Articles Posted in Negligence

Boston bicycle lane with broken flexipost on Cambridge Street

Flexipost down on bike lane at Center Plaza, across from Boston City Hall.

As COVID-19 kept many of us home, Boston and nearby cities built out an impressive 35 miles of new bike lanes in 2020 and 2021, according to a news report.

But, while encouraging safety, bike lanes alone cannot prevent cycling accidents. Drivers still have a responsibility to slow down, travel safely in their lane and use extra caution, especially as they get to know the new infrastructure.

Consider that bike lanes must be a minimum of 5 feet wide under state highway standards. In Boston, the city’s transportation department works to build at least 6 feet wide in areas with high bike traffic and 6 to 7 feet in areas with heavy parking turnover. Then factor in parking, traffic and bus lanes and you have more than covered the widest roads.

Finding New Bike Lanes in Boston, Cambridge and Nearby Cities

If you travel into Boston or Cambridge, you will find several miles of new bike lanes, including both conventional and protected bike lanes.

Conventional bike lanes – also called unprotected bike lanes – are flat lanes which create a designated lane for cyclists using paint and signage. Protected bike lanes are designed to add another layer of safety. These are usually more visible and use physical barriers – such as flexiposts or curbing – to separate cyclists from drivers.

During the pandemic, the City of Boston expanded its bike lane network with protected bike lanes on all roads around the Boston Public Garden. The city is now working to connect key stretches of bike lanes, including at the intersection of Beacon and Arlington streets near the west end of the Public Garden.

Beyond Boston and Cambridge, you can take a drive into Medford, Somerville, Newton or Brookline, among other communities, to see new bike lanes built during the pandemic. Somerville and Medford saw significant bike lane development along Route 28 and the Wellington Bridge, with funding from the state’s Shared Streets and Space Program.

Some of the new protected bike lanes are “quick-build” projects. Keep this in mind as you drive. Cities may now experiment and take flexiposts up and down as seasons and traffic volumes change.

How Boston Drivers Can Avoid Bike Lane Accidents

Now more than ever, it is critical to watch because there are more cyclists out. According to state figures, ridership is up more than 25 percent in many Massachusetts communities as we emerge from the pandemic.

Learn Where Cyclists Are Allowed to Ride

When driving, take a good look at the full road. You may initially notice the traffic lanes, intersections and stop signs. Many drivers, however, overlook the bike lanes, if the road even has them.

If you see bike lanes, consider these a guide. A cyclist may ride in the bike lane. But they may also have to move into the roadway at times to position themselves for a left turn or because the bike lane ends.

When the bike lane ends, a cyclist may choose to stay on the right side of the road or they may attempt to move into the traffic lane. Cyclists are allowed to ride up to two abreast in the traffic lane in Massachusetts. Many cyclists try to avoid this approach to avoid backing up traffic. But you will see this and it is important to give cyclists enough space to make safe decisions.

Drive Slowly

Maintaining a slow and safe speed near cyclists is critical. When you speed, you can easily cross over painted bike lanes or even flexiposts, and you leave yourself less time to respond if cyclists, pedestrians or other drivers make an unexpected move.

Open Car Doors Carefully

Drivers can injure cyclists and pedestrians even after they park. Drivers who open doors without checking, or leave a car door open as they get ready to get out, have caused many dooring accidents and serious injuries to cyclists in the Boston area.

At least 40 states – including Massachusetts – have recognized the danger of dooring and made this a traffic offense, according to the League of American Bicyclists. 

The Danger of Parking in Bike Lanes

It is also illegal for drivers to park in bike lanes in Massachusetts under M.G.L. c. 89, § 4D. Drivers have to remember bike lanes are travel lanes for cyclists. If you park in a bike lane and a cyclist is injured as a result, you may be fined by local police, just as you can be if you open a door into a cyclist’s path.

The cyclist could also file a claim against you and hold you financially responsible for their medical expenses, lost wages and other damages.

Distracted Driving Can Be Deadly Near Cyclists

As you drive, look how close you are to cyclists and the bike lane. There is little room for error and it is highly dangerous to pick up your cell phone for any reason. You could veer off the road and into the bike lane, then hit a cyclist. Use your best judgment and wait. Another factor to consider is pedestrians. Both you and the cyclist approaching have a duty to stop and yield to pedestrians at crosswalks and other situations. There is no room for distractions.

The tragedy is at least two cyclists have been killed in distracted driving accidents in Massachusetts since the start of the pandemic.

In August 2020, a driver was reportedly texting and collided into three cyclists traveling along Topsfield Road in Ipswich, according to the Salem News. One of the cyclists later died at a local hospital and police charged the driver.

The criminal case was ultimately resolved last month, when the driver pleaded guilty to negligent motor vehicle homicide, but avoided jail time. The driver’s criminal defense lawyer argued she had texted with a friend earlier about visiting Crane Beach, but just before the crash, she suffered from a gastrointestinal condition and this caused her to take her eyes off the road, leading to the crash.

In Northampton, another driver is facing criminal charges in connection with a fatal bike crash in October 2021. Police allege the driver was using the FaceTime app and ran a stop sign near Northampton High School, then fatally injured the cyclist, according to local news reports. Now, a state legislator is seeking to update the state’s hands-free driving law to specifically ban video broadcasting and vlogging while driving.

Watch for Cyclists and Turn Safely at Intersections

When you stop at an intersection, you may expect cyclists to pull up to your right in the bike lane. They may do so. However, they may also come up behind you or move into the traffic lane to turn left.

