Boston Car Accident Lawyer Blog
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According to the Massachusetts State House News Service, it will be prohibited to use a hand-held device while driving under new legislation that was initially approved on Tuesday. Texting while driving has been illegal in the state for five years. When it was initially passed in 2010, the law failed to impose a ban on hand-held cell phone use. For this reason, it has been nearly impossible for authorities to enforce the law.

A second vote in favor of the new bill is required to move it to the Senate, however, it is highly likely that this will happen. Tuesday’s bill was passed with zero discussion. Contact a Boston Motor Vehicle Accident Lawyer.

Are Hands-Free Devices Safer?

Although it is widely understood that cell phones and other devices are dangerous while driving, there is some controversy around the use of hands-free devices. If the new bill is passed, it will encourage drivers to use hands-free devices in place of their hand-held counterparts. However, there is some concern that such a law will mislead drivers into thinking that hands-free devices are entirely safe. The reality is, any form of multi-tasking results in a distracted driver. Approximately 26% of Boston auto accidents involve cell phone use, and this includes hands-free. In fact, new studies show that voice-to-text can be more distracting than traditional typing.

The three elements of distraction-free driving are:

Hands on the wheel

Eyes on the road

Mind on driving

Cell phones and other devices are certainly not the only form of distraction while driving. Eating, drinking, talking to passengers, dealing with pets, changing the stereo, and putting on make-up are other common examples. However, cell phone use continues to remain the most dangerous form of distracted driving.

Although hands-free devices still pose a risk, the new law does have some clear benefits. A hands-free law allows police to finally enforce the law that has been on the books for more than five years. The knowledge that a phone in the hand is equal to a fine will likely result in drivers who are more inclined to leave their phone on the passenger seat, or put it in their glove box or handbag. The use of smartphones continues to grow, and they aren’t going away. Currently, 14 states ban the use of hand-held devices while driving. These laws aren’t perfect, and they will certainly continue to evolve right along with technology, but they are a solid effort at making Massachusetts roads safer for everyone. Continue reading

With the warm weather we’ve been having this November, it almost seems as though winter has decided to skip over Boston this year. But love it or hate it, winter is on its way. Getting ready for New England’s harsh and icy winters begins early, and there’s no preparation more important than that of your vehicle. Winterizing your vehicle not only makes you more comfortable and helps your car or truck run more efficiently, it can also save your life. If you’re looking to cut costs on expenses this winter, look somewhere else. Winterizing your vehicle is essential to your safety and that of everyone you share the road with. Contact a Boston Car Accident Lawyer Today.

How to Prepare Your Vehicle for Winter Weather

  • Maintain your tires and get snow tires if possible. Not only is it safest to have tire tread that’s at least 1/16 of an inch, it’s the law. Snow tires are not essential, but they certainly come in handy when conditions are snowy or icy, and even during heavy rainfall.
  • Make sure your battery is in good working order. Cold weather can make it extremely difficult for vehicles to start, and this can be especially damaging to batteries. Unfortunately, when a battery fails it can cause damage to the vehicle’s entire system. Buy a good brand of battery and have it checked before winter sets in.
  • Keep the gas tank as full as possible at all times.
  • Inspect hoses and belts for signs of visible wear and tear, such as cracking.
  • Check antifreeze regularly.
  • Use a cold weather windshield wiper fluid that contains a deicing solution.
  • Use dry gas, a gas line antifreeze that does just what it says. It prevents the moisture in the fuel from freezing which can result in damage to the fuel line.
  • Stash an emergency kit in the trunk. If you break down, you may be stuck in the cold for an extended period of time. Having a blanket, an extra hat and gloves, bottled water, snacks, a flashlight, a shovel, road flares, jumper cables, and a bag of cat litter or sand can be more valuable than gold if you have an accident, break down or get stuck in the snow, especially at night. The cat litter or sand can help to provide traction on a slippery surface, and the flares can attract the attention of passing cars.
  • Altman & Altman, LLP – Boston’s Car Accident Law Firm

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According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), injury accidents dropped by 28% between 2004 and 2013, and fatalities dropped by 41%. The Insurance Research Council attributes much of this drop to improved licensing laws and safer vehicles. This is obviously good news. However, as minor accidents decrease, the average cost per claim has risen sharply. In fact, costs have gone up by 38% per claim during the same time period. Contact a Boston Car Accident Attorney.

