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.

Following a motor vehicle accident, you will almost certainly have to deal with at least one insurance carrier. It’s important to provide insurance carriers with honest answers and details about the accident, but not before consulting with a lawyer. Anything you say to the insurance company – especially the other driver’s carrier – can be used against you. A Boston auto accident lawyer can help you determine what to say and how to say it.

When a two-car or multi-car accident occurs, at least two insurance companies will generally be involved. The policy of the at-fault driver usually covers liability for the accident. As such, that carrier will typically send an insurance adjuster to investigate the accident by conducting interviews and evaluating property damage.

There’s No Obligation to Provide the Opposing Insurance Company with a Recorded Statement

If you have been injured by another driver, under no circumstances should you give a recorded statement to the at-fault driver’s insurance company. Any information you provide is sure to be used against you if you bring a personal injury lawsuit against the other driver. Unless the insurance company has obtained a court order requiring you to provide a statement, you have no obligation to speak to them. A MA car accident attorney can help you understand your rights and options if you find yourself in this situation. Whatever the circumstances of your case, avoid talking to the opposing insurance company until you’ve consulted with an experienced attorney.

When it comes to your personal policy, however, a recorded statement may be necessary. It’s possible that your carrier will require a recorded statement as evidence of the unique details of your situation, and to confirm that you have obtained appropriate medical care for any resulting injuries. By cooperating with your insurance company, you can help to ensure that timely payments continue. Although it’s relatively uncommon for your personal carrier to request a recorded statement, it does happen. And if it does, a skilled lawyer can help here as well. For example, your attorney can make sure your carrier puts in writing that they will not provide your recorded statement to the other driver’s insurance company.

Recorded statements, when given to the at-fault driver’s insurance company, have never been considered helpful to a personal injury case. As such, they should be denied whenever possible. The opposing insurance carrier will have plenty of tricks up its sleeves to reduce the amount of compensation you can get following an accident. Even innocent and seemingly-harmless statements can be twisted and used against you.

Avoid Saying…

Whether you’re talking to the opposing insurance company or your own, there are certain things you should avoid saying:

  • It was my fault: Although you may have contributed to the accident, the other driver may also be partially at fault. It is not for you to decide whose fault the accident was. Leave personal opinions out of the conversation.
  • I will give an official statement: As discussed above, leave the recorded statements for after you have spoken to your attorney.
  • I accept: In most cases, initial settlement offers are significantly lower than what the victim deserves. Consult with an attorney before you accept any offer.

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Automobile accidents have occurred since the invention of the automobile. Humans are imperfect creatures, and when they get behind two-plus tons of quickly-moving metal there are bound to be mistakes that cause serious damage both to the driver and to others.

According to the National Highway Traffic Administration, on average, there is an accident in some part of the world every single minute, and an estimated 5.25 million accidents worldwide every year. Anywhere between 37,000 and 43,000 people die every year in the United States from automobile accidents.

According to the Association for Safe International Road Travel, accidents in just the United States account for over $230 billion in damage. According to the Insurance Information Institute, State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance wrote nearly $60 million in direct premiums in 2015, accounting for a whopping 10 percent of the property/casualty insurance market share.

Point being? Auto accidents are alarmingly common and the insurance industry that services these accidents is a constantly booming business.

As with any other business, it is vital for insurance companies to develop and evolve with the advancing of time and technology. As a result, there is a movement growing within insurance companies that is pushing towards making auto insurance claims more “touchless.”

Essentially, a touchless auto claim is a technology-based claims process that enables a victim of an automobile crash to take a picture of the damage to their car, instantly upload it to their insurance company and get a response with an estimate for repair costs within one or two days. The appeal to this methodology is simple; it’s faster, more efficient and less of a hassle for the customer.

