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Articles Posted in Bus Accidents

Last month a fatal charter bus accident killed three people in Queens, New York. This tragedy has called attention to a glaring, and growing, problem. Thousands of private bus companies with countless violations and terrible safety records continue to operate in the United States every day. While public transportation is closely regulated by local governments, private bus companies are not.

Dahlia Group, the bus line involved in last month’s fatal accident, has had two other fatal crashes. And the bus driver in the Queens crash, who is reported to have been speeding, has a past drunk driving conviction. As horrible as Dahlia’s record may sound, it’s far from the worst. Yep Tour is a private bus company currently operating in NYC. In the past two years, Yep has received more than 200 safety violations. Despite the fact that Yep has failed to pay more than $300,000 in fines, the city still issued a transportation permit to the Massachusetts-based company.

In the United States, there are currently more than 3,200 private bus companies, many of which have horrific safety violation records, and are notorious for overworking employees and overlooking vehicle maintenance. Unfortunately, these dangerous violations often go unnoticed until a tragic bus accident makes headlines. Budget bus companies certainly provide an in-demand service, but it shouldn’t come at the expense of riders’ lives. A Boston personal injury lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured by another’s negligence.

Public Transportation isn’t Always Safer

At least not when it comes to the Boston area. The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) has recently been in the spotlight for serious safety violations, injuries, and even fatalities. Crushing debt may be at least partially to blame. Trains catching fire, speeding and texting bus drivers, train collisions, and bus-pedestrian crashes are just a few of the high-profile accidents marring MBTA’s reputation in recent years. The transportation agency’s $7.3 billion repair backlog certainly isn’t helping. At about 1.3 million rides per day and counting, the MBTA is the country’s fifth-largest transit system, but funding is only a fraction of that of peer agencies.

“The problem we have is a problem of literally decades of disinvestment,” former Massachusetts DOT director Jim Aloisi told Streetsblog. A MA injury lawyer can help you recover damages if you’ve been injured in a bus accident.

Local Law takes a Back Seat to Federal Law

Despite MBTA’s checkered past, public transportation is generally safer, and held to higher standards, than private companies. California state lawmakers attempted to improve private bus line safety regulations last year, following a fatal charter bus crash that killed 10 people. When he proposed the addition of certain safety features, State Senator Ricardo Lara learned the hard way that federal law is king when it comes to private bus lines. Local laws took a back seat, and his requests for safety windows and better data keeping were replaced with markedly weaker legislation, such as requiring drivers to show passengers how to use emergency exits.

“It is frustrating that local legislatures can’t do more to make buses safer, even if it just means putting recommendations made at the federal level into state law,” said Mr. Lara. “We got the most we could with safety lights and training for passengers, but our hands were tied by outdated federal safety regulations.” Continue reading

Drivers have been distracted since the first driver got behind the wheel of the first car. But the types and frequency of distractions have definitely increased since the advent of smart phones, navigational systems, and other hand-held devices. In fact, about 431,000 people were injured due to distracted driving in 2014 alone. A MA car accident lawyer can help you determine how to  proceed if you’ve been injured by a distracted driver.

The reality is, our entire life is at our fingertips (or rather, in our pockets) at all times. What better way to break up the boredom and monotony of a long drive than to text a friend, check your email or Facebook, or make a quick phone call? Unfortunately, taking your eyes or focus from the road, even for a few seconds, can be deadly. Even placing your smart phone on the dash or passenger seat can pose problems. When the phone lights up or dings to alert you to a text message or email, it’s hard to resist the temptation to glance at your phone.

Is Hands-Free Safe?

The best way to prevent distractions from smart phones is to keep your phone in your glove box, purse, or somewhere else that is not visible while you’re driving. If you absolutely must make a call, send a text, check directions, or read an email, pull over to a safe location or ask a passenger to do it for you. You can also use hands-free technology to make a call or send a text, but there is quite a bit of controversy surrounding the safety of hands-free devices; although they keep your hands on the wheel and your eyes on the road, a distracted mind can be just as dangerous.

How to Identify, and Avoid, Distracted Drivers

Even if you are the most responsible driver on the road, there’s no guarantee that the drivers with whom you share the road are also responsible. In fact, there’s a better chance that most of them have read or sent at least one text while driving. For this reason, it’s a good idea to pay close attention to the other cars and trucks on the road. Although you can’t always tell when a driver is distracted, there are several behaviors that can help you identify a distracted driver. Many of these behaviors are similar to those of intoxicated drivers. Avoid driving too close to a driver who is:

  • Drifting out of the appropriate lane and swerving to get back.
  • Slowing down without actively braking, when there doesn’t appear to be a good reason to do so.
  • Slamming on the brakes.
  • Driving erratically.