Are Safer Cars and Improved Medical Technology Responsible for Increase in Costs?

With the number of minor crashes falling due to technological improvements, such as collision avoidance systems, the insurance companies are left with more serious accident claims. This throws off the balance, resulting in a higher cost per claim. In addition, as medical technology advances, medical expenses increase as well. Providers are more likely to use MRIs and other expensive technology than they were only a few years ago, even when injuries are minor. Although safer cars, educated drivers, and advanced medical care are a benefit to everyone on the road, these benefits come with a cost.

The increasing costs per claim are canceling out the savings from fewer claims. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics, the average cost of auto insurance actually fell between 2.8% and 19.8% over the last ten years. However, this decline would have likely been much greater if the cost per claim hadn’t risen so sharply. Continue reading

A new app from data-analytics company Censio is one backseat driver that people might actually learn to like. In addition to making you a better driver, the app may also save you money. Allston-based Censio created the app in an effort to reduce distracted driving and the millions of annual traffic accidents that result from this dangerous behavior. In a recent phone interview, company president Kevin Ferrell said, “Our purpose and the mission of the company is to help drivers and people around the world become better, safer drivers.” Contact a Massachusetts Accident Attorney.

So, how does it work?

Censio is a phone-based app that tracks a user’s driving habits by tapping into his or her smartphone sensors. By doing so, the app can track the driver’s speed, positioning, frequency of braking, level of distraction, and much more. Censio is unique because it doesn’t rely on connected car devices. These devices, such as Zubie and Automatic, that require connection to the diagnostic port of a vehicle, can only base their tips on the car’s actual movements. Censio goes a step further by indicating whether a driver uses his or her smartphone to send a text or make a call during a session, the frequency of hard-braking, and how often the car is being driven during “high risk” times of day.

Distracted driving is responsible for nine deaths and more than 1,100 injuries every day, according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC). In fact, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports on its website that there were a total of 3,154 distracted driving related deaths in 2013 alone. Continue reading

Following San Francisco’s lead, Boston cycling advocates are discussing whether cyclists should have to come to a complete stop at stop signs. San Francisco’s supporters of the so-called Idaho stops – the state legalized them in the 1980s – may actually see their wishes become reality. But Boston’s another story. It’s no big secret that many cyclists already breeze through stop signs and lights, and there are rarely consequences. However, this is exactly the reason that Boston’s law isn’t likely to change any time soon. It’s just not a priority. Police in San Francisco have been actively cracking down on these “rolling stops.” Cyclists took to the streets, protesting the practice and also creating the perfect opportunity for a policy change. Contact a Boston injury attorney for more information.

According to Doug Johnson, a community organizer for the Boston Cyclists Union, the union would “definitely support” Idaho stops, with certain exceptions for busy or dangerous intersections. “We think, if implemented properly … it would have no adverse effect on safety,” said Johnson. “Most intersections that have stop signs right now have low traffic volume and low traffic speed.” On the topic of allowing cyclists to continue riding through red lights after making a complete stop, Johnson was less certain. “It would be a lot more complicated to implement,” he said. Although he went on to say that the union would “potentially” get behind it. Continue reading

Fall in New England. It can be sunny and warm one day and bitter cold and snowing the next. It’s also the perfect time to begin preparing for snowy and icy roads. According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of fatalities in winter storms. There are steps you can take to significantly reduce your risk of serious injury or death in a weather-related auto accident. Some of these steps involve specific behaviors, such as defensive driving, while others involve preparing the vehicle itself. Read on for tips to make your winter driving experiences safe and enjoyable. Contact a Boston injury lawyer for more information.

