At-Home Fitness Equipment

While convenient for parents, at-home treadmills, stationary bikes and fitness equipment can cause children serious injuries.

If you have jumped on the Peloton bandwagon, you are not alone. But many parents are exercising with more caution this week after learning about a child’s tragic death on a Peloton treadmill. Consumers are being urged to keep children away from the fitness equipment, as the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) investigates.

Peloton Interactive, Inc. became a household name during the 2019 holiday season, with a tongue-in-cheek ad campaign that poked fun at a husband and his “Peloton wife.” Then the pandemic began and Peloton became the fast rising star of the fitness industry. Many rushed to set up a high-end stationary bike or treadmill right at home, then logged into the fun digital app.

Peloton’s CEO announced the child’s death on a Tread+ last week in a letter, revealing the company was also aware of a small handful of other Tread+ accidents involving children. While he cited no injuries in these cases, NBC later reported that another child, a 3-year-old boy, had suffered serious injuries after being found trapped under a Peloton Tread+.

According to SaferProducts.gov, the child’s father had found the boy trapped under a Peloton Tread+ in early February. Initially, he was not breathing and had no pulse. The boy suffered a significant brain injury, along with a neck injury and petechiae on his face, which can occur when one’s blood flow is blocked. Peloton learned about the incident from the CPSC and said the company’s heart went out to the family.

If you or your child has been injured by an unsafe product, you should receive immediate medical care and report your injury promptly to help warn others. You do not have to make a report on your own. Report the incident with guidance from an experienced product liability lawyer at Breakstone, White & Gluck, who can advise you of your legal rights.

Treadmill Injuries

This is a timely investigation and conversation. Many families have purchased fitness equipment to use from the convenience of their homes as they juggle family and work responsibilities under COVID-19 restrictions. As a result, treadmill sales rose over 120 percent between March and October 2020, according to the Washington Post. Stationary bike sales nearly tripled.

Treadmills, though a convenient way to exercise from your home and office, are associated with many fitness equipment injuries. Across the country, emergency rooms treated an estimated 22,500 treadmill-related injuries during 2019, according to the CPSC. Children under 8 suffered about 2,000 injuries. There were 17 fatal injuries on treadmills between 2018 and 2020, including a 5-year-old girl.

Using Treadmills Safely in Your Home

According to Consumer Reports, children ages 1 to 6 suffer the most treadmill injuries of any age. Older siblings can also be injured when they just want to try the equipment and interactive features that look like video games.

Consider that young children are often just learning how to ride their first bike and developing their coordination skills. They are not strong enough to use a heavy, mechanical piece of equipment, not even for just a moment under an adult’s supervision.

Treadmill companies have a duty to warn consumers about the potential harm to children and how to prevent injuries to children. Manufacturers also have to watch how they showcase fitness equipment in ads and commercials. If a consumer sees a bike set up in a living room or family space, this may leave the impression that this is safe near children and families.

You can take steps to protect your children by securing fitness equipment in a separate room, away from your children and pets. Just as important, remove the safety key when you are done using the treadmill and fold it up if possible.

Mechanical Defects and Other Issues with Treadmills

When you buy fitness equipment, you may wonder whether you will enjoy using it or if it will be worth the investment. No one expects to be injured or see their child injured.

Yet there are many defective and unsafe products sold each year. This includes defective equipment which should have never been sold due to defective design or manufacturing error. Injuries can also happen when a manufacturer fails to warn the consumer about unsafe use. Manufacturers have a duty to promptly report when their products cause injury or wrongful death.

Many treadmill injuries can be traced back to poor manufacturing. Consumers have no warning about mechanical problems, such as spinning belts and erratic motors, until they use the machines. As a result, a consumer can lose their stop or fall, first hitting a moving treadmill and suffering head injuries or skin lacerations.

Improper set up can also contribute to injuries. Treadmills should come with instructions on where to safely place the equipment in your home or office. When a user misses a step, they are much more likely to get caught in the tread mat or hit a wall if they do not have adequate space. Read the instructions carefully as treadmills can come in different weights and sizes at times. As a guide, consider the ASTM International treadmill recommendations are to leave at least 6 1/2 feet of free space behind the treadmill. There should be about 1 ½ feet on each side. But your model may have different specifications.

Incomplete or incorrect labeling is another source for fitness equipment injuries. Without proper warning, the consumer cannot make the best decision about whether the product is safe for purchase and use in their home environment.

In addition to larger fitness equipment, be aware of small accessory equipment. Weights, air-filled exercise balls and yoga straps all look simple to use. But these fitness products can be poorly made with cheap materials, making them unsafe for both children and adults.

In one recent case, one of our attorneys led an investigation and negotiations which resulted in a $1.15 million product liability settlement for our client.

Free Legal Consultation – Boston Defective Product Attorneys

Breakstone, White & Gluck of Boston is committed to providing our clients with aggressive and thorough representation. If you or someone in your family has been injured by an unsafe product, contact our product liability lawyers. We serve clients across Massachusetts, including in Boston, Cambridge, Waltham, Framingham, the North and South Shores, Cape Cod, Fall River and Worcester. For a free consultation, call 800-379-1244 or 617-723-7676 or use our contact form.

