Breakstone, White & Gluck has received the Nancy King Award for its 100 percent participation in last year’s annual Walk to the Hill for Civil Legal Aid.

The Equal Justice Coalition, which organizes the annual Walk, recently presented our firm with the award. Attorneys Marc L. Breakstone, David W. WhitIMG_6756-e1484675135330-225x300e, Ronald E. Gluck and Reza Breakstone participated last year.

The Walk was held on January 28, 2016 at the State House in Boston. Hundreds of attorneys gathered in the Great Hall to hear from Chief Justice Ralph Gants of the Supreme Judicial Court and Attorney General Maura Healey. Several past presidents of the Massachusetts Bar Association participated, including Attorney David W. White, who served a term from 2007-2008.

The attorneys were then dispatched to speak to state Senators and Representatives and urge them to fund the Massachusetts Legal Assistance Corporation line in the Fiscal Year 2017 state budget.
Last year’s campaign was successful, which should provide good motivation for even more attorneys to attend again this year. Governor Charlie Baker approved $18 million in funding for civil legal aid in the final Fiscal Year 2017 Budget of the Commonwealth. This was a $1 million increase over the prior year’s funding.

With the additional funding, the Massachusetts Legal Assistance Corporation was able to help more low-income people facing homelessness, domestic violence, gain access to health care and other legal services.

To qualify for civil legal aid in Massachusetts, a family must earn no more than 125 percent of the Federal Poverty Level (or $30,375 a year for a family of four). Despite the increase, the Equal Justice Coalition reports that legal aid organizations are still forced to turn away 64 percent of those eligible because of a lack of funding.

The Equal Justice Coalition has released a Fiscal Year 2018 fact sheet. This year, MLAC is seeking a $5 million increase for civil legal aid. To learn more about the event, visit http://equaljusticecoalition.org/.

2016 Walk to the Hill Attendance awards were recently presented to these firms:

• Nancy King Award: Breakstone, White & Gluck (highest percentage of attorneys participating)
• Highest Participation Award: WilmerHale
• Exceptional Support Awards: Foley Hoag and Ropes & Gray

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Man flying a droneMore than a million drones were sold this holiday season. If one happened to land in your pile of presents, remember that taking to your neighborhood skies comes with responsibilities. We offer a few reminders about insurance and protecting yourself from financial liability if there is injury or property damage. As a drone operator, you want to make sure that you will be able to pay for damages or personal injury that was caused by your negligence.

Homeowners and Renters Insurance. Start by reviewing your homeowners and renters insurance policies. Then speak to your insurance agent to learn if drone-related accidents are covered.

According to the Insurance Information Institute, drones are most likely covered under these policies. The liability portion of your homeowners insurance may cover you in lawsuits for bodily injury or property damage. Your policy may also provide no-fault medical coverage if someone is accidentally injured by your drone. But there are limits; medical bills for you and family members may not be covered by no-fault medical coverage.

Another reason to have insurance for your drone: If your drone causes bodily injury or property damage, and a claim is brought against you, proper insurance will not only cover the damages; the insurance company will also provide a lawyer to defend the claim against you.

Check with your insurance agent. The insurance industry is actively discussing this topic. Already, some insurers may exclude drone-related accidents from homeowners insurance policies. Others may choose to do so in the future.

Car Insurance. Your auto insurance policy may cover property damage resulting from crash landings or related accidents. Ask your auto insurance agent.

Commercial Users. If you operate a drone for business (even for a part-time business), you should ask your agent if you are covered. This would not typically be covered under your homeowners insurance policy.

Safety Reminders. Never use your drone recklessly and always follow current safety regulations. Drone owners are required to register drones with the FAA and fly at or below 400 feet. Failure to do so could result in a fine. To learn more, watch this safety video from the FAA.

Theft. Consider theft insurance if it make sense. Some drones are small and can be easily stolen. But remember many homeowners have to pay a deductible if they file a claim. If you own an inexpensive drone it will likely be less than your deductible. Maybe it was time to upgrade to the fancier drone anyway.

Memberships. If you do not have adequate coverage, consider your options. You may be able to buy more insurance coverage from your carrier or research other insurance carriers. You may also qualify for coverage if you belong to a membership organization or club. The New York Times reported the Academy of Model Aeronautics offers group liability coverage as part of its $75 per year membership. This may pay for damages after your homeowners insurance policy is exhausted.

Time to Get Started
If you are a drone owner, we hope you take the time to check with your insurance agent so you understand your potential liability. Drone crashes can happen on your property or a neighbor’s property and you want to be prepared.

Here are two resources:

“Getting a Drone as a Gift? Check Your Insurance,” New York Times.

“Going Drone for the Holidays? Make Insurance Part of Your Pre-Flight Check,” Insurance Information Institute.

