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.

Continue reading

For 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.

Continue reading

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.”

massbike-5-1200

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.

Continue reading

shopping mall parking lot

Parking lot crashes are more likely in Boston and Massachusetts this time of year, as holiday shoppers are out. What can you do to prevent accidents? Put down your cell phone, slow down and always watch for pedestrians.

When you finish your holiday shopping, and start to head home, you may be tempted to pick up your cell phone and call someone. But the parking lot is not a safe place and the holidays are not the season.

Unfortunately, car accident claims typically rise during the holidays, as many of us head out shopping or to enjoy holiday lights. According to the National Safety Council (NSC), the increase begins around Thanksgiving and Black Friday. We are now approaching one of the worst stretches, the days just before Christmas. 

At Breakstone, White & Gluck, our Boston personal injury lawyers urge you to travel slowly and set aside distractions to prevent parking lot crashes. Too many drivers are engaging in these distractions, according to this recent National Safety Council poll:

  • 66 percent of drivers nationwide said they would make phone calls while driving through parking lots.
  • Teens were less likely to make phone calls than adults (60 percent).
  • Another 63 percent said they would program GPS systems.
  • More than half, 56 percent, said they would text and 52 percent said they would use social media.
  • Another 50 percent said yes to sending or receiving e-mails, while 49 percent said they would take photos or watch videos.
  • More than half of all teens and adults also admitted they would take time for personal grooming (59 percent of teens; 53 percent of adults).

Tips for Preventing Parking Lot Crashes

  • Drive slowly. Give yourself plenty of time to react to pedestrians and other vehicles.
  • Do not cut through parking lots; follow the traffic lane.
  • Avoid distracted driving activities, such as cell phone use, texting, listening to loud music and engaging in intense discussion. 
  • Choose your place to check electronics, such as before you leave the mall or store.
  • Use blinker signals.
  • Obey stop signs and other signs. Back out carefully.
  • Always watch for pedestrians in the parking lot and at the entrance. Be extremely patient and always wait for them to reach the sidewalk before moving.
  • Walk all the way around your vehicle before stepping inside, looking for pedestrians and parents with small children and baby strollers.
  • Consider parking away from other cars to avoid shopping mall parking lot crashes.

The Impact: Parking Lot Crashes

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reports parking lot crashes account for about 20 percent of all auto claims. The NSC reports on average each year, there are 60,000 injured by parking lot crashes and 500 or more who die. Pedestrian accidents account for many parking lot crashes. Backup accidents are responsible for nearly 10 percent of fatal pedestrian crashes in parking lots.

Over the past few years, a number of pedestrian accidents in Massachusetts parking lots have been fatal. In 2017, a Trader Joe’s employee in Acton was killed. A year earlier, a 52-year-old woman died in Wilmington, outside a Rite-Aid. In 2015, a pedestrian was killed in the parking lot of the Cloverleaf Mall in Natick, just across the street from the Natick Collection (or the old Natick Mall).

Cell Phone Use and Massachusetts Law

Eight years ago, Massachusetts banned texting while driving. If you are texting or writing an e-mail and cause a car crash, you could be cited by police. If you injure another driver, the police citation could be used in a civil lawsuit to prove your negligence and you will have to pay compensation to the victim.

All but three states have texting while driving bans. Hand-held cell phone bans are a different story, with just 16 states approving bans. Hand-held cell phones are still permitted when driving in Massachusetts, but safety advocates urge drivers not to use them, especially in parking lots. In a matter of seconds, a simple act such as trying to look up GPS directions or dialing a friend can lead to a serious and possibly fatal accident.

Free Legal Consultation: 800-379-1244

If you have been injured in a parking lot crash, it is important to learn your legal rights for seeking financial compensation under Massachusetts law. Contacting a Boston car accident lawyer promptly is essential so they can act quickly to protect your rights.

At Breakstone, White & Gluck, our lawyers have over 100 years combined experience representing those injured in auto collisions. For a free legal consultation, contact us at 800-379-1244 or 617-723-7676 or use our contact form.

Continue reading

‘Tis the season to shop for holiday toys and gifts. Or to bring that product back, for a full refund or replacement?

While a record number of consumers shopped for the holidays, IKEA and Honda issued major safety recalls in November. We share an update on these recalls and continue our Project KidSafe series on toy safety.

Honda Odyssey Recall. It’s a replacement part if you own a Honda Odyssey and unfortunately, you can expect to wait.