Whereas more traditional claims processes involve either an insurance agent physically going to the location of a crash to inspect damage and create an estimate, or an auto body shop inspecting the damage and preparing an estimate, a touchless claims process only involves those who were involved in the accident. Every other aspect – from inspecting the wreck, to estimating damages, to communicating with the customer and paying claims – would be automated.

Potential drawbacks

Although there is support growing amongst insurance executives for such a system, and it is generally agreed upon that this is the direction auto claims processing is headed in the future, there is no rush to get there and plenty of concerns. Hypothetically the system sounds simply ideal, however the actual implementation and utilization of such a system is bound to be trickier.

For one, a picture can only tell so much about the degree of damage that has been incurred by a vehicle. While a crash might appear to have only caused external damage, resulting in a smaller claim, more serous internal damage could have occurred that would only be found by a more extensive, thorough inspection.

Also, a touchless claims system would, by necessity, operate on a huge amount of trust. A picture doesn’t give context into how an accident occurred. How would an insurance company know who was at fault in an accident? Or if the accident had occurred years prior and the customer is attempting to defraud them? An automated system might be convenient, but it lacks the attention to detail of a real person. Continue reading

It is common knowledge amongst Massachusetts residents that, if you can drive here, you can probably drive anywhere. Massachusetts motorists are not known for their patience, forgivingness or attention to proper safety techniques while behind the wheel, and as a result there are many intersections and junctions in the state where dozens upon dozens of crashes happen every year.

Recent data collected and analyzed from the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) by various Boston media outlets showed that, from 2004 to 2013, the five intersections that saw the most crashes were as follows:

  1. Columbia Road at the Expressway, South Boston (296 crashes)
  2. Middlesex Turnpike at Route 128, Burlington (295 crashes)
  3. Granite Avenue and the Expressway, Milton (245 crashes)
  4. North Washington Street and the Central Artery, Boston (232 crashes)
  5. Route 128 and I-93 junction, Woburn (225 crashes)

Although these intersections and junctions contain the highest likelihood according to the data for a motorist to become involved in a minor accident, or an accident with injuries, they are not the deadliest intersections in the state. The I-93/I-495 junction in Andover and the junction of Routes 3 and 18 in Weymouth both had two fatalities over the 10-year span of data.

Regardless of the severity, any accident can become a gigantic burden for anybody involved. Even some minor fender benders can cost thousands of dollars to repair. If the damage is bad enough that you need to bring the car to the garage, that complicates your work schedule immensely, and may require you to take days off work while it is fixed, making you lose out on income.

Should the accident cause a serious injury, you could be facing multiple thousands of dollars in repairs and medical bills. In this situation, missing work is a certainty.

A majority of accidents happen due to simple driver error, and far too many of these accidents are caused by distractions. The commute is no time to send or check emails, do your makeup or hair, eat leftover soup or catch up on that book you’re enjoying. In no situation is driving impaired – by alcohol or other substances – ever a good idea.

If you are involved in an accident where another driver was at fault and was clearly distracted, you have a legal right to seek damages from that driver for their negligent actions. If another driver broke the rules of the road, like performing an illegal U-turn that resulted in an accident, you may also be able to file a claim against them to seek financial compensation to pay for repairs to your car or for injuries incurred.

Police and government officials can try to implement new policies, put more signs up and crack down on dangerous activities such as drinking and driving or texting and driving, but the only true deterrent for accidents at any location on the road is the behavior of the drivers themselves. People must appreciate the power of the machinery they are operating, and respect that they are placing their lives in the hands of others every time they go out for a drive. Continue reading

A 45-year old Dennisport woman was struck and killed earlier this week when she stopped to check on a flat tire. The woman was traveling westbound on Route 6 when she pulled onto the shoulder of the Cape Cod highway. According to police, this area of the highway does not have a breakdown lane. As the woman exited her vehicle, she was struck by a pickup truck driven by a 22-year old Dennis man. The victim, whose name has not been released, was pronounced dead at the scene of the accident.

