20190329-mb-lynn-whdh-with-caption

Attorney Marc L. Breakstone, who is representing a family who lost a loved one in the Lynnway Auto Auction crash, speaks to WHDH TV in Boston. Watch.

Attorney Marc L. Breakstone was interviewed by WHDH TV yesterday, following the announcement that the Lynnway Auto Auction, Inc. and company president James Lamb will each face five counts of manslaughter in the 2017 crash killing five people. Breakstone is representing one of the families who lost a loved one.

“This goes beyond normal everyday negligence,” he said. “This was gross negligence that created a dangerous environment for employees and others at the auction.”

Last month, the City of Everett announced it was joining the Bluebikes regional bike share. This was welcome news for commuters, especially Everett residents who travel into Somerville, Cambridge and Boston. Everett will become the first Massachusetts community to offer both the Bluebikes and dockless bikes.

Everett is also the first community to join the metro-Boston bike share in at least five years. The City of Boston first brought the program – then called Hubway – to the region in July 2011. It began with a fleet of 600 bikes parked at 60 stations within the city of Boston.

Continue reading

20 mph speed limit

In Boston, city officials are interested in lowering speed limits to 20 mph in neighborhoods to reduce traffic fatalities. The proposal comes just two years after the city lowered speeds from 30 to 25 mph and will require state approval.

First, the City of Boston dropped speed limits to 25 mph, with a goal of reducing traffic fatalities and pedestrian injuries. Now, Mayor Marty Walsh and the Boston City Council have their eyes on 20 mph on neighborhood streets. The next step is obtaining state approval.

The City of Boston first sought to lower speed limits as part of its VisionZero campaign a few years ago. That proposal also required approval from the state Legislature and Gov. Baker’s signature.

Gov. Baker signed the Municipal Modernization Bill into law in 2016, including language that allowed cities and towns to lower the default speed limit from 30 to 25 mph. Cities and towns can now lower speed limits on all (or select) municipal roads in thickly settled areas or business districts. Many communities have done so, including Boston, Cambridge, Quincy, Arlington and Dedham. Now, unless traffic signs are posted otherwise, it’s 25 mph in these communities. 

While the speed limit in these communities has dropped, the fines remain the same. In Massachusetts, speeding carries a $105 fine for speeding. If you exceed the speed limit by 10 mph, there is an extra $10 fine per each mile per hour.

Boston was the first to approve lower speeds, with this taking effect in January 2017. But the City of Boston’s goal was always 20 mph and remains so for city neighborhoods. In fact, the Boston City Council approved a 20 mph speed limit back in 2016.

As the City of Boston pursues a 20 mph speed limit for neighborhoods, there is early data showing that the 30 to 25 mph drop has changed traffic patterns for the better. According to an Insurance Institute for Highway Safety study, after the lower speed limit took effect, Boston saw a 29 percent reduction in traffic traveling over 35 mph.

Mayor Walsh also announced other transportation initiatives last week, including the creation of special drop-off and pick-up sites for Uber, Lyft and other ridesharing vehicles. Data from the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities confirms that Boston is the truly the hub of ride-hail services. During 2017, nearly 35 million rideshare trips began in the city. Boston saw more than 6 times as many rideshare starts as Cambridge, which has the second largest presences in Massachusetts.

Walsh’s other proposal is to give every student in the Boston public school system a MBTA pass. The price tag hasn’t been negotiated yet with the MBTA. Currently, the city receives a subsidy from the MBTA and pays $5.6 million for MBTA passes for students in Grade 7 and 8 who live more than a mile and a half from their schools.

Data That Supports 20 MPH

  • According to the VisionZero Network, 9 out of 10 pedestrians who are hit by a vehicle traveling 20 mph survive. Increase the speed to 30 mph and the survival rate drops to 50 percent. At 40 mph, just 10 percent of pedestrians survive.
  • Speed is a factor in nearly one-third of all traffic deaths in the U.S. (Source: VisionZero Network).
  • Speeding crashes claimed the lives of 59,374 people on U.S. roads from 2010 to 2015 (Source: VisionZero Network).
  • Cars speeding through red lights are a leading cause of urban car crashes, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Some states and local communities permit use of red light and speeding cameras to improve enforcement. But many do not, including Massachusetts and our neighboring New England states. Rhode Island is the one exception, allowing red light cameras by state law and city ordinance. State law permits use of speeding cameras in school zones on weekdays.

