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Articles Posted in Car Accidents

Even a minor car accident can be startling. Feelings of fear, frustration, anger, and embarrassment often follow. This mix of emotions can make it difficult to determine the appropriate way to handle the next steps. However, what you say and do following a car accident can have a profoundly positive or negative impact on the outcome. The information below provides key steps to take if you’ve been involved in any type of motor vehicle accident.

  • Do not leave the scene. Fleeing the scene of an accident is probably the worst decision you can make following a crash. If someone was injured, or if property damage occurred, you could be facing a “hit and run” charge, which carries harsh penalties and hefty fines. Stay at the scene until the police arrive. If, for any reason police are not called, do not leave before exchanging insurance and contact information with the other driver.
  • Make sure everyone is safe. The first step following a motor vehicle accident is to check for injuries. If you are unharmed, check your passengers first, then proceed to other drivers and passengers, pedestrians, or bicyclists that may have been involved. If someone is injured, call for first aid immediately. Do not move an injured person. If no injuries are apparent and property damage to vehicles is minimal, move vehicles to a safe location before exchanging information. If damage is extensive or injuries are present, call the police immediately. The police will create an incident report, which can be immensely helpful if you decide to file a personal injury claim.
  • Exchange information with other drivers and witnesses. Although tensions may be high, it is still important to exchange information with anyone involved in the accident. Jot down or record in your smartphone the following information from other drivers:
  1. Names
  2. Addresses
  3. Phone numbers
  4. Insurance
  5. License plate numbers
  6. Driver’s license numbers
  • If witnesses were present, you should also ask for their contact information. Whatever you do, do not discuss the accident with any other parties involved. What you say can be used against you. Even something as innocent as “I’m sorry” can come back to bite you. Simply ask if everyone is ok, and then proceed with the recommended steps.
  • Take pictures. If you have a cell phone, you likely have a decent camera on you at all times. Detailed pictures of injuries, property damage, and the scene can make all the difference in the world when it comes to personal injury lawsuits. Take photos from multiple angles. In addition to injuries and damage, photograph any contributing factors, such as an icy patch on the road, a hidden yield sign, or construction debris. Skid marks and tire tracks should also be photographed. Don’t worry about taking too many pictures, or taking the “wrong” pictures. A Boston car accident attorney can help you determine which pictures will be useful to your case.
  • Call a lawyer. Following an accident, the quicker you contact a lawyer, the better your chances of success with a personal injury claim. In addition to negotiating with the insurance companies, a MA motor vehicle accident attorney can handle any disputes that may arise during the claims process. A good lawyer can shoulder the burden of dealing with insurance companies and the complicated claims process, but he or she can also ensure that you get the compensation you deserve if you were harmed due to another’s negligence.

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If another’s negligence caused a car accident and you were injured, the experience can be emotionally, physically, and financially difficult. If you were pregnant at the time, the experience can be devastating. In the wake of such an occurrence, it’s important to know how to act to protect yourself, your baby, and your financial future.

According to studies, the actions a pregnant woman takes following a motor vehicle collision have a significant impact on the health of her pregnancy. Pregnant women are uniquely vulnerable in any type of collision, even a minor fender bender. Without immediate treatment, trauma from a car accident can result in pre-term labor, hemorrhaging, birth defects, a high-risk situation that did not previously exist, and miscarriage. On a more subtle level, a car accident can result in emotional stress, which can be bad for both mother and baby.

Symptoms to Watch For

If you’ve been involved in a car accident while pregnant, seek immediate medical attention. Although you and your baby may be perfectly fine, it’s always better to be safe than sorry. In addition, if you notice any of the following symptoms following a car accident, contact your physician immediately:

  • Loss of consciousness
  • Vaginal bleeding
  • Leaking of vaginal fluid
  • Umbilical cord protrusion (if you believe that the umbilical cord is protruding into your vagina, contact your doctor and immediately get down to your knees, making sure that your buttocks are higher than your head. If your umbilical cord is indeed protruding, this will reduce pressure until help arrives).

Sometimes symptoms don’t present for several days following a car accident. If any of the following symptoms appear days or weeks after a motor vehicle collision, seek medical attention:

  • Swelling of the face
  • Swelling of the fingers
  • Vaginal bleeding
  • Increased vaginal discharge
  • Constant headaches
  • Pain in abdominal area
  • Pain in shoulder area
  • Fever or chills
  • Vomiting not associated with morning sickness
  • Change in frequency of baby’s movements
  • Painful urination
  • Dizziness

Even when the mother has not suffered physical injury, it is still possible for the fetus to be injured. A contra-coup injury occurs when a concussion or shock is produced by a blow or jolt to another area of the body. For example, a violent stopping motion could jostle the baby within the mother’s womb, resulting in a concussion to the baby. If you have been involved in a car accident while pregnant, contact a Boston car accident lawyer today.

