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August 19, 2014

Motorcyclist Awarded $1.15M Settlement in Right of Way Violation Case

A motorcyclist in California was awarded more than one million dollars in a settlement against a woman who collided with him when she drove into his path and violated his right of way.

The motorcycle accident took place in Santa Barbara, California on May 24, 2010. The 55-year-old motorcyclists and construction worker was severely injured during the accident and suffered trauma to both his neck and ankle. According to reports, the woman’s car blocked the man’s path; the man struck the female driver’s car and was catapulted over the top.

Because of his injuries, the motorcyclist was forced to undergo ankle surgery and cervical fusion after months of unsuccessful treatment for his neck pain. Since undergoing surgery, the man has made an excellent recovery. According to court documents, the defending insurance company Liberty Mutual Insurance Co., argued that the motorcyclist had been speeding prior to the accident. The defense also obtained a video of the cyclist picking up and moving items to a storage building within a week of the mediation.

Despite the defense’s claims, the plaintiff claimed speed was not a factor, and it was determined by a life care planner that the man would require future medical treatment due to the severity of the injuries he sustained. The entire process took a year of litigation and was spearheaded by plaintiff attorney Steve Andrade of Andrade Law Offices in Santa Barbara, California.

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August 13, 2014

New Overlap Front Crash Testing Shows Range of Safety Issues with Small Cars

In a recent series of overlap front crash tests involving small vehicles, the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety (IIHS) reported that of the 12 cars studied, only the Mini Cooper Countryman earned a good rating.

The small overlap test, which was introduced in 2012, mimics what happens when the corner of a vehicle collides with another vehicle or stationary object, i.e.; a telephone pole or tree. Since beginning this series of safety testing, the IIHS has observed 32 small cars; the results are staggering. According to the IIHS’s report, only 19 of these small cars earned a good or acceptable rating for their front safety protection, while the remaining 13 earned a rating of marginal or poor.

During the test, 25% of the vehicle’s front end on the driver’s side strikes a rigid barrier while traveling at 40 mph, according to the IIHS’s website. Unlike head-on crash tests, the small overlap test focuses on the bypassing of the vehicles’ front-end crush zone—to test how well the structure can manage crash energy. Often, the occupant compartment collapses during these types of crashes.

By IIHS’s standards, for a vehicle to earn the top rating of good, automakers need to focus on overall crash protection; meaning that an occupant compartment resists intrusion, safety belts prevent a driver from pitching too far forward and side curtain airbags provide enough forward coverage to cushion a head at risk of hitting the dashboard or window frame or things outside the vehicle. Collapsing structures can knock front airbags and seats out of position, exacerbating the problem, the IIHS reports.

In this particular study, only 5 small cars (all 2014 models) were awarded an acceptable rating; two earned marginal; and four earned a poor rating. For a comprehensive list of ratings please click here.

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July 31, 2014

Department of Transportation Proposes New Rules to Protect Motorcoach and Large Bus Passengers in Rollover Crashes

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration proposed a new federal motor vehicle safety standard yesterday, to protect motor-coach and other large bus passengers in rollover crashes. The proposal seeks to improve the structural design of large buses to ensure that passengers are better protected in the event of a deadly vehicle rollover.

In an article published by the NHTSA, U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said that, "The consequences for passengers in rollover crashes are severe. I want passengers to know that when this Department sees opportunities to make their travel safer so that they can more confidently visit their families or get to work, we are going to do just that and we believe this proposal is a step in that direction."

The new regulation aims to ensure that performance requirements of large coach busses meet specific and dynamic performance tests in which the bus is tipped over from a raised platform and onto a hard level surface. The most crucial aspect is that the space around passengers remains sufficiently intact and the emergency exits remain operable.

In addition, the new proposed standard would:

- Require space around occupant seating positions to be maintained to afford occupants a survivable space in a crash;
- Require the seats, overhead luggage racks, and window glazing to remain attached to their mountings during and after the test; and
- Require emergency exits to remain closed during the rollover test and operable after the test.
(NHTSA)

The testing procedures and performance requirements are closely modeled after the European regulations for large buses. Separately, the Department is planning on finalizing requirements, scheduled to pass this year, for stability control technologies in these types of vehicles, which would help prevent rollovers from occurring.

According to Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration administrator Anne Ferro, "Approximately 700 million trips are taken on commercial buses each year. Raising the standard for a motor-coach's durability, in the event of a crash, is critical to saving the lives of the passengers inside.”

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July 30, 2014

Low-Speed Collision ends in $3.1 Million Awarded by Jury

According to the entertainment industry, car accidents are always exceedingly dramatic. They seem to only occur at a high rate of speed, culminating in a chaotic spectacle impressing viewers munching on popcorn in their seats. The problem is that entertainment industry is meant to be taken as just that—entertainment. Car accidents do not always end in movie-worthy fashion, but that does not mean serious injuries are not possible from smaller car accidents or those where the physical property damage is not immediately evident.

