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Articles Posted in Personal Injury

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

You live in Massachusetts, you own or lease a car, you always make your monthly insurance payments, then “boom” one day your involved in an accident.  You notify your insurance company of what happened and most of the time the insurance carrier will make all the appropriate payments, you receive the proper compensation and the case is closed.  However, there are some instances where the insurance company may not be so amenable to making the payments- and that’s when customers can run into trouble.

The definition of an insurance company is “a business that provides coverage, in the form of compensation resulting from loss, damages, injury, treatment or hardship in exchange for premium payments.” You pay insurance companies in exchange for the promise that they will provide some level of protection if the need arises. An insurance company has a duty to not only provide that protection, but also to negotiate and settle claims with your best interests in mind. This is called ‘good faith.’ If you believe that your insurance company isn’t following good faith practices, what do you do?

What Constitutes a Bad Faith Claim?

When you purchase insurance, whether it’s home, auto, health, life, or any other type of insurance, the carrier is legally bound to the terms within the policy. If the insurance company fails to honor the agreement, it is acting in bad faith. This is true for both your own insurance company and a third party carrier, if one is involved.

Third Party Insurance and Bad Faith Practices

Although a third party carrier has a duty of care to handle your claims in good faith, they can get away with a bit more. For a third-party bad faith claim to have merit, the adjuster must have engaged in some relatively outrageous behavior, such as outright lying or fraud. Examples of actions which could result in a bad faith claim against a third party insurance company include:

  • Withholding or tampering with evidence
  • Tampering with a witness
  • Purposely “losing” important documentation or evidence

Your Own Insurance Company is Held to a Much Higher Duty of Care

Although outright lies and fraud will also land your own carrier in hot water, much less is required to legitimize a claim of bad faith. For example, if your adjuster is refusing to provide specific reasons for an offer of an extremely low settlement, this could be considered an act of bad faith. But where do you go from here?

Filing a Bad Faith Claim

Hiring a skilled Boston accident attorney with extensive experience in the area of insurance is crucial to a positive outcome. The beginning steps include putting your accusations in writing by sending a bad faith letter to the insurance company. These accusations are typically taken very seriously. However, if done incorrectly, approaching the carrier with a bad faith claim can cost you in the long run. If it can be proven that the insurance carrier acted in bad faith, the company may be required to pay damages in excess of the injury compensation. More commonly, however, a claim of bad faith encourages the carrier to offer a significantly more attractive settlement. Continue reading

The increasing tension that has been building between Uber services and taxi services is being taken to the next level as the two companies have a hearing scheduled for Tuesday morning at the State House. The public hearing is slated to take place at 11:00 AM and is being held by the Financial Services Committee. The hearing will oversee bills filed by Governor Charlie Baker, among others, which have been aimed against Uber and another ride-hailing service known as Lyft.

The ongoing tension between the companies is a consequence in part due to the difference in regulation standards applied to each service. Taxi companies face heavy regulations, whereas the ride-hailing services such as Uber and Lyft face little to no regulations. It seems as though anyone can sign up to be an Uber driver so long as they have a valid license and access to their own vehicle. And while the Uber Company has released statements recently claiming that they do in fact regulate their drivers—it still appears as though they have a lot of work to do. Employees of taxi companies believe that if each of these companies is offering the same general services to individuals that they should all be held to the same standards of regulation. The bill proposed by Governor Charlie Baker calls for a heavier regulation to the Uber and Lyft services—regulations that would more closely mirror the ones implemented in regards to the taxi companies.

Governor Baker’s bill calls for the requirement of Uber drivers and other ride-hailing services to undergo state criminal background checks. There has been an increase of Uber related issues in the past few months and those closely following the cases will agree that criminal background checks should have been required from the beginning of the company’s creation. Women have been sexually assaulted by their Uber drivers, and others have suffered through car accidents during their Uber rides as well. In addition to Governor Baker’s call for criminal background checks, he is also calling for each ride to carry at least $1 million in liability insurance. The hope is to not only settle the disagreement between taxi companies and ride-hailing services, but also to ensure the safety of each customer partaking in these services.

It can happen in a split second, with no warning. It can happen to anyone, and it could change your life. The new “Don’t Text and Drive” commercial put out by the United States Department of Transportation aims to shock drivers-especially teenagers-into putting their phones down and paying attention to the road. Distracted driving has become an epidemic in recent years as cell phones, tablets, and other devices have come on the market. Teenagers are especially susceptible to the effects of distracted driving because of their inexperience behind the wheel combined with an almost rabid attachment to their cell phones.

The commercial pinpoints the teenage and young adult audience with the slogan, “U drive. U text. U pay,” with the hashtag #justdrive. It features a group of young women traveling in a car on a seemingly normal day. They are seen talking and laughing as the driver becomes distracted by her phone and misses a stop sign. In an instant, they are struck by an oncoming truck in the intersection. The extremely jarring scene unfolds as the car flips over multiple times before coming to rest.

