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Establishing Causation in Boston Car Accident Lawsuits

The clear majority of Boston car accident lawsuits are filed under a theory of negligence.  If a plaintiff was killed, a claim for wrongful death would be added as well, but the case would likely be pleaded under the same theory of negligence, but the wrongful death claim would allow for a demand for additional damages as well as possibly some direct claims such as loss of consortium filed by a surviving spouse. In some cases, plaintiff is able to plead an intentional tort such as battery if defendant is alleged to have intentionally hit plaintiff with his or her car, but those cases are few and far between.

Boston car accidentsThe point is it will be necessary to determine who was at-fault in the serious or fatal Boston car accident and present enough evidence of fault to convince a jury if necessary, but hopefully to convince a car insurance company to agree a full and appropriate financial settlement so as to fully compensate a plaintiff for any loss suffered. 

Proving Causation Through Police Testimony

As our car accident lawyers in Boston can explain, there are various ways to prove fault in an auto accident. One of the best ways is to submit a police report or vehicle crash report to a defendant’s car insurance liability company assuming the defendant was cited in connection with an accident. This is the common scenario in which there is a Boston car crash and police and paramedics are called to the scene. The investigating officer or state trooper will conduct a quick investigation of the crash scene and interview drivers and any witnesses. If it is a clear-cut case, trooper will likely issue one or more motor vehicle infractions to alleged at-fault driver and list plaintiff as not a party responsible for the accident.

For example, if defendant rear-ends a plaintiff, it will probably be presumed defendant was at-fault in connection with the Boston car accident because the law requires a driver to follow at a safe speed and distance from other vehicles so as to avoid rear-ending them.  Pursuant to 211 CMR 74, a driver is presumed at-fault when he or she hits another driver from behind. This regulation is not used in personal injury cases as it deals with insurance arbitration matters in the division of insurance, but it is persuasive authority in some cases.

A Recent Example of Possible Rear-End Fatal Crash in Greater Boston Area

In an article from the Boston Herald, two people were killed and two more were badly hurt in car accident in Norwood, Massachusetts, which is situated in Norfolk County to the north of the City of Boston.  Authorities have said they received multiple calls from witnesses who saw a serious car crash involving a pickup truck and a sedan.

When first-responders arrived on the scene of what turned out to be a fatal Boston area crash, they found a Toyota Camry that was almost entirely crushed. There were three occupants in the vehicle, and they had to get firefighters to use Jaws-of-Life to cut away enough of the cars to extract two of them so they could receive medical attention.

Once EMTs had access to the vehicle, they found them to be in critical condition.  The driver of the vehicle was soon pronounced dead on the scene and the other person who had been trapped in the mangled car was rushed to a level one trauma unit.  When she arrived, her injuries were too extensive and there was nothing doctors could do and she was soon pronounced dead as well. The passenger who they were able to extract from the car before cutting it away was flown by medevac helicopter to Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston where he was listed as being in critical condition.

The police also discovered a pickup truck with heavy front-end damage near the scene and the driver was out of his vehicle and lying down as he suffered a broken leg.  The police have not filed any charges in connection with this accident as of yet and are still investigating the cause.  In any fatal car accident, the Massachusetts State Police (MSP) will be leading the investigation with their accident reconstruction and investigation unit. This does not mean a crime is suspected as it is standard operating procedure for the law enforcement agency.

Proving Causation With No Police Determination of Fault

In some cases when a plaintiff does not need to be rushed to a hospital and both cars are drivable, police will not show up to the scene of the crash.  Instead, they will tell drivers to pull off the road, exchange insurance information and contact information and then clear the area so traffic is not affected.  When this happens, it does not mean there is no way to file a personal injury claim, but the police report will not be an option. Hopefully, insurance adjusters will be able to determine what happened from examining the car and listening to statements taken by a claims adjuster and make a determination.  However, there are some cases in which the at-fault driver’s car insurance company will not accept liability.

In these cases, your experienced Boston car accident attorney will be able to negotiate a settlement and in other cases it will be necessary to go to trial.  One of the most important things a potential plaintiff can do during a free-initial consultation is to make sure their prospective attorney has experience trying cases and will actually take cases to trial if they cannot reach a settlement.  Far too many attorneys will agree to a bad settlement offer so they collect their share and move on the next client, but this is not the type of attorney a plaintiff should choose.  They should find someone who will fight to the increase the likelihood of a full and appropriate financial settlement.

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:

Norwood Car Crash Kills Two, February 1, 2018, by Marie Szaniszlo, Boston Hearald

More Blog Entries:

Filing a Boston Truck Accident Lawsuit, Sept. 28, 2017, Boston Car Accident Lawyer Blog