If another drivers’ negligence caused you harm, it’s in your best interest to seek the counsel of an experienced motor vehicle accident attorney. In addition to helping you obtain the compensation you deserve, a skilled attorney can help reduce the stressful impact of legal proceedings and dealing with insurance companies at a time when you should be focused on your health, and the health of your baby. Continue reading

Concussions are brain injuries caused by trauma to the head, usually associated with motor vehicle collisions, sports injuries, and falls. In addition to blunt trauma, concussions can also occur when the brain is “jostled around” in the head. For example, the brain may move back-and-forth in the head during a violent, high-impact car crash even if the head remains untouched. Concussions are often classified as “mild” brain injuries because they are usually non-fatal. However, complications arising from concussions can be extremely serious.

Emergency departments see more than 2.5 million concussion and traumatic brain injury (TBI) patients every year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The most challenging aspect of treating a concussion, and identifying the exact cause, is that concussions often don’t appear for days, weeks, or even months following the injury. This is why it is so important to get immediate medical attention following a high-impact accident, or one involving direct trauma to the head. Symptoms can be temporary, or they can be permanent.

Concussions and Car Crashes

More and more employers are using workers’ contracts to quietly strip workers from bringing lawsuits against them. In one of the most recent, and highest profile examples, Uber drivers have effectively signed away rights to sue the transportation-technology giant. Uber’s workers’ agreements have included an arbitration clause since at least 2013, which says that drivers must resolve legal disputes through arbitration rather than bring a lawsuit against the company. However, the impact of this clause hasn’t been particularly evident until recently, when a federal appeals court ruling put a potential $100 million class action settlement at risk.

In 2014, two California-based Uber drivers alleged that the company violated federal credit reporting laws. Both drivers filed lawsuits. In 2015, a U.S. District Court judge ruled that Uber could not force the plaintiffs into arbitration, calling it “procedurally and substantively unconscionable, and therefore unenforceable as a matter of California law.” Of course Uber appealed this decision, and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals panel overturned the ruling. As a result, the plaintiffs in the cases above will be forced into arbitration, removing their option for a class action lawsuit. This decision also impacts multiple pending lawsuits, and inevitable future lawsuits, against Uber. If you’re concerned about a workers’ contract you have signed, or are considering signing, contact a skilled MA lawyer today.

Hundreds of Thousands of Uber Drivers May be Affected

Last year, Uber agreed to pay a $100 million settlement, which would have been spread out to about 400,000 drivers in Massachusetts and California. But the settlement was rejected for being too small; the drivers could have won more than $850 million at trial. If Uber files a motion to apply the Ninth Circuit ruling to the pending case above – which it likely will – its success will mean that only drivers who opted out of the arbitration will be eligible for a payout. This would effectively exclude all but a few thousand of the 385,000 drivers included in the class action.

Compulsory arbitration is typically bad for the little guy and good for the company – in this case, Uber. In fact, arbitrators have a hidden motivation to be gentle with the big fish because large businesses are often involved in disputes and will continue to have a need for arbitrators. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that big companies can benefit from hiring arbitrators who typically decide in their favor.

The arbitration clause in Uber’s workers’ contract is intended to protect the company from being sued by its drivers for injuries and property damage. For example, if a driver hits a pedestrian because she was looking at the Uber app to determine her next ride’s location, she can’t sue Uber for damages. If you’ve been injured in any type of accident, work-related or not, contact a Boston injury lawyer today. Continue reading

Drivers who earn money chauffeuring commuters for the ride-sharing services Lyft and Uber will undergo much more comprehensive background checks, starting Jan. 6, that have been hailed as the most stringent in the country.  Every current driver and those who apply to become drivers for the ride-hailing services will be put through a state criminal background check and an additional check of their driving records. The goal is to have every driver checked out by Apr. 3. The agreement was reached by the Massachusetts Legislature and signed by Governor Baker in late November.

