Articles Tagged with injuries

motorcyclist-20140530.jpgBefore June begins, we have a final thought for May, which was Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month.

Motorcycle use continues to grow in the U.S. but so do motorcycle accidents. For 15 years now, we have seen an annual increase in motorcyclist fatalities, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The one exception was 2009. When motorcyclists survive, they are also suffering more non-fatal injuries. In 2012, 93,000 motorcycling injuries were reported, 12,000 more injuries than in 2011.

A few safety reminders for drivers:

  • Remember motorcyclists have all the same rights, privileges and responsibilities as other motorists.
  • Allow motorcyclists a full lane width.
  • Give motorcyclists extra following distance when you are behind them.
  • Before you switch lanes, always check your vehicle’s mirrors and your blind spot for motorcyclists.
  • Make sure you signal your intention to change lanes or merge with traffic.
  • Do not rely on a motorcyclist’s flashing turn signal. The rider may have forgotten to turn it off or it may not be self-cancelling.

A few safety reminders for motorcyclists:

  • Remember to wear your helmet and do not let any passengers ride without one. In 2012, overall motorcycle helmet use fell to 60 percent. Passenger helmet use dropped to 46 percent.
  • Wear reflective tape whenever possible.
  • Do not consume alcohol when you are operating.
  • Obey traffic laws. You must have a special license to operate a motorcycle in Massachusetts and that is important. Some 24 percent of all riders who are involved in fatal motorcycle crashes are operating with invalid licenses.

Our Experience Representing Injured Riders
The Boston personal injury lawyers at Breakstone, White & Gluck have over 100 years combined experience handling automobile and motorcycle accident cases.

Read about one case attorney Ronald Gluck handled for an injured motorcyclist. Gluck’s client was seriously injured when a negligent driver cut into his lane and struck his motorcycle. He suffered numerous injuries, including facial fractures, concussions, blindness in one eye and a shoulder injury and had to undergo surgeries. Gluck negotiated a $3.75 million settlement.

Read about the case on our website.

Read the client’s review on Avvo or below.

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masscosh-report-2014.jpgA new report shares hard numbers for Massachusetts workers. In 2013, 50,000 workers were seriously injured on the job and 48 others were killed in workplace accidents. An estimated 480 workers also died from occupational disease, such as cancer from workplace exposure to hazardous materials.

The 2014 “Dying for Work in Massachusetts” report has been released by the Massachusetts Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health (MassCOSH) and the Massachusetts AFL-CIO, which organize the annual Workers’ Safety Memorial Day. On April 28, workers, families of victims, advocates and state officials gathered at the Massachusetts State House for the 26th annual observance.

48 Workers Killed in 2013. The construction industry remains one of the most dangerous, with 11 workers killed in construction accidents in 2013. Workplace falls killed nine workers, causing one-fifth of all occupational fatalities in Massachusetts. Nine other Massachusetts workers were killed by machines and equipment. Workplace violence took the lives of five more workers, including a teacher, a police officer, a livery driver and two store workers.

brain-injury.jpgThe Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is warning parents and others concerned about sports concussions that certain dietary supplement makers are making false claims.

The FDA issued a Dec. 31 warning, advising consumers to avoid dietary supplements claiming to prevent or treat concussions and other traumatic brain injuries (TBI). The common claim is the dietary supplements promote faster healing times after a head injury. But the FDA said there is no scientific evidence to support this claim and it has the potential to cause serious injury. Athletes who return to play too soon because they believe they are cured risk long term health consequences. Repeated injuries which do not fully heal can cause brain swelling, permanent brain damage and long-term disability. They can also be fatal.

Over the past several years, many states have passed legislation to protect student athletes and professional sports leagues have made changes to protect players. In August, the National Football League (NFL) reached a $765 million settlement with 4,500 former players who suffered long-term injuries from concussions. Some of the money will help fund new research into chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). This condition, which causes mental impairment, aggression and dementia, is linked to repeated hits to the head. But it can currently only be diagnosed after death.

