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.

When passenger vehicles are involved in accidents with large trucks, the outcome is rarely good. Due to their sheer size and weight, collisions with tractor-trailers are often deadly. This is especially true when high speeds are involved. Unfortunately, truck drivers are often on the road for extended periods of time due to the time-sensitive nature of their loads. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has implemented hours-of-service regulations to prevent drivers from working excessive hours. However, it’s not uncommon for trucking companies to ignore these rules. And even when followed, the rules allow for 11 hours of driving time per day. If you’ve ever been behind the wheel for 11 hours, you know how tiring it can be.

Tips for Avoiding a Large Truck-Passenger Vehicle Collision

Sometimes it’s the truck driver’s fault. Sometimes it’s the passenger vehicle driver’s fault. Sometimes the accident is a result of bad weather or a mechanical defect. Whatever the scenario, the tips below will help you avoid becoming a statistic in a collision with a large truck. And if you’ve been injured in a large truck accident, a skilled Boston truck accident lawyer can help you obtain the compensation you deserve.

  • Avoid driving in the truck driver’s blind spot, located directly behind the truck and beside it, near the rear.
  • Never change lanes abruptly in front of, and in close proximity to, a truck.
  • If a truck is making a right turn, do not attempt to maneuver to its right side.
  • Avoid making a left turn in front of a rapidly approaching truck.
  • If you wish to pass a truck, make sure you have sufficient headway.
  • Air turbulence and cross-wind from a large truck can be dangerous, especially for smaller vehicles. If you are passing a truck, use caution.
  • Do not drive between large trucks.

Common Causes of Accidents Caused by Truck Drivers and Trucking Companies

Truck accidents can be caused by improperly trained, fatigued, or negligent truck drivers. The best line of defense against these types of accidents is to always be vigilant when driving near a large truck. Do not allow yourself to be distracted by a cell phone, the radio, or conversation with a passenger. A MA truck accident lawyer can help if you’ve been injured by a negligent truck driver or trucking company. Accidents caused by truck drivers and trucking companies are often due to:

  • Improper or inadequate training
  • Unrealistic delivery schedules that promote speeding
  • Driver fatigue
  • Alcohol or drug abuse

Large Truck Accident Statistics

  • Nearly 4,000 large trucks and buses were involved in fatal crashes in 2014.
  • Almost 35 percent of truck drivers who are fatally-injured in truck accidents tested positive for at least one type of illegal drug.
  • The most commonly used drugs among truck drivers involved in fatal accidents are alcohol and marijuana, followed by cocaine. Amphetamines, methamphetamines, and other stimulants were also present in the systems of many fatally-injured truck drivers.
  • Drug and alcohol use is the second biggest contributing factor for accidents involving large trucks.
  • More than 60 percent of fatal truck accidents occur in rural areas.
  • Most fatal truck accidents occur on the weekends.

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So you’ve been involved in a collision with someone who doesn’t have insurance, or who doesn’t have adequate insurance to cover your damages. What do you do? Even though MA requires motorists to carry a minimum collision policy, some drivers neglect to follow this rule. Fortunately, most insurance policies provide at least some coverage for accidents involving uninsured or underinsured drivers. Follow the steps below to protect yourself if you end up in  an accident with an uninsured or underinsured driver.

Step #1: Get the Other Driver’s Information

Even if he or she doesn’t have insurance, you need their information for your insurance company, as well as if you decide to file a lawsuit. In addition to name and phone number, get their plate number and driver’s license number.

Step #2: Document the Accident

Call the police. When the police are called to an auto accident scene, they have to file a police report. This serves as official documentation and can be invaluable when dealing with the insurance company, or if you decide to file a lawsuit. Take pictures of any vehicle damage, immediate injuries and contributing factors, such as icy roads, or a stop sign blocked by an overgrown tree. Since the advent of smartphones, most of us have a reliable camera on us at all times. Take lots of pictures from multiple angles. And ask any witnesses for their contact info in case you need to get in touch with them at a later date.

Step #3: Call Your Insurance Carrier and Call an Experienced Boston Car Accident Lawyer

As stated above, most policies provide some type of uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage. This coverage kicks in when the other driver has inadequate insurance coverage, or none at all. The level you have will depend on your insurance carrier and the policy options you chose when you purchased the policy. It may cover all damages, or it may only cover a portion of the damages you incur.