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Brockton Police Department Car Seat and Bike Helmet GiveawayBreakstone, White & Gluck was so pleased to support a family event hosted by the Brockton Police Department and other community partners this past weekend. This was a special event because Brockton Police gave away both free car seats and bicycle helmets to local children and families. The goal was to prevent injuries. Many families struggle to get started with car seats and bicycle helmets and end up using them improperly.

The Brockton Police Department partnered with Copeland Toyota and Buckle Up for Life to give families free car seats. Brockton Police has four officers who are certified child passenger safety technicians. They can speak English, Spanish, Cape Verdean Creole and Hatian Creole. Especially after the pandemic, this event was a good opportunity for parents and caregivers to receive a free car seat, have it installed by a police officer and ask questions.

Breakstone, White & Gluck donated the children’s bicycle helmets from our Project KidSafe campaign. Brockton Police helped the children fit their new helmets.

Photo: From left to right, Shahzad Shahab, general manager of Copeland Toyota, then Maria Rivas and her son wearing a Project KidSafe helmet. Center is Brockton Police Chief Emmaneul Gomes, then Lt. Brenda Perez and Brockton Mayor Robert Sullivan on the right.

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Mother helps daughter after a minor fall off a bicycle.

March is Brain Injury Awareness Month, a good time to ask if you or  your children need a new bicycle helmet.

Each March, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) observes Brain Injury Awareness Month to highlight new research on injury prevention. 

This is a good time for parents to reflect upon what you can do to protect yourselves and your children from a concussion. To start, you can purchase a bicycle helmet for your child and buckle them up in an age-appropriate car seat. Before you sign up for youth sports, really learn about the activity and consult your child’s pediatrician. The CDC recently shared this study, which suggests non-contact or flag football programs may be safer for children under 14 because there are fewer head impacts.

You can also commit to learn how to recognize the symptoms of a concussion so you can properly respond and seek medical attention for your child. This is an ongoing learning process which gets stronger, through conversation with your pediatrician, your child’s school and with your own family members. 

Wear a Helmet. In Massachusetts, your child is required to wear a protective helmet while riding a bicycle or scooter. Read our blog, “How to Fit a Bicycle Helmet.”  We also share some resources on Massachusetts helmet laws at the bottom of this webpage.

Massachusetts Concussion Protocol for Students. Before each season, your child’s middle or high school has a responsibility to share information about the Massachusetts youth sports concussion law with you. 

Massachusetts law requires schools to develop concussion safety programs and provide training for students, parents, coaches and others on how to identify concussion symptoms. Schools must also explain the protocol for removing a student who has been injured from play. 

Students suspected of having a concussion must see a doctor and must receive a doctor’s note before returning to practice or a game. It is essential to understand just how your school or coach will communicate with you. 

No one ever wants to think about their child possibly suffering an injury. But the state protocol is largely about taking steps to prevent an injury and how to identify potential injuries. This is essential reading that will help you protect your child. Take time to read if even if you have already seen these materials in the past. Also take time to share and discuss this information with your spouse, baby sister or family members who care for your child. 

Learn more about the Massachusetts concussion guidelines for student athletes and the CDC’s Heads Up Concussion page.  

Commit to Watch for Symptoms. There are some situations when it is clear a parent should seek medical attention for their child. For instance, if your child’s school alerts you or if your child was injured in a car accident, those are your warnings. 

However, the symptoms of a concussion may be less clear when children are injured while playing at home or other situations. To help you learn the signs, we have compiled a list of physical, emotional and sleep-related symptoms which may indicate you should contact your child’s pediatrician on our concussion webpage. These are compiled from the CDC web page on concussion symptoms. 

Please consider the symptoms collectively, along with your child’s recent activities on the sports field or playing at home or with friends. If you have reason for concern, make the decision to contact your child’s pediatrician or visit the emergency room.

Free Legal Consultation – Boston Personal Injury Lawyers

At Breakstone, White & Gluck, our personal injury lawyers have extensive experience representing those who have suffered concussions, second-impact concussions and brain injuries. Over the past three decades, our attorneys have counseled and guided many clients to the financial results they need to recover from these complex injuries. For a free legal consultation, contact us at 800-379-1244 or 617-723-7676.

In addition to our work, Breakstone, White & Gluck works to help children and families protect against head injuries through our Project KidSafe campaign. We have proudly given away more than 30,000 bicycle helmets to children across Massachusetts. To learn more, visit www.bwglaw.com/bikes.

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Child near a dog, a delicate situation because dogs cause many severe and fatal injuries to children in Massachusetts.Research published in the Journal of Pediatrics reports a 3x increase in children seeking care for dog bite injuries at a Colorado hospital during the pandemic. The researchers noted that this trend likely spread beyond this one hospital.

