Articles Posted in Bus Accidents

School bus with stop sign and lights

With students back to school in Massachusetts, local police departments are stressing safety around school buses while stepping up enforcement of drivers who fail to stop for pedestrians in crosswalks.

If a traffic enforcement sting came to your community, how many drivers would be stopped and cited for unsafe driving? Would you be among them?

We ask these questions as students head back to school across Massachusetts, in communities from Boston and Cambridge to Plymouth and Brockton to Worcester and Springfield.

Police departments across the state have set up traffic enforcement over the past few weeks, focusing on drivers who are not stopping for pedestrians in crosswalks and school buses. A few of the communities include New Bedford, Attleboro and South Boston.

In South Boston, the surveillance followed the tragic death of a 2-year-old in a traffic crash. The child was being pushed in a stroller on the sidewalk, when a van and car collided. The van plowed onto the sidewalk, injuring and ultimately killing the young boy. A day after the crash, the Boston Police Department and Massachusetts State Police set up a traffic enforcement initiative focusing on crosswalk enforcement, speeding and other unsafe driving behaviors. Within a few days, officers had issued approximately 500 citations for traffic violations. This is a very telling number, one Massachusetts drivers can’t ignore.

Breakstone, White & Gluck is a Boston law firm which specializes in personal injury, medical malpractice and car accident cases. Our firm is committed to safety for children, giving away over 20,000 bicycle helmets to children in Massachusetts through our Project KidSafe campaign. With experience representing clients who have been injured in pedestrian crosswalk accidents and other traffic crashes, we offer these tips for safe driving:

Slow down at crosswalks. Students who walk to school may have a crossing guard help them across the street. Always slow down as you approach crossing guards and children. Make eye contact with the crossing guard and assume you should stop. The crossing guard will wave you through when it’s safe to go.

But even when there is no crossing guard, drivers must stop for pedestrians in the crosswalk when there is a “Walk” or green signal. Other times, drivers have a responsibility to yield the right of way by slowing or stopping for pedestrians in the crosswalk. This includes times when pedestrians are in the crosswalk on the same side as the driver and when pedestrians are approaching from the other half of the lane and within 10 feet. There is a $200 fine for crosswalk violations in Massachusetts.

The best thing to do is approach crosswalks slowly and stop if you see anyone even near the entrance of the crosswalk. If you can, make eye contact with them, then wave for them to go. Depending on whether other cars stop, they may not be able to immediately cross. You may need to be patient for a few moments.

M.G.L. c.89 § 11 is the law governing pedestrian rights in crosswalks in Massachusetts. Read more about the law.

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breakstone_150Attorney Marc Breakstone recently reached a $1.375 million settlement for an elderly man who was hit by an MBTA bus in a pedestrian crash while crossing Dudley Street in Roxbury. The man suffered a traumatic brain injury and bone fractures.

The on-board bus video showed the pedestrian bus accident was preventable. The plaintiff was clearly visible to the operator, who did not respond for several seconds. The investigation revealed the bus driver was traveling above the speed limit.

The video also confirmed the bus driver gave a false account to MBTA Police. The driver said the man had run out from behind parked vehicles. But the video showed there were no parked vehicles obstructing the view and the victim was not running.

The case was settled at mediation in May 2016 and later reported in Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly. Read the case report.

Our Experience: One of the Largest Bus Accident Verdicts in Massachusetts
The attorneys of Breakstone, White & Gluck have over 100 years combined experience representing those who have been injured by the negligence of others in car, truck and bus accidents. Bus accident cases are complex and many attorneys do not have experience investigating these cases or representing those who have been injured or killed. But our attorneys have this unique experience; we have handled motor vehicle and bus accident cases from the insurance claims level through trial and appeal.

Many cases can be settled prior to trial, but not every case. In 2008, Attorney Marc Breakstone took a client’s case against the MBTA to Suffolk Superior Court. After a two-week trial, his client was awarded $5.4 million, including interest. It was believed to be one of the largest verdicts ever in Massachusetts for an injury of its kind.

The MBTA filed a motion for a new trial and was denied. It then appealed the case. The state’s Appeals Court affirmed the judgment and the Supreme Judicial Court denied a petition for further review. By the time the MBTA had exhausted its options, the judgment rose to $7.1 million, with interest and medical expenses and lost earning capacity. Read about this case.

About Attorney Marc Breakstone
Marc L. Breakstone has more than 30 years of experience practicing law in Boston. He has been selected as one of the Top 100 Super Lawyers in New England and Top 100 Super Lawyers in Massachusetts. He has also been selected by his peers as one of the top medical malpractice plaintiff’s lawyers in the Super Lawyer balloting. In 2002, Attorney Breakstone was honored as one of ten “Lawyers of the Year” by Massachusetts Lawyers WeeklyMore on Marc Breakstone.

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State Police continue their investigation into last weekend’s bus accident on Soldiers Field Road in Allston, which injured more than 30 passengers.

The Calvary Coach bus, which was carrying approximately 40 students and chaperones from the Philadelphia area, was returning to Pennsylvania Saturday night when the crash occurred. The vehicle reportedly struck the Western Avenue bridge on the road which leads to the Mass Turnpike.

The Boston Fire Department released photos on Twitter showing firefighters standing on the bus and ladders, extricating passengers, some trapped in the vehicle for more than an hour. Several passengers were transported to local hospitals with injuries. At least one 17-year-old remained in critical condition in a Boston hospital on Monday, The Boston Globe reported.

The students were with the Philadelphia area non-profit, Destined for a Dream Foundation, which spent the day visiting Harvard University and Cambridge.

Massachusetts State Police said the bus accident occurred after the driver passed signs posted prohibiting the bus from traveling on that road, which has a 10-foot height limit, according to the Associated Press. State Police are investigating and have not determined whether to file charges or issue a citation against the 66-year-old driver, Samuel J. Jackson. CBS Philadelphia reported that the owner of the company, Ray Talmedge, said Jackson had looked down at his GPS and saw the bridge too late.

Calvary Coach apologized after the bus crash but defended the driver, reported the Boston Herald. The company’s buses have not been involved in a crash in the two years prior to the Boston accident, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. An unidentified driver was written up for unsafe driving.

The state Department of Conservation and Recreation, which maintains Soldiers Field Road, told the Boston Globe it installed rubber signs as a warning for truck drivers. For a period, they also used cowbells to sound an alert, but these were discontinued.

But the Western Avenue bridge never received rubber warning signs, an official with the state agency said. Agency officials told the Boston Herald they would contact GPS navigation companies to ensure the bridge’s height restrictions are recorded.

Related:
Bridge at site of crash lacked height warning, The Boston Globe.

Bus driver may have been distracted by GPS before Soldiers Field Road crash, CBS Boston.

Parents of bus crash victim pray for recovery, Boston Herald.

MassDOT: No plans to raise height of overpass after bus crash, CBS Boston.
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