As with the filing of any insurance claim, it helps to consult with a skilled Boston motor vehicle accident attorney right away. Insurance carriers aren’t in the business of letting go of money easily. They will do everything possible to avoid paying out large sums of money, and car accident victims rarely understand the rules of the game unless they are insurance adjusters themselves. Avoid giving a recorded or written statement to your insurer without the advice of an attorney. And don’t accept the estimate of your losses without first obtaining a second opinion. Further, avoid signing releases or waivers without the advice of your attorney.

If the other driver is at fault, he or she will be liable for any damages incurred. Unfortunately, obtaining money from an uninsured or underinsured driver isn’t often an easy task. In most cases, a lack of funds was the reason they didn’t have insurance in the first place. Your best bet is to work with an experienced MA auto accident attorney and your insurance company to obtain the highest level of compensation possible for your insurer. It’s important to understand that many people have insurance coverage to cover damages that are caused by an uninsured motor vehicle.  It also serves as a cautionary reminder to upgrade your current insurance policy to one that includes adequate uninsured and underinsured coverage, if it isn’t already included. Continue reading

In the wake of a lawsuit against Apple for a fatal accident involving a FaceTime-ing driver, a new lawsuit has been filed against the tech giant. The class action lawsuit alleges that the company put profits before the safety of its customers and the general public. The FaceTime-ing accident resulted in the tragic death of five-year-old Moriah Modisette. The new lawsuit alleges that Julio Ceja was rear ended because a distracted driver was texting on an iPhone.

Should the irresponsible behavior of a driver be Apple’s fault? Well, the class action is not seeking damages for Ceja’s back injury. Rather, it wants to hold the tech company accountable for failure to implement a “lock-out” feature for drivers. Apparently, the company holds a patent for this feature. Both lawsuits claim that implementing the feature would prevent iPhone-related distractions. If you’ve been injured in an auto accident due to a distracted driver, contact a Boston personal injury lawyer today.

What is Driver Lock Out?

The hypothetical scenario is frightening. You’re enjoying a relaxing ride in your automated car. Windows down, soft rock on the radio, chowing on a cheeseburger without a care in the world. Your smart car has safely navigated you to and from work a thousand times, and you trust it implicitly.

But one day, something in the car’s CPU goes haywire, and it doesn’t recognize a detoured area until it’s far too late. The car suddenly computes that it will have to sharply turn left or right since braking hard would cause a rear-end accident. The only problem is that to the left is a crowd of tourists taking pictures of a statue, and to the right is a single mother carrying her child.

What does the car do? How can a car choose between endangering the lives of people behind you, or choosing to veer into the path of pedestrians? When there is no avoiding a potentially-deadly accident, what implications does that have for an automated vehicles?

A child’s sixteenth birthday can be both exhilarating and anxiety-inducing for parents. On one hand, mom and dad get a much-needed break from driving to soccer practices. On the other hand, parents become understandably concerned about car accidents, drunk driving, and other dangerous behaviors. And that’s not all; parents are often shocked when they find out how much their auto insurance rates are going to increase. It may seem unfair, but teen accident statistics support high rate increases. Read on for more information about how to keep your kids safe and your insurance costs low.

The average insurance increase when a teen driver is added to a married couple’s policy is a whopping 79 percent. If the teen is a boy, it’s even higher at an average of 92 percent. Although these rate increases seem high, they are actually down from previous years. In 2013, for example, the average rate increase was 85 percent. If you’ve been injured in an auto accident, contact a Boston injury lawyer today.

Tips to Keep Insurance Costs Down

If it’s time to add your teen driver to your insurance policy, there’s no way to avoid a rate increase. But there are some steps you can take to reduce the damage to your wallet. The following advice may help keep your costs down:

  • Have your teen driver take a driver safety training course. Most insurance carriers provide discounts for young people who have completed these programs. If you’re not sure, call your insurance company beforehand to determine what discounts apply and how to ensure you receive them.
  • Encourage your teen driver to keep his or her grades in good standing. Some policies provide up to a 15 percent discount for students who maintain a B average or better. Similarly, if your child is on the dean’s list or has received comparable honors, this may equate to money in your pocket.
  • The car matters. High performance vehicles, such as sports cars, will typically result in a greater increase than a basic, four-door sedan. Insurance companies like safe, family vehicles (warning: your teen driver will likely disagree with this logic).
  • Shop around. The best insurance company for your family when it was just mom and dad may not be the best insurance company when it’s mom, dad, and a teenage son.
  • Consider your deductible. If your low premiums encouraged you to get a low deductible, it might make sense to increase your deductible with your rate increase. By increasing your comprehensive and / or collision deductibles by even $500, you may see a significant drop in your overall rate.
  • Teach your teen the importance of utilizing safe driving practices at all times. Make sure he or she gets plenty of practice with you in the car, and on back roads, before driving alone or on highways. Model good behavior; put your cellphone in the glove box when you’re driving, obey the speed limit, pay attention to the road, and buckle up. Once your teen driver develops a history of good driving habits, the rates will begin to drop.

