Passenger paying private driver for a rideIn Massachusetts, you can pay a licensed cab, Uber or Lyft for a ride and expect the driver to carry auto insurance if you are injured. These drivers are required to buy minimum levels of auto insurance under Massachusetts law, which is the way it should be.

But now, two years after Massachusetts began regulating rideshare companies, auto insurance companies are becoming more careful in investigating car crashes to make sure they do not involve “gypsy cabs” or situations where passengers pay a private individual for a ride, even though they are not licensed as a business, taxi or have not met rideshare regulations. Insurance companies are saying passengers are not covered for injuries in these situations, and it’s an important warning to consumers.

There is a whole industry of gypsy cab drivers on the roads in wake of the rideshare legislation. They are simply ignoring the regulations and setting up social media pages advertising their services. They may also grow their business by word of mouth and by serving the same passengers they know well. Their prices may undercut other ride services, but there is a huge catch in the bargain: there may be no insurance in case of a car accident.

W.A.T.C.H. has released its annual nominees for the 2018 Worst Toys list. The Boston non-profit warns shoppers to steer clear of the following toys this holiday season:

10 Worst Toys List

Photo courtesy: W.A.T.C.H. 2018 Worst Toys report.

Nickelodeon Nella Princess Knight Pillow Pets Sleeptime Lites
Parents should never leave infants in their cribs with toys, especially those with small pieces or strings. This toy is marked for ages 0+, for use as a nightlight or bedroom toy. While it does carry some warning labels – warning parents not to leave it in the crib or let children play with it unattended – this isn’t enough to protect children. W.A.T.C.H. cited this and other hazards, including small accessories and a warning about batteries which can leak. This toy is being sold online through Target.com and Google Express, as well as in Target stores.

Nerf Vortext VTX Praxis Blaster

10 Worst toys list nerf gun

Photo courtesy: W.A.T.C.H. 2018 Worst Toys report.

Nerf toys have received bad press for causing eye injuries. In this case, the Nerf gun is recommended for users age 8 and older and can shoot 10 discs in a row. W.A.T.C.H. calls this a potential hazard for eye and facial injuries. The blaster is sold at Target. Target.com, Amazon.com, Walmart.com, Ebay.com and Bonanza.com.

 

Marvel Black Panther Slash Claw
These make the list because they can cause injuries and can encourage hitting. The claws are encouraged for children age 5 and older and the packaging states children can “slash” like the Black Panther.” At the same time, the packaging also advises children not to swing at other people or animals and to steer clear of breakable objects. If children use the toy, they are likely to break all those warnings, which is why W.A.T.C.H. included it this year.

Power Rangers Super Ninja Steel Superstar Blade
This is a sword-like toy and made the list for poor taste and the potential for facial and other impact injuries.

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Photo courtesy: W.A.T.C.H. 2018 Worst Toys report.

Cabbage Patch Kids Dance Time Doll
You may think this is a sweet, fun gift. But the toy has a removable headband, which W.A.T.C.H. says can be ingested. The toy is marketed for children age 2+ and is sold at Target, Target.com, CabbagePatchKids.com, Bonanza.com and Blinq.com.

Zoo Jamz Xylophone
This Vtech brand toy made the list for presenting a potential choking hazard. A young child could put the drumstick handle in their mouth and block their airway, W.A.T.C.H. says. The product is designed for children age 1 1/2 to 4 years old. It is sold at Walmart, Walmart.com, as well as Amazon and other retailers.

Nici Wonderland Doll: Miniclara the Ballerina
This pink ballerina and her kitten are not safe, W.A.T.C.H. says. There is nothing wrong with the little girl, but the kitten can become detached and a child could ingest it. A few of the retailers selling the toy: Amazon.com, Walmart and Barnes & Noble.com.

Stomp Rocket Ultra Rocket
This product is for children age 6 and older. Children are supposed to step onto the pedal to launch the rocket. The rockets can go high – up to 200 feet. W.A.T.C.H. recommended parents keep it off their holiday shopping lists this year, saying it can cause serious eye or face injuries.

Cutting Fruit
Magnetic fruit toys with a hard plastic knife are not a safe gift, W.A.T.C.H. says. The set is marketed for children age 2+, even though the knife can be used to cause puncture wounds.