In its recent update, the FDA also broadly warned consumers about all products labeled as dietary supplements which are marketed to cure, mitigate, treat or prevent disease. Dietary supplements are regulated differently than other food products and drugs.
There are over 85,000 supplements available today, but they require no approval before going to market. Under the Dietary Supplement Health and Educational Act, the manufacturer is responsible for ensuring a product is safe before going to market and the FDA can take action against any unsafe product after it starts being sold.

Dietary Supplement Companies
In this case, the FDA acted on a tip from the U.S. Department of Defense and conducted market surveillance. It found two companies making improper claims: PruTect Rx of Highlands Ranch, Colorado and Trinity Sports Group Inc. of Plano, Texas. It issued warning letters in September 2012 and both companies changed their websites and labeling.

But in December 2013, the FDA had to warn a third company, Star Scientific, Inc. for marketing a product called Anatabloc with claims to treat TBIs.

Consumer Warning
The FDA said consumers may come across these dietary supplements on the Internet, social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter and retail outlets. They often promise to heal TBIs with ingredients such as turmeric, an Indian spice, and high levels of omega-3 fatty acids derived from fish oil.

Related:
Can a Dietary Supplement Treat a Concussion? No., FDA Update.

Dietary Supplements, FDA.
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If you are a property owner, today is a good time to inspect your driveway and walkways. Even if you worked hard to clear all the snow yesterday, go out and take a second look. The deep freeze is setting in and more snow is forecast for tomorrow, creating the potential for slip and fall accidents.

Why is this important? In addition to making it easier for your family to come and go from your home, you have a duty to use reasonable care to clear snow and ice under Massachusetts law. If you neglect this, you could be liable for any injuries that result.

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Massachusetts Law on Snow and Ice Removal The law for clearing your property is more strict than in past years. It changed in 2010, with the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court’s decision in Papadopoulos v. Target Corporation, SJC-10529 (July 26, 2010). View TV interviews from 2010/2011 in which attorney David White explains the law.

Prior to then, property owners were liable for injuries sustained on what was known as “unnatural accumulations” of snow or ice. Examples of this are gutters leaking onto sidewalks or snow piled on sidewalks.

The state’s high court changed the longstanding law so it falls in line with other states. Massachusetts property owners now have a responsibility to keep their premises in a reasonably safe condition and clear all snow and ice, whether it is a natural accumulation by Mother Nature or pushed there by a plow.

This law applies to homeowners as well as commercial property owners.

A few points to remember when it snows:

  • You have a responsibility to clear your driveway, sidewalks and other areas accessible to the public.
  • If you are using a snow blower, remember a shovel for narrow and hard-to-reach areas.
  • Do you have the physical ability and time to clear your snow this year? If not, consider contacting a snow removal company.
  • Cities have responsibility for clearing sidewalks, but some have ordinances requiring residents to clear their own. These include Boston, Worcester and Newton.

Safety
We all have to balance our legal responsibility to clear the snow with safety. It is hard work and tempting to take shortcuts at times. Remember a few basic safety rules. Do not start your snow blower in your garage or other covered areas. Before you shovel your driveway, clear your home’s heating vents so carbon monoxide does not build up in your home. Then, make sure you dress in layers and take breaks as needed.

Related:
Snow removal law may face test, Boston Globe, Dec. 25, 2010.
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baby-toys-250.jpgMany of us worry about buying unsafe toys during the holiday season. This concern has merit. In 2011 alone, more than 262,000 toy-related injuries were reported and another 13 children were killed while playing with dangerous toys, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). This year, the CPSC reports toy recalls are down, but toy-related injuries have risen.

What to remember when you shop:

Choose Age-Appropriate Toys. Toys should have labels explaining age recommendations and other important warnings, such as “Flame retardant/Flame resistant.” The CPSC recommends avoiding toys with small pieces for children under age 3. They pose a choking hazard. For older children, avoid playsets with small magnets and balloons.

Buying Toys Online. Read instructions for use carefully. If you are buying from Amazon or eBay, remember those websites are only shopping forums. Take note of which company is selling the product.

Sharp Pieces.Toys designed for children under 8 years of age should not have sharp glass or metal edges.

Shattered Pieces. Set aside any toy that looks like it could easily shatter into small pieces and cause choking, cuts or other serious personal injuries.