What happens if I am injured in a slow speed accident?
Am I still entitled to compensation for my injuries?

The aftermath of a car accident can be an incredibly confusing experience for victims recovering from injuries sustained in the crash. Lack of property damage on the vehicles involved can make the process seem even more frustrating. Victims of slow-speed motor vehicle accidents are urged to contact a Massachusetts Personal Injury Attorney as soon as possible to explore all legal options available to them.

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July 21, 2014

IIHS Issues Recommendation Report for Safest Used Cars for Teen Drivers

Being a parent with a teenage driver inevitably causes anxiety, especially when it comes to choosing which car will be safest for them to drive. Because of a teen driver’s lack of experience and budget restrictions, many parents opt to purchase cars that are used and older in model year. Often, these vehicles lack adequate and crash protection and safety technology, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

According to the IIHS report, in a national phone survey conducted for IIHS of parents of teen drivers, 83% of those who bought a vehicle for their teenagers said they bought it used. To assist parents in choosing a safe car for their teenagers, the IIHS recently compiled its first-ever list of recommended used vehicles that don’t break the bank.

Some findings from the IIHS’s report:

Among 500 parents who were surveyed, 43 % reported that the vehicle their child currently drives was purchased around the time he or she began driving. Mini-cars or small cars were the most commonly purchased type of vehicle, with 28% buying from this category. More than 50% of newly purchased vehicles were from the 2006 model year or earlier. That's a problem because older vehicles are much less likely to have safety features such as electronic stability control (ESC) and side airbags.

Teenagers who drove a vehicle that the family already owned were even more likely to drive an older vehicle: 2/3 of those parents said the vehicle was from 2006 or earlier.

A separate IIHS study shows that teenagers killed in crashes are more likely than adults to have been behind the wheel of small vehicles and older vehicles. Among fatally injured drivers ages 15-17 in 2008-12, 29% were in mini-cars or small cars, while 20% of fatally injured drivers ages 35-50 were. 82% of the young teen drivers were in vehicles that were at least 6 years old, compared with 77% of those in the adult group.

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July 16, 2014

I’ve Just Been in Uber Accident, What do I do?

You’re late for work on a rainy morning, you miss the bus. Thankfully, you called an Uber and your ride will be at your door within minutes. Problem solved. But what happens if the Ubercar in which you are travelling gets in to an accident? What should you do?

Don’t panic, we’re here to help.

Uber defines itself as “everyone’s private driver.” A ride-sharing program launched in 2009, the company aims to connect those in need of a ride with their drivers through an iPhone or Android app. Passengers have their credit card information saved in the app, which is also connected to their Facebook accounts, allowing a picture to display for drivers to identify the rider. The amazingly simple operation allows a rider to open the app, and using the GPS capabilities on the phone, request a ride from the drivers close by. Within minutes, the map shows the driver’s arrival, along with their name, picture, license plate number, and the make and model of their car. Upon reaching the desired destination, the driver ends the ride and the card on file is automatically charged.

Uber eliminates the need to call a taxi dispatcher or hail one on the street. Bostonians know how difficult and frustrating it is to deal with taxis in the city, and city dwellers are flocking to the ride-sharing start-up in record numbers. Uber offers a few options to riders depending on how cheap or luxurious they want their car to be. Uber Lux is the most expensive option, offering a riders top-of-the-line sedans like Mercedes, BMW, and Audi. Uber Black and Uber SUV are black livery vehicles driven by professional drivers. Customers can request a taxi through the app, which uses the taxi meter plus an additional fee. The cheapest and most popular option is UberX, in which regular drivers in their personal cars can drive customers to their destinations.

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July 14, 2014

$5.4 Million Awarded to Motorcyclist in Career-Ending Accident

John Hendrickson loved his job. He rubbed elbows with the rich and famous, editing the music of some of the most well-known names in the industry. Hendrickson was a recording engineer employed by Capitol Records to perfect the recordings of heavy-hitters like the Foo Fighters and Nat King Cole. Not only was recording his passion, it was also his livelihood; his means of providing for his family. In an instant, one lax decision by a United States Border Patrol Officer ended his career and caused the victim long-lasting pain and suffering.

John Hendrickson, a motorcycle enthusiast and experienced driver, was riding his motorcycle on an unpaved mountain road in Southern California with “multiple blind turns and unprotected drop-offs,” according to his lawyer, Robert J. Francavilla. United States Border Patrol Agent Ryan Moore was travelling in a government-issued Chevrolet truck when he recklessly rounded a corner at a high speed and hit Hendrickson head-on on the other side of the blind turn. The force of the crash ejected Hendrickson from his motorcycle and caused serious, life-altering injuries.

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June 30, 2014

No Charges for Driver of Fatal Hit-and-Run Bike Accident

After a long deliberation, a grand jury has found the driver who killed a bicyclist in a hit-and-run accident in Charlestown in April not guilty.