Chien Á Promener Pull Along Dog
W.A.T.C.H. says this toy falls between regulations and safety. Manufacturers can only market toys with strings under 12 inches for use in cribs and playpens. Pull toys don’t have the same restriction and the result is a toy with a 19-inch draw string can legally be sold to children. The age recommendation on this product is only 1-3 years old. There are no safety warnings. It is available on Amazon.com, Magic Beans and Mbeans.com.

More information on the 10 Worst Toys of 2018 list.

About Breakstone, White & Gluck
With more than 100 years combined experience, Breakstone, White & Gluck represents those who have been injured by the negligence or wrongdoing of others. If you have been injured, it is important to learn your legal rights for seeking compensation to cover lost wages, medical care and other financial losses. For a free legal consultation, contact the Boston personal injury lawyers of Breakstone, White & Gluck at 800-379-1244 or 617-723-7676 or use our contact form.

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Beware of Lithium button batteries this holiday season. These are a serious danger to young children, who can swallow them and suffer serious internal injuries.

New parents quickly learn the secret to surviving the holiday season: stock up on batteries. While all batteries should be handled with care, we want to share a few safety tips for handling lithium button batteries.

Small, just the size of a button, these batteries are easy to overlook when you child-proof your home. But button batteries are a giant danger. A child can find one and put in their mouth. Without proper medical care, within hours, a child can suffer severe burns to their esophagus.

In 2010, researchers at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia tracked more than 3,400 cases of children who swallowed button batteries. The hospital reports 15 children have died and another 80 children have suffered permanent injuries after ingesting button batteries.

Our tips to protect your children:

  • Read product labels before you purchase. You may not realize some toys or products have lithium batteries because you do not have to install them. Likewise, products you may guess have lithium batteries may not. It is essential to read and ask questions.
  • Know where lithium button batteries are in your home. You can find them in certain toys and baby monitors, as well as remote controls, garage door openers, car keys and bathroom scales. You may also wear a watch powered by a lithium battery.
  • Remove products containing lithium batteries from your home. If you really need these products, at least secure them out of your child’s reach.
  • Be suspicious of holiday gifts and trinkets. Holiday cards, electric candles and interactive gifts, such as musical stuffed animals, may have lithium batteries. Stop these products before they come into your home. As for holiday cards, enjoy them and discard them the same day. If you keep them, remove the battery.
  • Research your holiday gifts. Go online and search for product recalls involving any toy you wish to purchase. You can visit the CPSC website. Search for both the product you are interested in buying and batteries.
  • Warn your family and friends. With Thanksgiving just a few weeks away, now is an ideal time to share safety information with your loved ones. Urge family members, friends, grandparents and caregivers to carefully select holiday gifts, make use of toy recall alerts and move products with button batteries out of your child’s reach.

What to do if a child swallows a lithium button battery
If your child ever swallows a button battery, go to the hospital immediately. The sooner a child receives medical attention, the better. A child can suffer a serious internal injury within hours of swallowing a button battery so every second counts.

We hope your child is never injured. But it is critical to understand the symptoms when children swallow button batteries. Parents may not see a child swallow a button battery or may not even know a button battery was in their child’s reach.

These are common symptoms:

  • Decreased eating or drinking
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Vomiting
  • Vomiting blood
  • Chest pain or discomfort
  • Abdominal pain, blood in saliva or stool
  • Drooling
  • Crying

If you suspect your child swallowed a button battery, the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia advises parents to seek immediate medical treatment and to refrain from giving the child medications, food or anything to drink. Never attempt the Heimlich maneuver either. This can worsen the injury.


About Breakstone, White & Gluck and Our Commitment to Safety

This holiday season, Breakstone, White & Gluck is committed to sharing tips on toy safety. Every toy, every product you buy should be safe to use, but this is not always the case. Because of this, our Boston product liability lawyers want to share tips from our experience to help parents and grandparents make safe buying decisions.