Continue to look around your vehicle as you wait at the intersection and use caution when you make right-hand turns. Check your mirrors and blindspot so you can avoid turning right into cyclists and causing injuries. These are called “right-hook” bicycle accidents and they have often been fatal in Boston.

Under Massachusetts law, drivers can be cited for overtaking and passing bicyclists to make a right turn, unless they can turn at a “safe distance” at a “speed that is reasonable and proper,” M.G.L. c 90 § 14. With so much activity at intersections, it is better to just wait for cyclists to turn safely.

At Breakstone, White & Gluck, our attorneys have represented cyclists and families in wrongful death cases resulting from right hook bike crashes at intersections. These are painful experiences made worse because these accidents are preventable if drivers check their mirrors and blindspot for cyclists.

Operators of large trucks are responsible for many right-hook crashes. Truck companies can protect against injuries by providing drivers with proper training and upgrading equipment with sideguards and convex mirrors.

Free Legal Consultation – Boston Bicycle Accident Lawyers 

Breakstone, White & Gluck is a strong supporter of safe cycling in Massachusetts and has been recognized by the League of American Bicyclists as a Silver Level Bicycle Friendly Business.

With more than 100 years combined experience, our lawyers fight for the rights of those injured by negligence or wrongdoing in personal injury cases. We have extensive experience representing cyclists who have been injured by negligent driving in the Boston area and across Massachusetts.

If you have been injured in a bicycle accident, learn your legal rights. Call for a free legal consultation and our attorneys will review the facts of your case with you to help you determine if you have a potential claim against a driver to help you with your recovery. Do not hesitate to call; we are experienced at working with both cyclists and family members to address all your concerns and preserve your legal rights in the hours, days and months after a bike crash.

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

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Woman suffering potential concussion symptoms after a car crash

After a car accident is a critical time to seek medical care and screening for a concussion.

March is Brain Injury Awareness Month. Nearly 12 years ago, Massachusetts lawmakers passed legislation to develop a concussion safety program for high school athletes. Before they play, student-athletes and their parents must now learn about concussion symptoms. If students are injured, they must follow step-by-step guidelines for recovery. The goal is to make sure students fully heal from concussions.

Just as students have learned about concussions, Brain Injury Awareness Month offers others a chance to learn.

These are essential lessons, helping us care for ourselves and our families. The sooner one identifies potential concussion symptoms, the sooner they can seek a medical evaluation and begin rest and recovery. Below, we write about concussions, symptoms and high-risk situations when one may consider seeking a medical evaluation as a precaution.

What is a Concussion?

A concussion is often called a mild traumatic brain injury or “mild TBI.” A concussion may follow a bump, blow or jolt to the head, or a hit to the body that causes the head and brain to move quickly back and forth, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

There may be no visible bruising, skull fracture or head injury, but the sudden movement can impact the brain’s function.

When one suffers a concussion, they may experience a range of symptoms impacting their health. It can be very difficult to read the symptoms, which may include one or more symptoms:

  • headaches
  • memory loss
  • feeling groggy
  • difficulty sleeping (or sleeping too much)
  • mood and behavior changes
  • balance problems
  • slurred speech
  • dizziness
  • nausea or vomiting
  • confusion
  • decreased coordination
  • sensitivity to light
  • irritability
  • In adults, one pupil may appear larger than the other.

Symptoms may appear right away or in the hours after a concussion, or they may be delayed a few days and weeks.

One misconception is a person will lose consciousness if they suffer a concussion. This is not always true. In fact, on the sports field, one coach said athletes only lose consciousness in about 10 percent of all concussions cases (Source: Heads Up Video: What is a Concussion?, CDC).

When to Consider Seeking Medical Care

As important as it is to learn about concussion symptoms, there are also times when you should just receive medical care as a precaution. This includes after children’s injuries, sports injuries, car accidents, falls or bicycle accidents.

Children and Student-Athletes

Child concussion

Respond promptly if you suspect your child has sustained a concussion.

Start learning now before you suspect a possible injury. Look to your child’s pediatrician and school for information on concussion prevention, symptoms and how to respond to a potential concussion. This is important because your child’s brain is going to support them throughout their life and by understanding a few basics,  you can minimize their risk of suffering an injury. But if your child does suffer a concussion at some point, what you learn now will help you be ready to help them receive care and fully heal before they start their full routines up again. To help you get started, read our page on the Massachusetts sports concussion safety law and helmet laws for children. Another resource is the CDC Heads Up web page.

Motor Vehicle Crashes

Motor vehicle crashes are a leading cause of concussions and traumatic brain injury. The violent force of a collision can cause many injuries, from whip-lash to broken bones and head injuries. One can suffer a concussion in crashes at any speed and unlike other types of injuries, see no visible signs. One does not have to hit their head to sustain a concussion.

It can be hard to know whether you were injured after a car accident, so it is best to be proactive and call your primary care physician or visit a hospital emergency room.

Falls

When someone falls and hits the ground, they can suffer a concussion and it may be hard to recognize the signs, especially if the person is alone.

Older adults and younger children are more vulnerable to suffering falls. They are also at the highest risk for going without treatment. Consider how difficult it is for many adults to recognize they may have suffered a concussion; then think about young children, who may have limited speech. When it comes to young children, look for signs of discomfort, such as constant crying, trouble sleeping or the child may not eat. Contact your child’s pediatrician so they can advise you on the next step.

As for older adults, the CDC reports more than 34,000 adults age 65 and older died in falls in 2019. Many of these falls involved TBI and broken bones.

