doctor with a patient at a Boston hospital

A new report shows after medical errors, medical providers only offer 25 percent of patients and families in Massachusetts support services, such as counseling or help from a social workers. Very few patients are offered financial assistance or compensation.

New research shows patients suffered nearly 62,000 medical errors during a single year in Massachusetts, resulting in more than $617 million in related insurance claims.

The Betsy Lehman Center for Patient Safety compiled its latest report after conducting two studies. The first analyzed health insurance claims data. The second study randomly chose 5,000 households in Massachusetts. Nearly 1,000 people responded they had suffered a medical error or someone in their household or a close family member had. The center heard from 253 people in a follow-up survey.

The Betsy Lehman Center was founded following the death of Betsy Lehman in 1994. Lehman, a Boston Globe health columnist, suffered a massive overdose of chemotherapy at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in December 1994.

Two months after her death, Dana Farber staff informed Lehman’s family there had been a medication error. This was a rare step and the Boston Globe began investigating patient safety. Today, the Betsy Lehman Center operates as a non-regulatory state agency, reporting on medical errors and leading patient safety initiatives.

From the report:

Report “underestimates” medical errors. The Betsy Lehman Center said its reporting likely underestimates the number of medical errors in Massachusetts. This is because diagnostic and medication errors may not be reliably tracked by analyzing insurance claims.

Emotional toll. Patients and their families suffer for years after medical errors. Nearly 30 percent saw an impact on their physical health for at least one year or more, according to the report. One-third of the respondents were still anxious 3-6 years later. One in 5 were depressed and more than 25 percent were sad or angry.

Avoiding health care. One third of survey respondents said they “sometimes” or “always” avoid medical care in general. Two thirds continue to carry reduced levels of trust during medical care. More than half of the respondents still avoid individual doctors and health care systems, even though 3 to 6 years had passed since the incident.

Medical errors can happen anywhere. Massachusetts has highly rated hospitals, but similar rankings are not available for outpatient and long-term care. Many medical errors happen in outpatient settings. In fact, one in 20 patients suffers a medical error during outpatient care, according to research published by Quality & Safety in 2014.

Medical errors are most common in hospitals (41 percent) and doctor’s offices or clinics (27 percent) and the emergency room (15 percent). Another 17 percent of mistakes happen in other healthcare settings, including pharmacies, dental offices and nursing homes.

Massachusetts “I’m sorry” law. Massachusetts passed the health payment reform act in 2012. The law provides physicians a “cooling off” time to disclose medical errors and apologize to patients and families. Physicians are required to inform patients when there is an “unanticipated outcome with significant medical complication resulting from the provider’s mistake.”

Yet the report shows many doctors are not apologizing. Just 19 percent of those surveyed said they received an apology from a doctor. Most of those – 82 percent – felt they received a sincere apology.

After mistakes, just 25 percent of patients and families were offered support services by medical providers. About 8 percent were offered psychological counseling. Another 13 percent were offered spiritual support from a religious advisor. Another 11 percent were asked if they needed assistance from a social worker.

Most providers are not offering additional financial assistance or compensation. Just 3 percent offered patients and families help paying out-of-pocket medical costs following a medical error. Two percent of patients and families received financial compensation for injuries caused by medical errors.

About Breakstone, White & Gluck

The Boston personal injury lawyers at Breakstone, White & Gluck specialize in medical malpractice. We have been consistently recognized for our results for clients in cases involving medical errors, surgical malpractice, failure to diagnose cancer and ambulance negligence.

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

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Mother and child in a swimming poolEach year, families head into summer, hoping for fun in Massachusetts. No one expects tragedy in the backyard swimming pool. But each year, children suffer drownings and near drownings. Drowning is a leading cause of death among young children in Massachusetts and across the U.S. Young children ages 1 to 4 face the highest risk, followed by older children and teens between the ages 10 and 19, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

Breakstone, White & Gluck, a Boston personal injury law firm, encourages parents and property owners to prepare for the swim season. By acting now, before the temperature rises, property owners and parents can minimize the risk of drowning and injury this summer.

For Pool Owners

Secure Pool Fencing
Pool owners have a responsibility to secure their pools with a strong durable fence. This is your legal responsibility and one of the most important steps you can take to prevent a child from a swimming pool drowning. The Consumer Product Safety Commission recommends pool owners install a four-sided fence with a self-closing latch around all pools and spas. The fence must be at least 4 feet tall in Massachusetts and must meet certain requirements for vertical clearance and width for fence openings. Read our past blog on pool fencing  or check out this guide on a local community’s website.

