Articles Tagged with Massachusetts

dangerous dog

Dog owners made horrific decisions which killed young children in 2019. In Massachusetts, a 14-year-old boy was mauled to death by at least four dogs in Dighton. Then, in Michigan, two young children lost their lives to separate pit bull attacks, just months apart.

No one wants to think about the potential dangers of dogs. This is because many people own a dog or call themselves dog lovers. But the reality is dogs can be a public health risk when left unsupervised or when owners make poor decisions. Or when they interact too closely with children. Now, during the summer months, is the time to consider your family’s safety.

Children face the greatest risk of injury and suffer more than 50 percent of all dog bites, according to the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh.

Dog bites and attacks caused severe injuries and deaths across the United States and here in Massachusetts last year. In May 2019, a 14-year-old boy was killed in a dog bite attack in Dighton. He was found laying dead at a property where he was caring for dogs without supervision. There were 4 dogs in the area where his body was found and 7 other dogs on the property, according to a NBC Boston report. The dogs were reportedly not licensed in Dighton.

The boy’s grandmother had dropped him off on the large property to tend to the dogs, as she had for several months, while the dogs’ owner was away in Boston, according to the Sun Chronicle newspaper. The grandmother waited in the car and grew concerned when the boy did not return. A neighbor found the boy dead and police were called. The Bristol County District Attorney’s office investigated but declined to criminally charge the dogs’ owner.

Then, the state of Michigan lost two young children within a few months. In August 2019, three pit bulls savagely attacked a 9-year-old girl in Detroit as she rode her bike in an alley near her home, according to a local news report. The girl died from multiple injuries, despite a neighbor’s attempt to help, by shooting and killing one of the dogs. The owner of the dogs was arrested, ultimately charged with second-degree murder.

Prosecutors alleged the owner knew the dogs “were dangerous, loose and unsecured” in the backyard of his home, according to the news coverage. He allegedly went to a nearby store and the dogs broke free from the yard while he was away. The initial investigation found the fencing around the home was damaged and the garage door had also been left open.

In October, another child was attacked just a few miles away in Hazel Park, Michigan. This time, the 4-year-old boy was killed by a pit bull right in his own home. His family had been pet sitting for a friend.

“A kind gesture to help a friend in a time of need, for a dog that was said to have never shown aggressive behaviors has turned into a horrifying loss for our family,” the family said in a statement.

The attack only ended when police shot the dog with a taser gun and it fled. The boy was later pronounced dead at a local hospital. The boy’s mother had fought to save her son, stabbing the dog with a knife. She was later transported to a local hospital with non-life threatening injuries.

A Dog Owner’s Legal Responsibilities in Massachusetts

Man walking his dog on a leash

Always use a dog leash when you walk through your neighborhood.

To dog owners, we urge you to tend to your responsibilities. Follow your community’s local leash laws and registration requirements.

Restrain and supervise your dog at all times. In Massachusetts, the owner or keeper of a dog can be held financially responsible when their animal attacks someone. Under Massachusetts law, the injured person may seek compensation through your Massachusetts homeowner’s insurance policy. There is strict liability when a dog causes injuries, scarring or wrongful death. One does not have to prove the dog had a history of being dangerous or vicious.

Adults have a responsibility not to trespass or torment a dog at the time of the attack. But dog owners can be held liable when young children step onto their property without invitation, then are attacked. This is a very important point for dog owners to understand.

Homeowners can prevent these injuries by inspecting their home and property. Consider the age of your neighbors’ children. In most cases, the best investment you can make is strong fencing which keeps your dog contained and stops children before they grow interested in watching your dog. Read more about Massachusetts dog bite laws on our website.


Child near a dog, a delicate situation because dogs cause many severe and fatal injuries to children in Massachusetts.

When you visit friends or family, keep young children away from their dog. You will have plenty of time to introduce your child to dogs later, as they grow older.

To parents and neighbors, never underestimate the risk of dogs. Dog bites and attacks are more common than most people realize, even when you and your children know the dog. In fact, 77 percent of dog bites cause injury to their owners and children, a relative or family friends, according to the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh.

