Boston Car Accident Lawyer Blog
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.

An underride crash occurs when a passenger vehicle goes under a truck, trailer, or other large vehicle. Unfortunately, these crashes often result in serious injuries and are significantly more likely to be fatal. The same is true of ‘side underride crashes’, which often involve bicyclists or pedestrians and are particularly dangerous in urban areas. Underride crashes and side underride crashes have been a hot button issue in the Boston area in recent weeks. Contact a Boston Motor Vehicle Accident Lawyer Today.

Earlier this month, a young woman on a scooter was killed by one of Boston’s iconic ‘duck boats’ when the driver failed to see her. The amphibious vehicles have been surrounded by controversy in recent years, as accidents in Philadelphia and the state of Washington have resulted in multiple deaths. The duck boats, which were not designed for recreational use on land, can be quite dangerous, especially for pedestrians and cyclists.

In response to a surge in underride and side underride crashes, the City of Boston was represented earlier this month at the Institute for Highway Safety’s roundtable on underride crashes. Beyond duck boats, other large vehicles, such as 18-wheelers, need adequate room to make turns. When they don’t have enough space, the consequences can be disastrous. Another dangerous situations occurs when a passenger vehicle attempts to pass a tractor-trailer on the right as the larger vehicle makes a right-hand turn. Certain modifications, such as rear and side underride guards, can help reduce serious injury and death.

“The one thing I hope everyone takes away from this session is that there has been a lot of progress in recent years on underride crashes,” said David Zuby, chief research officer for IIHS, “and there will be more ahead.” Of the eight major manufacturers of trailers, four have voluntarily improved the rear underride guard design of their vehicles, based on updated IIHS standards. The manufacturers who have made these improvements are Wabash, Vanguard, Stoughton, and Manac.

Rear and Side Underride Guards Save Lives

To test the design improvements on the trailers, the IIHS conducted tests during the May 5 roundtable. In one test, they crashed a 2016 Chevy Malibu into the rear underride guard at 35 mph. The guard successfully stopped the car, and the Malibu’s test dummy ‘survived’ the crash. Although this is a significant step in the right direction, pedestrians, cyclists, and drivers must remember that not all trucks, trailers, and large vehicles currently have side or rear guards. Use caution around large vehicles, and always remember, if you can’t see a truck’s mirrors, the driver can’t see you. Continue reading

A Lexus SUV crashed into a school bus early Thursday morning in Boston’s O’Neill Tunnel. Thankfully, this story ends well. The SUV was being driven by 52-year-old Thomas Wells, a construction worker from Saugus, Mass. Wells was on his way to work when he dozed off behind the wheel. The crash occurred at around 6 a.m. Contact a Boston Motor Vehicle Accident Lawyer Today.

Fortunately, there were no children on the bus at the time of the accident. The traffic on Interstate 93 was backed up for hours. According to witnesses, after being hit by the SUV, the bus skidded to a stop in the tunnel’s southbound lanes. The stopped traffic extended to Wilmington, about 19 miles from the crash site.

Drowsy Driver Claims to Work ‘Long Hours’

“I wasn’t like snoring or anything, I just shut my eyes for a second, I guess, and drifted over,” said Wells, going on to say that he often works long hours. “Maybe I didn’t sleep that well last night, I don’t know. … I will tell you what, I’m 52 years old, and that’s the first accident I’ve had since I was 18.” However, when WBZ asked Wells if he was awake during the accident, he said, “Of course I was. I was on my way to work, like I do every day.”

Common Side-Effects of Drowsy Driving

More than 300,000 accidents are blamed on drowsy or fatigued driving annually. According to the National Sleep Foundation, drowsy driving can result in:

  • Impaired reaction time
  • Impaired judgment
  • Impaired vision
  • Short-term memory problems
  • Difficulty processing information
  • Decreased vigilance
  • Decreased performance
  • Aggressive behaviors
  • Moodiness

Due to the dangers of drowsy driving, certain states are considering drowsy driving legislation. This legislation would permit law enforcement to charge fatigued drivers with a crime if another person is seriously injured or killed as a result of their lack of sleep.