If you own a pool, consider adding some additional fencing, shrubs or a planter – or several blocking access to your pool door and fence. This is called a “layers of protection” strategy and the goal is to slow children down so an adult can intervene.

Inspect Your Pool Regularly
Make it a habit to walk outside and inspect your pool daily during the summer months.

Pool Alarms
Consider purchasing a pool alarm to monitor your pool area. There are different types of alarms so do your research and select the best for your needs. But remember, a pool alarm is a supplement to your strong fencing and regularly inspecting your pool. 

Drains
Pool owners should regularly maintain drain systems and ensure they work properly. Spas should be covered and locked when out of use. Children should never wear loose accessories into the pool.

For Parents

Swimming Lessons
Parents who sign children up for swim lessons give them an advantage. Formal swimming lessons reduce the likelihood of childhood drowning by 88 percent, according to the USA Swimming Foundation. The American Academy of Pediatrics advises that swim lessons are beneficial for children around age 1 and older.

Supervision: Always Watch and Avoid Distractions
Parents should swim with younger children, practicing “touch supervision.” Keep them within your reach at all times on the shallow end. Even if you are not in the pool with them, still closely watch other children and teens carefully at all times.

Keep conversation with other adults at a minimum when watching children swim. Also set aside all distractions, such as cell phones. It takes much longer than you may realize to “quickly” check your cell phone, e-mail or social media accounts. In that time, a child could drown right in front of you, quickly and silently struggling.

If you are a pool owner and have guests over, be just as vigilant in watching children swim. Try inviting over small groups – just a child or two – to enjoy your pool to keep the visit manageable.

Supervision: The Danger of “Non-Swim Time”
Learn more about the dangers of “non-swim time.” Bode Miller and his wife Morgan have recently discussed this and it’s an important term for both parents and pool owners.

The Millers tragically lost their 19-month-old daughter last year when she drowned in a neighbor’s backyard swimming pool. The child had been in the house with her mother, siblings and other adults.

”Without it being an actual swim time, my awareness and my intensity around protecting her from water was let down,” Morgan Miller said in an interview posted on the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) YouTube channel. 

The Millers also recorded this public service announcement for the AAP.

About Breakstone, White & Gluck
Breakstone, White & Gluck is a Boston personal injury law firm. We are committed to promoting safety for children and families through our Project KidSafe campaign. We encourage parents and caretakers to supervise children by the pool and near pools this summer. We also remind property owners that they have a legal responsibility to keep a safe pool area so no one is injured. Learn more about Breakstone, White & Gluck on our website.

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Teen driver and teen passenger sitting in front seat of car, using cell phones.

A recent study shows teen drivers are more likely to cause crashes resulting in injury or death during the summer months.

When your teen driver picks up the keys, you may casually say, “Have fun and be safe.” But this is when your worry sets in.

In this blog, Breakstone, White & Gluck reports on the latest research on teen drivers along with essential safety fundamentals to share with your family. Our partners each have more than 35 years of experience representing those who have been injured by negligent drivers in Boston, Cambridge and across Massachusetts. To avoid these tragedies, we encourage parents to play an even more proactive role to encourage safety during the summer months.

AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety “100 Deadliest Days” Study

A new study reports two-thirds of people injured or killed in car crashes involve a teen driver. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety released this figure as part of its “100 Deadliest Days” report on the period from Memorial Day to Labor Day. During the past five years, nearly 3,500 people have been killed in crashes caused by teens during the summer months, according to AAA.

More than a quarter of the teen driving crashes were caused by speeding. Teens who were drinking and driving caused 17 percent of the deadly collisions while distracted driving behaviors caused 9 percent of the deaths.

Other findings:

  • Teen drivers, age 15-18, are 17 percent more likely to cause a fatal car crash in the summer than other times of the year.
  • The legal age for consuming alcohol is 21 years old in every state. Yet 1 in 6 teens involved in fatal summer crashes tested positive for alcohol.
  • More than 52 percent of teens participating in AAA’s research reported they had read a text message or email while driving in the past 30 days. Another 40 percent admitted to sending one.
  • As part of its research, AAA used in-vehicle dash cameras and found 58 percent of teens who caused a crash were engaged in distracted behaviors. This was four times as high as federal estimates.