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43887418_s-300x214As The Boston Globe continues to report on the unsafe practice of concurrent surgeries, we want to remind patients and health care consumers that you have legal rights when you seek medical treatment.

In 2015, The Boston Globe Spotlight Team reported on the practice of concurrent, overlapping surgeries at hospitals in Massachusetts and across the country. Concurrent surgery occurs when a surgeon has one patient still in surgery and starts a procedure on another patient. Patients were not informed of the practice.

This month, the U.S. Senate Finance Committee urged hospitals to clearly prohibit the practice.

dw-200-webMany of us would rather skip the shovels, snowblowers and ice scrapers this winter. But when the snow falls, remember that Massachusetts property owners have a responsibility to keep their property reasonably safe. So your shovel must come out.

For over 100 years, Massachusetts property owners enjoyed a special exemption from liability for “natural accumulations” of snow and ice. An injured person previously had to demonstrate that the accumulation was unnatural, such as the frozen discharge from a gutter, or a pile of plowed snow across a sidewalk. But for the past six years, Massachusetts has followed the rule of reasonable care.

All residential and commercial property owners now have to take reasonable steps to clear the snow and ice hazards and keep their property safe for traveling.

reza-breakstone-webAttorney Reza Breakstone writes about the legal ramifications of self-driving cars in an article published in the Winter 2016-2017 edition of The Litigator, the official publication of the Capital City Trial Lawyers Association in Sacramento, California. Attorney Breakstone co-authored the article with Attorney Paul Hoybjerg of Roseville, California. In the article, “The Self Driving Car: Science Fiction Becomes Reality, Creating a Legal Quandary,” the authors write the time has come for the self-driving car.

“The self-driving car is no longer a distant dream of an imagined future. It is here, it is now, and it is reality. There already exist automated functions that come standard on vehicles: anti-lock brakes, self-parking, cruise control, and crash avoidance cameras. Automated cars will affect more than simply your ability to tie your tie or apply your make-up on the way to work. They stand to completely change the automotive industry, insurance world, legal market, public transport and city planning, while redefining the American culture of feeling “freedom” behind the wheel.”

The article explains the current levels of automation among vehicles on the market, investments in the industry and ramifications for auto insurers and plaintiffs and defendants in personal injury cases.

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“The less thrilling ramifications may be to the bottom line of auto insurers and the plaintiffs’ and defense bars in personal injury cases. Currently, auto insurance premiums account for $200 billion nationwide. The insurance industry, with decreased vehicle ownership and decreased liability issues on the part of the user, will find itself cut out of the equation. Allstate Corp. Chairman Thomas Wilson predicts that driverless cars will have “the most detrimental impact on auto insurance” and one “we don’t want to wait” to figure it out.”

The article says questions of liability and specifically who will be responsible need to be resolved and there must be uniform laws that states are willing to adopt.

“The self-driving car brings with it the hope of decreased fatalities and the excitement of a new horizon of transportation. The technology is closer than most realize. Multiple players, from automakers, insurers, and lawyers must be aware of the change or be left in the dust. While the technology is rapidly gaining steam with the help of major corporations and bright minds, there is still much that must be sorted out before the self-driving car is ready for the road. Or, maybe, before we are ready for the self-driving car.”

Read the full article.

About Attorney Reza Breakstone
Attorney Reza Breakstone joined Breakstone, White & Gluck as an associate in 2015. He has earned a reputation as a tough and tenacious litigator helping both individuals who have been personally injured and burgeoning companies who have had insurance and contract disputes. More on Reza Breakstone.

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Attorney Marc L. Breakstone was quoted in a front-page Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly article about common law liability for injuries caused by sidewalk defects. The current common-law standard dates back centuries and prohibits many plaintiffs from recovering compensation for injuries. But a recent Appeals Court ruling may have finally set the stage for change.

Attorney Breakstone welcomes the idea. “I think that the common law is a living body of principles that has to evolve as social conditions and the realities of life evolve,” he said.

20161128_sidewalkdefectEarlier this month, the Appeals Court ruled in the case of Halbach, et al. v. Normandy Real Estate Partners, et al., concurring that a Superior Court judge had correctly granted summary judgment to the defendant, 100 & 200 Clarendon LLC, which operated, leased and maintained the John Hancock Tower and a neighboring garage in Boston.

toy-shopping

Many of us will shop for a child this holiday season. Do your homework first, so you purchase gifts which are both safe and fun to use.

Each year, children and young adults are seriously injured or killed while playing with dangerous and defective toys. We should be able to trust that the toys we purchase from reputable stores are safe, but that is not always the case. In 2015, there were an estimated 185,500 toy-related, emergency department-treated injuries and 11 deaths to children younger than 15 years old, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). Riding toys, specifically non-motorized scooters, were associated with the most toy-related injuries.

