Boston Car Accident Lawyer Blog
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Actor Anton Yelchin, 27, who played Chekov in the recent “Star Trek” movies was killed two weeks ago when his 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee slid backwards and pinned him against a brick pillar and a security fence.  Fiat Chrysler recalled more than 1.1 million of these models and large cars in April because some drivers exited vehicles without putting them into park.  The company said it was aware of 41 potentially related injuries during the time it announced the recall.  However, U.S. safety regulators said on Tuesday that there were 68 reported injuries and 266 reported crashes in vehicles that have the confusing gear-shifting control.  Chief Executive Officer Sergio Marchionne said on a conference call that the recall would include a software update that would automatically shift the vehicles into park.  Critics are claiming this is a perfect example of how things become harder to use when you take the controls out of hardware and put them into software.

The underlying issue of the recall is that the Jeep’s shift lever doesn’t mechanically control the transmission, although it looks and moves like a traditional shift lever.  The shifter does not give any tactile feedback as to what gear you are in because it returns to the center position after each shift.  Therefore, to determine which gear you are in, you have to look at the LEDs on the shifter, which are often blocked by your hand, or the digital display in the instrument cluster.  This has caused a lot of confusion among drivers, resulting in them failing to put the vehicles in park.  The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration made a statement in February saying, “[T]he Monostable shifter is not intuitive and provides poor tactile and visual feedback to the driver, increasing the potential for unintended gear selection.”  Unlike other car companies who use this type of shifter, there isn’t an override to automatically put the car into park if the door is open. Continue reading

Self-driving cars are no longer a futuristic dream of the past.  Several top automobile companies, like Mercedes, BMW, and Tesla, have been designing and testing cars that can operate themselves.  Tech companies are also attempting to create safe and reliable self-driving cars.  According to researcher HIS Automotive, thousands of driver less cars will be sold in the U.S. in 2020, reaching almost 4.5 million by 2035.  Although these forecasts are legitimate, the U.S. auto safety chief said that these self-driving cars must increase safety at least twofold in order to make a significant difference in the total loss of life that occurs in automobile accidents in the U.S. annually.

Last year alone, there was a total of 38,000 deaths on American roads.  The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that 94 percent of deaths that occur on the road are a result of human error.  It may seem like an easy solution, remove the human, remove the errors.  But, it has been ruled that self-driving software, such as Google’s software, actually might have the same amount of risk as a human driver.  In January, it was announced that NHTSA would soon issue guidelines governing self-driving cars within six months.  These guidelines include, how the vehicles would be tested and what standards they have to be upheld to in order for these cars to be permitted on the road.  These standards are described as a “model state policy” including local regulations of self-driving cars in order to “help support a uniform, consistent framework.”  President Barack Obama has also shown support for autonomous-vehicle technology, proposing 2017 budget calls including spending $3.9 billion over the next 10 years on developing this technology.  These cars should not only function safely, but more safely than vehicles that have human drivers in order to make a noticeable difference in the number of automobile accidents each year.

There are many countries and companies in the race to put the first safe and reliable autonomous car on the market.  The two main countries competing are the U.S. and China.  China’s version of Google, Baidu, is working on developing a self-driving car as well.  Initially, China seemed like a great place to experiment with such a car, considering the amount of deaths that occur there as a result of automobile accidents (261,367 deaths in 2013 according to the WHO’s latest report).  However, it is now understood that self-driving cars operate best in a predictable environment in which all rules of the road are followed.  In China, as often times in the U.S., motorists, pedestrians, bikers, and the like often view traffic signals as suggestions, not as laws that must be followed.  To date, Google’s cars have traveled more than 1.5 million miles and have only cause one crash since 2009. Continue reading

As a Boston Law Firm that handles all types of accident cases, we follow how technology can help provide safer roadways, and how technology can help identify causes of accidents. The Highway Loss Data Institute conducted a safety analysis of crash avoidance technology to determine its effectiveness in preventing car accidents. Examples of crash-avoidance technology include park assist and autonomous braking features, lane departure warnings, and blind-spot detection. The study revealed that certain forms of this technology are quite effective, while others can actually contribute to accidents. Contact a Boston Motor Vehicle Accident Lawyer Today.

While the study revealed that park assist features and blind-spot detection haven’t yet proven to be helpful or harmful, other features were actually associated with an increase in accidents. Lane departure warnings, for example, appear to cause an uptick in collisions. In addition to lane departure warnings, the study, which looked at Mercedes, Acura, and Volvo vehicles, examined various crash-avoidance features, including forward-collision warning systems, and adaptive headlights.

Features that Work

Forward collision warning systems alert drivers if they are moving toward other traffic too quickly. In addition to a warning signal, this feature may also automatically decrease the vehicle’s speed through the use of autonomous brakes. According to the report, there was a 14% crash reduction in the Mercedes and Acura vehicles with this feature. Volvos with this feature also experienced a lesser incidence of crashes, with a 10% reduction compared to vehicles without the system.

