Articles Posted in Personal Injury

20191015-teendrivingMotor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for teens. Each year, National Teen Driver Safety Week highlights safety insights for families and teens. This year, the event runs from October 18-24th. We encourage you to follow the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and Teen Driver Source for more information. Teen Driver Source is operated by the Center for Injury Research and Prevention at Children’s Hospital of Philadephia, which offers Facebook and Twitter feeds.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the greatest dangers teen drivers face are: alcohol consumption, inconsistent or no seat belt use, distracted driving, speeding and driving with passengers in the vehicle. This year, COVID-19 has introduced a new concern. Teens are driving far less and risk losing core skills. This is where National Teen Driver Safety Week comes in as an important resource this year.

Driving Safety Contract. If you follow Teen Driver Safety Week, you may learn about teen driver contracts. You can also print this parent-teen driving contract from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Make your own edits and ask your teen to sign as a condition for using your vehicle. Give your teen a copy of the document to file away and review. This is a good way to lay out  expectations for your teens and what will happen if they violate the agreement.

Make Sure Teens Get Enough Driving Time. If teens are not driving as much during COVID-19, they risk falling behind on fundamental skills. To prevent this, encourage your teen to drive regularly. When you go out with your teen, split the driving responsibilities so you know they are logging at least some time behind the wheel and you can monitor their progress.

Hold back judgment and sharp comments if you see some of their skills have regressed. This may happen. Just help them get practice in where they need it. Take advantage of empty parking lots and slower times of the week. You can get them back on track.

Drive Around Town With Your Teen. When you can, walk and drive around your community with your teen, including during the morning and afternoon commutes. This gives your teen a preview of what may come when they pull out of the driveway alone. You may see more pedestrians and cyclists in areas. You may see parking changes and restaurants offering sidewalk service. Share observation with your teens and try to make helpful suggestions to help them drive safely and avoid car accidents.

Stress the Importance of Slowing Down. Speed is a factor in nearly 30 percent of all fatal crashes involving teen drivers, according to AAA. Teens often have a heavy foot on the gas pedal and this only changes as they gain experience. For now, if teens can simply slow down, they can significantly reduce their risk of a collision.

Start by helping your teen recognize speed limits because they are not always posted right in front of them. While they should have learned this in driver’s ed, new drivers can use a reminder from time to time. Massachusetts sets a default speed limit of 30 mph in thickly settled and business areas, unless posted otherwise or an individual community has opted to lower the speed to 25 mph. School zones and work zones are 20 mph.

Encourage your teen to travel at or below the speed limit, especially in residential neighborhoods. By doing so, they reduce their risk of causing a car accident due to inexperience in the first few months or year of driving. They reduce their chance of causing themselves or someone else serious injuries and all the emotions and stress.

Reduce Distractions. Slowing down is the most effective tool for safe driving. It’s also important to reduce distractions. This means setting aside cell phones and limiting conversation with passengers in the vehicle. Sure, your teen is going to engage in discussion with others in the car. But try to make conversation lighter and focus more on observation, such as, “I see cars backing up at the traffic light ahead” or “there is an ambulance coming.” Save heavy discussion for before or after the drive.

Safety Steps Near Pedestrians and Cyclists. Teens may struggle to drive near pedestrians and cyclists. Every few weeks, drive through school zones and busy areas with your teen again, just as a refresher. Show them how you stop at crosswalks for pedestrians and leave room in anticipation of pedestrians. Instead of chatting at traffic lights, use this time to show your teen how to check for cyclists. More and more people have been cycling over the past decade in Massachusetts. This likely increased during COVID-19 and will likely continue. The reality is cars are not the only vehicle on the roads. Cyclists have the right to travel in the road too. You can really help your teen by teaching them to look for cyclists.

Buckling Up. Teens and young adults have the lowest rates of seat belt use, according to the CDC. Almost half of all drivers age 15-20 who died in car crashes were not wearing seatbelts in 2017, according to the CDC. During COVID-19, your teen may go long periods of time without driving or traveling in the car. Remind your teen – and all your family members – to always buckle up.

Boston and Cambridge Car Accident Lawyers – Breakstone, White & Gluck

At Breakstone, White & Gluck, our Boston car accident lawyers have over 100 years combined experience representing those injured by negligent driving. If you have been injured in a car accident and someone else was responsible, learn your legal rights. For a free legal consultation, contact our attorneys at 800-379-1244 or 617-723-7676 or use our contact form.

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View from Inman Square, Cambridge

View from Inman Square, Cambridge, once ranked the top bike crash site in Massachusetts, according to MassDOT crash data. Photo: 2017, after installation of new bike lanes.

With strong encouragement from local cyclists, the Cambridge City Council voted to expand and update the Cambridge Cycling Safety Ordinance this week. The council approved the original ordinance last year, drawing national attention with an ambitious commitment to build 20 miles of protected bike lanes.

But cyclists felt there was more work to do. They recently asked the Cambridge City Council to prioritize areas for protected bike lane development, add new roads and establish a deadline for improvements.

  • The Cambridge City Council approved a May 1, 2026 deadline for building out Cambridge’s network of protected bike lanes (now 22.6 miles), using either permanent construction or quick-build approaches (Source: Cambridge Bicycle Safety announcement dated October 6, 2020).
  • Protected bike lanes will also be added in more areas, including Broadway, between Harvard University and Kendall Square, and Garden Street, according to according to StreetsBlog Mass.
  • City councilors also voted to prioritize bike lane development in the area north of Harvard Square, directing city staff to develop a detailed plan by May 2021. Hampshire and Cambridge streets, near Inman Square, will also now move up on the work list (Source: StreetsBlog Mass).