Other research goes deeper, showing teen drivers crash nearly 4 times as often per mile as drivers age 20 and up (Insurance Institute of Highway Safety.) The younger the driver, the more likely they are to crash due to inexperience or risky behaviors. Even a couple years can make a significant difference. For instance, the crash rate for 16-year-old drivers is 1.5 times as great as for 18- and 19-year-olds.

A few tips for your family:

Teen driving agreement. If you have never done so, now is a good time to have your child sign a teen driving agreement. Don’t just get a signature. Ask your teen to read each point out loud and ask if they understand or have any questions. 

Massachusetts Junior Operator Law. Remind your teen that they have additional restrictions under the state’s junior operator law. If they violate the law, they may be cited and the infraction will go on their driving record. There is nothing you can do to help them at that point unless you plan to hire a criminal defense lawyer and attempt to challenge the citation.

For the first six months, drivers age 16 ½ to 18 cannot carry passengers under the age of 18, except for family members. The law also bans junior operators from driving between the hours of midnight and 5 a.m. and cell phone use is not allowed for any reason. There are additional consequences for driving under the influence of alcohol, speeding or drag racing.

Drinking and Driving. Explain to your teen that there is a zero tolerance policy for drinking and driving in your home. Encourage them to avoid parties where there are a large number of teens or where teens may be drinking.

At the same time, they should never get in the car with a friend who has been drinking and you will do everything you can to help them get home safely in situations involving alcohol. Come up with an emergency plan together now before there is a crisis situation.

Drive with your teen. Ask your teen to tag along when you go to the grocery store or mall. Show them how you handle the parking lot or the busy intersection where you need to watch for cyclists and pedestrians. Talk through some of the steps out loud. Then, give them the wheel on the way home. 

Set a good example. Do not heavily consume alcohol and never drive if you do. Put your cell phone in the back seat when you drive. If your teen calls, say, “I was driving and couldn’t talk.” If you use a hands-free driving device, consider limiting use while your teen gets started on the road. 

About Breakstone, White & Gluck

At Breakstone, White & Gluck, our Boston car accident lawyers have over 100 years combined experience. Our lawyers are committed to providing aggressive representation and obtaining the best possible financial results for clients – in every case. We represent clients injured by car crashes and in truck accidents in Boston, Cambridge, Somerville and across Massachusetts.

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

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Woman hailing a rideshare driver in BostonA new report says Uber, Lyft and their drivers should move to fix auto recalls quickly. What actually happens is far different in many cases.

In New York and Seattle, one in every 6 rideshare vehicles registered for Uber and Lyft has an open safety recall on it, according to Consumer Reports. This means while a vehicle has been recalled, the driver continues to operate it and carry passengers without addressing the broken parts. Some of the recalls, such as those involving Takata airbags, have been associated with serious car accidents and injuries. Others involve defective seat belts or the potential for car fires or engine failure.

Consumer Reports reviewed safety records for 94,000 rideshare vehicles registered to Uber and Lyft in New York City and King County, Washington, where Seattle is located. Some drivers work for more than one company, so the consumer website grouped them together and also included some data for smaller competitors.

Consumer Reports called for stronger safety recall laws and says rideshare vehicle defects should be repaired promptly to protect the public from car accidents and injuries.

When shown the data, Uber’s response was that it “encourages and reminds” drivers to have recalls fixed. The company said it blocks certain vehicles from using its platform if there is a “DO NOT DRIVE” warning from the manufacturer or the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Uber also participates in the NHTSA’s twice-a-year campaign to raise awareness about addressing auto recalls.

Lyft’s response was rideshare drivers, by using their personal vehicles, are representing that their cars meet safety standards. It went on to say drivers have a “strong personal incentive” to repair their vehicles since they are used for work and in their personal lives, “driving their kids to school or friends around town.” The company said it works with lawmakers, regulators and local officials to develop safety regulations.

Safety Tips for Rideshare Passengers

Use an App to Check For Recalls

Consumer Reports suggests consumers check for auto recalls using the myCarfax app. Once you book your Uber or Lyft, you will receive the vehicle’s license plate. Type that number into myCarfax to check if the car has a safety recall.

Avoid the Front Seat

You can also avoid the front passenger seat. Rideshare drivers may still be operating with defective Takata airbags. Takata and auto manufacturers have spent years recalling millions of airbags because they have the potential to explode and cause traumatic and deadly injuries. Around the world, 24 people have been killed and hundreds of people have suffered injuries.

The Takata recall repairs have been slow at times. The NHTSA has announced the recalls in increments and there have been delays in delivering new airbags to local car dealers at times. But rideshare drivers and the companies have a greater responsibility to address safety recalls because they provide transportation to the public.