Honda Odyssey van

107,000 Honda Odyssey vans because of a problem with the power doors. Photo: Wikipedia.

Just in time for the Thanksgiving drive, Honda recalled 107,000 Honda Odyssey vans because the power doors may improperly latch and can potentially open while the vehicle is in operation. Honda has not received any reports of injuries.

Honda recalled vehicles from the 2018 and 2019 model years on November 20, 2018. The automaker called on drivers to request replacement power sliding door kits through an authorized Honda dealer. Replacement parts should arrive at licensed dealers in late December.

Honda advised owners they can disable the power door. Use manual operation until replacements arrive.

This is not the first recall involving Honda Odyssey vans. Last year, 900,000 Odyssey models from 2011 – 2017 were also recalled. In that case, Honda reported second-row seats could tip forward if not properly latched. Tipping could happen during moderate or heavy braking if seats were not properly latched after adjusting side-to-side or reinstalling a removed seat. Honda received 46 reports of minor injuries.

To learn more about the recalls, visit the Honda website.

IKEA dining tables recall November 2018

IKEA recalled these dining room tables in November 2018 because the dining surface can collapse. Return for a refund.

IKEA Tables. It is a return if you have an IKEA table. The retailer recalled 8,200 dining tables in the U.S. and 1,500 in Canada on November 27, 2018, warning the table’s glass extension leaf can detach and drop.

This has already happened three times. IKEA reports one minor injury, requiring no medical attention.

These tables sold at IKEA stores and online from February 2017 through October 2018. They sold for approximately $300. IKEA says consumers  can return them for a full refund or a replacement table. Learn more on the Consumer Product Safety Commission website.

Consumer Safety Tip: Consumers do not have to wait for the news media to report unsafe products and product recalls. You can view recalls online on the CPSC website and even sign up to receive email alerts when products are recalled. Visit the toy safety page on our website to learn how to sign up.

Not every recall is the same. The CPSC can release product recalls calling for refunds or replacements. Some products can be repaired easily. Others cannot. Consumers should pay attention to all recalls. Encourage friends and family to do the same: return and refund or replacement/repair. Another option is just remove the recalled product from your home, if it can be taken apart and discarded with care, so other children cannot reuse it.

A Decade of Toy Safety Efforts, Passage of Federal Safety Legislation to Protect Massachusetts Families

Toys can be defective and recalled after causing serious injuries.At Breakstone, White & Gluck, our Boston product liability lawyers specialize in representing those injured by defective products. Toy injuries are common, even though toys should only be safe and fun for children. It is painful to learn they can be defective or may not have been fully tested or properly labeled. Defective toys can cause serious injuries, including fingertip lacerations, burns, facial injuries and broken bones. For children under age 3, the leading hazard is toys which contain small parts and balloons which can cause choking and suffocation. Toys should be tested to see if parts can fit through the “small parts” test. Those which pass through the “small parts” cylinder should have age-appropriate warnings, which read “Choking Hazard – Small Parts. Not for Children Under 3 Yrs.”

Among older children and teens, Hoverboards and riding toys are popular holiday gifts. These toys have injured and killed  in recent years, with Hoverboards also burning down homes as the lithium ion batteries charged.  Before you buy, check the CPSC’s safety standard for Hoverboards (UL2272 safety standard). Remember the standard is still new, first issued in 2016, and not an endorsement for safety. In fact, the CPSC has strongly urged consumers not to buy Hoverboards, as has W.A.T.C.H., the Boston-based non-profit which included Hoverboards on its “10 Worst Toys” lists.

Taking the time to check if a toy you want to buy – or already own – has been recalled can prevent injuries and save your loved ones’ lives. The number of toy recalls varies by year, but there are always recalls. So far in 2018, we have seen child-related recalls of dolls, toys with loose wheels, clothing, toys with excessive lead limits and go karts. In 2017, the CPSC reported 28 recalls of individual products. Over the past 10 years, 2008, 2009 and 2010 have seen the most toy recalls, with the highest number coming in 2008, when 172 toys were recalled, according to the CPSC.

This was the first year of major safety changes, including passage of the landmark Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) of 2008. For the first time, toys had to be tested to ensure compliance with the law and the CPSC was granted greater authority in overseeing toy safety standards. Federal limits were also imposed on toys containing lead and other chemical hazards. In December 2008, Mattel and subsidiary Fisher Price agreed to pay $12 million to Massachusetts and 38 other states over events leading to recalls of toys with lead levels above the new federal limit.

