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Articles Posted in Car Accidents

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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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?

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

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

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 3,179 Americans died as the result of distracted driving in 2014. The total number of traffic deaths have risen more than 10 percent from the first half of 2015 to the first half of 2016.  According to AAA, 58 percent of the 963,000 automobile accidents involving teens aged 16-19 in 2013 were linked in some way to distracted driving. Approximately 10 percent of the 2,865 teen driving fatalities in 2013 were also linked to distracted driving.

When most people think of distracted driving, they think of people that are behind the wheel doing their makeup, checking their hair, eating a hamburger or updating their Facebook page about how annoying it is to sit in traffic. However, a lesser-discussed element of distracted driving is driving when you’re tired, or “drowsy driving.”  Driving while tired can affect anybody, from 16-year-olds headed to school after staying up too late the night before to professional truck drivers who have stringent schedules to keep that don’t allow for proper resting. But as much as we think it is sufficient enough to guzzle a coffee or open a window to feel a cold breeze, the dangers of driving while drowsy are very real.

The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that:

Reuters reported in late October that Toyota had invested around $10 million in Getaround, a ride-sharing service based out of San Francisco that was founded in 2009. Getaround is different from services like Uber, as users of Getaround can search their local area for available privately-owned rental cars that they can rent and use personally for as little at $5.  Users have access to these rental vehicles for a certain amount of time, rather than simply being ferried from one location to the next like with Lyft or Uber. Automotive speculative analysts have reasoned that Toyota’s investment in a ride-sharing entity indicates they are stacking their chips for the upcoming industrial boom of driverless taxi services. Some project that the first fully-automated driving services will be enacted by 2020.

The potential benefits of driverless taxi services are multiple, and are enough for more than 18 large companies to invest resources into at least studying its practicality. In theory, they can create less traffic, lessen pollution, and increase the efficiency and safety of roads. Of course, on the other hand, a world filled with driverless taxis means millions of taxi drivers and drivers who work for companies like Uber will be out of a job.  While the technology is essentially ready for implementation, the legal framework surrounding driverless cars and taxis is a continuously-developing headache. There is no telling how legislation will translate between federal, state, and local lines, or if it will be possible to form any solid ground rules anytime soon.

After all, who is at fault when an accident inevitably occurs between a human driver and a driverless car? How about an accident that occurs between two autonomous vehicles? There are hundreds of possible factors in play and dozens of parties that could be at fault. Taking into consideration these uncertainties, most analysts don’t foresee driverless taxis making a significant impact on the world for at least a decade or two.  No matter how this industry, plucked straight from the pages of science fiction, pans out in the future, the fact that huge companies such as Toyota are entering the driverless car game proves that this is no fad or silly pie-in-the-sky fantasy. Driverless cars, and taxis, are coming sooner rather than later.

A short trip just down the road to Dunkin Donuts, picking up your kid from the neighbor down the street, or just a casual afternoon drive to spot some local foliage – no need to buckle up for such a trek, right?  Wrong, most likely, since most accidents actually occur within 25 miles of home. But that doesn’t stop about 25% of Massachusetts drivers from choosing to drive without a seatbelt, despite their proven record of saving about 15,000 lives every year, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Data gathered by the University of Massachusetts Traffic Safety Research Program showed that, in a study encompassing 147 different locations and 27,000 vehicles, only 78.2% of Massachusetts drivers report buckling up in a vehicle no matter what the situation. Fortunately, the data does show that seatbelt usage is increasing in Massachusetts, from 67% in 2006 and 74% last year.  Still, the only states to report less seatbelt usage than Massachusetts were New Hampshire and South Dakota. Shockingly and unsettlingly, one of the most common groups to admit to not using a seatbelt were commercial truck drivers. The other was men aged 18-34.

Some of the reasons for not buckling up included a lower perception of fear regarding an accident while making short trips. Drivers were more likely to report using a seatbelt while traveling fast and long distances on the highway. Still, some drivers admitted to not using seatbelts simply because they were uncomfortable.  For some, the idea of a seatbelt law is an affront to personal liberties. Despite their proven track record of saving lives – including the lives of drivers and passengers – people will still argue that it is their right to decide whether or not they buckle up.

Although there is no federally-mandated seatbelt law, Massachusetts does have laws on the books that state all drivers and passengers 13 years or older must wear a seatbelt unless:

  • There is a proven medical condition that makes wearing a seatbelt impossible
  • The vehicle was made before July, 1966
  • You drive a taxi, livery, bus, tractor, or trucks with a gross weight of over 18,000 pounds
  • You are an emergency services personnel driving an emergency vehicle or are a postal worker

Stats about seatbelt usage

  • 53% of motor vehicle fatalities in 2009, passengers and drivers, were not wearing seatbelts
  • Wearing a seatbelt as a front-seat passenger or driver reduces the risk of death by 45% and reduces the rate of serious injuries by 50%
  • Drivers and passengers that don’t wear seatbelts are 30 times more likely to be ejected from a vehicle during a crash. Those who are ejected during a crash die 75% of the time in such incidents.
  • Seatbelts have saved an estimated 255,000 lives since 1975.

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