Articles Posted in Car Accidents

Soft tissue injuries are one of the most common types of injuries, and can occur from immeasurable amounts of different causes. They can also range in severity from minor bruises to more serious, lingering injuries such as torn ligaments. If you suffered a soft tissue injury due to the negligence of another person, property owner or other third party, contact a personal injury attorney from the Cambridge firm of Altman & Altman LLP today.

What kind of soft tissue injury did you suffer?

Soft tissue injuries can be caused by many different means, including trips, slip and falls, car accidents, being struck by an object or person, falls from various heights and other work-related types of incidents, such as falling debris. These injuries can greatly vary in severity and in the longevity of their occurrence.

You might imagine that the winter time is the most dangerous time for drivers. Especially in New England, and Altman & Altman’s home base of Cambridge and the Greater Boston Area, the thought of wintry storms causing whiteouts and freezing temperatures producing black ice conjures reasonable fear in many of us and absolutely causes deaths every year.

However, you may be surprised to find out that the most dangerous months to drive are actually the summer months – specifically June July and August – for a variety of reasons. Those months are actually responsible for 29 percent more fatalities than the most wintery months of December, January and February, according to a recent study from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) that examined 24 years of traffic accidents in America.

What makes summer driving more dangerous than winter driving?

There are many factors that contribute to car accidents, but some of the biggest reasons for traffic accidents increasing during the months where the weather is nicer and more predictable are as follows:

There are more people on the road

According to the NHTSA study, summer months lead to an approximately 20 percent increase in the number of total vehicles on the road at any given time. Simply put, more cars on the roadways lead to a higher probability of you becoming involved in an accident.

There are more young people on the road

Partially responsible for the uptick in the number of vehicles on the road is the number of students and young people on the road due to being on summer vacation and out of school. Younger drivers have less experience on the road and in control of their vehicles, which increases the likelihood of them being in serious accidents. Teenage drivers have the highest accident rate among any driving demographic.

Hotter temperatures lead to more tire incidents

While cold temperatures cause your tires to restrict and contract, hotter temperatures cause your tires to expand. With older tires and tires that have not been maintained, rapid expansion and the hot temperatures of asphalt during summer months can lead to an increased chance of a blowout, leading to serious accidents.

Summer time is construction time

When the weather gets nicer and asphalt plants open up, municipalities rush to get as much road construction done as possible. This work leads to road closures, detours and lane changes that can surprise motorists and cause congestion, leading to rear-end accidents and other crashes. Continue reading

Drivers of Fiat Chrysler, Honda, Hyundai, Kia, Mitsubishi and Toyota vehicles may be at critical risk of catastrophic injuries due to the potential for their car’s airbag systems to be dysfunctional or fail to deploy entirely. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is investigating ZF TRW Automotive brand airbag systems and recalls are possible for these types of vehicles and more. If you are concerned about the safety of your vehicle or want a legal opinion after an accident has occurred, the personal injury experts at the Cambridge firm of Altman & Altman LLP are here to help you.

Airbag functionality is essential to safety

Thousands of accidents occur every day in America, and when you wind up in one you need to be able to rely on a few key safety components of your vehicle to keep you from becoming more seriously injured. One of those key components is your car’s airbag system – which should automatically deploy in the event of a crash in order to cushion you from the worst effects of the impact.

Airbag systems have become far more complex and reliable since they were first standardized in the early 1980s. However, this does not guarantee that manufacturers of airbags are incapable of making crucial errors that compromise the integrity and safety of these systems – putting people at risk and forcing hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of vehicles to be recalled to address the issue.

Already there have been 12.3 million vehicles investigated by the NHTSA due to a concern they may contain faulty TRW airbag systems. No recalls have been issued at this time, but the fact that the NHTSA is taking matters so seriously indicates the possibility for recalls to be issued in the future.