Monitor the Model Year of Your Uber

Consumer Reports observed a number of Lyft and Uber vehicles operating even though they didn’t meet the vehicle age requirements set by the rideshare companies or states and cities. This isn’t exactly an auto part recall, but it is closely related. Cars should have expiration dates. An aging vehicle can put rideshare passengers at risk.

The next time you are in a Lyft vehicle, remember the company requires Massachusetts drivers to use vehicles which are 2003 or newer; vehicles should be 2004 or newer on Cape Cod, Springfield and Worcester. Read the Lyft application checklist. As for Uber, the company requires vehicles to be 15 years or newer. Read the Uber vehicle requirements. 

Report Any Safety Issues

If you use a rideshare vehicle and observe safety risks, take a photo and report your concern to the rideshare company or local police.

About Breakstone, White & Gluck

With more than 100 years combined experience, our Boston personal injury lawyers specialize in representing individuals who have suffered catastrophic injuries in car crashes, commercial truck collisions and Uber and Lyft accidents. Breakstone, White & Gluck is experienced at filing successful claims against both the major rideshare companies.

Learn your legal rights if you have been injured. Call our law office for a free legal consultation today: toll-free 800-379-1244 or 617-723-7676 or use our contact form.

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Hands-free legislation has taken a step forward in Massachusetts this year. So have the studies and research showing the dangers cell phones bring to the roads.

Woman talking on a cell phone and at risk for causing a distracted driving accident.Eight years ago, Massachusetts banned texting while driving. Since that time, lawmakers have considered several proposals to ban drivers from using hand-held cell phones, with a goal of reducing distracted driving injuries and fatalities. On May 15, 2019, the Massachusetts House of Representatives overwhelmingly supported another proposal with a 155-2 vote. As many watch, the state Senate now plans to discuss the legislation in early June. Watch with caution though. The Senate has already approved hands-free driving bills during each of the last two sessions, according to the State House News Service.

Under the House bill (H 3793), drivers would not be able to use hand-held cell phones. If they want to talk, drivers will have to use hands-free technology such as a Bluetooth device and keep their hands away from their phones. The primary exception is drivers can make a single tap or swipe to activate the device’s hands-free mode. There is another limited exception for public safety personnel and drivers in certain emergency situations.

What about GPS? Drivers can continue to use GPS devices which are mounted onto their vehicle’s dashboard, but these must not impede operation.

Fines for violations would start at $100 for first-time offenders. There would be a $250 fine for a second offense and a $500 fine for third and subsequent offenses. The bill would take effect 90 days after passage, but drivers will receive warnings instead of fines for violations up until Dec. 31, 2019.

In addition to approving hands-free legislation, the House bill would also require an annual review of the race and demographic information for drivers who are issued traffic citations. While Massachusetts already collects this data, lawmakers say there needs to be a consistent and regular review.

Distracted Driving Increases Near Emergency Responders

As we wait for legislators to vote, we want to share a few recent studies on distracted driving.

In April, the National Safety Council (NSC) released an alarming and upsetting report on a dangerous trend: drivers using cell phones near emergency responders.

All 50 states have “move over” laws which require drivers to clear the way and give emergency responders space to work. The Massachusetts “Move Over Law” took effect in 2009 and protects the work area for police officers, firefighters, paramedics, tow truck drivers and all roadside emergency and maintenance professionals.

Despite these laws, the NSC reports 71 percent of drivers surveyed said they take photos and video when they see an emergency vehicle on the side of the road. While passing by, they film fires, car crashes and even routine traffic stops.

Drivers are doing more than capturing the scene. Sixty percent are also posting footage to social media. Another 66 percent are providing someone with an update by e-mail.

There is a tragic cost to this cell phone use. About 16 percent of drivers surveyed said they have actually hit a first responder or were involved in a near-crash. And despite their actions, nearly 90 percent agree: their cell phone use puts emergency responders in harm’s way.

This problem doesn’t go away once the ambulance or police car drives away. On a normal day, when emergency responders are not on the scene, 24 percent of the drivers admit they still snap pictures and record video. Another 29 percent of drivers say they engage with social media and 24 percent say send e-mails.

AAA Foundation for Driver Safety Reports on Teen Driving, Cell Phone Use

Another study comes from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety and reports on the risk teen drivers bring to the roads, including when they use cell phones.

