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Articles Posted in Car Accidents

Americans suffer about two million concussions annually, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). A concussion is a mild form of a traumatic brain injury (TBI) and is usually a “closed head” injury. What does that mean? Basically, concussions are most commonly caused by blunt trauma or a strong impact to the head, not penetration through the skull. When the brain bounces around in the head, it can become bruised. In some cases, internal bleeding may also occur.

Car accidents are one of the leading causes of concussions. In fact, more than 14 percent of concussions occur in motor vehicle accidents. You don’t have to experience direct impact to the head to suffer a concussion. In car accidents especially, the body may be violently jolted or shaken, causing the brain to slam against the inside of the skull. Concussion symptoms can take hours, days, or even weeks to appear. As such, it is crucial that you seek medical attention after a car accident or any type of blow to the head.

Are Concussions Dangerous?

Concussions can range from mild to severe, and the risk of long-term complications increases with the severity of the concussion. Concussions are evaluated using a grading system to determine severity. The different levels of concussion include:

  • Grade 1: No loss of consciousness. Amnesia occurs for less than 30 minutes, or not at all.
  • Grade 2: Unconscious for less than five minutes. Amnesia lasts less than 24 hours.
  • Grade 3: Unconscious for more than five minutes. Amnesia may continue for more than 24 hours.

Regardless of whether or not you lost consciousness, it is wise to visit the emergency department if you have suffered a head injury. This is especially true if your injury was accompanied by vomiting, loss of balance, or seizures. A common risk with concussion patients is something called Second Impact Syndrome, which occurs when the brain is re-injured before the first concussion injuries have healed. It is crucial to take it easy and avoid any type of impact to the head if you even suspect a mild concussion. Second Impact Syndrome can be fatal. A MA personal injury lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve suffered a concussion due to another’s negligence. Continue reading

Distracted driving is one of the biggest safety issues we face today. Distractions existed before the advent of smart phones and social media, they just weren’t as compelling. Eating while driving, changing the radio station, and talking to passengers are all forms of distraction, but they don’t elicit the same Pavlovian response as the constant dings of our cell phones.

According to the National Highway Safety Traffic Administration (NHTSA), in 2015, about 3,500 people died in accidents involving a distracted driver and nearly 400,000 were injured. Pedestrians are also at great risk of being injured or killed by a distracted driver. Kids walking to school in heavily-populated areas should be taught to use extreme caution when a vehicle is approaching. Teach your kids to never assume that the driver sees them. A Boston distracted driving attorney can help you determine how to proceed if another’s negligence has caused you harm.

Newer vehicles are being designed and manufactured with all kinds of technology intended to improve safety. Unfortunately, some of these features may wind up doing just the opposite. There is a general misconception that “hands free” devices are safer than their hand-held counterparts. For this reason, most newer vehicle models incorporate Bluetooth technology, which allows the driver to talk on the phone without taking his hands off the wheel. But engaging in hands-free conversation while traveling 70 miles per hour on the interstate can be just as deadly as holding a phone to your ear.

27 Seconds of Distraction

According to the Chicago Tribune, a recent study found that the average driver remains distracted for up to 27 seconds after sending a text or e-mail. Even though you ended the distracting activity, it may take this long for your mind to re-focus on the task at hand. This fact also sheds light on another problem –  sending texts and emails while stopped at a red light or in heavy traffic. People often think this is a safe alternative to texting while driving, but study results show otherwise. Any task that takes the driver’s attention from the road creates a risk. Even a viewer console screen intended to improve the driving experience can be a distraction. A MA auto accident attorney can help you recover damages if you’ve been injured in an accident involving a distracted driver.

“Hands Free Does Not Mean Brain Free”

Distracted driving-related deaths and injuries continue to rise. Entertainment features, navigational systems, and technology that allows drivers to send emails and post on Facebook while driving are just a few of the new vehicle technologies contributing to this urgent problem. According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, hands free does not mean brain free. The agency, which recently funded a study on cognitive distraction while behind the wheel, suggests disabling entertainment features and other distractions while driving. For example, most smart phones now have a feature that prevents the device from sending any type of notification while the user is driving. Ultimately, it is the driver’s responsibility to avoid the temptation to check text messages and social media while driving. But utilizing a smart phone’s driving feature may help. Continue reading

We all know that texting and driving is dangerous, but what about texting and walking? In 2016, a total of 5,987 pedestrians were fatally injured in the United States, an increase of nine percent from the previous year. And research shows that this increase is at least partially due to smart phone use. On Wednesday, Honolulu will become the first major city to enact legislation aimed at solving this growing problem. The Hawaiian city’s new law will allow police to stop and fine pedestrians who are looking at their phones instead of paying attention to their surroundings.