Proving that a driver was distracted at the time of an accident isn’t always an easy task. However, if you believe that a distracted driver crashed into you, the best thing to do is call the police. If law enforcement finds evidence that the driver may have been using a smart phone or other hand-held device, he or she can issue a citation. If you decide to file a personal injury claim, this citation can be of immense help to your case. The police report can also be used to build a successful case. Evidence of smart phone use while driving may include:

  • Usage records from the cellular carrier
  • Testimony from witnesses
  • Surveillance or traffic cam footage

An experienced Boston motor vehicle accident attorney will know how to look for evidence that can help you win your case. Continue reading

Multiple deadly accidents involving duck boats have occurred in cities throughout the country over the past few years. Duck boats are amphibious vehicles originally used during World War II to transport goods and troops across land and water. In more recent times, duck boats have been transformed into the ultimate tourist attraction, sightseeing vehicles that can float in the water and drive down the road alongside cars and trucks. Currently, more than a dozen American cities have duck boat tours, and Boston is one of them.

Boston’s fondness for duck boats is understandable; they have been used in parades and to celebrate sports championships for years. In fact, the New England Patriots just celebrated their Super Bowl win by riding down Boston’s streets in two dozen duck boats.

A String of Fatal Duck Boat Accidents Has Raised Concerns

Unfortunately, not everyone in Boston – and across the country – is as fond of these land-water vehicles. In fact, some advocates want to see them banned altogether. Five college students were killed in Seattle in a duck boat accident in 2015. In Philadelphia, three people were killed in two separate duck boat crashes. And right here in Boston, a duck boat ran over 28-year-old Allison Warmuth, killing her, last year. A Boston injury lawyer can help you determine if you should file a personal injury lawsuit after any type of motor vehicle accident, including those involving duck boats.

Ivan Warmuth, the father of the young woman who was killed by a duck boat last year, believes the vehicles should be banned. According to critics, the massive vehicles are dangerous due to their current design. Drivers have to deal with multiple blind spots, more than with other motor vehicles, making it difficult to see the road directly below them. In addition, the drivers typically double as tour guides, pointing out and talking about various historical landmarks as they drive through Boston.

Improved Safety Measures in Boston

Warmuth’s parents are lobbying for new legislation that will improve the safety of duck boats. They have already seen some success; MA has passed a law requiring duck boats to be equipped with proximity sensors and blind spot cameras. In addition, duck boats are now required, by law, to have a second employee on board. This will prevent the driver from being distracted by having to narrate the tour while operating the vehicle.

Following the accident that resulted in Warmuth’s death, the National Transportation Safety Board examined video showing the driver turning in his seat to point to landmarks while driving. ‘‘I hear again and again from Boston Duck Tours and any of these other companies that safety is their No. 1 priority, and if that’s the case, you can’t argue that the safest way to operate the vehicles is for the driver to also be giving the tour,’’ said Kevan Moniri, who was a passenger on Warmuth’s scooter when the accident occurred. He says he realized, as the duck boat approached, that the driver could not see them in his path.

Less than three months after Warmuth’s fatal accident, a woman from New Jersey was seriously injured when a duck boat struck her on a Boston street. If another’s negligence has caused harm to you or a loved one, you may be able to recover damages by consulting with a MA injury lawyer. Hopefully, duck boat tour companies nationwide will take the proper safety measures to reduce the risk of serious injury and death. In the meantime, consider the risks before taking a duck boat tour, and use caution when approaching a duck boat as a cyclist, passenger, or while operating a motor vehicle. Continue reading

A school bus carrying over 30 elementary school students experienced a wild crash in Quincy on Tuesday, Oct. 25 and is now under investigation to determine the cause of the accident. Seven people were taken to the hospital with minor injuries and returned home later the same day, including five kids, the bus driver and a driver of an SUV that was struck during the crash.  During the potentially-deadly crash, the bus hit the SUV and knocked down overhead wires, a brick wall, a wooden fence, a U.S. Post Office mailbox, and sent a fire hydrant flying 100 feet into somebody’s front law as it traveled out of control for what was described as “the length of a football field.” Respondents to the scene remarked that it was incredible that nobody was seriously injured in the scary event that “looked like a tornado had touched down.”

The crash was clearly not as disastrous as it could have been, and now investigators will look into how the bus wound up so out of control for so long. Unfortunately, there were no security cameras on board the bus to provide a glimpse into the moment it went out of control.

