Articles Posted in Personal Injury

A Cape Cod woman is facing a slew of charges, including operating under the influence, after causing a car accident on the Sagamore Bridge in Bourne last night.

file0001449879863.jpgDorothy Hitchcock, 25, of Provincetown, MA was driving her GMC SUV when she veered into oncoming traffic while traveling eastbound on Route 6, Sunday evening. Hitchcock’s vehicle collided head-on with a Buick SUV carrying three passengers, who were later taken to the hospital with unknown injuries.

Hitchcock was also brought to a nearby hospital where she was treated for non-life threatening injuries. She is charged with operating under the influence of liquor and drugs, drug possession, negligent operation of a motor vehicle, a marked lanes violation, and a seatbelt violation. Unfortunately, this marks the second serious crash on the Sagamore Bridge within a month. Over the Fourth of July, there was a deadly hit-and-run-crash that claimed the life of an Israeli man, and injured four other victims.
While some car accidents are minor fender benders, many car accidents, as illustrated in this instance, are serious and often result in severe injuries and even death. At the law offices of Altman & Altman, LLP we understand that being a victim of any type of accident is stressful and there are many concerns both victims and family members have after an accident, such as:

• Who is responsible for paying my medical bills after I am injured?
• How do I collect my lost wages?
• When will my car get fixed?
• How much is my case worth?
• What do I do if the insurance company is saying it was my fault?
• What should I do if the insurance company for the other car wants to take my statement?
• What do I do if I cannot get the police report?
• Am I able to file a claim if the other car left the scene after the accident?

Although Massachusetts is a no-fault state and motorists, with the exception of motorcyclists, are covered by their own Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance, your medical costs may far exceed your PIP’s policy limit as well as the limits of your own medical insurance coverage. PIP also will not cover any lost wages.
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A woman was seriously injured during a hit-and-run accident in Marion yesterday afternoon.

Marion police officers responded to a call of a pedestrian who was struck on County Road just after 4 p.m. on Sunday. The woman, aged 40, sustained severe injuries and one of her dogs was killed during the accident. She was taken to Tobey Hospital in Wareham, and then transported by helicopter to Rhode Island Hospital.

Police were able to track down the driver, David R. Pajunen, 22 of Wareham late last night. Pajunen was arrested and charged with leaving the scene of a motor vehicle accident, causing injury, and a marked lanes violation.

Police in Plymouth have cited texting while driving as the cause of a crash that left two teens injured early Tuesday morning.

677683_ambulance__ecnalubma.jpgA 19-year-old Manomet woman and her 18-year-old brother were struck head on by another vehicle while they were traveling on State Road shortly after 1 a.m. on Tuesday. The other driver, identified as a 19-year old man from Plymouth, strayed into the other lane and caused the crash near Melix Avenue. Police said that the 19-year-old male had been texting before the accident, and he was cited on charges of driving to endanger, committing a marked-lane violation, and texting while driving.

The brother and sister were taken to South Shore Hospital in Weymouth with serious, but non-life threatening injuries. The male driver was not injured in the accident.

Texting and driving has become a serious epidemic in the United States, not just with teenage drivers but with seasoned drivers as well. According to the Center of Disease Control and Prevention, about 20% of all car accidents are caused by distracted driving. In 2011 alone, 3,331 people were killed and 387,000 were injured as the result of distracted driving.

Massachusetts has a zero tolerance policy when it comes to texting and driving. Though individuals over 18 are allowed to talk on a cell phone while driving, all drivers, no matter what age or what type of license they carry, are banned from text messaging while operating a motor vehicle.

Drivers speaking on a cell phone are 4 times more likely to cause an accident. A person who is texting while driving is 23 times more likely to get into an accident than someone who is not distracted. According to the Ad Council, 5 seconds is the average time a person’s eyes are taken off the road while texting. At 55mph, that’s the equivalent of driving the length of an entire football field while blindfolded.

Texting is not the only type of distraction drivers can engage in while driving. Rather there are three types of distractions:

• Visual: taking eyes off of the road • Manual: taking hands off of the wheel • Cognitive: taking mind off of driving
Some common examples of distracted driving include:

• Cellphone or smartphone use • Eating or drinking • Talking to passengers • Daydreaming • Grooming • Reading, including maps • Using a navigation system • Watching a video • Adjusting the radio Continue reading

Worcester police are investigating a fatal pedestrian accident that left a 67-year old man dead last Friday night.

The victim’s neighbor, Christopher Maider, found the man lying face down in the road around 9:30 p.m. Friday. Police said the victim was crossing the road when he was struck by a 63-year-old female driver. He did not cross at a crosswalk, however. The female driver did stop, and no charges have been filed since the incident.

According to Maider, the street where the incident took place is especially busy, and he said he doesn’t feel safe walking down that street.

“If I went to this crosswalk and stood there, nobody would stop, which is the motor vehicle law. You see somebody in the crosswalk, you are required to stop; that’s the law. That’ll never happen here,” Maider said.