In perhaps the most poignant scene, a police officer stands beside the wreckage and explains, “Nobody likes to be stopped by police, but if I’d seen her texting while driving and given her a ticket, it just might have saved her life.” The shocking images are meant to jolt teens into understanding the reality and consequences of texting while driving at point in their lives when they may feel invincible.
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Massachusetts State Police confirmed four separate accidents involving a total of 19 cars on I-93 Monday morning. The accidents all took place in the left lane on the northbound side of the highway, right inside the Tip O’Neill tunnel. Traffic became a nightmare as “several miles of backups” were observed even after the crash site was cleared up. According to CBS Boston, the first accident was a chain-reaction involving nine cars. A few minutes later, four motor vehicles were involved in another, separate crash, followed closely by four more cars involved in yet another accident. The chaotic scene was capped off by a minor fender bender involving two vehicles.

State Trooper Todd Nolan said “one person was taken to Massachusetts General Hospital with possible injuries.” CBS Boston reports that the injured person was involved in the initial nine-car crash. There were no injuries in the last three accidents. Luckily, at this time it appears there were no life-threatening injuries, but 19 vehicles are now damaged, some perhaps totaled.

The cause of the crash was not immediately known and is under investigation, according to authorities. Boston has been hit hard with heavy rain all weekend, flooding some roadways and forcing the closure of several tunnels and ramps, including the Prudential ramp off the Pike on Sunday. WCVB Meteorologist Danielle Vollmar explained that, “between 2 and 5 inches of rain have fallen in just a few hours.” The rainfall, combined with temperatures hovering slightly above freezing provided treacherous conditions for especially distracted drivers rushing in on their morning commute. Several factors could have led to the string of left-lane accidents in the same spot including speed, an unsafe stretch of road, or weather. State Police also reported several crashes along the Mass. Pike as well as in Palmer, Shrewsbury, and Chicopee due to ice.
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On Sunday, December 15th, several store employees at Aubuchon Hardware in Cohasset, MA found themselves jumping for safety when a 51 year old woman crashed through the front window of their store. McGurl, the woman operating the vehicle, was using a homemade extender taped to the gas petal of her car which she couldn’t reach due to her height. McGurl said she had been using this homemade device (a block of wood and duct tape), for several months. While attempting to back up, McGurl hit the accelerator by accident and crashed through the front of the store into the checkout counter. There was substantial damage to the property and merchandise. Thankfully, nobody was injured in the accident, but McGurl will be summoned to court to answer to the charge of negligent operation of a motor vehicle.

A charge of negligent operation is applied when the driver endangers any person or the public by operating the car in a reckless or unreasonable way. A person can be charged with negligent operation even if they were not involved in an accident. Even if there is no one else on the road, a driver who operates his vehicle in a way that could potentially cause an accident or endanger anyone can still be found guilty of negligent operation. Unfortunately, it is more likely that a negligent driver will be involved in an accident in Massachusetts and that someone will be injured as a result. Though the most common form of negligent operation is drunk driving, a driver does not need to be intoxicated to drive negligently. Other examples of this type of negligence include speeding, tailgating, driving while exhausted, angry, or under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and inattention. If you are the victim of an accident caused by a negligent driver, you are entitled to compensation for your injuries, pain and suffering, lost wages, and the resulting medical costs.
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An Ashland teenager suffered severe injuries after she was struck by a car while walking to school this morning.

The girl, 16, was crossing the street in front of the Ashland Town Hall when she was hit. It was unclear to authorities whether the girl was in the crosswalk at the time of the accident. The teen was rushed to Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston via medical rescue helicopter with severe head trauma, and multiple bodily injuries. Authorities are still investigating the cause to this accident, and have not released the identity of the teenager.

1369363617t5gfv.jpgUnfortunately, pedestrian traffic accidents account for more than 13% of all traffic-related fatalities and 3% of all personal injuries caused by motor vehicle accidents. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) a pedestrian is injured every eight minutes and one pedestrian dies every two hours as the result of a traffic accident in the United States. Approximately 20% of all pedestrian car accidents according to the NHTSA, are also hit-and-run accidents. While we do not have much information about this particular incident, what can be assumed is that this young lady was walking during the early morning hours; at a time where there was minimal daylight.

In order to prevent an accident and keep themselves visible to motorists, pedestrians should always:
-Wear bright or reflective clothing and carry a flashlight when walking during the early hours of the morning, at dusk, or at night.
-Walk on sidewalks (whenever possible) and walk against the traffic when there are no sidewalks.
-Cross at designated crosswalks whenever possible.
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Authorities in Middleborough have released new details in their search for the driver who struck and killed a local bicyclist last week.

