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Cycling dooring accidents

Drivers can use the Dutch Reach and reduce their chances of causing a cyclist a dooring injury. This approach calls on drivers to reach for their door with their right hand, across their body so they have a better view of the road and oncoming cyclists.

Drivers are sharing the road with cyclists as we enjoy August here in Massachusetts. Whether you are at home in the Boston area or vacationing on Cape Cod, we hope you give cyclists extra room when you drive and turn through intersections. We also want to remind you to use the Dutch Reach.

What is the Dutch Reach? It is a simple safety approach to help drivers park, look for cyclists and open their car doors safely. The goal is to prevent dooring injuries to cyclists. Using the Dutch Reach can raise your awareness of cyclists and save you from the trauma and shock of opening a car door into a bike. In our experience, we have heard many drivers say they look for cyclists on the road. But this changes when drivers park; many say they never even saw the cyclist coming.

The Dutch Reach can also save you from having to pay a costly auto insurance claim and fine. Opening a car door and interfering with a cyclist – or a pedestrian – is a traffic offense in Massachusetts. Drivers can be fined $100 for dooring under M.G.L c. 90, § 14.

Five Years of Encouraging the Dutch Reach in Massachusetts 

Massachusetts added an advisory on the Dutch Reach method to its driver’s manual in 2017, with a push from a local safety advocate following a cyclist’s tragic death. The cyclist was killed in a bicycle crash involving a car door in Inman Square in Cambridge in 2016.  Massachusetts was one of the first states to add this advisory, which calls on drivers to park and:

  • Check your rear-view mirrors.
  • Check your side-view mirrors.
  • Open the door with your far hand. 

Drivers should open their doors with their right hand; front-seat passengers should use their left. When you do this, you have a better chance of seeing cyclists approaching from behind. You become more aware of what’s known as the “door zone” and bike lane. By pausing and checking, you are less likely to seriously injure a cyclist in a dooring accident. 

Watch a demonstration:

 

This approach has become part of the culture in the Netherlands, which has one of the lowest rates for bicycle accidents in the world (Source: National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), Bicyclist Safety on US Roadways: Crash Risks and Countermeasures, NTSB/SS-19/01). Children learn this approach early and it is covered in driver’s education classes.

The National Transportation Safety Board has recommended all states include Dutch Reach advisories in their driving manuals.  As of 2021, Massachusetts, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Washington and Washington D.C. had all done so, according to the Dutch Reach Project.

Share the Dutch Reach Method With Family and Friends

Try the Dutch Reach next time you drive to the local post office or to pick up dinner. Then take time to share the Dutch Reach with your family members and passengers. Sharing the Dutch Reach may just help someone else in your life, especially during August and September, when many of us are on vacation and driving unfamiliar roads. Or we may be moving into new apartments for the Fall semester in Boston and venturing out. Unfortunately, many drivers and pedestrians do not really see cyclists on the side of the road. We are more focused on the cars and trucks in the traffic lane.

Before we sign off, a few more safety reminders for drivers and car doors. Remember, you have a responsibility to close the car door when you take in groceries or unload your car. You should never block or interfere with the bike lane. Cyclists may see your door open yet still be unable to stop. You could cause not one, but multiple bicycle accidents.

Last, use your cell phone with caution. When you park, you may want to reach right for your phone. More and more, drivers are using mobile apps to pay for parking or to pick-up take out or groceries. Someone may be sending you an alert or two.

But think twice and pause. You want to enjoy the month of August and focus on your September ahead. Reaching for your cell phone can be highly distracting as you exit your vehicle – and seriously injure a cyclist.

