision for consumers, because now, those who fall on someone’s property can now seek compensation for their injuries and recovery if the property was not properly maintained. Homeowners, landlords, businesses and commercial property owners now have a duty of reasonable care to clear the snow and ice.

Since Papadopoulos, the courts have recognized this responsibility with an occasional exception for commercial property owners. In some cases, the courts have found store owners or tenants which operate in a leased space are responsible for the maintenance, and not the property owner. This distinction turns on the fact the tenant has control of the property. Lease provisions also usually require the tenant to indemnify the landowner.

If You Are Injured on Snow and Ice
If you slip and are injured on snow and ice, you have rights, but you need to act promptly. First, you should always receive medical treatment for your injuries. Then, notify the owner or person in control of the property that you were injured on their property. This must be done within thirty days! (M.G.L. c. 84, § 21).

Before you notify a property owner, consult a Boston snow and ice accident lawyer. At Breakstone, White & Gluck, our attorneys have extensive experience in this area. We are here to answer your questions and advise you of your legal rights. You may be entitled to payment of medical bills, lost wages and other damages.

A Recent Case Handled by Breakstone, White & Gluck
When our client fell on an icy ramp in Walpole, she turned to Attorney Marc L. Breakstone for help. He investigated and negotiated an $825,000 settlement.

Attorney Breakstone’s investigation found the handicap ramp, which was on a commercial property, had not been maintained. The area where our client fell was covered in ice and there was no hand railing. This was a violation of state and local codes. Read more about this case.

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Fidget spinner missing a piece in boy's hands

Fidget spinners have been one of the most popular gifts of 2017, but the small pieces can fall out and cause a child to choke.

By now, the children in your life have probably sent you their holiday toy wish lists. But just as important is the holiday “don’t buy” list.

W.A.T.C.H. released nominees for its “10 Worst Toys of 2017” list in mid-November, leading with Hallmark’s “Ittys Bitty” Baby Stacking Toy. This toy was recalled by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) in August. The fabric hats and bows on the Disney characters can detach and cause a young child to choke. This toy also has no safety warnings or age recommendations.

Toy 2: Tolo’s Tug Along Pony. This toy is marketed for children 12 months and older. It has a 19-inch cord, which is permitted for pull-along toys. But W.A.T.C.H. says this toy poses a strangulation hazard and does not carry any safety warnings.

Toy 3: The Wonder Woman Battle-Action Sword. This toy is recommended for children age 6 and up. Before you buy, note that the sword is large and sharp enough to cause facial or impact injuries. The packaging also gets a failing grade. It encourages children to “fight alongside men in a war to end all wars.”

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Thanksgiving week traffic jam in Boston

Driving to your Thanksgiving destination can be demanding. Read our tips to help you get there safely with a little less stress (if that’s possible).

We all want to know the secret to beating the Thanksgiving week traffic out of Boston. To help, we have put together a few travel tips. Please travel safely, be patient and enjoy this special time of year with your family and friends.

Traffic Apps and Resources. Here are a few websites for travelers: Boston.com/Traffic or Mass511.com. Traffic apps: Google Maps, Waze, AAA or GoTime.

Boston’s Worst Traffic Bottlenecks. AAA is reporting on the Boston region’s 10 top traffic bottlenecks for the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. They include several locations along Interstate 93, Interstate 95 and the MassPike (Interstate 90).  Read the full list now before you drive. Try to avoid them if you can.

Check Your Car. Whether you drive your own car or rent a vehicle, spend a few minutes in the driver’s seat before you leave. Make sure you know how to use key features such as the blinkers, headlights and the heating system. Many new vehicles now have complex infotainment systems. Decide now what features you need to use for this trip – and which are distractions.

Essentials. Make sure your motor vehicle registration is in your glove compartment and that you have your health insurance card (or cards if you are a parent traveling with children).

Choose the Best Travel Times. AAA predicts a 3 percent increase in holiday travel this year, so we know to expect more traffic. Tuesday night and Wednesday afternoon will be the most challenging time, according to Waze. Another busy travel time is Thanksgiving Day between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.