If you have an older relative or friend, talk to them about the importance of seeking medical care after any type of fall. Immediate treatment can help them identify whether they have sustained a concussion or other injuries. This puts their primary care physician in a good position to help them manage their recovery, with their full understanding of the person’s medical conditions and what medications they take.

Bicycle-Related Head Injuries

Cyclist may have sustained a concussion or other injuries in bike crash.

Cyclists can suffer many serious injuries in a crash. Always visit a hospital emergency room as a precaution.

Make a plan for safety. Should you ever fall on your bike or be involved in a bicycle accident, commit to seek immediate medical care right away. Have a doctor evaluate whether you sustained a concussion.

Medical care is critical for cyclists. In addition to concussions, cyclists are vulnerable to suffering broken bones around the face, jaw and fractured teeth in crashes, along with other injuries. While you may try to treat your own pain, a medical exam is the best first step to determine the source of all your swelling and injuries.

As a cyclist, you can take an important step and protect against head injury by wearing a helmet. When cyclists wear helmets, the reality is they may still suffer injuries in a collision. But cyclists are more likely to survive a bike crash without the cognitive, physical or mental complications of a severe and traumatic brain injury. This is critically important because it improves one’s long-term chances for making a full recovery.

According to the CDC, helmets reduce the risk of head injury by absorbing much of the impact energy from a fall or a bicycle accident. Helmets protect the skull and brain from more severe injury.

After a Concussion, The Importance of Follow Up Medical Care

Another time to consider medical care is in the days, weeks and months following your initial treatment for a concussion. It is important that you fully heal. If you suffer a second concussion while you are still recovering, you are at risk for second impact syndrome and long-term complications.

The CDC reports many concussions are not fatal. Many people recover from concussions within a few weeks, with rest, plenty of sleep and patience.

But some injuries take more time. The National Institute of Health reports one study found nearly a quarter of patients struggle with physical and mental problems related to a concussion a full year later.  Another study tracked 831 patients at 11 major trauma centers across the country and found not every patient receives follow-up care.

  • Within three months of their injury, fewer than half of the patients – 44 percent – had followed up with a health care professional.
  • Notably, when patients visited medical centers with dedicated TBI clinics, they were more likely to receive follow-up care.
  • Patients who had more serious injuries (those who had CT Scans that showed tissue damage) had a higher rate for follow-up care, but even then only 61 percent sought follow-up care.

There are many reasons patients may not follow up after a concussion. This study noted just 42 percent of patients received educational materials as they left treatment; just 27 percent received a follow-up call from the hospital.

Make it your priority to follow up with your primary care doctor for as long as it takes.

Follow your doctor’s instructions for every phase of your recovery: when you are ready to drive and go back to work. Follow any limits your doctor sets, such as restricting cell phone use.

Take the family member along to your doctor’s appointments. This gives your loved one a chance to learn about the symptoms of a concussion and how you should progress.

Ask a loved one to play an active role in your treatment and help you observe your recovery. You may need help tracking activities at times, such as how many hours you sleep or how many times you contact your doctor with concerns. Write down any medical instructions you receive, or print messages from your online medical records, so you and your loved one can review them together over the next few months.

Free Legal Consultation – Boston TBI Attorneys

At Breakstone, White & Gluck, our Boston personal injury lawyers have over 100 years combined experience representing those who have been seriously injured or killed by the negligence or wrongdoing of others.

Our lawyers have extensive experience representing clients who have suffered concussions and traumatic brain injuries as a result of someone else’s negligence, helping them recover compensation for their medical expenses, loss of future income and other damages.

Our attorneys represent clients in Boston, Cambridge, Arlington, Somerville, Everett, Quincy, Milton and across Massachusetts. If you have been injured, learn your legal rights. For a free legal consultation, call 800-379-1244 or 617-723-7676 or use our contact form.

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Child playing with safe toy

Don’t rush your holiday toy shopping. Take time to read and follow age-appropriate labels before you buy toys.

Many of us are feeling quite stressed about holiday shopping as we watch the news. Still, when you shop for a child, safety is essential. Slow down and look for a fun, safe and age-appropriate toy that will bring joy, not injury, into your home.

Read Age-Appropriate Warning Labels, Toy Packaging and Online Descriptions

You may think you are buying a safe because the toy was featured on a morning news program or has received top reviews online. But despite your best intentions, you may not actually be purchasing the same toy. To avoid buying a so-called counterfeit toy, look for reputable sellers, such as department stores. Try to purchase from brick-and-mortar stores.

Before purchasing or at home, closely examine the packaging on the toy and make sure it matches the manufacturer’s online description. If you purchased the toy online, the toy packaging should also match the description on Amazon or the online marketplace. Once the toy arrives, open and inspect the box contents.

Everything should be consistent, including the age-recommendation labels.

Check for Toy Recalls
The packaging is a tool to help you shop, as is the CPSC website, which you can check for toy safety recalls. In addition to recalling toys, the CPSC has also recalled many inclined infant sleepers over the past two years. Last summer, the commission approved a new federal safety standard for infant sleep products which will take effect in mid-2022. Here is one of our recent blogs on infant sleep products.

U.S. Toy-Related Injuries and Deaths by Age 2018-2020

No one wants to think about the possibility of a child suffering an injury while playing with their own toys. Yet this is a risk in when so many toys are sold online through Amazon, Ebay and other online marketplaces. Independent sellers can sell on these sites or quickly build their own websites, optimize them in the search engines, then close sites down.

