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Articles Posted in Wrongful Death

According to the National Safety Council, more than 40,000 people died in motor vehicle accidents in 2017. If these numbers are accurate, 2017 is the second year in a row with over 40,000 crash-related deaths. These high figures have prompted officials to call our nation’s vehicle death toll a public health crisis.

Even so, authorities and policymakers have an uphill battle to climb if they want to create laws that will actually improve the current situation. With ever-advancing vehicle technology and an increase in new laws aimed at keeping our roadways safe, one would think that vehicle fatalities would drop. However, reckless driving is at the core of many of these fatalities. Unfortunately, reckless driving is hard to solve with laws and technology alone. A Boston car crash attorney can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured due to another’s negligence.

What is Considered Reckless Driving?

The term reckless driving doesn’t only apply to speeding down the road in the wrong direction with no lights on. Even not wearing a seatbelt is a form of reckless driving. The most common examples include:

  • Distracted driving: About 64 percent of all traffic accidents in the U.S. involve a cell phone, and 421,000 people are injured in distracted driving-related accidents annually. Shockingly, texting and driving is six times more likely to result in an accident than drunk driving.
  • Speeding: Excessive speed is involved in one-third of all crashes and about 33 percent of all fatal crashes. Approximately 13,000 die annually because of speeding.
  • Drowsy driving: According to the National Sleep Foundation, about 64 percent of drivers admit to driving while drowsy in the past year, and 37 percent say they’ve actually fallen asleep behind the wheel.

What’s the Solution?

Designers of self-driving vehicles are under an increased sense of urgency with the rise in traffic deaths. But self-driving cars are a long-term solution. What can be done today to stop this deadly problem? A MA motor vehicle accident lawyer can help you recover damages if you’ve been injured in a crash.

Until self-driving cars are as common as cell phones, we need to utilize safe driving practices at all times if we want to avoid becoming a statistic. To protect yourself, your family and everyone with whom you share the road, follow the safety tips below:

  • Never use your cell phone or any other hand-held device when behind the wheel. If your smart phone has a driving mode, use it when you are en route to avoid getting texts and other alerts. If you absolutely must make a call or send a text, pull over in a safe location before doing so.
  • Always wear your seatbelt.
  • Don’t speed.
  • Don’t drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Ever.
  • If you feel tired, pull over and take a power nap. Avoid driving for long stretches – especially late at night – if possible. Check any medications you are taking to see if they cause drowsiness.
  • Avoid driving in inclement weather if possible.
  • Allow ample space between you and the car ahead of you, and avoid driving aggressively.

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

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

Primary Risk Factors

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

  • Distraction
  • Speeding
  • Hard braking
  • Driving at night

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

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

Teen Crash Statistics

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

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A pedestrian was struck and fatally wounded by an SUV in a Trader Joe’s parking lot on Tuesday. According to police, a driver in his 20s was backing up in the parking lot of the Acton store when his SUV hit the victim. Although the victim’s name hasn’t been released, police say she was an employee of Trader Joe’s and was in her 60s.

The driver, who has not been charged, remained at the scene following the accident. Acton police Chief Richard Burrows said that investigators are questioning the man, but that the incident was most likely a “tragic accident.”

Parking Lots See 20 Percent of All Car Accidents

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, about 20 percent of all motor vehicle accidents occur in parking lots. Most of these accidents only result in property damage, but injuries and death do occur. Typically, the most serious injuries and deaths involve “backing-over” injuries, as in the tragedy above. Especially in this age of rapidly-advancing technology, backing-over accidents are often due to a distracted driver, distracted pedestrian, or both.

Most parking lot injuries are minor, such as cuts and bruises, whiplash, and strained muscles or ligaments. Parking lots can have a false sense of security. We tend to use more caution and focus when driving down the road. It’s not uncommon for drivers to start backing out of a parking space before they’ve put on their seat belt, adjusted the stereo, and stopped checking emails or text messages. Unfortunately, this level of distraction can be deadly.

Parking lots don’t have traffic signals because cars are usually traveling at relatively low speeds. And even if they did, enforcement would be difficult. Larger establishments sometimes hire security vehicles to keep an eye on the parking lot, but most go without. In addition, security guards don’t have the authority to hand out traffic tickets. A Boston injury lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured in an auto accident.