In January 2019, the hospital reported 3 dog bite injuries per 1,000 ER visits. Over April and May of 2019, the rate increased. In July 2019, the rate reached a peak of 7 dog bite injuries per 1,000 ER visits.

Fast forward to January 2020, which also saw 3 dog bite injuries per 1,000 ER visits – same as the previous January. By May 2020, there were about 13 dog bite injuries per 1,000 ER visits. Dog bite injuries continued to rise after Colorado lifted its stay-at-home order that April.

A New York Times article attributed the rise in part to so-called pandemic puppies. Owners may not have planned to bring these pets home during 2020. In some cases, these were complete impulse decisions. Who expected to be home this long? Because of that, owners may not have been prepared to train and care for puppies. There was also decreased access to dog trainers.

Children had increased exposure to puppies during those shelter in place days. Children usually have more contact with dogs when finish school for the summer. Here, children began spending more time with dogs in March of 2020. As children stayed home, parents struggled to balance home-schooling and their own jobs and may not have been supervising children near dogs as closely.

Dog bites are traumatic and can be life-threatening for young children. At Breakstone, White & Gluck, our personal injury lawyers know no one completely realizes how vicious a dog can be when it attacks. Training a dog is one step to help prevent a dog attack. Just as important is keeping a dog on a leash at all times. You never know what may trigger your dog to bite or attack. Even well behaved and calm dogs have unexpectedly attacked young children. One incident can be all it takes to change a child’s life forever.

A 2020 study shows just how important it is for parents or relatives to factor in a child’s age when bringing home a dog. Children under 11 were three times more likely than older children to be admitted to the hospital, according to the study, which was authored by a physician at UMass Memorial Medical School in Worcester. Younger children were also more likely to be admitted to the hospital.

Children age 1 through 10 were more likely to suffer open wounds to the head, neck and lower body. The study reviewed more than 6,300 hospital admissions from the Kids’ Inpatient Database during 2006, 2009 and 2012. One third of the patients had injuries so severe they required surgery.

Tips to Keep a Safe Dog After COVID-19

If you have a dog, we suggest the following tips to protect your children, family and neighbors from a dog bite injury:

  • Always keep your dog leashed and under control when you are outside your home.
  • Continue to limit guests to your home as COVID-19 restrictions get lifted.
  • Secure your dog when guests come over.
  • Do not leave your dog alone with your children or other children.
  • Be aware that younger children have a higher likelihood of injury to their neck or head.
  • Also be aware that many children suffer dog bites from their family pet or from pets they know well.
  • Train your dog and socialize them.
  • Consult your veterinarian or a dog trainer.
  • Walk your dog outside on a leash a few times a day so it can get some exercise.
  • Give your dog some personal attention each day.
  • Recognize that dogs may be more likely to bite when they are gathering or protecting belongings. This is called “resource guarding.”
  • Build a fence.

If you brought home a pandemic puppy, you have some planning to do since your dog has limited exposure to other people. Keep your dog on a leash when outside or when you have guests over. With all dogs, it is critical to ease your dog back into the social experience of being around guests at your home, including close friends and extended family members.

Building a fence in your backyard may also be a good spring project. A fence keeps your dog out of sight from your neighbors and their children. When children see a dog, they are more likely to want to approach and pet it. But as a dog owner, you must remember it’s devastating for a child to suffer a dog bite injury. The law on liability is also strict in Massachusetts. You can be held liable if your dog bites a young child, even if the child went onto your property without permission. The law recognizes that young children may not realize they are stepping toward danger. Your dog doesn’t have to have a history of dog bites or attacks for you to be held liable.

Free Legal Consultation – Boston Dog Bite Attorneys

If you have been injured by a dog or want to learn more about Massachusetts law concerning a dog owner’s responsibilities, visit our website. Each of our partners has more than 30 years of experience representing children and others injured by dog bites and dog attacks. We are here to advise you on your rights for seeking compensation for your child or yourself.

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

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Commercial truck collision with bicycleMassachusetts lawmakers have been asked to approve legislation to protect cyclists from serious and fatal injuries caused by large truck crashes.

“An Act to Reduce Traffic Fatalities,” would in part require state-contracted trucks to be outfitted with safety sideguards, crossover mirrors, convex mirrors and blind-spot decals to reduce the risk of cyclists being swept underneath the tall carriage of large vehicles. These sideswipe truck accidents are often fatal for cyclists and pedestrians. Meanwhile, the convex mirrors would help expand a truck driver’s view of cyclists. The version of the bill proposed in the House of Representatives would also require use of backup cameras. 

The bill numbers are  HD.1888 and SD.1613. More on the bill and others proposed this session can be found on the MassBike website. 