Between 2018 and 2020, 50 children were killed in toy-related accidents across the U.S., according to CPSC data released in May 2021. Many children suffered suffocation and other injuries in accidents involving toys with small parts, balls, stuffed animals or accessories. Two children drowned on water toys. Seven children died in accidents involving non-motorized scooters and two were killed on nonmotorized riding toys.

In 2020, nine children were killed and nearly 150,000 children age 14 and younger were treated for toy-related injuries in hospital ERs. Here is a breakdown of toy-related injuries by age during 2020:

  • Children under 5 suffered 40 percent of all toy-related injuries.
  • Children age 12 and younger suffered 73 percent of toy-related injuries.
  • Children age 14 and younger suffered 75 percent of toy-related injuries.

Common Toy Shopping Mistakes

As we have discussed, you can reduce the risk of injury in your household by reading age recommendations and carefully inspecting toys and packaging. But you can also challenge yourself if you have these thoughts:

Buying Holiday Toys Because Just They Are Available or Priced Right

Earlier this month, the Toy Association shared positive news: 76 percent of parents surveyed said they read age recommendations before buying toys.

However, many can be swayed. About 65 percent of parents said they may buy a counterfeit/knock-off toy if their first choice was unavailable. Meanwhile, 63 percent said they could be influenced by a lower price.

Buying Outside Age-Recommendations for Toys

“This toy is marked age 8 and older, but my 5 ½ year old is up for challenging toys .” Sound familiar? The Toy Association reports 68 percent of parents share this thought and would buy a toy outside age recommendations.

Consider age-recommendation labels an important tool, designed to protect your child from choking, an eye or head injury or a broken bone. Age recommendations are not arbitrary; they are based on a toy’s performance under federal toy safety requirements.

For example, toys with small parts or balls have to undergo the “small parts cylinder” test. The cylinder has a diameter of 1.25 inches, with a slanted bottom opening 1 to 2.25 inches. If a toy or small part passes through the cylinder, it has to carry an age-warning label that states, “Choking Hazard – Small Parts. Not for Children Under 3 Yrs.” Read more about the small parts regulations for toys.

Read more in our Project KidSafe toy safety series.

Free Legal Consultation – Boston Product Liability Attorneys

Founded in 1992, Breakstone, White & Gluck has recovered millions of dollars in compensation for victims of negligence and wrongdoing in Massachusetts. Consistently recognized by Super Lawyers and Best Lawyers, our personal injury lawyers specialize in product liability, holding companies responsible for injuries and wrongful death caused by defective products, toys and vehicles.

Breakstone, White & Gluck is located in 2 Center Plaza in Boston, across the street from the Government Center T stop and Boston City Hall. If you have been injured, Breakstone, White & Gluck offers a free legal consultation. Learn your legal rights by calling and speaking with one of our attorneys today at 800-379-1244 or 617-723-7676 or use our contact form.

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Homeowner testing smoke alarm

Protect your family and home. Test your smoke alarms when you set the clocks back for Daylight Saving Time on Nov. 7.

Stay vigilant about smoke alarms and protect your family this winter. This coming Sunday – November 7th – Daylight Saving Time ends. As you set your clocks back, we encourage you to also test your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors.

It is critical that your smoke alarms work as we approach winter, when we spend more time indoors, cook for the holidays and there is a greater risk for home fires and fire injuries.

Half of All Massachusetts Fire Deaths Occur in Homes Without Working Smoke Alarms

In 2020, half of all Massachusetts fire deaths occurred in homes without working smoke alarms, the state fire marshal’s office announced earlier this year. This was based on preliminary data.

End-of-year data showed there were 29,641 fires across Massachusetts in 2020, a 16 percent increase over 2019. The number of civilian deaths rose from 39 in preliminary data to 44, up from 42 in 2019. There were 245 civilian injuries and 594 fire service injuries in 2020. Smoking was the leading cause of residential fire deaths in Massachusetts, followed by electrical and cooking fires.

The traditional reminder has been to replace your home’s smoke alarm batteries twice a year – at the start and end of Daylight Saving Time. You should still do so if your smoke alarms operate on regular batteries.

But in 2016, the state of Massachusetts updated the fire safety requirements, steering more homeowners toward newer smoke alarms designed to last 10 years without a battery change. So not everyone needs to change their smoke alarm batteries.

Testing is still essential. If a fire breaks out, you may have seconds to escape and your smoke alarm has to work for you, your family, loved ones and roommates. Commit to test your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors monthly and twice a year when you change the clocks for Daylight Saving Time. This is a simple step – just press the test button.

Read Your Product Manual and Learn the Sounds of Your Smoke Alarm

Read your smoke alarm product manual. Make sure you recognize how the alarm sounds – when it chirps to alert you of failing batteries and in an actual emergency.  If you do not know, search for the product information online or call the manufacturer. The Massachusetts State Fire Marshal’s office also shared safety tips as part of Fire Prevention Week earlier this month. The theme was “Learn the Sounds of Fire Safety,” the sound of your smoke alarms.

Involve other family members in this, especially older adults. Those 65 and older are highly vulnerable when fires break out, accounting for more than 40 percent of all fire deaths in Massachusetts during 2020, according to the state fire marshal’s office. Older adults may seem healthy, but they may suffer from a medical condition they haven’t shared or side effects to medication. Another potential barrier is untreated hearing loss.

One in three people between age 65 and 74 suffer from hearing loss, according to the National Institute on Aging. When they get older, nearly half of all adults age 75 and older have difficulty hearing. Step in and help older adults. Offer to take them to their primary care doctor and learn about smoke alarms for those who are deaf or have difficulty hearing.