Adaptive headlights also appear to reduce the incidence of crashes, with accidents in these vehicles dropping by 10%. According to Matt Moore, the institute’s vice president, “These lights appear to help in more situations than we anticipated, though we don’t yet know why.”

Features that Hurt

As mentioned above, lane departure warnings are actually associated with a slight increase in accident claims. Although more research has to be conducted to determine the cause of this increase, there is some speculation that the problem can be blamed on the emerging, and as yet imperfect, technology. Warning signals may be inaccurate at times, resulting in an inappropriate reaction. “It may be that drivers are getting too many false alarms, which could make them tune out the warnings or turn them off completely,” said Moore. According to Consumer Reports, this inaccuracy can be especially problematic on windy, two-lane roads.

Moore believes that with further developments, the increase in accidents can see a turnaround. For example, a feature that autonomously forces the vehicle to remain in its lane could make the lane departure warning system more effective at crash prevention. In addition, warning signals can become so commonplace that drivers begin to ignore them. For instance, blind-spot monitoring detects large objects on the side of the car, including other vehicles, pedestrians, and cyclists. As cars are constantly passing these objects, the warning signal – often a light – goes on frequently. Although many people find this feature helpful, it can also be easy to ignore. Continue reading

Even simple fender benders can result in injuries and unpaid bills. Most people believe that if the damages are minor and no injuries are immediately present, there is no need to contact a Massachusetts attorney. They assume that a quick call to the insurance company will provide everything they need to schedule car repairs and pay for any damages. But that’s not always the case. In fact, more often than not, dealing with insurance companies becomes an overwhelmingly complicated process. And if injuries show up a few days or weeks down the road, things can get messy. Contact a Boston Motor Vehicle Accident Attorney Today.

Situations When Having an Attorney Can Save the Day

  • When there’s a conflict of interest with the insurance company: Yes, your insurance company may provide you with legal counsel following a car accident. But whose interest do you think that counsel is tasked with protecting? An attorney hired by the insurance company has the insurance company’s interests in mind at all times. If those interests align with your own, you’re in luck. But if they don’t? Well, that’s another story entirely.
  • If the insurance company denies your claim: Another car rear-ended you causing minor damage to your car. No big deal, you’ll just file a claim with your insurance company. But what if your carrier denies the claim? What’s the next step? Having an experienced car accident attorney on your side can help you collect the compensation you deserve in a timely manner.
  • When the insurance money doesn’t cover your damages: The insurance company cuts you a check, but it only covers a portion of the repair bill. What do you do now? Just as with denied claims, inadequate compensation is best handled by a skilled auto accident lawyer. An experienced lawyer will know what questions to ask, and will understand how to work with insurance companies.
  • If anyone suffered injuries: Injuries that are immediately apparent, and those that don’t show up for days or weeks, can be a nightmare for everyone involved. In addition to pain and suffering, lost work time, scarring and disfigurement, and disability, injuries can cause the insurance claims process to become drawn out and overly complicated. If you are injured, the last thing you want to do is spend hours on the phone with insurance companies. A knowledgeable car and truck accident attorney can help you navigate this process with ease so that you can concentrate on recovery.

Not to mention, if injuries are involved, there is a good likelihood that your case will result in a lawsuit. The right attorney can help prove you weren’t at fault, and differentiate between special damages and general damages. Most car accident lawsuits are settled before going to trial, but that doesn’t mean you don’t need to hire a lawyer. The outcome of your settlement is dependent on multiple factors, and an experienced attorney will know how to position you for the best possible outcome. Continue reading

Distracted driving is becoming far too commonplace on the streets of Boston.  All distractions present incredible risk to injury or death, not only the driver, but also passengers and bystanders.  There are three main types of distraction that are based on three types of attention, visual distractions (taking your eyes off the road), manual distractions (taking your hands off the wheel), and cognitive distractions (taking your mind off of driving).  Common distractions that can occur while operating a vehicle are texting or using a cell phone, eating or drinking, talking to passengers, applying make up or fixing one’s hair, reading (maps or directions), using a GPS, watching a video, and fiddling with radios or MP3 players to play music.

The more dangerous distractions are those that incorporate more than one of the groups of distractions.  For example, a particularly concerning distraction is using a cell phone to text because it requires so many forms of attention, visual, manual, and cognitive.  Some key statistics can illustrate just how damaging distracting driving can be.  In 2014, distracted drivers were associated with 3,179 fatalities and 431,000 injuries sustained in motor vehicle accidents.  Studies have show that distracted driving appears to be more prevalent in younger drivers.  Ten percent of fatal crashes, 18 percent of injury crashes, and 16 percent of motor vehicle traffic crashes were cases in which the teenage driver, between 15 and 19 years old, was described as being distracted at the time of the crash.  Specifically, it has been studied that texting takes your eyes off the road for 4.6 seconds.  If driving on a highway, assuming travelling about 55 miles per hour, you will travel the length of a football field while your eyes are focused on your text messages.

