Articles Tagged with “wrongful death”

Marc L. Breakstone

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.

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truck driving in Boston Fenway area

A truck travels along Brookline Avenue in Boston last summer, near the site of a fatal truck crash killing a cyclist last week.

It was heart-breaking to watch the TV news coverage last week, the scenes following a cement truck crash which killed a cyclist in Boston’s Fenway neighborhood. The 69-year-old victim, a librarian in Brookline, was hit at the intersection of Brookline Avenue and Park Drive on Friday afternoon.

As State Police investigate the fatal bicycle accident, we should all be concerned about trucks. If you are a pedestrian or cyclist in Boston or Cambridge, you have likely witnessed a truck crash or near crash. Or the sheer terror of having a truck come too close.

At times, is hard not to  travel in fear.  In addition to the cement truck crash, a City of Boston truck plowed over a sidewalk, hit a pedestrian and smashed into the side of Liu Yi Shou Hotspot Boston. The restaurant is located on the corner of Washington and Kneeland streets in Chinatown, near Tufts Medical Center. The pedestrian was treated for non-life threatening injuries while the restaurant sustained heavy structural damage.

Because trucks are heavy-weight vehicles, drivers must be properly trained and use reasonable care when operating. When they neglect to do so, pedestrians and cyclists are in danger. Drivers and occupants of passenger cars are also at great risk. And we have seen trucks damage and leave behind deadly conditions in Boston tunnels.

Our attorneys have extensive experience in investigating truck crashes which have seriously injured or killed cyclists.

Last year, Attorney Ron Gluck of Breakstone, White & Gluck settled a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of a cyclist who was killed by a truck driver in a hit-and-run crash. The driver hit our 38-year-old client at the intersection of Massachusetts Avenue and Beacon Street. Read about the case in Boston Magazine.

Truck Accident Statistics

  • Nationwide, fatal truck crashes have increased by 3 percent, from 4,704 to 4,213, according to the 2016 Large Truck and Bus Crash Facts 2016 report by the U.S. Department of Transportation.
  • Truck drivers were speeding in 6.9 percent of truck crashes involving a fatality. They were engaged in distractions in 6.1 percent of fatal truck crashes. Failure to yield the right of way resulted in 4 percent of truck crashes resulting in a wrongful death. These were the leading causes; violations were not reported in many of the accidents (2016 Large Truck and Bus Crash Facts 2016).
  • In 2016, 840 cyclists were killed in traffic crashes, a 2 percent rise over 2015. More significantly, this continued a trend of near two percent increases and marked a 25-year high for fatal cyclist accidents in the U.S. Cyclists age 55-59 and 60-64 had the highest fatality rates. (Source: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration,Traffic Safety Facts 2016 Data: Bicyclists and Other Cyclists).
  • Single-vehicle truck crashes killed 85 cyclists in 2016, just about 10 percent of all traffic deaths (NHTSA  Traffic Safety Facts).

How Cyclists Are Being Injured By Trucks

When cyclists are killed in collisions with motor vehicles, they are most likely to be hit by the front of the vehicle, according to the NHTSA FARS data. Cyclists are hit from the front in 78 percent of all cyclist vs. motor vehicle deaths, including in 89 percent of accidents involving cars and 83 percent of accidents involving light trucks, SUVs, pick-up vehicles or vans.

The numbers change when you look at fatal accidents involving large trucks and cyclists. While 48 percent of cyclists who died were hit from the front of large trucks, 22 percent were struck by the right side of a truck, while 9 percent were hit on the left side. Another 7 percent were by the back of the truck.

Truck Sideguard Ordinances and Legislation in Massachusetts

Some cities and states want to encourage truck safety by passing ordinances that require trucks to be equipped with side guards. This covers the area between a truck’s wheels, where cyclists and pedestrians can become trapped. Two cities in Massachusetts have already passed ordinances for city-contracted trucks and large vehicles. The ordinances also require trucks to use convex mirrors to help them see blind spots.