When people text and walk, they have four times the risk of inadvertently engaging in another dangerous action, such as jaywalking. Initiatives to combat “cellphone zombies” are popping up around the world. Mumbai has no-selfie zones, small cities in the Netherlands and Germany have installed LED-illuminated crosswalks, and other cities are posting prominent warning signs. In response to Honolulu’s new law, several other cities and states are considering similar legislation.

Honolulu is the first major city to pass a walking-and-texting ban, but at least one smaller municipality actually got there first. Rexburg, Idaho adopted a citywide ban on distracted walking in 2011, after five pedestrians were killed in a short period of time.

“It was a shock to our system,” said Stephen Zollinger, the city attorney for Rexburg.

In response, pedestrians are prohibited from using hand-held devices while in Rexburg, unless they are talking on the phone. The small city hasn’t had a pedestrian fatality since the ban went into effect. A Boston injury lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured due to another’s negligence.

Are Safer Vehicles the Answer?

Not everyone is convinced that distracted walking legislation is the answer. Janette Sadik-Khan, former commissioner of New York City’s Department of Transportation, thinks such laws distract from more important issues, such as poor road design and driver speed. In addition, Sadik-Khan thinks that improved vehicle design could help. According to Deborah A.P. Herman, the National Safety Council’s president and chief executive, features such as softer bumpers can greatly reduce the severity of injuries in a pedestrian crash. Unfortunately, only 44 countries require that automobile manufacturers incorporate these safety features. Not surprisingly, the United States isn’t one of those countries. A MA injury lawyer can help you recover damages if you’ve been injured due to another’s negligence.

To some people, bans on walking and texting seem a bit like Big Brother. But keep in mind that this legislation isn’t the first traffic-related legislation to seem a bit intrusive. Laws enforcing seatbelt use, for example, were quite controversial initially. Time will tell if texting-and-walking bans have a measurable impact on pedestrian safety. In the meantime, if you have plans to visit Honolulu, don’t forget to put your smart phone away as you cross the street. And check back for updates on other U.S. cities. Boston may not be far behind. Continue reading

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), children’s car seats are commonly installed incorrectly. More often than not, actually. Thanks to research and advancements in technology, car seats get safer every year. But it seems that the safer they become, the more complicated they are to use, with a vast array of anchors, chest clips, tethers, and pages of confusing instructions. The NHTSA reports that 59 percent of car seats are installed improperly.

Pediatrician Benjamin Hoffman believes that percentage is much higher. According to Hoffman’s research, 95 percent of newborn seats are being misused. Rear-facing and forward-facing seats are also a problem, with an 80 percent rate of misuse. A MA injury lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if your child has been injured due to another’s negligence.

“If you give a test and 95 percent of the people taking it fail, you have to assume there’s something wrong with the test,” said Hoffman. “Car seats are hard to use and there’s a lot of factors that feed into that.”

The Right Seat for My Child

And the problems don’t only lie with the installation of the seats. Selecting the right seat for your child’s age, weight, and height can also be an issue. “Every kid is sized differently and every car seat is sized differently, so it can be difficult,” said AAA spokeswoman Beth Mosher.

Don’t let price fool you. “The least expensive car seat meets the same federal standards as more expensive car seats,” said Hoffman. The types, styles, and brands of car seats can be overwhelming. Fortunately, many retailers are flexible about allowing you to see if the seat works for you, and returning it if it does not.

Common Errors

Once you’ve purchased your seat, local police stations and AAA locations often provide inspections of car seats at no cost. The need for such a service is evidenced by attending any of the multiple car seat clinics offered around the country. During these inspections, the most common errors found include:

  • Switching to a front-facing seat before the child is ready.
  • Switching to a booster seat before the child is ready.
  • Improper use of hooks, tethers, and belts that lock the child’s seat to the car.
  • Failing to ensure that harnesses fit the child snugly.