In order to discourage distracted driving, various state and federal laws have been enacted.  Many states have put a ban on texting and driving.  The Federal bans include banning texting while driving on government business/with government-owned equipment and banning cell phone use while on the job for various professions (railroad workers, motor carriers).  Most notably is the “It can wait” campaign sponsored by AT&T, which urges drivers that their phone can wait.  To date, there are over 8 million pledges made by those who pledge to keep their eyes on the road, not on their phones.  Although phones are the most well known driving distraction, other less obvious distractions can be just as dangerous.  As technology advances, cars are becoming more technologically sophisticated.  Most people believe that if respected car companies install intricate “infotainment” dashboards into cars, then they must be safe to use while driving.  However, anything that takes attention away from the road can distract drivers enough to get into an accident.  Driving is not an activity that can be used to multitask.  Continue reading

In the past five years, it has been reported that more than 5,000 people have been killed in automobile accidents involving teen drivers during the summer weeks between Memorial Day and Labor Day.  AAA has gone so far as to dub this period the “100 Deadliest Days”.  Deaths during these months are at a higher rate than all other times of the year.  Mary Maguire of AAA Northeast attributes this spike to the increased hours of driving teens complete in the summer time.  Not only do teens spend more time driving, but they also drive greater distances and to places they may be less acquainted with, i.e. the beach or a summer internship.

The average number of deaths from crashes involving teen drivers during the summer months spikes 16 percent as compared to other days during the year.  Annually, this totals to more than 1,000 deaths making it the leading cause of death for American adolescents.  These crashes are not solely contributed to the inexperience of these young drivers.  The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety discovered that in 60 percent of these accidents involving teen drivers, the drivers were distracted.  By utilizing recorded video, audio, and accelerometer data from dashboard cameras of cars involved in crashes, AAA determined the top three driving distractions for teen drivers.  Talking to passengers accounted for 15 percent of distracted driving behaviors.  This is followed by texting or talking on the phone, which accounted for 12 percent of accidents.  Lastly, distractions inside the vehicle (radio or GPS) were present in 11 percent of crashes.

As cell phones have become an integral part of daily life, the dangers of texting and driving have become better known.  Parents and organizations acknowledge this fact and have coined phrases such as “It can wait” in order to spread awareness to teens of the dangers of driving while distracted by a cell phone.  Even so, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration performed a survey from 2007-2014 and found that the percentage of adolescent drivers found using an iPhone or similar hand-held device quadrupled, now totaling at 4.8%.  There is also a study that shows that although using a cell phone to make calls while driving is dangerous, averting one’s eyes to text or use social media while driving is significantly more dangerous.  Jurek Grabowski, research director for the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety states, “They went from a dangerous activity to an extremely dangerous activity”.  Continue reading

As fatal car accidents continue to rise across the country, a national ‘Click it or Ticket’ campaign kicked off this week. With Memorial Day marking the start of summer travel, state troopers from Massachusetts, along with those from New Hampshire and Maine, are working hard to promote seat belt use in New England. Nationwide motor vehicle deaths are up 10% this year, and deaths are up 17% in Massachusetts. Contact a Boston Auto Accident Lawyer Today.

In Massachusetts, it is mandatory to wear a seat belt, regardless of age. This is different from some states, such as New Hampshire, that only require seat belt use under the age of 18. According to Tom Barron, a Chief Deputy Sheriff in Maine, “We see the difference seat belts make.” Maine’s seat belt compliance rate is at 85.5%, compared to Massachusetts’ 74.4%. Why the difference? It may have to do with the fact that not wearing a seat belt in Maine is a primary offense, meaning police can stop vehicles if a driver or passenger is not wearing a seat belt. In Massachusetts, that’s not the case. Not wearing a seat belt is a secondary offense in Mass. Not only are MA police officers prohibited from stopping vehicles strictly for non-seat belt use, not wearing a seat belt has no bearing if charges are filed.

Men Ages 18 to 34 Least Likely to Wear Seat Belts

The Click it or Ticket campaign urges everyone to wear seat belts at all times. According to statistics, women are more likely to use seat belts than their male counterparts. According to Massachusetts Director of Highway Safety, Jeff Larson, men between the ages of 18 and 34 who drive pick-up trucks are the most likely group to not wear seat belts in MA. There is also an issue with newly licensed drivers – mostly teens –  who opt not to use a seat belt.

In addition to always wearing a seat belt, it is crucial that we all become more attentive while driving. This is especially true around emergency vehicles and in construction zones. Just last week, a state trooper from New Hampshire was seriously injured when he was struck during a traffic stop in Bedford, N.H. And in 2015, a total of 23 NH police vehicles were struck between Thanksgiving and February. Distracted driving is becoming a nationwide epidemic. Texting, talking on the phone, operating a navigational system, adjusting the stereo, and eating are all forms of distracted driving. But there is no question – texting while driving is the biggest concern, and this problem is going to get worse before it gets better. Until technology advances to a point at which we can text without being distracted (which isn’t likely to be soon), the death toll is going to continue to rise.

Put down the phone and put on your seat belt. Not wearing a seat belt is only a secondary offense in Massachusetts. Unfortunately, that distinction will not save your life in a crash. A seat belt might. Use your head, and buckle up every time you’re on the road. Continue reading

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

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