Students likely jarred by the event

Reporters and first respondents who spoke to parents and some of the students on the bus tell stories of the fear experienced during the crash.  “Everybody was screaming really loud,” said one of the students on the bus, as reported by WCVB. “I’m just thankful we didn’t have any worse injuries,” Thomas Koch, mayor of Quincy, said. “When you look at the scene here, it’s devastating; so we’re blessed.”  The students involved spanned from kindergarten through fifth grade. They were either headed home or headed to an after-school music program at Quincy High School. After the crash, they were escorted off the bus safely to a local restaurant and were picked up by their parents.

Now the Quincy Public Schools are making counselors available for any students who may need them, and either the principal or assistant principal of the elementary school will ride with kids on the bus for as many days as it takes to get kids comfortable with riding the bus again. Any student involved was not expected to return to school the following day. Continue reading

Operating within a metropolitan area unparalleled by its surroundings, the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) is responsible for transporting millions of people with its trains, buses and ferries every day. Anyone who has ever spent serious time in Boston or its surrounding area has an almost intimate knowledge of “The T.”  As is often the case, we usually take this massively complex operation for granted as we put in our earbuds and zone out during a morning or afternoon commute. However, the MBTA deals with thousands of transport vehicles carrying, as was reported in 2008, 1.3 million riders per day. It is probable that the number of riders has only risen in recent years.  As a result of this massive and regular migration of people, accidents will happen. What matters most, however, is distinguishing the difference between an honest accident that occurs when dealing with such a delicate and widespread entity such as the MBTA, and an accident that occurs as the direct result of the organization’s negligence.

When would the MBTA be at fault?

If you’re riding the green line, headed into the downtown for another day of whatever job you have, or you’re going towards Brighton or Brookline at the end of a long day, and the conductor blows by a stop light and collides with another train – which happened in May of 2009 – then the MBTA and the operator are directly liable for any pain, suffering or medical expenses that result from that negligence.  If a subway station is left in a condition that is hazardous to its patrons, the MBTA is liable. For example, if stairs are left slippery during the winter due to ice, or if a spill is left near the tracks, and somebody slips and falls, the MBTA is liable.

In another case, a green line operator fell asleep while driving a train in 2008 and collided with another train. It was revealed that the operator has sleep apnea, which is definitely a condition that should be on the watch list for the MBTA while hiring people to operate massive machines at various hours of the day and night.  In other cases, the MBTA technology can fail. Mostly everybody who has spent time commuting in the Boston area has heard stories of subway and commuter rail trains literally catching on fire. In some cases, the malfunctioning trains have filled the cabins with smoke, causing riders great discomfort and potential harm. Continue reading

With the start of school less than two weeks away in many areas, it’s the perfect time to discuss back to school safety. Whether your children take the bus or you drive them to school every day, there are steps you can take to reduce their risk of serious harm on their way to and from school. As the official Back-to-School Safety Month, August is a great time to remind drivers to use extra caution when commuting to work or transporting kids to school.

Children 14 and Under Most at Risk of Pedestrian Injuries

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a pedestrian is injured every 7 minutes in the United States. In 2013, about 76,000 pedestrians were injured in traffic-related accidents. With the upcoming surge of children walking to and from school and busses, it’s crucial to pay extra attention on morning and afternoon commutes. Children under the age of 14 are most at risk for these types of injuries and deaths due to their lack of experience and small size. The CDC reports that nearly one in five traffic-related deaths for children under 14 are pedestrian deaths.

Back to School Safety Tips for Drivers

  • Use extra caution, and low speeds, in school zones and residential areas
  • At intersections, double check for children before accelerating
  • When entering and exiting driveways, drive slowly and use extra caution
  • When driving during early morning and afternoon school hours, look for children on and near roadways
  • Do not drive distracted; put down your cell phone and keep your focus on the road at all times

Back to School Safety Tips for Kids

  • Until children are at least 10 years of age, they should always cross the street with an adult
  • Children should always cross the street at corners, and use crosswalks when available
  • Remind children to never run out into the streets
  • Never walk between parked cars
  • When entering or exiting the bus, always walk in front of the bus
  • Tell children to always make eye contact with drivers before crossing in front of them. It’s never wise to assume a driver can see you
  • Before crossing a road look left, right, and left again

Continue reading

Taking public transportation is typically safer, more cost effective, and better for the environment than driving individual vehicles. However, the Mass Bay Transit Authority (MBTA), which operates busses, trains, and ferries in Boston and the surrounding communities, has had its share of accidents in the last few years. Due to the sheer number of people using MBTA to commute every day, accidents often result in serious injuries and death. No public transportation system is perfect, but the MBTA has come under scrutiny lately for having outdated equipment,  issues with their drivers, problems with management, all of which leads to less than ideal conditions for its riders and potential safety issues as well.  Contact a Boston Personal Injury Lawyer Today.