The reality is, there’s a very good chance your teen driver will be involved in a fender bender at some point. Accidents happen. But teaching and modeling good driving behaviors can dramatically reduce your child’s chances of being seriously injured or killed in a motor vehicle collision. If you’ve been injured in any type of auto accident, contact a Boston personal injury lawyer today. Continue reading

Motor vehicle accidents can be a physically, emotionally, and financially stressful experience. In addition to injuries and property damage, the need to deal with insurance companies can be equally stressful and intimidating. Most of us don’t talk to our insurance agents on a very frequent basis, which can make post-accident discussions impersonal and confusing. Further, there’s a common misconception that an accident drives up insurance rates. That’s simply not always the case. If you’ve been involved in an auto accident, contact a Boston motor vehicle accident lawyer.

So, what does impact your insurance rates? Following an accident, the insurance company will consider multiple factors to determine whether to increase rates and if so, by how much. The following factors will likely impact whether or not your insurance rates will rise.

  • Your driving history: This is a big one. If you’ve previously been involved in multiple accidents, the likelihood of a rate increase is much greater than if this is your first fender bender. In addition to previous accidents, insurance companies will consider traffic citations and speeding tickets. If you have a clean driving history, the chances of a rate increase are low.
  • How serious was the accident? A fender bender is less likely to result in a rate increase than an accident involving multiple vehicles, serious injuries, and extensive property damage. In most cases, the greater the claim, the higher the rate increase.
  • Who’s to blame? If the accident wasn’t your fault, your rates probably won’t see an increase. The at-fault driver’s insurance company will likely pay the claim, so if the accident isn’t your fault, your insurance company should be off the hook. Even if you have to make an uninsured or underinsured claim against your policy, your low insurance rates may be safe. In these more complicated cases, having an accident report can be immensely beneficial to the outcome of your case. Alternatively, if you are the at-fault driver, you are almost guaranteed to see a rate increase. If fault is due to reckless driving or OUI, your insurer may actually drop your policy.
  • Accident forgiveness. Your insurance policy may have an add-on called accident forgiveness which allows you to file small claims without the fear of a rate increase. But buyer beware. Most of these products are subject to certain conditions, so review your policy thoroughly to determine if an accident forgiveness add-on is worth it. If you need help reviewing this product or any other type of auto insurance policy or add-on, contact a skilled Boston injury lawyer today.

The bottom line is this – an auto accident does not guarantee an insurance rate increase. Don’t let your fear of a rate increase keep you from pursuing a claim. If you’ve been involved in any type of motor vehicle accident, you should seek legal representation immediately. Continue reading

Motor vehicle accidents resulting in serious injuries and death have been declining in recent years. Much of this decline is directly related to improved vehicle safety features. From back-up cameras and sensors to lane-keep assist, advanced safety technologies have had a positive impact on American roadways. Toyota recently patented one of the newest technologies, an “augmented-reality windshield”. The smart windshield has the potential to alert drivers to road hazards and provide enhanced information throughout the driving process.

Vehicle Safety Features

Although Toyota’s new windshield is still in planning stages, it is just one many emerging technologies aimed at improving road safety. Other popular safety features include:

  • Lane-keep assist: When a vehicle drifts out of its intended lane, this feature will gently steer the vehicle back into the original lane.
  • Collision warning system: If a collision seems imminent, this feature will alert the driver.
  • Advanced park assist: This system allows a driver to parallel park without touching the steering wheel.
  • Adaptive headlights: Instead of relying on a fixed setting, advanced headlights adapt to changing road conditions.
  • Adaptive cruise control: This feature maintains the driver-set speed but adjusts based on changing distance of the vehicle ahead.
  • Drowsiness alert: Using a combination of driver and vehicle data, this system alerts the driver when he or she needs to pull over and rest.