Michael Dutra, 58, of Middleborough was the victim of the fatal hit-and-run accident, which occurred around 7 p.m. Friday evening. Authorities believe Dutra was either riding or walking his bicycle along Wood Street, where he resided.

Plymouth Country District Attorney Timothy Cruz, as well as Middleborough’s Chief of Police Bruce Gates, said that investigators of the accident had started to piece the scene together, and have collected debris from what they believe to be a light-colored model year 2005-2009 Jeep Grand Cherokee. Authorities think that the vehicle is possibly missing the front marker lens, may have a broken right headlight lens, as well as a damaged right front bumper. Investigators need your help. Anyone with any information regarding the case is encouraged to contact the Middleborough Police Department at (508) 947-1212.

While bike riding is a popular mode of transportation, it is also extremely dangerous, especially for individuals who choose ride at night. Unlike passengers in motor vehicles, bicyclists have no physical protective barriers against outside elements like cars, trees, guardrails, fences, and other large vehicles, and are at the mercy of others traveling on the road.

bike.jpgThe U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that more than 500,000 people are treated for serious bicycle-related injuries each year, and more than 700 individuals die each year. A majority of these injuries are head injuries attributed to not wearing a helmet. Though many people dismiss the idea of wearing a helmet because of atheistic reasons, or because they feel their short commute does not warrant wearing one, wearing a helmet could make all the difference, and could even save a life. In fact, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that bicycle helmets are 85-88% effective in preventing severe head and brain injuries. Other types of injuries commonly sustained in bicycle accidents include concussions, spinal cord injuries, broken bones, lacerations, paralysis, and death.
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Prosecutors will not be pressing charges against the Amherst truck driver who struck and killed a bicyclist last May.

Livingston Pangburn, a Hampshire College student, was fatally injured when he collided with an Amherst College box truck. According to the Northwestern district attorney’s office, Pangburn was traveling in heavy traffic along College Street, and did not stop with the traffic to allow the westbound truck to make a left turn onto the college’s campus.

fast-379343-m.jpgPolice reports stated that the driver of the truck did not see the cyclist in time to stop, and Pangburn was not able to maneuver around the truck in time to avoid the crash. Prosecutors do not believe that any impairment, cell phone use, or mechanical defects with the vehicle played a role in the accident.

While this is undoubtedly a tragic story, it also puts into perspective the dangers cyclists face when riding their bikes. Because bicyclists are extremely vulnerable compared to passengers to a motor vehicles due to their lack of physical barriers to protect themselves, it is crucial for them to do their part to prevent a serious accident from occurring.

5 Tips to Stay Safe on Your Bike

1. Always, always, always wear a helmet. While it seems to be a phrase engrained in everyone’s head, so many individuals do not understand how important helmets are in preventing serious head injuries. Some people dismiss the idea of wearing a helmet because of atheistic reasons, or because they feel their short commute doesn’t warrant wearing one. But wearing a helmet could make all the difference, and could even save a life.

2. Travel with the traffic, not against it. Always ride on the right side of the road, and go with the flow of traffic. Remember that bicycles are considered vehicles too, and cyclists are responsible for adhering to the same rules of the road as drivers. If you come to a stop sign or red light, you are legally bound to stop. In addition, you are responsible for yielding to pedestrians at crosswalks, just as motorists are.
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A 17-year-old was cited after she struck and seriously injured a couple and their infant child in the South End on Sunday afternoon.

According to witnesses and investigators, the teenager hit the couple and child as they were crossing the street near Columbus Avenue and Dartmouth Street. The teen’s car also hit a pole and the side of a brownstone at Lawrence and Dartmouth streets. The couple and their child were taken to Tufts Medical Center and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center for serious injuries. The child was not seriously injured and was released to family members. The father was admitted for a leg and head injury, and the mother suffered serious head and neck trauma.

4-25-13%20blog2.jpgThe driver was operating with a junior operator’s license, and had been driving with another 17-year-old in the car; a violation of J.O.L passenger restrictions. According to Massachusetts Law, junior operators may not operate a motor vehicle within the first six months of obtaining his or her license with an individual under the age of 18 years, unless accompanied by a person who is at least 21 years old, has at least one year of driving experience, holds a valid driver’s license from Massachusetts or another state, and is occupying the passenger seat. Violations of this restriction may result in the driver having his or her license suspended for 60-days and paying a $100 license reinstatement fee for the first offense. Subsequent offenses result in a longer suspension period, taking a Driver Attitudinal Retraining Course, as well as a reinstatement fee.

The teenager was most likely cited for the passenger violation, as well as operating to endanger, negligent operation, and reckless driving, which carries a license suspension of 180 days and a reinstatement fee of $500, for the first offense. The cause of the crash remains under investigation.
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