Distracted Driving and Parking Lots Are a Deadly Combination

Tuesday’s fatal accident will impact the lives of many people who were close to the victim. It will certainly impact the life of the young man who hit her, as well. We would be wise to use this tragedy as a reminder to pay attention at all times when behind the wheel, even in a parking lot.

What to Do if You’re in a Parking Lot Accident

For the most part, you should treat a parking lot accident like any other motor vehicle accident. Follow the tips below if you find yourself in this situation:

  • Don’t leave the scene without first exchanging information with the other driver, even if you’re at fault. Exchange insurance and contact information at the very least.
  • Do not offer or accept money for damages. If you’re at fault, the other person could accept your money and then still file a personal injury claim. If the other driver is at fault, accepting money could preclude you from collecting more money if you discover further damages.
  • Call the police if there are injuries, significant property damage, of if the accident is blocking traffic. They will write an accident report which can help immensely if you file a personal injury claim.
  • Take pictures of property damage and / or injuries from multiple angles.

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A boy was struck and killed while riding his bicycle in Brockton Tuesday night. According to Brockton Police Sgt. James Baroud, the accident occurred on Main and Plain streets just before 7:00 PM on Tuesday. Baroud say the unnamed boy, who was about 12 to 14 years of age, was pronounced dead at the scene. The driver of the vehicle that struck the boy stopped at the scene and was interviewed by police.

In an unrelated accident on the same day, a pedestrian was struck and killed by an SUV in Waltham, and a second pedestrian suffered non-fatal injuries in the same incident. According to Waltham police, the accident, which occurred shortly before 7:00 AM Tuesday, is under investigation. The victim, a 65-year-old Watertown man, was exiting a bus on his way to work when a Lexus SUV struck and killed him. The other person injured in the accident was a 70-year-old Boston man who had also just exited the bus. He was taken to the hospital with serious injuries to the face and legs, but his injuries are non-life threatening. Both men were in the crosswalk on Wyman Street when the accident occurred.

Pedestrian Injuries

Pedestrians are 1.5 times more likely to be killed in a collision with a car than occupants of motor vehicles. In 2013, a total of 4.735 pedestrians suffered fatal injuries from traffic accidents in this country. On average, this is one traffic-related death every two hours. And many more are seriously injured; approximately 150,000 pedestrians are rushed to the emergency department for non-life threatening injuries each year. If you’ve been injured in any type of accident involving a motor vehicle, contact a Boston personal injury lawyer today.

Who’s Most at Risk?

Any person can be injured or killed in a pedestrian accident, but certain people are more at risk.

  • Young people between the ages of 15 and 29 are more likely to receive treatment in an emergency department for pedestrian injuries related to a crash than any other group.
  • Male pedestrians have a greater risk of serious or fatal injury in traffic-related accidents than their female counterparts.
  • The incidence of fatal pedestrian accidents generally rises with age.
  • Alcohol increases the risk of fatal pedestrian accidents; in 2013, approximately 34 percent of pedestrians who suffered fatal accidents had a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 or higher.
  • Child pedestrians have the greatest risk of serious injury or death in a traffic-related accident due to their smaller size.
  • In one out of every five traffic-related fatalities among children ages 14 and under, the victim was a pedestrian.

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A jury has ordered Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV to pay the family of young Remington Walden $150 million. The 4-year-old boy was burned to death in a 2012 car accident. The jury arrived at their verdict after finding that the automaker was reckless in its design of the gas tank of the 1999 Jeep Cherokee.

This is the first trial against Fiat Chrysler over fires involving older Jeep models that burst into flames after they were struck from behind. Auto products liability plaintiffs claim that the gas tanks, which are some 11 inches from the rear of the vehicle, are not safely situated. Already, at least 75 deaths in almost two decades have been linked to the older Jeep Liberty and Grand Cherokee. Some 1.5 million have been recalled. The 1999 model in which Walden was riding was not part of the recall.

It wasn’t until the 2005 Jeep models that the gas tanks of these vehicles were relocated to a different location on the car between the rear and front axles. The plaintiff’s legal team argued that the redesign was because the older design was flawed. They accused Fiat of destroying documents regarding the modification to hide the real reason for the fix. The automaker, however, maintains that both the newer and older designs are safe.