Learn About Breakstone, White & Gluck

bwg-1200×628With more than 125 years combined experience, Breakstone, White & Gluck has been consistently recognized as a top-rated Boston personal injury law firm. Our lawyers specialize in representing cyclists and others who have been injured by negligent driving in Boston, Cambridge, Quincy and across Massachusetts. If you have been injured, feel free to contact our firm. We offer a free legal consultation and one of our attorneys will take time to review the facts of your case with you and help you determine whether you have a potential legal claim. You can call 800-379-1244 or 617-723-7676 or use our contact form.

kidsafe-1200We also invite you to learn more about our Project KidSafe campaign for bike safety, which we began 10 years ago! To date, we have donated over 36,000 free bicycle helmets to children in Boston and across Massachusetts. Our goal with this campaign is to encourage children to protect themselves by wearing a helmet every time they ride.

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Breakstone, White & Gluck recently returned to the Dedham Bike Rodeo and made our 10th annual donation of bike helmets to the children. It was our pleasure to be back and support the Dedham Police Department and Dedham Parks and Recreation Department, which organize the fun event. Attorney Reza Breakstone fit about 80-90 children for new helmets at our Project KidSafe tent.

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We are excited about the summer of 2022 here at Breakstone, White & Gluck. This is the 10th year of our Project KidSafe campaign. Read about a few of our bike helmet donations to children:

The Bike Connector and Lowell Public Schools

Children wearing Project KidSafe bike helmets in Lowell, Massachusetts

Project KidSafe in Lowell: Breakstone, White & Gluck gave each student at Stoklaska Middle School a free helmet to go with their new bike donated by The Bike Connector.

Breakstone, White & Gluck was pleased to donate 300 helmets to The Bike Connector for donations to students in the Lowell Public School system.

We attended one of the giveaways at the Stoklaska Middle School on May 12th and watched as 50 very excited students got to pick out new bikes, then received a free Project KidSafe helmet. The Bike Connector and volunteers collected and refurbished the bikes so the children have the option of riding to school. The middle school is located on Broadway Street, more than a half mile west of Lowell City Hall.

Massachusetts Safe Routes to School

In June, Breakstone, White & Gluck donated bike helmets to help students at the Nathaniel Morten Elementary School in Plymouth get ready for summer. The local PTA and a bike shop teamed up for this event and Massachusetts Safe Routes to School provided safety instruction. Two of the topics: the importance of wearing their new Project KidSafe helmets and the ABC Quick Check (air, brakes, chain).

We want to mention – this is the 8th year we have partnered up with Massachusetts Safe Routes to School as part of our Project KidSafe campaign. Safe Routes gives our Project KidSafe helmets away to children who need one at bike rodeos and school events, which is a great fit as they teach students about the rules of the road for bicycles. Students leave events with the helmets they need to protect themselves and reduce the risk of injury.

Children receive free Project KidSafe helmets at DIY Bike Rodeo in Medford, June 2022.

Project KidSafe in Medford: Breakstone, White & Gluck donated helmets for the DIY Bike Rodeo with Medford Recreation and Medford Bikes.

Medford Bicycle Advisory Commission

Breakstone, White & Gluck was pleased to continue our partnership with the Medford Bicycle Advisory Commission and Medford Recreation and donate helmets for the children at the DIY Bike Rodeo on June 3rd.

The event was held at Tufts Park, where children had a ½ mile area to practice skills. In addition to a free Project KidSafe helmet, children were also offered free bike lights and safety literature.

Chelsea Bike Rodeo

Breakstone, White & Gluck supported the Chelsea Bike and Pedestrian Committee with a donation to children who participated in the Chelsea Bike Rodeo on June 18th. This was a fun event because children had the opportunity to receive and decorate a free helmet, which we hope encourages them to wear it.

The event was organized by the Chelsea Recreation & Cultural Affairs and Massachusetts Safe Routes to School participated.

Somerville Kiwanis

Kiwanis Club of Somerville

Our support for the Kiwanis Club of Somerville dates back to 2013. There were a few missed years during the pandemic.

So it was great to see the Kiwanis Club members back out at the East Somerville Carnival on June 5th. Members gave away over 200 Project KidSafe helmets to children and other cyclists who needed one, then fit helmets for those who needed help.