Related:

Walsh to propose 20 mph limit in neighborhoods and new Uber, Lyft pickup sites, Boston Globe, March 7, 2019

Slow Down! Boston, Cambridge and Other Cities Have Dropped Speeds to 25 MPH, Massachusetts Injury Lawyer Blog, May 23, 2017

City of Boston to Lower Speed Limits to Reduce Traffic Fatalities, Massachusetts Injury Lawyer Blog, December 14, 2015

Continue reading

Should students have to wait until they finish 7th grade to play football in Massachusetts? Lawmakers are being asked to consider legislation to delay the start of play to protect players from concussions.

“An Act for No Organized Head Impacts to Schoolchildren,” has been filed by State representatives Paul A. Schmid III (D-8th Bristol) and Bradley H. Jones Jr. (R-20th Middlesex). The legislation would ban children in 7th grade or younger from playing or practicing any form of organized tackle football. Schools would be held accountable and face fines for violations:

  • $2,000 for each violation
  • $5,000 for subsequent violations
  • $10,000 when serious physical harm result to participants

Children would be allowed to play flag football or any form of football which does not involve tackle play. The proposal does not include any other sport.

Causes of Concussions

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) define a traumatic brain injury (TBI) as a disruption to the brain caused by a blow or jolt to the head. Concussions are considered a mild TBI, which can result in a brief change of mental alertness or consciousness. A severe TBI can result in a longer period of unconsciousness or mental change.

Symptoms may not be immediately evident after a concussion, especially if the person or those around them are not familiar with the symptoms, which can include an inability to think clearly, memory problems, feeling dazed and mood, behavior or personality changes. Headaches, nausea and vomiting can also set in.

Beyond the sports field, falls are the leading cause of concussions, according to the CDC. Adults over age 65 and children under 14 are most likely to suffer a fall leading to a head injury. Car crashes are the third leading cause of concussions, followed by being struck in the head by an unspecified object, such as in a construction site accident or by violence.

Concussions can also happen on the sports field. Not every contact necessarily results in a concussion, but to identify injuries, Massachusetts and other states have already passed concussion education and training laws. Known as “return to play” laws, these require high school and middle school students to be examined by a medical professional before they can participate in sports again.

Research on Concussions and the Impact on Younger Football Players

New research shows there is a measurable impact when younger children play football. In a study of 26 football players – all age 12 – Wake Forest researchers found changes in the corpus callosum, which joins the two sides of the brain and integrates cognitive, motor and sensory functions. The players underwent MRIs to examine the changes prior to the three-month season and three months after the season concluded. They were compared to 22 other students who did not participate in contact sports.

Players who suffer a concussion need proper rest and treatment so they can properly heal and to reduce the chance for another injury. Researchers have documented this risk; one study found high school and college students who sustained concussions were four to six times more likely to suffer a second injury (Source: McGill University in Montreal).

Concussion Legislation Filed in Other States

Map of U.S. states considering concussion prevention legislation that would ban children younger than 12 or in seventh grade or younger from playing tackle football.

Lawmakers in Massachusetts and five other states have proposed banning tackle football for children younger than 12 or for those in seventh grade or younger. Data from Shape America.

Massachusetts isn’t taking the field alone on concussions. At least five other states are also debating tackle football bans for children under age 12. These states include Illinois, California, Maryland, New York and New Jersey, according to Boston.comBut none of the proposals are on track to reach state governors.

All 50 states already have “return to play” laws aimed at reducing youth sports-related concussions, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Washington state was the first to pass such a law in 2009. By 2015, every other state had enacted a similar law.

In most states, these laws mandate concussion awareness training and education to prevent concussions among student athletes. According to Shape America, 48 states require students suspected of having concussions to sit out at least 24 hours. 

Arizona and South Carolina allow students back on the field the same day with a doctor’s approval.

Passed in July 2010, the Massachusetts concussion law requires parents, volunteers, coaches and school nurses to receive specialized concussion awareness training. This is to help them recognize concussion symptoms and help students receive treatment as soon as possible.

As in other states, the Massachusetts law requires medical clearance before students can return to sports. Schools are then required to maintain detailed record-keeping related to a student’s injury and progress in the classroom and on the field. The law is M.G.L. ch.111 §222. The Code of Massachusetts Regulations is 105 CMR 201.000.

All middle and high schools which offer sports through the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association (MIAA) must follow the concussion safety law.

Continue reading

Drunk driving accidents resulting in injury

The Massachusetts Legislature is being asked to reconsider an ignition interlock law for first-time OUI offenders.

A proposal to expand use of ignition interlock devices for drunk drivers is back before the Massachusetts Legislature.

