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 Motorcycle Accidents

Whether you’re a fan of powerful, wide-bodied choppers or enjoy the unparalleled speed and acceleration of a sport bike, riding motorcycles is a popular part of a deeply-ingrained driving culture for Americans everywhere. There’s something inherently and romantically American about the notion of an open road, a setting sun and nothing but the roar of an engine beneath as you disappear into the distance.

Motorcycles are all about achieving a feeling of pure freedom, and legendary gonzo writer Hunter S. Thompson captured it best in his book that chronicled his short stint following around the Hell’s Angels:

“But with the throttle screwed on there is only the barest margin, and no room at all for mistakes. It has to be done right … and that’s when the strange music starts, when you stretch your luck so far that fear becomes exhilaration and vibrates along your arms. You can barely see at a hundred; the tears blow back so fast that they vaporize before they get to your ears. The only sounds are wind and a dull roar floating back from the mufflers.”

  • Hunter S. Thompson, excerpt from “Hell’s Angels: A Strange and Terrible Saga”

There is no doubt that such experiences can be rare, incredible and form long-lasting memories. But inescapably, when the luck runs out, the same experiences can result in permanent injuries or death for the riders and passengers.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 4,586 people died as a result of motorcycle accidents in 2014, which accounted for 14 percent of all traffic fatalities. Another 92,000 were injured. This means motorcyclists were 27 more times likely to die and more than five times likely to be injured that drivers of passenger vehicles.  Fatalities also occur primarily in riders aged 40 or older. According to the NHTSA data, 54 percent of motorcycle fatalities occurred in riders aged 40 or older. Given the obvious factors of exposure to elements like traffic and the road itself, motorcyclists are at a far greater risk of bodily harm and death than drivers of automobiles.  Other factors may include drunk driving (which was a factor in 29 percent of fatalities in 2014) and speeding (which was a factor in 33 percent of fatalities). Wearing a helmet was also reported to have saved 1,669 lives in 2014. However, only 19 states and Washington D.C. had laws requiring the use of helmets as of 2015.

After an accident, get legal representation to fight for you

Many accidents involving motorcyclists are the fault of the motorcyclist. Maybe they were speeding, weaving in between traffic or they overestimated their skill level in pulling off a dangerous maneuver. However, many accidents are also the fault of other motorists. If you or somebody you love has been injured while riding a motorcycle, the resulting injuries are likely life-altering; physically, mentally and financially. Continue reading

Infotainment systems, devices known for providing entertainment and information content to users, are not awfully new technologies for automobiles, but they are new to motorcycles.  Earlier this week, Polaris Industries, the owner of Indian and Victory brand motorcycles, revealed its new 7-inch touchscreen infotainment system dubbed “Ride Command,” which will provide riders with easy navigation, the ability to sync their smartphone to the system, and additional features such as locating the nearest gas station when the motorcycle’s fuel tank is low.  The system will come standard on all of Indian’s new Chieftain and Roadmaster bikes.  Steve Menneto, president of motorcycles at Polaris, expressed the company’s excitement about the feature, saying, “We’re really pumped up about this. We’re opening up a huge part of the market for ourselves.”  In reality, Polaris is not the first bike company to introduce a feature like this.  BMW debuted its Navigator V device on its bikes back in 2013, and Harley-Davidson released its Boom! Box technology a year later.  These companies are all competing for the most popular infotainment system, but is this really such a good idea?

Motorcycles are inherently more dangerous than automobiles.  They require much more attention and coordination than maneuvering a car.  According to recent data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, motorcyclists are 26 times more likely to die in an accident than motorists.  In 2013 alone, 4,7000 motorcyclists were killed, and 88,000 were injured.  In recent years, crash rates have decreased, perhaps due to improved brakes and better rider education.  It is surprising that this decline also coincides with the introduction of such infotainment systems.  Supporters claim that as long as the systems are used correctly, they can increase safety for motorcyclists.  In terms of navigation, using a hand held phone or a paper map can be more distracting than a device mounted within the handlebars of the motorcycle itself.  Additionally, the units can help the riders avoid traffic, beat up roads, and stormy weather while also providing the rider with mechanical alerts about his or her vehicle.  BloombergTV reporter, Matt Miller, believes his BMW infotainment unit saved his life after warning him about a rapidly deflating tire while he was cruising on the highway.  Continue reading