For Safety, Cities in Massachusetts and Other States Have Already Started Mandating Sideguards

This is not the first time truck sideguards have been proposed in the Massachusetts Legislature or local communities. In 2014, the City of Boston passed the first sideguard ordinance in the nation, requiring sideguards, crossover mirrors, convex mirrors and blind-spot awareness decals on city-contracted trucks. Somerville and Cambridge have also pursued their own bylaws and ordinances to protect cyclists, pedestrians and others against injury. The City of Cambridge initially approved an ordinance for city-owned trucks, then discussed extending the requirement to city-contracted trucks in 2019, after two fatal bike crashes the previous year, according to Wicked Local Cambridge. One of the cyclists was hit by a subcontractor working on a city paving project at the intersection of Monsignor O’Brien Highway and Museum Way. We do not have an update on whether the city changed its ordinance.

Beyond Massachusetts, Washington D.C. and Portland, Oregon have passed truck sideguard ordinances. Portland has had an ordinance in place since 2019, following the death of at least 22 people in heavy-weight truck accidents in the previous four years, according to the city website. 

On average, 26 pedestrians and 22 cyclists are killed in truck collisions with the left and right side of large commercial trucks in the U.S. This is according to a May 2020 report on truck sideguards published by the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Motor Carrier Association (U.S. DOT). 

But the dangers of large trucks are much greater when you factor in cyclists who survive serious truck crash injuries

Sideguards are just one step toward protecting cyclists. They may prevent a cyclist from being swept under a commercial truck, tractor trailer or trash truck. But sideguards cannot protect against all bicycle accidents. It is essential that drivers also operate with reasonable care, check for cyclists and use their mirrors. At intersections, commercial truck drivers have a responsibility to check left, right, front and back for cyclists. We can’t stress the importance of this.

While this may sound like an easy task, it is actually a unique sequence. Think about it. Drivers generally check front and back for other drivers who are traveling in the same lane and in nearby areas. By contrast, cyclists are usually traveling in the same direction, on the right side of the road or incoming from other parts of the intersection. They are often approaching trucks from behind, then meet parallel at an intersection or stop.

Cyclists are also allowed to travel in the center lane when they need to do so for safety, a common move at intersections. This is because of the chance a truck may overtake a cyclist making a right turn in the bike lane or on the side of the road. When this happens, cyclists can become trapped underneath in the absence of sideguards. Even with sideguards, a truck can collide with the cyclist from the side, causing a forceful and fatal collision sending a cyclist into sidewalks and curbs, vehicles parked on the side of the road or in the middle of the intersection. This is known as a right-hand hook crash.

In addition to sideguards and convex mirrors, backup cameras have become the leading safety tool for all drivers in recent years. The right one can also contribute to safer encounters with cyclists.

Free Legal Consultation – Boston Personal Injury Lawyers Experienced in Representing Cyclists Injured by Large Vehicles and Trucks

The bicycle accident attorneys at Breakstone, White & Gluck have extensive experience pursuing financial compensation for cyclists injured in bicycle accidents involving large trucks and vehicles. If you have been injured, the cause may have been a driver’s negligence or a truck’s defective mechanical system. It is vital that you or a family member report the bicycle accident right away to police and consult with an experienced attorney.

Breakstone, White & Gluck has represented clients injured by negligence in Massachusetts since 1992, including in Boston, Cambridge and Somerville; Plymouth and Brockton; the South Shore, Cape Cod, Framingham, Worcester, and Lawrence, Danvers and Newburyport and Gloucester on the North Shore.

For a free legal consultation, contact Breakstone, White & Gluck at 800-379-1244 (toll-free) or 617-723-7676. For your convenience, you can also use our contact form.

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Massachusetts driver gripping the steering wheelIt has been nearly a year since Massachusetts called the COVID-19 state of emergency. Your daily routine has completely changed and you are not driving very often. Do you still need to buy auto insurance at this point?

Yes. Under state law, you are required to purchase a Massachusetts auto insurance policy if you have a driver’s license and register a vehicle. If you cause a car accident in Massachusetts, you are responsible for compensating anyone you have injured for their medical expenses and other financial losses. You also have to pay for property damage.

Auto insurers granted Massachusetts drivers some discounts last year, but lawmakers and consumer advocates are starting to raise the question of further discounts.

Calls for Action on Reducing Auto Insurance Premiums in Massachusetts

On Feb. 12th, the Lawrence-Eagle Tribune reported state Sen. Barry Finegold, D-Andover, and other legislators have asked the state Division of Insurance to review insurance rates, premiums and losses. They also want insurers to offer refunds from profits.

Attorney General Maura Healey’s office also recently asked regulators to reduce personal automobile insurance premiums by at least 25 percent, according to the newspaper. Her office cited data showing the frequency of liability coverage claims fell more than 50 percent between 2019 and 2020. There was a 70 percent drop in the frequency of collision coverage claims.

Our Massachusetts Auto Insurance Tips During COVID-19

Purchase the Minimum Auto Insurance

Under Massachusetts law, you have to purchase the required minimum coverage limits. There has been no change to the coverage limits during COVID-19.