Boston was the first U.S. city to pass an ordinance in 2014. Somerville has since followed, passing the Somerville Ordinance to Safeguard Vulnerable Road Users. A statewide law could be next. A proposal now on Beacon Hill is asking lawmakers to mandate side guards on all city- and state-owned vehicles by 2020. Contractors would be required to meet the new standard by 2022.

Free Legal Consultation: 800-379-1244
Breakstone, White & Gluck has more than 100 years combined experience representing victims in personal injury, wrongful death and medical malpractice cases.

If you or someone in your family has been injured, contact us today for a free legal consultation at 800-379-1244 or 617-723-7676 or use our contact form.

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People walking in a crosswalk

Somerville residents are asking for new traffic calming measures after a fatal pedestrian crash last weekend on Powder House Boulevard and Hardan Road. Police are searching for the driver, who fled the scene.

The Somerville community is wrestling with the horrific crash that killed a teacher in a crosswalk last Friday night.

Somerville Police are still searching for the driver in the Somerville pedestrian crash. The driver struck Allison Donovan, an educator in the Watertown public school system, shortly after 7 p.m. Friday, then fled the scene. Another woman in the crosswalk suffered non-life-threatening injuries.

deveau

Television news coverage showing Kenneth Deveau in a stretcher at a North Andover shelter after he was evacuated during the Columbia Gas explosions in Merrimack Valley.

Attorney Marc L. Breakstone has confirmed to the media that Columbia Gas and parent company NiSource will face a second wrongful death lawsuit following the Merrimack Valley gas explosions. Attorney Breakstone is representing the family of the late Kenneth DeVeau of North Andover, who suffered cardiac arrest and slipped into a coma after the Sept. 13th explosions. DeVeau, 57, suffered from illnesses such as Myotonic Dystrophy and a weakened heart, and had limited mobility due to a chronic neurological condition. DeVeau suffered the heart attack and injuries at an evacuation center. He was then transported to Lawrence General Hospital, where he briefly regained consciousness. He died from complications on Sept. 26.

Attorney Breakstone said the family has not yet filed the wrongful death lawsuit. They will do so once DeVeau’s sister is appointed the personal representative of his estate.

NiSource disclosed the second wrongful death claim yesterday when it filed its quarterly financial disclosures with the SEC. The company noted two parties had reported their intent to assert wrongful death claims after the Columbia Gas explosions in Merrimack Valley. Prior to this, only the family of 18-year-old Leonel Rondon had announced its intention.

News coverage:

Family of late North Andover man says he suffered cardiac arrest, slipped into coma after Merrimack Valley evacuations, Boston Globe, Nov. 2, 2018

Family says 2nd death linked to Merrimack Valley gas explosions, WCVB, Nov. 2, 2018

Second Family Plans Wrongful Death Suit Against Columbia Gas And NiSource, WGBH, Nov. 2, 2018

Second wrongful death lawsuit to be filed against Columbia Gas, Lawrence Eagle Tribune, Nov. 2, 2018

Family of man who died in aftermath of gas blasts plans suit, San Francisco Chronicle, Nov. 2, 2018 

WBZ Radio Coverage: Attorney Marc Breakstone Interviewed, Nov. 2, 2018

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Boston personal injury lawyers Breakstone, White & Gluck

Left to right: Attorney Ronald E. Gluck, Attorney Marc L. Breakstone and Attorney David W. White have been recognized by Best Lawyers in America© 2019.

Breakstone, White & Gluck announces that our partners have been recognized in The Best Lawyers in America© 2019. Best Lawyers© is the oldest and most respected attorney ranking service in the world, providing a resource for those searching for legal services for more than 30 years. It ranks lawyers in partnership with U.S. News & World Report and other media partners.

Best Lawyers© compiles its annual list of attorneys based on a peer-review process. Nominations can be submitted online by members of the public, clients and other attorneys. But attorneys alone provide evaluations. Nearly 87,000 lawyers around the world are eligible to participate. For the ninth year, lawyers in the Boston region chose to rank Breakstone, White & Gluck. Our rankings:

A truck and a motorcycle after a fatal accident in West Bridgewater, MassachusettsAttorney Marc Breakstone recently settled a wrongful death case for the family of a motorcyclist for $3.5 million. The case was settled in March 2016.