The vote comes several weeks after a cyclist was killed in Harvard Square. In August, a large tractor-trailer struck and killed the male cyclist on Massachusetts Avenue, near Brattle Street. Just a year ago, in September 2019, another bicycle accident resulted in a female cyclist’s death in the area.  A devastated family member later wrote a guest column in a local newspaper, urging the city to make safety improvements in Harvard Square.

The City of Cambridge has been studying traffic in congested Harvard Square. After the cyclist’s death in August, a city official stated Cambridge will add a separated bike lane and reduce travel lanes on Massachusetts Avenue, between the Harvard Square Kiosk and Harvard Square (Source: The Boston Herald, August 26, 2020).

Harvard Square is known for historic buildings and iconic shops, such as The Coop, the Harvard University bookstore. Adjacent to Harvard Yard and Harvard University, the square is located at the intersection of Massachusetts Avenue, Brattle Street and John F. Kennedy Street. The MBTA red line stops there and pedestrians and cyclists are in close proximity to motor vehicle traffic, buses and trucks.

Other Cambridge Bicycle Accidents

The Cambridge Bicycle Safety, a volunteer group, has led the effort for expanding protected bike lanes across the city. Its announcement noted this was the first mandatory timeline for building a bike lane network in the United States.

Safety is a leading concern for cyclists in Cambridge. Between residents and commuters, Cambridge has a high number of cyclists. When cyclists have been injured or killed in traffic accidents, many people have felt the impact. There has been a strong response in each case.

In June 2016, a 27-year-old cyclist was tragically hit and killed in a bicycle crash in Inman Square. The woman was struck by a Jeep Cherokee’s open door, then pushed into the travel lane, where she was ultimately struck by a moving dump truck, according to Wicked Local Cambridge. She was pronounced dead a short time later at Massachusetts General Hospital.

Then, in October 2016, a cyclist was fatally injured in Porter Square. The cyclist was struck by a tractor-trailer and a sedan during a morning ride. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

After these crashes, a Cambridge resident campaigned to encourage drivers to use the Dutch Reach method before exiting their vehicles. This method encourages drivers to take a full look at the road from their seat, so they do not risk “dooring” a cyclist.

As a result of his campaign, the state of Massachusetts added instruction on the Dutch Reach method to the state driver’s manual to educate drivers.

Free Legal Consultation – Boston and Cambridge Bicycle Accident Lawyers

Breakstone, White & Gluck is a Boston law firm which specializes in the representation of cyclists who have been injured by negligent drivers. Our attorneys offer more than 100 years combined experience handling all types of bicycle accidents, including truck crashes injuring cyclists, intersection bike accidents, right hook crashes and dooring. We help cyclists obtain compensation for recovery, including for medical care, lost wages and pain and suffering.

But our attorneys do more than represent cyclists. We are committed to improving safety for cyclists in the Boston area. We have long supported local cyclist clubs. And through our Project KidSafe campaign, we have donated 30,000 bicycle helmets to children across Massachusetts, including in partnership with the Cambridge Police Department. The League of American Bicyclists has honored us as a Silver-Level Bicycle Friendly Business.

If you have been injured, learn your legal rights. For a free legal consultation, call our Boston bicycle accident lawyers at 800-379-1244 or 617-723-7676. You can also use our contact form.

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College student moving into off-campus apartment in Boston, unpacking boxes

College students and other renters have the right to live in safe apartments.

September has arrived. In Boston, college students returned a few weeks ago and the focus has been preventing the spread of COVID-19. But apartment safety is another important topic – for college students as well as other renters.

If you rent an apartment, your safety is paramount, and that has not changed during COVID-19. We encourage you to inspect properties before signing leases and moving in. Speak to your landlord, your college or your family if you find yourself in unsafe conditions.

At Breakstone, White & Gluck, our personal injury lawyers are experienced in cases involving landlord negligence resulting in the injury of our clients. In Allston and other parts of Boston, we have represented college students and other renters who have been very seriously injured in falls and fires. These are devastating stories, more so because landlords neglected their responsibilities to maintain safe premises.

During COVID-19, there is a very real risk that landlords may fall behind or neglect to maintain their properties. If you rent and see a hazard, be prepared to speak up so no one is injured.

We share a few safety tips and resources:

Notify Your Landlord of Hazards Promptly

If you see a hazard, notify your landlord or the property owner. We know it can be overwhelming to be 19 or 20 years old, living on your own for the first time and stressed about approaching a landlord. Honestly, this is never easy – even for renters with a few years of experience. But if you need help, you should reach out to your parents, family members or someone else you trust. Your safety – and the safety of your roommates and others in the building – is the priority.

When you contact your landlord, do so in writing. Describe what appears unsafe and email a photo. Ask them to come inspect the problem. If you do not make any progress, call your college or the City of Boston’s Inspectional Services Department.

Thoroughly Inspect Your Apartment Regularly

If you recently signed a lease, you likely inspected the apartment first. Your apartment may be in good condition and look well-maintained. But things can break. Safety hazards can emerge with use. Monitor conditions throughout the year so no one is injured.