Dogs may be well behaved. Owners can feed and exercise them regularly. Yet they can still be unpredictable or become stressed and attack without warning. They are not a reliable combination with young children, no matter how dog-friendly their owner says they are.

We encourage you to exercise caution around dogs. If you are a parent, keep your children away from dogs. You have the choice when you visit friends or family members who own dogs. These are social visits and letting your child approach a dog while you talk is dangerous, even if they are with another person or older child. You want to introduce your child to dogs when they are older, taking time to consult your children’s pediatrician and school. You want to be right there with your child, not watching them from across a yard.

Watch Your Neighborhood

The risk for dog bites typically rises in the summer, with the warm weather and the start of school vacation. This year, Covid-19 has changed everything in Massachusetts. Your neighbors may be spending even more time at home. You may see their dogs out more, sometimes without supervision. You may also see some new dogs.

Call your local animal control officer if you are concerned about an unsupervised dog. Your neighbors have a responsibility to follow leash laws and these are in place to prevent injuries. Another reason is some of these dogs may also be abandoned, neglected or starved. They need special attention before they contract and spread rabies, or attack.

Facts About Dog Bite Injuries

  • From 2005 to 2018, 471 Americans were killed by dog bites, according to DogBite.org, a victim’s group.
  • Pit bulls caused more than 65 percent of fatal dog bites and attacks, according to the group.
  • Children age 5 to 9 are the most frequent victims of dog bites and attacks, according to a WBUR article.
  • Dogs are most likely to bite children in the face, neck and head, the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburg reports.

Seeking Medical Treatment After Dog Bites and Attacks

Most dog bites and attacks are serious. Call 911 and wait for emergency medical services. Even if you or your child have only suffered a minor wound, we encourage you to still call your pediatrician or doctor. Ask to be treated right away. This is critical because not all dogs are vaccinated.

Free Legal Consultation- Boston Dog Bite Lawyers

Breakstone, White & Gluck has more than 100 years combined experience representing victims of dog bites and attacks in Boston and across Massachusetts. If you or your child has been injured, you may have the right to pursue financial compensation for your recovery. You may be entitled to seek damages for medical expenses, pain and suffering and other financial losses. This compensation can also pay for counseling for emotional distress.

Learn your legal rights. Call our Massachusetts dog bite attorneys for a free legal consultation at 800-379-1244 or 617-723-7676.

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Attorney David W. White and Wade Rubenstein, executive director of The Bike Connector in Lowell. Breakstone, White & Gluck donated free bicycle helmets as part of its Project KidSafe campaign to prevent head injuries.

Attorney David W. White and Wade Rubenstein, president of The Bike Connector in Lowell.

Attorney David W. White was pleased to deliver 100 bicycle helmets to Wade Rubinstein of The Bike Connector in Lowell this morning. Breakstone, White & Gluck donated the helmets as part of our 2020 Project KidSafe campaign for bike safety.

This was our first donation to The Bike Connector and it was a real pleasure to meet Wade and learn about his work. The Bike Connector provides bikes to income-disadvantaged youth and immigrants throughout the city of Lowell. This summer, The Bike Connector is working with the city’s high school summer programs to distribute 100 free refurbished bikes. Now, each cyclist will also receive a free Project KidSafe bicycle helmet from Breakstone, White & Gluck.

The bicycles are important donations. In Lowell, there is no school bus service for high school students. Students can ride the Lowell Regional Transit Authority, walk or get a ride. Bicycles open up new opportunities for students to stay connected and on track with school activities.

“These helmets are really going to help keep kids in Lowell safe,” Wade said. “I want to thank Breakstone, White & Gluck for providing us these helmets. They are going to go a long way.”

Learn more about Breakstone, White & Gluck and our Project KidSafe campaign.

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Massachusetts parent teaching a teen driver how to drive safely and defensively to prevent car accidents.We know many Massachusetts parents regularly talk to their teens about safe driving to prevent car accidents. You should be commended for engaging in this often-stressful conversation.

