Stay vigilant about smoke alarms and protect your family this winter. This coming Sunday – November 7th – Daylight Saving Time ends. As you set your clocks back, we encourage you to also test your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors.
It is critical that your smoke alarms work as we approach winter, when we spend more time indoors, cook for the holidays and there is a greater risk for home fires and fire injuries.
Half of All Massachusetts Fire Deaths Occur in Homes Without Working Smoke Alarms
In 2020, half of all Massachusetts fire deaths occurred in homes without working smoke alarms, the state fire marshal’s office announced earlier this year. This was based on preliminary data.
End-of-year data showed there were 29,641 fires across Massachusetts in 2020, a 16 percent increase over 2019. The number of civilian deaths rose from 39 in preliminary data to 44, up from 42 in 2019. There were 245 civilian injuries and 594 fire service injuries in 2020. Smoking was the leading cause of residential fire deaths in Massachusetts, followed by electrical and cooking fires.
The traditional reminder has been to replace your home’s smoke alarm batteries twice a year – at the start and end of Daylight Saving Time. You should still do so if your smoke alarms operate on regular batteries.
But in 2016, the state of Massachusetts updated the fire safety requirements, steering more homeowners toward newer smoke alarms designed to last 10 years without a battery change. So not everyone needs to change their smoke alarm batteries.
Testing is still essential. If a fire breaks out, you may have seconds to escape and your smoke alarm has to work for you, your family, loved ones and roommates. Commit to test your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors monthly and twice a year when you change the clocks for Daylight Saving Time. This is a simple step – just press the test button.
Read Your Product Manual and Learn the Sounds of Your Smoke Alarm
Read your smoke alarm product manual. Make sure you recognize how the alarm sounds – when it chirps to alert you of failing batteries and in an actual emergency. If you do not know, search for the product information online or call the manufacturer. The Massachusetts State Fire Marshal’s office also shared safety tips as part of Fire Prevention Week earlier this month. The theme was “Learn the Sounds of Fire Safety,” the sound of your smoke alarms.
Involve other family members in this, especially older adults. Those 65 and older are highly vulnerable when fires break out, accounting for more than 40 percent of all fire deaths in Massachusetts during 2020, according to the state fire marshal’s office. Older adults may seem healthy, but they may suffer from a medical condition they haven’t shared or side effects to medication. Another potential barrier is untreated hearing loss.
One in three people between age 65 and 74 suffer from hearing loss, according to the National Institute on Aging. When they get older, nearly half of all adults age 75 and older have difficulty hearing. Step in and help older adults. Offer to take them to their primary care doctor and learn about smoke alarms for those who are deaf or have difficulty hearing.
Check for Smoke Alarm Recalls
Unfortunately, like other products, there are times when smoke alarms are recalled due to defect. In May 2020, the Consumer Product Safety Commission announced the recall of more than 220,000 Kidde TrueSense Smoke Alarms and Combination Smoke/Carbon Monoxide Alarms. These alarms were newer models, sold between May 2019 and September 2020.
When you test the batteries at Daylight Saving Time, you can check the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) website for smoke alarm recalls. Take time for this, even if you have registered your smoke alarm with the manufacturer. While you are there, check for product recalls involving unsafe winter heating products, including electric blankets, space heaters, children’s pajamas and other products. This is an easy but important step for safety. If you own any of these products, take the recall seriously. Remove the defective product from your home now so no one reaches for it on a cold night.
One Survey: Many Americans Are Not Testing Smoke Alarm Batteries
While this is a simple step, not everyone is testing smoke alarms. Earlier this year, a Consumer Reports survey found roughly one-third of all Americans could not recall when they last tested their home’s smoke alarm. About 25 percent could not recall replacing their smoke alarm batteries, while more than half could not remember when they had installed the devices. But this doesn’t have to be the case. You can easily test your smoke alarm and pull out the product materials right now.
About Breakstone, White & Gluck – Boston Personal Injury Lawyers
At Breakstone, White & Gluck, our Boston personal injury lawyers have over 100 years combined experience representing those injured in premises liability accidents, construction accidents, structure fires and fires caused by landlord neglect. Our attorneys have represented clients, including college students, tenants and their families after serious injuries and wrongful death in fires.
If you or a loved one have been injured or killed in a fire, learn your legal rights. Contact our attorneys at Breakstone, White & Gluck at 800-379-1244 or 617-723-7676 or use our contact form.