Does Eliminating Human Error = Safer Roads?

Most of the above features were born out of a trend toward self-driving vehicles.  “The movement toward autonomous vehicles — self-driving cars — has brought high-tech safety features to today’s cars, too,” says the vice president of property and casualty loss prevention and safety programs for USAA, Jim Salek. “Many of the groundbreaking advances in the area of car safety have come from these efforts.” Human error is almost always involved in motor vehicle accidents, so it stands to reason that autonomous – or at least partially-autonomous cars would be safer.

Toyota’s smart windshield has multiple features aimed at improving the driving experience and reducing serious injuries and death. For example, information such as navigation and speed are displayed on the windshield, preventing the driver from having to take his or her eyes off the road at regular intervals. If you have been injured, contact a Boston injury lawyer today.

Displaying information on the windshield is not particularly new. However, in addition to simply displaying the info, it is placed in the best spot for the driver’s viewing needs.  “An [engine control module] analyzes the steering angle and speed, a front-mounted camera identifies the lane markings, and an interior camera finds the driver’s viewpoint,” claims a report on the Autoblog website. “By combining this data, the system moves the information around the windshield to be in the best location.” For example, when speeds increase, the display will move up on the windshield and the information will get smaller as the driver’s gaze moves up. The Autoblog report went on to say, “Toyota’s patent seems both incredibly useful and quite realistic.The individual components for this tech already exist, but [Toyota’s] idea employs them in new ways. We hope the company licenses the idea out for other HUDs because the applications could be a lot of fun.” Continue reading

Holiday shopping before Christmas and holiday returns after Christmas can make parking lots a chaotic, crowded mess. Especially when New England winters add a healthy serving of snow, ice, and slush. It’s also an opportune time for thieves to stake out parked cars for gifts and gadgets. Extra traffic and adverse weather conditions can result in parking lot injuries and property damage. So, who’s liable for damages if you have an accident in a parking lot? Read on for more information about parking lot-related slip and fall accidents, collisions and theft, and who is responsible for any damages incurred.

Premises Liability

Whether in the parking lot or in the store, premises liability holds property owners legally responsible for maintaining their property at all times. Therefore, if a poorly-maintained parking lot causes injuries or property damage, the property owner will likely be liable for those damages. Management may be responsible if they knew, or should have known, that parking lot conditions were poor but failed to correct the problem. For example, if an area of a parking lot is covered in a sheet of ice, that area may be roped off to caution drivers against parking there. Alternatively, the icy-spots could be covered with ice melt to improve traction. If these steps are not taken, management has failed to take reasonable precautions and can be liable for medical expenses, pain and suffering, and costs to fix property damage.

In 2010, the Supreme Court updated its application of the “reasonable person” standard, saying,“If a property owner knows or reasonably should know of a dangerous condition on its property, whether arising from an accumulation of snow or ice, or rust on a railing, or a discarded banana peel, the property owner owes a duty to lawful visitors to make reasonable efforts to protect against the danger.”  If you’ve been injured in a parking lot-related accident, contact a Boston injury lawyer today.

Parking Lot Collisions

At this time of year parking lots are filled throughout Massachusetts, people are shopping for post Christmas deals or returning items from the holiday.  That combined with cold wet and slippery weather is a recipe for trouble. The same rules that apply on the road generally apply in parking lots. Always use caution, pedestrians always have the right of way, drive on the proper side, and of course drive with caution. If you are involved in a parking lot accident it’s important to treat it the same as if were on a city street.   As with all motor vehicle accidents, it’s wise to document as much information as possible. If you are able to do so, photograph injuries and property damage from multiple angles, exchange insurance and contact information with other drivers involved, and ask witnesses for statements and contact information. You should also call the police. An official police report can be immensely helpful in a lawsuit. If you’ve been involved in a parking lot collision, contact a MA injury lawyer today. Continue reading

Global warming has had a significant impact on our planet, including winter weather patterns. But up here in New England, we still have at least a few years – fingers crossed – before winters become a thing of the past. As we prepare for the holidays, let’s also prepare our vehicles for winter travel. In addition to saving money and wear-and-tear on our cars, preparation can also save lives. If you’ve been injured in any type of motor vehicle accident, contact a Boston injury lawyer today.

Winter-Travel Safety Tips

The tips below will help protect you, and everyone you share the road with, this winter season.

