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October 28, 2014

Man Injured When Cement Beam Falls off Truck

The driver of an SUV was taken to the hospital last week after several cement beams fell off of a tractor-trailer truck and onto his car.

Vidon George, the driver of that SUV, said he was approximately 30 feet away from the truck when he noticed the restraint harnesses giving way. The beams landed on the hood of George’s Honda Pilot, crushing its front end.

"I just tried to brake and I could see this is going to come and hit my car for sure and bam, in a few seconds everything was done," George, 40, said in a statement to WCVB. "It happened so fast. My hands were on the steering wheel and the airbag exploded or deployed. My body aches because of that huge impact," he said.

George, a married father of three was en route to work. He was luckily able to open the car door and walk away not seriously injured, however he is being treated for bruises. Investigators are currently looking into how the accident happened.

Continue reading "Man Injured When Cement Beam Falls off Truck" »

October 21, 2014

Massachusetts Teen Drivers Still At Greatest Risk of Involvement in Traffic Crashes

According to statistics, teen motorists are more likely to be in a car crash than motorists who belong to an older age group. In 2012 alone, 39 people ages 16 to 20 died in Massachusetts car crashes—that’s over 11% of all traffic deaths in the state that year. This figure is higher than the national average of 9.6% .

Driver inexperience is the most common cause of young driver traffic accident. Other common causes include speeding, poor seatbelt use, alcohol, and distracted driving.

Just this month an Attleboro teen died in a single auto collision. Christopher Hutcheon 18, was accompanied by other teens in a 2000 Toyota Camry when the vehicle struck a tree in Mansfield. The car, which another teen was driving, split in two. Hutcheon suffered a collapsed long and ruptured spleen. He was placed in a medically induced coma before later passing away.

Last month, another teen driver died when his vehicle went off the road in a Winchester traffic accident. Patrick Gill was pronounced dead at a Burlington hospital.

Also last month, a Lynn, MA teen driver was charged with Operating Under the Influence in a hit-and-run case that left four people injured. Nery Martin-Lopez, 19, reportedly struck three other cars while drunk. He pleaded not guilty to criminal charges.

Teen Drivers
Like any new driver, young drivers become better motorists with time. However, their youth and experience does make them higher risk driver than older, more experience motorists for a number of reasons, including:

• A propensity to underestimate dangerous situations, take unnecessary risks, or speed
• The lowest rate of seat belt use compared to drivers in other age groups.
• Inexperience with dealing with emergency situations on the road
• Distracted driving, whether from driving with other teens in the car or using cell phones to call people and send text messages
• Driving under the influence
• Reckless driving

This week is National Teen Driver Safety Week. Among the initiatives to mark the occasion is the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention “Parents are Key” campaign. There also is the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s “5 to Drive” campaign, which was introduced by the government agency last year. Both programs encourage guardians and parents to get involved.

NHTSA is also recommending that teen drivers refrain from cell phone use for texting or talking while driving, drive under the speed limit, refrain from carrying extra passengers, wear a seatbelt, and drive sober. In a statement to Reuters, U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Fox noted that even though the number of young driver deaths and related crashes have gone down, the amount of teenagers injured in traffic accidents is still significant. Motor vehicle crashes continue to be one of the major causes of teen deaths.

In Massachusetts, the state has a graduated driver licensing program, called the Junior Operator’s License (JOL) program, which takes place in stages over a couple of years for young motorists. The program is an effort to minimize the risks for teen drivers by gradually preparing them for the challenges of operating a motor vehicle.

At Altman & Altman our Boston car accident lawyers represent teenagers (and their families) who were injured in a traffic accident that was caused by another driver’s negligence.

Parents are Key to Safe Teen Drivers, CDC

NHTSA Unveils '5 to Drive' Teen Safety Campaign To Reduce High Death Rate of Teens, NHTSA, October 22, 2013

Teen drivers at greatest risk, Wicked Local, October 16, 2014


More Blog Posts:
US DOT Aims New 'Don't Text and Drive' Commercial at Distracted Drivers, Boston Car Accident Lawyer Blog, April 7, 2014

Massachusetts Suspends ET-Plus Guardrail Use Because of Traffic Injury Risks, Boston Injury Lawyer Blog, October 21, 2014

Paxil Birth Defect Lawsuit Is Sent Back to State Court, Massachusetts Drug Injury Lawyers Blog, October 13, 2014

October 3, 2014

Brookline Police Gauge Interest in New Bicycle Law

Bicycle safety continues to draw the attention of city officials as the number of cyclists grows across the city. With increasing attention to the environmental and health advantages of opting for bicycles instead of motor vehicles and public transportation, and the advent of bike share programs like Hubway, the volume of bicyclists has increased dramatically. With this movement towards cycling, bicycle laws may need to be reconsidered to ensure that cycling remains an attractive option for Bostonians, while ensuring the safety of cyclists, pedestrians, and motor vehicle drivers.

