Articles Tagged with “personal injury”

Attorney Marc L. Breakstone helped deliver new bicycle helmets to Arlington fifth graders this week. He asked them to make a promise: to ride safely and always wear their helmets when riding to prevent head injuries.

“Now I’m not here to scare you. I’m here to inspire you, okay? … I want you all to be safe bicyclists,” Breakstone said.

These are the days when children just want to be outdoors, riding their bikes. We want them to enjoy the experience and always, always wear a bicycle helmet.

Breakstone, White & Gluck recently made bicycle helmet donations in Westborough, Lexington and Dorchester as part of our Project KidSafe campaign. We are committed to protecting young cyclists and are now in the fourth year of our campaign. Along the way, we have donated over 10,000 bicycle helmets to children who need one, with support from community groups, bicycle safety organizations, police departments and schools which organize bike helmet giveaways.

Wearing a properly fitted bicycle helmet is the best way for cyclists to protect themselves against head injuries from falls and bicycle accidents. Under the law, anyone who is 16 years of age or younger in Massachusetts is required to wear one while riding.

A front page story in Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly reported that judges in the Commonwealth have embraced attorney-panel voir dire. The process was introduced in February 2015 and in the first year, lawyers conducted panel voir dire in 14 percent of Superior Court jury trials.

Speaking at a recent Massachusetts Bar Association voir dire workshop organized by Attorney Marc L. Breakstone, Judge Maynard M. Kirpalani reported that just over 700 impanelments were conducted in a one-year period and 14 percent or roughly 100 cases employed panel voir dire. Some 56 percent involved attorney-conducted voir dire of individual jurors; and 30 percent were judge-only voir dire.
There was a pilot project for a group of judges to use panel voir dire in most cases, except for life-felony matters or cases with good cause not to use it. While 15 Superior Court judges were part of the program, 38 of the 80 judges ended up trying panel voir dire.

reza-breakstone-web.jpgBy Reza Breakstone

In a major victory for the rights of injured workers, the Supreme Judicial Court ruled today that pain and suffering damages, to which injured workers are entitled in their accident cases, are not subject to liens from workers’ compensation insurance companies. As a result of the ruling, workers will be able to keep more of their personal injury settlements and verdicts.

Until today, there was confusion over the relationship between workers’ compensation liens and damages paid by a third party to employees for worksite injuries. If an employee gets injured, he or she is entitled to workers’ compensation for lost wages, medical bills, and other specific damages. But workers’ compensation insurance does not pay for pain and suffering damages.

20151201 trampoline.jpg

Each year, the 10 Worst Toys list is released to help holiday shoppers steer clear of unsafe toys. This year, the authors warn shoppers about everything from trampolines, popular movie toys and playsets which have small choking hazards.

The annual list is compiled by W.A.T.C.H. This year’s list includes:

Skipit’s Wheely Cute Pull Along
Every child loves a cute puppy, but this toy has hub caps which come off the wheels and pose choking hazards for young children. This product is marketed to children six months and older and is made by Bunnies By The Bay. Certain lots of this product were actually recalled on June 16, 2015. However, W.A.T.C.H. reported a similar toy was purchased online after the recall, so this risk may still be on the market.

Foam Dart Gun
This gun is manufactured by G.D. Jiefeng Toys and is marketed to children ages 3 and up. It is sold on Amazon.com and Ebay. W.A.T.C.H. says, “In today’s world, there is no excuse for outfitting children with realistic toy weapons designed to produce potentially dangerous and unnecessary thrills. Existing regulations addressing the hazards associated with such ‘toys’ are inadequate.”

Stats 38″ Quick Folding Trampoline
Toys R Us manufactures and sells this trampoline, which is marketed to age 6 and older. Trampolines are associated with spinal cord injuries and this one even has a warning stating, “Landing on the head or neck can cause serious injury, paralysis, or death, even when landing in the middle of the bed.”

Splat X Smack Shot
This $10 toy looks fun, but it actually poses the potential for serious eye injuries to the child using the toy and others around him. The toy, which is made by Imperial Toy LLC, comes with ammunition with can fire up to 100 feet away. It is sold at Walmart, Amazon.com and Kmart.

Poo-Dough
This $4.99 toy was included in W.A.T.C.H.’s list because it only has an allergy notice on part of the packaging.

Kick Flipper
This is basically a plastic board marketed as a “skateboard without wheels.” The packaging shows pictures of children using the Kick Flipper as they would a skateboard, but they are not wearing helmets or safety gear.

