People walking in a crosswalk

Somerville residents are asking for new traffic calming measures after a fatal pedestrian crash last weekend on Powder House Boulevard and Hardan Road. Police are searching for the driver, who fled the scene.

The Somerville community is wrestling with the horrific crash that killed a teacher in a crosswalk last Friday night.

Somerville Police are still searching for the driver in the Somerville pedestrian crash. The driver struck Allison Donovan, an educator in the Watertown public school system, shortly after 7 p.m. Friday, then fled the scene. Another woman in the crosswalk suffered non-life-threatening injuries.

electric scooter

Electric scooter parked on a sidewalk. Seven scooter companies have expressed interest in coming to Massachusetts, according to the Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC).

If proposed legislation passes, electric scooter rentals may soon return to Massachusetts. Bird – a start-up scooter company – flew in and out of the state last year on a failed test run.

Since then, many communities have been discussing regulations locally while waiting for action on the state level. Last month, Gov. Charlie Baker delivered, including electric scooters in his road safety bill, calling for them to be regulated similar to bicycles. Like cyclists, scooter riders would be required to wear helmets to protect themselves from head injuries.

snow plow accidents can happen in parking lot

A snow plow crash killed an Easton man this week. Police are currently investigating.

As we battled snow and cold, there were two fatal snow plow accidents this week, including one death here in Massachusetts. In Easton, a snow plow hit and killed a 64-year-old man who was changing a tire on Route 138. Meanwhile, in Illinois, another man was snow blowing his driveway when a plow truck backed into him. Both men were pronounced dead on the scene.

These were not the only snow plow accidents, either. In Johnson County, Kansas, a snowplow driver veered off the road and died in a single-car crash. In New York, a state DOT snow plow and vehicle collided in the Town of Aurelius in Cayuga County. Traffic was stopped as two people were airlifted for medical treatment.

Woman talking on cell phone in car

Hand-held cell phone use would become illegal under new legislation proposed by the Massachusetts’ governor’s office.

Many of us expected Gov. Charlie Baker and Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito would file legislation to limit drivers to hands-free cell phone use this year. But the Baker-Polito Administration went much further last week when it filed, “An Act Relative to Improving Safety on the Roads of the Commonwealth.” In announcing the legislation, the administration reported more than 15,000 people were seriously injured in Massachusetts traffic accidents between 2012 and 2016. Another 1,820 people were killed, including 14 road workers.

The Massachusetts Legislature now has a great deal to consider in coming months. Because these proposals will impact us all, we encourage you to follow the media coverage and share your thoughts with your local legislators and town officials.

Cell Phones. In 2010, Massachusetts banned texting while driving. There have been similar proposals, but no action on handheld cell phones. Meanwhile, distracted driving accidents have increased, claiming 3,450 lives in 2016, according to the NHTSA.

The Baker-Polito proposal would require drivers who use electronic devices to go “hands-free” and make use of hands-free driving equipment, such as Bluetooth. Drivers would have to use voice commands instead of reaching for hand-held cell phones. The proposal does allow “a single tap or swipe to activate, deactivate or initiate hands-free mode.”

If this proposal is approved, Massachusetts would be the 16th state to have a hands-free cell phone law, joining all the New England states.

Primary Seat Belt Enforcement. According to the GHSA, 34 states have primary seat belt laws for drivers and front-seat passengers.

Massachusetts has a secondary seat belt law, meaning police officers cannot simply pull a motor vehicle over for a seat belt violation. A police officer must first observe another moving violation, such as speeding or running a red light.

A primary enforcement law for seat belts has been a hard sell in Massachusetts. But we urge you and your family to use the debate as a reminder to wear a seat belt every time you ride. According to the NHTSA, seat belts saved an estimated 14,668 lives in traffic accidents in 2016. Wearing a seat belt is an easy choice we can all make to protect ourselves.