Magnets.Toys with small magnets are dangerous to children. When children swallow one or more, the magnets can pull together and cause internal injuries, resulting in vomiting, abdominal pain and infection. In the past few years, children have suffered serious injuries and even death. In response, the CPSC has started a Magnets Information Center.

Loud Noises.Toy guns, tablets and talking dolls can damage a child’s hearing over time if used too closely.

Cords and Strings. Toys with long cords and strings can cause strangulation. Carefully consider this before you buy crib gyms, baby mobiles and swings. If a child can reach a baby mobile, it should be removed.

Batteries. Make sure an adult, not a child oversees battery charging for any toys or electronics. Avoid toys with small button-cell batteries, which can be easily swallowed and cause burning, esophagus pain and vomiting among other symptoms. Also be aware of other appliances, such as remote controls, which use these small batteries.

Sports Equipment. When you buy a sports-related toy, make sure you also buy the safety equipment, such as bike helmets for bikes. Children are required to wear bike helmets in Massachusetts until age 16 and if an accident were to occur, they are an important tool for preventing a lifelong head injury.

Related:
Holiday Toy Safety, Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Tiny Batteries Causing Big Health Problems for Kids, ABC News.
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constructionworker v2.jpgA new pilot study measures the physical and emotional toll on New England’s construction workers – and researchers say more investigation is needed.

Construction workers face a high risk of physical injury on the job. In 2011, these workers accounted for 12 percent of all workplace deaths in the U.S., according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Construction accidents and injuries can happen when employers or construction site managers are negligent in complying with OSHA and other safety regulations, fail to properly staff a job or do not provide the necessary training.

The new study from Harvard School of Public Health shows 20 percent of the construction workers surveyed showed signs of being at risk for suicide. More than 40 percent had suffered one or more workplace injuries in the prior month.

The study was published online Oct. 1 in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine. Researchers say the findings show more detailed studies are needed to provide a better understanding of the high frequency of construction injuries and how they relate to mental distress. Researchers also want to focus on increasing literacy rates among construction workers and preventing suicide and suicide attempts.

Study Findings
In August 2012, the researchers surveyed 172 New England construction workers whose average age was 41 years old. They were questioned about psychological distress, depression, anxiety, job satisfaction, musculoskeletal use, injuries and alcohol and tobacco use.

Of these workers, 75 percent had experienced musculoskeletal pain over the past three months. In the month prior, 42 percent had reported one or more work injuries. When researchers followed up by phone with workers who fit the criteria for depression, 20 percent showed signs of being at risk for suicide. Some 16 percent reported they were distressed but the majority – nearly 60 percent – had sought no professional help.

When proper precautions are not taken, construction workers face numerous risks for physical injury and death. The most common causes are falls, electrocution, being struck by an object and being caught in or between equipment and buildings, according to the BLS. Nearly three out of every five construction workers are killed by one of these causes.

Here in Massachusetts
Here in Massachusetts, construction workers face the same risks. In 2012, 32 workers died on the job, including six construction workers, according to the Massachusetts Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health (MassCOSH), which reports figures annually each spring.

Over the summer, the state saw three tragedies. In August, a tree worker died from burn injuries in Holliston, after coming into contact with live wires. A week earlier, another tree worker suffered serious electrical burns in Chelmsford when he was hit by branches and live wires. In July, a 26-year-old construction worker was killed at a Plymouth construction site when a concrete form collapsed and crushed him beneath wooden frames.

MassCOSH is starting to collect new data on other risks to construction and other workers. In its most recent “Dying for Work” publication, it reported 320 Massachusetts workers died from occupational diseases. It estimated asbestos exposure caused over 90 deaths that year.

Related:
Construction workers struggle with pain, stress from injuries, Harvard School of Public Health.

Dying for Work in Massachusetts, April 28, 2013, MassCOSH
MassCOSH website.
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Propane gas grill fire

For many of us, Fourth of July celebrations start with a barbecue grill. Many are powered by a propane gas tank and require special care in handling. Propane is an invisible, but highly flammable gas which can trigger an explosion if it leaks and comes into contact with fire. 