Safety Tips for Roadside Breakdowns

This tragedy is a stark reminder of the dangers of roadside breakdowns, especially when they occur at night, and on highways or other busy stretches of road. Obviously, if a tire blows or your vehicle breaks down, you have little choice about when and where to pull over. If the area isn’t safe, what do you do? According to the National Safety Council, the tips below can help prevent serious injury and death in the event of a roadside breakdown.

  • The moment you notice a problem, gently remove your foot from the gas pedal. Avoid braking hard or fast. Slowly and carefully move your vehicle to the breakdown lane (if available) or to the side of the road. If you are on a highway and believe you can make it to an exit, try to reach the nearest exit before pulling off the road. Don’t forget to signal your turns to the drivers behind you.
  • Once you have pulled off the road, it’s important to make your car highly visible to other drivers. Preemptively stashing reflective triangles in your trunk is a good idea. If you have these, place them behind your vehicle. Turn on your car’s emergency flashers, and turn on the interior light if it’s dark outside.
  • If you must change a flat tire, make sure that you can do it away from traffic. If this is possible, proceed with changing the tire. If it is not, however, call for professional help. Even if the added delay will create schedule conflicts or other problems, don’t attempt to change a tire yourself in a dangerous location. A MA injury lawyer can help you obtain compensation if you’ve been injured in a motor vehicle accident.
  • If the car is beyond repair or you are stopped on a dangerous stretch of roadway, get professional help. Do not attempt to wave down other motorists. If you have a cellphone, call for help. If you don’t, raise your hood and tie something – preferably white – to the antennae to signal that you need help. Stand far away from the vehicle and wait for help.
  • If your car is beyond repair and stopped in a safe location, you can remain in the vehicle. Keep your doors locked and use your cell phone to call for help. If someone stops to offer help, crack the window slightly and politely ask the person to contact the police. A Boston car accident lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured in a motor vehicle accident.
  • Interstate highways and busy roadways are patrolled frequently by police and other emergency personnel. Many highways also have “call for help” phones; if you can reach one safely, use it. However, walking along a stretch of highway is rarely a good idea. Unless you are sure that you can safely reach a call box or other source of help, do not walk. If you do walk, use the right side of the roadway and never attempt to cross a multi-lane highway.

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Eight months after new high-tech traffic signals were installed in Quincy Center, there have been no pedestrian accidents. That’s a significant achievement, considering that there were 88 accidents involving pedestrians in this area between 2004 and 2013. Of those accidents, 58 resulted in injury and one pedestrian was killed. Despite this success, not everyone loves the new, odd-looking traffic signals.

How to Read the New Signals

The new signals in Quincy Center are known as “high-intensity activated crosswalks”. They are more conveniently referred to as HAWK beacons. Unfortunately, some people find the strange new lights more confusing than helpful. Below are some tips to help you safely navigate HAWK beacon signals when you come across them.

  • Drive through normally if no lights are on.
  • A steady or blinking yellow light means that, while vehicles still have the right-of-way, the light will soon turn red.
  • When both lights are on, the signal should be treated as a red light. Even if no one is using the crosswalk, you must still stop and wait.
  • You should treat the signal like a train crossing when the two red lights are blinking alternatively. Stop, check for people in the crosswalk, then proceed when it is safe to do so.

As you can see from the above instructions, HAWK beacons are not as straightforward as standard traffic signals, at least not until we get used to them. But it’s hard to argue with the fact that since their installation, there have been zero pedestrian accidents in what was once considered one of the most dangerous intersections in all of Massachusetts.  According to Chris Walker, a spokesman for the city’s Mayor Thomas Koch, the new signals are helping drivers and pedestrians alike use the busy intersections in a safer, more responsible manner.

“You can see the benefit of the dedicated signal,” he said. “It’s slowing traffic down through the area.” In addition to the complete absence of pedestrian accidents in the area, there has been a significant drop in motor vehicle accidents since the installation of the signals. A Boston injury attorney can help you determine how to move forward if you’ve been involved in a pedestrian-motor vehicle accident.