Governor Baker expressed his intention to create a “national standard,” not just for these two companies, but for any ride-hailing services that may pop up in the future as well. The background checks will be conducted by a new division under the authority of the Department of Public Utilities, and will ensure that the driver is not a registered sex offender. The requirements will also mandate two checks of the driver’s driving records per year.  The background checks are to be split up, one check being made by the individual company and another check being made by the state. At this point, these regulations are still written as “voluntary” measures to help ensure better passenger safety.

A major point of contention is that the new regulations do not mandate fingerprinting for Lyft and Uber drivers, which all cab drivers must undergo in Boston. Some insist that fingerprint records are the easiest and most effective form of background check. Lyft and Uber both maintain the efficiency of their current protocols, despite each having their share of incidents involving crimes committed by their drivers.

Sharing a car with a stranger can never be totally safe

There is a certain degree of trust that you place into a stranger when you climb into their vehicle and take off on a destination. A driver may come up totally clean on a background check, have no prior driving incidents or any indication of being dangerous, and then proceed to commit a crime or injure a passenger. This is an unfortunate reality of dealing with human beings in any facet of life.

While there is no comprehensive record on just how many violent or potentially-tragic accidents and incidents have occurred at the hands of ride-sharing service drivers, it is safe to assume that it is a real risk simply given the number of interactions daily and the services’ rapid growth across the nation.

These new regulations simply aim to make it more difficult for a bad person to earn the trust of a company and gain access to potential victims, which is a good thing. However, one should always be wary of their surroundings and remain aware of themselves when utilizing any service that places you in the care of a stranger. Continue reading

When multiple vehicles are involved in an accident, whether 3 or 103, determining blame can sometimes be challenging. Liability depends on what – and / or who – caused the accident, and if factors such as bad weather, speed, or alcohol played a role. In many multi-vehicle collisions, experts must recreate the accident through a process called accident reconstruction to determine who is to blame.

The vast majority of motor vehicle accidents are caused by negligence, and many multi-vehicle accidents are caused by multiple counts of negligence. For example, if car A is speeding on wet roads and hydroplanes, crashing into car B, it seems logical that car A is at fault. But what if car B failed to see car A approaching because car B’s driver was texting? As a result, car B crashes into car C. If the driver of car C is injured and claims to have seen the driver of car B texting while driving, the driver of car B could be partially liable, even though the initial accident was caused by car A. Determining fault in a multi-vehicle collision can be an extremely complicated process, especially when large pile-up accidents occur. If you’ve been injured in an auto accident, contact a Boston injury attorney today.

In multi-vehicle accidents, drivers at the front are often asked how many bumps they felt. In a three-car collision, for example, if the front driver felt one impact, it is likely that the rear car is at fault. However, if the front driver felt two impacts, it is more likely that the middle car hit the front car, then the rear car hit the middle car, causing the second impact. In this case, the middle car will likely take the blame. However, the rear car – and even the front car – can be liable under certain circumstances.

How Does Accident Reconstruction Work?

Following a multi-vehicle accident, accident reconstruction experts are often called in to examine the evidence, including the number of “bumps” felt by vehicles at the front of the accident, and witness statements. In addition, experts will use police reports, photographs of the scene and damages, and statements from the drivers to determine fault. If multiple people are found liable, the next step is to figure out who pays, and how much each person is responsible for. Contact a MA auto accident lawyer today.

Comparative Negligence or Contributory Negligence?

Some states use comparative negligence to determine what percentage of damages a responsible party will pay, while other states use contributory negligence.

  • Comparative: When the driver is found to be at least 25 percent at fault, any damages recovered will be reduced by that amount.
  • Contributory: When the driver is found to be even one percent at fault, they cannot recover any damages.

In Massachusetts, we have a modified version of comparative negligence. MA uses the 51 percent rule, which means the driver can only recover if they were less than 51 percent at fault. If the driver was 51 percent or more at fault, they cannot recover any damages. In addition, the damages recovered will be reduced by the driver’s share of the blame. For example, if the driver was 15 percent at fault for the accident and was awarded $100,000 in damages, the total payout would be reduced by 15 percent and the driver would receive an award of $85,000. Continue reading

Deciding when it’s time to hang up the keys for good can be an emotionally-challenging process for elderly parents and their children alike. For the driver in question, giving up the keys can signal a loss of independence and freedom. But if driving has become dangerous, it’s in everyone’s best interest. If you are concerned that your elderly loved one is no longer safe behind the wheel, it’s important to step in. Avoiding the conversation can result in serious consequences, including injury or death. In certain cases, you can even be on the hook for your elderly parent’s auto accident.