Check for Smoke Alarm Recalls

Unfortunately, like other products, there are times when smoke alarms are recalled due to defect.  In May 2020, the Consumer Product Safety Commission announced the recall of more than 220,000 Kidde TrueSense Smoke Alarms and Combination Smoke/Carbon Monoxide Alarms. These alarms were newer models, sold between May 2019 and September 2020.

When you test the batteries at Daylight Saving Time, you can check the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) website for smoke alarm recalls. Take time for this, even if you have registered your smoke alarm with the manufacturer. While you are there, check for product recalls involving unsafe winter heating products, including electric blankets, space heaters, children’s pajamas and other products. This is an easy but important step for safety. If you own any of these products, take the recall seriously. Remove the defective product from your home now so no one reaches for it on a cold night.

One Survey: Many Americans Are Not Testing Smoke Alarm Batteries

While this is a simple step, not everyone is testing smoke alarms. Earlier this year, a Consumer Reports survey found roughly one-third of all Americans could not recall when they last tested their home’s smoke alarm. About 25 percent could not recall replacing their smoke alarm batteries, while more than half could not remember when they had installed the devices. But this doesn’t have to be the case. You can easily test your smoke alarm and pull out the product materials right now.

About Breakstone, White & Gluck – Boston Personal Injury Lawyers

At Breakstone, White & Gluck, our Boston personal injury lawyers have over 100 years combined experience representing those injured in premises liability accidents, construction accidents, structure fires and fires caused by landlord neglect. Our attorneys have represented clients, including college students, tenants and their families after serious injuries and wrongful death in fires.

If you or a loved one have been injured or killed in a fire, learn your legal rights. Contact our attorneys at Breakstone, White & Gluck at 800-379-1244 or 617-723-7676 or use our contact form.

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Children at the Arlington Police Bicycle Safety Day in August 2021

On your mark, get set, go! Breakstone, White & Gluck was pleased to donate bicycle helmets for children at the Arlington Police Department’s Bicycle Safety Day.

For many children, back to school means back to the school bus. But more and more, many students are walking or biking to school.

Back to school is a good time to introduce children to bicycle safety and this year, Breakstone, White & Gluck was pleased to partner with the Waltham and Arlington police departments to give helmets to children.

On Saturday, August 28th, the Waltham Police Department gave away free Project KidSafe helmets to children at the “Meet the New Chief Day.” The Arlington Police Department also gave away free helmets at Bicycle Safety Day on August 24th  at Gibbs Junior High School, where many students walk or bike each day to class.

Our Tips to Help Children Wear Bicycle Helmets Back to School This Fall in Massachusetts

A new school year means a new routine. Whether you or your child ride daily or on occasion, we urge you to commit to wearing a helmet.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, wearing a properly fitted helmet is the “single most effective way” to reduce head injuries and fatalities resulting from bicycle crashes. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reports the majority of cyclists who ultimately die after a bike crash first sustained a head injury as their most significant injury.

Children Must Wear Bicycle Helmets Under Massachusetts Law. Under Massachusetts law, cyclists who are 16 and younger are required to wear helmets when riding a bicycle. Helmets should be properly fitted and meet the safety standards set by the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Beyond safety, there are other consequences. A police officer can actually impound your child’s bike for up to 15 days if they are caught riding without a helmet in Massachusetts, though many officers work hard to avoid this step and would rather encourage helmet use.

Waltham Police officer gives away free children's bicycle helmets donated by Boston law firm of Breakstone, White & Gluck

Waltham police officers give away free bicycle helmets at the “Meet the New Chief” event in August.

Why Parents and Adult Cyclists Should Wear Helmets. Cyclists of all ages should wear helmets to protect themselves.

As a parent, if you wear a helmet and make sure your child wears one when you ride together, your child will take notice. They are more likely to wear a helmet even when you are not there and they will have some practice at fastening their own helmet.

Label Your Child’s Helmet. Write your child’s name inside the helmet, on the strap or on the outside of the helmet.

Wear Your Helmet; Do Not Carry It In Your Backpack. Many children (and adults) ride, then put their helmets in their backpack while they are at work or school. Encourage your child to keep their helmet outside their backpack so they put it right on.

Buy a Durable Bike Lock. Purchase a durable bike lock in case your child cannot find their helmet and has to walk or get a ride home from school or a friend’s house. Keep this on their bike at all times. Insist that your child should contact you and never ride without a helmet.

Buy Your Child a Spare Bike Helmet. Purchase your child an extra bicycle helmet now before they misplace theirs. Unless you live near a bike shop, it can be difficult to step away from your routine to go purchase a bike helmet right away, especially during the busy Fall season.

At the same time, purchase a spare helmet for yourself, too. Keep your spare at home or at the office. This will come in handy if you damage your helmet, lose it or decide you want to take the Blue Bikes bikeshare home.

Free Legal Consultation – Boston Personal Injury Attorneys

With more than 100 years combined experience, Breakstone, White & Gluck has been consistently recognized as a top-rated Boston personal injury law firm. Our attorneys specialize in representing those injured by negligent driving, bicycle accidents, premises liability accidents, defective and unsafe products, construction accidents, medical malpractice and wrongful death.

If you have been injured, learn your 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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Two students walking to school in Boston, holding hands with their parent.

As students head back to school in Massachusetts, drivers are urged to travel safely and follow speed limits.

Back-to-school is a fun and exciting time for students, especially getting to reconnect with friends after summer vacation. As students get ready, drivers should too. You should expect to see more students walking, biking or waiting at school bus stops. Commit to drive safely and be mindful of speed limits. 