Not Everyone’s Feeling the Love

So, why doesn’t everyone love the HAWK beacons in Quincy Center?  Shanayta Carmody would prefer that the city bring back signs instructing vehicles and pedestrians on how to safely deal with the crosswalk. ”It’s very confusing and chaotic since they put this new crosswalk in,” said Carmody. And the new signals may impede the flow of traffic. An observation of the intersection during busy traffic hours revealed backed up traffic from Hancock all the way to the Granite Street intersection. In one instance, cars blocked a crosswalk instead of leaving space for pedestrians. According to Rob Keyworth, who uses the crosswalk on his daily commute to Boston, people don’t know what to do with the new lights. “Nobody has ever seen a setup like that,” he said. A MA injury lawyer can help you determine if you have a successful injury claim following a pedestrian-motor vehicle accident.

Quincy Center isn’t the only area in MA to install HAWK beacons. Several towns across the state have installed similar systems. The federal government considers the HAWK systems to be a “proven safety countermeasure,” and recommends their installation in busy pedestrian crossings. The design, which was developed in the 1990s in Tucson, resulted in a 69 percent decrease in pedestrian accidents following their installation in that city. Continue reading

A pedestrian was struck and fatally wounded by an SUV in a Trader Joe’s parking lot on Tuesday. According to police, a driver in his 20s was backing up in the parking lot of the Acton store when his SUV hit the victim. Although the victim’s name hasn’t been released, police say she was an employee of Trader Joe’s and was in her 60s.

The driver, who has not been charged, remained at the scene following the accident. Acton police Chief Richard Burrows said that investigators are questioning the man, but that the incident was most likely a “tragic accident.”

Parking Lots See 20 Percent of All Car Accidents

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, about 20 percent of all motor vehicle accidents occur in parking lots. Most of these accidents only result in property damage, but injuries and death do occur. Typically, the most serious injuries and deaths involve “backing-over” injuries, as in the tragedy above. Especially in this age of rapidly-advancing technology, backing-over accidents are often due to a distracted driver, distracted pedestrian, or both.

Most parking lot injuries are minor, such as cuts and bruises, whiplash, and strained muscles or ligaments. Parking lots can have a false sense of security. We tend to use more caution and focus when driving down the road. It’s not uncommon for drivers to start backing out of a parking space before they’ve put on their seat belt, adjusted the stereo, and stopped checking emails or text messages. Unfortunately, this level of distraction can be deadly.

Parking lots don’t have traffic signals because cars are usually traveling at relatively low speeds. And even if they did, enforcement would be difficult. Larger establishments sometimes hire security vehicles to keep an eye on the parking lot, but most go without. In addition, security guards don’t have the authority to hand out traffic tickets. A Boston injury lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured in an auto accident.

Distracted Driving and Parking Lots Are a Deadly Combination

Tuesday’s fatal accident will impact the lives of many people who were close to the victim. It will certainly impact the life of the young man who hit her, as well. We would be wise to use this tragedy as a reminder to pay attention at all times when behind the wheel, even in a parking lot.

What to Do if You’re in a Parking Lot Accident

For the most part, you should treat a parking lot accident like any other motor vehicle accident. Follow the tips below if you find yourself in this situation:

  • Don’t leave the scene without first exchanging information with the other driver, even if you’re at fault. Exchange insurance and contact information at the very least.
  • Do not offer or accept money for damages. If you’re at fault, the other person could accept your money and then still file a personal injury claim. If the other driver is at fault, accepting money could preclude you from collecting more money if you discover further damages.
  • Call the police if there are injuries, significant property damage, of if the accident is blocking traffic. They will write an accident report which can help immensely if you file a personal injury claim.
  • Take pictures of property damage and / or injuries from multiple angles.

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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?

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