If you have jumped on the Peloton bandwagon, you are not alone. But many parents are exercising with more caution this week after learning about a child’s tragic death on a Peloton treadmill. Consumers are being urged to keep children away from the fitness equipment, as the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) investigates.
Peloton Interactive, Inc. became a household name during the 2019 holiday season, with a tongue-in-cheek ad campaign that poked fun at a husband and his “Peloton wife.” Then the pandemic began and Peloton became the fast rising star of the fitness industry. Many rushed to set up a high-end stationary bike or treadmill right at home, then logged into the fun digital app.
Peloton’s CEO announced the child’s death on a Tread+ last week in a letter, revealing the company was also aware of a small handful of other Tread+ accidents involving children. While he cited no injuries in these cases, NBC later reported that another child, a 3-year-old boy, had suffered serious injuries after being found trapped under a Peloton Tread+.
According to SaferProducts.gov, the child’s father had found the boy trapped under a Peloton Tread+ in early February. Initially, he was not breathing and had no pulse. The boy suffered a significant brain injury, along with a neck injury and petechiae on his face, which can occur when one’s blood flow is blocked. Peloton learned about the incident from the CPSC and said the company’s heart went out to the family.
If you or your child has been injured by an unsafe product, you should receive immediate medical care and report your injury promptly to help warn others. You do not have to make a report on your own. Report the incident with guidance from an experienced product liability lawyer at Breakstone, White & Gluck, who can advise you of your legal rights.
This is a timely investigation and conversation. Many families have purchased fitness equipment to use from the convenience of their homes as they juggle family and work responsibilities under COVID-19 restrictions. As a result, treadmill sales rose over 120 percent between March and October 2020, according to the Washington Post. Stationary bike sales nearly tripled.
Treadmills, though a convenient way to exercise from your home and office, are associated with many fitness equipment injuries. Across the country, emergency rooms treated an estimated 22,500 treadmill-related injuries during 2019, according to the CPSC. Children under 8 suffered about 2,000 injuries. There were 17 fatal injuries on treadmills between 2018 and 2020, including a 5-year-old girl.
Using Treadmills Safely in Your Home
According to Consumer Reports, children ages 1 to 6 suffer the most treadmill injuries of any age. Older siblings can also be injured when they just want to try the equipment and interactive features that look like video games.
Consider that young children are often just learning how to ride their first bike and developing their coordination skills. They are not strong enough to use a heavy, mechanical piece of equipment, not even for just a moment under an adult’s supervision.
Treadmill companies have a duty to warn consumers about the potential harm to children and how to prevent injuries to children. Manufacturers also have to watch how they showcase fitness equipment in ads and commercials. If a consumer sees a bike set up in a living room or family space, this may leave the impression that this is safe near children and families.
You can take steps to protect your children by securing fitness equipment in a separate room, away from your children and pets. Just as important, remove the safety key when you are done using the treadmill and fold it up if possible.
Mechanical Defects and Other Issues with Treadmills
When you buy fitness equipment, you may wonder whether you will enjoy using it or if it will be worth the investment. No one expects to be injured or see their child injured.
Yet there are many defective and unsafe products sold each year. This includes defective equipment which should have never been sold due to defective design or manufacturing error. Injuries can also happen when a manufacturer fails to warn the consumer about unsafe use. Manufacturers have a duty to promptly report when their products cause injury or wrongful death.
Many treadmill injuries can be traced back to poor manufacturing. Consumers have no warning about mechanical problems, such as spinning belts and erratic motors, until they use the machines. As a result, a consumer can lose their stop or fall, first hitting a moving treadmill and suffering head injuries or skin lacerations.
Improper set up can also contribute to injuries. Treadmills should come with instructions on where to safely place the equipment in your home or office. When a user misses a step, they are much more likely to get caught in the tread mat or hit a wall if they do not have adequate space. Read the instructions carefully as treadmills can come in different weights and sizes at times. As a guide, consider the ASTM International treadmill recommendations are to leave at least 6 1/2 feet of free space behind the treadmill. There should be about 1 ½ feet on each side. But your model may have different specifications.
Incomplete or incorrect labeling is another source for fitness equipment injuries. Without proper warning, the consumer cannot make the best decision about whether the product is safe for purchase and use in their home environment.
In addition to larger fitness equipment, be aware of small accessory equipment. Weights, air-filled exercise balls and yoga straps all look simple to use. But these fitness products can be poorly made with cheap materials, making them unsafe for both children and adults.
In one recent case, one of our attorneys led an investigation and negotiations which resulted in a $1.15 million product liability settlement for our client.