1369363617t5gfv.jpgSadly, this incident marks the third pedestrian fatality in the city of Worcester, alone, and it serves as a grave reminder to both pedestrians and drivers to be vigilant and safe on the roadways.

Pedestrian accidents account for more than 13% of all traffic fatalities. Pedestrians also make up 3% of all persons injured in motor vehicle accidents. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that 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.
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If you are under the assumption that hands-free texting is safer than manual texting, think again. A recent study published by AAA found that using voice-to-text devices are extremely dangerous and mentally distracting despite the fact that they are hands free.

The study comes in wake of a new projected five-fold increase of vehicles with elaborate infotainment systems, by 2018. With more and more cars with “smart” technology joining the road today, AAA is requesting its research be taken into consideration by car and tech manufacturers.
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“It’s time to consider limiting new and potentially dangerous mental distractions built into cars, particularly with the common misperception that hands-free means risk-free,” Lloyd P. Albert, AAA Southern New England Senior Vice President of Public and Government Affairs said.

AAA’s study, which was conducted at the University of Utah, found that as these mental distractions increase:

• Reaction time slows • Brain function is compromised • Drivers scan the road less and miss visual cues, which may result in drivers missing objects in front of them such as pedestrians, or running stop signs and traffic signals.

Dr. David Strayer, a cognitive distraction expert at the University of Utah, and his research team, measured brainwaves and eye movements of drivers to evaluate the effects of multitasking and using devices while driving on mental workloads. The team conducted a series of tests and used cameras inside an instrumented car to track drivers’ eye movements, detection-response-task (DRT) devices to record driver responses, as well as a special electroencephalographic (EEG)-configured skull cap to measure brain activity so that researchers could determine drivers’ mental workloads.

Subjects performed a series of tasks while driving including, listening to the radio, talking on the cell phone (both handheld and hands-free) and listening and responding to in-vehicle, voice-activated email features, and researchers rated these tasks on a scale of 1 to 5 (with 5 being the highest level of distraction). Researchers concluded that listening to the radio ranked as a category “1” level distraction or minimal risk. Talking on a cell-phone or passenger in a car ranked in category “2” and posed moderate risks.
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The three Boston University students killed last May when their minivan flipped on a rural New Zealand road, could have survived had they been wearing seatbelts, officials said.

Rotorua, New Zealand Constable Tina Mitchell-Ellis, said that the three students who died, and a fourth who suffered severe brain trauma, were not wearing seatbelts and were thrown from the van. The four other passengers in the van who were wearing seatbelts survived and sustained only minor injuries.

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The students had all been a part of a study-abroad program in New Zealand and were driving in a rural part New Zealand to begin a scenic hike. According to reports, the driver of the van, Stephen Houseman, became distracted while driving and drove onto the side of the road before over-correcting and flipping the van four times.

Neither drugs nor alcohol were involved in the accident, and police did not suspect Houseman was speeding before the accident. Officials believe that inexperience with driving a van and being unfamiliar with the roads contributed to the accident. Houseman pled guilty to careless driving and had his license suspended for six months.

This tragic accident involving Massachusetts college students is a stark reminder of the dangers of operating a motor vehicle or being a passenger in a motor vehicle, and not wearing a seatbelt. According to both the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the National Safety Council, seatbelts are the most effective safety device for preventing serious injury or death in the event of a car accident. In fact, wearing a safety belt can reduce the risk of serious injury during an accident by more than 50%.

In a study done by the NHTSA, 42% of motor vehicle passengers who were killed in accidents were not wearing a seatbelt. Under Massachusetts law, seatbelt violations fall under secondary enforcement laws; meaning that a driver can be ticketed by an officer for not wearing a seatbelt only if he or she has committed another traffic violation. The seatbelt usage rate in Massachusetts is estimated to be around 74%, which is lower than the National average (88%). However, the NHTSA estimates that over 1,600 lives could be saved and 22,000 injuries prevented each year if seatbelt usage was at 90% in every state.
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Police are still investigating a hit-and-run bicycle accident near Kenmore Square that killed an MIT professor this weekend.

Kanako Miura, 36, a native from Japan and visiting professor at MIT since 2012, was struck and killed by a truck while riding her bike at the intersection of Beacon Street and Baystate Road around 3:30 p.m. on Sunday. bike.jpg

The truck fled the scene. Police say they are looking for a garbage truck that was possibly involved in the accident.

Bikes are considered a way of life in the city, but residents say that the area around Boston University is especially dangerous for anyone including cars and pedestrians, with accidents occurring at an average rate of two to three times per week.

Since 2007, Mayor Thomas Menino has strove to make Boston a more bike-friendly city by implementing more infrastructures such as bike lanes and bike paths to support more cyclists as well as installing the Hubway bike share program. In 2011, Boston was rated one of the safest cities to ride in in the United States, and this year, Cambridge received a Gold-Level rating for being one of the most bicycle-friendly communities in the nation.