Before you shop, here are a few tips:

Check out the CPSC recall page. Check the recall page before you shop. You can search for a specific toy, by manufacturer or in several different useful ways.

Read labels. Look for labels with age recommendations and follow them. If you shop online, double check the age recommendation and other labels once you receive the product box. What you see on the computer screen may not be what you actually receive.

Read the Top 10 Worst Toys 0f 2016 list. Take time to read this list and make sure not to buy any toy mentioned on it. Another toy to note: the Tonka 12V Ride-On Dump Truck. It has not been recalled, but Toys R Us has pulled it off shelves after one of the toys caught fire in Bellingham, Washington over the weekend.

No small pieces. Do not buy toys with small pieces for small children under three years old. Consider every part, even things such as small plastic eyes and noses on stuffed animals and dolls which could become loose.

Plastic film. If you purchase toys with mirrors or similar surfaces, remove the protective plastic film before giving the gift to a child. It is a choking hazard.

Avoid magnets. Do not purchase toys or adult gifts with small magnets. If a small child swallows two or more magnets, they attract in the stomach. Surgery may be required to remove the magnets and the child may suffer very serious complications. Thousands of children have these suffered these injuries and required surgeries. At least one child died in recent years, according to news stories.

The CPSC and companies have recalled many of the popular magnet toy sets in recent years, such as Buckyballs toys, and strengthened federal standards. But some are still sold. Steer clear of any product with small magnets. Once they are brought into a house, small pieces can fall under furniture or other areas and stay there for years until they are discovered by a child. They are hard to thoroughly clean up.

Electrical toys. Children should use toys with electrical components under adult supervision and follow age recommendations. Before you buy an electrical toy, check with a child’s parents to see if it is appropriate.

Cords and strings. Do not buy toys with long strings for infants and young children. A child can wrap a long string around his or her own neck and strangle themselves.

Batteries. Do not purchase toys which operate with small circle button batteries.

Balloons. Children can suffocate from balloons and the CPSC advises against letting children younger than 8 play with balloons. One risk is a child can swallow a balloon or suck it in while blowing it up. After the balloon pops, a child can also choke on the broken pieces.
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Congratulations to attorneys Marc L. Breakstone, David W. White and Ronald E. Gluck for being selected to the 2016 Super Lawyers lists. This is the 13th year our firm has been recognized by Super Lawyers for being among the best in New England at obtaining justice for those who have been injured by negligence in personal injury and medical malpractice cases.. Together, our three partners have over 100 years combined experience practicing law in Massachusetts. Here is how they were honored:

Attorney Marc L. Breakstone
Boston Attorney Marc BreakstoneCongratulations to Attorney Breakstone who was named a Top 100 New England Super Lawyer and a Top 100 Massachusetts Super Lawyer for 2016. Attorney Breakstone specializes in representing plaintiffs in medical malpractice and personal injury cases and has practiced in Boston for 30 years. For the 13th year, Attorney Breakstone was also recognized as as a Massachusetts Super Lawyer in the area of medical malpractice for plaintiffs (2004-2016). This is his 10th year on the Top 100 Massachusetts Super Lawyers list. He was selected as a Top 100 New England Super Lawyer for the fifth time.

Attorney David W. White
david-150-2Congratulations to Attorney David W. White, who was named a 2016 Massachusetts Super Lawyer in the area of personal injury, plaintiff representation. This is the 13th year he has been recognized for excellence among Massachusetts and New England lawyers. Attorney White has been selected to the Top 100 New England Super Lawyers list three times and to the Top 100 Massachusetts Super Lawyers list seven times.

Attorney White is a past president of the Massachusetts Bar Association and has practiced law in Boston for over 30 years. He has distinguished himself for his advocacy on behalf of his clients and his leadership among Massachusetts lawyers. Attorney White represents clients in all types of personal injury and insurance cases, including bicycle accidents, pedestrian accidents, motor vehicle accidents, product liability and dog bite cases.

Attorney Ronald E. Gluck
gluck_150Congratulations to Attorney Ronald E. Gluck, who was named a 2016 Massachusetts Super Lawyer in the area of personal injury, plaintiff representation. Attorney Gluck has been consistently recognized for excellence by Super Lawyers for 11 years. Attorney Gluck has practiced law in Boston for over 35 years and specializes in handling cases involving pedestrian accidents, bicycle accidents, motor vehicle accidents and motorcycle accidents.

About Super Lawyers
Super Lawyers is a multiphase selection process which rates attorneys in every state. The top 5 percent of attorneys are selected to Super Lawyers lists.

