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.

There are thousands of car accidents every day in the United States. In fact, in a single year there are typically over five million crashes, according to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). If that number sounds high, it’s because more than 50% of those accidents are minor. For many people, this brings up the following question: Do I need to report a minor traffic accident in which no injuries occurred? Contact a Boston Motor Vehicle Accident Attorney Today.

Especially in and around cities, heavy traffic can make accidents difficult to avoid. Thousands of people, many of whom are running late for work or to get to a child’s sporting event, weave in and out of congested traffic, increasing the likelihood of an accident with every vehicle they pass. Heavy traffic also means lots of stopping and starting, both of which can increase your risk of hitting the car in front of you or being rear-ended.

Do I Need to Report a Fender Bender?

When minor accidents or fender benders occur, what should you do? Well, much of that answer depends on the state you are in when the accident occurs. In Massachusetts, you must contact law enforcement at the time of the accident, and submit a motor vehicle crash operator report within 5 days of the accident, if either of the following circumstances are present:

  • The accident resulted in injury or death
  • Damage to one person’s property or vehicle exceeded $1,000.00
  • Never Leave the Scene of an Accident

If nobody was injured and property damage is under $1,000, the accident does not need to be reported. However, do not confuse the reporting exemption with the ability to leave the scene of an accident. If you are involved in any type of auto accident, regardless of how minor, you are required to stop and exchange information with the other parties involved. In Massachusetts, the information you are required to provide to the other motorist(s) is:

  • Name, address, and phone number
  • Driver’s license number
  • License plate number
  • Insurance information

It should be noted that if you leave the sign of an accident, even if no property damage or injuries occurred, your driving privileges may be suspended.

Do I Need to Contact My Insurance Company?

Every auto insurance carrier requires immediate reporting of motor vehicle accidents. If you fail to do so, the decision may come back to bite you. For example, if the other driver notices property damage a few days later and files a claim, you may be denied coverage due to your failure to report the accident when it occurred. Continue reading

On Tuesday afternoon, a tire came off the rear axle of a Dodge RAM pickup truck while the driver was headed southbound on Route 128 in Lexington. According to David Procopio, a spokesman for the Massachusetts State Police, the tire came loose, crossed the jersey barrier, and struck another vehicle in the northbound lane at approximately 1:15 p.m. Sadly, the driver of that vehicle, a Toyota Camry, was fatally wounded in the accident. Contact a Boston Personal Injury Lawyer Today.

Flying Wheel Strikes Two Vehicles

The fatally injured operator of the Camry was 26-year-old Charles Hu of Lexington, MA. According to police, the left rear wheel of a 1997 Dodge RAM broke free from the rear axle of that vehicle. The preliminary investigation indicates that once the wheel came free, it crossed the median, struck and bounced off a Toyota Highlander, and then struck the victim’s Camry. The collision caused serious damage to the Camry’s roof and windshield and resulted in fatal injuries to the driver. According to police, the victim was pronounced dead at the scene. The 50-year-old Braintree man who was driving the Toyota Highlander escaped without injury.

Cause of the Accident Still Under Investigation

The driver of the Dodge RAM was a 19-year-old Amesbury woman. Currently, no charges have been brought against her. However, the Massachusetts State Police are continuing to investigate the fatal accident and will determine if she was at fault once the investigation has been completed. The State Police Collision Analysis and Reconstruction Section and the State Police Crime Scene Services Section will assist Troop A of the Massachusetts State Police with the investigation. The Mass Department of Transportation and Lexington Fire and EMS also assisted at the scene. The name of the Amesbury woman will only be released if charges are filed against her. Continue reading

This Thursday, January 21, the Massachusetts Senate is set to consider a bill that will ban holding any type of handheld electronic device while driving. The bill is intended to amend the existing law that was implemented in 2010 which banned texting but didn’t address distracted driving associated with handheld devices in general. Contact a Boston Car Accident Attorney Today.