For many people, riding a motorcycle is more than just a hobby, it’s a way of life. When motorcyclists utilize safe riding practices, they dramatically reduce their risk of serious injury and death. But the fact is, motorcycle riding is a risky business. Without the enclosed protection of a car or truck, motorcyclists are significantly more vulnerable to injury in an accident. Motorcycles are also much less stable than their four-wheeled counterparts. Adult riders assume these risks every day, but what about children? Is it unsafe, or even irresponsible to ride with a child? According to experts, it depends. Contact a Boston Motorcycle Accident Lawyer Today.

Studies show that about 60 percent of riders with injuries that require hospitalization are under the age of 16. This means that – at least in most cases – they were passengers on motorcycles operated by adults. Although it is not possible to eliminate the risk of injuries, there are steps you can take to ride safely, and responsibly, with your child in tow.

Safety Tips for Riding with a Child in Tow

  • Children should always wear a properly fitted helmet. Serious head injuries, including traumatic brain injuries (TBI), are the greatest risk child and adult riders face when on a motorcycle. TBI can result in permanent disability and can severely impact a child’s development, social skills, and life expectancy. A well-fitted helmet reduces the risk of TBI and should be worn by all riders at all times.
  • The proper safety gear can be the difference between life and death when it comes to child passengers. Protective clothing can protect against cuts and lacerations. Even better, a harness or belt helps to keep the child safely on the bike. It’s safer for children to ride behind the adult, but there is still a risk of falling. A harness or belt prevents a child from falling off the back of a bike.
  • Never ride with a child in front of you. This makes it challenging to control the bike, and it is actually easier for a child to fall off the front of the bike than the back.
  • Education is crucial, for both you and your child. Any child that rides on a motorcycle should first be taught the basics of motorcycle safety. These lessons include how to get on and off a motorcycle, how to ride as a passenger, and how to adjust the helmet.
  • Always drive defensively and never drive distracted. Do not assume that other motorists can see you. The small size of a motorcycle makes it “disappear” easily behind other vehicles. Obey traffic signs and follow all traffic rules.

Continue reading

Anyone who owns a motorcycle in Massachusetts will tell you his or her favorite season is summer.  The warm temperatures and sunny skies are the ideal climate for passionate motorcycle riders.  Even more motorcycle riders are out and about these days.  According to the Motorcycle Industry Council, sales of new motorcycles have been up more than 8 percent through the first quarter.  However, motorcycles are also notoriously dangerous vehicles.  In 2014, 4,586 people died and 92,000 people were injured in motorcycle crashes according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.  Noticing the sales growth and hoping to learn how to increase motorcycle safety, Progressive Insurance analyzed data acquired from its motorcycle claims data from 2014 to see what information could be used.  From Progressive’s data from 2014, the insurance company discovered:

  • Four of the top 10 days that experienced the most claims for customers occurred in June.
  • Most motorcycle accidents occur in the summer months with Saturdays being the most dangerous day to ride.
  • July experienced 78 percent more claims on average than any other month in the year
  • In 2014, Progressive had more single-vehicle motorcycle claims than the next three most common claims collectively, those being rear-end accidents, intersection accidents, and stolen motorcycles.

Although motorcycle riders should be vigilant while driving all the time, Scott Hall, Progressive’s motorcycle product manager, urged for even more attentiveness in the summer months.  Most accidents involving motorcycles are single-vehicle accidents, meaning the only vehicle involved is the motorcycle.  Hall linked the effect winter can have on roads, especially in northern cities with harsher winters, saying winters can be “absolutely brutal on roadways across the country, so looking ahead for potholes and leaving plenty of room between you and the vehicle in front of you will help avoid accidents.” Continue reading

The Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) reports that an estimated 46% of motorcycle riders who lose their lives in crashes have alcohol in their system when they die. Riding and drinking has been a problem for decades. However, this dangerous combination has increased dramatically over the years, as motorcycle festivals, bar hopping and other alcohol-invested activities become more popular with riding clubs. While there are many safety-oriented, responsible riders on the road, statistics show that alcohol-related motorcycle accidents are still a serious problem. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that, in deadly crashes, motorcyclists are 2.5 times more likely than passenger vehicle drivers to have been drinking. Within the past decade, drinking and driving involving passenger vehicle drivers has declined by approximately 6%. Simultaneously, motorcyclist drinking and driving has increased by 10%.

