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Articles Posted in Car Accidents

In MA, as in every state in the nation, drivers are required by law to insure their vehicles. Much of your insurance rate is determined by the coverage options you choose, but there are several other factors that go into calculating annual premium.

Rate Factors

Most people know that black marks on your driving record, such as OUI convictions and speeding tickets, can increase your insurance premiums, but what else factors into your rate?

  • Age: Due to a simple lack of experience, young people—from teens to early twenties—pay the highest rates for insurance. These rates can be decreased in a variety of ways, from driver’s education courses to completing a year of incident-free driving.
  • Gender: Because males have more moving violations than females—from a statistical standpoint—teen males pay more in insurance premiums than their female counterparts.
  • Overall experience: If you are older when you first get your license, you will pay higher rates than if you’d been driving for 10 years or more. Statistically speaking, inexperience leads to more accidents.
  • Driving record: Whenever you get a moving violation—whether for speeding, running a red light, or operating under the influence—points will be added to your driving record. Points are bad. They translate to higher insurance premiums and, if you get too many of them, you may lose your license.
  • Mileage: If you work close to home and don’t put many miles on your vehicle, you will likely pay less than if you have a long commute.
  • Location: Where you live factors heavily into your auto insurance rates. If you live in a highly-populated area, such as a city, your premiums will be higher because of the risk of vandalism and theft.
  • The vehicle: Cars that are more expensive to fix or replace will cost more, but helpful features—such as anti-theft devices—may reduce the rate. A Boston auto accident lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured due to another driver’s negligence.
  • Where you park: If you park in a locked garage, your rates will be lower than if you park on a city street, for example.
  • Credit score: Most insurance companies use credit scores as an indicator of the likelihood that drivers will file claims. Even if your driving record is perfect, you will probably pay more for insurance if your credit score is poor.

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According to the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE), failing to properly use turn signals contributes to nearly two million car accidents annually. To further emphasize the severity of this problem, the SAE study compared improper turn signal use to distracted driving, which receives significantly more attention. Only 950,000 crashes are caused by distracted driving each year; that’s less than half of those involving turn signal errors.

The SAE study, which observed 12,000 cars, revealed that 48 percent of drivers failed to properly use their turn signal when changing lanes, or to turn the signal off after the lane change had been completed. In addition, about 25 percent of the drivers observed didn’t use a signal at all when making a right or left-hand turn. Based on this research, the SAE estimates that signal errors occur approximately two billion times every day—750 billion times each year—and that these errors significantly contribute to multi-vehicle accidents.

In addition to warning to drivers to be certain that they are using their turn signals properly, the SAE report also recommends that law enforcement officials put more resources into penalizing drivers who neglect to use turn signals, and to equip new vehicles with a system that warns drivers when turns signals are being used improperly. 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 Turn Signals So Important?

Turn signals are one of the most important, and basic, types of vehicle-to-vehicle communication. Proper use of turn signals is an extremely effective way to reduce collisions, as turn signals give other drivers ample time to decrease their speed so that you can safely turn or change lanes.

“[A]ll drivers have an ongoing duty to use [their turn signal], just as they have a duty to stop at a stop sign or at a red light,” said Richard Ponziani, one of the SAE report’s authors.

Effective Turn Signal Use

It may seem like a no-brainer, but not everyone knows the correct way to use turn signals. Follow the tips below to help reduce the risk of collisions, and to ensure that you don’t get stopped by police for improper turn signal use.

  • Approximately 100-200 feet before your intended turn or lane change, use your turn signal to warn other drivers.
  • Before making a maneuver, first check for pedestrians, cyclists, and other vehicles. Don’t just expect that everyone sees your signal.
  • Once your maneuver is complete, turn off your signal. A signal that remains on after a turn or lane change can be confusing to other drivers.

With proper turn signal use, we can reduce the risk of motor vehicle accidents on our roadways, while simultaneously protecting our selves and our families. A MA car accident lawyer can help you recover damages if you’ve been injured by another’s negligence. Continue reading

Ride-hailing app Uber has recently launched a testing program for autonomous vehicles in Arizona, Pittsburgh and Toronto, among other areas. But the company pulled its fleet of self-driving cars immediately following a fatal accident in Tempe, Arizona on Sunday night. Although a 2016 accident involving a partially-autonomous Tesla resulted in a man’s death, this most recent tragedy was the first to involve a fully-autonomous vehicle. If approved, Uber’s fleet is intended to fully replace human drivers.