Breakstone, White & Gluck is a top-rated Boston personal injury law firm, with lawyers who have been consistently recognized for excellence over the past 26 years, including by Top 100 New England Super Lawyers, Best Lawyers in America and Martindale-Hubbell. Our attorneys have also been recognized for starting our Project KidSafe campaign. Through our Project KidSafe campaign, our attorneys work to prevent injuries and deaths by providing critical safety information to families and encouraging use of bicycle helmets. To date, we have donated over 20,000 bicycle helmets to children in Massachusetts, with a goal of preventing head injuries.

Learn more about Breakstone, White & Gluck: www.bwglaw.com. If you have been injured, our attorneys offer a free legal consultation and can help explain your rights for seeking potential compensation. Call 800-379-1244 or 617-723-7676 or use our contact form.


Additional Resources for Parents

We encourage parents to watch these videos.

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There were frightening pictures out of Allston on Sunday, November 4, 2018, as the Boston Fire Department responded to a report of a commercial building collapse. Firefighters found very dangerous conditions: the façade at 85 Harvard Avenue, a one-story commercial building, had fallen onto the sidewalk. The building houses Common Ground Bar and Grill, which sustained serious damage, and also other businesses.

Two people were injured, including a woman who was hit by concrete and suffered critical personal injuries outside the building. The Boston Globe reported she was with friends and they, along with others, fought to free her from the concrete. When the Boston Fire Department arrived, she was rescued and transported for medical treatment. Others inside the building were safely evacuated with assistance.

As the investigation begins, the collapse must serve as a reminder to landlords and building owners. Injuries from property defects – such as fires, slippery floors or snow and ice accumulations – are devastating for victims and families and are much more common than many people realize. But structural failures, especially in aging buildings, present extreme hazards as well.

Boston City Regulations for Building Owners and Landlords 

Building owners and landlords have a responsibility to regularly inspect and maintain residential and commercial buildings. In older buildings with brick or stone facades, routing engineering analysis should be performed periodically.

In Boston, city regulations require inspection reports, but only for buildings over 70 feet tall. The regulation mandates that every exterior wall shall be inspected at least once every five years, and in the case of an unoccupied structure, inspection must be done at least once every year. Inspection reports must be completed by an architect or engineer, and filed with the city.

Inspections should not be limited to facades. Many buildings have aging iron work on balconies and exterior stairs and these can buckle under, leading to serious injuries.

About Breakstone, White & Gluck – Representing Those Injured by Unsafe Property Conditions
At Breakstone, White & Gluck, our personal injury lawyers have over 100 years combined experience representing those who have been injured by the negligence and wrongdoing of others. Our attorneys have extensive experience investigating fires, porch collapses and unsafe buildings in the Boston area, then bringing claims on behalf of those injured.

If you have been injured because of unsafe property conditions, we urge you to learn your legal rights. For a free legal consultation, contact Breakstone, White & Gluck at 800-379-1244 or 617-723-7676 or use our contact form.

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Attorney Marc L. Breakstone

Attorney Marc L. Breakstone was interviewed by WBZ NewsRadio this morning about his client’s plans to file a wrongful death lawsuit against Columbia Gas and parent company NiSource. Attorney Breakstone is representing the family of Kenneth DeVeau, a North Andover man who suffered injuries when he was evacuated and later died from complications.

Listen to the 60-second clip below or read the full article on the WBZ NewsRadio website. You can also listen to this audio clip on the WBZ NewsRadio website.

Source: Audio news clip is courtesy of WBZ NewsRadio.

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Television news coverage showing Kenneth Deveau in a stretcher at a North Andover shelter after he was evacuated during the Columbia Gas explosions in Merrimack Valley.

Attorney Marc L. Breakstone has confirmed to the media that Columbia Gas and parent company NiSource will face a second wrongful death lawsuit following the Merrimack Valley gas explosions. Attorney Breakstone is representing the family of the late Kenneth DeVeau of North Andover, who suffered cardiac arrest and slipped into a coma after the Sept. 13th explosions. DeVeau, 57, suffered from illnesses such as Myotonic Dystrophy and a weakened heart, and had limited mobility due to a chronic neurological condition. DeVeau suffered the heart attack and injuries at an evacuation center. He was then transported to Lawrence General Hospital, where he briefly regained consciousness. He died from complications on Sept. 26.

