Disclaimer - By publishing this information on this Web site, the Boston, Massachusetts law firm of Altman & Altman LLP is not claiming to represent any clients or cases mentioned here. The content provided is designed to inform readers and is not intended as legal advice.

Articles Posted in Car Accidents

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.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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.

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

It’s common knowledge that accidents involving tractor-trailers (otherwise known as 18 wheelers and big rigs) can be deadly. Due to a large truck’s sheer weight and size (up to 80,000 pounds), drivers and passengers in smaller vehicles are disproportionately at risk of serious injury and death when involved in a collision involving a large truck. But what many people are not aware of are the multiple blind spots, on both sides and behind tractor trailers. Knowing that these blind spots are there, where they are located, and how to ensure that truck drivers can see your vehicle, may just save your life.

Avoid the “Danger Zones”

When driving beside or behind a tractor-trailer, avoiding the “danger zones” can dramatically reduce your chances of being involved in an accident. Danger zones are located:

  • 20 feet in front of the truck;
  • on both sides of the truck;
  • and 30 feet behind the truck.

Interestingly, the blind spot on a tractor-trailer’s left side is slightly smaller than that on the right. For this reason, it is usually safest to pass on the left side. A MA trucking accident lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured in an accident involving a large truck.

In addition to being aware of the blind spots, drivers of passenger vehicles should also take into account the extended time that it takes large trucks to come to a complete stop, up to 40 percent longer than passenger vehicles. If you find yourself in a truck’s danger zone, consider decelerating or accelerating (whichever option is safest) to remove yourself from the blind spot.

Trucking Accident Statistics

Trucking accidents kill thousands of people in the United States annually. Causes range from driver negligence to equipment failure. A Boston injury lawyer can help you recover damages if you’ve been injured in a trucking accident.

  • In 2015, 3,852 people died in accidents involving large trucks.
  • About 69 percent of these fatalities were occupants of passenger vehicles, while 16 percent were truck occupants, and 15 percent were motorcyclists, bicyclists, or pedestrians.
  • The number of people killed in accidents involving large trucks in 2015 was up 22 percent from the lowest year on record, 2009.
  • Common causes of trucking accidents include, driver fatigue, improper truck maintenance, distracted driving, equipment failure, driver texting, speeding, and inadequate training.

In addition to avoiding “danger zones,” you can stay safe when driving near tractor-trailers by following the tips below:

  • Avoid making abrupt lane changes in front of a large truck.
  • Don’t maneuver to the right of a large truck while it is making a right-hand turn.
  • Misjudging the speed of an approaching truck at an intersection can be deadly; avoid making a left turn in this scenario.
  • When a large truck begins to change lanes, accelerate or decelerate as appropriate.
  • Beware of air turbulence and cross-wind when passing a truck.
  • Use caution when merging into traffic ahead of an oncoming truck.
  • Do not drive between two large trucks.
  • Never abandon a vehicle in a travel lane.
  • If your car breaks down, pull safely onto the shoulder of the road.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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