Beyond toys, children’s products are also subject to frequent recalls, including names like Graco car seats and Britax strollers. This is a frightening fact, because these products carry children.


Breakstone, White & Gluck writes about toy safety as part of our Project KidSafe campaign, with a goal of preventing toy-related injuries. Our recent blogs:

Trouble in Toyland Report Offers Valuable Warnings For Holiday Shoppers

Hitting the Safety Brake: A Warning About Battery-Operated Ride-On Toys

The 10 Worst Toys of 2018

Protect Your Children from Lithium Button Batteries

Continue reading

Attorney David W. White and his wife Denise Murphy recently enjoyed a visit with Boston Police Commissioner William Gross and Superintendent Dennis White, the Commissioner’s chief of staff. The visit was to thank the Boston Police Department for supporting Breakstone, White & Gluck’s Project KidSafe campaign for a third year in 2018, helping us get 160 bicycle helmets to children who needed one in Boston.

We are pleased to partner with the Boston Police Department. In the city of Boston, when families get the opportunity to meet a police officer, they quickly come to respect them and the importance of wearing bicycle helmets. Then, what’s great is we see families – parents and children – committing to protect themselves. And it has a ripple effect on neighbors, friends.

Boston Police Department bike safety and bicycle helmet donation from Breakstone, White & Gluck of Boston

Attorney David W. White with Boston Police Commissioner William Gross and Superintendent Dennis White, the Commissioner’s Chief of Staff. In 2018, Breakstone, White & Gluck was pleased to partner with Boston Police Department for the third year through our Project KidSafe campaign and donate bicycle helmets to the Boston Police Department to distribute to children who needed one (Photo courtesy: Boston Police Department).

Best Lawyers Best Law Firms Tier 1 rating for Breakstone, White & Gluck.

Breakstone, White & Gluck was recognized with a 2019 Tier 1 ranking in the specialty of personal injury litigation for plaintiffs in Boston.

We are pleased to announce that Breakstone, White & Gluck of Boston has received a Tier 1 ranking from the U.S. News – Best Lawyers® 2019 edition of “Best Law Firms.” The firm received the Tier 1 ranking in the specialty of personal injury litigation for plaintiffs in Boston.

Breakstone, White & Gluck and our attorneys have been selected for U.S. News – Best Lawyers® and “Best Law Firms” rankings this year and in the past. In this year’s Best Lawyers ratings, Marc L. Breakstone, David W. White and Ronald E. Gluck were selected for individual recognition in various areas of our practice, including personal injury litigation – plaintiffs, insurance law, medical malpractice and professional malpractice.

The “Best Law Firms” rankings are based on a rigorous evaluation process that includes client and lawyer evaluations, peer reviews from other attorneys and other information provided by law firms.

Breakstone, White & Gluck is a top-rated Boston personal injury law firm with over 100 years combined experience and record-setting awards and settlements. Across Massachusetts and New England, our lawyers are known for our unwavering commitment to reach the best financial outcome for every client. We have earned recognition from “Best Law Firms” and Best Lawyers, along with Top 100 New England Super Lawyers and Top 100 Massachusetts Super Lawyers. Our attorneys hold top professional and ethical ratings from Martindale-Hubbell.

Our Attorneys

Attorney Marc L. Breakstone, a Boston personal injury lawyer and medical malpractice lawyer

Attorney Marc L. Breakstone

Attorney David W. White, a Boston personal injury lawyer

Attorney David W. White

Attorney Ronald E. Gluck, a Boston personal injury lawyer

Attorney Ronald E. Gluck

Attorney Reza Breakstone, a Boston personal injury lawyer

Attorney Reza Breakstone

Our Practice
Our firm specializes in personal injury and medical malpractice cases, including those involving catastrophic injuries and traumatic brain injury, including:

Free Legal Consultation
Boston Personal Injury Lawyers – Worcester Personal Injury Lawyers
If you have been injured, it is important to consult an experienced Boston personal injury lawyer or Worcester personal injury lawyer to learn your rights. You may have the right to obtain financial compensation for your injuries. Our attorneys represent those injured across Massachusetts, including in Boston, Waltham, Framingham, Cape Cod, Brockton, Plymouth, Worcester, the North Shore, the South Shore and Western Massachusetts.

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

Continue reading

There is “Trouble in Toyland.” For the 33rd year, U.S. PIRG has released its annual survey on toy safety. This is a widely respected survey, which over the years has dispensed valuable information to protect children and families. The survey has led to the recall of more than 150 unsafe toys.