If you are in the middle of a lease or have rented through COVID-19, you should also conduct a thorough inspection with a new eye.

You may see hazards you have learned to live with. A few examples include broken handles, railings and staircases. Collapsed wood on porches or decks, which will eventually rot away. Floors which are so worn you have already slipped on them. We will stop here. You cannot live with these things. Doing so could result in an accident – and will likely result in you losing part of your security deposit down the road. Alert your landlord now.

Never Forget the First Step of Safety: Smoke Alarms 

Smoke alarms are the most basic tools you have to protect yourself. Make sure your apartment has working smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors at all times. Regularly replace the batteries and test them.

Check Out These Websites and Resources for Tenants

Know Your Rights When You Rent in Boston

City of Boston Inspectional Services

Attorney General’s Guide to Landlord and Tenant Rights

A Warning About Fake Apartment Listing Scams, WCVB-TV Boston

Injured by a Landlord’s Negligence in Massachusetts? – Free Legal Consultation

With more than 100 years combined experience, Breakstone, White & Gluck and our Boston personal injury lawyers fight for the rights of those injured by negligence and wrongdoing in premises liability cases. Our attorneys have been consistently recognized among the best lawyers in Massachusetts and New England by Super Lawyers and Best Lawyers in America. We provide experienced representation to those injured by the negligence of property owners and landlords, including in falls, porch collapses, fires and elevator accidents.

If you have been injured by unsafe conditions in an apartment, learn your legal rights.  Call Breakstone, White & Gluck at 800-379-1244 or 617-723-7676 or use our contact form.

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We are pleased to share an update from Lowell, where our partner, The Bike Connector, had a strong start-up year getting bikes and safety materials to students, despite the many challenges of COVID-19. We hope interest and momentum is building around The Bike Connector’s work.

As of mid-August, The Bike Connector had distributed 93 new refurbished bikes to local students (which is a big accomplishment, even in non-COVID times). Breakstone, White & Gluck was pleased to support the organization’s bike safety initiative. Our attorneys gave each student a new bicycle helmet, as part of our Project KidSafe campaign.

The Bike Connector had to relocate from its classroom due to COVID-19. It ended up working out of a storage container at Career Academy in Lowell Highlands, which is part of the Lowell Public School system. But the organization made the set-up work. They even enjoyed a few benefits, such as being able to work with students outside, having bikes and safety gear nearby and shade from the hot sun.

The organization identified youth who needed bikes by partnering with the Lowell Public Schools and other educational, non-profit and social services agencies across the city. These organizations included Brigid’s Crossing; Merrimack Valley Catholic Charities and the Cambodian Mutual Assistance Association. Other partners: the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Lowell; UMass Lowell Freewheelers; Elevate New England; and New American Center.

If you were in Lowell this summer, you may have seen The Bike Connector giving away refurbished bikes and helmets. You may have seen the students and their families having a lot of fun as they received new bikes. If you looked closer, the excitement extended beyond students and their families. Word of events spread quickly in neighborhoods.

Behind the scenes, what you didn’t see was The Bike Connector also offered a four-week online summer bike academy to incoming freshmen at Lowell High School this summer. This program introduced students to bike safety, bike maintenance, the rules of the road, Lowell geography and urban planning. Each student who participated earned a bike, helmet and light. We hope this course proves to be a guide as students return to school and want to travel safely on bikes.

About Breakstone, White & Gluck – Boston Personal Injury Lawyers

Breakstone, White & Gluck is a Boston personal injury law firm which represents clients who have been seriously injured by negligence or wrongdoing. In 2013, our lawyers founded our Project KidSafe campaign, with a goal of encouraging children to wear helmets every time they ride. By wearing a properly-fitted helmet, children and other cyclists can protect against head injuries. In Massachusetts, children age 16 and younger are required to wear helmets. But children need more. They need a strong encouragement from their families and others in the community. If you are a parent, we encourage you to wear a helmet along with your child.

Learn more about Breakstone, White & Gluck and our Project KidSafe campaign.

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Driver stops for pedestrians in Boston

Use caution. Cars making unsafe turns at intersections cause many pedestrian accidents.

Many of us will head back to work and school in September and October, at least part time. Due to COVID-19 and our new schedules, some of us may choose to walk for the first time, instead of relying on public transportation. If you walk, use caution – especially in intersections.

Nearly 20 percent of all traffic accidents result in pedestrian fatalities, according to the National Safety Council. An estimated 40 percent of all pedestrian accidents occur in intersections, according to the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA).

A few facts from a FHWA study on pedestrian accidents in intersections:

Drivers are making unsafe turns. According to this study, one in five pedestrian accidents at signalized intersections occurred when vehicles made unsafe turns.

Left-turning vehicles cause more pedestrian accidents at intersections. Pedestrians at signalized intersections are more likely to be hit by a left-turning vehicle. Researchers found  60 percent of drivers who hit pedestrians turned left, while 40 percent turned right. The FHWA researchers noted a driver’s view may be impeded more when turning left.

Pedestrians walk safer in groups. Researchers concluded that pedestrians walking in groups were less likely to be hit by left-turning vehicles than those walking alone. Again, this may be due to drivers being able to see pedestrians better. There was a notable difference – three out of four pedestrians hit by left-turning vehicles were walking alone.