Attorney Breakstone said the family has not yet filed the wrongful death lawsuit. They will do so once DeVeau’s sister is appointed the personal representative of his estate.

NiSource disclosed the second wrongful death claim yesterday when it filed its quarterly financial disclosures with the SEC. The company noted two parties had reported their intent to assert wrongful death claims after the Columbia Gas explosions in Merrimack Valley. Prior to this, only the family of 18-year-old Leonel Rondon had announced its intention.

News coverage:

Family of late North Andover man says he suffered cardiac arrest, slipped into coma after Merrimack Valley evacuations, Boston Globe, Nov. 2, 2018

Family says 2nd death linked to Merrimack Valley gas explosions, WCVB, Nov. 2, 2018

Second Family Plans Wrongful Death Suit Against Columbia Gas And NiSource, WGBH, Nov. 2, 2018

Second wrongful death lawsuit to be filed against Columbia Gas, Lawrence Eagle Tribune, Nov. 2, 2018

Family of man who died in aftermath of gas blasts plans suit, San Francisco Chronicle, Nov. 2, 2018 

WBZ Radio Coverage: Attorney Marc Breakstone Interviewed, Nov. 2, 2018

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Ronald E. Gluck, Marc L. Breakstone and David W. White of Breakstone, White & Gluck

We are pleased to announce that Breakstone, White & Gluck and our attorneys have been recognized by Super Lawyers for the 15th year. Super Lawyers is a rating service of outstanding lawyers who have attained a high-degree of peer recognition and professional achievement. Lawyers are rated nationwide, across 70 practice areas, with just a select number recognized.

2018 Recognition

In 2018, our lawyers have been named to a number of Super Lawyers lists, including the 2018 Top New England Super Lawyers,  2018 Top 100 Massachusetts Super Lawyers and 2018 Massachusetts Super Lawyers in personal injury and medical malpractice, and the 2018 Rising Stars list.

Marc L. Breakstone has been selected to the Top 100 New England Super LawyersTop 100 Massachusetts Super Lawyers and to the 2018 Massachusetts Super Lawyers list, recognized as a top-rated medical malpractice attorney in Boston.

David W. White has been selected to the 2018 Massachusetts Super Lawyers list, recognized as a top-rated personal injury attorney in Boston.

Ronald E. Gluck has been selected to the 2018 Massachusetts Super Lawyers list, recognized as a top-rated personal injury attorney in Boston.

Reza Breakstone has been selected to the 2018 Massachusetts Rising Stars list.

About Breakstone, White & Gluck

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Reza Breakstone

Marc L. Breakstone, David W. White and Ronald E. Gluck founded the law firm of Breakstone, White & Gluck in Boston in 1992. Reza Breakstone joined the firm as an associate in 2015.

At Breakstone, White & Gluck, our Boston personal injury lawyers fight for justice for those who have been seriously injured or killed by the negligence and wrongdoing of others. Our lawyers have won numerous record-setting verdicts and settlements. We specialize in cases involving personal injury, medical malpractice, wrongful death, traumatic brain injuries and motor vehicle crashes. Read more.


Super Lawyers Ratings: Built on Peer Reviews

The 2018 New England Super Lawyers listings, just released, are meant to serve as a resource to help those searching for attorneys and are available for free online. Most years, they are published in Boston Magazine. When you visit a law firm’s website, you can also look for the Super Lawyers badge to see if a lawyer has been rated.

Super Lawyers, a Thomson Reuters business, recognizes the top 5 percent of lawyers across the state, along with a Rising Stars list highlighting the top lawyers under 40 years old (or the top 2.5 percent statewide). Lawyers are rated through a multiphase selection process, including a statewide survey of lawyers, independent research evaluation and peer reviews by other top-rated attorneys in a practice area. The peer reviews are what make the Super Lawyers listings so valuable to consumers and other attorneys. When you call a lawyer rated by Super Lawyers, you can trust other highly experienced lawyers have already reviewed the lawyer’s skills and experience in their specialty.