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In Massachusetts, dog owners have a responsibility to keep their dogs under control so no one is injured. But families should also be proactive and come up with a summer safety plan to protect children.

In Massachusetts, dog owners have a responsibility to keep their dogs under control so no one is injured. But families should also be proactive and come up with a summer safety plan to protect children.

Children are naturally curious about dogs. But come summer, it’s important to remember that children, free time and dogs can be a dangerous combination.

In Massachusetts, dog owners have a responsibility to keep pets under their control to prevent a dog bite injury. But they may not always do so and the risk for injury may rise come summer, when children and families have more free time. If a dog attacks, a child could be very seriously injured or even killed.

Dogs attack more often than many of us realize. Each year, more than 4.5 million people suffer dog bites, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Children suffer at least half of all dog bites and are more likely to be severely injured, according to the American Veterinarian Medical Association (AMVA).

While dog owners should keep control over their pets, here are some steps you can also take to protect young children and try to reduce their risk for injury:

Find out if you live near any dogs

Start by asking your neighbors if they own a dog. Check whether they have adequate fencing.

In Massachusetts, dog owners are required to apply for an annual dog license. Ask your town’s animal control office how many dogs live nearby. Have there been any recent dog bite reports? This can be valuable information as you plan your summer.

Keep children within arm’s length when visiting family and friends who own dogs

Don't underestimate small dogs; they can also cause very serious injuries to children

Don’t underestimate small dogs; they can also cause very serious injuries to children

The safest approach may be to invite family and friends over to your home, where you can control the environment. If you end up visiting friends or family members, ask if they have a dog before you visit. Ask how the dog will be secured during your visit.

When you arrive, keep your young child away from the dog. Give your child time to grow and develop social skills with people first. As for older children, watch the situation closely. If the owner lets the pet out, they should be present and have control of their dog. The safest approach is for the owner to keep their dog on a leash.

Watch your child. Stay within arm’s length of your child when a dog is nearby – just as you would if you were supervising a young child in a swimming pool.

Expect your child will want to approach a dog

If a dog ever approaches, you may be surprised at your child’s response. Even if they have no experience with dogs, a child may attempt to pet and play with the animal. Your child may allow a dog close to their face. This is frightening. Many people have large dogs, such as Labradoodles, Golden Retrievers and Pit Bulls. But small breeds also have a strong and fierce bite.

What’s more frightening: the dog may not even need to approach your child. Your child may get very excited just seeing your neighbor’s dog and just run into their backyard.

Never let your guard down because you know your child and have spoken to them about safety near dogs. And never let your guard down because you have seen a dog behave well in other situations.

Build a backyard fence

Put up a backyard fence to protect your child’s play area. Keep your child’s focus away from your neighbors’ yards, pets, pools, floats and landscaping equipment.

Walk with children

Walk with your children and watch them play outside. Be vigilant about this. Schedules change during the summer. Your neighbors may not own a dog, but their guests may bring a pet over for the afternoon.

Park your car when you pick your child up at summer camp or a friend’s house. Walk and meet your child. You can expect at least one dog may live nearby or other parents may take their dogs along to pick up children.

Wild animals are another possibility during the summer. This could be the day a wild animal, such as a coyote, walks out of the woods in search of water or food. If this happens, you want to be there and slowly guide your child away.

What to Consider After a Dog Bite Injury in Massachusetts

Dog bites are traumatic and life-changing for children. These are true emergencies and it is critical to seek immediate medical attention.

Because of their size, children often suffer dog bites to their face and neck, resulting in severe injuries. Dog bites can also be fatal. If a dog bites a child, they can puncture the carotid artery or jugular vein, resulting in a high loss of blood, according to The Mayo Clinic.

It is critical to seek medical attention, even if you believe your child only suffered a small scratch. Have your child’s pediatrician examine them and help you determine if the dog was vaccinated.

Then, there is the question of what type of medical care will your child need and who will pay the medical bills. Children may need to undergo surgery – or multiple procedures – and need ongoing medical care for physical injuries and the emotional trauma.