We urge you to continue on this summer. Helping teens understand the difference between appropriate and unsafe choices and build strong driving skills is a life-long investment in their safety and the safety of others.

Nationwide, teen driving crashes killed more than seven people each day of summer from 2008 to 2018, according to AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.  AAA recently released the 2020 “100 Deadliest Days” of driving report, once again warning teen drivers and parent to take extra precautions between Memorial Day and Labor Day.

Be aware of the unique risks this summer, AAA says. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, many summer jobs and activities have been cancelled. With more free time, teens may be driving more. AAA urges parents to read its 2020 “100 Deadliest Days” report, and its Parent Coaching Guide, and to have teens sign a safe driving agreement. With this approach, parents can set clear expectations for teens and refer them to the agreement should they forget. If teens violate the terms of the agreement, they may lose driving privileges for a period of time.

Research on Teen Driving Crashes

Here are a few figures for parents to consider. AAA’s research found more than 70 percent of teen drivers age 16-18 had engaged in unsafe and illegal driving behaviors.

Seat belt Use
17 percent of teen drivers admitted to not wearing a seat belt.

Speeding
47 percent of teen drivers admitted to driving 10 mph over the speed limit on a residential street.
40 percent of teen drivers admitted to driving 15 mph on a freeway.

Texting and Cell Phone Use
35 percent of teen drivers admitted to texting while driving.

Other Driving Violations
More than 30 percent of teen drivers admitted to running red lights and aggressive driving. Meanwhile, 25 percent of teen drivers admitted to drowsy driving.

Parents can influence teens on some of these behaviors by developing a teen driving agreement (there are several available on the Teen Driver Source website). Your conversations with your teens are also essential.

Help Your Teen Drive Safely
Help your teen drive safely and avoid a car crash.

Many states have graduated licensing laws, including Massachusetts. Encourage your teen to follow the Massachusetts Junior Operator Law at all times. Under this law, teens are not allowed to use cell phones when driving in Massachusetts, not even under the new Massachusetts “hands-free” driving laws.

When they have a question, encourage them to ask, review their driver’s education materials or the Massachusetts Driver’s Manual. When drivers understand the law, they are more confident making decisions on the road.

Another opportunity is to drive together. Take turns in the driver seat. When you drive, take the opportunity to show your teen how you follow the speed limit. On a 30 mph street, this means driving 30 mph or less, not 35 or 40 mph. Tell your teen what you are doing and why.

Speed-related crashes are prevalent among teens. Simply slowing down and following other vehicles at greater distances can make a tremendous impact in reducing car accidents. At slower speeds, your teen has more time to stop and if they have a collision, injuries are likely to be less severe. Accident victims are more likely to survive a teen driving accident.

At the same time, parents should understand that when teens speed, they may be intentionally speeding and risk-taking. This is unacceptable. But often, the reason is driver inexperience. Teens need more practice using the gas and brakes, and you may need to explain that traveling “just” 5 mph or 10 mph over the  speed limit is dangerous. In fact, you may need to do this a few times, also explaining that teens are more likely to cause injury when they speed and receive a speeding ticket which will impact their junior license.

To help your teen, be patient. Your goal is to demonstrate safe driving techniques and give them feedback when they make a good decision or make a mistake. Yet, if you are too critical, you will make your teen nervous and reluctant to drive with you. Tread lightly but firmly. It’s alright to take a break, but don’t stop trying.

Free Legal Consultation – Boston Car Accident Lawyers

At Breakstone, White & Gluck, our Boston car accident attorneys represent those who have been injured by negligent driving in Massachusetts. Car accidents often result in serious and catastrophic injuries, including head injuries, spinal cord injuries, broken bones, lacerations and death. When victims survive, they may require medical care, have to take time off from work and suffer other financial losses.

Always learn your legal rights after an injury. For a free legal consultation, call our car accident attorneys at 800-379-1244 or 617-723-7676. You can also use our contact form.

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Snow shoveling

As we negotiate the season’s first snow, there are many warnings: give yourself extra time, drive slowly and clear your car, front steps and driveway.