Safe Driving Tips for Winter

  • Prepare your vehicle for winter travel. Make sure headlights are working, and that brakes and tires are in good working order.
  • Stock your trunk with emergency supplies, such as a flashlight, bottled water, blankets, and flares.
  • Before leaving on any trip, whether your destination is eight hours away or just around the corner, familiarize yourself with weather conditions. Listen to the radio for announcements about road closings, accidents, and weather advisories.
  • Plan your route before you leave, and tell someone the route you are taking. This way, if you become stranded, your family or friends can tell authorities where you are most likely to be.
  • Refrain from slamming on the brakes, taking sharp turns, and making sudden movements. Drive slowly enough that you can brake carefully and anticipate turns, lane changes, and stops.
  • On the other hand, don’t drive too If there is heavy snow on the roadways, you will need to keep up the momentum in order to push through and avoid becoming stuck.
  • Always remember that bridges freeze first. Before reaching any bridge, slow down and avoid sudden lane changes, slamming on the brakes, or accelerating too quickly.
  • Avoid large trucks as much as possible. Trucks are significantly heavier than cars and they need ample room for coming to stops. Additionally, truck tires often spray snow and rain, which can further reduce visibility.
  • Although four-wheel drive and all-wheel drive vehicles are the safest option in adverse weather conditions, don’t get overly confident. These types of vehicles are actually heavier than their two-wheel drive counterparts. While the increased traction helps your car get going again after a stop, it does not increase your ability to brake.
  • When rain, snow, and fog are present, always keep your headlights on. This allows you to see more clearly and makes your vehicle more visible to other drivers.
  • Driving in adverse weather conditions is inherently risky. The best way to avoid weather-related accidents is to avoid driving when conditions are bad. Unfortunately, this is not always possible. If, however, you utilize safe driving practices and have taken the necessary steps to prepare your vehicle, you can substantially reduce your risk of serious injury or death.

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In Boston and Cambridge, taxi drivers must purchase a permit in order to legally operate as a taxi. These “medallions,” as they’re called, used to fetch a hefty price. In fact, as recently as 2014, some taxi drivers were paying nearly $700,000 for the privilege to pick up and transport customers. Many cabbies actually took out mortgages to finance the high cost of the medallions. The high price may come as a surprise, but up until recently it was well worth it. The permits exist in order to cap the amount of cabbies working in one particular city. The cap on medallions provided an opportunity for many cabbies to make serious money. But all that is changing.

As apps such as Uber and Lyft begin to dominate the ride-hailing industry, Boston’s taxi drivers are having trouble making payments on their mortgaged medallions. Banks have started foreclosing on delinquent loans, and Boston’s last four medallions sold were auctioned off at nearly half last year’s price.

According to a spokeswoman for the Boston Taxi Drivers Association, Donna Blythe-Shaw, this is just the beginning of an onslaught of foreclosure sales. “I’m surprised there’s not more,” said Blythe-Shaw. “They’re all drowning in these mortgages on these valueless medallions. They’re drowning and no one cares.”

This Year’s Medallions Selling for Half of Last Year’s Market Price

Voluntary sales of medallions have plummeted compared to last year. In the first quarter of this year, only 10 medallions were sold, and one of those was a foreclosure sale. Then the sales stagnated entirely until late August when another foreclosure was auctioned off for $310,000. Just last year, the average medallion sold for $666,547.

In addition to the inability of many cabbies to make mortgage payments on their medallions, their sudden loss of value is just pouring salt on the wound. Hundreds of cabbies are saddled with hefty mortgages on almost valueless medallions. And it seems to have happened almost overnight.

State lawmakers are discussing various methods to regulate the ride-hailing business while simultaneously stabilizing the taxi business. However, progress has been slow. A new bill from Gov. Charlie Baker seeks to allow companies like Uber and Lyft to operate with even more freedom and less oversight. On the other side of the spectrum, cabbies and some lawmakers would like to see the ride-hailing app drivers treated the same as cab drivers. Continue reading

An otherwise ordinary auto auction turned into a scene of chaos last week, when an elderly driver crashed a BMW into eight bystanders in Framingham. According to police, 78-year-old Herbert Sunshine was driving an SUV when the vehicle accelerated, hitting several vehicles before it crashed into a crowd of people at the ADESA Auction House on Western Avenue. Sunshine is a contract driver for the auction house.