Leonardo’s Electronic Stealth Sword
This toy can cause facial and other impact injuries. It is manufactured by Playmates international Company Ltd and marketed to children ages 4 and up. It is sold by Toys R Us, Amazon and Ebay.

Kid Connection Doctor Play Set
This $5 play set is sold at Wal-Mart, Amazon.com and Ebay. It is recommended for children ages 2 and up, but includes a small “tongue depressor,” which is 4 ¾ inches in length and could cause a choking hazard.

Pull Along Zebra
This toy poses a strangulation risk. It has a 21-inch cord and is marketed for children 12 to 36 months old. The toy is made by Early Learning Centre and sold at Amazon.com, Kmart, Brookstone and Village Toy Shop. It carries this warning: “Remember babies and young children have no idea what is dangerous or potential harmful, so supervision is important…”

Jurassic Word Velociraptor Claws
This $19.99 toy is marketed to 4-year-olds who want to “claw like a raptor!” The packaging warns there is a choking hazard and small parts will be generated. There are no warnings about potential facial or eye injuries. The claws were manufactured by Hasbro and are sold by Target, Amazon.com, Toys R Us, Walmart and Kohl’s.

Read more on the 10 Worst Toys of 2015 List.

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cyclist-pedestrians.jpgSafety for pedestrians and drivers was in the spotlight this winter, as Boston endured a record snow fall and everyone stood divided by the tallest of snowbanks. Now, as the snow starts to melt, cyclists are back out too and we want to take a moment to share a few safety reminders.

Safety was a priority this winter because Massachusetts saw many car accidents, even though state officials called multiple snow emergencies, and many schools closed, to keep the roads clear. We also saw at least two fatal pedestrian accidents. In Weymouth, a woman was hit and killed by a snow plow as she walked in the parking lot of her condominium complex. A 60-year-old employee at a Medford Whole Foods store also was killed, hit by a snow plow in the parking lot, leaving after his work shift.

Safety advocates made progress on protecting cyclists and pedestrians in 2014. This will serve as a strong foundation as we dig out from this harsh winter. In Boston, the city has implemented a truck safety ordinance, requiring that city-contracted trucks use sideguards and other protections aimed at protecting pedestrians and cyclists.

MassBike and other safety advocacy groups have also proposed new legislation which may get attention after this hard winter. If passed, the Bike Lane Protection Bill would make it illegal to block established bike lanes. The Vulnerable Road Users Bill would define pedestrians, cyclists, emergency personal and others as vulnerable road users and define a safe-passing distance for them.

Here are a few safety tips and facts to remember for pedestrians, cyclists and drivers:

Pedestrians

  • Pedestrian accidents are too common. On average, in 2013, a pedestrian was killed every two hours and injured every eight minutes in traffic crashes, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
  • Walk on the sidewalks whenever possible. If a street only has sidewalks on one side, cross over.
  • If you have to walk on the street, walk so you are facing oncoming motor vehicle traffic. Walk as close as you can to the curb to increase the space between you and traffic.
  • Use crosswalks whenever they are available.
  • Limit use of cell phones, iPods and music players.
  • A common misperception is most pedestrian accidents happen at intersections. That is not true. Some 69 percent of pedestrian accidents occurred at non-intersections in 2013, according to the NHTSA.
  • Some 10 percent of pedestrian accidents happened off the road, in areas such as parking lanes/zones, bicycle lanes, shoulders/roadsides, driveway access and similar areas.
  • In the Spring of 2013, most pedestrian fatalities, 25 percent, occurred between 9 to 11:59 p.m., according to the NHTSA. Another 22 percent occurred between 6 to 8:59 p.m.
  • If you walk at night, purchase a neon glow vest so you stand out to traffic. Even if you never wear it, it pays to be prepared.

Bicyclists

  • Wear a bike helmet which meets the safety standard of the Consumer Product Safety Commission and properly fits.
  • Cyclists follow different rules than pedestrians. Go with the flow of traffic, traveling in the same direction as cars, on the right side of the road. Up to two cyclists can ride in the middle of the traffic lane abreast if necessary to stay safe, but you should move back onto the side of the road single file when you can safely do so.
  • State law prohibits biking on sidewalks in business districts. Not every city and town has a designated business district. But assume you are not allowed to ride on the sidewalk or ask the local police department for guidance.
  • Cyclists must use hand signals to communicate to drivers, unless it would be unsafe to do so. You can view this video to learn the proper hand signals. Cyclists should also use a bell to let pedestrians know they are approaching.
  • Watch out for dooring. This is when a car parks and the driver opens their door and hits you as you pass through. It is against the law, but it happens often.
  • You are required to use a white headlight and red taillight or rear reflector if you ride anytime from a half hour after sunset until a half hour before sunrise.
  • If you ride at night, consider purchasing a neon safety vest or clothing so you are more visible drivers..
  • If you are involved in a bicycle accident, file a police report, even if you do not think you are seriously injured at first.
  • Many drivers may not stop after cycling accidents. If you are hit and the driver does not stop, immediately contact police and file a police report.

