Articles Posted in Personal Injury

Dynacraft Ride-on Toy recalled in 2017

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

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

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

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

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

Potential Harm: Motor Vehicles and Fires

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

Safety Tips for Buying Ride-on Toy Cars

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

Free Legal Consultation: 800-379-1244

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

Learn more about Breakstone, White & Gluck: www.bwglaw.com. If you have been injured, our attorneys offer a free legal consultation and can help explain your rights for seeking potential compensation. Call 800-379-1244 or 617-723-7676 or use our contact form.

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Passenger paying private driver for a rideIn Massachusetts, you can pay a licensed cab, Uber or Lyft for a ride and expect the driver to carry auto insurance if you are injured. These drivers are required to buy minimum levels of auto insurance under Massachusetts law, which is the way it should be.

But now, two years after Massachusetts began regulating rideshare companies, auto insurance companies are becoming more careful in investigating car crashes to make sure they do not involve “gypsy cabs” or situations where passengers pay a private individual for a ride, even though they are not licensed as a business, taxi or have not met rideshare regulations. Insurance companies are saying passengers are not covered for injuries in these situations, and it’s an important warning to consumers.

There is a whole industry of gypsy cab drivers on the roads in wake of the rideshare legislation. They are simply ignoring the regulations and setting up social media pages advertising their services. They may also grow their business by word of mouth and by serving the same passengers they know well. Their prices may undercut other ride services, but there is a huge catch in the bargain: there may be no insurance in case of a car accident.

Gypsy cab drivers can offer cheaper fares for two reasons: they don’t buy the proper commercial insurance, and they fail to report their earnings to the state and federal government, so they don’t pay taxes.

Don’t take a chance! The odds are you will arrive at your destination safely. But the few dollars you save will look like a really poor investment if something goes wrong along the way, and you end up hurt in a car accident.

Please hold your wallet and read our consumer safety tips:

Gas and expenses.  Can you share expenses for a trip? This should not be a problem, as long as everybody is paying their fair share, and nobody is making a profit.

Rethink your carpool. Carpooling is encouraged in our traffic-gridlocked state, especially when traveling during rush hour. But it’s not a real carpool if you never drive, and you pay somebody a fee to be their passenger. If you are the driver, you need to make sure your passengers are protected, or you may find yourself without insurance protection! Consider appropriate increases in your personal auto insurance coverage, which we explain later in this article.

Travel by cab, limousine or rideshare. Cabs, limousines, and rideshare vehicles are required to carry auto insurance to cover passengers in Massachusetts. How much coverage varies by type of ride service and by municipality. For example, a cab in Boston may have only $20,000 in basic coverage. But remember: you may have zero protection in gypsy cab situations.

Massachusetts lawmakers did better in passing legislation for rideshare vehicles in 2016, requiring them to carry adequate amounts of coverage when drivers are engaged in a pre-arranged ride. You can read about the required amounts on our Uber accidents web page.  

Review your own auto insurance policy. In Massachusetts, you are required to carry auto insurance for your vehicle. Look at your personal policy or the policy covering other vehicles in your household. You may be able to buy additional coverage which may help if you are injured by a driver in a gypsy cab situation. Buying additional coverage on your own policy can also help if you are injured by any driver who has no auto insurance or does not have an adequate amount to properly compensate you for your injuries. 

Look at the Auto Coverage Selections sheet and call your auto insurance agent. We tell our clients that the most important coverages you can have to protect yourself are underinsured motorist, uninsured motorist, and medical payments coverage. Ask your agent or broker about the cost of raising your optional coverages, and pay what you can afford. Learn more on our Massachusetts auto insurance safety tips page.

Excess coverage actually costs very little over the minimum coverage you are required to carry. Many people are surprised to learn they may be able to increase their coverage for a few dollars each year. This is a good investment for your own protection and for your peace of mind.

College students beware! College students are at high risk for suffering injuries in car accidents involving gypsy cabs. For decades, it has been a common practice for students to pay roommates and friends for rides. But in light of the position insurance companies are taking, it is time to stop paying your friends for anything more than your share of the gas and tolls.

Please consider this warning when you make your holiday travel arrangements in Massachusetts. This affects travelers coming into Logan Airport, South Station and North Station. But also travelers in college areas such as Boston, Cambridge, Framingham, Lowell, Worcester and Springfield and Amherst. 

Call our Boston Car Accident Lawyers – Free Legal Consultation

Breakstone, White & Gluck has over 100 years combined experience successfully recovering compensation for drivers, passengers, cyclists and pedestrians seriously injured by car crashes. Our Boston car accident lawyers are highly experienced at investigating car and truck crashes and have an expert knowledge of Massachusetts auto insurance laws. We handle accidents involving Uber vehicles across the state, from Cape Cod to Boston to Worcester and Western Massachusetts.

If you have been injured, learn your legal rights. For a free consultation, call 800-379-1244 or617-723-7676 or use our contact form.