Free Legal Consultation – Boston Defective Product Attorneys
Breakstone, White & Gluck of Boston is committed to providing our clients with aggressive and thorough representation. If you or someone in your family has been injured by an unsafe product, contact our product liability lawyers. We serve clients across Massachusetts, including in Boston, Cambridge, Waltham, Framingham, the North and South Shores, Cape Cod, Fall River and Worcester. For a free consultation, call 800-379-1244 or 617-723-7676 or use our contact form.
Each March, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) observes Brain Injury Awareness Month to highlight new research on injury prevention.
This is a good time for parents to reflect upon what you can do to protect yourselves and your children from a concussion. To start, you can purchase a bicycle helmet for your child and buckle them up in an age-appropriate car seat. Before you sign up for youth sports, really learn about the activity and consult your child’s pediatrician. The CDC recently shared this study, which suggests non-contact or flag football programs may be safer for children under 14 because there are fewer head impacts.
You can also commit to learn how to recognize the symptoms of a concussion so you can properly respond and seek medical attention for your child. This is an ongoing learning process which gets stronger, through conversation with your pediatrician, your child’s school and with your own family members.
Wear a Helmet. In Massachusetts, your child is required to wear a protective helmet while riding a bicycle or scooter. Read our blog, “How to Fit a Bicycle Helmet.” We also share some resources on Massachusetts helmet laws at the bottom of this webpage.
Massachusetts Concussion Protocol for Students. Before each season, your child’s middle or high school has a responsibility to share information about the Massachusetts youth sports concussion law with you.
Massachusetts law requires schools to develop concussion safety programs and provide training for students, parents, coaches and others on how to identify concussion symptoms. Schools must also explain the protocol for removing a student who has been injured from play.
Students suspected of having a concussion must see a doctor and must receive a doctor’s note before returning to practice or a game. It is essential to understand just how your school or coach will communicate with you.
No one ever wants to think about their child possibly suffering an injury. But the state protocol is largely about taking steps to prevent an injury and how to identify potential injuries. This is essential reading that will help you protect your child. Take time to read if even if you have already seen these materials in the past. Also take time to share and discuss this information with your spouse, baby sister or family members who care for your child.
Learn more about the Massachusetts concussion guidelines for student athletes and the CDC’s Heads Up Concussion page.
Commit to Watch for Symptoms. There are some situations when it is clear a parent should seek medical attention for their child. For instance, if your child’s school alerts you or if your child was injured in a car accident, those are your warnings.
However, the symptoms of a concussion may be less clear when children are injured while playing at home or other situations. To help you learn the signs, we have compiled a list of physical, emotional and sleep-related symptoms which may indicate you should contact your child’s pediatrician on our concussion webpage. These are compiled from the CDC web page on concussion symptoms.
Please consider the symptoms collectively, along with your child’s recent activities on the sports field or playing at home or with friends. If you have reason for concern, make the decision to contact your child’s pediatrician or visit the emergency room.
Free Legal Consultation – Boston Personal Injury Lawyers
At Breakstone, White & Gluck, our personal injury lawyers have extensive experience representing those who have suffered concussions, second-impact concussions and brain injuries. Over the past three decades, our attorneys have counseled and guided many clients to the financial results they need to recover from these complex injuries. For a free legal consultation, contact us at 800-379-1244 or 617-723-7676.
In addition to our work, Breakstone, White & Gluck works to help children and families protect against head injuries through our Project KidSafe campaign. We have proudly given away more than 30,000 bicycle helmets to children across Massachusetts. To learn more, visit www.bwglaw.com/bikes.
February has delivered perfect sledding weather for Massachusetts families. But before you head out with your children, remember the risk for injuries can rise during outdoor winter activities. Sledding, skating and skiing push our bodies beyond our daily routines as we face the elements of cold weather, snow and ice.
More than 20,000 children are treated for sledding injuries on average each year, according to the National Safety Council. Children can be injured when a sled hits a stationary object, in collisions with other sledders or by flipping or falling off their sled. Sledding accidents such as these can result in broken bones, lacerations, bruises, concussions, head injuries or more serious injuries.
You can protect your children by sledding with them and teaching them safety fundamentals by example. Please read our tips and enjoy a fun and safe sledding experience:
Choose a Safe Sledding Spot
After asking friends for suggestions and searching online, visit a few local sledding hills on your own, without your children. Walk to the top of the sledding area. Check your cell phone service from that point. Sledding hills may look similar, but they are not all equal. Choose a sledding area that is free from trees or rocks that could cause your child injury. Avoid hills that are too close to streets and parking lots.