Take Steps to Protect Yourself at Intersections

If you are a pedestrian, cars and trucks have the advantage in size. You have to assume drivers won’t always be able to see you as traffic moves. You also have to be prepared for negligent operators, who are speeding or allow themselves to become distracted.

You can take steps to protect yourself though. Purchasing a neon vest is a good place to start. If a driver can see you, they may be more likely to slow down. Also take advantage of technology. Use Google Maps or another traffic app to plan your walking route.

At intersections, look for crosswalks with pedestrian traffic signals. Wait for the walk signals before crossing. Drivers have a responsibility to yield the right of way to pedestrians in all marked crosswalks in Massachusetts. Yet pedestrian signals are more visible and can make a big difference in protecting pedestrians.

Drivers also have a responsibility to check for pedestrians (and cyclists) before turning at intersections. Studies have found that drivers are not looking enough – which is frustrating because more cars now have rearview mirror cameras to help them. Drivers need to be scanning the intersection more in front and behind for pedestrians and cyclists. This is critical in Boston, Cambridge and other cities because commercial truck drivers travel much higher up than pedestrians and cyclists and often, there is no eye contact. But truck drivers are not the only risk. Pedestrians have to be aware of all vehicles – SUVs, cars, buses. These drivers should also be paying attention to you.

Breakstone, White & Gluck – Boston and Cambridge Pedestrian Accident Lawyers

At Breakstone, White & Gluck, our Boston personal injury lawyers fight for justice for those who have been seriously injured by negligence or wrongdoing. With more than 100 years combined experience, our attorneys specialize in the representation of those injured in pedestrian accidents and bicycle crashes in Massachusetts. For a free legal consultation, call our attorneys today at 800-379-1244 or 617-723-7676 or use our contact form.

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After an extended leave, many Massachusetts families are now getting ready for back to school and a return to the workplace – at least part time to start. If you are going back and plan to commute on foot, we have some safety tips to share.

First, walking has so many benefits, including fresh air and exercise. We hope you can relax and enjoy this time and decompress. Transitioning back to work and school will be a challenge at times.

Pedestrian traffic signals in Massachusetts.

As Massachusetts transitions back to work and school, more people will be walking. Our tips to help pedestrian commuters stay safe.

But still, it is important to remember the risk for pedestrian accidents and observe traffic conditions as you walk. If you normally drive or use public transportation, your commute will be much different on foot.

Before COVID-19, pedestrian accidents accounted 20 percent of all traffic fatalities in Massachusetts, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Each year, as students head back to school, there is a lot of talk about pedestrian safety. This year, attention to safety is even more critical because traffic will be unpredictable for a while. You can also expect more pedestrians as well.

Drivers, especially truck drivers and bus drivers, must be vigilant in watching out for pedestrians and cyclists. But pedestrians should also be vigilant and take precautions.

Our pedestrian safety tips:

Be Visible. Dress to stand out to traffic. Think bright – a vest, jacket, shirt or baseball cap with neon-reflective material. You do not have to spend a lot of money. You can find neon-reflective on all types of products in all price ranges.

If you are a parent, encourage your children to wear bright colors. Remember, your child’s backpack doesn’t just carry books; you can purchase one with neon-reflective material and make it a tool for safety.

Use Sidewalks and Crosswalks. Always look for sidewalks and walk on them. If there are no sidewalks, walk as far as you can left, facing traffic.  Use crosswalks with pedestrian traffic signals.

Learn Your Route. Take some time to plan a good route for yourself or your children. You can use online map tools, but try to memorize your path – and a backup route. Locate pedestrian crosswalks and traffic signals. Wait for the walk signal before crossing. Look for streets which have fewer lanes of traffic to walk across. Also watch for bike lanes.

Remember School Safety. School bus drivers are responsible for getting children to and from school safely. This is the most critical commute on Massachusetts roads.

Whether you are a parent, driver or pedestrian, you can support school bus safety. When a school bus flashes its yellow lights, it is slowing down. When it stops, extends its arm and flashes red, the bus has stopped to allow children to cross. Drivers must stay 100 feet back.

As a pedestrian, you may keep walking if you are on the sidewalk and don’t interfere with the school bus. But there are times when you should stop if you are walking on the road. Allow the school bus driver to safely stop so children can board safely. Also allow vehicle to safely depart.

Watch for Large Trucks. We urge pedestrians to keep your distance from trucks. Each year, truck crashes injure and kill pedestrians in Massachusetts. The larger the truck, the greater the blindspot and the greater the risk to you.

Trucks can strike pedestrians head-on, but they can also hit them from behind or from the side. Pedestrians can be swept under a truck and dragged. This can happen when pedestrians are walking alongside the road or as they wait to cross a road and a truck approaches.

Because large trucks are everywhere in the Boston area, your best defense is to watch for them, stay on sidewalks as much as possible and find crosswalks with pedestrian safety signals. Truck drivers may not always check for pedestrians. They are more likely to tune into traffic signals in front of them.

Remember, trucks can also be deadly to cyclists. Right hook accidents occur when a driver fails to give a cyclist enough room when turning right at an intersection. What you can do to prevent a serious bicycle accident: Stay on the sidewalk as much as possible. Leave the bike lanes and outer traffic lanes to bicyclists so they have room to adjust to traffic conditions.

Check for Traffic Updates. Before leaving for work or school, check local traffic updates and police department websites. After the COVID-19 closures, some Boston area communities have made changes to accommodate more pedestrians or allowed restaurants to set up outdoor dining in streets and sidewalks. This may impact your commute to work or school. Again, this is another reason to tuck a lightweight neon vest in your bag. Be visible so drivers have a warning that they should stop for you.