The study focused on drivers between the ages of 15 and 18, including those with learner’s permits, restricted licenses (often called junior operator licenses) and full licenses. The study reports teens are a vulnerable driving group because of their inexperience and they need education into the potential consequences of cell phone use, speeding and other reckless behavior. AAA released the study to raise awareness between Memorial Day and Labor Day, often known as the “100 Deadliest Days.”

The study reported that teen drivers killed nearly 3,500 people from 2013 to 2017. Cell phone use contributes to these car accidents. Some 52 percent of teens said they had read a text message or sent an e-mail while driving, according to the AAA study.

AAA noted police often struggle to determine if texting caused a car crash, but that the study’s researchers made use of in-vehicle dash cameras. With these tools, AAA found 58 percent of teen crashes were the result of distractions, including texting and reading text from a cell phone.

About Breakstone, White & Gluck

Breakstone, White & Gluck of Boston specializes in representing those who have been injured by the negligence and wrongdoing of others. With more than 100 years combined experience, our personal injury attorneys represent clients in matters involving catastrophic injuries, car accidents, bicycle accidents, medical malpractice, head injuries and wrongful death.

For a free legal consultation, contact us toll-free at 800-379-1244 or 617-723-7676. You can also use our contact form.

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Attorney David W. White fitting helmets at Framingham Earth Day 2019. Part of Breakstone, White & Gluck's Project KidSafe campaign to prevent head injuries.

Attorney David W. White fitting helmets at Framingham Earth Day 2019. Part of Breakstone, White & Gluck’s Project KidSafe campaign to prevent head injuries.

While many people enjoy cycling, very few enjoy the process of selecting and fitting a bicycle helmet. The challenge is even greater for parents who have to find helmets for their children.

Breakstone, White & Gluck launched our Project KidSafe campaign in 2013 to help children and families, along with other cyclists, overcome some of the challenges. Read some of our tips for getting started with a bicycle helmet which fits and protects:

  • Before you shop, find a flexible tape measure and measure around your head. Measure from about an inch above your eyebrows.
  • Rather than shopping online, try to purchase a helmet at a local bicycle shop. Ask the staff to help you fit it properly.
  • Before you purchase, ask if the helmet meets the safety standards set by the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
  • Don’t share bicycle helmets. Each cyclist should have their own helmet.
  • Store your helmet inside and avoid exposing it to heat in sunlight unless you are wearing it. Don’t leave it in your car for any extended period.
  • Replace bicycle helmets when they become worn or if you or your child outgrow yours. You may want to consider buying a new helmet every three years. From the outside, your helmet may appear to be in good condition. Yet the protective material inside can deteriorate without any visible signs.
  • Immediately replace bicycle helmets which hit the ground in a bicycle accident or fall.
  • Carry your bicycle helmet if you want to use a bikeshare. Make it a rule not to rent a bike without a helmet.
  • Plan ahead: Keep an extra bicycle helmet at work or at home.
  • Remember, parents who wear helmets encourage children to wear helmets.
  • Take children to bicycle safety events in the community to encourage their interest in cycling and safety.

About Breakstone, White & Gluck

Breakstone, White & Gluck is a Boston personal injury law firm which represents those injured by the negligence and wrongdoing of others across Massachusetts. After more than two decades of representing cyclists who have been injured, the firm’s partners launched the Project KidSafe campaign to help prevent injuries on bikes and encourage children to wear helmets throughout their lives. The firm specializes in all areas of personal injury law.

Learn more about our attorneys.

Learn more about the Project KidSafe campaign.

Watch a video demonstrating how to fit a bicycle helmet.

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Breakstone, White & Gluck was proud to support bicycle safety during Bay State Bike Week and Bike Month again in 2019. All three of our partners – Attorney David W. White, Attorney Marc L. Breakstone and Attorney Ronald E. Gluck – participated, giving away bicycle helmets as part of our Project KidSafe campaign. Our goal: to encourage children to wear bicycle helmets at all times to protect against head injuries. Now in our seventh year, Breakstone, White & Gluck has donated over 25,000 bicycle helmets to children in Massachusetts.

Boston Bike to Work Day

Attorney David W. White and Attorney Marc L. Breakstone were back on Boston City Hall Plaza on May 17th, as Boston celebrated Bike to Work Day. This was our 5th year out on City Hall Plaza during Bike Week. Attorney White fitted about 70 helmets for cyclists over two hours and we got a special surprise – getting to meet Tim Wakefield! He was nice enough to sign one of our Project KidSafe helmets. We also got to visit with other friends, including Lee Toma of Bike Milton and Galen Mook, executive director of MassBike.

