The MBTA has announced publicly that a compromised axle led to a Red Line derailment in June that injured one person and has led to painful commuting delays for hundreds of thousands of subway riders since. They also admitted that unsafe elements of the train that were not caught by safety inspections contributed to the derailment. If you were injured or suffered any other lingering negative effects (such as post-traumatic stress disorder) as a result of the train derailment, contact the Cambridge personal injury experts at Altman & Altman LLP for a free consultation today.

In addition to the axle being of significant age – 27 years old without being replaced – the MBTA missed crucial warning signs that an accessory part nearby the axle was compromised, which they concluded through an investigation played a role in the failure of the axle, and caused the train derailment.

While routine inspections have occurred once every two years to detect the sorts of problems which ultimately led to the failure of this axle – in this case another part on the underside of the train known as a “ground ring”, which regulates electrical flow from the rail and dissipates it throughout the body of the train, had become damaged and allowed electricity to flow through the axle, weakening it to the point where it failed.

Other inspections that occurred during the course of the year did not check either the ground ring or the axle, but once the investigation launched into the cause of the incident, it became clear there was a serious problem with the ground ring that should perhaps have been caught sooner.

A normal, functioning ground ring is sealed from outside elements and should resemble a smooth, clean piece of steel. The ground ring that was examined from the train that derailed was revealed to be badly corroded and damaged through an exposure to outside elements such as grease and dirt, which in turn allowed an electrical flow to arc through the axle while the train was running, weakening it.

Amazingly, just one month before the derailment in May of 2019, the train that would eventually derail was inspected and had two separate parts replaced – but unfortunately nobody caught the damaged ground ring or noticed anything abnormal about the axle. Continue reading

Filing a claim for personal injury damages following a car accident in Massachusetts is a somewhat complicated process compared to other states in the country. If you’ve been injured in a car accident where someone else was at fault, it is vital to contact a personal injury attorney from Altman & Altman LLP as soon as possible – and at a minimum, within three years of the incident – in order for your claim to go through the legal process necessary to decide if you will receive compensation.

The complexity of our state’s auto accident claims process is partially because Massachusetts is a “no-fault” state, meaning a driver who causes injuries through an accident must cover any injuries that other individuals sustained – whether another driver, their passengers or a third party such as a bicyclist – through their own personal injury policy, and a lawsuit cannot be filed for personal damages unless other certain criteria are met.

In the case of injuries where more than $2,000-worth of personal injuries are incurred, or where the damages from a car accident cause permanent or disfiguring injuries, such as serious scars or severely broken bones, the no-fault provision of law can be subverted and a personal injury claim may be filed to compensate the victim for their medical bills and damages incurred from pain and suffering or time missed from work.

With the widespread rise of ride sharing services, the most popular being Uber, accidents occurring either while you are a passenger in an Uber or accidents that occur with Uber operators while you’re driving a separate vehicle are essentially a guarantee – it’s simply a matter of who gets involved and when. In either case, the legal framework of dealing with insurance may be more complex than traditional accidents, so having the advice from an expert personal attorney at Altman & Altman LLP is always a good idea.

Insurance implications as a passenger in an Uber

Driving as a passenger with Uber has several possible implications. While Uber has advertised its $1 million insurance policy as a means to make drivers comfortable with the idea that they are covered for any potential injuries that may occur if their Uber drivers get into an accident, this is not always the case.

There are different tiers, or categories, associated with Uber’s coverage of its drivers. If a driver is actively working as an Uber driver and is carrying a passenger at the time of an accident, the $1 million Uber policy is in play – however, this does not mean that Uber is compelled to pay out claims for that accident.

This is because Uber does not consider its drivers to be employees, but rather they are classified as independent contractors. As a result, if they feel as though the driver was at fault for the accident in any way, they may deny a claim against their insurance policy. The result, then, could be that the driver’s own personal insurance policy is left as the only recourse – which may be insufficient for the degree of injury you sustain. If this is the case, you have a right to sue Uber and make a claim to be compensated by their insurance provider.