Take a Test Drive 

Before students return, drive through your community, school parking lots and nearby intersections. Observe whether there has been roadwork or if new bike lanes have been added. Look for new traffic signs related to parking, school drop-offs and traffic direction. Look for sidewalks. As a driver, you have to make quick decisions and this check will help you later.

Look Right, Left, Front, Back

Drivers can prevent many traffic accidents by checking their blindspots and all sides of their vehicles at intersections more. At red lights and stop signs, it is critical that you check, especially from behind. You must watch for pedestrians, but also cyclists. Consider that after you initially stop your car, a cyclist could approach from behind. If you neglect to check, you may not see them before the encounter turns into a very serious bicycle accident.

When you park, commit to look. Check all sides, including your blindspot. Use your back-up cameras and really look for pedestrians, whether you are in a school parking lot or at a local restaurant or other business. Before you step out of your vehicle, check again so you do not hit a cyclist or pedestrian with your door. These accidents can happy very suddenly if you do neglect to look and a cyclist is nearby. Learn more about dooring accidents.

Slow Down for Students

In Massachusetts, drivers must follow a 20 mph speed limit in school zones. The Vision Zero campaign has documented that slower is safer for pedestrians, even just 5 mph.

From the City of Boston’s Vision Zero campaign:

  • There is a 17 percent likelihood of fatality or severe injury when drivers travel 20 mph and hit a pedestrian.
  • At 25 mph, the risk of pedestrian death or severe injury rises to 30 percent.
  • At 30 mph – still not that fast – there was a 47 percent chance of a pedestrian accident turning fatal. 

Travel Safely Behind School Buses

After the past year, it is more important than ever to practice patience near school buses and school bus stops. Each day may be different as parents, children and school bus drivers try to manage under COVID-19 conditions. Remember the basics of school bus safety.

When a bus flashes its yellow signals, this means the driver is getting ready to stop. Other drivers on the road should slow down and prepare to stop. Drivers must stop when the school bus activates its red lights and extends its stop sign.

Never pass a school bus that has activated its signals and extended its stop sign. In Massachusetts, drivers must keep vehicles at least 100 feet behind a school bus at all times. M.G.L. c. 90, § 14

When a school bus stops, drivers traveling in both directions must stop. And if you end up stopping behind a school bus that is letting off children, just wait. Wait until all the children have fully stepped onto the sidewalk and give the bus distance when it starts moving again. This also gives you time to assess the traffic and look for an opportunity to get off the bus route if you want to. 

Stop and Look for Pedestrians at Crosswalks and Intersections

Drivers should commit to stop for students in crosswalks. Students expect drivers to stop and if drivers travel slowly and are prepared to stop, they have extra time to make safe decisions near children.

In Massachusetts, drivers have a responsibility to yield, slow down or stop for all pedestrians in marked crosswalks. Drivers must stop for pedestrians at crosswalks with an activated “Walk” signal. Another point is that you should follow other drivers and their decisions near crosswalks. When the car in front of you stops for a pedestrian at a marked crosswalk, you have a duty to stop and wait for the pedestrian to cross.

Read more on Breakstone, White & Gluck’s page on pedestrian crosswalk laws.

Teens Suffer Many Pedestrian Injuries

When you hear “back-to-school safety,” many people think of young elementary school students. But in “Alarming Dangers in School Zones, 2016,” SafeKids Worldwide reports that older teens, ages 15-19, account for 26 percent of all children age 19 and younger.  Yet the older teens accounted for about half of all pedestrian fatalities, with many occurring at night. 

This is relevant because when school begins, there will be a rise in traffic and pedestrian activity even outside school hours. High school students may be participating in afterschool sports, extracurricular activities, an afterschool job or visiting more with friends. 

Call 911 to Report Injuries to Children, Pedestrians and Cyclists

If you pass a student or an older pedestrian or cyclist who has been injured, stop and call 911. This is a really difficult time as the pandemic continues and there is likely to be traffic congestion at times and demands on our emergency response services. 

Never assume a pedestrian has help. Nearly 20 percent of all pedestrian fatalities involve hit-and-run crashes, according to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. If a driver flees the scene, the victim may not have anyone to call 911, delaying their access to medical care. Every minute counts to a pedestrian injured in a car accident.

About Breakstone, White & Gluck – Boston Pedestrian Accident Lawyers

With more than 100 years combined experience, Breakstone, White & Gluck fights for justice for clients who have been seriously injured by negligence or wrongdoing. Our lawyers are committed to excellence in every personal injury case we handle. We have earned consistent recognition in The Best Lawyers in America and Massachusetts Super Lawyers for our results for clients.

If you have been injured, learn your legal rights. For a free legal consultation, contact us at 800-379-1244 or use our contact form.

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Car accident at intersection in Boston area

Read and find out if you travel through one of the top crash locations in Massachus

While drivers have a duty to operate with reasonable care and follow traffic laws, it is also worth noting the road you are traveling on. In Massachusetts, certain intersections have a track record of more car accidents than others.

Which intersections? In its most recent report, the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) shared the top 200 crash locations across the state. Released in September 2020, MassDOT’s 2017 Top Crash Locations Report offers insights as drivers plan their summer travel and resume commuting.

The rankings are based on reports to the Registry of Motor Vehicles’ Crash Data System from 2015-2017. A weighted methodology was used to compile the list.