Road Workers. The Massachusetts Department of Transportation would be granted authority to lower speed limits in construction zones. Fines would double in areas where workers are.

Truck Sideguards. In 2014, the Boston City Council approved a truck sideguard ordinance for all city-contracted trucks – the first in the nation. The governor’s proposal builds on this, mandating sideguards for all state-owned trucks and vehicles over 10,000 pounds. Along with sideguards, trucks must be equipped with convex and cross-over mirrors to increase driver’s visibility. If approved, trucks would have to be equipped by Jan. 1, 2020. All state and municipal contractors would have to do the same by 2022.

The sideguards are intended to protect the area between the truck’s front and back wheels, blocking it off to cyclists and pedestrians who can be caught underneath. Massachusetts has seen numerous cyclists who have been seriously injured or killed by these types of truck accidents.

Electric Scooters. The proposal would start regulating electric scooters like bicycles and allow scooter rentals to move ahead in local communities. This has been a point of contention in the Boston area as bikeshare and rideshare companies are eager to start scooter rentals here. Cities have argued that scooters are illegal because they don’t have directional signals as stated under current state law.

Ignition Interlock Devices. When drivers are convicted of operating under the influence or drunk driving in Massachusetts, they are permitted to apply for a hardship license. With this proposal, anyone who applies for a hardship license must use an ignition interlock device for a minimum of six months. The proposal also clarifies that the Registry of Motor Vehicles has authority to impose penalties if drivers attempt to drive after consuming alcohol or tamper with a device.

Further Reading:

Mass.gov: “An Act Relative to Improving Safety on the Roads of the Commonwealth.”

About Breakstone, White & Gluck – Boston Car Accident Lawyers
With more than 100 years combined experience, Breakstone, White & Gluck specializes in representing individuals injured in car accidents, truck accidents and other catastrophic collisions. If you have been injured, learn your rights at 800-379-1244 or 617-723-7676. You can also use our contact form.

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Walk to the Hill banner for Breakstone, White & Gluck

Breakstone, White & Gluck participated and supported the Equal Justice Coalition’s Walk to the Hill 2019 at the Massachusetts State House.

Breakstone, White & Gluck was pleased to support and participate in the Equal Justice Coalition’s Walk to the Hill, seeking increased funding for civil legal aid in Massachusetts. Attorney David W. White joined hundreds of lawyers at the Massachusetts State House, urging legislators to help fund free legal services to residents who cannot afford an attorney on their own. Many Massachusetts residents are not familiar with the coalition until they need help with a landlord dispute, consumer fraud or another non-criminal matter. Then the coalition’s services become critical because when someone faces criminal charges, they have the right to an attorney. But those who need representation in a civil matter are on their own. If they can’t afford a lawyer, the person could suffer devastating losses, personally and financially. With more funding for civil legal aid, the coalition and other legal aid organizations can help more individuals and families stay on track, in their homes, working, receiving medical treatment or going to school without interruption.

The Equal Justice Coalition was created in 1999 by the Boston Bar Association, the Massachusetts Bar Association and the Massachusetts Legal Assistance Corporation. Representatives from these programs participated in a speaking program in the Great Hall at the State House, before attorneys began visiting lawmakers’ offices. Speakers included Louis Tompros, chair of the Equal Justice Coalition; Lynne M. Parker, Executive Director of the Mass. Legal Assistance Corporation; Supreme Judicial Court Chief Justice Ralph Gants; Christopher Kenney, President of the Massachusetts Bar Association and Jacquelynne Bowman, Executive Director of the Greater Boston Legal Services.

Patient who had knee replacement surgery

The Attune Knee System was approved through the FDA’s 510(K) process. Breakstone, White & Gluck is currently representing patients who have suffered Attune knee replacement failures. Free Consultation: 800-379-1244.

In 2019, the public can expect to learn more about the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)’s plans for improving the 510(K) approval process for medical devices. Instead of improving the quality of life for patients, too many medical devices are causing injuries and even death. Many of these medical devices were been approved through 510(K).