Ricky Prezioso, 41, was initially charged with the death of bicyclist Owen McGrory, 30, when he struck and killed him while driving a garbage truck in Sullivan Square on April 3. According to police reports, Prezioso was charged with leaving the scene of an accident causing death. Prezioso claimed he “thought he hit a pothole;” which police initially believed to be a likely scenario as bicyclists can be hit by vehicles so big that the drivers never see or feel the impact.

The grand jury heard testimony from seven witnesses and was presented with 19 exhibits, a spokesman for the Suffolk County district attorney told reporters at WCVB.

"In light of the grand jury’s decision, prosecutors are essentially left without a criminal case," spokesman Jake Wark said.

The investigative file assembled by prosecutors has been given to McGrory's family, should they wish to file a civil suit.

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June 30, 2014

AAA Projects 41 Million Americans Traveling Over Independence Day Weekend

The most Americans in seven years will travel by car during the Fourth of July weekend—a whopping 41 million, as projected by AAA.

The Northeast is a particularly popular tourist destination during weekends like Memorial Day and the Fourth of July, with families flocking to destinations like Boston, Cape Cod and the Islands, as well as up North.

“With school out for summer, the Fourth of July holiday is typically the busiest summer travel holiday,” said Lloyd P. Albert, AAA Southern New England senior vice president of public and government affairs. “In line with tradition, most travelers are celebrating their newfound summer freedom with an all-American road trip.”

According to the national motor club, 8 out of every 10 people will be traveling by car, a 1.9 percent increase from last year. At Altman & Altman, would like to send a friendly reminder to everyone who expects to hit the road this weekend, to keep these tips in mind to ensure you and your family has a safe and happy holiday.

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June 30, 2014

Motorcycle Crash Kills One MA Police Chief, Injures Another

Along the scenic roads and rolling hills outside of Montpellier, Vermont, a tragedy took the life of one retired police chief and critically injured another. Former Kingston, MA Police Chief Joseph Rebello was killed and retired Hudson Police Chief Richard Braga sustained serious injuries after a car struck their motorcycles head-on in the rural Vermont town of Woodbury. Two other motorcyclists were travelling with the men but were able to avoid the car and walked away uninjured.

Joseph Rebello, 55, had just retired as Kingston Police Chief only one year ago. After news of the accident broke, words of support poured in from police departments around the state. Rebello was pronounced dead at the scene by EMS officials and his good friend, Richard Braga, 57 was critically injured and rushed to an area hospital, where he is now listed in stable condition.

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June 19, 2014

MBTA Operators’ Union Objects to New Cell Phone Policy After Newton Bus Crash

A union representing workers for the MBTA is voicing its disapproval for a new state policy prohibiting operators from carrying cell phones during their shifts.

According to an article published by the Boston Globe, the Boston Carmen’s Union ATU Local 589 stated that it was “deeply disturbed” by the new policy which was put in place following a near disastrous bus crash over the Massachusetts Turnpike in Newton, where the bus was left dangling over the busy highway and seven passengers were injured. The bus driver on duty was reportedly driving with a cell phone in her hand. She was terminated after pleading not guilty to respective charges.

The new policy calls for MBTA train and bus operators to be suspended for 30 days and recommended for firing if they are caught having a cell phone with them during work hours; whether the cell phone is being used or is stored away. The previous policy, which went into effect in 2009, banned operators from possessing cell phones on the job, however the punishment was much more lenient: operators caught faced a 10-day suspension from work and were recommended for firing after two violations. This new, tougher policy now matches the same policy previously put into effect for operators who are found texting or talking on a cell phone while on duty.

While many public officials have voiced their support for the new policy, MBTA workers as well as their representing union are expressing discontent, saying that not only is the punishment too harsh, but there are also times when “alternative communications are necessary for everyone’s protection, and the MBTA has not offered a resolution to that problem,” according to the Boston Globe and the Union’s website.

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June 16, 2014

Deadly Accident Shifts Spotlight to Truck Driver Fatigue


Comedian Tracy Morgan as well as several other passengers remain in critical condition following a serious accident involving the Mercedes Sprinter van in which they were travelling. Morgan’s friend and writer James “Jimmy Mack” McNair was killed when a Wal-Mart tractor slammed into the back of a Mercedes luxury bus containing the comedian and his fellow performers, causing it to roll and careen out of control and into other cars.

What began initially as a tragic accident grabbed national attention when more details of the dramatic scene were released. Officials believe the accident was caused when Wal-Mart truck driver Kevin Roper failed to observe slow moving traffic in front of him and swerved at the last second in an attempt to avoid hitting the vehicle in front of him. As photos and video from the crash site reveal, the truck slammed into the Mercedes carrying Morgan with his friends and fellow performers with enough force to flip the vehicle on its roof, causing a chain-reaction crash with four other cars.

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