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Summer is the most popular season for day trips, road trips, and trips to the lake or beach. Although the more obvious hazards of winter, such as snow and ice, have vanished for the foreseeable future, summer driving carries its own set of risks. In fact, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), July and August are the two deadliest months for car accidents. What makes summer driving so dangerous, and how can you avoid becoming a statistic?

Common Hazards

There are multiple factors that increase the risk of driving in summer, but the main issue is the significant uptick in traffic. More people on the road equals more opportunities for accidents. Summer driving hazards include:

 

  • Novice drivers: Suddenly, millions of teens who were previously in school Monday through Friday are now on the open road, with little to do but celebrate. In addition to their lack of experience, young drivers often have a sense of invincibility and adventure that can result in dangerous driving behaviors, such as speeding. You can reduce this risk by traveling at off-peak hours, always driving defensively, and teaching your teen child about the risks of speeding, and reckless or distracted driving.

 

  • Heavy traffic: As stated above, there are more people on the road in summer than during any other season. In addition to school vacation and trips to the beach, there are also festivals, fairs and concerts just about every night of the week. Traffic can be especially heavy in tourist areas and around cities. Use caution; always leave ample space between your car and the car in front of you, drive defensively, and never allow yourself to be distracted when driving on a congested roadway. A Boston auto accident attorney can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured in a car accident.

 

  • Construction: Summer is construction season. The sight of orange traffic cones is a good indicator that warmer weather is on the horizon. Construction zones are inherently dangerous. Lane changes can be confusing, and not everyone slows down to the required speed. And to make things even more harrowing, men and women working in the construction zone may be difficult to see. When approaching a construction zone, reduce your speed immediately, and avoid any type of distraction; don’t even adjust the air conditioning.

 

  • Cyclists and motorcycles: Cycling and riding are synonymous with summer. These environmentally-sound and economical modes of transportation are a good thing, but it may be difficult to see riders and cyclists due to their small size. Before switching lanes, always double check for motorcycles and cyclists in your blind spots. A MA motor vehicle accident lawyer can help you recover damages if you’ve been injured in an accident involving a motorcycle.

 

  • Heavy rain: Heavy storms, and even light rain, can make roadways dangerous. Hydroplaning occurs when tires lose traction with the road. Anyone who has ever hydroplaned knows how scary it can be; you temporarily lose control of the vehicle, much like on icy roads. To avoid hydroplaning, reduce speeds during rainfall, avoid driving during heavy rains if possible, and make sure your tires have adequate traction.

 

  • Blowouts: Hot roads and hot air during summer months can cause the air inside of tires to expand. If a tire is excessively worn, air expansion can result in a tire blowout. Blowouts, especially at high speeds, can be disastrous. To prevent this type of accident, you should replace your tires at least once every five years, and check them regularly for proper traction and inflation.

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The start of summer can be an exciting time for everyone: warmer weather, the end of the school year, vacations, etc. But it also signals the beginning of a more disheartening season. According to research conducted by AAA, the 100 days after Memorial Day (until most school years begin again) are the “deadliest” for teen drivers. One sobering estimate, based on five years of research, is that approximately 1,000 people nationwide will die in automobile crashes involving teenage drivers (between the age of 16 and 19).

Much of this has been attributed to the increased number of teenage drivers on the road – when they are out of school, they are more likely to be driving around – however, this is also compounded by several other factors. For example, distracted driving is an issue for drivers of all ages, but especially for teenagers who are notorious for being “connected” at all times. It is estimated that distracted driving – including both talking and texting on cell phones – is behind almost 60% of crashes that occur over the summer. According to a study done by the University of Iowa which analyzed the final six seconds before a crash (by looking at over 2,000 dash-camera videos of moderate to severe crashes from August 2007 to April 2015) “15% involved talking to others in the car, 12% involved a cell phone (talking, texting, or otherwise operating), and 11% involved looking at or attending to something inside the car.” Additionally, according to Virginia Tech, using a cell phone or other device while driving, makes a crash more than 23 times more likely.

In order to work towards lessening these statistics of close to 10 teen driver-related deaths per day over the summer, it is important to take several different steps as parents, friends, and fellow drivers. If you are the parent of a teen driver, whether or not they recently acquired their license, it is crucial to both be aware of the increased danger of driving over the summer, as well as to communicate and discuss this with your child. Make sure that they understand how texting while driving (or even using their phone in another way) can dramatically increase the risk of crashing – and injuring themselves or others, or even causing a fatality.

More than two million people are injured or become disabled in car accidents annually in the United States. In many of these accidents, injuries are immediately apparent. But in tens of thousands of annual car accidents, victims don’t exhibit symptoms of their injuries for days, weeks, or even months. If you have been involved in an accident, it’s crucial that you seek medical attention immediately. A medical evaluation can help to determine whether initially-asymptomatic injuries could be hiding under the surface.

Delayed Symptoms May be Warning Signs

The list of injuries that may not initially present symptoms could go on forever. However, there are certain injuries that more commonly fall into this category. In most cases, mild symptoms will precede more serious ones. If days, weeks, or months following a car accident you experience any of the symptoms below (even if mild), it is in your best interest to contact your healthcare provider for a medical evaluation. A Boston injury attorney can help you recover damages if you’ve been injured due to another’s negligence.