  • Bodily Injury to Others, $20,000 per person; $40,000 per accident
  • Personal Injury Protection (PIP), $8,000 per person, per accident
  • Bodily Injury Caused by an Uninsured Auto, $20,000 per person; $40,000 per accident
  • Damage to Someone Else’s Property, $5,000 per accident

These are low coverage limits. In most cases, drivers should purchase more to adequately protect themselves and others if they cause a car accident. The key with auto insurance is you must purchase the right amounts and coverage types to protect yourself. Learn more about the different coverages in our article, “Understanding and Buying Massachusetts Car Accident Insurance.”

How Auto Insurance Protects You

Right now, you may be asking why you need to buy an auto insurance policy at all. This is a good time to remind you of all the ways your policy can work for you. Most drivers can appreciate that they are required to purchase auto insurance under Massachusetts law. At the very least, under M.G.L. c. 90, § 34J, you may face a fine between $500 to $5,000 if you are caught operating without insurance. Most drivers can also appreciate that auto insurance can protect them financially if they make a mistake and cause someone injury in a car crash.

But there are other protections. First, you may need your auto insurance to protect yourself. Even if another driver was at fault in a car crash, you may have to file a claim with your own policy for your medical expenses and lost wages. This would be true if you were injured by an uninsured or underinsured driver. This would also be the case if you were injured in a hit-and-run accident and could not identify the driver.

If you are a cyclist, you may be entitled to pursue a claim against another driver for your injuries in a bicycle accident. However, having your own auto insurance policy can provide necessary resources to help you recover, especially if the driver does not have auto insurance.

Another benefit is auto insurance can protect our loved ones or those living in our household. Call your insurance agent and ask to add these licensed drivers to your policy. They may be able to draw on the coverage should they ever be injured in a car crash or a bicycle accident and not have coverage elsewhere.

Keep Massachusetts Auto Insurance Payments Current

It is fine to evaluate your auto insurance. But do not withhold or miss an auto insurance premium payment or you could risk your insurer cancelling your policy. If you are facing financial hardship, one option is you can set up a payment plan over the year. In doing so, you may be losing a pre-payment discount, but it may be the best approach for your situation right now.

Before you call your insurer or insurance agent, learn as much as you can. Read the state advisory on Motor Vehicle Insurance Installment Payment Plans.

Seek Quotes from Massachusetts Insurance Agents

In Massachusetts, you can purchase insurance directly through an insurer or an insurance agent. Call and ask if you qualify for any discounts based on your current driving routine, vehicle, employer or group memberships. At a minimum, insurers should offer a discount for traveling more than 5,000 miles in a year.

It is usually worth requesting quotes from more than one insurance agent or companies. In Massachusetts, some insurance agents can offer quotes from multiple companies. Expect most to represent just a single company. Here is the state of Massachusetts insurance agent database.

Check for Discounts and Savings

The best types of discounts and savings are those you achieve just by checking in with your auto insurance agent. For instance, you may be eligible for a discount because you logged fewer than 5,000 miles on your car in 2020.

In some cases, this conversation may not result in savings. You may need to add someone to your household policy or purchase business coverage because you started using your vehicle for work. Whatever your situation, you have a responsibility to keep your auto insurer updated so you have proper coverage should you need it. Many people put their auto insurance coverage at risk without even realizing it when they move and start garaging their vehicle in a new location. Your auto insurance is calculated in part based on where you garage your vehicle. College students who take their vehicles to campus also need to update auto insurers.

Where to Learn More About Massachusetts Auto Insurance

We mentioned a few of our auto insurance articles in this blog. We also invite you to read our other auto insurance articles, including “What Every Massachusetts Bicyclist Needs to Know About Car Insurance” and “Massachusetts Motorcyclists: Buy the Right Types of Auto Insurance to Protect Yourself and Your Finances.”

Free Legal Consultation – Boston Car Accident Attorney

At Breakstone, White & Gluck, our Boston car accident lawyers are known for our commitment to pursuing the best financial result for clients. If you have been injured by someone else’s negligent driving, you may be entitled to seek compensation for your injuries. We represent clients throughout Massachusetts, including in Boston, Quincy, Cambridge, Somerville, Everett, Brookline and Arlington.

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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Parent sledding with children in Massachusetts February has delivered perfect sledding weather for Massachusetts families. But before you head out with your children, remember the risk for injuries can rise during outdoor winter activities. Sledding, skating and skiing push our bodies beyond our daily routines as we face the elements of cold weather, snow and ice.

More than 20,000 children are treated for sledding injuries on average each year, according to the National Safety Council. Children can be injured when a sled hits a stationary object, in collisions with other sledders or by flipping or falling off their sled. Sledding accidents such as these can result in broken bones, lacerations, bruises, concussions, head injuries or more serious injuries.

You can protect your children by sledding with them and teaching them safety fundamentals by example. Please read our tips and enjoy a fun and safe sledding experience:

Choose a Safe Sledding Spot

After asking friends for suggestions and searching online, visit a few local sledding hills on your own, without your children. Walk to the top of the sledding area. Check your cell phone service from that point. Sledding hills may look similar, but they are not all equal. Choose a sledding area that is free from trees or rocks that could cause your child injury. Avoid hills that are too close to streets and parking lots.