Remember these precautions in coming days and weeks, especially if you are a property owner. In Massachusetts, property owners have a duty to use reasonable care in clearing snow and ice so no one is injured. Papadopoulos v. Target Corp., 457 Mass. 368 (2010). Where there was once a distinction between “natural” and “unnatural” snow accumulations, there is no longer. The best way to keep your property safe is keep up with each snow fall. Frequently inspect your property throughout the season.

Snow and ice injuries can be serious, requiring months or more to heal. Shoveling your driveway is your responsibility as a property owner and the right thing to do. No one wants to bear the guilt of causing another person injury. And no one wants to be held liable for someone else’s injury and have to pay financial damages.

At Breakstone, White & Gluck, our Boston personal injury lawyers have extensive experience handling premises liability cases, including snow and ice injuries caused by negligence. We share our cases as cautionary tales.

Slip and Fall on Icy Ramp at Commercial Property, $825,000 Settlement
Attorney Marc L. Breakstone successfully negotiated an out-of-court settlement for a client who suffered a serious fall on an icy handicap ramp. The ramp was on a commercial property. Our client suffered a trimalleolar fracture with ankle fusion and had to undergo multiple surgeries. Photos gathered in the case showed part of the handrail was actually missing prior to the accident and there was ice from a downspout. The case settled in favor of our client after two days of mediation. Attorney Breakstone had engaged an engineering expert and meteorology expert to testify had the case gone to court.

Heavy Snow Collapse Causes Traumatic Brain Injury, Undisclosed Settlement After 4th Day of Trial
Attorney Ronald E. Gluck successfully negotiated a settlement for our client, who was injured when heavy snow collapsed suddenly from a commercial warehouse roof onto her vehicle. The defendants – the property owner, the property management company and the company which leased the warehouse – had neglected their duty to clear the snow and provide a safe environment. The case went to Middlesex Superior Court, where Attorney Gluck presented testimony from multiple expert witnesses, including a neurologist and  a meteorologist, in support of his client’s case. Each day, the defendants made an offer to settle the case. After the fourth day, Attorney Gluck’s client accepted an offer that represented an 800 percent increase from the pre-trial offer.

Free Legal Consultation – Breakstone, White & Gluck

Breakstone, White & Gluck brings more than 100 years combined legal experience to those injured by negligence in Massachusetts. We represent clients across Massachusetts, including in Boston and Cambridge; Saugus and the North Shore; Brockton and Plymouth; Cape Cod; Framingham and MetroWest; and Worcester and Central Massachusetts.

If you have been injured as a result of someone else’s negligence, learn your rights. Contact Breakstone, White & Gluck for a free legal consultation with one of our personal injury attorneys. Call 800-379-1244 or 617-723-7676. You can also use our contact form.

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little-girl-facebook-square-1200Many children are asking for tablets, video games and digital toys this holiday season. Before you buy, really learn what you are introducing – and our suggestion is consider waiting. This year, companies such as Google were pressured to change their data collection practices. In 2020, we may just see some change from other companies, too. Continue reading

20 mph speed limit

Drivers, double check your speed next time you visit Cambridge. In mid-November, the city plans a slow down to 20 mph on most city-owned streets. The city says, when in doubt, go 20 mph. 

The City of Cambridge announced the new 20 mph speed limit this week, a decision made in response to residents’ concerns about speeding vehicles and the risk for pedestrian accidents and injuries to cyclists. Cambridge follows Boston and Somerville in pursuing 20 mph speeds on certain city streets. Each city has a VisionZero safety campaign and is working to eliminate traffic fatalities. 

Cambridge first lowered speed limits from 30 to 25 mph on most city-owned streets in December 2016. The Massachusetts Legislature granted cities and towns this authority earlier that year with passage of the Municipal Modernization Law. Specifically, communities were given the authority to lower speeds from 30 to 25 mph in locally-owned thickly settled areas.

In response, dozens of communities adopted 25 mph speed limits to reduce the risk of accidents. Few have pursued 20 mph – yet.