Look for sledding hills that are snow-covered, not ice-covered.
A walkthrough is particularly useful for parents of young children, who are most vulnerable to the cold. Time your walk and compare this to your child’s regular play time in the snow and their physical capabilities. Think about whether your child can the hill – both the steepness for sledding and walking up the hill.
Sled During The Day. There is less visibility and colder temperatures at night. Your best approach is to sled during the day, when the sun is out.
Sled With Your Children and Supervise
Sled as a Family. Plan at least one sledding day for your family each year. Besides being a lot of fun, this will create special memories. Sledding is also great way to get some fresh air and exercise for children, which we all need during the winter months.
Sled with Your Child and Their Friends. If your child or teenager wants to sled with friends, go along and watch. Enjoy this time but consider it a parenting assignment. You should really watch them just as you would if they were swimming, with your full attention. Keep your cell phone and a first aid kit within reach.
Sledding Manners. Teach your children to use good manners on the sledding hill. Even if there are no formal rules posted, your children should walk up the hill along the side of the sledding area. When sledding, they should not overcrowd sledders or attempt to run into them on the course. Once they reach the bottom of the hill, children should step off their sled.
When children are having fun, they may not realize how cold they are or be able to tell you.
Before you sled, make sure your child is wearing a warm winter coat, snow pants, hats, gloves or mittens. Purchase waterproof clothing. Your child should be warm and clothes should fit comfortably.
Take scarves off children before sledding. Also remove strings from clothing and accessories which can cause strangulation or get caught while your child sledding.
Safe Sleds and Helmets
Wear a Helmet. Encourage children to be aware of their surroundings and stay in control of their sleds as a good starting point to safety. Parents should also buy young children helmets to protect against head injuries. The Consumer Product Safety Commission advises parents can purchase helmets which meet the ASTM F14922 or Snell N-942 safety standard. If you have questions, we suggest you check the CPSC website which offers guidance on helmet designs for different activities. Another resource is your pediatrician. Ask for their specific suggestion for protecting your child.
Check Your Sleds. If you see sharp edges or cracks, replace your child’s sled.
Purchase a Safe Sled. There are many types of sleds: snow tubes, saucers or toboggans. Read age recommendations and product safety labels. Look for sleds which can be steered or have handles. Specifically look for ropes. While many sleds come with ropes, you can purchase sleds without any to protect young children against strangulation or getting caught on something.
Before you purchase a sled, make sure to check the Consumer Product Safety Commission website for safety recalls. Sleds can be designed with defects, such as faulty brakes on higher end models.
No Make-Shift Sleds. Do not allow your child to make their own sled out of furniture, cardboard or household objects. These products are not designed to carry your children on the snow.
Safe Sledding Techniques
Sledding Techniques. Pull your sled up next to theirs and show your children how to ride their sleds safely. Children should generally sit, hold the handles and ride face-forward down the hill. They should not ride stomach down or face first because they could flip or fall off. This can cause serious head or spinal cord injuries.
Riding Alone or Together? It’s a lot of fun to sled with your children or watch them ride together. The key is to find the right sled for the right number of sledders. And of course, the right hill!
Adults can pull young children. But for the most part, children should sled alone as they get older. It is important for them to steer their own sleds and hold on for themselves.
If you want to purchase a sled or tube that carries more than one child or adult, that’s a special experience. Read the manufacturer’s age recommendations, safety warnings and instructions. Look for a few online videos.
Free Legal Consultation – Boston Personal Injury Lawyers
Breakstone, White & Gluck is pleased to share our sledding tips as part of our Project KidSafe campaign. Through Project KidSafe, our goal is to help families protect against child injuries.
Breakstone, White & Gluck is a top-rated Boston personal injury law firm, with more than 100 years combined experience. We represent clients in personal injury cases in Boston and across Massachusetts. If you have been injured by someone else’s negligence, contact us for a free legal consultation at 800-379-1244 or 617-723-7676 or use our contact form.
During the pandemic, pedestrians have outnumbered vehicles on the roads at times. If you look closely, you may see mostly large vehicles left behind, including commercial trucks, package delivery vans and SUVs.
Today, our Boston personal injury lawyers are writing about SUVs and pedestrians. Amid the pandemic, an important study was published by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), finding SUVs (or sports utility vehicles) cause more serious pedestrian injuries than cars. Researchers concluded automakers need to make design changes to protect pedestrians from increased fatalities.