In Massachusetts, one may file a legal claim against the dog owner to recover compensation for medical bills, pain and suffering and other damages, under M.G.L., Chapter 140: Section 155. Most dog owners pay compensation to victims through their homeowner’s insurance policy.

Massachusetts has strict liability when it comes to dog bites. When a dog bites, the victim must prove the dog caused the injury and that the defendant was the owner or keeper of the dog. But one does not have to prove the dog had a history of attacks.

Massachusetts law recognizes that young children cannot appreciate the dangers near dogs. The law presumes the child was not trespassing or teasing an animal at the time of the attack.

Free Legal Consultation – Boston Personal Injury Lawyers

Breakstone, White & Gluck has over 125 years combined experience successfully obtaining record recoveries for clients who have suffered serious dog bites and other injuries. We are here to help clients and families with every aspect of the difficulties they face after the trauma of a dog bite attack. We invite you to read about our results for clients in dog bite cases.

Learn your legal rights after a dog bite or attack. For a free legal consultation, contact the dog bite attorneys at Breakstone, White & Gluck at 800-379-1244 or 617-723-7676 or use our contact form.

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construction accident fall

Boston has seen a frightening number of injuries and deaths in construction accidents and falls since March.

Boston has seen a number of workers injured and killed in construction accidents and falls since March. The spotlight is now on workplace safety, but construction accidents – especially those involving multi-story buildings – can also endanger pedestrians, cyclists and drivers at street level.

We have seen these dangers before in Boston. In July 2019, a woman was seriously injured by falling debris while taking a morning walk in the North End. According to news reports, the investigation found she was struck by a railing a roofing company had failed to secure atop a 5-story building nearby.

Another serious accident happened back in 2006, when two workers on an Emerson College project fell 14 floors in a scaffolding accident. The construction platform fell, suddenly hitting and killing a doctor driving by.

As a pedestrian, you may not be aware you are walking past construction work. Not every project has signs or pedestrian protection tunnels. Some projects may be smaller than others, with just a few workers.

Unfortunately, you really have no way of knowing if a construction company is following safety protocols inside or on top of a building. Because of this, it is critical for construction companies to take steps and protect workers and the public.

Timeline: 2022 Construction Accidents in Boston

Worker Dies in Parking Garage Collapse. In March, a construction worker fell nine stories and died after a concrete slab collapsed in the Government Center Parking Garage, according to a NBC Boston report.

Worker Injured in Power Plant. On May 4, a worker was seriously injured under a floor collapse at the former Thomas Edison Power Plant on Summer Street. Nearly 100 firefighters played a role in the massive response, according to news reports. Two other workers escaped with non-life-threatening injuries.

Worker Falls in South End. On May 5, another worker was reportedly injured when he fell 30 feet at a construction site in Boston’s South End.

Truck Driver Killed in Construction Accident. One person was pronounced dead at a construction site in the Seaport District on the morning of June 9th. CBS News reported the victim was driving a truck which had been hauling large pieces of concrete. Another person was reportedly injured.

Construction Companies Have a Responsibility to Use Fall Protection

Under state and federal laws, construction companies are responsible for providing a reasonably safe work environment. Under OSHA guidelines, companies have a responsibility to provide working conditions free of known dangers, to keep floors in a safe condition; and provide workers with the proper equipment and training.

Falls are the leading cause of work-related death on construction sites, according to the CDC.

OSHA specifically requires employers to ensure employees have fall protection.

This applies to all workers, not just construction workers. Fall protection must be at least four feet in general industry, five feet in shipyards and six feet in the construction industry, according to the OSHA website.

Construction workers must have fall protections to support their assignments and machinery, regardless of how high up they are. Employers have a responsibility to provide fall protection for crane operators, just as they do workers on street level, though the tools and approaches will vary.

Depending on the assignment, fall protection may include safety harness and lines, safety nets or stair railings. Guardrails and toe-boards are additional tools to prevent construction site falls and injuries.