Look for sledding hills that are snow-covered, not ice-covered.

A walkthrough is particularly useful for parents of young children, who are most vulnerable to the cold. Time your walk and compare this to your child’s regular play time in the snow and their physical capabilities. Think about whether your child can the hill – both the steepness for sledding and walking up the hill.

Sled During The Day. There is less visibility and colder temperatures at night. Your best approach is to sled during the day, when the sun is out.

Sled With Your Children and Supervise

Sled as a Family. Plan at least one sledding day for your family each year. Besides being a lot of fun, this will create special memories. Sledding is also great way to get some fresh air and exercise for children, which we all need during the winter months.

Sled with Your Child and Their Friends. If your child or teenager wants to sled with friends, go along and watch. Enjoy this time but consider it a parenting assignment. You should really watch them just as you would if they were swimming, with your full attention. Keep your cell phone and a first aid kit within reach.

Sledding Manners. Teach your children to use good manners on the sledding hill. Even if there are no formal rules posted, your children should walk up the hill along the side of the sledding area. When sledding, they should not overcrowd sledders or attempt to run into them on the course. Once they reach the bottom of the hill, children should step off their sled.

Dress Warmly

When children are having fun, they may not realize how cold they are or be able to tell you.

Before you sled, make sure your child is wearing a warm winter coat, snow pants, hats, gloves or mittens. Purchase waterproof clothing. Your child should be warm and clothes should fit comfortably.

Take scarves off children before sledding. Also remove strings from clothing and accessories which can cause strangulation or get caught while your child sledding.

Safe Sleds and Helmets

Wear a Helmet. Encourage children to be aware of their surroundings and stay in control of their sleds as a good starting point to safety. Parents should also buy young children helmets to protect against head injuries. The Consumer Product Safety Commission advises parents can purchase helmets which meet the ASTM F14922 or Snell N-942 safety standard. If you have questions, we suggest you check the CPSC website which offers guidance on helmet designs for different activities. Another resource is your pediatrician. Ask for their specific suggestion for protecting your child.

Check Your Sleds. If you see sharp edges or cracks, replace your child’s sled.

Purchase a Safe Sled. There are many types of sleds: snow tubes, saucers or toboggans. Read age recommendations and product safety labels. Look for sleds which can be steered or have handles. Specifically look for ropes. While many sleds come with ropes, you can purchase sleds without any to protect young children against strangulation or getting caught on something.

Before you purchase a sled, make sure to check the Consumer Product Safety Commission website for safety recalls. Sleds can be designed with defects, such as faulty brakes on higher end models.

No Make-Shift Sleds. Do not allow your child to make their own sled out of furniture, cardboard or household objects. These products are not designed to carry your children on the snow.

Safe Sledding Techniques

Sledding Techniques. Pull your sled up next to theirs and show your children how to ride their sleds safely. Children should generally sit, hold the handles and ride face-forward down the hill. They should not ride stomach down or face first because they could flip or fall off. This can cause serious head or spinal cord injuries.

Riding Alone or Together? It’s a lot of fun to sled with your children or watch them ride together. The key is to find the right sled for the right number of sledders. And of course, the right hill!

Adults can pull young children. But for the most part, children should sled alone as they get older. It is important for them to steer their own sleds and hold on for themselves.

If you want to purchase a sled or tube that carries more than one child or adult, that’s a special experience. Read the manufacturer’s age recommendations, safety warnings and instructions. Look for a few online videos.

Free Legal Consultation – Boston Personal Injury Lawyers

Breakstone, White & Gluck is pleased to share our sledding tips as part of our Project KidSafe campaign. Through Project KidSafe, our goal is to help families protect against child injuries.

Breakstone, White & Gluck is a top-rated Boston personal injury law firm, with more than 100 years combined experience. We represent clients in personal injury cases in Boston and across Massachusetts. If you have been injured by someone else’s negligence, contact us for a free legal consultation at 800-379-1244 or 617-723-7676 or use our contact form.

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SUVs have been linked to pedestrian crashes in a recent IIHS study.

A new IIHS study found SUVs crashes caused more severe injuries to pedestrians than cars.

During the pandemic, pedestrians have outnumbered vehicles on the roads at times. If you look closely, you may see mostly large vehicles left behind, including commercial trucks, package delivery vans and SUVs.

Today, our Boston personal injury lawyers are writing about SUVs and pedestrians. Amid the pandemic, an important study was published by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), finding SUVs (or sports utility vehicles) cause more serious pedestrian injuries than cars. Researchers concluded automakers need to make design changes to protect pedestrians from increased fatalities.

Highlights from the 2020 study and report:

Drop in overall crashes. Overall, motor vehicle accident fatalities have dropped from more than 50,000 in 1980 to 36,560 in 2018.