As 49-year-old Elaine Herzberg walked her bike across a Tempe street on Sunday night, she was struck and killed by an autonomous Uber SUV. Although 44-year-old Uber test driver Rafael Vasquez was in the driver seat at the time of the crash, the vehicle was in self-driving mode.

“The vehicle involved is one of Uber’s self-driving vehicles,” said Tempe police in a statement earlier this week. “It was in autonomous mode at the time of the collision, with a vehicle operator behind the wheel.” A Boston motor vehicle accident lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured due to another’s negligence.

The City of Boston is making its streets smart with technology – such as cameras and sensors – to learn how people interact on, and with, Boston’s streets. The Vision Zero initiative, which is being implemented in multiple cities across the country – aims to put an end to serious motor vehicle crashes. Through the data collected via camera and sensor technology, Boston can re-imagine its streets, improving design and overall safety.

 

Working with Verizon, the City of Boston is gathering data at city intersections, including the one at Massachusetts Avenue and Beacon Street. This data will be used to determine what, if any, changes need to be made. To gather necessary data, this pilot program is using video cameras, LED lights, and sensors placed under the road. Possible changes may include:

  • increased enforcement of traffic rules,
  • better public education about traffic rules,
  • improved sidewalks, streets, and signage.

Once acquired, the data is uploaded into a web-based platform for analysis and reporting. A Boston motor vehicle accident attorney can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured due to another’s negligence.

What Type of Data is Being Gathered?

  • How different types of vehicles – including bicycles – move during green, yellow, and red traffic signals
  • Whether vehicles tend to remain in the intersection for an extended period of time
  • Where pedestrians are using crosswalks
  • How pedestrians respond to “Walk” and “Don’t Walk” traffic signals
  • The frequency with which motor vehicles and cyclists yield to pedestrians in crosswalks
  • Use of bike lanes by cyclists
  • Situations that result in cyclists riding outside those lanes

What About Privacy?

There has been some concern about privacy as records of vehicles, cyclists and pedestrians are collected, and video data is analyzed. According to the City of Boston, the data is anonymous. No specific personal information is attached to any records. Additionally, the City will not have access to any video footage. Rather, Verizon – who owns the data – provides basic information to the City, such as the number of pedestrians on a given day. Neither Verizon nor the City will use biometric software to read license plates or perform facial recognition analysis. Further, the video will not track specific individuals or issue traffic tickets.

Smart Streets, Smart City

Vision Zero’s “Smart Streets” are just one part of the overall “Smart City” technology, with which the Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics is experimenting. Other smart city technology includes self-driving vehicles and smart parking sensors, “Internet of all Things” devices, and interactive public art. A MA personal injury attorney can help you recover damages if you’ve been injured due to another’s negligence.

Considering that there are more than five million car accidents annually, and about 80 people die in car accidents every day, Boston’s initiative to reduce serious and fatal accidents to zero is both encouraging and challenging. As technology continues to advance, however, the rate of fatal accidents is likely to drop. This is good news for all. In the meantime, always wear your seat belt, don’t speed, don’t text and drive, and never drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Continue reading

Ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft allow individuals to essentially become freelance taxi drivers using their own vehicle. The popularity of these services, which give people the ability to hail a ride using a mobile app, has skyrocketed in recent years. So too have accidents. Statistically speaking, ride-sharing services are quite safe. The increase in accidents is not due to lack of safety, rather it’s a simple numbers game – there are significantly more Uber and Lyft drivers on the road today than in years’ past.

There is a lot of debate over whether ride-sharing services make the streets safer or more dangerous. A study conducted in 2016 revealed that services like Uber and Lyft reduced arrests for drunk driving, and overall fatal traffic accidents. But an American Journal of Epidemiology study concluded that “the deployment of Uber services in a given metropolitan county had no association with the number of subsequent traffic fatalities.”

Multiple Parties

Claims involving ride-sharing accidents are often vastly different from typical motor vehicle accident cases. They often involve complex legal issues due to the multiple parties involved: passenger, driver, and the ride-sharing company. If you’re injured in an Uber accident, for example, do you file a claim against Uber, the driver, or both? And what about the insurance? Do you need to deal with Uber’s commercial insurance policy, the driver’s personal policy, or both? A Boston auto accident attorney can help you recover damages if you’ve been injured in an Uber or Lyft accident.