Still, with more riders on the road today than ever before, the city is faced with the challenge of how to prevent more accidents from occurring. In a report published by the City of Boston in correspondence to Bike Safety Month, the Boston Police Department reported a bike ridership increase of 28% (56,000 trips per day) as well as a 2% increase in accidents (488 in 2012) since 2010. In more than half of the bike accidents reported, the cyclist was not wearing a helmet.
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On Monday, the city of Cambridge was named a Gold-level bicycle friendly community by The League of American Bicyclists, making it the highest rated city to bicycle in on the East coast. The recognition and ceremony comes in observance of National Bike Safety Month.

Cambridge, which is only one of 18 cities nationwide that has received this award, was recognized on its bicycle friendliness, infrastructure, and its investment into bicycle promotion with the establishment of the Hubway share program.

According to city officials, there are three times as many bikers on Cambridge and Boston roads today, than there were only a decade ago. Many bikers cite traffic congestion and the “Green” lifestyle appeal as their reasons for switching to two wheels.

State leaders have shown their enthusiasm for the shift in bike riding, and last fall, the Department of Transportation (MassDOT) announced that by 2030, it wanted to triple the rate of biking, walking, and public transit. Currently over 22,000 people regularly cycle to work around the entire commonwealth. The biggest challenge MassDOT faces is the process it will take to educate people about the rules of the road, and the development of necessary infrastructure to encourage and accommodate more cyclists.

Advocates are pushing for more improvements on safety before encouraging more cyclists onto the roads, based on the rates of bicycle accidents around the city-especially those involving collisions with motor vehicles. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 39 cyclists were killed and 2,100 people sustained non-fatal injuries between 2007 and 2011 in Massachusetts. Five cyclists have already been killed this year.
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A Gordon College freshman died in a car crash Saturday in the southeastern Massachusetts town of Lakeville.

Officials pronounced Monica DeMello, 18, of Middleborough, dead at the scene after being involved in a two-vehicle accident on Route 44, according to a statement from the Lakeville Police Department.

The other driver, Kathleen Allen, 23, of Middleborough, is scheduled to be arraigned in Wareham District Court on a number of charges, including drunken driving negligence, motor vehicle homicide, drunken driving with serious injury and negligence, driving to endanger, and a marked lanes violation. Emergency responders transported her unidentified passenger by medical helicopter to Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.

Gordon College President D. Michael Lindsay wrote on the school’s Facebook page, “This is a tragedy and a shock to all of us, especially on the eve of Easter.” Lindsay said university officials will be talking with students to determine the best way for faculty, staff, and students to “celebrate Monica’s life and to grieve her loss as a community.” “May the blessed assurance of Monica’s place with our risen Savior be a comfort in these coming days,” Lindsay wrote.

A Facebook page created in DeMello’s honor now has over 900 members. The introduction page read, “We were blessed by such a beautiful person and the world is a better place by having her. You’ve earned your Angel wings Monica, now fly over us all and protect us.” Family, friends, classmates, former classmates, and well-wishers have all posted comments expressing their grief and shock at her death.

DeMello graduated from Bristol-Plymouth Regional Technical High School, and formerly lived in Taunton, MA. Her mother and sister live in Middleborough, and her father resides in Florida.

Rick Sweeney, the college’s vice president for marketing and communications, said the school is planning “some opportunity for the entire campus to come together.” He described DeMello’s passing as a tragedy for her family and friends, as well as the other driver involved. The community will “remember her as a wonderful girl full of life,” he said.

Notifying the Gordon College community was challenging, Sweeney said, because students were off for Good Friday and the Monday after Easter. Students will be back on campus, where about 1,530 undergraduates live, this week.
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Police claim a patron left Buck’s Bar & Grill without paying his tab, climbed into his car, and rammed a customer who chased him outside trying to get him to pay his bill.

Captain Rick Fuller said the driver, Michael K. Fay, 48, of Weymouth, MA refused to pay his bill and then left the restaurant. “The victim followed him outside and demanded that he return and pay the bar tab,” Fuller said. “The suspect attempted to back out and struck the victim, pinning him between two vehicles. The suspect then fled the area.”

Fay now faces criminal charges including leaving the scene of an accident after causing personal injury, operating under the influence of alcohol and causing serious bodily injury, operating a motor vehicle to endanger and leaving an accident scene after causing property damage.

Emergency responders transported the alleged victim, a 38-year-old Weymouth man, to South Shore Hospital for treatment of severe trauma, said Fuller. “The victim was later transported to Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston because of the severity of his injuries,” he said. The incident took place at around 8:36 p.m.

Police found Fay shortly after the incident on North Street after officer Ryan Hamacher recognized the license plate number and vehicle matched the description witnesses provided, Fuller said. “It was confirmed that Fay was the suspect in this hit-and-run pedestrian crash,” he said.

Fay allegedly failed numerous field sobriety tests before officials charged him with operating under the influence and other offenses, according to Fuller.

Police held Fay overnight at police headquarters on $5,000 cash bail before his arraignment, Fuller said.

“The accident is currently being investigated by the Weymouth Police Fatal Crash Reconstruction Team,” Fuller stated.
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