Highlights from this year’s report:

  • Toys which have been recalled for safety issues over the past year
  • Toys which contain high levels of toxic materials, such as boron
  • Toys which do not meet labeling requirements
  • Toy regulations

Toy recalls

Over the past year, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) announced more than 40 recalls of toys and children’s products, such as wagons and strollers. These recalls represent 2.7 million units. During its survey, the group did not find any recalled toys or products still being sold. This is good news for consumers, but you still need to check products for yourself by going online. You can visit the CPSC Recall list.

You can also check the U.S. PIRG’s “Trouble in Toyland” report, so you can be informed while you shop or to see if you have any recalled toys in your home (See Appendix 4, page 29). Many people do not hear about recalls so it’s worth checking.

If you find a recalled product, you can contact the manufacturer for a refund or a repair. In some cases with inexpensive toys, it may be best just to discard it from your home in a safe way. Move onto other toys.

U.S. PIRG has long advocated for improvements to the CPSC’s recall system. One concern is that companies are not required to report how many consumers actually return products for repairs or refunds.

Toxic Materials

The report focused on two toxic materials in toys: Lead and boron.

slime boy

Beware of Slime: U.S. PIRG Researchers found 6 popular Slime sets which contain dangerous levels of boron.

Lead. Lead was banned from household paint, children’s products and cookware 40 years ago. But federal law states children’s products made after August 2011 can contain no more than 100 parts per million. Because lead is highly dangerous when breathed in, be careful when buying toys such as paint sets and other products. Electronic devices can contain some lead parts, as can metal components of bicycles. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends all products for children contain no more than trace amounts of lead (40 ppm).

Boron. Your child may be begging you to buy one of those popular slime toy sets. U.S. PIRG says you can’t trust these products are safe. Researchers found six slime products on the market had dangerously high levels of boron. One brand, “Kangaroos Original Super Cool Slime,” contained concentrations as high as 4700 parts per million (ppm).

Boron is a chemical element used mostly in glass manufacturing, pesticides, antiseptics and detergents. Children can ingest small amounts, even less than 3.68 ppm and suffer symptoms of nausea, vomiting and potentially longer term impacts on reproductive health. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reports certain levels can even be lethal. Say the “Kangaroos Original Super Cool” slime has up to 4700 parts per million (ppm). Then consider that six states have made recommendations on boron limits in drinking water, non exceeding 1 ppm. It’s a frightening discrepancy. U.S. PIRG has asked the CPSC to explore setting limits on boron levels, as Canada and other countries have.

We recommend parents spend their money elsewhere this year. There are so many toys out there, which your child would enjoy without risk to their safety. Likewise, if your child plays at another friend’s home or goes to daycare, make sure the adult in charge knows you don’t want your child playing with slime sets.

Slime Toys with Dangerous Levels of Boron
Kangaroos Original Super Cool Slime – Amazon – 4700 ppm
Kidsco Glow in The Dark Slime  – Amazon, Walmart – 4600 ppm
Toysmith Jupiter Juice Slime  – Amazon, Walmart – 1900 ppm
iBaseToy Fluffy Slime – Amazon – 1500 ppm
Haniex Soft Magic Crystal Slime – Amazon – 1400 ppm
Meland Fluffy Slime Amazon Boron – 1100 ppm
Data from U.S. PIRG “Trouble in Toyland” Report 2018.

Labeling

toy testing cylinder for small parts

Drawing of the small cylinder test for toys. Credit: CPSC website.

Toymakers are responsible for properly labeling their products, especially those with small parts which are not intended for children under age 3. This warning is essential. Children are often putting small parts in their mouths. From 2001 to 2016, more than 110 children died this way, according to U.S. PIRG.

What’s important for consumers to know is the CPSC has a Small Parts Ban. Toys must be tested to make sure they cannot pass through a test cylinder, which has a diameter of 1.25 inches. The cylinder has a slanted bottom, opening 1 to 2.25 inches. If a toy can pass through, it must be properly labeled: WARNING: Choking Hazard-Small Parts. Not for Children Under 3 Yrs.

Researchers identified a few toys which are being sold online without age appropriate labels this year – Hatchimals and L.O.L. Surprise toys. Parents should watch and carefully inspect every purchase you make. A good rule of thumb is to open every toy well in advance of giving it to a young children. Open it out of your children’s reach, such as in a basement.