Here are the top 10 car crash locations in Massachusetts:

  1. VFW Highway at Bridge Street, Lowell
  2. Randolph Avenue at Chickatwabut Road, Milton
  3. Morton Street at Harvard Street, Boston
  4. Ash Street and West Elm Street, Brockton
  5. Appleton Street at Central Street, Lowell
  6. Pleasant Street at Lincoln Street, Stoughton
  7. Main Street at Plainfield Street, Springfield
  8. High Street at Cabot Street, Holyoke
  9. Broadway at Third Street, Chelsea
  10. Saint James Avenue at Saint James Boulevard, Springfield

Several communities had multiple intersections on the list. Lowell has four of the top 25.

Top Crash Locations in Lowell

Two of the highest-ranked intersections were on the VFW Highway along the Merrimack River in Lowell. The VFW Highway at Bridge Street was named the top crash location statewide. The VFW Highway and Mammath Road ranked 22nd.

Also in Lowell, Appleton Street at Central Street and School Street at Branch Street appeared among the top 25 motor vehicle crash areas.

Brockton Top Crash Locations

MassDOT listed 31 Brockton intersections among the top 200 crash locations. The five top crash locations in Brockton:

4) Ash Street and West Elm Street, Brockton

15) Court Street at Montello Street, Brockton

23) Forest Avenue at Bouve Avenue, Brockton

24) Main Street at Nilsson Street, Brockton

25) Warren Avenue at Father Kenney Way, Brockton

One of the top crash locations was the area of North Quincy and Chestnut Streets on the Abington and Brockton border. Nearby, two Randolph intersections along Route 28 appeared on the list. At 41 was the intersection of South Main Street and Union Street. North Main Street and Scanlon Drive ranked 126 (this finished in the same position as six other intersections in Brockton, Lowell, Cambridge and two locations in Worcester).

Can You Change Your Commute to Avoid High Crash Locations?

Every driver wants to avoid a car crash. Apps such as Google Directions and Waze can offer valuable insights about traffic volumes. But we encourage you to look through the full MassDOT list of top crash locations.

If you travel through one of these intersections, consider why there are so many auto accidents. Some roads have high traffic volumes, especially during commuting hours. With more drivers, you may see more unsafe maneuvers, such as talking on a cell phone, speeding or failure to yield. Other roads have become large truck routes or are just aging, with outdated traffic infrastructure or poor lighting.

If you can, try to avoid these intersections or adjust your commute to avoid peak traffic. If you must travel these areas, pay attention and consider safety, near other vehicles as well as other pedestrians and cyclists. And watch for change. If you search online, you may find some of these intersections are scheduled for re-construction in the near future.

Free Legal Consultation – Contact Our Boston Car Accident Lawyers

Breakstone, White & Gluck offers our clients more than 100 years combined experience in handling car accidents, truck crashes and other motor vehicle collisions. Clients turn to us for our experience, expertise and our commitment to achieving the best result in every case. Read about our past results for clients in personal injury cases.

If you have been injured by another driver, learn your legal rights for seeking compensation. For a free legal consultation, contact our car accident attorneys at 800-379-1244 or 617-723-7676 or use our contact form.

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Attorney Ronald E. Gluck recently wrote an article touching on the importance of traffic cameras in his investigation for his client, a cyclist who was seriously injured by a truck. We invite you to read the article, “The Importance of Traffic Cameras in Establishing the Truth: A Video Speaks a Thousand Words,” which is published on the Charles River Wheelers’ website.

You can read more of Ron’s articles by signing up for WheelPeople – The Charles River Wheelers’ newsletter – or by visiting Breakstone, White & Gluck’s website.

 

Young girl playing in a swimming pool with a beach ball.Over the past year, many of us have missed out on seeing friends and loved ones. If you are planning a summer gathering to make up for lost time, we urge you to consider water safety, especially if you own a backyard swimming pool.

With Massachusetts schools about to start summer break, there is a high level of distraction in many homes. Households may have family members working remotely and summer may add to the unpredictable schedules we established during the COVID-19 emergency. But you must be vigilant if you own a pool because the risk for injury is very real. One can drown quickly, in a matter of seconds, and those injured are often young children.

According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), an average of 397 children were killed in swimming pool or spa submersions each year from 2016 to 2018. These children were all under 15 years old. During the same period, there was also an annual average of 6,200 children under 15 treated at hospitals for non-fatal injuries associated with pool or spa submersions.

Already in Massachusetts this year, we have seen several lives lost or nearly lost to drownings in swimming pools, ponds and lakes. In this blog, we focus on how homeowners can reduce the risk for injury and drowning in backyard swimming pools, and their legal responsibilities.

Massachusetts Property Owners Have a Duty to Use Reasonable Care

In Massachusetts, homeowners have a responsibility to use reasonable care to keep their property in reasonably safe condition. When it comes to swimming pools, a property owner’s duty starts with following Massachusetts building regulations to secure pools. They must also maintain safe areas around pools.

It is paramount that Massachusetts homeowners also exercise caution with alcohol. Homeowners can reduce the risk for many drownings and injuries by simply limiting their own alcohol consumption and that of all their guests of legal drinking age. Minors should never be allowed to consume alcohol or a homeowner can face criminal charges and a civil lawsuit if someone is injured.

Secure Your Swimming Pool With Strong Fencing

Pool fencing and pool ladder.

In Massachusetts, the state building code requires property owners to secure swimming pools behind 4-foot high fencing. There are different specifications for above-ground and underground pools, along with pools that use one side of the home as part of the fence.

Pools must be secured with locking devices that face outward away from the pool. The locks must be self-closing and self-latching.