Car accidents are the leading cause of death for children between the ages of one and 13. Many of these deaths can be prevented with a properly installed car seat. “It’s really important to continue to hammer on the industry that they need to help us protect everybody,” Hoffman said.

Is it Defective?

Sometimes the issue isn’t with the installation or use, but with the product itself. Millions of car seats have been recalled due to design flaws including flammable materials, and defective harness systems. Having your car seat inspected once you’ve installed it may help to detect any defective, broken, or missing parts. A Boston injury lawyer can help you recover damages if a defective car seat has caused harm to your child. Continue reading

For many people, nothing beats riding a motorcycle during early autumn in New England. The mild weather and vibrant foliage are perfect for long, weekend rides through the countryside. But riding a motorcycle comes with inherent dangers. In fact, you are six times more likely to die in a motorcycle crash than in a car crash.

But it’s not all bad news. The vast majority of these accidents are easily preventable. Don’t become a statistic. By following the tips below, you can dramatically reduce your risk of being seriously injured or killed in a motorcycle accident.

Motorcycle Safety Tips

  • If you ride, wear a helmet. The argument for helmets is water-tight. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), of the more than 4,000 fatal motorcycle accidents in 2011, approximately 40 percent of the riders were not wearing a helmet. That same year, NHTSA estimates that the lives of 1,617 riders were saved by wearing a helmet. And those figures don’t even take into account the statistics on injury accidents. Countless riders have avoided traumatic brain injuries and other serious injuries by wearing a helmet.
  • Never use drugs or alcohol when you ride. Drugs and alcohol are a no-no when you get behind the wheel of any motor vehicle, but the issue becomes even more dire when a motorcycle is involved. Operating any vehicle takes focus and attention, but riding a motorcycle comes with added responsibilities. The ability to maintain balance – which is of utmost importance on a motorcycle – is negatively impacted by drugs and alcohol. You should also use caution if you are currently on prescription or over-the-counter medications. Even something as seemingly benign as Benadryl can affect your ability to ride safely.
  • Do not speed…ever. According to the Insurance Information Institute (III), 33 percent of all fatal motorcycle accidents in 2015 involved excessive speed. Even on open stretches of road, speeding is dangerous; uneven pavement, loose gravel, and other debris can cause you to lose control of the bike. And losing control at high speeds is often deadly. A Boston motorcycle accident lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured due to another’s negligence.
  • Keep your bike in good shape. As with any motor vehicle, it is extremely important to maintain your motorcycle. Frequently check tires, turn signals, and lights to ensure that they are in proper working order, and have your bike’s engine and brakes checked at least annually.
  • Remember that cars and trucks may not see you. Due to a motorcycle’s small size, it is easy for a bike – and its rider – to disappear in a driver’s blind spot. Never assume that a driver can see you. Avoid making sudden lane changes in close proximity to other vehicles, and never ride between lanes of slow-moving or stopped traffic (called lane splitting). A MA injury lawyer can help you get the compensation you deserve if you’ve been injured in a motorcycle accident.
  • Whenever possible, avoid road hazards and riding in inclement weather. Especially during summer and fall months, road construction is a major hazard for motorcyclists. Use extreme caution when riding through these areas which are often riddled with loose gravel, uneven pavement, pot holes, and other debris. And don’t ride when weather is bad. Heavy rains, and icy or snow-covered roads can be deadly.

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Tennis Superstar Venus Williams was involved in a crash on June 9 that fatally injured another. The victim, 78-year-old Jerome Barson, died two weeks after the incident. According to Palm Beach Gardens police, Williams ran a red light and the other driver crashed into the side of her 2010 Toyota Sequoia SUV.

The victim’s wife, Linda Barson, was driving the couple’s 2016 Hyundai Accent at the time of the crash. Williams was crossing an intersection at low speeds when Barson crashed into the SUV, according to a report. However, despite the low speeds, Williams “violated the right of way” of Barson’s vehicle when she ran the red light. Barson suffered non-life threatening injuries. Williams was not injured.

No Drugs or Alcohol Suspected

Although the incident is still under investigation, neither driver is suspected of having been under the influence of drugs or alcohol, according to Williams’ attorney Malcolm Cunningham.

“This is an unfortunate accident, and Venus expresses her deepest condolences to the family who lost a loved one,” said Cunningham in a statement.

