Attorney Marc L. Breakstone has settled a wrongful death case involving a crash at a shopping plaza which failed to protect pedestrians. He has settled the case for the victim’s family for $2.15 million.
The settlement is a reminder that retail property owners have a responsibility to take adequate steps to protect customers and other pedestrians in Massachusetts.
Our client was a 73-year-old man who was killed in 2015. That November, he had been leaving a store with a friend and was hit and killed by an 87-year-old driver. The driver had suddenly and unexpectedly accelerated through the parking lot and onto the sidewalk. Our client died immediately from his injuries, while his friend and another pedestrian were also injured.
Attorney Breakstone conducted a thorough investigation into the crash, which was captured on multiple surveillance cameras. Evidence suggested the elderly driver hit the accelerator instead of the brake.
As his investigation developed, Attorney Breakstone determined the owner of the shopping plaza had failed to provide adequate protections for pedestrians in the spot where our client was killed. This was significant because the owner had taken care to set up protections in other areas. Over the years, more than 30 bollards had been placed at the rear and side of the shopping building. Bollards had also been installed in front of another retail store, but not where the accident occurred.
Had the case gone to trial, Attorney Breakstone was prepared to call an engineering expert to testify that this was a breach of industry standards for providing safe walkways.
Read more about this case on our website.
About Attorney Marc L. Breakstone
Attorney Breakstone has established a reputation as one of the top personal injury lawyers in Massachusetts and New England. He has been recognized as a Top 100 New England Super Lawyer, a Top 100 Massachusetts Super Lawyer and a Massachusetts Super Lawyer in Plaintiff’s Medical Malpractice. Read his bio.
The mayor of Brockton has announced a plan to improve safety for those walking in the city. The city has seen an increase in pedestrian accidents, which have recently killed 8 pedestrians and injured 75 others. Seven of the eight pedestrian deaths have occurred since August 12.
Two victims were children, and in one case, police are still searching for the hit-and-run driver. In 2013, the city saw one fatal pedestrian accident.
Mayor Bill Carpenter proposed the safety plan on Monday, which draws on resources from a number of state and local agencies, including the Massachusetts State Police, Brockton Police, the city’s Board of Health, the Massachusetts Department of Transportation, the Safe Routes Alliance and Brockton Area Transit.
His plan will focus on three areas: engineering, enforcement and education. Some of the measures still require approval from the city Finance Committee.
Educational Awareness Campaign. The city will launch a pedestrian safety awareness campaign to educate both drivers and pedestrians. One focus will be to reduce use of electronic devices and cell phones by everyone on the road. Public service announcements, video documentaries and other safety materials will be introduced to students in Brockton Public Schools.
Increased Walking Patrols. These will be expanded in high-traffic areas, to allow officers to provide pedestrians and cyclists with safety information when they put themselves in harm’s way.
Increased Traffic Patrols in High-Crash Areas. The Massachusetts State Police will work with Brockton to increase patrols in high traffic areas.
Scarecrow Patrol Cars. Brockton Police will deploy “scarecrow” cruisers at some dangerous intersections. These have no officers, but are meant to put drivers who do not know that on alert.
Clearing Sidewalks. The city’s Board of Health will conduct enforcement to make sure sidewalks are clear and can be safely used by pedestrians.
Traffic Signals. The city will consider adding pedestrian countdown features to the traffic signals on Belmont Street. At the same time, the Mass Department of Transportation is now conducting a review of traffic signals across the city.
Brockton is not the only community which has seen an increase in pedestrian accidents. Nationwide, fatal pedestrian accidents increased 6 percent from 2011 to 2012, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s most recent figures. More than 33,000 were killed or about one every two hours.
A 50-year-old Lowell man walking on West Sixth Street was killed early Sunday morning in a hit-and-run pedestrian accident. The previous day, a 57-year-old Townsend man was killed on Wallace Hill Road in that community. On Sept. 9, a 38-year-old man walking with his girlfriend’s young daughter was killed when he was struck by a Dodge Ram pick-up truck in Whitman. The 4-year-old was also hit and survived with serious injuries.
In the past month, pedestrians have also suffered serious injuries in car collisions in Northborough, Salem and Woburn.
When a pedestrian accident occurs, police often respond by increasing traffic monitoring as a signal to drivers that they are watching. When drivers take that message and pedestrians follow the rules of the road, the roads become safer for everyone. The attorneys at Breakstone, White & Gluck of Boston have over 85 years of combined experience handling car accident and pedestrian accident cases. We offer you these tips to stay safe on the road:
Tips for Pedestrians
Sidewalks. Use sidewalks as much as possible.
Understand the law. You have the most protection in crosswalks and intersections with “Walk” signals. Use these as much as possible.
Be patient. Resist the urge to cross the street before a “Walk” signal lights.
Pay attention. Do not talk on your cell phone or text while waiting to cross the street or when walking through traffic.
Wear bright colors. When walking or running at night or in the early morning, consider wearing a neon vest and carrying a flashlight.
Time of day. Be aware of when pedestrian accidents often occur. On weekdays, they are most likely to occur between 4 p.m. and midnight, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). On weekends, the majority occur between 4 p.m. and 4 a.m.
Shopping areas. Pedestrian accidents can happen in parking lots at shopping areas and schools as well as on streets. Walk slowly and watch for cars pulling out of spaces.
Eye contact. When you are uncertain about what a driver is planning, attempt to make eye contact.
Tips for Drivers
Crosswalks. Pedestrian have the right of way. They have the most protection in crosswalks and intersections with “Walk” signals and green lights. You must stop before the crosswalk and not on it, even if no one is crossing it.
Slow down. Slowing your speed and looking out for pedestrians and bicyclists are the best way to avoid a car accident.
No texting while driving. This is against the law in Massachusetts and reduces your ability to react to other drivers, bicyclists and pedestrians.
Avoid other distractions. Limit distractions, such as talking on your cell phone, grooming and extensive use of the GPS and maps.
Change your travel route. Ask yourself if you can change your travel plans to reduce encounters with pedestrians. Maybe you can avoid school zones when classes are in session or dark roads when runners and walkers may be traveling.
School zones and buses. Drive slowly. In Massachusetts, the speed limit for school zones is 20 miles per hour. Remember you are required to stay 100 feet behind a stopped bus and cars are not allowed to pass other cars stopped for a school bus.