Rise in pedestrian crashes. Meanwhile, one in five traffic crashes is now a pedestrian fatality. Pedestrians are more at risk now. The number of pedestrians hit by all vehicles rose a dramatic 53 percent from 2009 to 2018.

Study data. The study reviewed a sample of 79 crashes in Michigan, finding that SUVs caused more serious injuries to pedestrians than cars.

Speed. Below 20 mph, there was not a significant difference in the injuries caused by SUVs and cars.

More danger at higher speeds. When SUVs traveled 20 to 39 mph, 3 out of 10 SUV crashes ended in a pedestrian death. In comparison, 5 out of 22 cars caused a pedestrian fatality.

Over 40 mph was most deadly. At 40 mph, all three SUV crashes resulted in pedestrian fatalities. This is 100 percent compared to 54 percent of cars (7 out of 13).

Previous Research

The IIHS has led several studies on SUVs and the dangers to pedestrians. One past study found that as pedestrian accidents overall have increased, many involve cars, but there was an 81 percent increase in SUVs causing fatal pedestrian accidents between 2009 and 2016.

There are more SUVs on the roads than ever, making it important to address the safety hazards to pedestrians. SUVs first outsold sedans in 2015, according to The New York Times. They continue to be the vehicle of choice for many Americans. In fact, SUVs accounted for up to 47.4 percent of all U.S. auto sales, according to an analyst quoted by the newspaper.

SUV Designs Are Now Being Made Safer for Drivers

What is notable about SUVs is manufacturers have already spent years adopting more “carlike designs” to protect SUV vehicle occupants. Manufacturers have lowered SUV bumpers and other features to align better with cars. The danger to pedestrians has not been addressed the same way.

According to the IIHS, SUVs can endanger pedestrians because of the overall shape of their front end. On many SUVs, the front end is solid and can have a double impact, striking the pedestrian at the pelvis or chest, just after the bumper hits the person’s lower body.

The IIHS now plans to look into the types of SUVs which caused injury in the Michigan study. Meanwhile, in Europe, manufacturers have already started to make use of safety features, such as pedestrian airbags.

A Note for SUV Drivers

Many of us own SUVs. If you purchase one in the future, be aware of the ongoing safety research and read about the specific features on the model you wish to purchase. You may have bought one 10 years ago and find this year’s model is not right for your family and where you live and work. 

We suggest you check in with the IIHS website. Other organizations such as Consumer Reports may also offer safety insights.

Consider Your Driving Routine. You want to back your SUV into your driveway as much as possible. This way you have a full view of traffic, cyclists and pedestrians when you leave. To do this safely, you will need a good backup camera. You may also need to make other enhancements to your property as well. 

Your ability to back up safely is critical. Many SUV crashes happen as drivers back up and hit a pedestrian or a child playing.

Review Features. Read consumer ratings and reviews on the SUV you want to buy. Vehicles made after 2018 are required to come with backup cameras. Do not assume all backup cameras are equal. Read up on consumer ratings and reviews and test drive your SUV before finalizing the purchase.

Buying Used SUVs. Make sure to properly equip older SUVs with backup cameras and other safety gear.

Free Legal Consultation – Boston Pedestrian Accident Attorneys

At Breakstone, White & Gluck, our pedestrian accident lawyers offer a free legal consultation to determine whether you have a potential claim for your injury. Recognized by Top 100 New England Super Lawyers, we provide our clients with the highest quality representation and specialize in the areas of car accidents and pedestrian accidents, including SUV crashes resulting in serious injury

If you have been injured, 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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Boston cyclist riding in snow

In Boston, drivers can take extra caution when traveling near a cyclist during winter.

Gone are the days when drivers only had to watch for cyclists during the warm weather in Massachusetts. Cyclists have become a fixture on our roads year-round in Boston, including in January and as the pandemic continues.

As a driver, we urge you to slow down this winter and look for cyclists. Also give cyclists extra room so they can respond to a traffic situation without wiping out or being struck in a bicycle accident.

While most cyclists try to avoid stormy weather, there are times when cyclists still find themselves riding in slippery or snowy situations.  Also remember that days after a snow fall, snow plows can make another pass at roads and parking lots, which can interfere with a cyclist’s path as well as pedestrians, cars and delivery trucks.

If you fail to check for cyclists, you could cause a cyclist a life-threatening injury and be held financial liable by the victim. Do all you can to avoid causing a cycling accident. Take a few minutes to ask a cyclist about the challenges they face on the road, continuously check for cyclists while you drive and always assume there will be cyclists on the road.

This blog shares safety reminders to help Massachusetts drivers travel safely near cyclists this winter.

Massachusetts Bicycle Laws. In Massachusetts, cyclists have rights and responsibilities. One of the first rights concerns where cyclists can ride. Under M.G.L. c. 85, § 11B, cyclists are allowed to ride in a bike lane, on the side of the road or in the main traffic lane. Up to two cyclists can ride abreast in the main traffic lane. Cyclists should travel in the same direction as traffic.