Highlights from the 2020 study and report:
Drop in overall crashes. Overall, motor vehicle accident fatalities have dropped from more than 50,000 in 1980 to 36,560 in 2018.
Rise in pedestrian crashes. Meanwhile, one in five traffic crashes is now a pedestrian fatality. Pedestrians are more at risk now. The number of pedestrians hit by all vehicles rose a dramatic 53 percent from 2009 to 2018.
Study data. The study reviewed a sample of 79 crashes in Michigan, finding that SUVs caused more serious injuries to pedestrians than cars.
Speed. Below 20 mph, there was not a significant difference in the injuries caused by SUVs and cars.
More danger at higher speeds. When SUVs traveled 20 to 39 mph, 3 out of 10 SUV crashes ended in a pedestrian death. In comparison, 5 out of 22 cars caused a pedestrian fatality.
The IIHS has led several studies on SUVs and the dangers to pedestrians. One past study found that as pedestrian accidents overall have increased, many involve cars, but there was an 81 percent increase in SUVs causing fatal pedestrian accidents between 2009 and 2016.
There are more SUVs on the roads than ever, making it important to address the safety hazards to pedestrians. SUVs first outsold sedans in 2015, according to The New York Times. They continue to be the vehicle of choice for many Americans. In fact, SUVs accounted for up to 47.4 percent of all U.S. auto sales, according to an analyst quoted by the newspaper.
SUV Designs Are Now Being Made Safer for Drivers
What is notable about SUVs is manufacturers have already spent years adopting more “carlike designs” to protect SUV vehicle occupants. Manufacturers have lowered SUV bumpers and other features to align better with cars. The danger to pedestrians has not been addressed the same way.
According to the IIHS, SUVs can endanger pedestrians because of the overall shape of their front end. On many SUVs, the front end is solid and can have a double impact, striking the pedestrian at the pelvis or chest, just after the bumper hits the person’s lower body.
The IIHS now plans to look into the types of SUVs which caused injury in the Michigan study. Meanwhile, in Europe, manufacturers have already started to make use of safety features, such as pedestrian airbags.
A Note for SUV Drivers
Many of us own SUVs. If you purchase one in the future, be aware of the ongoing safety research and read about the specific features on the model you wish to purchase. You may have bought one 10 years ago and find this year’s model is not right for your family and where you live and work.
Consider Your Driving Routine. You want to back your SUV into your driveway as much as possible. This way you have a full view of traffic, cyclists and pedestrians when you leave. To do this safely, you will need a good backup camera. You may also need to make other enhancements to your property as well.
Your ability to back up safely is critical. Many SUV crashes happen as drivers back up and hit a pedestrian or a child playing.
Review Features. Read consumer ratings and reviews on the SUV you want to buy. Vehicles made after 2018 are required to come with backup cameras. Do not assume all backup cameras are equal. Read up on consumer ratings and reviews and test drive your SUV before finalizing the purchase.
Buying Used SUVs. Make sure to properly equip older SUVs with backup cameras and other safety gear.
Free Legal Consultation – Boston Pedestrian Accident Attorneys
At Breakstone, White & Gluck, our pedestrian accident lawyers offer a free legal consultation to determine whether you have a potential claim for your injury. Recognized by Top 100 New England Super Lawyers, we provide our clients with the highest quality representation and specialize in the areas of car accidents and pedestrian accidents, including SUV crashes resulting in serious injury.
If you have been injured, learn your legal rights. For a free legal consultation, contact our attorneys at 800-379-1244 or 617-723-7676 or use our contact form.
Breakstone, White & Gluck was pleased to be mentioned as a long-time supporter of Bikes Not Bombs in the organization’s December newsletter. Each year, Breakstone, White & Gluck donates bicycle helmets to support Bikes Not Bombs as part of our Project KidSafe campaign. This is one of our all-time favorite donations because Bikes Not Bombs gives the helmets we donate to children and teens who graduate from its Earn-A-Bike programs. If you are familiar with these classes, you know students work very hard learning how to build their own bike and are taught valuable cycling skills from experienced riders. It is our pleasure to send the students home with a new helmet to help them ride their new bikes safely.
We are already looking forward to making another donation in 2021!
Cyclists have something to look forward to this month. A long-time tradition will continue in Massachusetts: Bay State Bike Month. The schedule began on Sept. 1 and runs through the end of the month.