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Attorney David W. White and Attorney Marc L. Breakstone with Tim Wakefield, World Series Champion Pitcher for the Red Sox ’04 and ’07. Now NESN studio analyst for the Red Sox. Boston Bike to Work Day, May 17, 2019.

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Attorney David W. White (center) with Lee Toma of Bike Milton (left) and Galen Mook, executive director of Mass Bike (right). Boston Bike to Work Day, May 17th, 2019.

Our reminder to cyclists: Inspect your helmet regularly to make sure it’s in riding condition. As a rule, replace your helmet at least once every three years; you may need to do this sooner, especially if you ride every day. And always replace your helmet immediately if you are involved in a bicycle accident or fall. Please visit this website for more bicycle helmet safety tips.

Cambridge Police Department

Breakstone, White & Gluck was pleased to donate 200 bicycle helmets to the Cambridge Police Department for the fourth year. Attorney David W. White and Attorney Ronald E. Gluck recently visited with Cambridge police officers who work to educate the public about bicycle safety laws on a daily basis. The City of Cambridge works to promote bicycle safety and has been recognized as a Gold-Level Bicycle Friendly Community by the League of American Bicyclists. More than 100 Cambridge police officers – or more than one third of the city’s 282 sworn in officers – have been trained on bike patrol to help keep roads safe.

The City of Cambridge announced our donation during Bay State Bike Week.

Quincy Police Department

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Attorney David W. White with Quincy police officers. From left, Officer Greg Mar, Lt. Robert Bina, Officer Matthew Miller and Officer Greg Hartnett.

For the third year, Breakstone, White & Gluck is pleased to partner with the Quincy Police Department to encourage bike safety in the city. Quincy Police announced our donation of 200 bicycle helmets during Bay State Bike Week. Officers will use the helmets to benefit children through community programming. Each year, some of the helmets are given away through programs such as the annual DARE camp for 5th graders. Other helmets are given away at smaller gatherings, such as Coffee with a Cop, a program that allows residents to meet police officers and share their concerns and questions in an informal setting. Read the announcement on the Quincy Police Department website.

Everett Police Donation 2019

For the fourth year, Breakstone, White & Gluck donated more than 100 children’s bicycle helmets to the Everett Police Department. Officers gave away the helmets free to children and families at the Kids to Park Day at the Swan Street Park on May 18th.

About Breakstone, White & Gluck – Boston Personal Injury Lawyers

Breakstone, White & Gluck has been recognized as one of the best personal injury law firms in Boston, by our clients, other lawyers and attorney rating services, such as Super Lawyers, U.S. News Best Lawyers and Martindale-Hubbell. Our attorneys have also been recognized for our Project KidSafe campaign by the League of American Bicyclists, which has named Breakstone, White & Gluck a Silver Level Bicycle Friendly Business. This is a special recognition. Just 36 businesses have been earned recognition in Massachusetts and just two law firms across New England.

We have also been recognized by the City of Boston, where we have donated helmets to various programs, including Boston Bike to Work Day, along with Boston Bikes’ Roll It Forward, Boston Bikes’ youth instruction programs and the Boston Police Department. Attorney David W. White has volunteered his time fitting helmets and Boston Bikes has recognized him as a Volunteer of the Year.

Breakstone, White & Gluck specializes in all areas of personal injury law. We hope you are never injured, but if you are, it is important to learn your legal rights for seeking compensation. 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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Attorney Marc L. Breakstone recently authored an article which appears in the May 2019 edition of MATA Journal. The journal is published by the Massachusetts Academy of Trial Attorneys.


Assessing bias in voir dire after ‘Williams’

By Marc L. Breakstone

Attorney Marc L. Breakstone

Attorney Marc L. Breakstone

The recent Supreme Judicial Court decision in Commonwealth v. Williams, 481 Mass. 443 (2019), generated quite a buzz on the MATA Listserv. Members questioned the significance of the decision, which analyzes how a potential juror should be screened for impartiality.

The opinion suggests that, regardless of the biased opinions or beliefs expressed by a potential juror during voir dire, the juror could be deemed impartial as long as the juror pledges to either set aside or disregard their opinion, to commit to deciding the case on the evidence and to follow the court’s instructions.