Distracted driving is one of the leading causes of motor vehicle accidents. In fact, approximately 26% of all fatal crashes in 2013 were due to distracted driving. “We made a mess in 2010 by doing a half-baked law,” said Montigny, the Senate’s assistant majority leader. “All you have to do is get in the car on any given day, a significant number of people are breaking the law and the law is very difficult to prove without subpoenaing phone records. … No one who is tempted to break the law is really all that troubled by the law as written.” Although texting while driving is illegal, using an electronic device for other purposes is not. Considering it’s nearly impossible for law enforcement to differentiate between a driver who is texting and one who is dialing a phone number or navigating with a GPS, enforcing this law has been futile.

The other problem with the ‘no texting while driving’ law is that it conveys the message that texting is unsafe but other forms of distraction are less so. According to a survey conducted by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, 60 percent of Massachusetts drivers think it is unacceptable to talk on a cellphone while driving, but 97 percent think it is unsafe to type a text or email while driving. Furthermore, the majority of the group surveyed, admitted to doing one or both during the previous 30 days.

Bill Seeks to Amend 2010 ‘Ban on Texting’ Law

The proposed bill is much more specific in its wording than the 2010 law it is replacing. It seeks to ban drivers from using any type of electronic device unless it is in hands-free mode, or the driver is only touching the device to “activate, deactivate, or initiate a feature or function.” The bill goes on to state that no driver “shall use a mobile electronic device or other device capable of accessing the internet to compose, send or read an electronic message or to input information by hand into a global positioning system or navigation device while operating such vehicle. An operator of a motor vehicle who holds a mobile electronic device to, or in the immediate proximity of the operator’s head while operating such vehicle shall be presumed to be in violation of this section. For the purposes of this section, an operator shall not be considered to be operating a motor vehicle if the vehicle is stationary and not located in a part of the roadway intended for travel.”

Affirmative Defenses

Under the new bill, a first-time offender will receive a $100 fine, a second-time offender will receive a $250 fine, and a third-time and subsequent offender will receive a $500 fine. However, there are exceptions. For instance, “affirmative defenses” include using the device for emergency purposes, to obtain medical assistance, or to contact emergency personnel such as police, fire, or ambulance services. Continue reading

According to the US Department of Transportation, there are approximately 33,000 motor vehicle deaths each year in this country. When an accident results in serious injuries, the speed with which emergency responders reach the victim(s) has a direct impact on their chance of recovery and survival. Response time has become much quicker in the last decade, with many people having some type of smartphone or similar device on them at all times. As long as cell reception is strong enough, and someone in the vehicle is conscious and able to reach the device, it is possible to call, text, or email for help.

But what if any of those factors are not present? What if the accident occurs in a rural area with no cell service? What if the victim is unconscious or the cell phone is out of reach? In these situations, an automatic crash notification (ACN) system could save the victim’s life. Contact a Boston Motor Vehicle Accident Lawyer Today.

Advanced Features Provide More Detailed Information

General Motor’s OnStar service was the first ACN to arrive on the market in the late 90s, however, today’s systems are much more sophisticated. Newer ACN systems include advanced features, such as the ability to transmit details specific to the crash and vehicle. For example, information including changes in vehicle speed, the direction of impact, and even whether or not a seatbelt was being used, can all be relayed to the operator. This allows the operator to more accurately assess the situation and determine what kind of emergency services to dispatch. Due to their advanced features, the newer systems are called advanced automatic crash notification (AACN) systems.

The Golden Hour

According to Stephen Ridella, director of the Office of Vehicle Crashworthiness Research for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), up to 300 lives are saved every year due to AACN systems. Time is of the essence following a serious motor vehicle accident. A lot of crash victims die en route to the hospital. “There’s something called a ‘golden hour’ where if you get a person to a physician within one hour [of a serious injury] their chance of survival goes up a lot,” said Ridella. In addition to quicker response time, AACN systems allow emergency workers to arrive at the scene equipped with knowledge and important information about the crash. In some instances, this information can tell responders if an ambulance or a helicopter will reach the victim(s) faster.