When grills are not properly used or maintained or are left unattended, accidents can occur. There are several safety concerns associated with grills, including propane leaks, cooking burns and fires. In the last year, there have also been a few product recalls involving grills.

Propane Gas Leaks and Explosions
Protect your propane gas tank from leaks. Take care when transporting it to your refilling station. Place it in a secure box and return it immediately home after filling it. Have it inspected annually by a qualified professional.

Store the propane gas tank outside your home. Also keep it away from your garage or any deck attached to your home. These areas may seem safe to use because they are not living areas, but according to the U.S. Fire Administration, more than half of all residential grilling fires in the U.S. begin on porches, terraces, exterior balconies and similar areas.

Grilling Burns and Structure Fires
When grilling, the safest solution is to stay outside your home or apartment building, as far away as you can.

This protects your home as well as your guests and young children who are too often victims of grilling burns. According to the National Fire Protection Association, children under age 5 accounted for about one quarter of all thermal burn injuries in 2007. Many of these burns occur when children are curious and touch or bump up against the grill.

If you live in an apartment building or multi-unit dwelling, you may also want to check with your property manager and city and town offices for additional information. Massachusetts state law does permit use of propane grills on first floor porches only, but some cities have gone a step further. For instance, the city of Boston does not permit either propane or charcoal grills above ground floor porches. Grilling on rooftops is not permitted either.

Before heading out to the grill, review the manufacturer’s instructions first. If you no longer have the instructions, check if they are available on the manufacturer’s website.

Use long-handled grilling tools and avoid wearing loose clothing. Work neat and remove grease and fat build-up from the grills.

Finally and most important, never leave the grill unattended. If you need to step away for a minute, finish up your cooking and turn the grill off.

Grill Recalls
Check the Consumer Product Safety Commission and your manufacturer’s website to see if there have been any recalls involving your grill. When a grill is recalled, you may be asked to return it to the manufacturer or retailer for a refund or be given instructions to replace a part.

In April 2012, more than 87,000 gas grills sold in the U.S. were recalled by One World Technologies, and another 1,400 in Canada. The company offered consumers a replacement regulator after receiving 569 reports its grills were leaking propane gas. The defective grills were sold at Home Depot stores nationwide and Directory Tools Factory Outlet stores from March 2011 through February 2012.

No injuries were reported at the time of the recall.

Another recall came in November 2012, when 37,000 Master Forge Gas Grills sold at Lowe’s Stores were recalled due to fire and burn hazards. In that case, consumers were asked to contact the manufacturer, Guangdong Vanward Electric Co., Ltd., of China, for revised instructions and a warning label that showed how to properly install the hose and regulator.

At the time of the recall, the manufacturer reported two reports of hoses melting and rupturing, but no injuries. The defective product was sold at Lowe’s stores nationwide from November 2011 through May 2012.

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helicopter.jpgAs the holiday shopping season begins, a watchdog organization is reminding consumers that not every toy on the shelves is safe.

The organization W.A.T.C.H., or World Against Toys Causing Harm, Inc., has released its annual list of 2012 “10 Worst Toys.” W.A.T.C.H. says the toys on the list can cause children to choke, have sharp parts and carry misleading labels. The defective toys can be found online and in stores, at major retailers such as Toys “R” Us, Walmart and Amazon.

Dangerous toys seriously injure and kill children every year in the United States. In 2010, 17 children were killed in toy-related accidents. The majority were related to choking on balloons, small balls and rubber balls. The same year, about 181,500 children younger than 15 were treated in hospital emergency departments for toy-related injuries.

car-accident.jpgThis year, the Fourth of July holiday travel is projected to increase, making it particularly important to plan and take precautions before getting behind the wheel. The AAA auto club expects a 4.9 percent rise in cars traveling 50 miles or greater. The travel will be spread out over the six days between Tuesday, July 3 and Sunday, July 8.

The expected Independence Day holiday travel volume will tie the past decade’s previous high mark set in 2007 and represents a near 42 percent increase from 2009.

The busiest days were expected last Friday and this coming mid-week. The National Safety Council estimates the U.S. will see 173 car accident deaths between Tuesday night and Wednesday. Some 17,300 serious personal injuries requiring medical attention were also expected.