But according to the City of Cambridge’s announcement, the law allows communities to establish 20 mph “safety zones” in the interest of public safety. Cambridge will be installing 660 new “safety zone” signs. 

The City of Somerville has also taken advantage of this provision of the law. Last we knew, the City of Boston – which was the first to pursue 25 mph, then 20 mph speeds – was still working on the issue. Here is our last update on Massachusetts speed limits  (though please note: there may have been additional action since then).

Check a street: Not every street in Cambridge will be impacted. Larger streets like Brattle Street and Cambridge Street will stick with current speeds. Roads under state management – such as Memorial Drive – will not change. You can check out the map here: www.cambridgema.gov/20mph.

It’s worth noting Cambridge’s squares – including Harvard Square, Lechmere Square and Porter Square – won’t see any change. The city lowered speeds to 20 mph back in early 2018.

Cambridge’s Influence on Traffic Safety

Cambridge has been ambitious in making traffic safety improvements. In addition to lowering speeds, the city announced a new City Safety Ordinance earlier this year. The city made the commitment to add permanent separated bike lanes whenever it reconstructs roads identified in the Cambridge Bicycle Plan. With full build out, this would give the city an impressive 20 miles of protected bike lanes. Cambridge Bicycle Safety, a local group, said this could reduce 40 percent of Cambridge bicycle accidents, the one which occur outside intersections.

The city, while committed, does concede there may be cases when these bike lanes aren’t possible due to road conditions.

The bottom line is Cambridge has such a strong influence on transportation in the Boston region, just by virtue of its geography. It borders Somerville, Boston, Arlington, Belmont and Watertown. And because it’s one of the largest cities in Massachusetts, its work to promote safety will be watched across the state and nationally.

Free Legal Consultation – Boston Pedestrian Car Accident Lawyers

Breakstone, White & Gluck has represented accident victims in Boston, Cambridge and across Massachusetts since 1992. Our attorneys are dedicated to our clients and our results. We provide the prompt and thorough investigation required after pedestrian car accidents and bicycle crashes

If you have been injured by a driver, we offer a free legal consultation to advise you on whether you may pursue a financial claim for your injuries and other losses. Consult one of our personal injury attorneys today at 800-379-1244 or 617-723-7676. You can also use our contact form.

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doctor with a patient at a Boston hospital

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

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

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

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

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

From the report:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

About Breakstone, White & Gluck

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

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

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easthampton

Breakstone, White & Gluck’s Project KidSafe campaign donated nearly 200 youth bicycle helmets in Westborough this year. Our attorneys are committed to preventing head injuries and for 5 years, have partnered with the Westborough Bicycle & Pedestrian Advisory Committee to bring helmets to children who need one. (File photo: From a May 2016 Project KidSafe event in Western Mass).

We are glad the weather held off!

For the fifth year, Breakstone, White & Gluck and our Project KidSafe campaign donated nearly 200 children’s bicycle helmets in Westborough. Last Spring, about 100 helmets were distributed by the Boroughs Family Branch of the YMCA of Central Massachusetts. The helmets went to children who needed one at the annual Healthy Kids Day. But thanks to Mother Nature, giving away the rest was more challenging.

First, unseasonable weather forced the the Rotary Club of Westborough to cancel the Spring Fest. On Saturday, it looked like the back-up plan – to hold a Fall Fest – was also in jeopardy. But we are happy to report the skies cleared enough for activities to go on. Our thanks to members of the Westborough Bicycle & Pedestrian Advisory Committee, who were out fitting our Project KidSafe helmets for the kids and talking to families about the importance of wearing them.

Wearing a helmet is critical for cyclists of any age. A helmet can limit the impact if a cyclist falls and significantly reduce the chances of a head injury. In Massachusetts, cyclists under 17 are required to wear helmets when they ride. The Boston personal injury lawyers at Breakstone, White & Gluck began our Project KidSafe campaign to put helmets on more children and to encourage children and families to wear one at all times. Our lawyers have represented many cyclists who have suffered head injuries in bicycle accidents over the years, and we know that cyclists can protect themselves by wearing a helmet, which is in good condition, meets safety standards set by the Consumer Product Safety Commission and properly fits.