One Victim Seriously Injured, Taken to Mass General by Helicopter

The accident, which occurred around 10 a.m. on Friday, resulted in one serious injury when a man became pinned under the SUV and a cinder block wall. Although the individual’s injuries were non-life threatening, they were serious enough to require a MedFlight helicopter to Mass General Hospital.  Sunshine’s wife, who was in the vehicle in front of him, was also injured, although not seriously. She, and each of the other victims, were taken to MetroWest Medical Center by ambulance. Sunshine, who was visibly shaken, was not injured.

One of the victims, Larry Proulx, told WBZ-TV’s Beth Germano, “As I spun around to see what was going on I don’t know if people hit me or a car hit me it all happened so fast.” Sunshine struck five parked vehicles before crashing into the group of people. The SUV finally came to a stop when it knocked over a cinder block interior wall. “People were running everywhere,” said Proulx. “I saw the car crash into a wall. I was just trying to run to get outside.”

It appears as though no charges will be filed against Sunshine. Continue reading

A New Hampshire mother was cited last week after she took a picture with her cell phone of a man standing on the side of the road wearing an Armageddon-esque sign.

According to, Michelle Tetreault was driving with her teenage daughter when the pair spotted the man standing in a median near a stoplight. Tetreault was stopped when she took the picture of the man, who was wearing a sign warning: “Repent! The end is near!” What she didn’t know was the man was involved in a sting operation to catch drivers disobeying New Hampshire’s newest cellphone law which prohibits drivers from using phones or electronic devices while driving. Tetreault was subsequently ticketed $124. In a statement to, Tetreault, whose former brother-in-law died in a crash caused by a texting driver, said she never uses her phone while driving but was unaware that the law also applies to vehicles at stop signs or lights.

Law enforcement has gotten incredibly crafty when it comes to cracking down on distracted driving. Under Massachusetts law, drivers are allowed to talk on their mobile devices, however they are not allowed to text, send emails or surf the web. Drivers who are under18-years-old are banned from using any mobile device for any reason while driving.

Is Distracted Driving Really A Problem?

Simple answer, yes. Many drivers on the roads today can tell you they have seen other drivers engage in texting while driving, or may admit to doing it themselves. According to the CDC, 3,328 people were killed in crashes involving a distracted driver in 2012. Each year, this number rises. An additional, 421,000 people were injured in motor vehicle crashes involving a distracted driver in 2012, a 9% increase from the 387,000 people injured in 2011. Unsurprisingly, 20% of all motor vehicle crashes result from some form of distracted driving.

Distracted driving remains a serious threat to public safety, killing and injuring tens of thousands of people a year. If you or a loved one has been injured as result of a negligent driver using his or her cell phone, we can help. At Altman & Altman, LLP, our experienced team of Massachusetts Car Accident Lawyers has successfully handled thousands of car accident injury cases, including accidents involving cell phone use. While no amount of money will ever compensate for your injuries, victims of personal injury and their families may be entitled to financial relief through a Personal Injury or a Wrongful Death Lawsuit. Distracted driving cases can be difficult and confusing to navigate on top of injuries and medical expenses, but our dedicated attorneys will carefully walk you through each step of the process. We are happy to answer any questions you may have, and get you the compensation you deserve.


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Additional information cited from

Drowsy driving is associated with an estimated 100,000 vehicle collisions per year in the United States. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that approximately 71,000 injuries and 1,500 fatalities annually are caused by drivers falling asleep at the wheel. In 1997, Washington state proposed a bill allowing a driver who causes a fatal accident due to falling asleep behind the wheel, to be charged with ‘sleeping-driver homicide’ as a gross misdemeanor. Although that particular bill failed, other similar bills have since passed. Particularly in the past five years, with the dangers of distracted driving in the spotlight, the issue of fatigued driving has been resurrected.

Current Fatigued Driving Laws Across the Country

Although many states penalize drowsy driving, it usually falls under general, unsafe driving laws, such as reckless driving. However, two states have specific ‘drowsy driving’ laws – New Jersey and Arkansas. New Jersey’s legislation considers anyone who has been driving without sleep for 24 hours to be driving recklessly, the same classification given to driving under the influence. Arkansas has a similar law. Parallel to Washington’s 1997 proposal, Arkansas legally considers fatigued driving to be negligent homicide, a Class A misdemeanor. New York has similar laws pending. Continue reading

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