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Teen Driving Accidents in Boston involving Rollovers

While many more teen driving accidents occurred during the roughly 100 days between Memorial Day and Labor Day ( the 100 Deadliest Days for Teen Drivers), the winter also posses a significant risk for teen drivers who are not accustomed to driving in winter weather conditions.  Teens tend to take unnecessary risks with snow and ice and that makes matters worse.  The result is often a serious or even deadly rollover accident.

Rollover Crash Characteristics

car accident BostonThe National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) keeps detailed statistics on rollover crashes across the U.S. including the number of fatal rollover crashes.  This data is separated into various “characteristics” of rollover crashes.  The following are some significant findings from the study:

  • Around 75 percent of rollover crash victims who dies as a result of their injuries were not wearing a seatbelt at the time of the crash.
  • Around 66 percent of those not wearing safety restraints were completely ejected from their vehicles including both drivers and passengers.
  • Plaintiffs in a rollover crash are more likely to be killed than those in other types of crashes.
  • Rollover crashes are more likely to occur when the driver is drunk.
  • There has been a steady decrease in the number of fatal rollover crashes as seatbelt compliance is increasing.
  • SUVs and light trucks are far more likely to rollover than standard passenger vehicles.
  • The drivers of vehicles involved in fatal rollover crashes tend to be males under the age of 40 who are driving on smaller roads without physical barriers.

This last bullet point correlates with what we know about the dangers of teen driving, and these drivers being more likely to be involved in a rollover crash than drivers in other demographic groups.  Teen drivers typically drive closer to home on smaller non-divided two direction roads than they are to drive on major highways with multiple lanes of travel and physical barriers separating the two directions of travel.

We also know that teen drivers are more likely to take risks as studies have found teens are less aware of how how dangerous driving can be as they do not the same sense of mortality as older drivers. To this end, teen drivers are also more likely to not wear a seatbelt.

Comparative Negligence and the Use of Seatbelts in Boston car crashes 

If a driver is not wearing a seatbelt and is hit by another car, there is no question that the driver not properly restrained could suffer far more significant personal injury than a driver who was properly restrained.  As we can see from the NHTSA data, most fatal accidents in which the vehicle rolled over involved a driver who was completely ejected due to not wearing a seatbelt.

Even if the other driver was at-fault in the accident, the plaintiff will possibly have to contend with the fact that he or she was not wearing a seatbelt at the time of the crash, and that could possibly have made his or her injuries far worse than if a seatbelt was properly fastened.  This is especially true in the case of rollover crashes. This may be a difficult issue to understand without speaking with an experienced Boston car accident attorney, so it is best if potential plaintiffs seek a free consultation as soon as possible.

Under the law in Massachusetts, specifically Massachusetts General Laws (M.G.L.) Section 85 of Chapter 231, a defendant will be liable for tortious conduct so long as that defendant was more than 50 percent responsible for the harm caused. This means that even if plaintiff contributed to the accident, if the plaintiff was less than 51 percent responsible, he or she can still recover in a personal injury accident, but the amount of plainitff’s own negligence will be subtracted from the total negligence allotment and the verdict will be adjusted accordingly.

For example, plaintiff is legally traveling through an intersection and is hit by a driver who blew though a red light when traveling in the perpendicular direction and T-boned the plaintiff’s car.  This caused the plaintiff’s car to rollover, and due to plaintiff not wearing a seatbelt, and plaintiff is thrown from the car and seriously injured.  The jury determines that plaintiff is 30 percent liable for her injuries and defendant is 70 percent liable. If the plaintiff  was awarded $100,000 by the jury, she would only receive $70,000 once the $30,000 was deducted to account for plaintiff’s contributory negligence.

Even though this system is called a comparative negligence model and not a contributory negligence theory, we still use the term contributory negligence when discussing plaintiff’s negligence.  We do not say plaintiff was comparatively negligent.

Triple Fatal Boston Rollover Crash Kills Three Teens

According to a recent news article from CBS Boston three high school students were killed in a rollover accident.  Authorities have said two female students and one male student were in the car when the driver lost control, swerved off the road and crashed into a tree.  When the vehicle collided with the tree, it rolled over and ended up on its side. While the police are aware that the car went off the road and hit a tree, they do not know that happened so the cause of the fatal Boston area rollover crash is still being investigated.

In the case of every fatal traffic crash in Massachusetts, the Massachusetts State Police (MSP) will send in their specialized accident investigation and reconstruction team to determine the cause of the crash.  Even though it was a single vehicle crash, there is always the possibly that the teen driver was taking evasive action to avoid crashing into an at-fault driver, but that driver did not stop when the crash occurred. This is one reason why it is always important to conduct a full investigation and not just assume the driver of the vehicle that crashed was at fault.  This is obviously more difficult when victims do not survive to describe what happened, but that is why a thorough investigation is necessary.

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:

3 High School Students Killed In Rollover Crash, November 7, 2017, CBS Boston

More Blog Entries:

Girl, 10, Struck And Killed While Standing Outside Broken-Down Car, July 23, 2017, CBS Boston