Insurance implications if involved in an accident with an Uber driver

If you are a separate motorist and you get into an accident with an Uber driver, there are different implications based on the situation. First, if the Uber driver was not actively seeking rides, Uber’s insurance policy is not subject to the claims, rather the driver’s personal insurance policy is.

If the Uber driver is on the way to pick up a passenger when they get into an accident, the driver’s personal policy is once again the primary policy. However, Uber does have some liability coverage in these situations, up to $50,000 per injury with a maximum of $100,000 and up to $25,000 for property damage.

If you get into an accident with an Uber driver carrying a passenger, Uber’s $1 million insurance policy comes into play. However, as stated above, Uber can deny paying out a claim for a variety of reasons, including if the Uber driver was found to be at clear fault for the incident. In these cases, the driver’s personal insurance will be leaned on to pay out a claim.

If the Uber driver’s personal insurance policy is utilized to pay out a claim, this may also be problematic, since many insurance carriers prohibit policyholders from utilizing their vehicles as ride sharing vehicles. This may limit the amount you can collect in a claim, and leave you with no other choice but to sue Uber to try and gain financial compensation to pay for your medical expenses and damage to your property. Continue reading

The defining feature of a Tesla is that it can be set to self-driving mode. When autopilot is engaged, a Tesla can drive without the help of the human driver behind the wheel. But this futuristic feature is intended to enhance the driving experience, not replace the driver.

Apparently, nobody relayed this pertinent piece of information to Alexander Samek, a California man who was found intoxicated, and asleep, behind the wheel of his Tesla Model S. Police struggled to pull over Samek’s car for at least seven minutes as the vehicle sped down the highway at 70 miles per hour. A Boston OUI defense attorney can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been charged with OUI.

Is Tesla Fully Autonomous?

Although those in favor of autonomous vehicles claim that self-driving features will lead to a dramatic reduction in traffic injuries and deaths, incidents like the one above highlight a slew of potential problems. Tesla doesn’t market it’s vehicles as self-driving, likely to avoid lawsuits that would arise from situations like Samek’s. But what is unclear is how he was able to remain in autonomous mode for such a long time without disengaging the autopilot software. Teslas are equipped with stop-gap features intended to disengage autonomous mode if the driver touches the gas pedal, for example. Maybe Tesla is more autonomous than the company has led us to believe?

Drunk Driving on Autopilot?

Even though the vehicle was being operated on autopilot, not by Samek himself, the California man is still being charged with drunk driving.

At about 3:37 a.m. on the night of the incident, a police officer noticed a gray Tesla careening down Highway 101 near Redwood City, Palo Alto. The officer, who could see that the driver appeared to be sleeping, stopped traffic on the highway and pulled in front of the Tesla to slow it down to an eventual stop.

After multiple police vehicles pulled up to the car with lights flashing and sirens wailing, Samek woke up. He was given a field-sobriety test, which he promptly failed.

“It’s great that we have this technology; however, we need to remind people that … even though this technology is available, they need to make sure they know they are responsible for maintaining control of the vehicle,” said Art Montiel, a spokesman for the local police department. A MA OUI defense lawyer can help you protect your rights if you’ve been charged with OUI or any other criminal offense.

Are We Seeing a Trend?

This isn’t the first drunk driving incident involving a Tesla. In August, another California man was arrested for drunk driving after he crashed into a fire truck with his Tesla. And in a case similar to the one involving Samek, yet another California man was arrested on suspicion of drunk driving after he passed out in a Tesla as it drove across the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge on autopilot. Continue reading

The belief that self-driving cars will eventually make our roadways safer is widely held, but the recent surge of autonomous vehicle (AV) crashes is causing serious concern. Is it too early for AVs to be on the roads? And what is causing all of these crashes? Although most accidents have been minor, there are exceptions, including the self-driving Uber that hit and killed a pedestrian in Tempe, Arizona.