There have already been recalls ordered for another airbag system made by another company, Takata, which made headlines for their airbags that were prone to having explosive incidents. In the case of TRW, the issue is that electrical malfunctions may cause the airbag system to fail to detect a crash and fail to deploy when they matter most. The investigations were launched in part due to two separate incidents where the airbags failed to deploy – and in one of those cases, the failure resulted in a fatality. Continue reading

We all know the dangers of texting and driving, yet more and more American drivers are failing to take them seriously. In fact, a recent AAA study revealed that distracted driving is now the number one danger on American roadways, followed by aggressive driving, and drunk/drugged driving. Many experts blame it on our “productivity culture,” saying the pressure to respond to texts, emails and calls right now is making us more distracted, and less safe.

To reduce this rapidly-growing threat to public safety, we need more than just billboards and ad campaigns. Drivers must understand what happens—to their brains—when they drive while distracted. Taking your eyes off the road to glance at a text impacts more than just your line of vision. Reading that text is a visual distraction, yes, but it can also be a cognitive distraction. A Boston car accident lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured due to another’s negligence.

Categories of Distraction

There are three main types of distraction: manual, visual, and cognitive. Manual and visual are fairly straightforward—you take your hands off the wheel to adjust the stereo, or you take your eyes off the road to read a text. But there’s a third kind of distraction, and this one gets a bit more complicated. When a driver takes his/her attention off the task at hand—driving—he/she may experience inattention blindness, which is the inability to perceive critical driving cues due to cognitive distraction (a.k.a. “zoning out”).

Although inattention blindness can occur at any time, it’s more common following a manual or visual distraction. As a result, even after you’ve read that text and returned your eyes to the road, your mind may be too distracted to notice that the car ahead of you is braking, or that an animal is about to run into the road.

What About Fatigue?

And zoning out doesn’t only occur when a driver is texting or taking his/her hands off the wheel. Fatigue is another leading cause of distraction because it also contributes to inattention blindness. Combined with other distractions, such as reading a text or taking a sip of coffee to stay awake, fatigued driving is particularly dangerous. A MA car accident attorney can help you recover damages if you’ve been injured due to another’s negligence.

Distracted Driving Statistics

The consequences of distracted driving are often devastating. In 2016, 3,450 people were killed and 391,000 were injured in distracted driving-related motor vehicle accidents. Considering that during the day, more than 480,000 people are estimated to be using cell phones while behind the wheel, these statistics aren’t particularly surprising.

And distracted driving doesn’t only involve cell phones. Anything that takes the driver’s eyes, hands, or mind off the task of driving is considered to be a distraction. This includes everything from adjusting the stereo or navigation system, to eating, drinking, or applying make-up. Continue reading

When an Uber SUV in self-driving mode struck an Arizona pedestrian in March, it was the first fatal crash of its kind. But it was far from the only accident involving an autonomous vehicle. In fact, such accidents have dominated the headlines in recent months, raising questions about the safety of self-driving technologies.

How Do Autonomous Vehicle Computers Work?

There are three different modules in the computer systems used to operate self-driving cars—the perception module, the prediction module, and the response module.

  • The perception module uses sensors—such as cameras, radar, and pulses of light—to identify nearby objects.
  • The prediction module determines how these objects are likely to “behave.” For example, is the truck ahead going to switch lanes?
  • The response model uses the information above to determine the most appropriate response. For example, should the autonomous vehicle accelerate, decelerate, or change lanes?

These technologies are currently being tested on public roadways in states across the nation. Arizona’s dry climate has played a major role in its becoming a hot bed for testing self-driving vehicles (which still perform better on dry roads). But Arizona’s loose laws and regulations concerning self-driving vehicles may see some changes now that someone has been killed. A Boston car accident lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured due to another’s negligence.

So, what actually caused the Uber self-driving crash that killed an Arizona woman this spring?

