Articles Posted in Car Accidents

Driverless cars have returned to Boston, following a brief stoppage following a fatal crash in Arizona.

After that incident, the City of Boston asked companies testing self-driving passenger car services to suspend all tests and pilot programs until a safety evaluation could be performed and various concerns addressed.  The action stemmed from an accident involving a woman who was killed by a purportedly self-driving ride-sharing app vehicle while she was walking her bike across the street.

Boston car accidentsIn that case, police have said she was allegedly not at a crosswalk, and was walking alongside her bike in while crossing the middle of a roadway when she was struck by a self-driving vehicle. This particular vehicle was supposedly programmed to stop for pedestrians in the crosswalk, but it was unable to avoid hitting a person who was crossing in the middle of the street.

Now, officials have cleared the vehicles to continue operation on city streets. Continue reading

Self-driving cars may well be the future of automotive travel in the U.S. – and it may happen sooner rather than later. Some cars like Tesla already have an advanced form of cruise control, but the truth is it’s a rudimentary form of a self-driving car.  Google is working on another far more advanced self-driving car system it could sell to other car makers, one that would be fully autonomous, and other self-driving technologies are being tested.

But no matter how soon these vehicles get on the road, the legal system may need some time to catch up. For instance, what happens when (not if) one of these fully autonomous vehicles crashes and is deemed at-fault? If there is no human behind the wheel, who is liable in a Boston car accident lawsuit? Even if a human is behind the wheel, could he or she still be responsible?

Boston Distracted Driving AccidentsIn the case of a self-driving vehicle for hire such as a taxi, there is no human driver and the only humans in the vehicle are sitting in the rear with no access to the controls. In such a case, who would be to blame? The manufacturer of the technology? The owner of the vehicle? The person sitting in the driver’s seat?

There are all valid questions that will need to be ironed out as these technologies are unveiled.  Continue reading

Modern road de-icing techniques, which employ chemicals over the traditional salt, results in $3 billion in damage annually in vehicle rust damage, according to AAA. U.S. drivers paid approximately $15.5 billion over the last five years on repairing vehicles damaged by rust. The exact extent of the problem is likely even worse because those only account for the drivers who took the time to address their rust-related car problems. car accident attorney

Rust on cars is nothing new. Several businesses capitalize on it, selling special car covers and anti-rust treatments. One episode of the once-beloved NPR show Car Talk focused on the type of havoc rust can wreak on a vehicle. One listener wrote into the show to ask if the owner of a car with excessive rust in the suspension, braking and fuel lines should be concerned with the overall general safety of the vehicle. The hosts responded with an emphatic, “Yes!” noting that while most people think of rust as a cosmetic problem, the reality is that when rust works its way into the structure or frame of the car, it poses a serious safety issue.

Vehicle owners who fail to address obvious rust may find themselves facing a liability lawsuit for negligent maintenance of a vehicle. While we tend to see this claim more often in truck accident cases where large corporate carriers don’t adequately maintain their fleet, we can also bring such a claim against private vehicle owners when there is evidence they neglected to address basic maintenance issues that could foreseeably impact safety and played a role in the crash.  Continue reading

Auto insurance in Massachusetts is not getting cheaper, so it may not be a great time to tell you to increase your UM/UIM coverage – but it’s important.car accident attorney

Here’s why: Auto insurance premiums have recently hit a national average of $1,427, according to The Washington Post. This is for a few different reasons, including catastrophic weather (which increases the number of crashes). However, as the Post reported, one’s college degree or credit score may actually have more bearing on how much your car insurance costs than your actual driving record, given the complex and often opaque formulas used by auto insurers. What this boils down to is that people who might really need insurance are going to either skimp on coverage, buying only the bare minimum required by law, or they aren’t going to buy any at all and take their chances getting caught.

The Insurance Information Institute reports that from 1992 to 2015, the estimated percentage of uninsured motorists nationally ranged somewhere between 16 percent and 13 percent. Florida had the highest rate of uninsured motorists (27 percent), while Massachusetts had one of the lowest (6.2 percent). Here, state law requires motorists carry a minimum:

  • $20,000 per individual in bodily injury liability and property damage
  • $40,000 per crash for bodily injury liability and property damage
  • $5,000 in personal injury protection (PIP) benefits

Continue reading

Not all Massachusetts car accident injury claims will be resolved in a courtroom. Some of course will be settled without ever having to file a lawsuit. Injured motorists, passengers or bicyclists simply file a claim with the insurer, the insurer makes a reasonable settlement offer, claimant signs off on it and it’s done. (This is usually for cases wherein injury was not serious and damages weren’t extensive.) Other times, claims will be resolved via arbitration. car accident attorney

Arbitration is not necessarily a preferred forum for resolution of Boston car accident claims (or any civil litigation) where the plaintiff is concerned. It’s not a transparent process, and results tend to be more favorably skewed toward the defendant/ insurer (at least compared to personal injury litigation outcomes). However, many courts in Massachusetts will uphold arbitration agreements, depending on the language in the insurance policy.