By taking these steps, construction companies can protect workers and prevent construction site accidents and injuries. By extension, this helps protect the public and pedestrians passing by as well.

A Responsibility to Protect Workers Against Struck-By Injuries

Struck-by injuries are the second leading cause of fatal injuries among construction workers, according to the CDC.  These injuries occur when a worker is struck by a vehicle, equipment or a falling object.

Construction companies can reduce the risk of struck-by injuries by utilizing barriers to separate different parts of the construction site and to separate the work area from the public.

Free Legal Consultation – Boston Personal Injury Lawyers Who Specialize in Construction Accidents

Experience matters when you hire a personal injury lawyer. Breakstone, White & Gluck has over 125 years combined experience successfully obtaining record recoveries for our clients who have been injured by negligence in Massachusetts. We provide aggressive representation to workers, family members and others after construction accidents and premises liability accidents.

To learn more, we invite you to read our past case results for clients and to contact us to learn your legal rights. For a free legal consultation, call 800-379-1244 or 617-723-7676 or use our contact form.

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By: Ronald Gluck

Attorney Ron Gluck is a member of the Charles River Wheelers and wrote this article for the club’s monthly newsletter, WheelPeople.

If you witness an accident, let the victim and the police know. The role of eyewitnesses is critical to the outcome of a case involving injured cyclists. In many cases, police receive a version of the incident from both the cyclist and from the driver of the motor vehicle. When these versions conflict, as they often do, it can be a toss-up as to who is correct. That is when an independent witness, who has no skin in the game, is critical. That person’s version of what they saw can be the difference-maker in the case.

Unfortunately, many people choose not to identify themselves as witnesses. Perhaps they are concerned that their involvement will take too much of their time. They may fear that they might even have to go to court someday to testify in the case, or be involved in a deposition. For many people, the default is to stay uninvolved. For the victim of a serious accident, the witness’s preference to remain uninvolved can have life-altering consequences.

What Would You Want if You Were Seriously Injured? What to Consider.

Perhaps one way to think of it is to ask yourself the question, “what would I want a person to do if I were the one seriously injured in a bicycle collision?” The answer is obvious: you would want the person to identify themself and convey to the police what they had observed. Since that’s what we all would want people to do, then adopt it as a policy of what to do in the event that you are such a witness.

Let’s look at what is really involved in terms of your time and the interruption in your life if you became a witness in a case that eventually went all the way to trial.

First, at the scene you may be a first responder and can provide comfort to the cyclist and be the first to call 911. Then, after identifying yourself to police, you would briefly give your statement and the police may ask you to submit a written statement which you could do from your home. Many months later, you may be contacted by an attorney to briefly discuss your observations over the telephone and then, perhaps, in the next year you may spend an hour or two giving your observations in a deposition which these days is often done by Zoom.

Although many people feel nervous when being questioned by attorneys in the course of litigation, the fact is that a witness who is simply volunteering their observations, and who has no rooting interest for either side, is treated with great respect by attorneys. The attorneys will always help accommodate a witness’s schedule to make the deposition convenient for them. And, if the case ultimately goes to trial and you are called to testify in court, the attorneys and the judge will go out of their collective way to accommodate the schedule of the witness if at all possible. The testimony would take an hour or so of your time.

Having done all of that, over the course of 2 to 3 years, the witness would likely feel good about their participation in the process. They would feel good that they helped the victim achieve justice. They would feel good that they stood up and made their voice heard.

One Witness: “It Was the Right Thing to Do.”

Recently, a witness to a serious collision stepped forward and made his name known to police at the scene. He did not know it at the time, but the driver of the vehicle that struck the cyclist would present a version of accident that was designed to help him escape liability for the collision. The witness told police what he had seen. He then wrote out a statement and gave it to the police. The cyclist, who suffered a brain injury, and who had little recollection of the incident due to the brain injury, achieved justice in the end largely because of the courage and selflessness of the witness to step forward. When I asked the witness why he had stepped forward and spent his time making sure that police understood what he had observed, he replied simply, “it was the right thing to do.” Yes, the right thing to do. Many people live by that credo. This is one more way, in the bicycling and motor vehicle context, that we can all bring it to life in the name of seeing that justice is done.