Boston.com reported that on September 17th, the Brookline Police Department solicited comments via Twitter regarding the adoption of a new bicycle law commonly known as the Idaho Stop. The law would allow cyclists to treat red lights as stop signs, and treat stop signs as yield signs, thereby letting cyclists move more quickly and have more freedom on roadways. In Idaho, bicycle injuries declined by 14.5% in the year following the implementation of the law.

Existing bike laws in Brookline follow a “same roads, same rules” approach, which requires cyclists to adhere to the same road rules as drivers of motor vehicles. Steve Sidman, Executive Director of the Boston Cyclists Union criticized this approach, noting that the rules applicable to motor vehicles cannot logically be applied wholesale to bicycles. Stidman also recommended the construction of a separate bicycle path on Commonwealth Avenue to reduce bicycle accidents.

Brookline Police Lieutenant Philip Harrington noted that there are no definite plans to adopt the new rule and the department is merely opening the topic for discussion at this point.

Continue reading "Brookline Police Gauge Interest in New Bicycle Law" »

September 30, 2014

Research Shows Danger of Texting While Driving Using Google Glass

Head-up displays like Google Glass were made to assist drivers in multitasking. Rather than reaching for a phone to manually send or receive a text, a driver using Google Glass would be able to read projected messages and dictate replies without ever having to take their hands off the wheel. The concept seems logical to most, yet groups like the Consumers Union and the National Safety Council have cautioned that hands-free, voice-based interfaces can still pose as a dangerous distraction to drivers.

According to a Forbes article published yesterday, a peer-reviewed study conducted by the University of Central Florida in partnership with the Air Force Research Laboratory compared 40-something drivers in a car simulator while wearing the Google Glasses, and their responses to when the vehicle driving in front of them suddenly slammed on the brakes. Researchers found that subjects who had been exchanging messages using Google Glass or a smartphone were just as equally slow to respond. Wearers of the Google Glass did appear to recover more quickly after the near crash, but they also left less distance between the car they were operating, and the car in front of them. This data suggested that the Google Glass reduced participants’ perception to risk.

In a similar study conducted at Wichita State University, researchers found while comparing speech-based texting to handheld texting, there was no significant difference in driver performance. “In fact, the researchers found that both methods of texting significantly impaired driver performance and caused variation in speed and lane position.”

Continue reading "Research Shows Danger of Texting While Driving Using Google Glass" »

September 30, 2014

Walmart Responds to Tracy Morgan’s Lawsuit: "Morgan Should Have Worn a Seatbelt"

Retail supergiant Walmart has finally responded to a lawsuit filed by actor and comedian Tracy Morgan over a deadly car crash that left Morgan in critical condition. Its response: Morgan should have worn a seatbelt.

According to CNN and court documents, Walmart filed a 28-page response to a complaint by lawyers representing Morgan and three others who were injured in the accident, which occurred when Walmart semi-truck driver Kevin Roper collided with the rear end of the Mercedes Sprinter van in which Morgan was riding. Photos released of the incident show the Mercedes was hit with enough force for it to land on its roof and cause a chain reaction crash with four other vehicles. Roper pleaded not guilty in June to criminal charges that included vehicular homicide and assault by auto.

Morgan’s lawsuit claims that Walmart was careless and negligent in the operation of the vehicle that caused the accident, and that it should have known that Roper was not fit to be driving and that it violated Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration Regulations enacted to combat the dangers of driver fatigue. Already, it was discerned by officials that Roper was potentially drowsy while he was driving (Roper had been awake for 24 hours prior), and it was speculated that his fatigue was ultimately what caused the tragic accident. Roper has denied that fatigue played a role in the crash.

Continue reading "Walmart Responds to Tracy Morgan’s Lawsuit: "Morgan Should Have Worn a Seatbelt"" »

September 10, 2014

New Ordinance Could Protect Boston Bicyclists By Requiring Protective Side Guards, Convex Mirrors on City Trucks

A new ordinance, The Act to Protect Vulnerable Road Users, could make the roads safer for local cyclists, especially during a Boston bicycle accident. If approved, all trucks over 10,000 pounds that are owned or contracted by the city would be obligated to install new safety features on their vehicles.

Among the added features are protective side guards, which should prevent a cyclist from getting pulled under a truck’s wheels during a Boston truck accident. Trucks would also have to install convex mirrors, which would make it easier for truckers to see more of the road. Meantime, reflective, bright stickers notifying of a truck’s blind spots would let pedestrians and bicyclists know that the driver might not be able to see them.

According to the Boston’s Cyclist Safety Report, between the Summer and Fall of ’12 alone, five Boston area bicyclists were killed. One reason for this is that there has been an increase in the number of bicyclists, which is even more of a reason to make sure that cyclists are getting the protections they need in the event of any kind of Massachusetts traffic crash. The rise in bicycle riders has definitely been enhanced by the New Balance Hubway, which is a bicycle sharing system that gives members access to bicycles located at more than 100 stations throughout the Greater Boston area. Councilor-at-Large Ayanna Pressley, who is one of the lawmakers spearheading the act, called the problem of inadequate bicyclist safety a “public health issue,” said The Globe.