Wrongful Death Lawsuit Filed

Barson’s family has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the tennis celebrity, alleging negligence. According to the lawsuit, Linda Barson suffered a shattered right arm and cracked sternum, among other injuries to her wrist and hand. Jerome Barson suffered multiple injuries, including “severed main arteries, massive internal bleeding, a fractured spine, and massive internal organ damage.” He succumbed to these injuries after two weeks in the intensive care unit, on his wife’s 68th birthday. Barson claims that Williams cut in front of her car and she had no time to stop.

This case illustrates the difference between a civil wrongful death lawsuit and a criminal manslaughter or murder case. To be liable for the wrongful death of another, a person doesn’t need to have acted with malice. In Williams’ case, she hadn’t tried to harm Barson, nor was she necessarily reckless. But at least according to the court, she was negligent. A Boston wrongful death attorney can help you obtain compensation if you’ve lost a loved one to another’s negligence. Although money can’t bring back a loved one, it can help provide you with the time and space to heal.

Elements of a Wrongful Death Case

In order for a wrongful death claim to be successful, four elements must have been present. These are negligence, breach of duty, causation, and damages.

  • Negligence: The person responsible for the wrongful death must have acted in a reckless or careless way. For example, if someone is texting while driving, he will likely be found negligent in the event that an accident results. A MA wrongful death attorney can help you determine if negligence played a role in your loved one’s death.

 

  • Breach of duty: The person responsible must have owed a duty to the victim. For example, a driver has a duty to remain focused and follow the rules of the road when she’s driving. If she ignores these rules, she has breached that duty.

 

  • Causation: The death must have been caused by the responsible person’s negligent actions. For example, Venus Williams allegedly disobeyed the rules of the road when the accident occurred. As such, she was negligent. But did her negligence cause the death of Jerome Barson? In this particular case, the answer is likely yes. However, had Barson’s wife been speeding and intoxicated at the time of the accident, the outcome may have been very different.

 

  • Damages: In order for a wrongful death claim to be successful, someone must have actually died. This isn’t hard to prove. However, damages may add up to more than the death itself; there may be property damages, loss of income, loss of consortium, funeral expenses, and more.

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Most people know that cars and passenger trucks have blindspots, so it’s no surprise that tractor-trailers do as well. However, large trucks have more blindspots than their passenger vehicle counterparts…and they’re much bigger. This is basically due to a truck’s large size, but tractor-trailers are not equipped with a rear view mirror either. As such, the visibility of large trucks is extremely limited in the front and back, and on both sides. Read on for more information about tractor-trailer blindspots, and how you can avoid being injured in a related accident.

In some ways, a truck’s height is an advantage. However, low-riding cars and vehicles close to the truck’s front and back can easily disappear into a very dangerous blindspot. This is equally true of motorcycles and bicycles. As stated above, trucks don’t have rear view mirrors. They rely solely on side mirrors to see their surroundings.

No-Zones

According to the US Department of Transportation, the rate of annual traffic-related injuries and fatalities has increased by more than 7 percent. Basically, this means that we are more at risk today than we were in the past. But who is most at risk? If you belong to one of the categories below, it may be you.

  • You are male. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), males are more likely to die in a car crash than females. Specifically, males between the ages of 20 and 24, and those 85 and over, are most at risk.
  • You are a pedestrian…in Washington D.C. In 2015, about 15 percent of traffic-related fatalities were pedestrians, nationwide. The state / regional percentage was highest in D.C.
  • You drive and text. Actually, using a cell phone while driving, for any reason, greatly increases your risk of being seriously injured or killed. If you use your phone or other handheld device while behind the wheel, you are four times more likely to be involved in an accident than your non-distracted counterparts. The risk is higher if you’re texting. But even hands-free options pose a risk. Distractions don’t only involve taking your eyes off the road. A distracted mind can be just as dangerous.
  • You drive in one of the top 9 dangerous states for car crash injuries and fatalities. These are California, Texas, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, Illinois, New York, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. A MA injury lawyer can help you recover damages if you’ve been injured in an auto accident.
  • You drive a pickup, and you live out in the boonies. Drivers of pickup trucks have a higher-than-average rate of crash-related fatalities. And in 2015, this risk was especially high for pickup drivers in rural parts of Wyoming and North Dakota.
  • You’re on the road during the deadliest driving hours of the day. If you’re behind the wheel between 3 and 9 pm, make sure to use extra caution. More fatal accidents occur during this time period than any other.
  • You drive on any of the following days: January 1, July 4, August 2, October 11, and November 1. According to the IIHS, these are the deadliest driving days of the year.
  • You drive above 55 mph. According to the Department of Transportation, approximately 48 percent of car crash deaths involve speeds of more than 55 mph.
  • You drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol. This might seem like an obvious one, but you don’t have to be legally drunk to increase your risk of a deadly car accident. The risk increases even at very low blood alcohol concentration (BAC) levels, and it skyrockets when BAC is above 0.04 percent. In fact, about 29 percent of all traffic fatalities involve alcohol. When drugs are involved, the risk of a fatal accident increases to five times that of drug-free drivers
  • You ride without a helmet. When it comes to motorcycles, helmets save lives. Wearing a helmet reduces a rider’s risk of head injury by 50 percent. A Boston motorcycle accident attorney can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured by another’s negligence
  • You drive without a seatbelt. This statistic is one of the most compelling. More than 88 percent of drivers wear seat belts at all times, but nearly half of all crash-related fatalities in 2015 involved people who were not wearing seatbelts. Buckle up.