Stop and Report Pedestrian Accidents: If you are negligent and hit a driver, you have a responsibility under Massachusetts law to stop and report the crash to police. As stressful as this situation may be, you have to stop, call 911 and make sure the person receives immediate medical attention.

But often, other pedestrians and other drivers witness pedestrian accidents. Stop and report the crash to 911, even if you were not involved. Never assume another witness will.  About 1 in 5 pedestrian crashes involve hit and run drivers, according to AAA research. In these cases, pedestrian accident victims are left without access to the driver and their auto insurance policy, which should provide compensation for their medical bills and other financial losses.

About Breakstone, White & Gluck – Boston Personal Injury Lawyers

With more than 100 years combined experience, Breakstone, White & Gluck specializes in representing those injured by negligent and reckless driving in Boston, Cambridge, Quincy and across Massachusetts. Our attorneys are highly experienced in advocating for victims and families after pedestrian accidents and crosswalk crashes. We have secured compensation from negligent drivers as well as major bus operators, such as the MBTA. If you have been injured, learn your legal rights. For a free consultation, contact Breakstone, White & Gluck at 800-379-1244 or 617-723-7676 or use our contact form.

Read about some of our awards:

$7.1 Million – Verdict for pedestrian seriously injured in MBTA bus accident

Our attorneys secured a $7.1 million verdict for our client who was hit by an MBTA bus in a South Boston crosswalk.

$2.15 Million – Settlement for pedestrian injured by crash at strip mall

Our attorneys negotiated a $2.15 million settlement after our client was struck by a vehicle as he left a strip mall.

$1.375 Million – Settlement for pedestrian struck by speeding MBTA bus

Our attorneys reached a $1.375 million settlement after our client was struck by an MBTA bus in Roxbury and suffered a traumatic brain injury.

$1.25 Million – Wrongful death settlement for pedestrian hit in crosswalk

Our attorneys negotiated a $1.25 million settlement for family members of a pedestrian struck and killed in a crosswalk.

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Children's Scooter

Safety tips for children’s scooters.

Children are eager to find fun activities this summer. In response, many parents have purchased new scooters online. As you open the box, remember to approach your child’s scooter as you would a bicycle. Make sure you have an age-appropriate and safe scooter model, along with a safety helmet.

Pre-Purchase: Read Product Materials

Before you buy, carefully read the product description. For children, plan to buy an age-appropriate non-motorized scooter. Check out online reviews and ask friends about their experiences purchasing scooters. Then, search for product recalls on the Consumer Product Safety Commission website. This is essential because at times, online vendors have been caught selling recalled products. Your child could be seriously injured on a recalled scooter.

Try to purchase a new scooter for your child. While bicycles can be passed down and refurbished, children usually wear their scooters out fairly well, especially the thin, fold-up models. If you do find a hand-me-down scooter, do a thorough inspection before giving it to your child. Locate the model number and check the recall database.

Post-Purchase: Inspect Your Delivery

When the scooter arrives, check that you have received the right model number and all the parts. Nothing should be broken or cracked. Register the scooter with the manufacturer to receive product recalls and other updates. Bicycles, skateboards and scooters all contain small parts and screws. Because your child probably rides daily, we suggest keeping the box. Scan the instructions and product support number so they are easily accessible.

Purchase a Helmet

As part of our Project KidSafe campaign, Breakstone, White & Gluck encourages children to wear bicycle helmets to protect against head injuries. Your child should also wear a helmet every time they ride a scooter. Take time to make sure the helmet is properly-fitted so your child is comfortable wearing it.

This is a suggestion and a requirement. A little background: Under Massachusetts law, children 16 and younger must wear helmets on bikes and scooters, as well as other riding toys.

The bicycle helmet law has been in place longer. In 1994, the state of Massachusetts approved a bicycle helmet law for children age 12 and younger. Then, in 2004, Massachusetts expanded the helmet law to children age 16 and younger on bikes, as well as scooters, skateboard, inline skates and manually-propelled wheeled vehicles. These laws are M.G.L. c. 85, § 11B and M.G.L. c. 85, § 11B1/2.

Some parents keep separate helmets for scooters and bikes. It is also acceptable for children to use one helmet, so long as it meets the federal safety standard for bicycles, properly fits and is in good condition. One reminder though: if your child wears one helmet, expect it to wear faster. Be prepared. Stowaway an extra helmet in your garage.

Look for helmets to meet this safety standard, U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (16 C.F.R. part 1203). These helmets are designed to protect against skull fractures and severe brain injuries sustained in bicycle accidents and falls. For more information, read the CPSC’s article, “Which Helmet for Which Activity?”

Driveway Safety

Many scooter accidents happen in or near driveways. Think about how you can protect your children while they ride. One idea is you can purchase driveway fencing. You can buy light-weight brightly colored fencing which retracts when you are done playing. Another strategy is you can park your cars between the children’s play area and the road.

Steer Clear of Large Vehicles

Even quiet streets see large vehicles, including SUVs, delivery trucks and trash vehicles. These vehicles can be deadly near young children on scooters. When a large vehicle appears, teach your child to move to a safe location (this may be your front lawn, your driveway, the sidewalk or the side of the road). Children are safest stepping off the scooter until the vehicle turns off the engine and parks or departs. Drivers backing up can be the most dangerous for children on scooters. Have your children wait inside while you back in or out of your driveway.