Who is Liable?

The question of who pays what is made particularly complex due to the independent contractor relationship between Uber and Lyft drivers and their employer. Ride share companies often use this arrangement as a defense to liability when one of their drivers is involved in an accident.

Fortunately, auto insurance carriers are beginning to create solutions to this problem in the form of specialized policies. But the gray area is still quite large. For example, new ride-share insurance policies typically kick in when the driver accepts the request for a ride and begins driving to the pick-up location. When the driver isn’t working, the personal insurance policy takes over.

But what if the driver switches on the app, making herself available before she has a passenger  or is en route to a pick-up location?  In this situation, ride-share policies generally do not apply. Neither, however, do most personal policies. If she switches on the app, she is technically working, and commercial use of the vehicle isn’t covered by most personal auto insurance policies.

Due to the constantly-evolving nature of ride-share services, the gray area of liability in ride-share accidents doesn’t appear to be going away anytime soon. In many Uber and Lyft accident cases, a portion of the claim is paid by the driver’s personal insurance policy and the remaining damages are paid by the commercial policies of Uber or Lyft. Of course, the companies’ claims adjusters are skilled at negotiating what they will pay, and commercial policies often have a $100,000 max per accident. As such, it is essential to have an experienced MA motor vehicle accident attorney by your side if you’ve been injured in an Uber or Lyft accident. Continue reading

If you are involved in a motor vehicle accident, or sustain any impact injury that causes your head to jerk forward and back, you may experience whiplash. Whiplash is the stretching and / or tearing of the muscles and tendons in your neck, resulting in severe pain and difficulty moving your head and neck.

In the movies, whiplash victims are often accused of “faking it” to obtain compensation for non-existent injuries. This is because the damage caused to soft tissues, muscles and tendons in a whiplash injury is not as obvious as, say, a broken bone or wounds. In fact, whiplash injuries typically don’t appear on X-rays or other diagnostic imaging unless tears are severe. Further, the full extent of a whiplash injury may take up to a week or more to become apparent. However, whiplash is a real injury, and it can be extremely painful and debilitating. A Boston personal injury lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if you are suffering from whiplash following any type of accident.

In more serious cases of whiplash, the injury can have immediate and / or long-term consequences. The section of the spine around the neck is called the cervical region. This is the area most affected by whiplash injuries. As a healthy cervical spine is crucial for comfort and mobility, damage to this area of the body can result in lifelong complications and pain.

How Much Compensation Can I Receive?

As with most injuries, the amount of compensation will depend on multiple factors, including the severity of the injury. Minor cases of whiplash, which usually dissipate within a week, are unlikely to result in compensation. However, if your whiplash injury caused debilitating pain that prevented you from working or engaging in basic tasks, you may be able to obtain compensation. A MA personal injury attorney can help you recover damages if you’ve been injured due to another’s negligence.

As stated above, whiplash settlements and awards vary widely based on multiple factors, but moderate cases of whiplash will generally be valued at between $2,500 and $10,000. If whiplash injuries are particularly serious, however, the injured party may receive up to $30,000 or more.

Whiplash Symptoms

Symptoms vary in severity based on the extent of the injury, but the most common whiplash symptoms include:

  • Neck stiffness
  • Pain in the cervical region
  • Numbness or tingling in the cervical region
  • Mobility problems

In addition to whiplash, the symptoms above may indicate that you have injured your invertebrate joints or discs, cervical ligaments, or the nerve roots in that area. Seek immediate medical attention if you are experiencing any of these symptoms following a car accident or other trauma to the head or neck area. Beyond getting needed medical treatment, visiting your physician will also ensure that your injury is documented for insurance purposes, and if you decide to bring a personal injury lawsuit. Continue reading

A statute of limitations is a state-specific limit placed on the amount of time that can transpire between when an incident occurs and when the plaintiff can file a complaint about the incident. Both civil and criminal cases may be subject to a statute of limitations.

Statutes of limitations in criminal cases are generally longer than those in civil cases. In some criminal cases, such as murder and rape of a child, there is no statute of limitations. This means that a 50-year-old woman can come forward about having been raped as a child, and her attacker can still be punished for the crime.

When it comes to civil cases such as personal injury lawsuits, however, the statute of limitations is typically only a few years. In MA, if anyone suffers injuries or property damage in a motor vehicle accident, their lawsuit must be filed within three years of the crash. A MA personal injury attorney can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured due to another’s negligence.