The independent evaluation considers the following 12 indicators:

  • Verdicts/Settlements
  • Transactions
  • Representative Clients
  • Experience
  • Honors/Awards
  • Special licenses/certifications
  • Position within the law firm
  • Bar and/or professional activity
  • Pro bono and community service
  • Scholarly lectures/writings
  • Education/employment background
  • Other outstanding achievements

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Breakstone, White & Gluck’s Project KidSafe campaign donated nearly 200 youth bicycle helmets in Westborough this year. Our attorneys are committed to preventing head injuries and for 5 years, have partnered with the Westborough Bicycle & Pedestrian Advisory Committee to bring helmets to children who need one. (File photo: From a May 2016 Project KidSafe event in Western Mass).

We are glad the weather held off!

For the fifth year, Breakstone, White & Gluck and our Project KidSafe campaign donated nearly 200 children’s bicycle helmets in Westborough. Last Spring, about 100 helmets were distributed by the Boroughs Family Branch of the YMCA of Central Massachusetts. The helmets went to children who needed one at the annual Healthy Kids Day. But thanks to Mother Nature, giving away the rest was more challenging.

First, unseasonable weather forced the the Rotary Club of Westborough to cancel the Spring Fest. On Saturday, it looked like the back-up plan – to hold a Fall Fest – was also in jeopardy. But we are happy to report the skies cleared enough for activities to go on. Our thanks to members of the Westborough Bicycle & Pedestrian Advisory Committee, who were out fitting our Project KidSafe helmets for the kids and talking to families about the importance of wearing them.

Wearing a helmet is critical for cyclists of any age. A helmet can limit the impact if a cyclist falls and significantly reduce the chances of a head injury. In Massachusetts, cyclists under 17 are required to wear helmets when they ride. The Boston personal injury lawyers at Breakstone, White & Gluck began our Project KidSafe campaign to put helmets on more children and to encourage children and families to wear one at all times. Our lawyers have represented many cyclists who have suffered head injuries in bicycle accidents over the years, and we know that cyclists can protect themselves by wearing a helmet, which is in good condition, meets safety standards set by the Consumer Product Safety Commission and properly fits.

That’s why Breakstone, White & Gluck founded our Project KidSafe campaign in 2013. As we near the end of 2018, our attorneys are proud to have donated over 20,000 bicycle helmets across Massachusetts. We have partnered with more than 40 organizations over the years and it’s one of our priorities to support local bicycle committees, which are making Massachusetts safer one project at a time. In Westborough, the committee has worked to improve pedestrian and bike signals and supported construction of bike paths. The Westborough Bicycle & Pedestrian Advisory Committee’s website provides resources for cyclists who want help getting around.

Read about the Westborough rotary’s Fall Fest in the Community Advocate newspaper.

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Dooring bicycle accidentA recent New York Times article on dooring injuries shows the risks to cyclists continue, even after advocacy efforts in Boston and other cities.

At Breakstone, White & Gluck, our attorneys represent cyclists who have been seriously injured in dooring accidents. While many dooring accidents happen in urban areas such as Boston, Cambridge and Somerville, dooring can happen in any community in Massachusetts. When drivers or passengers open doors without checking, cyclists can suffer devastating injuries, including broken bones, facial fractures and head injuries. Dooring crashes can be fatal.

Dooring crashes do not always make the news in Boston. But they are happening, more than any other type of bicycle accident. In fact, in November 2016, The Boston Globe reported cyclists faced a 225 percent higher risk for dooring than any other bicycle accident injury.

As part of our Project KidSafe campaign, Breakstone, White & Gluck has worked to promote safe cycling across the state of Massachusetts. We have been especially active in the city of Boston, donating our Project KidSafe bicycle helmets to a number of organizations. One of these organizations is Boston Bikes, which is part of the City of Boston’s Transportation Department. Over the past six years, our attorneys have given roughly 1,200 helmets to Boston Bikes’ programs, including women’s cycling classes, Roll It Forward and youth cycling in city schools.  Roll It Forward is a retired program, but it used to fix up used bikes for city residents who needed one.  Meanwhile, the youth cycling programs teach safety as soon as children start riding.

Thanks to Boston Bikes for sending these photos from the youth cycling programs. Looks like another great year!

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About Breakstone, White & Gluck and Our Project KidSafe Campaign