Bright Colored Clothing

Buy your child a brightly colored vest, shirt or jacket to wear when they ride near your home or around the neighborhood. Drivers don’t expect scooters – they move differently than bicycles or pedestrians – and you want them to really see your child. To reinforce the message,  you can also wear brightly colored clothes as you walk along your child. Everyone is safer when they are more visible to traffic.

Park Scooters at Night

For safety, children should park their scooters at night. Drivers have a responsibility to look and operate with reasonable care. But the truth is more accidents occur at night and drivers are less likely to see bikes and scooters. Children’s scooters may have neon stickers, but these are hardly visible in night traffic.

Non-Motorized Scooters for Children

Say no to motorized scooters. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has advised against motorized scooters for children under 16. Powered scooters are associated with three times as many severe injuries to children in the U.S., according to a New York Times article on the study.

Scooter Injuries. In the 2008 study, children were more likely to suffer concussions and severe head injuries on motorized scooters. Leg injuries also increased.

More recently, in 2017, the CPSC reported non-motorized scooters were associated with the most injuries among two age groups, children 12 and younger and children under 15. That year, non-motorized scooters caused roughly 20 percent of injuries in both age groups and four deaths of children between 4 and 8 years old. All four children were riding scooters near their family’s home or driveway.

Defective Scooters. Do not assume your child was doing something wrong if the scooter starts to break or a piece falls loose. Manufacturers have had to recall defective scooters on many occasions. Report the incident to the manufacturer. Your report may confirm other reports and prompt them to issue a recall to prevent other scooter accidents and injuries. This is how the process works and it only works if consumers come forward with safety complaints.

Discard Scooters Carefully. If your child wore out their scooter, it’s not safe for use and you should disassemble it. This way, it will not injure another child.

About Breakstone, White & Gluck – Boston Personal Injury Lawyers

At Breakstone, White & Gluck, our Boston personal injury lawyers represent those who have been injured by negligence and recklessness. We are also committed to protecting against head injuries through our Project KidSafe campaign, donating 30,000 bicycle helmets to Massachusetts children since 2013.

We urge families to buy scooters carefully. Always buy a helmet. Always check for product recalls before you buy. Always carefully inspect the scooter when it arrives. Then, after you have taken these steps, you’re ready to enjoy the last few weeks of summer, watching your child ride their new scooter safely.

If you or your child are injured by negligence, please take time to learn your legal rights. For a free legal consultation, contact Breakstone, White & Gluck at 800-379-1244 or 617-723-7676 or use our contact form.

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dangerous dog

Dog owners made horrific decisions which killed young children in 2019. In Massachusetts, a 14-year-old boy was mauled to death by at least four dogs in Dighton. Then, in Michigan, two young children lost their lives to separate pit bull attacks, just months apart.

No one wants to think about the potential dangers of dogs. This is because many people own a dog or call themselves dog lovers. But the reality is dogs can be a public health risk when left unsupervised or when owners make poor decisions. Or when they interact too closely with children. Now, during the summer months, is the time to consider your family’s safety.

Children face the greatest risk of injury and suffer more than 50 percent of all dog bites, according to the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh.

Dog bites and attacks caused severe injuries and deaths across the United States and here in Massachusetts last year. In May 2019, a 14-year-old boy was killed in a dog bite attack in Dighton. He was found laying dead at a property where he was caring for dogs without supervision. There were 4 dogs in the area where his body was found and 7 other dogs on the property, according to a NBC Boston report. The dogs were reportedly not licensed in Dighton.

The boy’s grandmother had dropped him off on the large property to tend to the dogs, as she had for several months, while the dogs’ owner was away in Boston, according to the Sun Chronicle newspaper. The grandmother waited in the car and grew concerned when the boy did not return. A neighbor found the boy dead and police were called. The Bristol County District Attorney’s office investigated but declined to criminally charge the dogs’ owner.

Then, the state of Michigan lost two young children within a few months. In August 2019, three pit bulls savagely attacked a 9-year-old girl in Detroit as she rode her bike in an alley near her home, according to a local news report. The girl died from multiple injuries, despite a neighbor’s attempt to help, by shooting and killing one of the dogs. The owner of the dogs was arrested, ultimately charged with second-degree murder.

Prosecutors alleged the owner knew the dogs “were dangerous, loose and unsecured” in the backyard of his home, according to the news coverage. He allegedly went to a nearby store and the dogs broke free from the yard while he was away. The initial investigation found the fencing around the home was damaged and the garage door had also been left open.

In October, another child was attacked just a few miles away in Hazel Park, Michigan. This time, the 4-year-old boy was killed by a pit bull right in his own home. His family had been pet sitting for a friend.

“A kind gesture to help a friend in a time of need, for a dog that was said to have never shown aggressive behaviors has turned into a horrifying loss for our family,” the family said in a statement.

The attack only ended when police shot the dog with a taser gun and it fled. The boy was later pronounced dead at a local hospital. The boy’s mother had fought to save her son, stabbing the dog with a knife. She was later transported to a local hospital with non-life threatening injuries.

A Dog Owner’s Legal Responsibilities in Massachusetts

Man walking his dog on a leash

Always use a dog leash when you walk through your neighborhood.