Motor Vehicle Drivers

  • Look for cyclists and pedestrians at every intersection and yield to them.
  • Drivers must pass bicyclists at a safe distance. If you cannot, you must wait until it is safe to do so or change lanes.
  • Obey all traffic laws and signals. Look for areas designated as school zones. Reduce your speed and take extra care on these roads.
  • Do not park in bike lanes.
  • Do not use your cell phone in the car. It is against the law in Massachusetts for drivers to text and drive, but the best practice is not to use it for telephone calls or other reasons either. It only takes a few seconds to cause a distracted driving car accident.
  • A very dangerous practice is dooring. This is when a driver parks their car and opens the door without looking and hits an oncoming cyclist. It is against the law and violators can be fined. But drivers may also face a steeper penalty, a personal injury lawsuit, because cyclists can be seriously injured and the injuries can require months of recovery and hospital bills.

More Cycling Safety Resources

These are just a few rules of the road. To learn more, visit:

Shifting Gears: Bicyclists and Public Safety. Produced by MassBike, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and the Boston Police Department.

Bike Safety in Massachusetts, Breakstone, White & Gluck.

What Every Massachusetts Bicyclist Needs to Know About Car Insurance, Breakstone, White & Gluck.

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The Boston Bikes’ Roll It Forward program has kicked off another season of important and fun work. On Tuesday, Roll It Forward gave away 59 refurbished bikes to children ages 5-7 who needed one. The donation was part of “Bike Day” at the West Broadway housing development in South Boston and is one of many Boston Bikes will organize this year.

Children at the housing development were asked in advance if they wanted to receive a bike. On Tuesday, they waited in line, got to choose a new bike helmet, and then were presented with a bicycle refurbished just for them. They also got to meet Boston Mayor Martin Walsh, who helped hand out bikes and played basketball with the kids.

From there, the children got to practice on an obstacle course with help from volunteers, as their parents, grandparents and friends cheered them along. There was plenty of activity for other cyclists too. Boston Bikes was selling $5 subsidized memberships for the Hubway bike share program and provided free safety inspections for 31 cyclists. Another 10 residents used the event to give back, by donating their own bikes to help Roll It Forward.

chevy-cobalt.jpgToyota issues its second largest safety recall ever while GM CEO addresses Congress and Mazda reports a new web of problems

Toyota has more bad news for drivers. Just a few weeks ago, Toyota agreed to pay a record $1.2 billion criminal penalty to the federal government. The Japanese automaker, which has recalled over 9 million vehicles worldwide in recent years, recalled another 6.4 million vehicles on Wednesday for steering, airbag and other safety defects. This is the company’s second largest single recall announcement. Toyota states that it is not aware of any crashes or injuries involving these defects.

In March, Toyota agreed to pay the $1.2 billion criminal penalty to federal government for misleading consumers and the government about unintended acceleration in its cars and trucks. The Justice Department had charged Toyota with wire fraud, but agreed to defer the criminal charge for three years while the company submits to government monitoring.

This week’s recalls involve 27 Toyota models, including the RAV4 and Yaris. The largest recall involves 3.5 million vehicles which have defective spiral cables that can be damaged when the steering wheel is turned. Other defects involve a seat rail that can be pushed forward in a crash, as well as faulty steering column brackets, windshield wiper motors and engine starters.

GM ignition defects draw Congressional inquiry. Last week, General Motors CEO Mary Barra was questioned by Congress about faulty ignition switches in GM vehicles, and about her company’s slow response to protecting the public after learning about at least 13 deaths linked to the defect. GM has recalled over 2.5 million vehicles which may be equipped with the faulty ignition switch.

A week later, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is waiting on more answers from General Motors. It reports the company has failed to respond to more than a third of its written questions. The company is being fined $7,000 each day for failing to fully respond, and the NHTSA is expected to hand the matter over to the Justice Department shortly.

Spiders and hoses and gas, oh my! Mazda also issued a recall this week, one involving an unusual, but familiar safety problem. For the second time in three years, Mazda has recalled 42,000 Mazda6 sedans. This recall involved vehicles from 2010, 2011 and 2012.