The Boston car accident lawyers at Breakstone, White & Gluck urge drivers to be safe, plan and take precautions with these tips:

Fuel Up. Always fuel up your car before you start traveling.

Seat Belts. Seat belt use saved more than 75.000 lives from 2004 to 2008, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

No Cell Phones. You reduce your ability to respond to potential accidents when you are talking or texting. To avoid temptation, the best plan is to ask someone else to hold your phone.

Travel Off-hours. The mid-week holiday provides more options for traveling. Consider returning Thursday or Friday rather than Saturday or Sunday.

Mass 511 Traffic Updates. Click here for traffic updates on Massachusetts car accidents and roadway conditions.

Slow Down. Make sure you are providing adequate room between yourself and the car in front of you.

Tolls. Consider signing up for a pre-pay toll program before your trip. This will allow you to use a greater number of lanes at the toll booths and reduce your chance for a car accident.

Use Your Air Conditioning. In addition to keeping everyone in the car comfortable, it will allow you to stay more alert while driving.

Tires. Make sure your tires are properly inflated before you travel a long distance. Underinflated tires can cause tires to overheat and result in a car crash.

Battery. If your car battery is over 3 years old, have it checked before you travel. Heat can cause your battery to fail.

Traveling with Children. Supply children with books to flip through or similar low-key toys to keep them occupied so they will not distract you while driving.

Drowsy Driving. If you are having trouble sleeping and drive, you could cause a serious car accident. Ask someone to take the wheel.

Emergency Kit. Stock an emergency kit with water, non-perishable food, a flashlight with extra batteries, jumper cables, road flares, a first aid kit and neon vests for all your passengers. This will make you visible to other drivers if you must exit your vehicle.

Pedestrians and Cyclists. Whether you are traveling to your holiday destination or running out to the store once you have arrived, watch out for pedestrians and cyclists on the shoulders of the road and crossing.

Related:

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pool.jpgWith the warm weather and pool season upon us, we wanted to take a moment to discuss important pool safety precautions to prevent injuries and drowning.

A swimming pool holds many risks for injuries, from defective equipment to unsecured locks. The biggest hazard, of course, is drowning. Drowning is the leading cause of death for young children ages 1 to 4 in the U.S. and the fifth leading cause of unintentional injury death for people of all ages. In children under 15, non-fatal drowning is more common than drowning. Non-fatal drowning happens when the brain loses oxygen due to submersion. This can cause brain damage and long-term disabilities.

In many cases, drowning and other pool-side injuries can be prevented if everyone using your pool is closely monitored at all times and your equipment complies with safety guidelines. The Boston personal injury lawyers at Breakstone, White & Gluck share these tips for pool owners:

Fencing. Residential pools must be secured by a fence at least four-feet tall. More than half of all swimming pool drownings among young children could be prevented by four-sided fencing that separates the pool from the house and yard. The fence should have self-closing and self-latching gates that open outward.

If your house serves as a fourth side of a fence around a pool, install door alarms and always use them.

Pool Alarms. Install pool and gate alarms to alert you when children go near your pool.

Drain Entrapments. Keep children away from drains, pipes and other openings to avoid entrapments. Purchase drain covers that comply with the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool & Spa Safety Act. The federal law covers pools which are open to the public, apartment complexes and hotels, but you can purchase these covers for your residential pool. Ask your local pool supplier or visit PoolSafely.gov.

Diving Boards. Never install a diving board for an above-ground pool. If you install one on your in-ground pool, make sure the water is at least 10 to 12 feet deep. Diving is a leading cause of neck and spinal cord injuries. Check with your insurance agent or insurance broker to see if any special precautions are required under your homeowners insurance policy.

Pool Inspection. Call your pool dealer or local board of health and ask for the name of a pool safety inspector.

Telephone. Always keep a telephone outside near the pool in case of emergency.

Glass. Never allow glass in or near the pool. Broken glass is dangerous in the area around the pool, but even more dangerous in the pool itself where it can be completely invisible. We know from the cases that we have handled that broken glass in a pool can lead to serious personal injuries.

Watch Children Swim. Always make sure someone is watching children swim. Assign at least one adult to the task of watching the children.
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