The less “sensational” crashes may not make national news, but reports showing all AV crashes—even minor fender benders—are particularly alarming. They are happening with relative frequency…and most involve rear-end collisions. Take the state of California, for example. In the month of September alone, three AVs were rear-ended and three were sideswiped. Most AV developers do their road testing in California, Arizona, Pennsylvania, Nevada, and Michigan, but California is the only state that requires AV companies to report detailed information about their testing. Since 2014, California has recorded at least 104 collisions involving AVs. Of those, a whopping 49 occurred in 2018.

Critics warn that getting to a point where AVs can basically eliminate the country’s annual 40,000 roadway fatalities may take decades, and current testing programs are akin to a public experiment in AI to which public participants haven’t willingly signed on. Considering that possible outcomes include serious injury or death, concern is understandable. According to research into recent accident patterns, experts have concluded that AVs drive in ways that may be unexpected by the human drivers with whom they share the road. A MA auto accident attorney can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured due to another’s negligence.

Rear-End Collisions and AVs—Who’s at Fault?

Analyzing the data found in nationwide reports, researchers have concluded that rear-end accidents account for approximately two-thirds of all AV accidents. Why all the rear-end collisions? And doesn’t that mean they’re the fault of the human driver who hits the AV from behind? Although most states hold that rear-end accidents are the fault of the driver who hits the other vehicle from behind (and there is no denying that today’s human drivers are more distracted than ever), many experts believe that the AVs are at least partially to blame.

Of the 28 rear-end accidents reported involving self-driving cars in California last year, 22 occurred when the vehicle was in full autonomous mode. Such statistics lead experts to believe that AVs simply must be doing something that increases the likelihood of being involved in a rear-end collision. Although autonomous vehicles may make take the “path of least resistance” (i.e. make an illegal left-turn to avoid mowing down a pedestrian), they don’t always drive in a way that human drivers expect. Which may be the biggest problem faced by AV developers, and the general public.

People Expect People to Break Rules

Kyle Vogt, cofounder and CEO at Cruise believes the reports coming out of California paint a very clear picture—humans expect other humans to break traffic rules when behind the wheel (i.e. speeding up at a yellow light or driving over the speed limit), but AVs don’t bend the rules.

“We’re not going to make vehicles that break laws just to do things like a human would,” says Vogt. “If drivers are aware of the fact that AVs are being lawful, and that’s fundamentally a good thing because it’s going to lead to safer roads, then I think there may be a better interaction between humans and AVs.” A Boston auto accident lawyer can help you recover damages if you’ve been injured due to another’s negligence.

It’s going to be a long time until AVs are universally safe on American roadways. In the meantime, awareness is key. The public would benefit immensely from knowing how self-driving technology works, how—and where—it is being tested, and how AVs behave. Labeling AVs in similar fashion to driver’s education vehicles could be one way to help human drivers adapt to their artificially-intelligent counterparts. Continue reading

The number of bicyclists in Massachusetts and across the country increases each year. As more cyclists take to the roads, more accidents occur, including those involving a hit and run. When one of the parties involved in an accident leaves the scene—without rendering assistance to injured parties, exchanging insurance information, or reporting the accident to police—this is known as a hit and run.

Approximately 700,000 hit and run accidents occur every year in the United States, and these numbers increase each year. That’s nearly 2,000 hit and run accidents per day. A large percentage of these accidents involve automobiles and bicyclists. Studies have shown that motor vehicle-bicycle accidents occur most frequently in urban environments, but can happen anywhere, especially after dark. A Boston bicycle accident lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured due to another’s negligence.

Motor vehicle and bicycle collisions can cause serious property damage, physical injury, and even death. These accidents sometimes result in the victim needing prolonged medical treatment, and missing work for an extended period. If the driver of the motor vehicle leaves the scene of the accident, the victim may be stuck without a way to receive compensation for medical bills, lost wages, damaged property, or pain and suffering.