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button batteries

Beware of Lithium button batteries this holiday season. These are a serious danger to young children, who can swallow them and suffer serious internal injuries.

New parents quickly learn the secret to surviving the holiday season: stock up on batteries. While all batteries should be handled with care, we want to share a few safety tips for handling lithium button batteries.

Small, just the size of a button, these batteries are easy to overlook when you child-proof your home. But button batteries are a giant danger. A child can find one and put in their mouth. Without proper medical care, within hours, a child can suffer severe burns to their esophagus.

In 2010, researchers at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia tracked more than 3,400 cases of children who swallowed button batteries. The hospital reports 15 children have died and another 80 children have suffered permanent injuries after ingesting button batteries.

Our tips to protect your children:

  • Read product labels before you purchase. You may not realize some toys or products have lithium batteries because you do not have to install them. Likewise, products you may guess have lithium batteries may not. It is essential to read and ask questions.
  • Know where lithium button batteries are in your home. You can find them in certain toys and baby monitors, as well as remote controls, garage door openers, car keys and bathroom scales. You may also wear a watch powered by a lithium battery.
  • Remove products containing lithium batteries from your home. If you really need these products, at least secure them out of your child’s reach.
  • Be suspicious of holiday gifts and trinkets. Holiday cards, electric candles and interactive gifts, such as musical stuffed animals, may have lithium batteries. Stop these products before they come into your home. As for holiday cards, enjoy them and discard them the same day. If you keep them, remove the battery.
  • Research your holiday gifts. Go online and search for product recalls involving any toy you wish to purchase. You can visit the CPSC website. Search for both the product you are interested in buying and batteries.
  • Warn your family and friends. With Thanksgiving just a few weeks away, now is an ideal time to share safety information with your loved ones. Urge family members, friends, grandparents and caregivers to carefully select holiday gifts, make use of toy recall alerts and move products with button batteries out of your child’s reach.

What to do if a child swallows a lithium button battery
If your child ever swallows a button battery, go to the hospital immediately. The sooner a child receives medical attention, the better. A child can suffer a serious internal injury within hours of swallowing a button battery so every second counts.

We hope your child is never injured. But it is critical to understand the symptoms when children swallow button batteries. Parents may not see a child swallow a button battery or may not even know a button battery was in their child’s reach.

These are common symptoms:

  • Decreased eating or drinking
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Vomiting
  • Vomiting blood
  • Chest pain or discomfort
  • Abdominal pain, blood in saliva or stool
  • Drooling
  • Crying

If you suspect your child swallowed a button battery, the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia advises parents to seek immediate medical treatment and to refrain from giving the child medications, food or anything to drink. Never attempt the Heimlich maneuver either. This can worsen the injury.


About Breakstone, White & Gluck and Our Commitment to Safety

This holiday season, Breakstone, White & Gluck is committed to sharing tips on toy safety. Every toy, every product you buy should be safe to use, but this is not always the case. Because of this, our Boston product liability lawyers want to share tips from our experience to help parents and grandparents make safe buying decisions.

Breakstone, White & Gluck is a top-rated Boston personal injury law firm, with lawyers who have been consistently recognized for excellence over the past 26 years, including by Top 100 New England Super Lawyers, Best Lawyers in America and Martindale-Hubbell. Our attorneys have also been recognized for starting our Project KidSafe campaign. Through our Project KidSafe campaign, our attorneys work to prevent injuries and deaths by providing critical safety information to families and encouraging use of bicycle helmets. To date, we have donated over 20,000 bicycle helmets to children in Massachusetts, with a goal of preventing head injuries.

Learn more about Breakstone, White & Gluck: www.bwglaw.com. If you have been injured, our attorneys offer a free legal consultation and can help explain your rights for seeking potential compensation. Call 800-379-1244 or 617-723-7676 or use our contact form.


Additional Resources for Parents

We encourage parents to watch these videos.

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There were frightening pictures out of Allston on Sunday, November 4, 2018, as the Boston Fire Department responded to a report of a commercial building collapse. Firefighters found very dangerous conditions: the façade at 85 Harvard Avenue, a one-story commercial building, had fallen onto the sidewalk. The building houses Common Ground Bar and Grill, which sustained serious damage, and also other businesses.

Two people were injured, including a woman who was hit by concrete and suffered critical personal injuries outside the building. The Boston Globe reported she was with friends and they, along with others, fought to free her from the concrete. When the Boston Fire Department arrived, she was rescued and transported for medical treatment. Others inside the building were safely evacuated with assistance.

As the investigation begins, the collapse must serve as a reminder to landlords and building owners. Injuries from property defects – such as fires, slippery floors or snow and ice accumulations – are devastating for victims and families and are much more common than many people realize. But structural failures, especially in aging buildings, present extreme hazards as well.

Boston City Regulations for Building Owners and Landlords 

Building owners and landlords have a responsibility to regularly inspect and maintain residential and commercial buildings. In older buildings with brick or stone facades, routing engineering analysis should be performed periodically.