Age alone doesn’t affect our ability to drive, but many aspects of aging do. There are 80-year-olds with clear vision, excellent cognitive abilities, and exemplary physical health who may continue driving safely for years, and there are 60-year-olds with poor vision, severe arthritis, and multiple prescription meds who should have stopped driving years ago. The ability to drive safely after a certain age has to be determined on a case-by-case basis. That being said, according to the CDC, “fatal crash rates increase noticeably starting at ages 70-74 and are highest among drivers age 85 and older.” Considering that there are nearly 36 million drivers over the age of 65 on the road today, this is a real problem. If you’re concerned about an elderly loved one’s driving, contact a Boston auto accident attorney today.

Does Massachusetts Impose Restrictions on License Renewal for Older Drivers?

In short, yes. In MA, if you are 75 or older, you have to renew your license in person, and the RMV will conduct unsafe driver investigations if requested. Also, after age 75, you must renew your license in person every five years. At these in-person renewals, a free vision test will be conducted. If indications of driver impairment are present, a written test and / or a road test may be required. If certain impairments are present, that doesn’t necessarily mean that the license renewal will be denied. The RMV may place restrictions on the license, based on the observed impairments. Examples of these restrictions include:

  • No driving at night
  • Driving only while wearing glasses or corrective contact lenses
  • Driving a vehicle equipped with an adaptive device
  • Only driving a vehicle with automatic transmission

But Can I Be Liable?

In most cases, you will not be liable for an elderly parent’s accident. However, if you loan your car to an elderly parent or loved one, and you should have been aware that he or she was no longer a safe driver, you could be liable under vicarious liability laws, or negligent entrustment. These laws typically pertain to parents who loan their car to a child, but it can be the other way around under certain circumstances. Your liability if your parent is driving his or her own car is limited. Chances are, you won’t be liable. But – and there’s always a but – it’s not impossible. If it can be shown that you were aware of your parent’s impairment, and you knew that your parent continued to drive, you could be liable for negligence. Continue reading

Driving is difficult to do in and around Boston without any distractions, narrow roads, bicyclists, and rush hour traffic all lead to tough driving conditions.  Now add in the fact the the driver may be a teenager and may be on his or her phone – now you have a recipe for disaster.

Smartphones are addictive for all of us, not just teens.  But teens have an inherent sense of invincibility that can be especially dangerous when it comes to smartphone use and driving. For starters, many young people simply haven’t been around long enough to see the consequences of risky behavior. They are living in the moment, and can’t fully appreciate how quickly an accident can turn a life upside down. In addition to feeling invincible, kids just don’t have the instincts and experience to handle a potential accident as well as a more experienced driver. Combine all of those factors with the distraction of a smartphone, and it’s no wonder more than 200,000 teens are injured in car accidents annually.

According to studies, smartphone users check their phones an average of 85 times per day. And that includes many of us who grew up without these devices. Today’s teens are attached to their cell phones from a very early age; in many ways, the smartphone has become an extension of the person using it. A report issued by State Farm earlier this year revealed that teens involved in a crash report internet usage while driving, including watching videos, at more than three times the rate of those who are not involved in crashes. In addition to watching videos while driving, the same group reported texting, taking pictures, using social media, and playing games, at twice the rate of others. If you’ve been injured in a motor vehicle accident, contact a Boston injury lawyer today.

One-Third of Teen Drivers Report Talking and Texting While Driving

This isn’t a small group of teens who happen to be engaged in dangerous behavior. Research has shown that more than one-third of teen drivers talk and text while driving. Interestingly, the older the teen driver is, the more likely he or she is to engage in such behaviors. Studies also show that teens who engage in texting and driving are also more likely to engage in other risky behaviors, such as not wearing a seat-belt, speeding, and driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

As parents, we often feel that much of our children’s behavior when not at home is out of our control. But research doesn’t back this up. Children whose parents model safe driving practices, including not texting or using a cell phone in any way while driving, are significantly more likely to do the same. In addition, it is important to educate your children on the dangers of cell phones and driving. They may roll their eyes and seem to not be paying attention, but if you remind them to buckle up and put their cell phone in the glove box every time they get in the car, they are far more likely to heed your advice. Talk to your kids about driving safety all the time, and practice what you preach! Continue reading

Police are investigating what caused an Uber driver, carrying a passenger, to speed recklessly up a residential street in downtown Boston and wind up crashing through a brick wall of a Beacon Hill building. Nobody was hurt, thankfully, in the incident.  It has been revealed, however, that the Uber driver has multiple driving violations dating back to 1986, with two incidents since 2010, including speeding citations in Avon, Brockton, Middleborough, Milton, Norwell and Roxbury. The driver’s record also includes two incidents of failure to stop in Avon and Dorchester and two additional citations for driving without an inspection sticker.