We encourage everyone who commutes to work to check out the schedule. Breakstone, White & Gluck usually participates in Bike Month activities in the Boston area and we have a lot of fun. We donate bicycle helmets to various events as part of our Project KidSafe campaign. Last year, Attorney David W. White was fitting helmets for commuters at Boston’s Bike to Work Festival at City Hall Plaza.
This is always a worthwhile opportunity to connect with other cyclists and learn about safe riding techniques. But we give cyclists a little more of a nudge this year, after so many of us have been isolated due to COVID-19.
Now in its 26th year, Bay State Bike Month is organized by MassBike, MassCommute and the Massachusetts Coalition of Transportation Management Associations. The goal is to promote cycling for commuting, fitness and recreation, and also introduce the activity to new riders. This year, the event was postponed from May to September due to COVID-19.
The schedule is lighter this year, but small and online events are being added daily. The signature event, MassCommute Bicycle Challenge, will still be held – though virtually – from Sept. 19 to 27. Get ready to log your miles.
While fewer cyclists may physically gather at events, we know many are interested in cycling and concerned about the risk for accidents. That’s why we want to share this video, “Safer Trucking in Changing Cities,” which was recently shared in the Somerville Bicycle Committee’s monthly newsletter. The video was funded by the Joe Lavins Fund for Bicycle Safety.
We encourage anyone interested in cycling on the road to watch this video and hear from local cyclists and safety advocates. They expertly describe safety conditions for cyclists in the Boston area and explain how truck drivers can reduce the risk for bicycle accidents. One topic was infrastructure. If you are new to cycling, it may be valuable to hear the cyclists explain some of the safety infrastructure cities have built in recent years. The cyclists explained how bike lanes, separated bike lanes and bike boxes at the top of intersections can protect cyclists – if truck drivers take the time to learn their responsibilities and give cyclists adequate space in these areas.
[vimeo 307147180 w=640 h=360]
About Breakstone, White & Gluck – Boston Personal Injury Attorneys
Breakstone, White & Gluck is an award-winning Boston law firm which specializes in personal injury law. With more than 100 years combined experience, our firm has represented drivers, passengers, cyclists and pedestrians injured by negligent driving in Massachusetts.
We have made a special commitment to bicycle safety in Massachusetts. Each year, we donate bicycle helmets to children as part of our Project KidSafe campaign, working in partnership with local police departments, bicycle committees and Massachusetts Safe Routes to School.
We proudly support MassBike as a business member. Our attorneys also work with MassBike to distribute our bicycle helmets as part of our Project KidSafe campaign.
It is important to maintain your yard and keep it safe at all times. But this summer, as Massachusetts recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic, more people will likely spend more time at home. This means you must take extra care in protecting your home, your family and neighbors from common backyard injuries, such as falls, dog bite injuries and swimming pool accidents.
In Massachusetts, homeowners have a duty to make a reasonable effort to keep their property reasonably safe so lawful visitors are not injured. When a homeowner fails to maintain their property and someone is injured, this may result in a premises liability claim.
When children are involved, homeowners have a greater duty. Under attractive nuisance laws, property owners may be held liable if a young child is injured by an unsafe condition on their property, even if the child is trespassing. These laws recognize that children may not understand potential dangers or that they are trespassing.
Massachusetts Attractive Nuisance Law
M.G.L. c. 231, § 85Q states that a person who maintains an artificial condition upon his own land shall be liable for physical harm to children trespassing thereon under certain conditions.
A landowner can be held liable in part if they knew a child was likely to trespass or reasonably should have known, and if the landowner knew or reasonably should have known there was an unreasonable risk of death and serious bodily harm to children.
Protect Your Front and Backyard This Summer
Protect Your Pool
In Massachusetts, homeowners must enclose pools with fences which are a minimum of four feet and taller if necessary for safety. The fence should have a self-latching, self-closing gate and lock at least four feet off the ground. These requirements are meant to protect young children, as well as your lawful guests by slowing access down to your pool. A few steps you can take to secure your pool:
How old is your pool lock? Carefully inspect the integrity of your pool lock.
Inspect your fence. The Consumer Product Safety Commission published this pool safety guide on different types of fences and key specifications, such as how much space you should have between and under the fence panels. See page 6.
Consider a pool alarm. Your fence is your primary defense to keep young children out of your pool. Children can move quickly and drown silently, before you even know they have found their way into your pool. An alarm can help you respond quickly.
Think “layers of protection.” Planting large shrubs in front of your pool fence is one way to slow children down; another added benefit is children won’t be able to see the pool and are likely to forget about it.
At the end of the day: Cover your pool. Remove pool ladders and floats from the pool area and out of sight of children.
