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Liability for Passenger Injuries in Boston Single Car Crashes

The majority of Boston car accidents involve more than one vehicle. Many of these are fender-benders with two vehicles, though chain reaction crashes are fairly common on highways and other roads with heavy congestion. car accident

However, getting rear-ended or t-boned may by another car or truck may not be the most dangerous scenario you encounter. In fact, 1 in 5 fatal accidents involves a single vehicle that runs off the road, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Single-vehicle accidents carry their own challenges in terms of compensation. While multiple-vehicle accidents usually have multi-person/ business liability, the same is generally not to true for single-vehicle crashes. There is often only one person to blame – the driver. There may be exceptions in cases where the driver was impaired (per the principle of dram shop liability for violation of MGL Ch. 138 section 34), or in cases where the road was improperly maintained or the vehicle defectively manufactured.

By-and-large, though, single-vehicle crashes are the fault of the driver. In these instances, drivers may be entitled to compensation through their own insurer, while passengers could receive compensation from driver’s insurer and potentially their own uninsured/ underinsured motorist coverage carrier.

Reasons for Single-Vehicle Car Crashes

As our Boston car accident lawyers have discussed in other posts on this blog, there are various causes of single-vehicle crashes wherein the collision is not entirely the fault of the driver.  This could involve a defectively designed vehicle or a defectively repaired vehicle.  For example, a vehicle owner has a flat fire and takes his or her car to a local tire shop and they tell him or there is a puncture in the shoulder of the tire, meaning the tire cannot be patched or plugged, then that customer will have to get a new tire.  The tire shop will remove the old tire and put a new one on.  They will likely use a torque wrench and fasted all the bolts before betting the wheel cover back on.  However, what if they didn’t properly fasten the tire or properly mount it on the wheel?

If this were to happen, the wheel could come off while the driver was traveling at highway speeds and could cause a serious of even fatal car accident.  In some cases, the tire will fall off and cause a crash involving more than one vehicle and in other cases, the car that lost a tire may crash resulting in serious injury or death to the occupants in the vehicle.  In this case, the driver would not likely be liable to the passengers or anyone else injured in the accident, because the tire shop that negligently replaced the tire could be held liable for all damages.

However, in addition to single-vehicle accidents in which the driver is not responsible for any injuries, there are many accidents in which it is the fault of the driver.  This would mean that he or she would likely be liable for any injuries suffered by the passengers.

According to a recent news article from the Boston Globe, a teenage girl was killed and two others were injured in what police are saying was a single-vehicle crash in Braintree.  Braintree is located in Norfolk County, Massachusetts just outside of Boston, as those from the city are likely aware.

Authorities have said the 16-year-old girl who was killed was the front seat passenger at the time of the fatal Boston area car crash.  This crash involved the car hitting a building owned by the Braintree Electric Light Division (BELD), and it occurred in the early morning hours.  The male driver of the vehicle became trapped in the car following the deadly car crash, and a male passenger in the rear of the vehicle also became trapped in the car.  When authorities first arrived at the scene, they found decedent non-responsive and saw that all three occupants of the vehicle were trapped. Using their specialized equipment, they were able to extract the three victims from the car. They realized there was nothing further they could do for the female victim, and she was later pronounced dead at the scene.  The other victims were treated on the scene and were taken to local Boston hospitals for treatment for what were described as serious injuries.

It should be noted that the police have not filed any charges as a result of this accident and have not made any statements as to the cause of the accident, other than to say that their investigation is ongoing. There have been no formal accusations of negligence as of the time of this article.

One thing to keep in mind in single vehicle accidents when a passenger is injured or killed, the insurance company for the owner of the car may contact the passenger or his or her family immediately following the accident.  The reason for this is because they likely know their insured driver was negligent and thus responsible for the accident and want to get you to agree to settle the accident as quick as possible.  The at-fault driver’s insurance company wants you to settle the case before you obtain a lawyer.  What they will do in this situation is offer to pay your medical bills that have already accrued, such as your emergency room bill.  They may even offer to give a few hundred dollars to help you out in the meantime. While this may seem like a good thing, they will require you to a sign a general release of liability that will be the only money you ever see with regard this case.  This is true even if your medical bills end up being much higher than they are at the time of your emergency room visit.  You will also not get any money for pain and suffering

For this reason, the best thing you can do is to contact an experienced Boston car accident attorney who will fight for your right to full and appropriate financial compensation.  However, you will not likely have to sue the driver of the car, who is probably a friend.  In the vast majority of cases, your attorney will be able to negotiate a fair settlement with your friend’s insurance company and conclude the matter without the need for a trial.

If you are injured in an accident in Massachusetts, call the Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Glassman for a free and confidential appointment — 1-888-367-2900.

Additional Resources:

Teen girl killed in Braintree crash, July 31, 2017, By Maddie Kilgannon, Boston Globe

More Blog Entries:
School in Falmouth Holds Memorial for Student Athletes Killed in Crash, Feb. 12, 2017, Boston Car Accident Lawyer Blog