Gov. Charlie Baker and Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito’s transportation bill includes the proposal to mandate ignition interlocks for first-time convicted drunk drivers. Currently, Massachusetts drivers convicted for the first time may seek hardship licenses allowing them to travel for work and specific purposes. Baker and Polito’s proposal would also put ignition interlock devices in their vehicles for at least six months following conviction. The devices test whether drivers are under the influence and if so, prevents them from starting their vehicle.

truck driving in Boston Fenway area

A truck travels along Brookline Avenue in Boston last summer, near the site of a fatal truck crash killing a cyclist last week.

It was heart-breaking to watch the TV news coverage last week, the scenes following a cement truck crash which killed a cyclist in Boston’s Fenway neighborhood. The 69-year-old victim, a librarian in Brookline, was hit at the intersection of Brookline Avenue and Park Drive on Friday afternoon.

As State Police investigate the fatal bicycle accident, we should all be concerned about trucks. If you are a pedestrian or cyclist in Boston or Cambridge, you have likely witnessed a truck crash or near crash. Or the sheer terror of having a truck come too close.

At times, is hard not to  travel in fear.  In addition to the cement truck crash, a City of Boston truck plowed over a sidewalk, hit a pedestrian and smashed into the side of Liu Yi Shou Hotspot Boston. The restaurant is located on the corner of Washington and Kneeland streets in Chinatown, near Tufts Medical Center. The pedestrian was treated for non-life threatening injuries while the restaurant sustained heavy structural damage.

Because trucks are heavy-weight vehicles, drivers must be properly trained and use reasonable care when operating. When they neglect to do so, pedestrians and cyclists are in danger. Drivers and occupants of passenger cars are also at great risk. And we have seen trucks damage and leave behind deadly conditions in Boston tunnels.

Our attorneys have extensive experience in investigating truck crashes which have seriously injured or killed cyclists.

Last year, Attorney Ron Gluck of Breakstone, White & Gluck settled a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of a cyclist who was killed by a truck driver in a hit-and-run crash. The driver hit our 38-year-old client at the intersection of Massachusetts Avenue and Beacon Street. Read about the case in Boston Magazine.

Truck Accident Statistics

  • Nationwide, fatal truck crashes have increased by 3 percent, from 4,704 to 4,213, according to the 2016 Large Truck and Bus Crash Facts 2016 report by the U.S. Department of Transportation.
  • Truck drivers were speeding in 6.9 percent of truck crashes involving a fatality. They were engaged in distractions in 6.1 percent of fatal truck crashes. Failure to yield the right of way resulted in 4 percent of truck crashes resulting in a wrongful death. These were the leading causes; violations were not reported in many of the accidents (2016 Large Truck and Bus Crash Facts 2016).
  • In 2016, 840 cyclists were killed in traffic crashes, a 2 percent rise over 2015. More significantly, this continued a trend of near two percent increases and marked a 25-year high for fatal cyclist accidents in the U.S. Cyclists age 55-59 and 60-64 had the highest fatality rates. (Source: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration,Traffic Safety Facts 2016 Data: Bicyclists and Other Cyclists).
  • Single-vehicle truck crashes killed 85 cyclists in 2016, just about 10 percent of all traffic deaths (NHTSA  Traffic Safety Facts).

How Cyclists Are Being Injured By Trucks

When cyclists are killed in collisions with motor vehicles, they are most likely to be hit by the front of the vehicle, according to the NHTSA FARS data. Cyclists are hit from the front in 78 percent of all cyclist vs. motor vehicle deaths, including in 89 percent of accidents involving cars and 83 percent of accidents involving light trucks, SUVs, pick-up vehicles or vans.

The numbers change when you look at fatal accidents involving large trucks and cyclists. While 48 percent of cyclists who died were hit from the front of large trucks, 22 percent were struck by the right side of a truck, while 9 percent were hit on the left side. Another 7 percent were by the back of the truck.

Truck Sideguard Ordinances and Legislation in Massachusetts

Some cities and states want to encourage truck safety by passing ordinances that require trucks to be equipped with side guards. This covers the area between a truck’s wheels, where cyclists and pedestrians can become trapped. Two cities in Massachusetts have already passed ordinances for city-contracted trucks and large vehicles. The ordinances also require trucks to use convex mirrors to help them see blind spots.

Boston was the first U.S. city to pass an ordinance in 2014. Somerville has since followed, passing the Somerville Ordinance to Safeguard Vulnerable Road Users. A statewide law could be next. A proposal now on Beacon Hill is asking lawmakers to mandate side guards on all city- and state-owned vehicles by 2020. Contractors would be required to meet the new standard by 2022.