Too often, we hear about medical device injuries in the news. At Breakstone, White & Gluck, our attorneys represent patients injured by defective medical devices and other unsafe products in Massachusetts and Rhode Island, from Boston to Worcester to Providence. Our attorneys know each news story represents many more patients who have been injured.

But just how many? More than 1.7 million people have suffered injuries from medical device failures over the past decade, according to a 2018 Associated Press report. Nearly 83,000 people died. These are giant and unbelievable numbers, especially when you consider that medical devices undergo a federal approval process which should protect patients.

How the FDA 510(K) Process Works

Since 1976, manufacturers have been able to short-cut the FDA approval process. If a manufacturer can demonstrate their medical device is “substantially equivalent” to an approved medical device, they can apply through the 510(K) approval process. The manufacturer has to submit paperwork, explaining the similarities between medical devices, but they are not required to conduct additional clinical testing – even for devices which are surgically implanted such as knee and hip replacements.

FDA Proposal Calls for 10-Year Restriction

While the FDA has long been committed to the 510(K) approval process, many have argued the process needs to be more focused on patient safety. After many years of complaints, the FDA is now proposing a change to only allow manufacturers to use the 510(K) approval process when they base their applications on medical devices approved in the past 10 years.

The FDA said this change will modernize the process and ensure products and technologies continue to improve.

Here is a point that supports change. While there are 4,000 medical devices in the agency’s database, just six types have caused 25 percent of all injuries between 2008 and 2017. These include defective hip replacements, including the DePuy metal-on-metal and other hip implants, accounting for more than 103,000 injury reports. The other medical devices: spinal stimulators, surgical mesh, defibrillators, implanted insulin pumps and insulin pumps with sensors. These figures also come from the Associated Press.

Over the next few months, the FDA is taking public comment on other questions, such as should there be a public list of devices or manufacturers who make technologies that rely on devices approved more than 10 years ago? Or what would be an appropriate time period? Read more: FDA’s questions for the public.

Common Medical Device Defects and Injuries

Breakstone, White & Gluck specializes in representing those injured by medical device failures in Boston, Worcester and across Massachusetts and Rhode Island. If you have been injured, our attorneys can advise you of your legal rights for seeking compensation. Our goal is to help clients obtain prompt medical treatment and then, full compensation for financial losses, such as lost wages. Patients may also be entitled to damages for pain and suffering.

Our lawyers are experienced in handling medical device claims involving:

Knee implants. One knee replacement with a high rate of failure is the Attune Knee System, which is stabilized by a cement fixture. Patients can suffer physical pain when the cement loosens.

Hip implants. DePuy issued a recall for its ASR XL Acetabular System metal-on-metal hip implants in 2010. But many other implants followed, including the Stryker Rejuvate Modular and ABG II Modular-Neck Hip Stems, Zimmer and Smith & Nephew. Read more about what to do if you have a defective hip implant.

Surgical mesh. Patients have suffered complications after being treated with surgical mesh implants during hernia repair procedures. There have been so many injuries that the FDA has issued an advisory warning patients about the severe pain and long-term complications that can result. One type of surgical mesh which has caused injuries is the Ethicon Physiomesh® Flexible Composite hernia mesh.

Boston Medical Device Injury Lawyers – Free Legal Consultation: 800-379-1244

Learn your legal rights if you have been injured as a result of a medical device failure. 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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man falls on snow and ice in MassachusettsThe forecast is calling for snow in Boston. Get your shovels ready. Clearing snow and ice isn’t just considerate. It’s a responsibility for property owners and drivers under Massachusetts law.

As personal injury attorneys, we have represented many people who have slipped on snow and ice across Massachusetts and never saw the danger or risk. Slips and falls can happen on both residential and commercial property, on walkways, parking lots and unsecured railings. These injuries can be painful, long-lasting and are always senseless. As a property owner, remember you are in control of your property. Shovel and monitor your property so no one is injured.