The motorcyclist was tragically killed by a waste disposal truck in West Bridgewater in 2013. The truck, which was being operated by a subcontractor, pulled out across the road in the path of the motorcyclist. The motorcyclist applied the brakes and laid down his motorcycle, attempting to avoid the collision and struck the defendant’s truck at less than 5 mph.

The motorcyclist continued to roll under the truck. The truck driver did not see him and ran the rear tires over his body, killing him.

17842197_m.jpgA woman died tragically this morning on the Southeast Expressway heading southbound, when a manhole cover became dislodged, went airborne, struck the front windshield and exited the rear windshield. She was killed instantly. The incident occurred in the Thomas P. O’Neill Junior Tunnel just before the southbound end of the tunnel.

The woman’s vehicle came to a rest in the left-hand lane of the Southeast Expressway, a short distance from the Massachusetts Avenue exit, with large gaping holes in the front and rear windshields. A state police spokesperson commented that the cause of the manhole cover to become dislodged is under investigation.

The focus of the State Police investigation will be what caused the manhole cover to become a projectile which killed this unsuspecting driver. Manhole covers, when properly installed and maintained, should remain in place. It needs to be determined whether any work had been done recently on or around this manhole.

2464285_s.jpgDuring the past few weeks, snow plows have had little rest in the Boston area and Central Massachusetts. For most of us, they have been part of the background noise of a harsh winter and we have not even noticed them. But as of this week, two people have died as a result of snow plow crashes in the Boston area. Please be aware of the risks and talk to your family members about how you can stay safe.

On Monday afternoon, a 60-year-old employee at a Whole Foods store in Medford was struck and killed while walking across the store’s parking lot. The employee was just leaving work. The area was not open to the public at the time. The snow plow was operated Yerardi Landscape and Design of Medfield, authorities said. The snow plow accident remains under investigation by Medford Police and the Massachusetts State Police.

A week ago, a 57-year-old Weymouth woman was struck and killed by a snow plow driver who was clearing the parking lot outside her condominium complex, Tara Gardens. The driver had just cleared the woman’s parking space for her and a friend told The Boston Globe she had gotten out of her vehicle to ask him not to block her vehicle in as he left. Weymouth Police and the Norfolk County District Attorney’s office are investigating the snow plow death.

We share a few safety tips:

1) Listen to Advisories. Follow the recommendations of state and local officials about when it is best to avoid walking or driving outside.

2) Wear Neon-Colored Vests and Bright Clothing. If you are walking in the street, a neon vest or bright clothing should be a requirement, even during the day. You want snow plow drivers, as well as other drivers, to see you.

Keep a vest in your car. You can use your vest when walking from your car to your destination. It may also come in handy someday if you break down.

3) Do Not Approach Plow Trucks. Pedestrians should never approach plow trucks. Let them stay focused on removing snow.

4) Contact the Property Owner Instead. If you live in an apartment or condo complex, keep the phone number of your building management company handy on your cell phone. If you have a complaint, take a photo to send to the building owner, who can share it with their plow company.

Do the same if you work at a business office, unless you are the owner; then safe snow removal is your responsibility.

5) Expect Plows Everywhere, Even After the Snow Ends. Expect plows everywhere for a while. Even when it is not snowing, expect plows will be out trimming down high snow banks and opening up narrow roads.

6) Do Not Follow Plow Trucks Too Closely. When driving, stay a few car lengths behind plow trucks. The snow plow could hit something hard unexpectedly and not be able to stop. Avoid passing snow plows.

7) If You Have An Accident with a Snow Plow Truck. If you are driving, make sure you stop in a safe place. As you do, take note of what the plow truck looks like and the license plate if you can do so safely. If the plow driver does not stop, immediately notify the local police department to file a car accident report.

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201501016_staircase.jpgThe City of Boston has identified 580 potentially overcrowded student apartments across the city from data provided by colleges and universities, The Boston Globe recently reported. City inspectors will now investigate whether the units are violating city zoning rules, which bar more than four full-time undergraduate students from sharing the same apartment.