The problem is the yellow sac spider. The spiders are attracted to the smell of gasoline and can weave a web in the evaporative fuel hose, causing pressure to build up in the fuel tank. Too much pressure can cause fuel tank cracks, leaks and fires.

In 2011, Mazda had recalled 65,000 Mazda6s from 2009 and 2010 for this defect. The car manufacturer attempted to remedy the defect by installing a spring inside the vehicle’s fuel line, but recently reported nine cases in which this was not adequate. The company is not aware of any fires due to the defect, but will now notify car owners. The remedy requires checking of the evaporative canister vent line and software reprogramming.
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Last weekend, two young children in Franklin tragically died after getting trapped in a defective wooden hope chest during a game of hide and seek. The chest was one of 12 million manufactured by the Lane furniture company of Virginia between 1912 and 1987.
Attorney David White from the Boston product liability firm, Breakstone, White & Gluck, commented on ways consumers can avoid injuries from defective products, including second-hand goods.

According to reports, the Franklin children were probably playing a game when they got into the chest and the lid closed. The lid automatically latched shut when closed and could not be opened from the inside. When the family purchased the second-hand chest 15 years ago, they had no warning of the defect or the fact that the product had been recalled.

Boston News, Weather, Sports | FOX 25 | MyFoxBoston

The chests were recognized as defective after four children were trapped in them and died prior to 1996, leading to a product recall 1997. In 2001, Lane paid a $900,000 civil penalty to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) to settle claims that it had provided late notice of the deaths to those four children.

Even after the recall, probably six million of the chests still have the defective locks. Although there have been sporadic efforts to notify the public of this widespread and serious hazard, it is not clear how aggressively Lane has tried to make sure the defective latches are either removed or replaced.

White, a Boston attorney who specializes in injury and liability cases, said companies have a responsibility to inform clients of recalls and stores have a responsibility not to sell recalled products, but sometimes consumers still do not receive notice, including in cases involving products purchased in second-hand stores. He said defective products are causing injury.

White told Fox 25 that the problem is no one registers a hope chest with a company as they would an electronic product such as a new television. His safety tips:

1) Consumers can learn what hazard signs to look for in products and remove unsafe products on their own, even if they have not been recalled.

2) A few products to watch carefully:

  • Cribs, car seats, bassinets, strollers and other products which hold babies.
  • Products with small pieces that break off.
  • Novelty toys with magnets which children can easily swallow. These have been recalled.

3) Consumers can check the CPSC website for recalls.

4) Read age-appropriate labels on toys. Your younger children may not be old enough to play with their older siblings’ toys.
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car-snow-200.jpgWinter is almost here! We have already seen the first snow flurries in Massachusetts, and it is time for drivers to get prepared for winter driving.

Each year, over 1,300 people are killed and more than 116,800 people are injured in car crashes on snowy, slushy or icy pavement, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation. During snowfall, nearly 900 people are killed in accidents and 76,000 are injured.

Stay safe on the roads this winter. Our Boston car accident lawyers share these tips:

Slow Down! Reduce your speed. When it snows, if you are traveling the speed limit, you are probably traveling too fast for road conditions and are at risk for causing a car accident.

Leave Extra Distance. It takes longer to stop on snowy and icy roads. Increase your following speed to 10 seconds.

Clear Snow and Ice. Make sure your car and windows, including your headlights and turn signals, are free from all snow and ice when you drive.

Gas. Keep your gas tank at least half-full throughout the winter.You will be prepared in case of a serious storm, and you can make sure your gas lines do not freeze up.

Check Your Tires. Inspect your tire tread to make sure your tires are ready for winter. Also, check your tire pressure once a month in the winter.

Exhaust. Keep your exhaust pipe clear of snow.

Practice After the First Snow Storm. On the first icy, snowy day, find a big parking lot that is empty and practicing your skills for handling skids.Teach the new drivers in your home to control a skid the first chance you get.

Highways. If the roads are still being cleared, travel in the lane which has most recently been plowed and avoid changing lanes.

No Cruise Control. Do not use cruise control on slippery roads.

Pedestrians. Remember you may not be able to see pedestrians around snow banks. Reduce your speed and take an extra minute to check for them at intersections.

Check Your Auto Insurance. Check your auto insurance policy. Many people do not have enough insurance to pay their medical bills if they were injured on the road. A few important coverage types to ask your agent about: Underinsured, Uninsured and Medical Payments coverages. Read our attorneys’ article.
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