Notably, wearing a bicycle helmet can decrease your risk of serious injury by almost 50%, and using a designated biking lane may decrease your risk of serious injury by almost 90%.

If You Are a Bystander

A hit and run bicycle accident can be a terrifying experience for everyone involved, whether you are the victim or a bystander. Staying calm is critical. If you are a bystander, the very first thing you should do is to assist the victim. Be sure the victim is in a safe place and call 911. Stay with the victim until medical assistance arrives. Later, once the victim is being cared for, describe everything you saw to the police. A MA bicycle accident attorney can help you recover damages if you’ve been injured due to another’s negligence.

If You Are a Victim

If you have been injured in a motor vehicle-bicycle collision, call 911 for help if you’re able to. If not, ask a bystander for assistance. Even if you are not seriously injured, stay on the scene of the accident until police arrive; ask any witnesses or bystanders to stay with you. As soon as you are in a safe place, record everything you remember about the circumstances of the accident. An accurate and detailed police report will assist the police in finding the at-fault driver. These details should include:

  • Vehicle make, model and color
  • License plate or partial license plate, including what state the license plate is from
  • Any distinguishing characteristics of the car, including graphics, dents or other damage
  • Description of driver or passenger, if known
  • The vehicle’s direction of travel
  • The circumstances that led to the accident
  • The names and contact information for every bystander or eye witness
  • Photographs and/or videos of the scene of the accident, especially any skid marks, your injuries, and damage to your bicycle or other property

Once you have received initial medical attention and reported all relevant details to the police, call your insurance company and file a claim. A lawyer with expertise in these types of accidents can help guide you through the insurance and legal process. Continue reading

As research continues to confirm the link between car accidents and traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), physicians are placing additional emphasis on the importance of monitoring for brain injuries following any high-impact accident. With car accidents being a leading cause of TBIs, it is wise to know the signs and symptoms of these serious, potentially life-threatening injuries if you’ve recently been involved in a car accident.

Traumatic brain injuries can range in severity from minor to severe, and symptoms may not develop for days, weeks, or even months after the injury occurs. In many cases, serious TBIs have long-term, and even permanent consequences, and are often progressive. The damage caused by a TBI can cause changes in behavior, movements, and even a person’s overall personality. In fact, certain TBI symptoms are often confused for emotional problems, such as depression or anxiety, and they may worsen over time.

Signs of TBI Following a Motor Vehicle Collision

If you have been injured in an auto accident, an experienced MA car accident lawyer can help you determine how to proceed. In the days, weeks, and months following a collision, it is imperative to look out for the signs and symptoms below. If you develop any of these problems, it is in your best interest to seek medical treatment without delay.

  • Loss of consciousness, even if only temporary
  • Memory problems
  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Vision problems—especially blurred vision
  • Light and sound sensitivity
  • Motor problems
  • Personality or behavioral changes
  • Depression
  • Disorientation or confusion
  • Sleep problems

Keep in mind that you may be suffering a TBI without experiencing any of these symptoms. Even if no symptoms are present, you should visit your doctor if you’ve experienced any kind of head trauma, or violent shaking.

Do You Have a Concussion?

Concussions are the most common type of mild TBI. A concussion can begin with a brief loss of consciousness—generally, only a few moments—or no loss of consciousness, and symptoms will usually appear within a few days of the injury. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 14.3 percent of all concussions are caused by motor vehicle crashes. As such, crashes are the third most common cause of concussions. A Boston car accident lawyer can help you recover damages if you’ve been injured due to another’s negligence.