Road Hazards

Structurally, motorcycles pose a much greater risk of crashing than cars due to their smaller size and lack of protection that automobile passenger compartments provide. Under the best conditions, the less stable nature of motorcycles makes them more susceptible to unexpected road hazards such as rough roads, slick or uneven surfaces, darting animals, and blind spots of other drivers. With the effects of alcohol on perception, balance, and reaction time, and the impaired judgement caused by alcohol consumption, drinking and riding substantially increases the risk of serious injury or death.

How Much is Too Much?

The legal Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) limit across the United States is 0.08% grams/deciliter. However, the MSF approximates that even the smallest amount of alcohol in a rider’s system multiplies the risk of a crash by five. MSF statistics also show that, at a BAC of 0.05%, a rider’s crash risk is forty times greater. The University of Minnesota’s Center for Transportation Studies examined motorcycle riders’ abilities on a controlled test course. Researchers found that, after only one or two drinks, riders exhibited decreased abilities and difficulty ‘self-regulating.’ Continue reading

A vehicle crash occurred just shortly after 2:00 AM on Wednesday, July 15th which resulted in the injury of three men who were riding motorcycles at the time of the accident. The three men were hit by an additional motor vehicle. The driver of that vehicle that struck the three motorcyclists was said to have been traveling the wrong way down interstate I-495. The driver, 69 year old Hilda L. Szala of Riverside, Rhode Island, was allegedly traveling south on the northbound lane of the highway near an overpass in Norton. Preliminary reports provided by the state police indicate that Szala was driving under the influence of alcohol when the accident took place.

State police has additionally indicated that they had previously received well over 40 calls from other motorists complaining of a vehicle traveling in the wrong direction down the highway prior to the accident involving the three motorcyclists.

The accident resulted in serious injuries to all three motorcyclists that were hit by Hilda Szala’s 2003 Toyota. One of the victims, a 38 year old man from Brockton, Massachusetts, was thrown from his 2006 Suzuki motorcycle and has sustained life-threatening injuries. State Trooper Matthew Guarino, who is investigating the incident, said in a statement that the 38 year old victim was transported to Rhode Island Hospital, but an immediate update on his condition has not yet been released. Another victim of the accident, a 36 year old man also from Brockton, Massachusetts, was riding a 1999 Suzuki motorcycle at the time of the accident and was similarly thrown from his vehicle upon impact. The severity of his injuries had not been detailed at the time of the initial report. The third victim of the accident, a 28 year old man from Pawtucket, Rhode Island, sustained non-life threatening injuries as he too was thrown from his vehicle following the accident. No additional information on where the other victims were treated or the nature of their injuries has been provided at this time. The driver of the Toyota, Hilda Szala, did not suffer any injuries. Continue reading

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation has decided to stop the use of a guardrail-end terminal over concerns that there may be safety issues. The rail-end guardrail pieces, known as the ET-Plus, are made by Trinity Industries of Texas. The manufacturer has already have been the subject of products liability lawsuits by motorists claiming they lost their legs in traffic crashes.

This week, a federal jury ruled that Trinity should pay $175 million in a whistleblower lawsuit that exposed the hazards involved with using the guardrail end caps. It was guardrail installer Josh Harman who accused Trinity of making the ET-Plus unsafe when the company redesigned it.

He sued Trinity under the False Claims Act’s qui tam provisions. As the whistleblower, Harman is entitled to a percentage of what is recovered. Because of statutory mandate, the $175 million figure is expected to triple.

