Hit-and-run Injury Claims in Massachusetts

Hit-and-run collisions are back in the news after Boston police found a women dead in the street late Thursday afternoon.

The 57-year old victim was located on Fottler and Hiawatha roads. She was pronounced deceased at the scene after “suffering from head trauma,” according to the Boston Police Department. The Associated Press reported police were searching for a dark-colored sedan with tinted windows and released blurry photos of the suspected hit-and-run driver taken from nearby security cameras. Family members of the victim made a plea for the driver, described as a long-haired, heavy set black woman, to come forward and turn herself in to police.844622_speed_2-300x168

Experienced Boston car accident lawyers know hit-and-run injury claims can be among the most difficult claims in which to recover damages. However, a personal injury or wrongful death claim may still be warranted against one or more parties. Seeking experienced legal help in the immediate aftermath of a collision is the best thing you can do to protect the financial welfare of you and your family.

Massachusetts minimum auto insurance law requires all drivers to carry at least $20,000 bodily injury coverage per person/$40,000 per accident, as well as $8,000 personal injury protection per person. Fortunately, Massachusetts is also among the states that require all motorists to carry uninsured motorist coverage, also in minimum amounts of at least $20,000 per person/$40,000 per accident. This is vital coverage that will protect you in the event of a collision with an at-fault driver who does not have insurance or who flees the scene and is not identified. Underinsured motorist coverage is not required in Massachusetts, but should also be carried by all motorists. This coverage protects you in the event a driver does not have enough insurance to adequately compensate you for all losses.

Under Massachusetts law, M.G.L. Ch. 90 Sec. 26, requires motorists to report to police all collisions where damage exceeds $1,000, even if no one was injured. However, Massachusetts should take additional steps to significantly increase the penalties for hit-and-run involving personal injury or wrongful death. Many states have made the penalties far more serious than charges of drunk driving resulting in injury or death to dissuade at-fault motorists from fleeing the scene. M.G.L. Ch. 90 Sec. 24 carries a penalty of just 6 months to 2 years incarceration for leaving the scene of an accident involving injury. But those penalties increase to up to 10 years behind bars for leaving the scene of a crash involving death.

While a criminal conviction can be used as negligence against an at-fault party, it is not necessary for an at-fault driver to be criminally convicted in order to be found civilly responsible for a motor vehicle collision. A victim must prove negligence by a preponderance of the evidence, which essentially means it is more likely than not that an at-fault driver’s negligent behavior resulted in compensable injuries to the victim.

Boston Hit-and-Run Injury Lawsuits

The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety reports record numbers of hit-and-run collisions. About 750,000 hit-and-run crashes occur annually in the United States each year, or about one collision every 43 seconds. More than 2,000 motorists a year are killed in collisions with a driver who flees the scene, the highest number since modern record keeping began in 1975.

Our car accident lawyers in Boston will carefully review your case to identify all parties responsible. Preservation of evidence and taking the proper steps to identify an at-fault driver can have a significant impact on your ability to collect adequate damages after being victimized by a hit-and-run driver. In many cases, your claim will be pursued against your own insurance company, which also is best handled by a Massachusetts law firm experienced in handling personal injury or wrongful death claims against hit-and-run drivers.

In the United States, about half of all hit-and-run drivers are identified. Police continue to put increasing emphasis on these cases and the increasing presence of security cameras and smartphones have increased the likelihood of fleeing drivers being identified and arrested.

Studies continue to shot hit-and-run drivers are most likely to be identified when the victims is a child or a senior citizen, perhaps because of increased community outrage and media coverage often associated with such cases.

Massachusetts Hit-and-Run Injury Risks

In Massachusetts, the number of fatal hit-and-run collisions has nearly doubled, from 11 deaths in 2011 to at least 20 annual deaths in recent years, according to the AAA Foundation for Highway Safety.

Cyclists and pedestrians are at highest risk. Of the 2,000 fatal hit-and-run collisions reported each year, about 1,400 involve walkers or bicyclists. Motorists in such cases are more likely to think they can get away with it and victims are more likely to suffer serious or fatal injuries exacerbated by not receiving timely medical treatment at the scene.

Studies of the commonalities among hit-and-run collisions offer some insights:

  • Pedestrians:Walkers are at highest risk. About 1 in 5 fatal pedestrian collisions involves a hit-and-run driver.
  • Location:Heavily trafficked urban areas and busy intersections are less likely to be the site of a hit-and-run collision. Authorities theorize this is at least in part attributable to the presence of more witnesses and security cameras.
  • Night:Hit-and-run crashes are nearly 5 times more likely to occur between midnight and 4 a.m.
  • Low speeds: Contrary to popular belief, most hit-and-run crashes occur at low speeds, either in neighborhoods or along winding areas of a road.
  • Bad drivers:Identified hit-and-run drivers are most likely to have a history of poor driving, including DWI and license suspension.
  • Drunk drivers:Hit-and-run drivers are up to 10 times more likely to be intoxicated.
  • Gender:Pre capita, some studies suggest that women may be more likely to flee the scene of a crash. However, young males are the demographic most likely to be at fault.

The reality is that in many of these types of cases an at-fault driver who is later identified either does not have insurance or does not have enough insurance to compensate victims for all damages. Those involved in a serious or fatal collision with an unidentified driver should not wait to consult experienced legal help.

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.