Drowsy Driving Warning Signs

  • Frequent blinking and yawning
  • Missing an exit
  • Drifting into the other lane
  • Running over rumble strips
  • Trouble remembering the last few miles
  • Who is Most at Risk for Drowsy Driving?

Continue reading

The most common concern following a car accident is the safety of everyone involved. Once it’s been determined that no serious injuries have occurred, or that injured parties have been cared for, the next step is to determine who was at fault. Unless it is an extremely minor fender bender, a car accident almost always results in some costs, whether property damage to the vehicles or physical and emotional injuries to victims. Based on a variety of factors, costs can be relatively low or astronomically high. Contact a Boston Motor Vehicle Accident Lawyer Today.

In some situations, determining who was at fault is quite easy. If a woman is stopped at a red light and a drunk driver slams into her, it’s pretty obvious who’s at fault. In reality, however, most car accidents are much more complicated. This is why it is so important to work with a car accident attorney if you’ve been involved in any type of motor vehicle crash. Even if you think you were at fault, a consultation with an experienced attorney can help you determine how to move forward.

Who is at fault in a three vehicle collision?

In order to determine who is at fault in a three car accident, it must first be determined whether any party was negligent. As a driver, you have a duty of reasonable care to other drivers, passengers, and pedestrians. If an accident occurs due to a driver’s failure to meet that duty of care, he or she may be deemed negligent, and thus liable for damages. But what if two of the drivers were negligent? In these cases, courts will assign appropriate percentages of liability based on comparative or contributory negligence. For example, if a driver is deemed to be 20% at fault, he or she will only be entitled to 80% of the damages.

If I’m injured in a work-related car accident, is my employer liable?

Let’s say you’re driving the company car during work hours and you T-bone another car at an intersection. Who is liable for the damages? An employer is only liable for an employee’s actions if any of the following circumstances are present:

  • The actions were within the employee’s scope of employment
  • The employee was hired to do the activity
  • The employer derived a benefit from the activity

So, the short answer is yes. An employer can be liable if you are driving to perform an activity that you were hired to do. If, however, you were grossly negligent during that activity, the employer will not be liable. For example, if you are performing your job duties but you also happen to be drunk, your employer will not be liable for your negligence.

Workers’ compensation may also come into play in a work-related car accident. If you are also injured in the accident, you are likely eligible for workers’ comp benefits.

Following a car accident, should I file an insurance claim or a lawsuit?

You can be compensated for injuries and property damage by filing an insurance claim, but it’s not always the best option. If negligence was involved, you may be entitled to much greater damages by filing a personal injury lawsuit. However, neither option is perfect, nor is either option a one-size-fits all solution. If injuries are grave, negligence was a factor, or your insurance claim was denied, it may be in your best interest to file a lawsuit. Continue reading

With winter over, the risk of driving on icy and snowy roads is coming to an end. But it’s easy to underestimate the dangers of driving in heavy rain and fog. Not to mention, early spring in New England still has its fair share of snow flurries and black ice, especially at night. In the dark, these rapidly changing conditions can be difficult to see. You don’t have to be exceeding the speed limit to be driving too fast for adverse road conditions. Contact a Boston Motor Vehicle Accident Lawyer Today.

 One of the most dangerous wet weather conditions is heavy fog. Reduced visibility can instantly create a hazardous condition. Avoid driving in heavy fog whenever possible, but if you must drive in fog, let the painted road markings guide you. Although this won’t help to avoid crashing into vehicles or other obstructions in front of you, it will ensure that you remain in your lane.

Rain

Every year, rain is blamed for thousands of accidents nationwide. Driving on wet roads always comes with a risk, but this is especially true within the first few hours of the onset of rain. Before heavy rains wash away oil and engine fluids that accumulate on the roads, water mixes with these substances, creating a slick, greasy surface. Skidding, hydroplaning, and reduced visibility are common rain-related dangers. When roads are wet, slow down. Excessive speeds are a factor in most weather-related car accidents.