According to Sebastian Thrun, the Stanford professor who formerly led Google’s autonomous-vehicle department, the most challenging of the three modules mentioned above is perception. Although bicycles, pedestrians, and other vehicles are relatively easy to identify, rarely-seen objects (think of a plastic bag floating across the road) pose a problem. Thrun says that when Google first began testing autonomous vehicles, its “perception module could not distinguish a plastic bag from a flying child.”

Confused Computer

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigated the Arizona accident, and determined that the autonomous Uber’s computer system failed to identify Elaine Herzberg as she walked across the road with her bicycle. Her presence was detected six seconds prior to the crash, but the perception module identified her first as an unknown object, then as a vehicle, and then as a bicycle, with a path the system was unable to predict. A MA car accident attorney can help you recover damages if you’ve been injured due to another’s negligence.

According to the NTSB report, at 1.3 seconds before the crash, the computer system recognized the need for emergency braking, but the emergency braking had been disabled due to a potential conflict with the autonomous system. In such an event, the human driver is expected to react. Unfortunately, the safety operator was looking at the self-driving display screen at the time of the accident, and was unable to brake in time.

It was determined that, although the Arizona accident had multiple causes, the fault ultimately lies in the system’s design failure. The AV system should slow down, for example, if the perception module becomes confused. Of course, unexpected braking can have its own consequences. Confused self-driving vehicles have been rear-ended by human drivers when they slowed down unexpectedly. In fact, this is the exact reason why the responsibility of braking has been officially assigned to human safety operators, who are tasked with being the safety net when the AV system malfunctions or gets confused. In order for this to work, however, the human driver must be paying attention to the road as closely as the driver of a non-autonomous vehicle. Continue reading

Uber and other ride-sharing services have completely changed the landscape of transportation in Boston and millions of other locations across the globe. For the most part, Uber has provided a loved, and much needed service. But the company has also attracted a lot of negative press in recent months and years. Numerous scandals, controversies, and lawsuits have people questioning Uber’s safety and morals.

Now a woman is suing Uber and her driver for injuries she suffered when her driver ran a red light, causing a serious accident. According to Jimena Martinez’s lawsuit, Ricardo Melendez II was distracted by his smart phone at the time of the accident. As a result, he ran a red light and was t-boned by a 16-year-old driver. A Boston car accident attorney can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured due to another’s negligence.

Martinez claims that she suffered head trauma, a joint separation in her shoulder, and multiple abrasions in the accident. And according to the police report, the driver’s distraction was the primary factor in the crash. But Martinez blames more than just the driver. She believes that Uber is guilty of gross negligence for encouraging its drivers to routinely look at and touch their smart phones while driving.

Is Uber Encouraging Drivers to be Negligent?

Martinez’s lawsuit alleges that Uber requires drivers to mount their phones on the vehicle’s dashboard to better see and respond to ride requests. When a request comes in, drivers have a mere 15 seconds within which to tap the phone, thus accepting the fare. It is not difficult to see how this system could contribute to distracted driving. Few, if any, drivers are going to pull over to a safe location before responding to these time-sensitive requests. And with more and more Uber drivers on the road, this problem is not just an inconvenience.

Although Martinez is seeking more than $1 million in damages, she has requested that the jury make a determination on the exact amount. According to her lawyer, Martinez’s medical bills are already in excess of $80,000. In addition, she had to quit her job and drop out of college due to her injuries. A MA auto accident lawyer can help you protect your rights if you’ve been injured in a motor vehicle crash.

Distracted Driving Statistics

The reality is, the case above highlights a problem that is much bigger than Uber, Lyft, and other ride sharing apps. Distracted driving continues to be one of the primary causes of motor vehicle crashes across the country. In fact, 3,450 people died as a result of distracted driving in 2016 alone.