Massachusetts Property Owners Must Shovel

Massachusetts law recognizes that property owners have a responsibility to clear snow and ice – now. But this was not always true.

In 2010, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled in the case of Papadopoulos v. Target Corporation, SJC-10529 (July 26, 2010). This ruling changed everything for property owners and those who are injured on snow and ice.

In Papadopoulos, the plaintiff fell on ice in a parking lot outside a Target department store at the Liberty Tree Mall in Danvers. Claims were brought against the Target Corporation and Weiss Landscaping Company, the contractor in charge of snow and ice removal.

In its ruling, the Supreme Judicial Court abolished the long-standing distinction between “natural” and “unnatural” snow accumulations. In the past, the cause of snow accumulation was significant in determining whether those injured could bring a claim against the property owner. If snow and ice had naturally accumulated, the property owner may not be held liable for injuries. But property owners could be held liable for unnatural accumulations, such as snow thrown by a plow or shovel.

This was known as the “Massachusetts rule,” of natural accumulation. It was rejected by every other high court in New England, according to the Supreme Judicial Court’s decision.

With this decision, the Supreme Judicial Court wrote that property owners will now be held to the same duty of car to act as a reasonable person, regardless of how snow and ice forms to create a property defect.

For property owners, the takeaway is clear your driveways and walkways. Don’t let snow and ice accumulate. If you do, someone could be seriously injured and you could be held liable.

  • Clear snow during and after snowstorms. Salt regularly. Start early into a snowstorm. After a snowstorm, monitor the ice accumulations on your property. Your property may also need attention for the next few days.
  • Safety for your visitors. Approach your property by foot. Walk up your driveway and on any paths. Test how safe these areas are for your friends, family and delivery professionals.
  • Porch safety. If you have a porch, keep it clear of snow and ice during the winter, so melting does not damage or weaken the wood. Remove furniture from your porch so you have no trouble shoveling.

Massachusetts Drivers Must Shovel, Scrape and Clear

car-snow-200The Massachusetts Driver’s Manual states drivers should remove snow and ice from their vehicles before driving. We urge you to plan extra time. Clear all windows, windshield wipers, headlights and brake lights, so your vehicle is fully operational.

Take extra care to clear your vehicle’s roof. Failure to do so can send snow onto the car behind you, throwing the driver off or causing a car accident.

Drivers can be cited for failure to clear snow in Massachusetts. Police can fine drivers with impeded operation if they drive with snow-covered windows. This offense is punishable by a $40 fine.

When a driver fails to clear their roof, they may face a $200 fine for driving with an unsecured load. Drivers of commercial trucks, passenger trucks, vans and other vehicles traveling with snow and ice and other unsecured loads are highly dangerous, especially in winter conditions. Slow down and create space between you and any vehicle which makes you feel unsafe. Move to another lane. Write down the driver’s license plate and contact police.

A driver’s failure to clear snow can lead to a traffic citations, but also criminal charges and liability in a civil case if someone is injured.

Boston Snow and Ice Accident Lawyers – Free Legal Consultation: 800-379-1244
Breakstone, White & Gluck of Boston has over 100 years combined experience representing those injured by the negligence of commercial and residential property owners. We have expertise in handling cases involving snow and ice falls, porch collapses and landlord negligence. Our Boston personal injury attorneys have represented clients across the state of Massachusetts, including Boston, Brockton, Hyannis and Cape Cod, Fall River, Framingham and Worcester.

For a free consultation, call our office at 800-379-1244 or 617-723-7676 or use our contact form.

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courthouseFor decades, the Massachusetts courts have adhered to the “transitory water doctrine.” Simply put, under this common law standard, Massachusetts property owners have generally been shielded from liability in slip and fall cases when an injury results from normal use in wet weather. For example, a customer who wears boots in the snow and tracks water into a store, causing another customer to slip.