Free Legal Consultation: 800-379-1244
Breakstone, White & Gluck has more than 100 years combined experience representing victims in personal injury, wrongful death and medical malpractice cases.

If you or someone in your family has been injured, contact us today for a free legal consultation at 800-379-1244 or 617-723-7676 or use our contact form.

Continue reading

WBZ-TV News FootageMassachusetts State Police are investigating a tragic crash which killed a female cyclist today in a heavily congested Boston intersection. The bicycle crash happened in the city’s Fenway neighborhood, less than a half mile from Fenway Park. Witnesses described a frightening scene as emergency responders attempted to resuscitate the woman, according to WBZ-TV. The woman was transported to Brigham & Women’s Hospital, where she sadly died from her injuries. The woman’s bike was left crushed in the road as State Police blocked off two traffic lanes to investigate.

The cement truck reportedly struck the woman on Brookline Avenue at Park Drive around 1:30 p.m., according to Boston.com. Just before 4 p.m., State Police reported the woman had died. The cement truck read, “Boston Sand & Gravel Co.” The driver reportedly stayed on the scene and was also transported to a hospital for evaluation. At this time, State Police have not released the name of the woman, the driver or confirmed the cement truck’s owner.

News photos showed the truck crash that killed the cyclist was near a major traffic block, near Emmanuel College, Boston University’s Fenway Campus and the Emerald Necklace walkway. Nearby is Longwood Medical area, including Brigham & Women’s Hospital, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Children’s Hospital.

Police focused their investigation on the center of the large intersection, measuring marks in the road, according to WBZ-TV. The bicycle was crushed and the seat was detached. The cement truck remained on site for several hours before being towed away.

About Breakstone, White & Gluck

Breakstone, White & Gluck is one of the most respected personal injury law firms in Boston. With more than 100 years combined experience, our attorneys represent cyclists and their families in personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits. With a special expertise in investigating truck crashes and an expansive knowledge of the trucking industry, our attorneys have a record of successfully negotiating the best financial results for our clients. Time and again, we have effectively presented the evidence and negotiated the maximum coverage on insurance policies. If you have been injured, learn your rights. For a free legal consultation, visit 800-379-1244 or 617-723-7676 or use our contact form.

Breakstone, White & Gluck’s Experience

We invite you to read about one of our recent cases below or in Boston Magazine. Attorney Ron Gluck was recently interviewed about his work for the family of a cyclist who was struck and killed by a truck in Back Bay.

$3,500,000: Truck Collision Kills Motorcyclist; Wrongful Death
$3,000,000: Tractor-Trailer Strikes Car, Severe Orthopedic Injuries
$2,500,000: Car Struck by Truck, Plaintiff Suffers Multiple Injuries

Continue reading

People walking in a crosswalk

Somerville residents are asking for new traffic calming measures after a fatal pedestrian crash last weekend on Powder House Boulevard and Hardan Road. Police are searching for the driver, who fled the scene.

The Somerville community is wrestling with the horrific crash that killed a teacher in a crosswalk last Friday night.

Somerville Police are still searching for the driver in the Somerville pedestrian crash. The driver struck Allison Donovan, an educator in the Watertown public school system, shortly after 7 p.m. Friday, then fled the scene. Another woman in the crosswalk suffered non-life-threatening injuries.

electric scooter

Electric scooter parked on a sidewalk. Seven scooter companies have expressed interest in coming to Massachusetts, according to the Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC).

If proposed legislation passes, electric scooter rentals may soon return to Massachusetts. Bird – a start-up scooter company – flew in and out of the state last year on a failed test run.

Since then, many communities have been discussing regulations locally while waiting for action on the state level. Last month, Gov. Charlie Baker delivered, including electric scooters in his road safety bill, calling for them to be regulated similar to bicycles. Like cyclists, scooter riders would be required to wear helmets to protect themselves from head injuries.

snow plow accidents can happen in parking lot

A snow plow crash killed an Easton man this week. Police are currently investigating.

As we battled snow and cold, there were two fatal snow plow accidents this week, including one death here in Massachusetts. In Easton, a snow plow hit and killed a 64-year-old man who was changing a tire on Route 138. Meanwhile, in Illinois, another man was snow blowing his driveway when a plow truck backed into him. Both men were pronounced dead on the scene.

These were not the only snow plow accidents, either. In Johnson County, Kansas, a snowplow driver veered off the road and died in a single-car crash. In New York, a state DOT snow plow and vehicle collided in the Town of Aurelius in Cayuga County. Traffic was stopped as two people were airlifted for medical treatment.