What About Wrongful Death Claims?

Things get a bit trickier if someone is killed in an auto accident. Although the statute of limitations for wrongful death lawsuits is still three years in MA, the clock on these cases doesn’t start running until the victim dies. If the death occurred on the day of the accident, the three-year clock would begin on that day. If, however, the victim dies from related injuries weeks or months after the accident, the three-year countdown would begin on a different date than that of the accident.

Discovery Rule

In MA, there is one main exception to the three-year statute of limitations on car accidents. It’s called the “discovery rule.” In rare instances, the injured party in an auto accident may be temporarily unaware that he has been injured, or that the accident caused his injuries. Take Bob, for example. Bob is involved in a crash caused by a teen who was texting while driving. Although the accident was serious, Bob insists that he wasn’t injured, and the teen’s insurance covers the damage to the vehicle. About three weeks later, Bob goes to the hospital complaining of serious pain in his side. During a medical examination, doctors discover that one of Bob’s ribs is broken. Under the discovery rule, the date that the broken rib was discovered is the date that the three-year clock starts ticking.

Don’t Miss the Deadline

If you wait too long and miss the three-year deadline, the court will likely refuse your case. We cannot stress enough the importance of acting in a timely manner if you have been harmed due to another’s negligence. A Boston personal injury lawyer can help you recover damages if you’ve been injured in a motor vehicle accident. Continue reading

We all know that distracted driving is a problem, and that smart phones and other electronic devices only make it worse. But what about other types of distraction, such as eating and daydreaming? According to a recent report, nearly 3,500 people die annually in distraction-related auto accidents, and another 400,000 are seriously injured. Although many of these accidents involve a hand-held electronic device, some do not. What other forms of distraction are taking lives on U.S. roadways each year? Read on to find out.

Types of Distraction

When it comes to driving in Boston,  there are three types of distractions. These are visual, manual, and cognitive. Visual distractions take your eyes off the road. manual distractions take your hands off the wheel, and cognitive distractions take your mind off driving. Texting and using social media are so dangerous because they involve all three. A Boston motor vehicle accident attorney can help you recover damages if you’ve been injured due to another’s negligence.

Top 10 Causes of Distracted Driving Accidents

  • Daydreaming: If you are mentally focused on something other than the road, your risk of a crash increases dramatically. For this reason, it is important to avoid getting behind the wheel if you are not in a state of mind to focus on the road. If a serious life event is causing you distress, you may want to take a break from driving until you feel better.
  • Talking, texting, and using social media: Basically, this refers to any use of an electronic device. Although hand-held devices are most distracting, even hands-free devices can take your mind and vision from the road. If you have to make or receive a call or text, pull over in a safe location before doing so. To resist the temptation to glance at a text, put your smart phone on drive mode before you hit the road.
  • Rubber-necking: Allowing yourself to be distracted by accidents, police stops, construction sites, or nearby drivers can be deadly.
  • Passengers: Interacting with passengers causes about five percent of annual distracted driving-related accidents. This is especially true when young children are involved. To reduce the risk of this type of accident, make sure that children are safely buckled, do not turn around while driving, avoid reaching in the backseat to give them a toy, and do not allow them to eat while you are driving.
  • Adjusting vehicle controls: You can become manually, visually and cognitively distracted when you change the radio station, adjust the vehicle’s temperature, put on or take off your seat belt, and adjust your mirrors.
  • Eating and drinking: Consuming food and drinks contributes to two percent of distracted driving-related accidents each year. A MA auto accident attorney can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured by a distracted driver.
  • Reaching: When we take our eyes off the road to reach for a map, food, an electronic device or a child’s toy, we can become dangerously distracted.
  • Smoking: Lighting, smoking, putting out and accidentally dropping a cigarette are all forms of distraction.

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According to recent research, car crashes are one of the top causes of death for U.S. teens. Fortunately, the vast majority of these deaths are easily preventable. Research conducted by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute (VTTI) concluded that this risk is highest during the first 18 months after a teen becomes licensed to drive. In fact, novice teen drivers have four times the risk of their more experienced counterparts.