Williams meticulously analyzes how trial judges should determine impartiality when a prospective juror expresses potentially interfering bias during jury selection. The majority begins with the acknowledgment that “[o]ur jurisprudence regarding how to assess beliefs or opinions expressed by prospective jurors during voir dire has been less than clear.” The opinion then promises to “set forth factors that a judge should consider when a prospective juror discloses a belief or opinion based on his or her world view.” Clarity on these important subjects is what every trial lawyer seeks.

Unfortunately, Williams raises more questions than it answers. The defendant in Williams was charged with possession with intent to distribute a class B substance. During jury selection, a prospective juror raised her hand in response to a question whether there was “anything about the subject matter or your views about the subject matter that would affect your ability to be fair and impartial in deciding the case?”

During judge-conducted voir dire, the juror stated a belief that the criminal justice system is rigged against young African American males. When asked by the judge if she could put aside that opinion and bias, the juror stated she did not think she could put it aside.

Continue reading this article in the MATA Journal. The article begins on page 2.


Attorney Marc L. Breakstone

Attorney Marc L. Breakstone has practiced law in Boston for more than 30 years and focuses on the representation of plaintiffs in personal injury and medical malpractice cases. He has long advocated for expanded attorney participation in voir dire in Massachusetts.

About Breakstone, White & Gluck

The Boston personal injury lawyers at Breakstone, White & Gluck have over 100 years combined experience representing clients who have been injured by the negligence and wrongdoing of others in Massachusetts. If you have been injured or have lost a loved one, it is critical to learn your 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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Woman with SUV door open, putting cyclists at risk for dooring injuries.

Drivers are encouraged to watch for cyclists before they open vehicle doors because they could cause a dooring accident and seriously injure a cyclist.

In 2016, Cambridge resident Michael Charney began to push the Dutch Reach method for safely exiting vehicles in Massachusetts. His advocacy has greatly raised awareness about the technique, which encourages drivers and passengers to take a few simple steps and look for cyclists before opening their car doors (you can watch a quick video demonstration on his website). The goal is to prevent dooring injuries to cyclists. Now, he and other cyclists in the Boston area are celebrating another push forward: the rideshare company Lyft has added a notification to its app, alerting passengers stepping out of vehicles to look for cyclists.

“I’m delighted to see that Lyft has embraced the Dutch Reach, and the term Dutch Reach,” Charney told The Boston Globe.

Lyft has added the new feature in response to feedback from transportation advocates all over the country. In Massachusetts, a coalition of Boston-area cycling groups and committees teamed up in February and sent letters to both Uber and Lyft, reminding them that drivers have a responsibility not to obstruct bike lanes under Massachusetts law (M.G.L c. 89 § 4D). More than a dozen groups signed on, including the Somerville Bicycle Committee, MassBike, Boston Cyclists Union, Arlington Bicycle Advisory Commission, Medford Bicycle Advisory Commission and Bikes Not Bombs.

The coalition had called for the rideshare companies to take six steps:

  • Create the new app feature, which pushes warnings to passengers as they step out.
  • Educate drivers on their responsibility not to block bike lanes.
  • Adopt procedures to ensure drivers obey bike lane laws and create serious consequences for violations, including loss of rideshare privileges.
  • Share data regarding bike lane violations by rideshare drivers with the state and local communities.
  • Add a user feedback section related to bicycle safety.
  • Work with cities and towns to promote use of Loading Zones and Passenger Drop-Off Zones.

Boston and other major cities have already started creating specialized zones where rideshare passengers can safely board and exit. In March, the City of Boston announced a pilot program creating a dedicated rideshare activity zone in Fenway. Between 5 p.m. and 8 a.m., four spaces along Boylston Street, two north of Kimarnock Street and two south. During other hours, the spaces revert to metered parking. While part of the goal is preventing rideshare accidents, part of the goal is streamlining traffic flow to make things more predictable for rideshare drivers and residents.

While Lyft has added the new push notification to prevent bike dooring, both major rideshare companies have heard concerns about bicycle accidents and dooring injuries. Both companies also offer different perspectives than in the past. Both companies purchased bikeshare operating businesses to compliment their rideshare services in 2018. Uber acquired Jump and Lyft bought Motivate, becoming the largest bikeshare operator in the U.S. – and Boston. As part of the transaction, Lyft essentially became the new operator of BlueBikes, the regional bikeshare serving Boston, Somerville, Cambridge and Brookline. BlueBikes is still owned by the municipalities.

In 2018, Blue Cross Blue Shield took over as title sponsor. New Balance had been the original founding sponsor of the bike share in 2011, when it launched as Hubway (Some background: this isn’t the first time ownership of the regional bikeshare operating company has changed. Back in 2011, the original operator of Hubway was Alta Bicycles, which was then bought by Motivate, which operated the regional bike share from 2015 to last year).