The driver also had their license suspended “several” times, according to an investigation into the driver’s driving record by WCVB. These suspensions happened once in 2002 and, most recently, the driver avoided a license suspension by paying his fine in time. His most recent infraction happened in 2015 for an improper turn in Watertown.  Uber has confirmed the identity of the driver and his wife confirmed that he had been driving for Uber for about three years. Uber reportedly reached out to the driver for information regarding the incident.

“He was going so fast…at least 70 miles per hour. Straight into the wall,” said one witness to the incident, which rocked the quiet Beacon Hill area of Grove and Pinckney Streets. Police also said that the car was involved in a motor vehicle collision on Cambridge Street, which runs adjacent to Grove Street. The driver has been in multiple motor vehicle crashes prior to this incident.  Uber contacted WCVB after the incident, reporting that the driver passed all the requirements and tests necessary to drive for the company. Uber’s official stance is that drivers must possess a “clean” driving record and must pass a criminal background check, which extends back seven years.

“Potential drivers must provide detailed information, including their full name, date of birth, social security number, driver’s license number, a copy of their driver’s license, vehicle registration, insurance, and proof of a completed vehicle inspection,” Uber’s safety guidelines proclaims. “Individuals who pass the driving history screen then undergo a national, state, and local-level criminal history check that screens a series of national, state, and local databases including the US Department of Justice National Sex Offender Public Website, the PACER database, and several different databases used to identify suspected terrorists.”

So how, then, does a driver, such as the one who barreled through Beacon Hill into a brick wall after getting into an accident, drive for three years under their employment?

Uber remains a gray area

A quick Google search will confirm the unfortunate truth: Nobody is quite certain what to do yet in the unavoidable instance that an Uber driver gets into a vehicular accident. Uber has insisted in the past that any passengers caught up in the midst of an accident should go through their private insurance, but private insurance companies responded saying that they wouldn’t cover such incidents. Continue reading

Another recall may be on the horizon for Nissan; its 2012 Versa model is being federally investigated for faulty parts. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the vehicle’s airbags may go off at extremely inopportune moments. In some cases, it seems that simply closing the door too hard can cause the airbag to deploy.

Three complaints allege that Versa’s side airbags, mounted in both the seat or the headliner, have gone off following the slamming of a door. In addition to filling the vehicle with dust and forcing the owner to replace an expensive piece of equipment, a randomly-exploding airbag can also be dangerous. This potential recall will involve about 155,000 Versas in the United States. The NHTSA’s investigation will determine whether or not a complete recall is necessary. In the meantime, if you have a 2012 Nissan Versa, report any concerns to the feds rather than the dealer, and if you want to see if you may have a potential claim against the manufacturer contact a Boston motor vehicle accident lawyer today.

Takata Airbags – Largest Vehicle Parts Recall in History

But the complaints about Versa’s airbags are nothing compared to last year’s Takata airbag disaster. The Japanese auto-parts manufacturer recently recalled 34 million vehicles, the largest car and truck recall in US history, following at least six deaths and 100 injuries. According to claims, Takata airbags may explode and shoot shrapnel. Takata wasn’t quick to agree to the recall, however, insisting that a nationwide recall was unnecessary. They even hired three former US Transportation secretaries to help manage the crisis.

Record High for Vehicle Recalls in 2015

Nissan and Takata are far from alone when it comes to equipment defects; last year, the industry recalled nearly 64 million vehicles. This figure was more than twice the total of the previous three years combined. A total of 803 vehicle recalls was ordered last year. Of those, 123 came following NHTSA investigations and 680 were initiated by the automakers themselves. Congress has expressed concern over the reporting and investigation process when vehicle defects are identified.

A 2014 New York Times investigation of the NHTSA revealed that the agency’s response to vehicle defects was wrought with issues; they had been slow to initially identify problems and hesitant to act on them with their full legal powers.

In addition to the dangers associated with faulty or defective vehicle parts, you can also suffer damages due to economic loss. This was never more apparent than with the Volkswagen diesel emissions fraud lawsuit. More than 500,000 VW models immediately lost thousands of dollars in market value when it was discovered that the “bio-friendly” cars were actually releasing more toxic emissions than their standard counterparts. Owners of these vehicles were furious, and understandably so.   Continue reading