Established more than 40 years ago, the transitory water doctrine has set the legal standard for property owners. With no incentive to avoid liability, large commercial property owners were virtually free from worries about injuries caused by water tracked in from outside. Make no mistake: many people have been badly hurt right after crossing the threshold of a store, where the water and grime are most concentrated.

But this may change, after a recent ruling by Superior Court Judge Cornelius J. Moriarty II.

Traffic jam

As a record-number of holiday travelers hit the road, Boston will be especially hard hit this week, according to AAA’s travel forecast.

However you celebrate, we hope you enjoy a festive holiday season, filled with friends, family, holiday events or volunteering.

But most of all, here at Breakstone, White & Gluck, our attorneys hope you commit to travel safely during the holidays. While it’s the season for giving, Thanksgiving to New Year’s brings some of the most dangerous days on the roads.

AAA is forecasting a record-breaking 112.5 million holiday travelers – or 1 in 3 Americans. This represents a 4.4 percent increase over last year. More than 102 million will travel by car, the highest number in 17 years. The forecast holds bad news for Boston though. On Wednesday afternoon, we could end up with one of the longest commutes in the nation.

Tips for driving safely for the holiday season:

Plan for Boston holiday travelers. AAA and INRIX forecast this Thursday, Dec. 20th, will be the most congested day nationwide. Boston is on a list of 10 holiday hot spots, with the worst travel expected on Wednesday, Dec. 19th. The absolute worst time to drive is 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. that day and you can expect the commute to take 3.5 times as long. It’s hard to believe the forecast is so terrible. It’s based on historical data and recent travel trends.

Unfortunately, this heavy traffic won’t just impact those starting their holiday commute; it will also challenge workers, school buses, delivery services and just about all of us.

Make a plan. Take public transportation if you can. Adjust your work hours if your employer allows it. Services like Waze and Mass511 can help you navigate and take away some of the stress.

Buckle up. Wear your seat belt at all times. When driving others, ask if they are buckled up before you start moving. People really need the reminder. Even after years of safety campaigns, nearly 10 percent of Americans are still not wearing seat belts, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). In 2016, seat belts could have saved more than 2,400 people killed in car accidents (Source: NHTSA).

The day before you travel, also take time to check your children’s car seats, so they are properly secured.

Plan enough space for holiday gifts. When traveling with gifts or food, make sure you leave enough space so you can see through your windows.

Watch your speed, especially near pedestrians. Speeding is involved in one-third of all traffic fatalities, according to the NHTSA. It is also a leading cause in car accidents which injure pedestrians. Commit to traveling the speed limit or slower if you need to adjust for weather conditions, dark roads or unfamiliar areas. Have patience in parking lots and remember, during the holiday season, pedestrians may be out later at night.

Drive sober. If you celebrate outside your home, our suggestion is to skip the alcohol and focus instead on all you are grateful for this year. If you plan to drink, choose a designated driver whom you trust not to drink. As a backup, install the Uber and Lyft apps on your phone.

Drunk drivers killed 10,874 people in motor vehicle crashes in 2017, representing 29 percent of all traffic fatalities in the U.S., according to the NHTSA. Here in Massachusetts, drunk drivers caused 34 percent of all traffic deaths.

As personal injury attorneys who represent those injured by drunk drivers, we know firsthand that when someone is killed by a drunk driver, nothing is ever the same for the family. Drunk driving accidents are senseless, entirely preventable had the driver just made a better decision.

As for drunk drivers, they can be criminally charged and expect to face a civil lawsuit, as can others in certain cases, including bars and restaurants in liquor liability cases.

Marijuana will be in greater supply this year, after retail stores have opened for recreational marijuana sales in Massachusetts. Use good judgment. Do not consume marijuana when you are driving. Users are about 25 percent more likely to crash than other drivers, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

No distracted driving. We cannot say it enough: it’s critical to put your cell phone away when you are driving, especially in heavy traffic. Tell your loved ones your phone is off the hook until you stop driving and turn your engine off. Stay committed to that. Don’t engage in texting while driving, reading e-mail or checking Facebook when driving.