Recent MBTA Accidents

  • Last month, a pedestrian was struck by a MBTA bus at the intersection of Albany and Massachusetts streets.
  • Six bus passengers were injured when a MBTA bus collided with another vehicle at the intersection of Warren and Quincy avenues last year.
  • In 2014, a MBTA bus driver who claims that she closed her eyes while sneezing, slammed into a guardrail in Newton. However, bus surveillance video showed that the driver was holding a cell phone in her left hand during the accident. Several passengers, who sustained non-life threatening injuries, said that she was driving too fast.

Beyond the Bus

  • Just this month, a man was struck and killed by a MBTA train near the Mansfield commuter station.
  • In 2009, dozens of people sustained serious injuries when the driver of a Green Line train crashed while allegedly texting. In response to that accident, MBTA operators are not permitted to have cell phones in their possession during work shifts.

Preferential Treatment?

In light of multiple accidents over the years, one might think that local law enforcement is cracking down on MBTA bus drivers involved in accidents. But it seems that the opposite may be true. In a WBZ investigation conducted last year, two people who had been injured in MBTA bus accidents claimed that the bus drivers got off clean. One source said that a T bus rear ended, and nearly killed her three years ago. The other accident involved a pedestrian who was dragged about 20 feet after being hit by a MBTA bus. In both cases, no charges were filed. The driver of the bus that hit and dragged the pedestrian received a citation, but it was “retracted and subsequently not issued.” In a statement to WBZ, an unnamed Transit police officer said, “You don’t write bus drivers.” According to the officer, when citations do get issued they, “will be taken care of later.”

Bus accidents can occur for many reasons, including an intoxicated driver, a driver who is texting or otherwise distracted, speeding, and faulty or defective vehicle parts. Whatever the reason, if you’re injured in a MBTA bus accident, it is in your best interest to consult with an experienced injury lawyer.

Altman & Altman, LLP – Experienced MBTA Accident Attorneys Continue reading

Whether you use public buses through the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) to go to work, or chartered tour buses while on vacation, bus transportation is generally an efficient and safe way to travel. However, as with any type of vehicle accidents can occur, potentially resulting in property damage, injury, or even death. Factors that may contribute to such accidents include defective equipment, questionable weather conditions, distracted drivers, insufficient vehicle maintenance, lack of proper driver training, and driving under the influence. In each of these cases, there are unique elements that help determine how to proceed with a lawsuit. Although there is overlap in circumstances surrounding public transportation accidents and charter bus accidents, there are also a few legal differences.

Common Carrier Liability

Any business entity that charges customers to transport people, merchandise, or property is legally considered a “common carrier” in the eyes of the federal and state governments. Passenger trains, commercial airplanes, cruise ships, all buses and even certain trucks fall under this category. In liability cases involving common carriers, four factors must exist in order to prove negligence:

  • The defendant – whether it’s the driver, supervisor, or company – owed a duty of care to the customers. This means the highest level of caution and care must be taken to ensure the safety of all passengers.
  • The defendant breached their duty of care in some way. This could be anything from improper driver training to poor vehicle maintenance.
  • This breach of duty caused the injured party to suffer damages, such as lost income, pain and suffering, or medical expenses.

Eyewitnesses that can verify alleged incidents, and expert witnesses that can explain factors from a professional perspective, are immensely helpful when trying to prove common carrier liability. Continue reading

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation has decided to stop the use of a guardrail-end terminal over concerns that there may be safety issues. The rail-end guardrail pieces, known as the ET-Plus, are made by Trinity Industries of Texas. The manufacturer has already have been the subject of products liability lawsuits by motorists claiming they lost their legs in traffic crashes.

This week, a federal jury ruled that Trinity should pay $175 million in a whistleblower lawsuit that exposed the hazards involved with using the guardrail end caps. It was guardrail installer Josh Harman who accused Trinity of making the ET-Plus unsafe when the company redesigned it.

He sued Trinity under the False Claims Act’s qui tam provisions. As the whistleblower, Harman is entitled to a percentage of what is recovered. Because of statutory mandate, the $175 million figure is expected to triple.

According to an affidavit from the MBTA police, the 42-year-old bus operator who drove through a guardrail was holding a cell phone when the accident happened. Eight people sustained non-life threatening injuries in the Newton, MA bus crash on Sunday that left a bus to partially hang off a bridge over the Massachusetts Turnpike.

The bus operator, Mattapan resident Shanna Shaw, is charged with speeding, operating to endanger, impeded operation, and obstruction of justice. She initially told an investigator that she shut her eyes while driving because she’d sneezed. However, a closer look at surveillance footage showed that Shaw was holding something in her left hand at the time. Shaw later admitted it was an iPhone.

MBTA bus operators are not allowed to have a phone with them while on duty. Instant termination is the penalty for using a phone while driving at work.