Plan to Stop. Take a break to fend off fatigue and let kids burn off energy. Stop once every two hours.

Gas Up and Emergency Kit. Always start your trip with a full tank of gas. Then, make sure you have a strong emergency kit, with jumper cables, a quart of motor oil, coolant, a first aid kit and a toolkit. Find your auto club membership, a safety vest, a flashlight with extra batteries and a roadside flare. Finally, pack warm clothes, blankets and your cell phone charger.

Commit to Use Your Cell Phone Safely. Our best tip for you is to turn your phone off. If you are traveling with someone, ask them to hold your cell phone and receive occasional phone calls or traffic alerts for you.

When traffic is heavy, a driver can cause a multi-car pile-up with a single glance at a cell phone – and that’s on any given day. The traffic is much worse during the Thanksgiving Week. That is why texting while driving is banned in Massachusetts and 46 other states, and why many are pushing to see Massachusetts ban all cell phone use by drivers.

No Drinking and Driving Accidents. Drunk driving accidents increase during the holiday season, starting with Thanksgiving week. Always, always travel with a designated driver who agrees not to drink. Or do not consume alcohol. No one ever regrets making this decision the next morning.

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Local communities are restricting road use to stop the flood of drivers who use Waze and other traffic apps.

Commuting is a battle in Massachusetts, full of frustrations and hazards. But residents, communities and lawmakers continue to fight back to improve safety.

On Monday, the state House of Representatives considered a controversial bill proposing new fines for jaywalking and jaywalking while distracted (or as The Boston Globe writes, “Jay-texters”). Meanwhile, WBZ reports communities are closing off roads in response to traffic apps such as Waze and Google Maps.

Boston personal injury attorney Marc L. Breakstone

Attorney Marc L. Breakstone recently negotiated a settlement for a woman who was seriously injured when she slipped on an icy ramp. The ramp was on a commercial property.

Read about Attorney Breakstone’s work.

 

Breakstone, White & Gluck is pleased to announce that Marc L. Breakstone, David W. White and Ronald E. Gluck have been selected to the 2017 Massachusetts Super Lawyers list. Our attorneys were recognized for their work for clients in personal injury and medical malpractice cases. We are proud to share this news. It marks the 14th year they have been selected to the list, which only recognizes the top 5 percent of attorneys in the state.

The Super Lawyers selection process evaluates attorneys based on 12 areas, including verdicts and settlements, experience, honors and awards, bar and professional activity, pro bono and community service and other achievements. The selection process includes input from the Super Lawyers research department and peer review from other attorneys.

Boston Attorney Marc Breakstone

Marc L. Breakstone

Attorney Marc L. Breakstone has been recognized to the Top 100 New England Super Lawyers and Top 100 Massachusetts Super Lawyers lists numerous times over his career. He was recognized on the 2017 Massachusetts Super Lawyers list as a top rated medical malpractice attorney, an honor he has received each year since 2004. His settlements and verdicts include a $10.2 million settlement for an infant who suffered severe injuries due to ambulance negligence and $7.5 million for a family who lost a loved one in a propane gas explosion at a construction site. He also won a $7.1 million award for a pedestrian who was hit by an MBTA bus. Attorney Breakstone, a graduate of Northeastern University School of Law, has practiced in Boston for more than 30 years.

Read about Marc


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David W. White

Attorney David W. White has been selected as a Top 100 New England Super Lawyer, a Top 100 Massachusetts Super Lawyer and Massachusetts Super Lawyer numerous times over his career. He was recognized on the 2017 Massachusetts Super Lawyers list as a top rated personal injury attorney. A past president of the Massachusetts Bar Association, Attorney White has practiced law in Boston for almost 35 years. A graduate of Northeastern University School of Law, Attorney White has been recognized for his work on personal injury cases, as well as in insurance law. Attorney White’s settlements and verdicts include $4.35 million for a construction accident victim and $2.5 million for a client who suffered severe burns due to a homeowner’s negligence.

