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Articles Posted in Car Accidents

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

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.

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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