Enjoy riding and stay safe.

If you have questions about a particular incident or more generally about the subject matter of this column, feel free to contact Ron Gluck at gluck@bwglaw.com.

About Ron Gluck
Ron Gluck is a founder and principal at Breakstone White and Gluck in Boston. Throughout his 35-year legal career, Ron has represented seriously injured individuals in a variety of cases including cycling accidents involving catastrophic injury and wrongful death. Ron is a member of the Charles River Wheelers and regularly writes The Gluck Legal Takeaway column for the monthly newsletter, WheelPeople.

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Motorcyclist approaches an intersection between a driver.Cars and motorcycles must share the same road. It is your responsibility as the driver to look out for each other. You must learn to share the road and drive responsibly. Driving a motorcycle, however, places you at risk for more serious injuries because your entire body will absorb the impact from any form of collision.

Even if you wear proper gear, from helmets to a Kevlar vest, you can still face major injuries because a motorcycle leaves you exposed. Sadly, other drivers may fail to see motorcycles because they are smaller. On top of that, others engage in reckless behavior such as DUI or distracted driving.

A collision between a car and a motorcycle running at high speeds usually results in a catastrophe. If you find yourself in this situation because of another driver’s negligence, consider contacting a reputable accident attorney to help you find justice. Learn more about the most common causes of crashes between a car and motorcycle; and what you can do to mitigate it.

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Ebikes, also known as EAPCs- electronically assisted pedal cycles, have become very popular over the past 10 years. The Industry is exploding with new models and new users.  In Massachusetts bikes fall into the Ebike category if they are motorized but the motors have a maximum speed of twenty-five mile per hour. Massachusetts restricts use of these bikes to people who are sixteen or above.  Operators of Ebikes must have an operator’s license and an  Ebike may require registration depending on its maximum speed. All riders must be helmeted.  Insurance is not required.  Ebikes may not be ridden on bike paths in Massachusetts.

For certain insurance purposes, Ebikes are treated differently than ordinary bicycles. As an example, whereas riders of bicycles who are hit by a car or truck are entitled to personal injury protection benefits which cover medical bills and lost earnings.

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How to write a demand letter.A demand letter is a formal notification. It tells a service provider, merchant, insurance company, or business that an aggrieved party intends to pursue legal action and take them to court over an alleged unfair treatment or erroneous trade practice.

This letter can be written as a precursor to filing a lawsuit. It can also act as an effective document to help you resolve legal issues without undergoing litigation. Everyone knows the latter is costly, long, drawn-out, and stressful.

In many instances, companies use demand letters exactly as their name suggests. They demand that customers, partners, or suppliers pay their arrears or money due to them for services rendered. Although these letters may seem pretty straightforward because you are only demanding something, this is still considered a legal document.

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Boston personal injury lawyer David W. White of Breakstone, White & Gluck

Attorney David W. White of Breakstone, White & Gluck in Boston.

Attorney David W. White was interviewed for WBUR’s news coverage of the Red Line subway accident that claimed a man’s life at Broadway Station in Boston over the weekend.  The man was reportedly dragged after his arm got caught in a subway door. The National Transportation Safety Board is now investigating.

Breakstone, White & Gluck represents clients who have been injured in MBTA subway crashes, pedestrian bus accidents and other incidents in the Boston area.  When asked, Attorney White said he believes the law allows the MBTA to offer sympathy to an injured party without making an admission, but he does not recall a time this has happened.

“As long as you’re not saying, for example, ‘I’m sorry that I was negligent and that someone suffered injury,’ you’re not making an admission,” he said. “But to simply say, ‘I’m sorry. I’m very sorry. Our condolences, our sympathies,’ there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.” Read and listen to the WBUR coverage.

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