How the process works: Peer nominations and evaluations are combined with independent research by Super Lawyers, which is part of the Thomson Reuters company. Lawyers are evaluated on 12 indicators of peer recognition and professional achievement on an annual, state-by-state basis. The company’s objective is to create a credible, comprehensive and diverse listing of outstanding attorneys which can be used as a resource for other attorneys and consumers searching for legal counsel.

Super Lawyers listings are printed annually in Boston Magazine and are available on the Super Lawyers website. Continue reading

cyclist-1Breakstone, White & Gluck is teaming up with Boston Bikes, the City of Boston and cycling groups this week to remind cyclists to use bike lights. All over the city, cyclists are being surprised with free lights (if they need them), as part of Boston Bikes’ #BeBrilliant campaign to keep cyclists safe.

Breakstone, White & Gluck donated the 500 bicycle light sets to Boston Bikes, which is part of the City of Boston, for the third year. Boston Bikes staff and volunteer groups have been giving the lights away this week in Dorchester, Allston, Brighton, Dorchester, East Boston, Mattapan, Roxbury, South Boston and Downtown. Groups include Rozzie Bikes, Commonwheels Bicycle Collective and Bike Dorchester.

Under Massachusetts law, cyclists must use bike lights to help them stay visible to motorists. Cyclists must have a white light on the front of their bike and either a red light or a red reflector on the rear. This is an important reminder since Daylight Saving Time ended last weekend and the nights are getting darker earlier.

“As evenings get dark earlier, people who are driving, walking and bicycling need to be more aware of each other than ever,” said BTD Commissioner Gina N. Fiandaca, in an announcement posted on the city’s website. “Our top priority is ensuring the safety of people traveling on our streets, and we ask everyone to help us by slowing down and looking out for each other.

Here are a few safety tips for drivers, pedestrians and cyclists.

For Drivers

  • Follow the speed limit
  • Do not use cell phones
  • Always yield to pedestrians
  • When turning, slow down and look for bicyclists going straight
  • Make sure you do not open your car door into the path of a bicyclist or another driver
  • Do not park or stop in the bike or bus lane

For Pedestrians

  • Always use crosswalks
  • Avoid crossing the street between two parked cars
  • Wear reflective colored clothing

For Bicyclists

  • Always wear a bicycle helmet and use bike lights
  • Bike in the same direction as traffic, unless the street is marked otherwise
  • Stop at stop signs and follow all traffic signals
  • Wear reflective colored clothing
  • Use hand signals
  • Yield for pedestrians

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Breakstone, White & Gluck has completed its 2016 Project KidSafe campaign, donating nearly 5,000 helmets to children in Massachusetts this year. With help from local bicycle committees, police departments, schools and community groups, we have now donated more than 10,000 bicycle helmets over four years to help children ride safely.

Our partners, Marc L. Breakstone, David W. White and Ronald E. Gluck, thank everyone who has helped us and embraced our goal: to keep children and families safe and encourage them to wear a helmet every time they ride to prevent serious head injuries.

Read More About Our 2016 Donations:
2016 Project KidSafe Campaign Wrap-Up
2016 Local Bicycle Committee Donations
2016 Police Department Donations
2016 School Donations

Our Partners:
Boston Bikes, Roll It Forward
CYCLE Kids
Bikes Not Bombs
Arlington iCan Shine Camp
Arlington Bicycle Advisory Committee
Ashland Farmers Market
Bicyclecentro of East Boston
Bike Milton
Commonwheels Bicycle Collective
Dedham Bike Rodeo
East Arlington Livable Streets Coalition
Easthampton Healthy Youth Coalition
Framingham Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee
Friends of Lexington Bikeways
Groundwork Somerville
Haynes Early Education Center in Roxbury
Massachusetts Safe Routes to School
Northbridge Public Schools
Somerville Kiwanis Club
Somerville Public Schools
The Home for Little Wanderers
Tierney Learning Center of South Boston
Up Academy Dorchester
Watertown Bicycle and Pedestrian Committee
Westborough Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee
Westwood Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety Committee
Windsor Street Care Center of Cambridge
Worcester Earn-a-Bike

Our Police Department Partners:
Cambridge Police
Dedham Police
Everett Police
Randolph Police
Norwood Police
Waltham Police
Marlborough Police
Malden Police
Tewksbury Police
Somerville Police
Framingham Police
Lexington Police

Cycling Clubs and Bicycle Organizations:
We were also pleased to support safe riding in other ways, by sponsoring the Boston Cyclists Union, MassBike, Northeast Bicycle Club, Charles River Wheelmen, New England Mountain Bike Association (NEMBA), CYCLE Kids and Bikes Not Bombs. We are also sponsoring the Boston Bikes #BeBrilliant campaign again in 2016.

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