The winter supply box: Sliding off the road late at night can leave you stranded for hours, especially if you’re traveling on back roads. You may find yourself cold, hungry, thirsty, and vulnerable to a host of other situations. Having a box of emergency supplies in your trunk can save your life. At the very least, it will make you a lot more comfortable as you await rescue. What should you put in the box? The below items will help keep you safe and happy in an emergency:

  • Blankets
  • Hat, gloves, and warm socks
  • Winter boots
  • Road flares
  • Flashlight
  • Charged cell phone and / or a two-way radio
  • Bag of sand and a shovel (you may be able to shovel away excess snow and use the sand for traction)
  • Ice scraper
  • Non-perishable snacks
  • Bottled water

You can put all of these items in a Rubbermaid container and store them in your trunk. You may never need them, but if you do, you will be eternally grateful to yourself. And if you find yourself with medical bills and vehicle damage due to another’s negligence, contact a MA injury lawyer today.

Monitor antifreeze and engine coolant levels: If antifreeze or coolant is low, you could find yourself stranded when the temperatures drop. Most auto supply stores carry kits that allow you to check these levels, and adding antifreeze is cheap and easy to do.

Tires: Possibly the most important component of safe winter travel, good tires are a non-negotiable. Check tires for appropriate pressure – not too full, not too low – and ensure that tread is a good depth. You can check pressure with a gauge (also easy to find at auto supply stores). If your tires are in need of air, most gas stations have air pumps that will do the trick. The best way to test for proper tread depth is the “Lincoln test”. Stick a penny between your tire’s tread with the former-president’s head pointing downward. If his entire head is visible, it’s time to replace the tires.

Winter wiper fluid: Not all wiper fluids are created equal. Standard wiper fluid can freeze in the winter, whereas winter fluid can actually loosen ice and snow from the windshield, and it doesn’t freeze. And while you’re at it, ask for a winter-grade oil when you go in for your next oil change. Continue reading

Today we have wearable fitness trackers, sensors that detect a drop in blood sugar for people with diabetes, and sweat patches to monitor drug use in people on probation. It seems logical to assume that we could also detect the amount of alcohol in our bloodstream without the need for a blood test or traditional breathalyzer. With this type of technology, individuals could monitor their blood alcohol content (BAC) prior to getting behind the wheel to determine if they are under the legal limit. But it would also law enforcement to monitor individuals with OUI convictions. If you’ve been charged with OUI, contact a Boston defense attorney today.

Less Embarrassing Than an IID

If you are convicted of OUI, you may be permitted to continue driving with the installation of an ignition interlock device (IID). By blowing into the device, you allow the system to measure your BAC; if alcohol is detected, the engine won’t start. Unfortunately, IIDs are expensive to install (a cost the offender must absorb), and they can be embarrassing. Can you imagine a first date where you have to blow into a device to start your car after dinner? For these reasons, as well as to allow individuals to check their BAC before getting behind the wheel, engineers have been working on a more efficient method of detection.

Researchers from the University of California San Diego have developed a wearable device that can effectively measure BAC. The “temporary tattoo” adheres to the skin, induces sweat production, measures the individual’s BAC, and sends that data to a smartphone, laptop, or IID, eliminating the need to blow into a device to start your car. The alcohol sensor communicates the information via Bluetooth. Although BAC is most accurately measured with blood tests, breath and perspiration also provide reliable results. Sweat-reliant devices have been in the works for years, but they haven’t been particularly reliable until now. There was a dangerous delay in results; it could take hours for the sweat’s measurements to match the actual BAC. That problems has been resolved; the new sensor can “accurately monitor alcohol level in sweat within 15 minutes.” Contact a Massachusetts OUI lawyer today.

Sweat Sensors May Allow Drinkers to Self-Monitor

In addition to providing an alternative to IIDs, PhD Student Jayoung Kim, one of the sensor’s creators, hopes that it can help drinkers monitor their ability to drive safely. “”When you’re out at a party or at a bar,” said Kim, “this sensor could send alerts to your phone to let you know how much you’ve been drinking.” Beyond self-monitoring and allowing those convicted of OUIs to resume driving, sweat patches may also one day be used to monitor a person’s BAC even when not driving. This could be useful in certain situations, such as probation cases, but certainly has the potential to be highly invasive. Then again, information sharing, across the board, has been moving in that direction. From social media to face scanning software, the idea of privacy has been undergoing a significant shift in recent years, for better or for worse. Continue reading

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