Articles Posted in Car Accidents

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

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

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

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

Insurance implications as a passenger in an Uber

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

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

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

Insurance implications if involved in an accident with an Uber driver

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

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

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

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

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

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

Is Tesla Fully Autonomous?

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

Drunk Driving on Autopilot?

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

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

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

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

Are We Seeing a Trend?

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

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

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

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

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

If You Are a Bystander

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

If You Are a Victim

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

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

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

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

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

Signs of TBI Following a Motor Vehicle Collision

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

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

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

Do You Have a Concussion?

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

Neuro-degeneration

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

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

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

One Father’s Fight

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

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

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

Concerns About Racial Profiling

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

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

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

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

Statistics on “Driving Distracted by Children”

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

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

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

The Most Common Ways Children Contribute to Distracted Driving Accidents

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

Unsettling behaviors:

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

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

Measures to Enhance Safety

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

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.

Continue reading

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.

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