Keep Pool Areas Free From Hazards

Be aware of other potential hazards beyond your actual pool. Your pool area may have outdoor furniture, rafts and floats, a diving board or a slide. One way to prevent a pool-related injury is to limit pool accessories. Secure the products you buy out of sight when you are not using your pool.

We caution you about purchasing diving boards and slides. Accidents involving these products can be serious, resulting in a head injury or a spinal cord injury, which can lead to long-term disability or death. Many homeowners have decided these are just not worth the potential safety risk.

Recognize that these products can be poorly designed or incorrectly installed. A product may not be the right fit for your pool design or reliably support your guests, even if it meets CPSC safety standards. However, if you choose to make a purchase, you should always hire an experienced pool professional to assist you with installation and your homeowner’s insurance agent to make sure your policy provides coverage.

Protect Young Children

Young child at risk for falling and drowning in a backyard swimming pool.In Massachusetts, property owners are responsible for securing pools from young children. Property owners can be held liable for drowning or other injuries suffered by young children, whether they are invited guests or are trespassing. The law recognizes that young children may not understand when they approach a potential hazard. As a property owner, think about how your pool looks from the street, from your yard and from inside your home. Bright-colored rafts and large crowds can quickly capture a child’s attention. Then think about how you have secured your pool.

Keep Gatherings Small

When you invite guests over, keep gatherings small so you can observe the pool area and enjoy the company.

Closely Monitor Guests Near Your Swimming Pool

Never invite anyone over to your home to use your swimming pool when you are not there or are engaged in another activity, such as work. Ask if adult guests know how to swim and if children have attended swimming lessons.

If you have young children, commit to watch them and any friends they invite over closely, even if they are not using your pool. Limit the size of gatherings so you can give the children your full attention.

Make the same commitment to safety if you are the parent of a teenager, even if you normally give them more freedom. Set summer rules and make sure your teen understands: they can only have friends over when you are home and gatherings should be kept small. They should always ask before using the swimming pool and you will not permit alcohol.

Whenever you have any guests over, check that your pool is fully secured before they arrive. Not just from outside, but also from guests and children in your home and backyard. Once your guests arrive, it can help to utilize a pool camera, sounding alarm or other technology, even if no one is using the pool. You can also take the low-tech approach of sitting outside where you can see both the pool and the gate. This step shows your guests and children you are truly committed to safety and want them to have fun, but also act responsibly so everyone gets home safely.

Restrict Alcohol Consumption by Your Guests; Never Allow Teens to Drink At Your Home

Massachusetts homeowners have a responsibility not to allow underage drinking in their swimming pool or elsewhere on their property.Carefully consider whether you want to allow your guests to consume alcohol in your home, especially when they come over to swim or are driving. This decision comes with a lot of responsibility. The easiest approach is to not allow alcohol consumption. If you do allow your guests to drink, practice moderation and good judgment. Never let them drive home under the influence.

As for swimming, remember that alcohol and pools are a dangerous combination. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, alcohol use is involved in up to 70 percent of deaths associated with all water recreation. Drinking beer or liquor in the warm weather can contribute to dehydration, which can raise the risk for drowning and submersion injuries.

Massachusetts recognizes social host liability. There can be serious consequences for bad decisions. Homeowners can face criminal charges, including jail time, if they allow minors under 21 to consume alcohol at their home or any property they control, under M.G.L. c. 138 § 34 . Parents can also be criminally charged and convicted if police can prove they left their home and were aware minors were consuming alcohol there in their absence. Minors can also be criminally charged.

In addition to criminal charges, a homeowner can also face a civil lawsuit from those injured as a result of a minor’s alcohol consumption at their home.

Limit Cell Phone Use and Distractions

One can easily become distracted by an email, text or social media and this can be dangerous if you have a pool. If you are checking your cell phone, you could miss the moment someone needs your help. Every second counts when it comes to saving someone from drowning. The best approach is to limit cell phone use and enjoy your guests. Keep both your home and cell phone nearby, but for emergencies only.

Free Legal Consultation – Boston Personal Injury Attorneys

At Breakstone, White & Gluck, our attorneys provide aggressive representation and are committed to achieving the best result for clients. Founded in 1992, our personal injury law firm specializes in representing those injured by the negligence or wrongdoing of others and our attorneys have been consistently recognized by Super Lawyers and Best Lawyers in America. We have won numerous record-setting verdicts and settlements in negligence, product liability and medical malpractice cases in Massachusetts. We offer safety tips as part of our Project KidSafe campaign, through which we work to prevent injuries to children and families.

If you or a family member has been injured, learn your legal rights. We represent clients across Massachusetts, including in Boston, Cambridge, Somerville, Quincy, the North and South Shores, Cape Cod, Worcester and Central Massachusetts. For a free legal consultation, contact one of our Boston personal injury lawyers at 800-379-1244 or 617-723-7676 or use our contact form.

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Breakstone, White & Gluck recently had the opportunity to contribute to a very worthwhile bike safety donation with the Framingham Public Schools. With COVID-19 driving a space shortage on school buses, the school system decided to buy 100 bicycles to help middle school students who needed the most help getting to school.

If you ride a bike, you know you must wear a helmet to protect yourself against head injuries. Well, Breakstone, White & Gluck had helmets and we were pleased to donate 100 bicycle helmets to students as part of our Project KidSafe campaign.

This donation began with a school counselor who noticed a student did not have a bus seat and this was causing issues with their attendance. An assistant superintendent asked if other students were facing the same problem. The answer was yes.

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