Snow and Ice

Yes, spring in New England often means snow and ice. The normal risks involved with driving on snowy or icy roads still exist, but with an added danger – the element of surprise. In Massachusetts, rain can quickly turn to snow and wet roads can become icy. This is most common after dark, when the change in conditions is difficult to see. Drivers may think the road is just wet, when it’s actually covered in black ice. Once again, slow down. Speeding kills, especially on wet or icy roads.

Skidding

If you start to skid on wet or icy roads, do not slam on the brakes. Instead, steer in the direction of your skid and lightly pump the brakes. If you have antilock brakes, do not pump them. Apply even, steady pressure.

 Hydroplaning

Hydroplaning occurs when all 4 wheels simultaneously lose contact with the road due to a film of water getting between the tires and the road. Do not turn the wheel or brake hard. Take your foot off the gas pedal, apply light, steady pressure to the brake pedal, and straighten the wheel. Continue reading

Bicycling is healthy and great for the environment, but it can also be dangerous. Bicyclists share the road with other vehicles and due to their small size, they can easily disappear in a driver’s blind spot. Just as drivers are required to follow the rules of the road, so are bicyclists. However, a driver should never expect an oncoming bicyclist to obey traffic signals or signs. If, for any reason, a bicyclist doesn’t follow the rules (he or she doesn’t see a sign, isn’t aware of the rules, or just ignores a signal), a driver should yield to the bicycle for safety purposes. As a driver, you may (or may not) be in the right, but trying to prove your point may result in serious harm to the bicyclist. Contact a Boston Injury Attorney Today.

Driving Tips to Keep Everyone Safe

  • The best way to avoid an accident with a bicyclist is to follow the same rules that apply to all aspects of safe driving. Being distracted, tired, or reckless behind the wheel puts everyone in danger.
  • Never drive while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
  • Don’t speed.
  • Don’t use your cell phone while driving. If you must make a call, send a text, or adjust your navigation, find a safe place to pull over.
  • Check your blind spots before turning or changing lanes.
  • Make eye contact with oncoming bicyclists (this also applies to pedestrians).
  • Avoid fatigued driving.
  • Don’t drive at night if you have trouble seeing after dark. Especially in Boston, there may still be a lot of cyclists on the roads at night. They should be wearing reflective gear, and their bikes should be equipped with a light and reflectors. But this is not always the case. Always be alert for bicyclists and pedestrians when driving in the city at night.

Continue reading

You live in Massachusetts, you own or lease a car, you always make your monthly insurance payments, then “boom” one day your involved in an accident.  You notify your insurance company of what happened and most of the time the insurance carrier will make all the appropriate payments, you receive the proper compensation and the case is closed.  However, there are some instances where the insurance company may not be so amenable to making the payments- and that’s when customers can run into trouble.

The definition of an insurance company is “a business that provides coverage, in the form of compensation resulting from loss, damages, injury, treatment or hardship in exchange for premium payments.” You pay insurance companies in exchange for the promise that they will provide some level of protection if the need arises. An insurance company has a duty to not only provide that protection, but also to negotiate and settle claims with your best interests in mind. This is called ‘good faith.’ If you believe that your insurance company isn’t following good faith practices, what do you do?

What Constitutes a Bad Faith Claim?

When you purchase insurance, whether it’s home, auto, health, life, or any other type of insurance, the carrier is legally bound to the terms within the policy. If the insurance company fails to honor the agreement, it is acting in bad faith. This is true for both your own insurance company and a third party carrier, if one is involved.

Third Party Insurance and Bad Faith Practices

Although a third party carrier has a duty of care to handle your claims in good faith, they can get away with a bit more. For a third-party bad faith claim to have merit, the adjuster must have engaged in some relatively outrageous behavior, such as outright lying or fraud. Examples of actions which could result in a bad faith claim against a third party insurance company include:

  • Withholding or tampering with evidence
  • Tampering with a witness
  • Purposely “losing” important documentation or evidence

Your Own Insurance Company is Held to a Much Higher Duty of Care

Although outright lies and fraud will also land your own carrier in hot water, much less is required to legitimize a claim of bad faith. For example, if your adjuster is refusing to provide specific reasons for an offer of an extremely low settlement, this could be considered an act of bad faith. But where do you go from here?