Also according to the safety report, between ’10 and ’12, the Boston Police Department noted 1,446 bicycle accidents, including nine fatalities. There was reportedly an increase in bicycle accidents involving younger riders. Between ’09 and ’12, motor vehicles were involved in 91% of bicycle incidents. Just this Friday a cyclist died in a Medford, Massachusetts traffic crash involving a motorcycle. The bicyclist was a 29-year-old Somerville man. The 52-year-old motorcyclist, from Topsfield, was also injured.

More data from the study:
• Cyclists make up 98% of all injured parties in Boston bicycle accidents.
• The highest number of Boston bicycle crashes happened in the Fenway/Kenmore Allston/Brighton, Jamaica Plain, Roxbury areas, as well as on Commonwealth Avenue, Boylston Street, Mass Avenue, Beacon Street and Dorchester Avenue.

Bicyclists don’t have much protection, even with their protective gear (including their helmets), so the chances of injury in a Massachusetts bicycle accident is high—especially when a large truck is involved.

At Altman & Altman, our Boston truck collisions lawyers have worked with victims and their families in recouping their losses for Massachusetts personal injury and wrongful death. Contact our Boston bicycle crash attorneys today to request your free case consultation.

*The Act, defines vulnerable road users as bicyclists, wheelchair users, pedestrians, and others on the road that are non-motorized.

Proposed Legislation Would Protect Boston Bicyclists, Boston.com, September 10, 2014

Somerfield Bicyclist Killed in Medford Collision with Motorcycle, Boston/CBS Local, September 6, 2014

Hubway

Cyclist Safety Report (PDF)


More Blog Posts:
A Reminder for Safer Summer Biking, Boston Injury Lawyer Blog, July 27, 2014

Actor Tracy Morgan Sues Wal-Mart Over Catastrophic Truck Accident, Boston Injury Lawyer Blog, July 16, 2014

No Charges for Driver of Fatal Hit-and-Run Bike Accident, Boston Car Accident Lawyer Blog, June 30, 2014

August 29, 2014

Motorcyclists Fatally Injured in Easthampton, MA Crash

Police from Easthampton, MA are reporting that two individuals were fatally injured while traveling north on their motorcycle. The motorcycle, which had been traveling north, was struck by an oncoming car heading southbound.

According to police reports, 45-year-old James Ainsworth of Springfield, MA crossed the center line on Route 5 yesterday and struck the couple on their bike. News reports indicate that Ainsworth was scheduled to be arraigned this afternoon at the Northwestern district attorney’s office.

MOTORCYCLE ACCIDENTS

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that approximately 81,000 people were injured and 4,612 were killed in motorcycle accidents in 2011 in the United States; a 2% increase from the number in 2010 and a 41% increase from 2002. Motorcycle accidents make up an estimated 14% of the total number of motor-vehicle crashes in the United States each year. The United States watchdog estimates that per every vehicle mile traveled, motorcyclist and motorcycle passengers are 30 times more likely than passenger car occupants to be killed in an accident, and 5 times more likely to be injured during an accident.

Continue reading "Motorcyclists Fatally Injured in Easthampton, MA Crash" »

August 29, 2014

Boston Drivers the Worst in the Country & Tips to Stay Safe While Traveling this Holiday Weekend

A new study published by Allstate Insurance has confirmed what many already know: Boston drivers are some of the worst in the entire country. The study, published this week, reported that the city’s drivers were the second-riskiest in the country based on the average number of reported crashes and the average years between car accidents—roughly 4.4 years.

Places like New York, Chicago, and even Los Angeles (surprisingly) ranked lower than Boston, among another 195 cities. Chicago’s drivers got in an accident roughly every 8.2 years; and New York City 7.8. While the data seems a bit surprising, given the higher volume of traffic in both the Windy City and the Big Apple, one thing cannot be disputed: the “unique” (for lack of a better word) road system in our city which many attribute to why there are so many accidents.

Unfortunately, car accidents are one of the leading causes of death in the United States according to the CDC; with more than 2 million adult drivers and passengers treated in emergency departments annually. The economic and lifetime impacts of car accidents is also substantial; with crash-related deaths and injuries among drivers and passengers costing around $70 billion.

Continue reading "Boston Drivers the Worst in the Country & Tips to Stay Safe While Traveling this Holiday Weekend" »

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.

Continue reading "Motorcyclist Awarded $1.15M Settlement in Right of Way Violation Case" »

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.

Continue reading "New Overlap Front Crash Testing Shows Range of Safety Issues with Small Cars" »

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.”

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

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.

Continue reading "Low-Speed Collision ends in $3.1 Million Awarded by Jury" »