  • Of the 2.5 million people car accidents that occur annually in the United States, about 1.6 million involve a cell phone.
  • Texting while driving contributes to more than 330,000 serious injury accidents annually.
  • One out of every four accidents involves texting.
  • Your chance of having an accident while texting is six times greater than if you were drunk driving.
  • Distracted driving involves more than just texting and talking on the phone; adjusting the stereo system, navigating, eating, and applying make-up are all forms of distraction.

Continue reading

Now that backup cameras have been a common feature in new vehicles for several years, research is underway to determine whether they are actually saving lives. The Los Angeles Times recently reported that, “Despite the growing prevalence of backup cameras, federal data shows that this technology hasn’t significantly cut down on cars backing into people and causing them harm.”

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), between 2008 and 2011, the percentage of new cars with backup cameras installed spiked from 32 percent to 68 percent. During that same time period, back-over injuries only dropped less than eight percent, from 13,000 to 12,000. A Boston motor vehicle accident lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured due to another’s negligence.

Fatal back-over accidents, however, have decreased more significantly. The Los Angeles Times reported that, “The fatality rate has improved somewhat, dropping 31% over the same period.” Even so, back-over fatalities are actually quite rare. Deaths caused by a vehicle moving in reverse fell from 274 to 189 during the three-year period between 2008 and 2011. The article did not indicate how many of these accidents involved a backup camera, if any.

When you ask someone who uses a backup camera if they think it’s effective, most say “absolutely!”. There is no doubt that they can improve the driving—and parking—experience. Obviously, avoiding hitting another car, pedestrian, or bicyclist is the main goal of a backup camera, but they also help us avoid backing over a bicycle left in the driveway by one of our kids, or a dog that decides to run behind the car.

Backup Cameras Will Soon be a Requirement

As of May 2018, all new vehicles weighing at least 10,000 pounds will be required to have a backup camera. According to the NHTSA, these cameras can prevent serious injuries and deaths, especially among small children. Even though—according to Autotrader—only 200 people die in back-over accidents each year, at least 14,000 suffer injuries. Backup cameras can all but eliminate these accidents. A MA car accident attorney can help you recover damages if you’ve been injured by the negligence of another.

“Deaths from back-over crashes thankfully are pretty rare, but they still are tragic,” said the vice president of research at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), Jessica Cicchino. “We know that rear cameras can help, but they’re not a silver bullet.”

The Most Effective Vehicle Safety Features Available Today

Backup cameras aren’t the only vehicle safety feature reducing serious injuries and deaths. The following features are touted by the United Services Automobile Association (USAA) as being among the most effective.

  • Lane-keep assist
  • Electronic stability control
  • Adaptive cruise control
  • Adaptive headlights
  • Collision warning system
  • Active park assist
  • Drowsiness alert
  • 360-degree camera

“The movement toward autonomous vehicles – self-driving cars – has brought high-tech safety features to today’s cars, too,” said USAA’s director of property and casualty loss prevention and safety programs, Jim Clifford. “Many of the groundbreaking advances in the area of car safety have come from these efforts.” Continue reading

A side impact collision is commonly referred to as a T-bone or broadside accident. It occurs when one vehicle hits the side of another vehicle, usually at a 90-degree angle. Unfortunately, these types of crashes often result in serious injuries or fatalities. Distracted driving and failure to yield are two of the most common causes of side-impact collisions. But who is at fault when a T-bone accident occurs?

Negligence is often a factor in side impact collisions. However, in order to obtain compensation for injuries and property damage, the plaintiff in a car accident case must be able to show that the other driver breached his duty to act with care while driving, and that the breach caused actual damages. A Boston motor vehicle accident attorney can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured due to another driver’s negligence.

Tips to Follow After a Side Impact Collision

For the most part, side impact accidents should be handled like any other motor vehicle accident, with some minor exceptions.