Restrain Your Dog
As a dog owner, you have a responsibility to take care of your pet, including to feed it and make sure it gets proper exercise.
As a homeowner, you have a responsibility to restrain your dog. Under Massachusetts law, you may be held liable if your dog bites or attacks. Here are a few situations when homeowners may be liable for dog bite injuries.
First, you may be held liable if your dog bites a lawful visitor. You may also be held liable if you leave your dog alone outside and it runs off your property and injures a passerby.
Then there are young children. Too young to realize the consequences, they can wander onto your property without invitation and your dog may bite. You may not even see the child come onto your property. But this is another situation when a Massachusetts homeowner may be held liable for a child’s dog bite injuries.
Just like drownings, dog bites and attacks are a frightening and debilitating experience, for children as well as owners. Some describe it as the worst experience of their life. Many victims and loved ones suffer post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
What can you do to prevent a tragedy?
Invest in dog training. Hiring a trainer can help your dog master basic obedience skills.
Install a fence. Consider installing a regular fence around your yard. An invisible dog fence can be effective at keeping your dog on your property. However, it doesn’t prevent children from wandering onto your property. Fences can stop children or at least slow them down.
Remember you can’t predict how your dog will react. Many dog owners have said, “My dog is really good with kids,” just before the animal bites or attacks.
And the problem with young children in your neighborhood: a child may know you and your dog by name. They may routinely say hello when you walk your dog and have warm feelings about your pet. Your dog, however, may not feel or respond the same if the child approaches. If you have a dog, Breakstone, White & Gluck encourages you to secure and supervise your pet this summer. Remember, children are likely to be spending more time at home this summer and you may need to take additional steps.
If you have been injured, Breakstone, White & Gluck is experienced in representing young children and others after dog bites and attacks in Massachusetts. Please read our awards and settlements and contact us if we can assist you with a claim at 800-379-1244 or 617-723-7676.
$450,000 award: Child Suffers Facial Injury and Emotional Distress in Dog Bite Attack Details
$300,000 award: Elderly woman bitten by dog, which leads to infection, sepsis and wrongful death.
$150,000 award: Dog injures cyclist, causing bike crash and other injuries. Details
Use Your Backyard Shed
Pick up your yard each day. Pick up toys and bring in pool floats, accessories and towels so they don’t attract a child’s attention.
Certain toys, games and equipment should be used, then immediately locked away. These include portable pools.
To make this easier, keep a key to your backyard shed nearby at all times this summer. Put it in your cell phone case or on a lanyard around your neck so you can easily access your shed as often as you need.
Protect Your Backyard This Summer
2020 has been a challenging year. While we are all limited by Covid 19 this summer, these are steps we can all take to protect our families, neighbors and others from unnecessary injury, and to protect ourselves financially.
Free Legal Consultation – Boston Personal Injury Lawyers
At Breakstone, White & Gluck, our Boston personal injury lawyers specialize in premises liability claims, including those involving swimming pool accidents, dog bites injuries and child injuries. Learn more about our law firm: www.bwglaw.com.
A tragic chemical exposure has claimed the life of a worker at the Buffalo Wild Wings restaurant in Burlington. Ten other restaurant employees and patrons also reported inhalation injuries.
The Boston Globe reported that a male employee cleaning the kitchen with a product called “Super 8” was overtaken by nausea. The employee stepped outside to catch his breath. A second employee who attempted to remove the cleaner became sick and subsequently died from inhalation injuries. According to the Globe, the 10 other employees and restaurant patrons reported shortness of breath, burning eyes and other symptoms of chemical exposure for which they were treated at local emergency rooms.
News reports identified the caustic cleaning agent as “Super 8”, a sodium hypochorite concentrated solution which is intended for use as a general-purpose sanitizer empty stain or for manual or automatic dishwashing. When inhaled, the fumes cause severe bronchial irritation and pulmonary edema.
Chemical exposures in restaurants occur with alarming frequency. Breakstone, White & Gluck has represented several victims of chemical exposures due to inhalation and caustic burn injuries. In our experience, inhalation injuries such as the recent Buffalo Wild Wings incident occur as a result of the failure to provide:
- adequate ventilation;
- adequate airway protective gear
- ill-advised mixing of chemical agents
- adequate skin protective gear
Breakstone, White & Gluck has a track record of success in obtaining justice for victims of serious respiratory and burn injuries caused by chemical exposures in the workplace. In many of these cases, the exposures result in life-long respiratory injuries, scarring and emotional distress.
