Massachusetts Consumer and Safety Update for Thanksgiving 2011

As a Massachusetts consumer attorney, I try to keep clients informed of how to keep safe this holiday season. With rainy weather, and a huge travel day today, we offer the following to avoid Massachusetts motor vehicle accidents:
1. Don’t drive in holiday traffic if you don’t have to.
2. Texting while driving is illegal.
3. Wear your seat belt – it’s the law and the easiest way to stay safe when involved in a motor vehicle accident in Massachsuetts
4. Children must be in child safety seats in Massachusetts
5. The most obvious should be do not drink and drive, but, we should all be aware to assist others who may not know they should not drive.
6. While it may be too late for today, put on your shopping list to check your underinsurance coverage in Massachusetts, which is often too low. We recommend that our clients purchase significantly more than the minimum of $20,000.00 underinsurance to protect them from underinsured vehicles and uninsured Massachusetts vehicles.
For our clients who are shopping for more fun items than insurance, we relate some of the tips offered by the Massachusetts Attorney General’s office which include:
1. Know your rights when buying gift certificates. The law says they are good for seven years. However, remember that you don’t want to be a creditor if the business files for bankruptcy in Massachusetts, so if you receive a gift certificate, use it promptly.
2. Stores must disclose their return policies, but often have different ones and strict rules. It makes sense to review a return policy if you are likely to return any item.
3. Layaway policies can be helpful for budgeting, but be careful of the policy before you turn over your hard earned money.
4. If you see a print advertisement, bring it with you as model numbers and sizes can be switched without your knowing.
5. Following all purchases with a debit or credit card, check your bank or credit card statement for any suspicious charges.
If you shop online:
1. Use a credit card for on line purchases because this gives you a layer of security.
2. Only use websites you know are legitimate.
3. Be sure to confirm the website’s authenticity before giving y our credit card information. You can look for the “s” in the “https://” for security. Also, in the lower right corner on a check out page, look for the “lock” symbol.
4. Beware of emails asking for information about your order. Do not give out information in response to those emails. The Retailers Association of Massachusetts has a website that offers additional information.
Finally as a Massachusetts burn injury lawyer, I remind folks to be safe when using ovens to cook for a holiday meal: Stay in the kitchen when you are cooking, especially if you have food heating on the stovetop. Turkeys should be checked frequently. Keep children away from stovetops and, before opening the oven to check or baste the bird, have all children away from the vicinity and protected from entering the area. Keeping the kitchen floor clean and free of debris helps prevent falls near hot items. Spending the day near the kitchen is a good time to check general safety, including the storage of knives, the security of poisonous cleaning fluids, and smoke alarms.
Have a safe and happy holiday.