  • Exchange information with the other driver; get their insurance information, name, address and phone number.
  • Ask any witnesses for their contact information.
  • Document any injuries and damage to your vehicle by using your cell phone’s camera to take pictures from as many angles as possible.
  • Do not speak with the other driver’s insurance company. The only people you should speak to about the accident are your attorney and your
  • When a side impact collision occurs, it may be unclear who is at fault; skid marks are often highly useful in determining fault. Photograph any skid marks, as well as the scene of the accident; snap pictures of street lights and signs, trees that may have been blocking visibility, the atmosphere (is it foggy or raining hard?), icy or wet spots on the road, and any debris.

Use Extra Caution in Intersections

Many T-bone accidents occur at intersections, and they often involve secondary crashes as the force of a broadside collision can push a vehicle into oncoming traffic. Because there is very little buffer in a side impact collision (no engine or trunk to cushion the blow), this type of motor vehicle accident is often fatal. In fact, about 8,000 people are killed in side impact crashes annually. A MA auto accident lawyer can help you recover damages if you’ve been injured due to another driver’s negligence.

Memories Fade

Determining fault in a T-bone collision may seem an easy task, but that’s not always the case. Even if the driver broadsided a vehicle at high speeds, the other driver may have driven through a red light or stop sign, causing the accident. That is why witness information and photographs are so important. Not to mention, memories fade. Without documentation obtained and recorded immediately following the accident, your memory of that day’s events will become foggier with each passing day. This is one of the reasons that car accident statutes of limitation are so short. Continue reading

When we think about motor vehicle accidents in Boston, we typically imagine high-speed collisions that occur on the interstate or other roadways. But believe it or not, about 20 percent of auto insurance claims are actually related to accidents that occur in parking lots. The Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers Association conducted a study on parking lot accidents, and found that the main contributing factors are distraction and low visibility. Add snow and ice to the mix, and you have a recipe for disaster.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), nearly 92,000 people were injured in non-traffic motor vehicle accidents between 2012 and 2014. About 1,900 more were killed. Of those injured and killed, approximately a third were cyclists or pedestrians. A Boston auto accident attorney can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured due to another’s negligence.

Causes of Parking Lot Accidents

Parking lot accidents can occur year round, but they are most prevalent during winter months when snow and ice create hazardous conditions. The most common causes of parking lot accidents include:

  • Poor parking lot maintenance
  • Traffic congestion (especially during the holidays)
  • Distracted drivers
  • Vehicles backing out
  • Lack of enforcement of traffic laws

Tips to Prevent Parking Lot Accidents

The following tips will help you avoid being injured or killed in a parking lot accident. With an increase in parking lot chaos during the holidays, it’s especially important to use extra caution at this time of year. Simply looking both ways before you cross a road or intersection can save your life.

  • Avoid walking down the center of a parking lot aisle. Keep to the side and watch for cars at all times.
  • When walking in a parking lot in winter, wear non-slip footwear, such as boots or attachable treads.
  • NEVER talk on the phone, text, or send emails while you are walking through a parking lot. Keep your head up at all times.
  • If a vehicle is approaching you, make eye contact with the driver. Don’t assume they can see you.
  • Adjust your mirrors, stereo, and buckle up before you pull out of your parking space.
  • Parking lot speed limits signs and lane designations are put there for a reason. Don’t speed or cut across lanes.
  • Stop at a parking lot stop sign just as you would a roadway stop sign.
  • Keep in mind that a thick blanket of snow muffles sounds.
  • Be on the lookout for snow blowers, people shoveling, and snow plows. A MA auto accident attorney can help you recover damages if you’ve been injured due to another’s negligence.
  • Turn on headlights, even during the day.
  • Avoid the crowded areas, park away from the entrance.
  • Park in well-lit areas
  • Always wear your seatbelt, even in a parking lot.

About a quarter of all parking lot accidents involve a vehicle that is backing up. Fortunately, most of these accidents are easily preventable. Use your mirrors, never drive distracted, obey signs, drive slowly, and always wear your seatbelt. Doing so will dramatically reduce your risk of being seriously injured or killed in a parking lot accident. Continue reading

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

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