- Our attorneys represented a worker who inhaled chlorine at the Deer Island Waste Facility in Boston and suffered severe burns which temporarily handicapped him, leaving him unable to work.
- Our attorneys represented a restaurant worker who consumed tainted beer from a recently sanitized beer tap. The lines had been chemically sanitized, but not properly flushed, resulting in ingestion of chlorine which caused esophageal burns.
Free Legal Consultation – Breakstone, White & Gluck of Boston
We would welcome the opportunity to review your potential claim related to chemical exposure and inhalation injuries or burns to see if we can assist you in obtaining full and fair monetary compensation.
Buying a car seat takes careful research. But most parents agree: the real hardship comes after you try to buckle your child up safely. While car seats are essential, they are anything but easy to use. And if you use them incorrectly, your child is left without proper protection.
All 50 states have laws requiring car seats for children. In Massachusetts, parents must secure their children in a federally-approved seat until they reach age 8 or over 57 inches tall. This is critical because car accidents are a leading cause of death for children ages 1 to 13, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). For every 32 seconds in 2017, a child under 13 was involved in a passenger vehicle crash.
We are writing about car seats because the NHTSA and other organizations recently observed Child Passenger Safety Week nationwide from Sept. 15 to Sept. 21. If you missed it, we are sharing a few resources and tips. If you are a parent, don’t lose hope. There are a lot of resources out there. The best place to start is with your local police department. Many police departments offer free car seat inspections year-round by appointment.
Selecting a Safe Car Seat
The NHTSA offers a free online resource to help parents select the right car seat. Parents should follow the manufacturer’s recommendations on age, weight and height recommendations for selecting car seats. NHTSA Find & Compare Car Seats
Types of Car Seats
Rear-facing seats. The NHTSA encourages children to use rear-facing seats up until age 3 or they reach the top of the manufacturer’s height and weight requirements. Always check your product manual for this information.
For the first 8 or 9 months, children should ride in rear-facing infant seats. The NHTSA then advises a move to a convertible or all-in-one seat, and that parents keep children rear-facing as long as they can.
As we said, it’s important to read your product manual and the manufacturer’s instructions. In past years, the recommendation was to keep your child in a rear-facing car seat until age 2. But new research has led to a new recommendation. In 2018, the American Academy of Pediatrics announced children can remain in rear-facing seats until they reach 40 pounds or more. While every child is different, this often comes after a child’s second birthday.
Forward-facing seats. Next, children will move into a harness and tether seat. This type of seat limits their forward movement if the car crashes. There are three types of forward-facing seats: convertible, combination and all-in-one.
Booster seats. These give children a boost so they can sit taller and safely use seat belts.
Without booster seats, seat belts can seriously injure children, causing abdominal bruising and injuries. Compared to seat belt use alone, booster seats are shown to reduce the risk for injury by 45 percent in children ages 4 to 8, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
As with the other car seats, there are several types of booster seats: booster seats with high backs, backless booster seats, combination seats and all-in-on-seats.
In 2008, Gov. Deval Patrick signed the Massachusetts Child Passenger Safety Law, adding the booster seat requirement until children reach age 8 or 57 inches tall. At that point, children can move to regular seat belts in the back seat.
Making this transition earlier can leave your child without proper protection and vulnerable to injury. Unfortunately, parents are making this mistake. About 26 percent of children were moved to seat belts too early, according to the NHTSA.
Car Seat Registration and Expiration
Make sure to register your car seat with the manufacturer so the company can contact you if there is a recall. Car seats are frequently recalled and these can be widespread recalls, including mislabeling or defective parts. In 2014, Graco recalled 3.7 million car seats due to defective buckles, disrupting families across the country.
Remember, car seats have expiration dates. Look for the sticker at the bottom. The expiration date should be about six years from the manufacture date.
Never use a car seat beyond the expiration date. While the seat may appear to be in good condition, the plastic and other parts wear from daily use and exposure to sun, making the product less effective in protecting your child.
About Breakstone, White & Gluck – Boston Personal Injury Attorneys
Breakstone, White & Gluck has over 100 years combined experience representing those who have been injured and killed by the negligence and wrongdoing of others, including by car accidents. In 2013, we launched our Project KidSafe campaign to offer education and safety resources for children and families in Massachusetts. Learn more about Our Attorneys and our Project KidSafe campaign.
If you have been injured by someone else’s negligence, learn your legal rights from one of our attorneys. For a free legal consultation, call 800-379-1244 or 617-723-7676. You can also use our contact form.