Read about David


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Ronald E. Gluck

Attorney Ronald E. Gluck is an accomplished, widely respected and results-driven lawyer who has obtained multi-million dollar awards for his clients in a range of serious personal injury cases for over 35 years. Each year since 2005, Mr. Gluck has been named a top rated personal injury “Super Lawyer” in Massachusetts. His career has focused on cases ranging from those involving pedestrians, bicyclists and motorcyclists injured or killed by the negligence of others to disasters involving train crashes, truck accidents and medical malpractice causing wrongful death, traumatic brain injury and severe orthopedic injury. Attorney Gluck’s approach is to get the best results in the most efficient and effective manner for his clients while making sure that the responsible party is held accountable for their negligence. Following the attacks of 9-11, Mr. Gluck donated his time and expertise to represent the family of a young professional who was killed while a passenger aboard the American Airlines plane that crashed into the World Trade Center. Awards and settlements for Mr. Gluck’s clients include a $3.75 million award to a motorcyclist who suffered brain injuries; $2.5 million to a businessman who suffered spinal injuries in an 18-wheel truck crash; $2 million to the family of a child with mental health disabilities who died as a result of medical negligence, and a confidential settlement to the family of a physician who was hit and killed by a truck while she was riding a bicycle. Mr. Gluck is widely known and respected for his technical legal skills as well as his compassion and professionalism.

Read about Ron

Our Results for Clients
$10.2 million Award for an infant injured by ambulance malpractice
$7.5 million Award for family which lost a loved one in a propane gas explosion
$7.5 million Award for an infant who suffered severe brain injury from medical malpractice during and after anesthesia
$7.1 million Award for a woman who was hit by an MBTA bus
$5.7 million Award for the victim of medical malpractice
$4.35 million Award for a worker who fell as a result of a defective railing
$3.75 million Award for a motorcyclist who was hit by a negligent driver

About Breakstone, White & Gluck
In 2017, Breakstone, White & Gluck celebrated our 25th year of serving clients who have been injured in personal injury, car accident and medical malpractice cases.  We represent clients in Boston, Cambridge, Somerville, Quincy and across Massachusetts. If you have been injured by someone else’s negligence, learn your legal rights. Contact us for a free legal consultation at 800-379-1244 or 617-723-7676. You can also send us a message using our contact form.

We had a fun opportunity to see Inman Square from up high a few weeks ago. Here are some of our photos:

The City of Cambridge has worked to improve safety for cyclists in Inman Square, recently adding new separated bike lanes on both sides of Cambridge Street, from Inman Square to Quincy Street, which approaches Harvard Square. This is .7 miles of new bike lanes with paint, flex posts and other temporary materials to help cyclists stand out. And the new lanes pass Cambridge Rindge & Latin, which serves more than 1,900 high school students. Last fall, the city also banned drivers from making certain left turns in Inman Square, after many years of bike crashes followed by a fatal bike accident last June.

Black dog bites at a woman in Massachusetts

Massachusetts lawmakers are considering a bill to prevent insurance companies from discriminating against homeowners who own certain dog breeds.

Massachusetts lawmakers are considering a bill to prevent insurance companies from discriminating against homeowners based on their dog’s breed.

Rep. Jack M. Lewis (D-Framingham) is the sponsor of H.554, which would ensure dog owners can buy insurance to provide compensation to anyone injured by their pet.

parking lot accidents
There was a sad story in Westford over the weekend, when a woman was hit and killed in a Market Basket parking lot. Police are still investigating, but according to media reports, the 64-year-old woman was putting groceries into the back of her Toyota Highlander SUV, which was hit by another vehicle. The impact caused her SUV to roll back on top of her.

This is not an isolated accident. Parking lot accidents and backovers are frequently reported in every community in Massachusetts, from Boston and Cambridge to Worcester and Framingham. But the latest accident raises the questions: have parking lots become as dangerous as the roads? And what can be done to improve safety? We should all be able to shop safely.

AAA reports 14 percent of all car accidents take place in parking lots. These can range from minor incidents, such as fender benders or someone opening a car door and hitting another vehicle. Other times, someone is seriously injured or killed, from backovers or speeding drivers.