Filing a Bad Faith Claim

Hiring a skilled Boston accident attorney with extensive experience in the area of insurance is crucial to a positive outcome. The beginning steps include putting your accusations in writing by sending a bad faith letter to the insurance company. These accusations are typically taken very seriously. However, if done incorrectly, approaching the carrier with a bad faith claim can cost you in the long run. If it can be proven that the insurance carrier acted in bad faith, the company may be required to pay damages in excess of the injury compensation. More commonly, however, a claim of bad faith encourages the carrier to offer a significantly more attractive settlement. Continue reading

The debate about when senior drivers should hand over their keys has being going on for decades. It’s widely understood that as we age, our driving abilities become a bit less “sharp.” Vision and hearing problems are often among the first issues to present themselves. Many seniors self-regulate by not driving at night, or wearing hearing-aids. Getting old doesn’t have to translate to bad driving. Every person is different; some may have difficulty driving safely at 65 while others are doing just fine at 90. One thing is for certain, however. Hanging up the car keys for good often comes with an overwhelming sense of personal freedom loss. For this reason, seniors are often hesitant to heed the advice of loved ones when the time comes. Contact a Boston Motor Vehicle Accident Lawyer Today.

As the American population ages, the debate of safety vs. freedom continues to grow. Age is, indeed, just a number. Stereotyping seniors as bad drivers can do more harm than good. There is no magic age at which driving is no longer safe. According to the University of Massachusetts in Boston, about 75% of American seniors over the age of 80 are still driving. In Massachusetts, seniors account for approximately 20% of auto accidents that result in hospitalization.

Over 75? Massachusetts Requires In-Person License Renewal

As one of the leading causes of death in the United States, motor vehicle accidents concern us all. Fortunately, the vast majority of auto accidents are not fatal. Approximately 80 people are killed on US roads every day, but more than 5 million non-fatal crashes are reported annually. Fatal crashes typically involve a drunk driver, speeding, distracted driving, or inclement weather. We have listed the top 5 causes of motor vehicle accidents below. Avoid engaging in these dangerous behaviors to dramatically reduce your risk of being seriously injured or killed in a crash. Contact a Boston Motor Vehicle Accident Lawyer Today.

Top 5 Causes of Auto Accidents

  • Speeding: We’ve all been guilty of driving over the speed limit at some point in our lives. Maybe you’re running late for work, or you have to get to the school bus on time. Even driving 10 miles above the speed limit increases your chances of being involved in a crash. Speed limits are set for a reason. If you’re driving too fast for a particular area, you may be unable to respond to road hazards, animals running into the road, vehicles backing out of driveways, or cars entering from blind corners. Although arriving late can be a major inconvenience, it’s certainly better than expensive property damage, painful injuries, or death.
  • Distracted driving: In the age of smart phones and other electronic devices, distracted driving has become increasingly deadly. Although texting is one of the main types of distracted driving, it is far from the only type. Adjusting navigation systems or the stereo, applying make-up, talking to passengers, and talking on the phone all take your attention from the road. Even minor distractions can prove fatal. As one of the top causes of motor vehicle accidents today, distracted driving concerns all Americans. In response to this growing problem, many states have enacted laws to combat distracted driving, such as banning cell phone use while driving.
  • Driving under the influence: Any amount of drugs or alcohol in your system impairs your ability to drive. Up to 20,000 people die in alcohol-related crashes every year. Avoid driving under the influence by always choosing a designated driver before you go out. The importance of this cannot be overstated. We have worked with countless clients whose lives have been forever changed because of a drunk driver.
  • Fatigued driving: According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), approximately 100,000 reported crashes are due to driver fatigue every year. These result in over 1,500 deaths and about 71,000 injuries. The groups most at risk for fatigued or drowsy driving include adults between the ages of 18 and 29, adults with children in the household, men, shift workers, individuals who are sleep deprived, and those with sleep disorders