Uber has not announced plans to join the bikeshare business in Massachusetts, but both companies – who went public earlier this year – have expressed interest in offering scooter rentals. Several companies have expressed interest in scooters, including Lime, the major operator of dockless bikes in the Boston area.  Many companies are waiting for Massachusetts lawmakers to approve legislation clarifying their rights to rent out scooters here.

Local communities regulate bikeshares. But rideshare safety regulations come from the state. Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker signed the state’s first bill regulating rideshare vehicles into law in 2016. This bill required rideshare drivers to purchase minimum levels of auto insurance and required background checks for the first.

Industry regulations were a start. Now attention must be paid to safety and what’s happening on the street. We have heard from the cyclists. Other initial research has already shown that ridesharing is associated with a 2-3 percent increase in fatal traffic accidents in U.S. cities (Source: Sept. 2018 paper presented at the Stigler Center for the Study of Economy and the State at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business).

Breakstone, White & Gluck – Boston Personal Injury Lawyers
Breakstone, White & Gluck is based in Government Center in Boston. Our personal injury lawyers specialize in representing those injured in car accidents, bicycle accidents and pedestrian accidents, including those involving rideshare vehicles. For a free legal consultation, contact our attorneys and learn your rights at 800-379-1244 or 617-723-7676. You can also send us a message use our contact form.

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Settlement was reached during trial in Middlesex Superior Court

Attorney Ronald E. Gluck, a Boston personal injury lawyer

Attorney Ronald E. Gluck

Breakstone, White & Gluck successfully resolved a mild traumatic brain injury case  for our client, who was injured when heavy snow collapsed from a commercial warehouse roof onto her vehicle. During the recent jury trial in Middlesex Superior Court, Attorney Ron Gluck presented testimony from multiple expert witnesses including  a neurologist and  a meteorologist, who testified in support of his client’s case.

Four days into the trial,  the defendants made an offer that represented an 800% increase from  the pre- trial offer and the case was settled at that time, just before it would have gone to the jury for deliberation.  The settlement provides significant compensation for the injuries and damages that our client suffered.

Defendants
Attorney Gluck presented evidence showing that the three defendants – the property owner,  the property management company, and the company that leased the warehouse – took no action to remove snow from the warehouse roof and awning following 20 to 24 inches of snowfall. Defendants had a duty to provide a safe environment for those legally visiting the property, such as our client who was making a delivery to the loading dock at the time of her injury.

Trial and Litigation
Through extensive depositions taken during the litigation it was proven that the defendant corporations failed to establish policies for snow removal from the awning, which was located directly above the loading dock, and that none of the employees of the defendant corporations had any understanding of whose responsibility it was to remove snow from the roof. As a result, snow remained on the awning after a historic snow storm and fell onto the liftgate of plaintiff’s vehicle which slammed down onto her head, causing her injuries.

At trial, it was proven that our client was instructed to park her car directly below the awning in spite of the fact that the defendant was aware that snow had fallen from the awning onto the loading dock on prior occasions and that they knew it presented a danger to anyone standing under that awning.

The evidence presented at trial established that our client suffered a traumatic brain injury which caused multiple symptoms including memory loss, mood alteration, dizziness, headaches and involuntary movement of her limbs.  She underwent a long regimen of medical treatment for her injuries.

Settlement
At the beginning of the trial, the defendants denied that they were negligent and that their negligence caused our client’s injuries. But, as the trial proceeded and Attorney Gluck presented evidence, the defendants’ settlement offers grew each day until the case was settled on day four.

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

Breakstone, White & Gluck is known for our exemplary trial experience. Not every case can be or should be settled out of court. When our attorneys go to trial, we do so with the respect of our colleagues and judges, bringing over 100 years combined experience before Massachusetts trial and appeals courts. We are known for our successful outcomes and for holding defendants, from individuals and insurance companies, to the MBTA and corporations, accountable for their negligence to our clients.

At Breakstone, White & Gluck, each of our partners has over 35 years of experience representing clients in serious personal injury claims in Massachusetts. Our attorneys have successfully presented our clients’ cases before the trial courts, the Appeals Court and the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court.

If you have been injured, we can advise you on whether you may have the legal right to seek compensation. For a free legal consultation, contact us at 800-379-1244 or 617-723-7676 or use our contact form.

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