In the age of the internet, a keyboard is never more than a few inches away. Access to social media is literally at your fingertips, beckoning to vent your frustration to hundreds, thousands, maybe millions of followers. Most internet-savvy people would reach right for their phones after a car accident or injury to blow off some steam or to keep concerned loved ones informed of their condition. However, new data suggests social media fiends should think twice before posting about a personal injury case.

Insurance companies will try to use any posts, pictures, or interactions to dispute claims and prevent victims from receiving compensation for their injuries. The insurance companies can easily access your personal Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and any other social media site to gather information that can be used against claimants to prove that they are misrepresenting injuries.

The practice might come as a surprise to most of the general public. It is a common assumption that medical records and doctor testimony is enough to back up claims made by personal injury victims, but in truth, insurance companies “actively work to disprove claims made by a victim’s doctor. Social media can be an integral tool in this pursuit,” according to Attorney Brian J. Mongelluzzo.
Continue reading

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there were 374 Massachusetts motor vehicle crash deaths in 2012-alcohol was a factor in 126 of them. These figures are a slight increase 2011 when there were 349 Massachusetts traffic fatalities.

At Altman & Altman, LLP our Boston injury lawyers handle claims and lawsuits by the victims (or families) of those injured or killed in a Massachusetts traffic crashes. We handle cases involving motorcycle accidents, truck collision, bicycle accidents, pedestrian accidents, and other type of motor vehicle collisions.

When a Massachusetts motor vehicle crash happens-there can be long-term ramifications for the victim and their loved ones. A person who is lucky enough to survive an accident may be left with serious injuries that can render him/her unable to hold a job or lead a normal life. Medical bills can mount and the emotional toll may be high not just for the victim but his/her loved ones and friends. Some injuries are so serious that 24-hour professional care may be required for life.

Many Massachusetts traffic accidents could/should have been prevented if only the party had not been negligent. Our Boston personal injury attorneys have gone after negligent drivers, automakers, municipalities that failed to properly maintain a roadway, and others on behalf of our clients and their families.

The Rise in Massachusetts Traffic Deaths Mirrors National Statistics
NHTSA provided not just state statistics but also national ones. 33,561 people died in US traffic incidents in 2012, which is up from the 32,479 deaths from the year before. This is the first time in six years that the number of US traffic fatalities have gone up instead of down.

Also, there were 2,362,000 traffic crash injuries, which is an increase from the 2.2 million victims that were injured in 2012. The number of alcohol-impaired driving deaths also went up by 4.6% from 2011. Fortunately, the number of deadly crashes involving young drivers continued to drop.

NHTSA Data Confirms Traffic Fatalities Increased In 2012, NHTSA, November 14, 2013

2012 Motor Vehicle Crashes: Overview, NHTSA, November 2013 (PDF)

More Blog Posts:
Massachusetts Wrongful Death Settled Reached in 2008 Foxboro Car Crash After Gillette Stadium Concert, Boston Injury Lawyer Blog, November 5, 2013
Halloween is The “Deadliest” Night of the Year for Child Pedestrian Accidents, Boston Injury Lawyer Blog, October 31, 2013
Haverhill Death Highlights Importance of Pedestrian Safety, Boston Car Accident Lawyer Blog, November 20, 2013 Continue reading

According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, sending and reading text messages with a hands-free devices or talking on a cell phone without using your hands while driving are no less distracting than doing these activities manually. The AAA’s study comes as voice-activated technologies that let people talk, text, and Facebook while driving continue to grow in popularity. This is the most comprehensive study of its kind to date. In Massachusetts, please contact our Boston injury lawyers if you believe that your car crash injuries or a loved one’s death was caused by a negligent driver.

Per the study, which sought to gauge how mental or cognitive distraction affect driving, even these hands-free devices don’t take away the mental distraction that can arise from engaging in so many other activities while operating a motor vehicle. As the mind becomes more distracted, the brain’s reaction capabilities slow down, as does its ability to detect vital cues on the road, including pedestrians and stop signs.

These findings are important for hands-free device manufacturers and also makers to know so that they can make sure that consumers don’t end up thinking that these types of products make it safer to text and talk while driving. AAA CEO Robert Darbelnet even called the surge in hands-free technology a “public safety crisis” just waiting to happen.