Continue reading

According to Carfax, an online service providing information on vehicle history, about 47 million vehicles on American roadways have one or more outstanding safety recalls. Many of the outstanding recalls are for vehicles that have been bought, sold, and traded multiple times. In these cases, it may be difficult to obtain recall information about a specific car or truck. Although one might think that dealerships are morally obligated to clear recalls before selling a used car, that is unfortunately not the case. At least not yet. Contact a Boston Motor Vehicle Accident Attorney Today.

With the advancement of technology becoming more rapid every year, the production cycles for vehicle models are getting shorter. New models used to hit the market every four or five years. Now it’s every two to three. Shorter production cycles mean less time for safety testing. The result is an onslaught of issues, with safety and with customer satisfaction. Last year saw a recall increase of about one million from the previous year.

How Do I Protect Myself?

For starters, if your vehicle is recalled, make sure you have the work done as soon as possible. The issue may seem insignificant, but even minor defects can turn into major problems if left unresolved. Don’t let the perceived inconvenience of taking your vehicle in for repairs put you and your family in harm’s way.

Check Your Vehicle’s History. If you are purchasing a car or truck from a dealership, request that a recall report is included as part of the purchase. If they are unwilling or unable, you should be able to find recall history by visiting nhtsa.gov. Once on the site, go to ‘vehicle safety’ on the pull-down menu, then click on ‘recalls and defects.’ You can also enter the vehicle’s WIN (vehicle identification number). If you do find outstanding recall information, demand that the work is completed before you will complete the purchase.

In most cases, recall information is easy to find. However, tracking down recall information on very old cars and trucks may be difficult. Typically, once you locate open recalls, you can get the work completed with relative speed and ease. But you may find it a bit more challenging if you have an off-brand vehicle. Either way, it’s important to get repair work done when you discover an open recall. “Many people are still unnecessarily risking their lives by not staying informed or taking action when their vehicle is under a recall,” says Larry Gamache, a Carfax spokesman. “It’s one of the many reasons family-oriented vehicles, including one in four minivans, are the most highly impacted.” Continue reading

A tragic accident on Friday morning has resulted in the death of a woman, and a massive, city-wide inspection of all manhole covers on Boston highways. According to police, the woman’s car was struck by a manhole cover as she was exiting the O’Neill Tunnel, southbound on 1-93. The initial investigation into the incident reveals that the dislodged manhole cover became airborne and struck the windshield of the victim’s vehicle. Contact a Boston Injury Lawyer Today.

The female driver, whose name is being withheld until her family can be notified, was killed on impact. The cause of the incident, which occurred at approximately 7:50 am, is still under investigation. According to the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT), a typical manhole cover weight 200 pounds or more. “Our sympathy goes out to the family of the victim involved in this horrific incident this morning,” said MassDOT administrator Thomas Tinlin. “This tragedy is leading us to take several steps immediately out of an abundance of caution.”

Manhole Cover Hadn’t Been Inspected Since 2014

Determining what caused the manhole cover to become dislodged is the first step in the investigation. In response to this tragedy, MassDOT crews and state police are conducting an inspection of each and every manhole cover, electrical panel cover, and grate on highways in and around Boston. The manhole cover that struck the victim’s car had been covering a storm drainage system. The metal object smashed through the car’s front windshield, covered the entire length of the vehicle, and exited through the rear windshield. The car continued to careen down the highway for nearly half a mile before hitting a wall near East Berkeley street.

Reporting on a similar incident in New York last year, a Con Edison spokesman told CBS news that manhole explosions can be caused by damaged underground electrical wires that spark,  igniting gases. According to MassDOT records, the manhole in today’s incident hadn’t been inspected since June 12, 2014. Continue reading

Contact Information