Have your directions ready in advance. If you are driving long distance with children, make sure you have snacks, books, coloring sets or games prepared. If possible, drive with another adult so they can respond to your children and make an emergency call if necessary.

Finally, plan ahead and decide where you want to take rest breaks.

Emergency supplies. Do everything you can to ensure you reach your destination safely. Carry cash, a credit card and an emergency kit containing: a mobile phone charger, a first-aid kit, water and snacks, a flashlight and extra batteries, warning flares, jumper cables and a basic tool kit. And don’t forget ice scrapers, shovels and blankets.


Additional resources:

AAA’s Holiday Travel Forecast for 2018

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

2017 Data: Alcohol-Impaired Driving, NHTSA


About Breakstone, White & Gluck

Free Legal Consultation: 800-379-1244

For more than 25 years, Breakstone, White & Gluck has represented those injured by car accidents in Massachusetts. Our Boston car accident lawyers are known for our top results for clients and their families. We have consistently been recognized for our results, including by Massachusetts Super Lawyers, Top 100 New England Super Lawyers and Top 100 Massachusetts Super Lawyers. 

If you have been injured, learn your legal rights. For a free legal consultation, contact Breakstone, White & Gluck at 800-379-1244 or 617-723-7676. You can also use our contact form.

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Breakstone, White & Gluck was pleased to support MassBike’s Light Brigade 2018, which delivered bike lights to cyclists who needed a set so they can be visible to drivers. All Photos: Courtesy of MassBike Light Brigade 2018 Facebook Photo Album

massbike-4-1200We want to say job well done to MassBike for helping cyclists ride safely at night in Massachusetts. Over the past few weeks, MassBike has been distributing bike lights to cyclists from near and far, shining a light on the importance of staying visible during these dark days of winter.

Under Massachusetts law, cyclists are required to use bike lights from 30 minutes after sunset until 30 minutes before sunrise.  The front of the bike must be equipped with a white light (visible at least 500 feet away), with a red light or reflector on the back.  Drivers must be able to see the rear light from at least 600 feet away.

MassBike is committed to getting lights to cyclists, reaching across 90 miles with this year’s campaign. Volunteers have given out lights in Boston, including in the Allston, Jamaica Plain and Charlestown neighborhoods and nearby: Cambridge, Lynn, Newton and Needham. Further west, cyclists in Northampton, Holyoke and Worcester also received lights. We’re told there may be more stops.

Breakstone, White & Gluck was a sponsor of MassBike’s campaign in 2017 and 2018. Other sponsors of the MassBike’s 2018 Light Brigade include Digital Lumens, Cycle Massachusetts and Charles River Wheelers.

More questions about Massachusetts bicycle laws? Read our article, “Quick Facts About Massachusetts Bicycle Laws.”

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massbike-3-1200  massbike-5-1200-charlestown

Photos: Courtesy of MassBike Light Brigade 2018 Facebook Photo Album

About Breakstone, White & Gluck

With more than 100 years combined experience, Breakstone, White & Gluck is a Boston law firm specializing in personal injury and medical malpractice cases. Our partners founded our firm in 1992 and we have supported bicycle safety the entire way. For more than 20 years, we have sponsored bicycle clubs and organizations in the Boston area (and in some cases, ridden along the way; one of our partners is also a cyclist).

In 2013, our attorneys launched our Project KidSafe campaign, which has now given away more than 20,000 bicycle helmets across Massachusetts. Along the way, we have proudly worked with over 40 community organizations, including Massachusetts Safe Routes to School, more than a dozen police departments and bicycle committees in Milton, Westborough and Framingham. In 2017, we were recognized as a Silver Level Bicycle Friendly Business by the American League of Bicyclists.

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