Neuro-degeneration

According to the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine, even a minor traumatic brain injury can initiate the neuro-degeneration associated with Alzheimer’s. This is true even when the injury occurs in young people. Neuro-degeneration is “the progressive loss of structure or function of neurons and is the cause of such diseases as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and Huntington.” The researchers established a link between TBI and all three of these neuro-degenerative diseases. Continue reading

According to a recent national study, Massachusetts has the 10th highest distracted driving rate in the nation, and deadly crashes skyrocket at this time of year, specifically between Memorial Day and Labor Day. Distracted driving has been a problem since Henry Ford’s Model T first rambled down American roadways, but distracted driving-related crashes have spiked in recent years, as handheld and vehicle technologies compete for our already divided attention.

Distracted driving is especially prevalent among young people, who are more inclined to engage in texting while driving. In fact, teens are four times more likely to text or talk on a cell phone while driving than their adult counterparts. Considering that one out of every four U.S. car accidents is caused by texting and driving, and that 11 teens die—every day—due to texting and driving, something must be done. A Boston car accident lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured by another driver’s negligence.

One Father’s Fight

In 2007, Jerry Cibley of Foxboro MA was on the phone with his son when Jordan crashed into a tree and died. The young man was only 18. Since the tragedy, the distraught father has campaigned endlessly to end distracted driving nationwide.

“I talk to children all of the time,” said Cibley. “I talk to teens. I talk to parents. I tell them my story and I say, ‘Look at me. I died on May 13, 2007, along with my child.”

A total of 16 states have already legislated a ban against texting or dialing while driving. Is Massachusetts one of them? Although the Bay State has one of the highest incidences of distracted driving in the country, an official ban on hand-held devices has not yet taken effect. And the reason has nothing to do with public opposition. In fact, a recent poll revealed that a whopping 80 percent of those registered to vote in MA support a ban on hand-held mobile devices when behind the wheel.

Concerns About Racial Profiling

The MA Senate is in agreement with voters. Although the Senate passed a ban about a year ago, the bill hasn’t yet made it out of the Massachusetts House. State Rep. Byron Rushing is the biggest critic of the bill, saying he refuses to support it without an official provision that ensures it won’t lead to an increase in traffic stops involving persons of color. Although this is an important issue to consider, the Senate bill already addresses this potential problem; data must be collected on all traffic stops related to the use of hand-held devices to measure whether racial profiling is occurring. A MA car accident attorney can help you protect your rights if you’ve been injured by another driver’s negligence.

Obviously, the best way to reduce the growing risk of distracted driving-related fatalities is for drivers to take the issue into their own hands. In addition to teaching our children (and reminding them every day) that texting or talking while driving is deadly, we should practice what we preach. Adults are far from innocent when it comes to texting and driving. We can also utilize any of a number of apps that specifically address the issue of distracted driving. For example, iPhones can self-lock when the user is driving, and send notification text messages to anyone trying to contact the driver. Continue reading

Distracted driving affects all of us from time to time. And anything can distract a driver, not just texting or talking on the phone. It is actually quite common for people to multitask when behind the wheel. Understanding how these distractions – even the smallest among them –  may affect our driving can dramatically reduce our risk of being involved in a motor vehicle accident.

Since cars were invented, people have engaged in behind-the-wheel distractions, including eating sandwiches, drinking hot drinks, talking on cell phones, and applying make-up. But one of the greatest distractions, ABC News reports, might be something parents do every day: driving with kids in the backseat. Kate Hollcraft, a spokesperson for Allstate Insurance, says that distracted driving is thought to be the cause of about 80 percent of all crashes, and parents of young children are especially vulnerable to this risk. A MA auto accident lawyer can help you recover damages if you’ve been injured by a distracted driver.

Statistics on “Driving Distracted by Children”

Studies show that driving with children in the car increases the risk of motor vehicle accidents. According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, child passengers in motor vehicles are four times as likely to cause distractions for drivers as their adult counterparts. Furthermore, babies are eight times more distracting to a parent-driver!

More than 130,000 children under the age of 13 are treated in U.S. emergency departments after motor-vehicle collision-related injuries annually, more than 130,000 children younger than 13 are treated in U.S. emergency departments after motor vehicle collision-related injuries.