“Teen drivers, particularly novice ones, are overrepresented in U.S. fatality and injury crash statistics. The extraordinarily high teen crash rates are unacceptable and it is our core mission to save lives,” said Charlie Klauer, a VTTI researcher and head of the institute’s Teen Risk and Injury Prevention Group. “We believe that we can reduce these high crash rates through education, engineering, and enforcement for all of the risks that face teen drivers.” A Boston motor vehicle accident lawyer can help you recover damages if you’ve been injured in a car accident.

Primary Risk Factors

The combination of inexperience and the feeling of invincibility among teen drivers can be a recipe for disaster. Inexperience can only be solved with time and practice. If possible, new drivers should avoid driving at night, with non-adult passengers, and on the interstate for at least the first few months. The feeling of invincibility common during the teen years is more of a challenge. The best way to combat this problem is through education, constant safety reminders, and the modeling of good driving behaviors. Remind your kids about the risks of speeding and distracted driving. They might seem annoyed, but studies show that parents who preach and practice safe driving behaviors have kids who do the same. The key risk factors of teen drivers include:

  • Distraction
  • Speeding
  • Hard braking
  • Driving at night

According to Klauer, increasing distractions brought on by the impact of mobile devices is one of the greatest risks affecting teen drivers today. And this risk doesn’t appear to be going away any time soon.

“One out of every five young drivers in the United States is involved in a collision within the first six months of driving, often because they are distracted. We cannot stress enough the importance of educating teen drivers, parents, and the public at large about potential risks and the best methods to alleviate them. That way, we can provide the guidance and best practices teen drivers need to stay safe on the roads,” Klauer said. A MA car accident attorney can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured in an auto accident.

Teen Crash Statistics

  • More than 5,000 teens between the ages of 16 and 20 die annually in car accidents.
  • More than 400,000 teens in the same age group are seriously injured in car accidents every year.
  • The risk of being killed in a car crash is highest for teen drivers between the ages of 16 and 19.
  • Teens make up approximately 10 percent of the U.S. population, but account for 12 percent of all fatal auto accidents.
  • Teen drivers account for more about 30 percent of all total car accident costs in the U.S., that’s approximately $26 billion annually.
  • The motor vehicle accident death rate is more than one and a half times greater for male teens than for female teens.

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It should be obvious, shouldn’t it? Using Facebook or Instagram while driving is a bad idea. But knowing what’s right and doing what’s right are two entirely different things. Unfortunately, statistics show that although we may know the dangers of using social media while driving, we’re still doing it. A recent survey sponsored by the National Safety Council revealed that 74% of those surveyed use Facebook while driving, and 37% use Twitter. YouTube and Instagram came in close behind. People are even playing video games while driving. Last year, a Maryland man crashed into a parked police car while playing “Pokemon Go.”

In 2008, Jennifer Smith’s mother was killed when a 20-year-old who was using her cell phone drove through a red light. “As I’m talking to new families, more and more of them are telling me, ‘It’s Snapchat,’ ” said Smith. “It’s Snapchat today, but then what is it tomorrow? You know, we’ve got the ‘Pokemon Go’ coming, and then it’s the next thing.” Smith works full time to lobby for legislation that will prevent accidents like the one that killed her mother. “Social networking while driving is not necessary and should not be done by anyone, in any way, who’s driving. Period. And somehow we’ve got to make the whole country understand that.” A MA auto accident lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured by a distracted driver.

Distracted Driving Likely a Factor in One-Quarter of all Crashes in Massachusetts and Around the Country

Unfortunately, it looks like we have a long way to go before drivers – especially young drivers – change their distracted-driving habits. In a recent survey of 2,500 teens, nearly 70 percent admitted to using apps while they drive. Only six percent of those surveyed said they think that social media is the most distracting behavior while driving. But distracted driving kills an average of eight people every day, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. And that is likely a massive underestimation. Proving that an accident was caused by distracted driving isn’t an easy thing to do. The National Safety Council estimates that distracted driving is actually responsible for about 25 percent of all crashes.

Social Media Slows Reaction Time More than Alcohol

In fact, according to a study conducted by the Transport Research Laboratory and the Institute of Advanced Motorists, the reaction time for a driver who has been drinking is reduced by 12 percent; for someone on their smart phone, it’s a 38 percent reduction. And the use of social media is making things even worse. Kids are growing up in a society where it’s socially acceptable to post a picture of the congested traffic they’re sitting in on their drive home. Distracted driving is never ok. A Boston auto accident attorney can help you recover damages if you’ve been injured by a distracted driver. Continue reading

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