In Boston, city regulations require inspection reports, but only for buildings over 70 feet tall. The regulation mandates that every exterior wall shall be inspected at least once every five years, and in the case of an unoccupied structure, inspection must be done at least once every year. Inspection reports must be completed by an architect or engineer, and filed with the city.

Inspections should not be limited to facades. Many buildings have aging iron work on balconies and exterior stairs and these can buckle under, leading to serious injuries.

About Breakstone, White & Gluck – Representing Those Injured by Unsafe Property Conditions
At Breakstone, White & Gluck, our personal injury lawyers have over 100 years combined experience representing those who have been injured by the negligence and wrongdoing of others. Our attorneys have extensive experience investigating fires, porch collapses and unsafe buildings in the Boston area, then bringing claims on behalf of those injured.

If you have been injured because of unsafe property conditions, we urge you 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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Dooring bicycle accidentA recent New York Times article on dooring injuries shows the risks to cyclists continue, even after advocacy efforts in Boston and other cities.

At Breakstone, White & Gluck, our attorneys represent cyclists who have been seriously injured in dooring accidents. While many dooring accidents happen in urban areas such as Boston, Cambridge and Somerville, dooring can happen in any community in Massachusetts. When drivers or passengers open doors without checking, cyclists can suffer devastating injuries, including broken bones, facial fractures and head injuries. Dooring crashes can be fatal.

Dooring crashes do not always make the news in Boston. But they are happening, more than any other type of bicycle accident. In fact, in November 2016, The Boston Globe reported cyclists faced a 225 percent higher risk for dooring than any other bicycle accident injury.

As part of our Project KidSafe campaign, Breakstone, White & Gluck has worked to promote safe cycling across the state of Massachusetts. We have been especially active in the city of Boston, donating our Project KidSafe bicycle helmets to a number of organizations. One of these organizations is Boston Bikes, which is part of the City of Boston’s Transportation Department. Over the past six years, our attorneys have given roughly 1,200 helmets to Boston Bikes’ programs, including women’s cycling classes, Roll It Forward and youth cycling in city schools.  Roll It Forward is a retired program, but it used to fix up used bikes for city residents who needed one.  Meanwhile, the youth cycling programs teach safety as soon as children start riding.

Thanks to Boston Bikes for sending these photos from the youth cycling programs. Looks like another great year!

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About Breakstone, White & Gluck and Our Project KidSafe Campaign

Baby swimming lesson

A media report explores whether swim lessons actually reduce the risk of injury. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) says children should not start lessons until age 1. Previously, the AAP’s recommendation was not before age 4.

Swimming lessons have certainly changed over the years. Parents are signing children up earlier, as young as 6 months old, to get them used to the water. A recent WBUR report explored whether this is all for fun or if children in today’s swim lessons are actually learning enough to reduce their risk of drowning.

As a parent, ask your child’s swim instructor about their goals. Experts interviewed by WBUR said the goal should be water survival and broader pool safety skills.

After a Massachusetts restaurant's food poisoning outbreak, friends eat a meal which has been safely prepared.

A food poisoning outbreak has closed a Massachusetts restaurant in the middle of the summer season, raising concerns for diners.

A North Reading restaurant has been closed indefinitely after 39 diners filed complaints related to a salmonella outbreak. The source may be the antipasto salad, but the local board of health is still investigating.

The North Reading Board of Health shutdown Kitty’s Restaurant on Main Street on July 3. The board investigated the food poisoning, which may have initially occurred on June 23. After a thorough cleaning, the restaurant was allowed to re-open – though not for long. The restaurant has been closed again following a new report, this time from a June 25th visit.

20180305-seatbelt-1200There is nothing more important than protecting your family and other passengers in the car. Many of us drive less often in the winter in Massachusetts. But in a few weeks, families will be back in the car more for afterschool sports, activities and weekend trips.

Take a few minutes now to inspect your vehicle’s seat belts and child passenger safety seats. Make sure this equipment is working and properly adjusted to fit each child. Replace car seats if your children have outgrown them. Then talk to your family about the importance of always wearing a seat belt.

Dangers on the Road for Children

Football on a field and football players in backgroundProfessional football players face a high risk for concussions, far greater than most of us. But Rob Gronkowski’s concussion a few weeks ago was a reminder that concussions can happen when we least expect them, even in the middle of a big game. And when they do, the game must stop.

Much has changed over the past decade, as hundreds of former NFL players have sued over head injuries. Every state now has a concussion protocol for student athletes. In Massachusetts, students, coaches and parents are now trained to recognize concussion symptoms and how to respond. But others should also be aware of the risks. Beyond the playing field, concussions can happen in car accidents, construction accidents, falls and other situations.

Concussions are a mild Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) which are often caused by an impact to the head. Concussions can be hard to recognize at first, with some initial symptoms mirroring the flu.