Other findings indicate that during an average 16-minute car trip, drivers are distracted by their children for an average of three minutes and 22 seconds. In other words, because of their kids, parents are not paying attention to the road more than 20 percent of the time. One in five parents say they have had, or almost had, a car accident with kids in the car. About 43 percent of parents admit to feeling anxious, irritable, or simply angry when traveling with their children. And in one study, 76.4 percent of drivers turned around to look at their kids or viewed them in the rear-view mirror.

The Most Common Ways Children Contribute to Distracted Driving Accidents

There are many different ways that children can distract their parents while driving, but these are some of the most common:

Unsettling behaviors:

  • Screaming and fighting in the vehicle
  • Spilling drinks in the vehicle
  • Asking for snacks
  • Children throwing objects into the front seat

Trying to calm a child who is upset over losing a toy in the car, and helping a child get the toy by reaching to the back of the car are also common distractions. A Boston auto accident attorney can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured by a distracted driver.

Measures to Enhance Safety

If you have experienced similar anxieties while driving with children, you are not alone. Fortunately, there are measures that can be taken to improve safety while driving with children. When possible, we can reduce child-related distractions by having another adult present in the car. This person can respond to the child’s needs so that we may focus on the road with minimal distractions. Another good tip is to prevent small children from eating solids while you drive. This dramatically increases the chance of choking, which would – of course – be a major distraction. Continue reading

If you have a newer model car or truck, it is likely that your vehicle is equipped with a lane departure warning system. A recent study conducted by the insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) concluded that this technology significantly reduces the rate of serious injuries and deaths in a motor vehicle accident. Auto manufacturers introduce new vehicle safety features every year, but not all are as effective as planned. This is not the case, however, with lane departure warning systems.

According to the IIHS, “if all U.S. passenger vehicles were equipped in 2015 with a lane departure warning system, nearly 85,000 crashes and more than 55,000 injuries would have been prevented that year.“ A Boston motor vehicle accident attorney can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured due to another’s negligence.

Why are Lane Departure Warning Systems So Effective?

According to the vice president for research for IIHS, Jessica Cicchino, a significant percentage of fatal highway accidents involve a car or truck that drifts from its lane. Distracted driving, drowsy driving, and operating under the influence of drugs or alcohol are often factors in lane drift accidents. Although the best advice would be to never drive drowsy, distracted, or impaired, it is impractical to believe that every driver will heed that advice. As such, The use of lane departure warning systems may be the next best solution.

The IIHS study, which was recently published in Consumer Reports, claims that lane departure warning technology could prevent thousands of deaths annually in the United States, and even more injuries. The institute also reported that injuries suffered in single vehicle accidents, head on collisions, and side swipes may be reduced by up to 21 percent with the use of a lane departure warning system. A Massachusetts personal injury lawyer can help you recover damages if you’ve been injured in a motor vehicle accident.

Motor Vehicle Accident Statistics

Auto accidents are one of the leading causes of accidental death in the United States. You can dramatically reduce your risk of serious injury or death in a vehicle crash by always wearing your seatbelt, never driving while impaired, always driving the appropriate speed limit, and never talking or texting when behind the wheel. The statistics below provide additional information about the frequency and severity of motor vehicle crashes.

  • In 2016, there were a total of 34,439 fatal motor vehicle crashes in the U.S., in which 37,461 people died.
  • Across the nation, about 55 percent of motor vehicle crash fatalities involved single-vehicle crashes.
  • Alcohol was involved in about 61 percent of all fatal car crashes in 2016.
  • According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), distracted driving claimed 3,450 lives in 2016.
  • It is estimated that about 481,000 drivers are talking on cell phones or texting during daylight hours, every day.
  • In a NHTSA study, approximately one in 25 adults reported falling asleep behind the wheel at least once in the previous month.

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