To dog owners, we urge you to tend to your responsibilities. Follow your community’s local leash laws and registration requirements.

Restrain and supervise your dog at all times. In Massachusetts, the owner or keeper of a dog can be held financially responsible when their animal attacks someone. Under Massachusetts law, the injured person may seek compensation through your Massachusetts homeowner’s insurance policy. There is strict liability when a dog causes injuries, scarring or wrongful death. One does not have to prove the dog had a history of being dangerous or vicious.

Adults have a responsibility not to trespass or torment a dog at the time of the attack. But dog owners can be held liable when young children step onto their property without invitation, then are attacked. This is a very important point for dog owners to understand.

Homeowners can prevent these injuries by inspecting their home and property. Consider the age of your neighbors’ children. In most cases, the best investment you can make is strong fencing which keeps your dog contained and stops children before they grow interested in watching your dog. Read more about Massachusetts dog bite laws on our website.


Child near a dog, a delicate situation because dogs cause many severe and fatal injuries to children in Massachusetts.

When you visit friends or family, keep young children away from their dog. You will have plenty of time to introduce your child to dogs later, as they grow older.

To parents and neighbors, never underestimate the risk of dogs. Dog bites and attacks are more common than most people realize, even when you and your children know the dog. In fact, 77 percent of dog bites cause injury to their owners and children, a relative or family friends, according to the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh.

Dogs may be well behaved. Owners can feed and exercise them regularly. Yet they can still be unpredictable or become stressed and attack without warning. They are not a reliable combination with young children, no matter how dog-friendly their owner says they are.

We encourage you to exercise caution around dogs. If you are a parent, keep your children away from dogs. You have the choice when you visit friends or family members who own dogs. These are social visits and letting your child approach a dog while you talk is dangerous, even if they are with another person or older child. You want to introduce your child to dogs when they are older, taking time to consult your children’s pediatrician and school. You want to be right there with your child, not watching them from across a yard.

Watch Your Neighborhood

The risk for dog bites typically rises in the summer, with the warm weather and the start of school vacation. This year, Covid-19 has changed everything in Massachusetts. Your neighbors may be spending even more time at home. You may see their dogs out more, sometimes without supervision. You may also see some new dogs.

Call your local animal control officer if you are concerned about an unsupervised dog. Your neighbors have a responsibility to follow leash laws and these are in place to prevent injuries. Another reason is some of these dogs may also be abandoned, neglected or starved. They need special attention before they contract and spread rabies, or attack.

Facts About Dog Bite Injuries

  • From 2005 to 2018, 471 Americans were killed by dog bites, according to DogBite.org, a victim’s group.
  • Pit bulls caused more than 65 percent of fatal dog bites and attacks, according to the group.
  • Children age 5 to 9 are the most frequent victims of dog bites and attacks, according to a WBUR article.
  • Dogs are most likely to bite children in the face, neck and head, the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburg reports.

Seeking Medical Treatment After Dog Bites and Attacks

Most dog bites and attacks are serious. Call 911 and wait for emergency medical services. Even if you or your child have only suffered a minor wound, we encourage you to still call your pediatrician or doctor. Ask to be treated right away. This is critical because not all dogs are vaccinated.

Free Legal Consultation- Boston Dog Bite Lawyers

Breakstone, White & Gluck has more than 100 years combined experience representing victims of dog bites and attacks in Boston and across Massachusetts. If you or your child has been injured, you may have the right to pursue financial compensation for your recovery. You may be entitled to seek damages for medical expenses, pain and suffering and other financial losses. This compensation can also pay for counseling for emotional distress.

Learn your legal rights. Call our Massachusetts dog bite attorneys for a free legal consultation at 800-379-1244 or 617-723-7676.

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In Massachusetts, we are washing our hands and using hand sanitizers as much as we can. We all want to do our part to prevent the spread of COVID-19. But now, it’s time to check your supply of sanitizer. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is urging the public to steer clear of nine brands because they contain methanol, a toxic substance.

Methanol is often used in industrial settings, where high concentrations of methanol vapor can lead to poisoning, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). It is also called wood alcohol and is highly flammable.

Methanol can also be harmful when you handle it or absorb it through your skin, according to the FDA. The greater risk, though, is children or adolescents who may drink or ingest hand sanitizer. Certain adults may also be at risk or may have consumed the clear liquid accidentally. Parents and caregivers should respond immediately if they suspect a methanol hand sanitizer poisoning.

The hand sanitizers identified by the FDA show particularly high levels of methanol. Testing found one product contacted 81 percent methanol and no ethanol.

The FDA had asked Eskbiochem SA de CV of Mexico to remove the hand sanitizers from the market last week. When there was no response, the FDA issued its public warning on Friday (June 19, 2020).

The FDA advises consumers to avoid these hand sanitizers:

  • All-Clean Hand Sanitizer (NDC: 74589-002-01)
  • Esk Biochem Hand Sanitizer (NDC: 74589-007-01)
  • CleanCare NoGerm Advanced Hand Sanitizer 75% Alcohol (NDC: 74589-008-04)
  • Lavar 70 Gel Hand Sanitizer (NDC: 74589-006-01)
  • The Good Gel Antibacterial Gel Hand Sanitizer (NDC: 74589-010-10)
  • CleanCare NoGerm Advanced Hand Sanitizer 80% Alcohol (NDC: 74589-005-03)
  • CleanCare NoGerm Advanced Hand Sanitizer 75% Alcohol (NDC: 74589-009-01)
  • CleanCare NoGerm Advanced Hand Sanitizer 80% Alcohol (NDC: 74589-003-01)
  • Saniderm Advanced Hand Sanitizer (NDC: 74589-001-01)

The agency advised consumers to carefully inspect sanitizers in their home before use and immediately dispose of these in appropriate hazardous waste containers. Consumers should not flush sanitizer or pour it down the drain. Read the FDA notice.