Balloons are another product which are not being labeled properly. Balloons should come with warnings that they are a potential choking hazard to children under 8 years old. Yet, 87 percent of the latex balloons on Amazon.com carried no warnings, according the survey.

Toy Regulations

As consumers, we deal with packaging, price tags and shipping dates more than regulations. But the “Trouble in Toyland” report shares three important regulations on page 17:

  • Small Parts Ban (1979)
  • The Child Safety Prevention Act of 1994
  • The Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008

Read the 2018 “Trouble in Toyland” report.


About Breakstone, White & Gluck
Free Legal Consultation: 800-379-1244

The Boston law firm of Breakstone, White & Gluck specializes in handling personal injury and product liability cases. This holiday season, we are committed to sharing our experience through our Project KidSafe blog series focusing on toy safety.

Learn more about Breakstone, White & Gluck: www.bwglaw.com.

We hope you are never injured, but if you or a loved one are, Breakstone, White & Gluck offers a free legal consultation to help you learn your rights. Our lawyers specialize in all areas of personal injury law, including car accidents, product liability, traumatic brain injuries and medical malpractice. We represent clients in Boston, Worcester, the South Shore, the North Shore, Cape Cod, MetroWest and throughout Western Massachusetts. If we can ever help you, please call 800-379-1244 or 617-723-7676 or use our contact form.

Continue reading

Dynacraft Ride-on Toy recalled in 2017

Dynacraft Ride-on Toys recalled 20,000 battery-operated ride-on toys after reports that the pedals were not working in 2017. Always check for product recalls before you buy any holiday toy. Photo credit: Consumer Product Safety Commission notices.

Battery-operated ride-on toys may look like fun holiday gifts. Parents and grandparents even have their choice of models, including the Jeep, Mercedes-Benz and Lamborghini to name a few.

Shoppers can get easily caught up in the “cuteness” factor. It’s not that simple, though. Ride-on toys can be heavy and motorized. Be cautious when buying, even with push or pedal ride-on toys, because you are trusting these toys to support your child.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has been working to improve safety for ride-on toys, because children have suffered injuries and even deaths. In 2016, three children died in riding toys in toy-related injuries, all encounters with motor vehicles (Source: CPSC). Riding toys, motorized and non-motorized, were associated with the highest number of toy-related deaths that year – or 43 percent.

Before you buy, please step on the brakes and consider our safety tips.

Potential Harm: Motor Vehicles and Fires

Why are riding toy cars so dangerous? The greatest danger is children can be hit by adult-sized vehicles. But motorized toy cars can also overheat, as a North Andover family learned last August. A mother had the terrifying experience of having to pull her children out of a toy car, just after smoke started coming from the hood and before the flames. Other potential issues are children can attempt to stand and cars can tip, resulting in head injuries. Remote controls can provide parents a false sense of security. Parents may have more control just pushing their children in a non-motorized toy/

Safety Tips for Buying Ride-on Toy Cars

  • Steer clear of motorized, battery-operated toy cars. Consider buying a tricycle or another non-motorized toy instead.
  • If you buy a battery-operated toy car, look for the age recommendation. Many of these toys are recommended for children age 2+, which we feel is too young. But the age recommendation is a starting point for many families.
  • Check the label to see if the riding toy meets the CPSC’s toy safety standards. In 2016, the federal toy safety standard, ASTM F963, was specifically updated to address overload, stability and restraints on riding toys.
  • Check if the toy car has been recalled on the CPSC website.
  • It’s not just toy cars. Any riding toy with a motor can malfunction. Last March, the CPSC recalled these Radio Flyer electric wagons due to motor problems.
  • Read the product specifications and instructions online before purchasing. Consider whether you have the time for this type of toy.
  • Test the riding toy before your child rides.
  • Always supervise your children when they ride. Stay on the driveway and sidewalks near your home. Fenced in areas, such as backyards, are best if the product is designed for use on grassy surfaces.
  • Protect your child’s head with a bicycle helmet.
  • Follow instructions for properly seating your child. Ride one child at a time.
  • Find a safe place to park the riding toy. Commit to properly securing it after each use.
  • Keep the box. When your child outgrows the riding toy, remove it from your home.

Free Legal Consultation: 800-379-1244

For more than 25 years, Breakstone, White & Gluck has represented those who have been injured or killed by defective products which should have never been sold. This holiday season, our Boston personal injury lawyers are committed to helping consumers make informed buying decisions to prevent toy-related 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.

Continue reading