ATV Accidents: Resources and Safety Tips for Avoiding Them

atv.jpgThe all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) have returned for summer. If you ride, remember the state of Massachusetts has specialized rules for your operation designed to protect you and others.

ATV riding comes with risks. Each year from 2004 to 2010, the U.S. saw an average of nearly 700 ATV-related deaths and about 136, 000 emergency department-treated injuries, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). So far in 2012, the CPSC has received reports of 130 adults and 28 children under age 16 who have died in ATV accidents. The agency received reports 17 adults and children died in accidents over Memorial Day weekend.

Riders can benefit from taking a safety course and reviewing the laws. The Boston personal injury lawyers at Breakstone, White & Gluck offer these guidelines and resources:

Safety Course. The Massachusetts Environmental Police offer training classes.

Helmets. Wear a protective helmet specifically designed for ATV riding. Make sure the helmet is approved by the Snell Memorial Foundation or the Department of Transportation (DOT) testing labs.

Register Your Vehicle. You must register your ATV with the Massachusetts Environmental Police if you operate it on private or public property. You must carry proof of registration when riding. Click for more information.

Passengers. If your ATV is a single-operator model, do not carry passengers. For all other ATVs, limit yourself to the passenger capacity.

Public Roads. Do not operate on a public way, unless it is marked and approved for recreational vehicles.

Paved Roads. ATVs are not designed for use on paved roads and their solid rear axles increase the chance of tipping over when you turn.

Young Riders. Sean’s Law took effect in Massachusetts in 2010, banning children under 14 from operating ATVs. If you let your children operate, learn the specialized rules in Massachusetts. But also consider having them wait. The CPSC advises that children under age 16 lack the developmental skills to operate.

Training for Riders Under 18. These riders must complete an approved training course on safety. They must carry certification of this course when riding.

Youth on ATVs. Children should never ride an ATV designed for an adult. This is how 90 percent of injuries to children occur.

No Alcohol. Drinking and driving increases your chance of causing an accident and like motor vehicle drivers, it is against the law for ATV drivers.

Safe Riding Areas. Massachusetts offers state forests and parks designated for ATVs and off-road-vehicles. Click here for the list.

Accidents.You are required to report all accidents resulting in injuries, death or $50 or greater in damage to the Massachusetts Environmental Police.


  • Snapshot: ATVs per Massachusetts Community, Boston Globe
  • Does the new Massachusetts child-ATV ban go too far?, Boston Globe
  • Annual Rise in Summer ATV Deaths Prompts CPSC to Urge Safety on the Trails, Consumer Product Safety Commission
  • Massachusetts Environmental Police Urge Safe Off-Highway Vehicle Use

Elevator Accident in New York City Leads to Firings, Suspensions

elevator.jpgA new report on a New York City elevator accident highlights the importance of safety on elevators, escalators and other equipment that transports the public.

While many elevators and escalators are used daily by large numbers of people, they pose a risk for injury when they are not properly maintained. The responsibility falls on manufacturers to produce safe products and building owners, management companies and city and state inspection officials to ensure machinery is kept up to code.

Elevator and escalator injuries and deaths are more common than the public may know. Each year, elevator accidents result in about 10,200 injuries and 27 deaths in the U.S. Escalator accidents result in about 17,000 injuries and 30 deaths.

One tragic case recently occurred in Massachusetts. In March 2011, a 4-year-old boy was killed after an escalator accident in the Sears at the Auburn Mall, near Worcester. The child was standing on the store’s second floor when he grabbed the moving down rail of the escalator and was pulled through a gap between the Plexiglas divider and the escalator. He fell 18 feet onto a display case.

Investigators later learned that the gap between the Plexiglas and the elevator was 1-1/4 inch greater than code. After an investigation, two state escalator inspectors were fired, six were suspended and 26 others were reprimanded.

In December 2011, two women lost their lives in separate elevator accidents. On December 9 in California, a 48-year-old woman was killed on an elevator accident at Cal State Long Beach. She was killed when the elevator got stuck between the second and third floors and someone tried to help her escape. A 2000-pound car crashed down on her.

Just five days later in New York City, a 41-year-old advertising executive was killed in an elevator accident in a Midtown Manhattan office tower. The woman was killed after she stepped into an elevator which suddenly lurched upward with the doors still open. She was pinned to an elevator shaft between the first and second floor and pronounced dead at the scene. Two other people who were trapped in the elevator were rescued and treated for trauma.

The city released results of the investigation into the woman’s death this week, finding that a maintenance crew had been repairing the elevator and utilized a special jump wire to bypass the elevator’s safety system nine minutes before the woman’s death. They then accidentally left it in place.