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If another’s negligence has caused you harm, you may wish to bring a personal injury lawsuit against that person(s), business, or entity. Although any type of accident can result in a personal injury claim, certain accidents account for more claims than others. By hiring a skilled Boston injury attorney, you may be able to recover damages for everything from medical expenses to pain and suffering. The accidents that account for the most personal injury claims include:

 

  • Motor vehicle accidents: Crashes and collisions take center stage when it comes to personal injury claims. Nearly 1.3 million people are killed in car crashes annually; that’s an average of 3,287 deaths per day. And up to 50 million are injured or disabled.

 

  • Motorcycle accidents: Thousands of people are killed in motorcycle accidents in the US annually. In fact, motorcyclists are 35 times more likely to die in a crash than drivers of other motor vehicles. Dramatically reduce your risk of serious injury and death by always wearing a helmet, maintaining a safe speed when riding, and taking rider safety courses. A MA motorcycle accident attorney can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured.

 

  • Bicycle accidents: As the warmer weather finally makes an appearance in New England, we are beginning to see more bicyclists on the road. This is a good thing – cycling is a healthy, economical, and environmentally-sound activity. But cyclists are prone to serious injury and death in a crash involving a motor vehicle. Protect yourself when cycling by avoiding adverse weather conditions, wearing brightly-colored gear, obeying road signs, and always wearing a helmet.

 

  • Slip and fall accidents: A leading cause of personal injury claims, slip and fall accidents can result in broken bones, lacerations, and even traumatic brain injuries. Second only to motor vehicle accidents, slip and fall accidents account for 15 percent of all accidental deaths.

 

  • Dog bites: Especially common among young children and the elderly, dog bites can result in permanent scarring. If you have been bitten or attacked by a dog, you may be entitled to compensation for medical expenses, pain and suffering, and reconstructive surgery.

 

  • Medical malpractice: Medical negligence is one of the leading causes of death in the United States, but medical malpractice lawsuits can be extraordinarily complex. A knowledgeable malpractice attorney can help you navigate the process and recover damages if medical negligence has caused you harm.

 

  • Large truck accidents: Also known as 18-wheelers, big rigs, and tractor trailers, large trucks account for thousands of accidents every year. Unfortunately, due to their massive size and weight, accidents involving large trucks are often deadly. In 2015, 3,852 people were killed in accidents involving large trucks. Only 16 percent of those deaths were truck drivers. A whopping 69 percent were occupants of passenger vehicles.

 

  • Pedestrian accidents: Pedestrians accounted for about 14 percent of all traffic-related deaths in 2013. One-fifth of those fatalities involved hit-and-run drivers.

 

  • Boating accidents: Boating season is soon upon us…this is a favorite time of year for many Bostonians. Unfortunately, negligence, alcohol use, and inexperienced operators often lead to boating accidents, and serious, life-threatening injuries. Use your head – avoid alcohol and speeding, and make sure your boat is equipped with life vests and necessary safety equipment.

 

  • Work-related accidents: Injured on the job? In 2015, a total of 4,836 workers were killed on the job. That’s 93 deaths per week, and 13 per day. Work-related injuries are generally covered by workers’ compensation, but you may be entitled to additional compensation if negligence played a role.

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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