There are several types of ACN and AACN systems on the market, and they vary based on the manufacturer. Some systems call a service operator who reaches out to the appropriate emergency responders when necessary, while others use Bluetooth to contact 911 directly. Ridella hopes that more vehicle manufacturers will realize the benefits of ACNs and begin to make this life-saving technology more available. “We won’t rate cars differently for not having it but we want to make the industry aware that we believe this technology can save lives,” said Ridella. Continue reading

While there was a slight decline in traffic-related deaths in 2014, data gathered from traffic watchdog National Highway Traffic Safety Administration points to an increase in crash fatalities and a need to revive the fight against deadly driving behavior on America’s roads.

NHTSA’s Fatal Analysis Reporting System (FARS) figures for 2014 show that 32,675 people died in motor vehicle crashes in 2014, a 0.1-percent decrease from the 2013. The fatality rate fell to a record-low of 1.07 deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled. Estimates for the first six months of 2015 show a troubling increase in the number of fatalities: an 8.1-percent increase from the same time period last year. The fatality estimate for the first part of the year was up 8.1 percent, and the fatality rate rose 4.4 percent. While NHTSA experts admit that estimates are often subject to revision, the estimated increase represents a shift away from the downward trend.

Continue reading

More than 100 auto repair shops around the United States are in the midst of fiery lawsuits against a number of insurance companies who are purportedly favoring profit over their clients’ safety.

Massachusetts resident Katherine Spiers is one victim among thousands, according to Watch 5 Investigates, who is speaking out against her insurance company since experiencing numerous issues with her car after she brought it to an insurance-approved body shop to be fixed. According to Watch 5 Investigates, Spiers says she took her Toyota Corolla in for repairs and when she got it back, that’s when the issues unfolded. Mold had developed in the foam of her back seat due to leaks from poor bodywork, and the car’s gas door repeatedly popped open whenever she shut the car door. Spiers learned that her Corolla’s original parts were replaced with cheaper parts that were never crash-tested.

Many repair specialists warn consumers about the dangers of going to an insurance-preferred body shop, with the notion that insurance companies will request these body shops to cut corners and use substandard or dangerous replacement parts in order to save money and increase shareholder profits at the expense of their policy holders. What some Massachusetts drivers do not know though, is that they can bring a car to any registered auto body shop and the shop can guarantee work, with the insurance company footing the bill, Watch 5 says.

So far, auto shops in more than 19 states have sued dozens of insurance companies and Massachusetts is expected to join with lawsuit.

Read about some of the worst insurance companies here.

What Do I Do If I Get Into An Accident That I Did Not Cause?

Almost everyone who’s been involved in an auto accident that is not their fault has the same immediate questions: What do I do next? Who will pay for my car to be fixed? I’m hurt, who will pay for my medical bills? What do I do if I can’t go back to work? Do I have a case? What are my options if my insurance company refuses to pay my claim? I was involved in a hit-and-run, what next?

While some auto accidents are minor fender benders resulting in only minor property damage, many motor vehicle crashes are often serious injury accidents. Even though Massachusetts is a no-fault state and motorists−except for motorcyclists−are covered by their own Personal Injury Protection insurance, your medical costs may far exceed PIP’s policy limits as well as the limits of your own medical insurance coverage. PIP also will not cover your lost wages. If a person who does not have insurance coverage injured you or their coverage is insufficient to cover your damages, you may be entitled to recover from your own insurance company through an uninsured or underinsured policy as well.

The Car Accident Attorneys at Altman & Altman have nearly fifty years of experience litigating claims involving motor vehicles, and are proficient in evaluating liability in motor-vehicle accidents. One of the most important steps an individual needs to take following a motor vehicle accident is preserving their legal rights. In Massachusetts there are Statute of Limitations regarding claims for all motor vehicle accidents and it is of utmost importance to contact an attorney before your rights are barred by one of these provisions.

If you or a loved one was injured in a car accident, do not hesitate to call our office. Our seasoned attorneys will connect you with the best medical care in the Commonwealth whilst working with insurance companies to ensure that you receive the compensation you deserve. Call our office today to schedule a free initial consultation and case evaluation. Consultations are confidential and of no-charge and our attorneys are available around the clock to answer any questions you may have about your case.

 

 

 

Read original article by WCVB.com here.

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

Continue reading

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

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