That’s why Breakstone, White & Gluck founded our Project KidSafe campaign in 2013. As we near the end of 2018, our attorneys are proud to have donated over 20,000 bicycle helmets across Massachusetts. We have partnered with more than 40 organizations over the years and it’s one of our priorities to support local bicycle committees, which are making Massachusetts safer one project at a time. In Westborough, the committee has worked to improve pedestrian and bike signals and supported construction of bike paths. The Westborough Bicycle & Pedestrian Advisory Committee’s website provides resources for cyclists who want help getting around.

Read about the Westborough rotary’s Fall Fest in the Community Advocate newspaper.

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Thanks to MassBike for letting us show their terrific photos! MassBike hosted a bike rodeo this summer during the Lawrence Ciclovia. Breakstone, White & Gluck donated some of our bicycle helmets from our Project KidSafe campaign to Massachusetts Safe Routes to School this year. Our attorneys are pleased to see some of our helmets ended up at the Lawrence Ciclovia, when cyclists get to enjoy the open streets without any traffic.

Child riding around obstacle course at the Lawrence Ciclovia. Breakstone, White & Gluck, a Boston personal injury law firm, donated bicycle helmets for the kids.

Photo credit: MassBike

Children wearing Project KidSafe bicycle helmets at the Lawrence Ciclovia this summer. Breakstone, White & Gluck, a Boston personal injury law firm, donated the helmets as part of its Project KidSafe campaign.

Photo credit: MassBike

School bus with stop sign and lights

With students back to school in Massachusetts, local police departments are stressing safety around school buses while stepping up enforcement of drivers who fail to stop for pedestrians in crosswalks.

If a traffic enforcement sting came to your community, how many drivers would be stopped and cited for unsafe driving? Would you be among them?

We ask these questions as students head back to school across Massachusetts, in communities from Boston and Cambridge to Plymouth and Brockton to Worcester and Springfield.

Police departments across the state have set up traffic enforcement over the past few weeks, focusing on drivers who are not stopping for pedestrians in crosswalks and school buses. A few of the communities include New Bedford, Attleboro and South Boston.

In South Boston, the surveillance followed the tragic death of a 2-year-old in a traffic crash. The child was being pushed in a stroller on the sidewalk, when a van and car collided. The van plowed onto the sidewalk, injuring and ultimately killing the young boy. A day after the crash, the Boston Police Department and Massachusetts State Police set up a traffic enforcement initiative focusing on crosswalk enforcement, speeding and other unsafe driving behaviors. Within a few days, officers had issued approximately 500 citations for traffic violations. This is a very telling number, one Massachusetts drivers can’t ignore.

Breakstone, White & Gluck is a Boston law firm which specializes in personal injury, medical malpractice and car accident cases. Our firm is committed to safety for children, giving away over 20,000 bicycle helmets to children in Massachusetts through our Project KidSafe campaign. With experience representing clients who have been injured in pedestrian crosswalk accidents and other traffic crashes, we offer these tips for safe driving:

Slow down at crosswalks. Students who walk to school may have a crossing guard help them across the street. Always slow down as you approach crossing guards and children. Make eye contact with the crossing guard and assume you should stop. The crossing guard will wave you through when it’s safe to go.

But even when there is no crossing guard, drivers must stop for pedestrians in the crosswalk when there is a “Walk” or green signal. Other times, drivers have a responsibility to yield the right of way by slowing or stopping for pedestrians in the crosswalk. This includes times when pedestrians are in the crosswalk on the same side as the driver and when pedestrians are approaching from the other half of the lane and within 10 feet. There is a $200 fine for crosswalk violations in Massachusetts.

The best thing to do is approach crosswalks slowly and stop if you see anyone even near the entrance of the crosswalk. If you can, make eye contact with them, then wave for them to go. Depending on whether other cars stop, they may not be able to immediately cross. You may need to be patient for a few moments.

M.G.L. c.89 § 11 is the law governing pedestrian rights in crosswalks in Massachusetts. Read more about the law.

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