When you see a cyclist, remember they can switch lanes or turn at any time. They may not always be able to safely use hand signals. Likewise, if you find yourself behind a bicycle and they are blocking traffic, you should practice patience or take another route.

Common Bicycle Injuries. Cyclists are vulnerable on the roads, traveling between motorized cars, trucks and other vehicles. A cyclist can be injured when a driver makes an error at an intersection or cuts the cyclist off when turning.

When a truck turns at an intersection, the driver has a responsibility to check for a cyclist before turning right. Truck drivers who neglect this step can cause a fatal crash injuring a cyclist. This is often called a “right hook” crash.

Another type of bicycle crash is called a “left hook” accident. This type of collision happens when a vehicle travels straight or turns left at an intersection, cutting off or colliding with a cyclist at an intersection. The cyclist is usually traveling in another direction.

By simply remembering to check for cyclists at intersections, truck drivers and motorists can make a big difference in preventing an accident or fatality. As you wait for a red light, try to look several times for cyclists: front, right, left and back. Many drivers neglect to fully check their blindspots, which is where cyclists are likely to be.

Darkness and Storms. The majority of fatal bike crashes in 2018 occurred between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m., according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Darkness falls earlier during the winter and there are also snow and rain conditions. Be patient if you see a cyclist pedaling in snow conditions.

As a driver, another step you can take is to look for well-lit roads. You can also look for the light. As a driver, if you see a flicker of color ahead, this is likely a cyclist or pedestrian.

Under Massachusetts law, cyclists are required to use bike lights when riding from thirty minutes after sunset until thirty minutes before. Bike reflectors are also required. Cyclists must have reflectors wrapped around both pedals or around their ankles. The bike lights should be visible from distances of 500 to 600 feet.

See the Cyclist From A Distance. In addition to checking for cyclists at intersections, always look ahead for cyclists. Scan the side of the roads. Cyclists should be traveling on the same side of the road as you in the same direction, but they may not always do so, especially if they are displaced by snow conditions. By taking time to look ahead, you give yourself more time to respond.

Read more tips on cycling safety in our article, “Facts About Massachusetts Bicycle Laws.”

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Free Legal Consultation – Boston Bicycle Accident Lawyers

Breakstone, White & Gluck has extensive experience representing cyclists who have been injured in bicycle accidents by negligent drivers in Boston, Cambridge and across Massachusetts. Our attorneys are skilled at investigation and negotiation with insurance companies to help our clients obtain the compensation they need for their recovery.

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

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The New Year has begun with several reports of pedestrian accidents across Massachusetts. One pedestrian was seriously injured in Springfield. Two pedestrians were killed, one in Charlestown and one in Oxford.

On January 5th, Boston Police responded to a fatal scene at Charlestown’s City Square. A 92-year-old pedestrian died after being struck by a vehicle near the Charlestown Navy Yard and dragged for nearly a mile, according to news reports. Police later announced they had located a vehicle of interest.

A new report highlights the dangerous climb in pedestrian crashes in the U.S. Between 2009 and 2018, the number of pedestrians killed in U.S. car crashes rose by 55 percent, according to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. This is a major increase, following three decades of decreases.

In Massachusetts, 725 pedestrians were killed during this period. Another 17,000 pedestrians were injured. Boston, Springfield, Worcester, New Bedford and Brockton reported the highest numbers of pedestrian injuries and fatalities in Massachusetts.

Other notes:

  • Most pedestrian injuries occurred between 3 p.m. and 7 p.m.
  • 28 percent of the pedestrian accident victims in Massachusetts were 65 or older
  • 3 out of 4 pedestrians killed on U.S. roads in 2018 were hit during darkness
  • 84 percent of pedestrian accidents over the 10 years occurred on streets with speed limits 30 mph or higher
  • There was a 70 percent increase in pedestrians killed at non-intersection locations without crosswalks

AAA is calling on cities and states to improve traffic infrastructure to provide more protection to pedestrians.

This report is a good reminder for drivers to really watch for pedestrians. This is January and darkness comes early. We are also wrestling with the COVID-19 pandemic. Many Massachusetts residents are out of routine and may be walking in new areas and at different times. As a driver, you have the ability to slow down and that can make all the difference in preventing a pedestrian accident. According to StreetsBlog, a pedestrian struck by a driver traveling at 20 mph has a 93 percent chance of surviving.

Here are a few safety reminders for drivers:

  • Obey traffic signs.
  • Slow down. Travel below the speed limit.
  • Stop for pedestrians at crosswalks.
  • At traffic signals and stop signs, look front, back, right and left before you step on the gas. You have to watch for pedestrians as well as cyclists.
  • Do not use your cell phone while driving.

Free Legal Consultation – Breakstone, White & Gluck

At Breakstone, White & Gluck, our Boston personal injury lawyers are known for our experience representing pedestrians who have been injured in motor vehicle accidents, truck collisions and bus accidents. We represent those injured by the negligence of others across Massachusetts, including in Boston, Cambridge, Somerville, Everett, Quincy and other areas. If you or a loved one has been injured, 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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