The investigation also found two other violations. First, the elevator repair crew never posted a warning that work was being performed. Second, the crew never called the city’s Buildings Department before putting the elevator back in service.

The city has suspended the license of the company from performing maintenance, Transel, which services 2,500 elevators in New York City. The company has fired five mechanics.


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Cooking a Safe Thanksgiving Dinner

turkey.jpgAt Thanksgiving, the focus is on enjoying good food and family. But attention must also be paid to fire safety because Thanksgiving sees more residential fire deaths, injuries and property damage than any other day of the year.

These fires are preventable with solid planning and good communication among those who are preparing the meal and others in the home. The Massachusetts personal injury lawyers at Breakstone, White & Gluck of Boston offer these tips to keep your holiday safe:

  • Never leave food cooking unattended. If you have to leave the kitchen, turn the stove off or ask someone to watch the food.
  • Make sure you have properly working smoke alarms near your kitchen.
  • Keep oven mitts, wooden utensils, towels and other materials away from the stovetop.
  • Use a timer to remind you when to stop cooking.
  • Avoid using candles, especially near young children.
  • Make sure cords to electrical tools and appliances, such as electric knives, are not dangling within reach of a child.
  • Make sure children stay away from liquids and soft foods such as gravy and vegetables until they cool down. If these foods are too hot, they can cause skin burns.

What To Do If You Have A Cooking Fire
Keep a small fire extinguisher handy in your kitchen, either under the sink or close by in a closet. Inspect it periodically and make sure it is properly charged. If you have a cooking fire, it is best to call 911, wait outdoors for the fire department.

If it’s an oven fire, turn off the heat and keep the door closed. For small grease fires, smother the fire by sliding the lid over the pan and turning off the stove top. Leave the pan covered until it is cool. Never use water to extinguish a grease fire. You could be badly burned.

If you try to put out the fire, be sure everyone else is out of the home and you have a clear exit path.
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Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month Time to Consider Helmets and Safety Gear

motorcycle rider.jpgMotorcycling is a fun way to pass a sunny afternoon, but one that requires taking some safety precautions. Motorcyclist deaths have been rising in recent years – more than doubling in 2008 from the record low in 1977. The federal government estimates that per mile traveled, the number of deaths on motorcycles in 2007 was 37 times the number of people in cars.

These figures mean it is important to dress to protect yourself in case of motorcycle accidents.

Helmets: Helmets are especially important. They are 37 percent effective in preventing motorcycle deaths and 67 percent effective in preventing brain injuries, according to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) figures.

Twenty states and Washington D.C. require all riders to wear motorcycle helmets, including Massachusetts and Vermont. New Hampshire has no motorcycle helmet law. Rhode Island, Maine and Connecticut have laws that require younger operators to wear helmets.

If you are looking for a helmet, look for one that meets Department of Transportation (DOT) standards. All adult-sized helmets have been required to meet these standards since 1980. Helmets may be additionally approved by the Snell Memorial Foundation, but this testing standard is voluntary for helmet manufacturers.

There are several types of helmets available on the market, but full-face helmets provide the most protection in case of motorcycle accidents. Other types of helmets include open-face helmets and “shorty” half-helmets. If you choose an open-face helmet, make sure to buy a pair of safety eyeglasses. Shorty half-helmets are generally not recommended because they leave a large area of your face and head exposed in motorcycle accidents.

Lastly, it’s important to make sure you choose the right size helmet. If a motorcycle dealer isn’t ordering your helmet for you, measure the largest part of your head with a tape measure and call the manufacturer. Most helmets are sold in small, medium, large or extra large, so tell the customer service representative your measurement and ask them what size helmet you need.

Clothing: When it comes to jackets and pants, choose the most sturdy materials for the most protection. Leather is considered the best, but denim and corduroy also work. If you worry about overheating, choose pants and vests with zippered vents. And remember, always wear gloves to protect your hands in case of a motorcycle accident or fall on the roadway.

Reflective Clothing: The more visible you are to other drivers, the better your chances are for avoiding a motorcycle accident. Wear brightly colored jackets and pants or reflective material that can be seen at all hours day or night.

Eye Protection: Many motorcyclists choose helmets with an approved shield covering their eyes. Others use separate safety goggles or shatterproof glasses. Make sure your eye protection is clean and unscratched each time before you start riding. If you use a tinted lens for the bright sun, be prepared. Take a clear lens as well in case your ride goes into the night.

Click here for more on state motorcycle helmet laws.

Click here for more information about motorcycle helmets and other safety gear from the Motorcycle Safety Foundation.
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