Symptoms of Methanol Poisoning

Methanol exposure can lead to methanol poisoning and severe symptoms, starting with nausea, vomiting, headache and blurred vision.  In the worst cases, those exposed can suffer permanent blindness, seizures, comas or permanent damage to the nervous system. Methanol poisoning can also result in death.

How Safe is Your Hand Sanitizer?

Hand sanitizer was in short supply for months. But you can now probably find your own bottle. If you use hand sanitizer, make a point to carry your own. Carefully read the label and regularly check the FDA website for recalls.

Hand sanitizer is a clear gel. It all looks the same, but each brand has a different alcohol content. For instance, your small pocket sanitizer probably has less alcohol than a nursing home or hospital, which has to meet greater fire safety regulations.

Our point is it would be hard to tell if you were being offered sanitizer with a high level of methanol or any dangerous substance. It’s better to control  your own supply. Read about the FDA’s work to ensure the safety of hand sanitizers.

Wash Your Hands Safely

The FDA reminds consumers to regularly wash their hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. When soap and water are unavailable, the CDC recommends an alcohol-based hand sanitizer which contains at least 60 percent ethanol. Visit the FDA’s website to learn more about hand sanitizer safety.

Free Legal Consultation – Boston Personal Injury Lawyers

Breakstone, White & Gluck has extensive experience representing those injured by defective products, including those which contain toxic chemical substances.

Manufacturers of cleaning supplies, hand sanitizers and detergents have a responsibility to produce safe products and conduct thorough testing before distribution. End users, including restaurants, industrial workplaces and labs, also have a responsibility to follow safety guidelines when using chemical products. Mishandling chemicals can lead to chemical exposure, fires or serving clients unsafe food and beverages.

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

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Massachusetts teen driver using cell phone, causing risk for distracted driving crash.

Distracted driving laws are reducing teen driver crashes, study says.

When drivers use cell phones, they introduce grave dangers to the road and are more likely to crash. This is why many states have now passed distracted driving laws. But how effective have these laws been?

Highly effective, suggests new research. Distracted driving laws are saving the lives of both teen drivers and their passengers in car crashes. The greatest impact is seen when states ban all drivers from cell phone use, not just junior operators under age 18.

Researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital published the findings from a 10-year study in Pediatrics journal. Reviewing more than 38,000 motor vehicle crashes reported between 2007 and 2017, researchers found a significant decrease in fatal motor vehicle crashes among drivers age 16-19.

There was actually a 43 percent reduction in deaths among 16-year-old drivers in states which passed hand held cell phone bans for all drivers (not just a ban for junior operators under 18).

Researchers had the challenge of working with evolving cell phone laws. When the study began in 2007, just 15 states had passed one type of distracted driving law, often a texting while driving ban. By the end, researchers were reviewing the impact of multiple bans, including texting while driving bans (both primary and secondary), hand-held bans and bans on all types of cell phone use for drivers under age 18.

Distracted Driving In Massachusetts

Massachusetts distracted driving crashes are a serious concern, having caused the deaths of drivers as well as pedestrians and cyclists. Once drivers pick up a cell phone, it is hard to break their attention away. The younger the driver, the harder it can be and this makes it essential for teens to establish good habits from the start.

In Massachusetts, a high school student was the first to be criminally prosecuted for motor vehicle homicide, texting while driving and negligent operation of a motor vehicle, according to CNN. Police allege the 17-year-old Haverhill man exchanged nearly 200 text messages in the hours leading up to the fatal crash in 2011. The crash killed a 55-year-old New Hampshire driver and seriously injured his girlfriend, who was riding in his passenger seat. As the prosecutor said at sentencing, “there are no winners today.” He went onto say, “…in a split second, many lives are forever changed.”

The state of Massachusetts reported a 170 percent increase in distracted driving crashes between 2014 and 2016. Over the past few years, lawmakers and safety advocates negotiated proposals to pass a hands-free law or a ban on handheld cell phone use. This finally reached resolution in November 2019, taking effect in April.

Under the Massachusetts Hands-Free Law, drivers are no longer allowed to use hand-held cell phones. They must now use voice-activated technology. The goal is to reduce injuries by taking away the act of reaching for a phone and attempting to dial. However drivers must still use voice-activated cell phones cautiously. Drivers can still cause accidents when using voice-activated technology and can still be held liable if they cause someone’s injuries.

Teen drivers – Massachusetts junior operators under age 18 – are still not allowed to use hands-free cell phones under the new law.

Free Legal Consultation – Boston Car Accident Attorneys

At Breakstone, White & Gluck, our attorneys fight for the rights of those injured by negligent driving in Boston and across Massachusetts. With more than 100 years combined experience, we have a reputation for strong results for victims of car accidents, truck crashes and bus collisions.

If you have been injured, call our attorneys for a free legal consultation: 800-379-1244 or 617-723-7676 or use our contact form.

 

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