Articles Posted in Personal Injury

The belief that self-driving cars will eventually make our roadways safer is widely held, but the recent surge of autonomous vehicle (AV) crashes is causing serious concern. Is it too early for AVs to be on the roads? And what is causing all of these crashes? Although most accidents have been minor, there are exceptions, including the self-driving Uber that hit and killed a pedestrian in Tempe, Arizona.

The less “sensational” crashes may not make national news, but reports showing all AV crashes—even minor fender benders—are particularly alarming. They are happening with relative frequency…and most involve rear-end collisions. Take the state of California, for example. In the month of September alone, three AVs were rear-ended and three were sideswiped. Most AV developers do their road testing in California, Arizona, Pennsylvania, Nevada, and Michigan, but California is the only state that requires AV companies to report detailed information about their testing. Since 2014, California has recorded at least 104 collisions involving AVs. Of those, a whopping 49 occurred in 2018.

Critics warn that getting to a point where AVs can basically eliminate the country’s annual 40,000 roadway fatalities may take decades, and current testing programs are akin to a public experiment in AI to which public participants haven’t willingly signed on. Considering that possible outcomes include serious injury or death, concern is understandable. According to research into recent accident patterns, experts have concluded that AVs drive in ways that may be unexpected by the human drivers with whom they share the road. A MA auto accident attorney can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured due to another’s negligence.

Rear-End Collisions and AVs—Who’s at Fault?

Analyzing the data found in nationwide reports, researchers have concluded that rear-end accidents account for approximately two-thirds of all AV accidents. Why all the rear-end collisions? And doesn’t that mean they’re the fault of the human driver who hits the AV from behind? Although most states hold that rear-end accidents are the fault of the driver who hits the other vehicle from behind (and there is no denying that today’s human drivers are more distracted than ever), many experts believe that the AVs are at least partially to blame.

Of the 28 rear-end accidents reported involving self-driving cars in California last year, 22 occurred when the vehicle was in full autonomous mode. Such statistics lead experts to believe that AVs simply must be doing something that increases the likelihood of being involved in a rear-end collision. Although autonomous vehicles may make take the “path of least resistance” (i.e. make an illegal left-turn to avoid mowing down a pedestrian), they don’t always drive in a way that human drivers expect. Which may be the biggest problem faced by AV developers, and the general public.

People Expect People to Break Rules

Kyle Vogt, cofounder and CEO at Cruise believes the reports coming out of California paint a very clear picture—humans expect other humans to break traffic rules when behind the wheel (i.e. speeding up at a yellow light or driving over the speed limit), but AVs don’t bend the rules.

“We’re not going to make vehicles that break laws just to do things like a human would,” says Vogt. “If drivers are aware of the fact that AVs are being lawful, and that’s fundamentally a good thing because it’s going to lead to safer roads, then I think there may be a better interaction between humans and AVs.” A Boston auto accident lawyer can help you recover damages if you’ve been injured due to another’s negligence.

It’s going to be a long time until AVs are universally safe on American roadways. In the meantime, awareness is key. The public would benefit immensely from knowing how self-driving technology works, how—and where—it is being tested, and how AVs behave. Labeling AVs in similar fashion to driver’s education vehicles could be one way to help human drivers adapt to their artificially-intelligent counterparts. Continue reading

A recall affecting about 656,800 Toyota and Lexus vehicles was recently announced, involving vehicles manufactured between May 2015 and March 2016. According to Toyota, a defect in an open electrical circuit could prevent the air bag from inflating during a crash. As air bags are intended to prevent serious injuries and death in a motor vehicle collision, a non-deploying airbag could be fatal.

Toyota has announced that it will send recall letters to owners of affected models in March 2018. In the meantime, you may wish to contact Toyota if you own one of the defective models, which include:

  • Alphard
  • Corolla
  • Esquire
  • Highlander
  • Hilux
  • Levin
  • Lexus RX
  • Lexus NX SUVs
  • Noah
  • Prius
  • Probox
  • Sienta
  • Succeed
  • Vellfire
  • Voxy

As if the airbag issue wasn’t enough, one of Toyota’s most popular models, the 2018 Camry, is involved in a second recall. This time the defect involves an improper connection of fuel pipes and hoses, resulting in a potential fire hazard. Other vehicles involved in this recall are the Lexus TC-F, GS F and LC 500 vehicles manufactured in 2015 and after. A Boston defective products attorney can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured due to a dangerous or defective product.

Takata Airbags

The largest auto recall of 2017 involved vehicles equipped with Takata airbags. About 34 million vehicles have been affected by the recall, and more are expected. Takata airbags have exploded during deployment, causing serious injuries to vehicle occupants. According to the NHTSA, anyone with a vehicle model equipped with a Takata airbag should avoid driving the vehicle, except directly to the manufacturer to have the dangerous defect fixed. Several Honda and Acura models are involved, as are various Toyota, Lexus and BMW models. 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

In MA, as in most states, it’s against the law to drive without insurance. Unfortunately, not everyone heeds this law. In fact, nearly 13 percent of all drivers on American roadways are uninsured; that’s about one in eight drivers. If you are involved in an auto accident and the other driver is uninsured or underinsured, what should you do? If you’re not at fault for the accident, the other driver’s insurance should pay for your damages. But if the other driver doesn’t have insurance, who will pay for any resulting medical expenses or vehicle repairs?

The good news is, you can add uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage (UIM) to your existing policy. The bad news is, you can’t add this coverage after an accident with a UIM driver. You have to be proactive. So, what if you’re learning about UIM coverage after it’s too late? A MA auto accident lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured due to another’s negligence.

What to Do Following an Accident with an Uninsured Driver

The steps you should take following an accident with a UIM driver are virtually the same as with any motor vehicle accident.

  • Make sure everyone is safe.
  • Once you’ve determined that nobody needs immediate medical attention, get the other driver’s information. This includes name, contact information, and driver’s license number. Ask for the other driver’s insurance information.
  • Call the police. In addition to providing assistance, police will file a detailed report of the accident. This can be of immense benefit if you decide to file a personal injury lawsuit.
  • Contact your insurance company. Tell them you were just involved in an accident with an uninsured driver.
  • Immediately following the accident, seek medical attention. Injuries can take days or even weeks to appear.

This is where things get a bit more complicated…

Following most auto accidents, medical expenses and vehicle repairs are at least partially paid for by the at-fault driver’s insurance. If the at-fault driver is uninsured or underinsured, however, you will need to rely on your UIM coverage…if you have it.

  • If you have UIM coverage: After you’ve confirmed that the other driver is uninsured, start a UIM claim with your insurance company. If the other driver is under-insured, you should only make a claim for the amount of damages that are over and above the other driver’s policy limits. In such a case, you will need to settle with the other driver’s carrier first. Then you can file with your carrier for any excess amount. Further, your UIM coverage cannot exceed that of your primary coverage. The process of filing a UIM claim is typically longer than for more straightforward claims. A Boston auto accident lawyer can help you recover damages if you’ve been injured by another’s negligence.
  • If you don’t have UIM coverage: If you are involved in an accident with an uninsured or underinsured motorist and you don’t have UIM coverage, you have the option of suing the other driver. Unfortunately, uninsured and underinsured motorists often – but not always – lack adequate coverage because they lack adequate funds. In layman’s terms, they are broke. And suing someone with little to no assets or money is unlikely to result in significant compensation to cover any damages and injuries. But if this is your only mode of recovery, the court may be able to set up a payment plan. Although this won’t provide immediate relief, it may allow you to gradually pay off outstanding medical expenses and vehicle repair costs.

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

Delayed Symptoms May be Warning Signs

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

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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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