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The family of Andrew James Canada is suing the Victory Outreach Church for his wrongful death. Canada, 53, died when the church van he was in went off a highway. The driver of the van had been operating the vehicle with a suspended license.

The 15-passenger van lawsuit is alleging multiple counts of negligence. The family says the church should never have allowed him to drive the large vehicle.

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54-year-old Jean Heppler was killed while crossing a street in a Dedham traffic crash on Friday night. Heppler was struck by a vehicle driven by a Mount Ida College student. The driver, Nicolas A. Rivas-Vasquez, pleaded not guilty to leaving the scene of the catastrophic pedestrian accident.

The 21-year-old’s lawyer said that Rivas-Vasquez did not know that his car had hit Heppler. Instead, the college student thought that his vehicle was struck by an object that the wind had blown in.

Although Rivas-Vasquez stopped the car, he claims that didn’t see anything in the mirror. Because of the road he was on, he had to drive another few blocks before he could legally turn back. Even then, Rivas-Vasquez contends he only saw debris. He later turned himself into the authorities.

Retail supergiant Walmart has finally responded to a lawsuit filed by actor and comedian Tracy Morgan over a deadly car crash that left Morgan in critical condition. Its response: Morgan should have worn a seatbelt.

According to CNN and court documents, Walmart filed a 28-page response to a complaint by lawyers representing Morgan and three others who were injured in the accident, which occurred when Walmart semi-truck driver Kevin Roper collided with the rear end of the Mercedes Sprinter van in which Morgan was riding. Photos released of the incident show the Mercedes was hit with enough force for it to land on its roof and cause a chain reaction crash with four other vehicles. Roper pleaded not guilty in June to criminal charges that included vehicular homicide and assault by auto.

Morgan’s lawsuit claims that Walmart was careless and negligent in the operation of the vehicle that caused the accident, and that it should have known that Roper was not fit to be driving and that it violated Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration Regulations enacted to combat the dangers of driver fatigue. Already, it was discerned by officials that Roper was potentially drowsy while he was driving (Roper had been awake for 24 hours prior), and it was speculated that his fatigue was ultimately what caused the tragic accident. Roper has denied that fatigue played a role in the crash.
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A new ordinance, The Act to Protect Vulnerable Road Users, could make the roads safer for local cyclists, especially during a Boston bicycle accident. If approved, all trucks over 10,000 pounds that are owned or contracted by the city would be obligated to install new safety features on their vehicles.

Among the added features are protective side guards, which should prevent a cyclist from getting pulled under a truck’s wheels during a Boston truck accident. Trucks would also have to install convex mirrors, which would make it easier for truckers to see more of the road. Meantime, reflective, bright stickers notifying of a truck’s blind spots would let pedestrians and bicyclists know that the driver might not be able to see them.

According to the Boston’s Cyclist Safety Report, between the Summer and Fall of ’12 alone, five Boston area bicyclists were killed. One reason for this is that there has been an increase in the number of bicyclists, which is even more of a reason to make sure that cyclists are getting the protections they need in the event of any kind of Massachusetts traffic crash. The rise in bicycle riders has definitely been enhanced by the New Balance Hubway, which is a bicycle sharing system that gives members access to bicycles located at more than 100 stations throughout the Greater Boston area. Councilor-at-Large Ayanna Pressley, who is one of the lawmakers spearheading the act, called the problem of inadequate bicyclist safety a “public health issue,” said The Globe.

A jury has awarded the family of 22-year-old Joe Kareta over $1 million in their South Hadley wrongful death case. Kareta died in 2011 when he was struck in a Massachusetts pedestrian accident. At the time, he was getting mail from the house of his aunt.

The driver of the vehicle that struck Kareta, Attorney Craig Barton, 46, was reportedly traveling approximately 80 mph in a 30 mph area. His vehicle hit Kareta hard enough that he was yanked from his sneakers as his body flew over 100 feet, striking numerous mailboxes, striking another vehicle, and a traffic sign.

Barton has already pleaded guilty to criminal motor vehicle homicide while operating under alcohol’s influence, negligent operation of a motor vehicle, and another offense of operating under the influence in Kareta’s Massachusetts drunk driving death. He is serving 5 to 7 years behind bars. He did, however, leave jail so he could represent himself in Hampshire Superior Court during the Kareta family’s civil case.

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