For instance last year, the Massachusetts Appeals Court held the lower court (Bristol County Superior Court) in Chamberland v. Arabella Mutual Insurance Company did not abuse its discretion in deciding the insurer could compel plaintiff in the car accident lawsuit to resolve the underinsured motorist claim via arbitration, rather than in a courtroom.  Continue reading

In many serious car accidents in the Greater Boston area, one or more victims will be pronounced dead at the scene of the crash, or at the hospital a short time later. In some accidents, however, victims will survive for some time following the accident.  This can be days, weeks, or even years. In such cases, a wrongful death claim may be added to a negligence claim that has already been filed so long as the plaintiff did not sign a general release of liability and waiver.

car crash BostonWhile it may seem strange, a person could die from a car accident years later, there are cases where a person suffers from severe organ damage that will eventually result in death, even if it does not happen for a long time.  For example, a person could damage their kidneys, liver, or both and survive for a while on medication and dialysis, but eventually succumb to the injuries. When a death occurs, as long as there is a causal connection between the accident that caused the damage, a claim may be warranted. Continue reading

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.  Continue reading

Each year car accidents many car accidents in Boston result in serious personal injury, but some result in death.  Unfortunately, the numbers are getting worse instead of better as the Boston Globe reported the number of traffic deaths has risen nearly 50 percent in recent years.  When a victim dies in a car accident, as opposed to only suffering injuries, decedent is still the plaintiff, but the case is filed in the name of decedent’s estate, and a representative of plaintiff stands in for the decedent when it comes to settlement negotiations or going to court should the case fail to settle.

The Need for a Probate Estate in a Boston Wrongful Death Car Crash

Boston car accident lawsuitsThese cases will be filed with the name of the decedent’s estate on the caption as well as name of the estate’s representative.  This representative is ultimately chosen by the Family and Probate court in Suffolk County, but the decedent, through a last will and testament may have a say in the matter posthumously. In the event decedent died with a valid last will and testament, this instrument will declare who he or she had selected as the personal representative of his or her probate estate. If it is clear, and this person is willing and able to accept  responsibility, courts generally honor a decedent’s request. Hopefully, a lawyer prepared decedent’s will because when people attempt to use so-called online legal help services, things can get very messy and lead to a lot of problems between family members. Continue reading

T-bone accidents occur all the time and they can result in some of the most severe damage in any type of car accident.  A T-bone accident involves the front-end of one car colliding with the plaintiff’s car on the side where the doors are located.  A Boston T-bone car accident can  involve the driver’s side or the passenger side of the vehicle.  The reason they are potentially so dangerous or even deadly is because the side of a vehicle offers much less protection than the front or rear of a vehicle. Fortunately, modern cars do have one or more airbags located on the vehicle to protect from side impacts, but while they do help, they are not perfect and plaintiffs are still severely injured.

car accident BostonThe Insurance Institute for Highway Safety Highway Loss Data Institute (IIHSHLDI) has been keeping statistics for years and has determined that improvements designed to reduce front-impact damage have been far more successful than efforts to reduce the number of serious injuries in side-impact car accidents. To make matters worse, as the size of SUVs and Pickup trucks have increased over the years, especially with the use of lift-kits, the point of impact on the front end of a typical defendant’s car is much higher than in decades past so this has also increased the number of T-bone car crashes with serious or fatal injuries that occur in the Greater Boston area. Continue reading

Most car crashes in Boston involve two or more vehicles, typically owned by private citizens, though sometimes by corporations. In some cases, vehicles involved may be owned by a local, state, or federal agency. If the driver deemed to be at-fault in the accident was driving a government vehicle, this may complicate the matter of compensation due to the doctrine of sovereign immunity.

Boston Car Accident Lawyer The doctrine of sovereign immunity comes from British common law, where essentially held the king was above the law.  This term sovereign have been retained long after kings and queens ruled the land. Today, the term is used to refer to a state or federal government or what are known as political subdivisions of the government in the Massachusetts General Laws.

Cases involving government vehicles or employees must be carefully handled by an experienced Boston car accident attorney. Continue reading