 

  • Headaches: A headache that develops a few days or weeks after a motor vehicle crash could be an indicator of bigger problems. A headache can be a warning sign of a concussion, neck injury, or a blood clot. While it’s certainly possible that you “just have a headache,” following an accident, it’s always better to be safe than sorry.

 

  • Back pain: Any type of back pain, from mild to severe, can indicate an injury to the muscles and ligaments in your back. You may have even suffered nerve damage or injury to your vertebrae. A simple x-ray is usually sufficient to diagnose back injuries, but you may require a more sophisticated test, such as an MRI or CT scan.

 

  • Pain or bloating in the abdomen: These symptoms may indicate internal injuries, and may be accompanied by dizziness and fainting. As these symptoms may also serve as warning signs that you are bleeding internally, it is crucial that you seek immediate medical attention. Internal injuries and bleeding can be fatal if left untreated.

 

  • Personality of emotional changes: If you have suffered a traumatic brain injury (TBI), symptoms may not be immediately apparent. If days or weeks following a car crash you find yourself feeling “out of sorts,” you may want to seek medical attention. A health evaluation can generally identify the presence of a TBI. A MA injury lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve suffered a TBI in a car accident.

 

  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): Following a serious car accident, you may experience PTSD. Many people have immediate symptoms of PTSD, but fail to recognize them. The good news is, early treatment generally produces excellent results. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a type of counseling that works well with patients who suffer from PTSD. Prolonged Exposure (PE) therapy is another option. There is also a type of therapy known as Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) that is being used more frequently to treat And certain medications, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), are known to be quite effective.

Altman & Altman, LLP – Top Personal Injury Law Firm in MA

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Having a criminal record can make several aspects of your life difficult, from getting a job to finding housing. And personal injury claims are no exception. Even a minor conviction, such as a traffic ticket, can harm your chances of recovering damages in a civil lawsuit. The good news is, however, that a skilled MA personal injury lawyer can help you navigate these murky waters and obtain the compensation you deserve following an accident or injury.

Is the Evidence Admissible?

In most personal injury cases, criminal convictions will not be admissible in court unless they are relevant to the matter at hand. In fact, criminal convictions are thoroughly reviewed to determine whether they will create an unfair prejudice. If a conviction is deemed relevant, it may still be excluded if the judge determines that the evidence would cause an unfair bias.

If evidence of a criminal conviction is admitted, even a minor offense can call your credibility into question. This is especially true if the crime involved dishonesty. For example, if you were busted for passing a bad check ten years ago, why should the court believe your personal injury claim today? The fact that you were a starving, reckless college student at the time and you’ve since become a responsible, hardworking father of two may not be enough. This is where experienced legal counsel is essential. A Boston injury attorney can help position you for the most favorable outcome if you find yourself in this situation.

What is Impeachment?

Despite the fact that googling the word impeachment is more likely to bring up images of President Trump these days, impeachment doesn’t only apply to controversial presidents. It is also a legal term that refers to catching a witness in a lie. If, for example, you claim that you were injured when another driver smashed into your car at an intersection, your own driving behaviors may be called into question. If you claim to be a safe driver, evidence of past speeding tickets could be admitted to destroy your credibility. This is known as impeachment.

Regardless of your criminal history, or lack thereof, personal injury claims require the help of a knowledgeable injury lawyer. As a rule of thumb, the nature and severity of your crime, and the length of time since the crime was committed, will factor heavily on the level of impact the conviction will have on your case. For example, a OUI offense from ten years ago is unlikely to have much, if any, impact on your case. A recent felony, however, is likely to impact your case significantly. Further, crimes that involve dishonesty and deception, such as forgery and fraud, can take a massive toll on your personal injury claim because they call your credibility into serious question. Continue reading

Motorcycle riding comes with inherent risks; you are 35 times more likely to die in a motorcycle crash than occupants of cars and trucks. The good news is, the vast majority of serious injuries and deaths are preventable. The bad news is, many Massachusetts motorcyclists fail to take proper safety precautions, such as wearing a helmet and not speeding. Motorcycle safety courses help combat this problem by illustrating how easily certain behaviors can result in death, and how simple it is to avoid this risk.

Whether you are a novice rider, or you’ve been riding for decades, the tips below can help you dramatically reduce your risk of serious injury and death. A MA motorcycle accident lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured due to another’s negligence.