The city recently collected more than 25,000 student addresses from 31 colleges and universities so it can investigate potential apartment safety violations and overcrowding. If overcrowding is found, city officials plan to work with landlords and universities to move students to safer, alternate housing.

In 2013, Boston University student Binland Lee died in an apartment fire in Allston. She had been living at the Linden Street building with more than a dozen other people, a violation of city zoning rules. The Boston Globe Spotlight team later reported the property had been converted to a two-family home after a previous fire in the 1990s. This move blocked off a central staircase and restricted access. The building owner, Anna Belokourova, was later cited for running an illegal rooming house and not obtaining the permits needed to create bedrooms in the basement.

The Lee family has filed a wrongful death and premises liability lawsuit against Belokourova as well as Gateway Real Estate Group, which rented the apartment to her and six other housemates. Attorney Ronald E. Gluck of Breakstone, White & Gluck represented another woman who was seriously injured in the same fire.

In 2014, the Boston Globe Spotlight team investigated and found other instances of unsafe and crowded conditions for Boston students. It surveyed 266 students who lived off-campus in Boston and found nearly one-third were living in units with at least five undergraduate students, a violation of city zoning law.

Also from the survey:

  • 25 percent of students reported having trouble reaching their landlord to report safety concerns
  • 20 percent reported living without functioning smoke alarms
  • 33 percent reported a lack of heat in their apartments

As these safety violations happen, more students are coming to Boston and living off-campus than in the past. Colleges are facing a space crunch and neighbors have opposed many of their efforts to build new dorms. The Boston Globe estimated more than 45,000 Boston students lived in off-campus housing in 2013, a 36 percent increase from 2006.

Our attorneys have represented Boston college students and other tenants who have suffered serious injuries as a result of housing code violations and overcrowding conditions. Here are summaries from two recent cases:

Overcrowded Student Housing Fire in Allston, Massachusetts
Our attorneys represented a woman who was seriously injured in a 2013 fire in an illegal apartment in Allston, Massachusetts. More than a dozen college students were living at the home in violation of city zoning ordinances. Read about this case.

Students Injured in Escape from Quick-Spreading House Fire
Our attorneys represented one of two college students who were seriously injured a single-family home fire in Boston. One student suffered a brain injury when he jumped from a third-floor window to escape and landed on a concrete driveway. The other student broke her back and injured her ankle when she jumped off from the second floor. The case was settled at mediation. The case was reported by Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly on May 29, 2014. Subscription required.

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Toyota Toyota agreed last week to pay a record $1.2 billion criminal penalty for misleading consumers and the government about unintended acceleration in its vehicles. This safety defect and others have resulted in numerous injuries and deaths. Over 10 million Toyota vehicles have been recalled so far.

This is the largest criminal penalty ever imposed on a car manufacturer. As part of the agreement, the Justice Department charged Toyota with wire fraud but deferred the criminal charge for three years while the company submits to government monitoring.

We have been reading about Toyota’s safety defects for many years now, along with the more important violation of trust: the Japanese automaker repeatedly failed to warn the public about safety problems. CNN reported last week that the company “at one point boasted internally about saving $100 million in costs by avoiding a full safety recall.”

To date, Toyota has paid out more than $66 million in fines for not immediately reporting defects. Several of these fines have been record-breaking. In 2010, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration fined the company a record $16 million for its delayed response in notifying the government about defects. In 2012, the NHTSA fined the company an additional $17.4 million.

The company has faced numerous injury and wrongful death lawsuits. In addition to sticky pedals and unintended acceleration, unsecured floor mats and other equipment have caused safety hazards. Last October, an Oklahoma jury decided that defective electronics were to blame for a car accident which killed a woman and seriously injured another person. Toyota was ordered to pay $3 million in damages.

As for Toyota, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder told the Detroit Press: “Put simply, Toyota’s conduct was shameful. It showed a blatant disregard for systems and laws designed to look after the safety of consumers. By the company’s own admission it protected its brand ahead of its own consumers.”

Still, consumers have continued to buy Toyota. The company was the top-selling automaker in 2012 and 2013, selling 9.98 million vehicles in 2013.

Related:
Toyota to pay $1.2 billion in settlement with U.S. over recalls, CNN.
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