  • When you are riding at a higher speed (but still within the speed limit), it may help to crouch a little on your bike. By leaning forward, you can avoid some of the air flow, thus making the ride more comfortable.
  • When you are riding on city roads, you may see more and more asphalt ridges (a.k.a. speed bumps). Do not break on the ridge, rather brake before you reach it.
  • To maintain maximum visibility at all times, avoid getting too close to large vehicles, such as vans, trucks, and buses. This will help ensure that you have enough space to see what lies ahead on the road, before you get too close and are upon it.
  • When braking, it is important to use more front braking than rear braking. If you’re new to riding, it’s crucial to get a feel for how the brakes work. You can play with the footpegs to see how pressing on the right footpeg affects the trajectory of the bike, versus pressing on the left footpeg, for example. Practice in a safe place, such as an empty parking lot, before taking it to the open road.
  • If you must make an emergency brake, you can hug the tank with your thighs, which prevents your body weight from being too heavy at the front of the bike.
  • Avoid lane splitting at all times. It’s dangerous…and it’s illegal.
  • Anticipate and prepare before driving into curves. To do so safely, it’s crucial to brake and reduce speed before you enter the curve. Similarly, you must prepare to exit the curve, ahead of time. Your body and bike should be in the proper position to accelerate smoothly, when exiting a curve. When approaching or exiting a curve, remember to brake, use the lower gears, make sure that your feet and body are properly placed, and throttle when exiting.
  • Before entering a tunnel, keep in mind that your sight may be momentarily impaired. In preparation, use extra caution and slow down before entering. A Boston injury lawyer can help you recover damages if you’ve been injured by another’s negligent actions.
  • When riding in a group, do not focus solely on the motorcycle in front of you. It’s common for riders to get too focused on the back of the rider ahead of them.
  • Similar to the hazard of getting too focused on the rider ahead of you, it is dangerous to become “hypnotized” at night by lights on a vehicle ahead of you. In addition to being distracting, if the vehicle’s brake lights don’t work, you could end up in a rear end collision.
  • Take a rider safety course. This is absolutely essential if you’re a new rider, but periodic refresher courses are also important for seasoned riders.

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With its beautiful coast, diverse mix of big cities and quaint, New England towns, and plenty of scenic backroads, Massachusetts is a popular state for motorcycle enthusiasts. Riding a motorcycle is cheaper than driving a car, allows a rider to maneuver through congested traffic more easily than drivers of passenger vehicles, and it’s fun. But riding a motorcycle is also inherently more dangerous than driving a car or truck. Read on for more information about risks associated with motorcycle riding, and how to avoid becoming a statistic.

Due a motorcycle’s small size and lack of protection, motorcycle accidents are more likely to result in serious injury and death than those involving only cars and trucks. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), “Motorcyclist deaths occurred 27 more times more frequently than fatalities in other vehicles, based on 2014 crash data.” In fact, a motorcycle rider is six times more likely to suffer injuries in a crash than her car and truck driving counterparts. A Boston motorcycle accident lawyer can help you recover damages if you’ve been injured in a crash.

How to Avoid a Deadly Motorcycle Crash

But it’s not all bad news. Most motorcycle-related injuries and fatalities are preventable. There are multiple ways to protect yourself if you choose to ride. By following the tips below, you can dramatically reduce your risk of serious injury or death.

  • Always wear a helmet: According to the NHTSA, helmets are 37 percent effective at preventing rider fatalities.
  • Make yourself visible: Most motorcycle accidents involving a passenger vehicle are caused by drivers who did not see the motorcyclist. According to the NHTSA, “The majority of multi-vehicle motorcycle crashes generally are caused when other drivers simply didn’t see the motorcyclist.” To reduce this risk, avoid riding in vehicle blind spots, and wear bright colored clothing.
  • Ride defensively
  • Obey traffic laws
  • Enroll in a rider education course: Whether you’re new to riding or you’ve been riding for decades; it’s always good to have a refresher.
  • When possible, avoid riding in adverse weather conditions.
  • Do not speed: A 2013 study found that approximately 34 percent of all motorcycle riders involved in fatal crashes were using excessive speed, compared to only 21 percent for drivers of passenger vehicles.
  • Never ride while under the influence of drugs or alcohol: A study of fatal motorcycle crashes in 2013 revealed that riders involved in fatal crashes had higher blood alcohol concentrations (BAC) than drivers of any other type of motor vehicle.

The unfortunate reality is, motorcycle riders have a reputation for being disrespectful of the rules of the road, and even the law in general. Of course, that’s not true of the vast majority of motorcyclists…but inaccurate perceptions continue to prevail. And this negative attitude toward motorcyclists actually contributes to the high rate of accidents. Drivers are less likely to “double check” for motorcyclists before switching lanes or making turns, just as they are less likely to give ample space between their vehicle and a motorcycle ahead of, or beside them. When drivers believe that riders are impolite, unlawful road hogs, they are inclined to give them a “taste of their own medicine.” Not only is this behavior unfair, it can be deadly. If driver negligence has caused you harm, a MA injury lawyer can help you determine how to proceed. Continue reading

On March 1, 2017, the Safety Institute released its quarterly Vehicle Safety Watch List to identify those vehicles with a higher-than-average risk of dangerous defects. The report uses statistics from Early Warning Reports, including injury and death claims. Although the list does not include automobile defects that have already been made official, it does take into account consumer reports that warn of potential dangers. Nearly half of the vehicles on the list are GM vehicles.

The March 2017 Vehicle Safety Watch List identifies 15 vehicles that may have dangerous defects. These include:

  • 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee 4×4 – Powertrain

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

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