Articles Posted in Car Accidents

Passenger paying private driver for a rideIn Massachusetts, you can pay a licensed cab, Uber or Lyft for a ride and expect the driver to carry auto insurance if you are injured. These drivers are required to buy minimum levels of auto insurance under Massachusetts law, which is the way it should be.

But now, two years after Massachusetts began regulating rideshare companies, auto insurance companies are becoming more careful in investigating car crashes to make sure they do not involve “gypsy cabs” or situations where passengers pay a private individual for a ride, even though they are not licensed as a business, taxi or have not met rideshare regulations. Insurance companies are saying passengers are not covered for injuries in these situations, and it’s an important warning to consumers.

There is a whole industry of gypsy cab drivers on the roads in wake of the rideshare legislation. They are simply ignoring the regulations and setting up social media pages advertising their services. They may also grow their business by word of mouth and by serving the same passengers they know well. Their prices may undercut other ride services, but there is a huge catch in the bargain: there may be no insurance in case of a car accident.

Elderly couple on crosswalkPedestrians are facing a crisis on the roads, here in Boston and across the country. From 2009 to 2015, there was a 46 percent increase in pedestrian deaths across the U.S. (Source: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration). 

Now, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is stepping in with a comprehensive set of recommendations to improve safety, including: Continue reading

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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Cyclist after a hit and run crashNational Bike Month is a time to celebrate and champion cycling. If you live in Massachusetts, you know the cycling spirit is stronger than ever. But that doesn’t mean conditions are always safe.

In fact, cyclists and pedestrians are at a higher risk now than ever. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports cycling deaths increased 11 percent from 2015 to 2016. Pedestrian deaths rose 9 percent. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety recently weighed in with a report on hit and run crashes. The numbers show the toll on pedestrians and cyclists, as well as others on the road.

Attorney Reza Breakstone of Breakstone, White & Gluck in Boston.

Attorney Reza Breakstone of Breakstone, White & Gluck in Boston.

A self-driving Uber vehicle has been involved in a fatal pedestrian crash in Arizona. Attorney Reza Breakstone’s article explores liability when self-driving cars crash: https://tinyurl.com/y8qrfs69.

Attorney David W. White of Boston

Attorney David W. White specializes in personal injury and product liability cases at Breakstone, White & Gluck of Boston.

Ford drivers are gripping the steering wheel anxiously after the automaker’s stunning safety recall this week. 1.4 million Ford vehicles have been recalled because the bolts on the steering wheels can become loose. Ford will repair the vehicles, but not until the end of April at least.

“This recall is very upsetting,” said Attorney David W. White of Breakstone, White & Gluck. “Nothing is more basic to a car than a steering wheel. Automakers have a responsibility to fully test vehicles and all equipment before bringing them to market. They continue to fail drivers.”

This recall affects 2014-2018 models of the Ford Fusion and the Lincoln MKZ. According to Consumer Reports, Ford’s customer-service phone number is 866-436-7332 and Lincoln’s customer service phone number is 800-521-4140.

Ford has said it will replace the steering wheel bolt and install a larger nylon patch to maintain pressure. A company spokeswoman said consumers will be notified by mail the week of April 30th.

In announcing the recall, Ford said it was aware of two car accidents related to the defective steering wheels, one involving injury. This is not the full story though. After reviewing federal records, USA Today reported the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has received more than 45 reports of the steering wheels becoming loose or falling off, some resulting in car crashes.

One driver said the steering wheel on his 2014 Ford Fusion became unstable and he drifted into a manhole, destroying his vehicle. Others said they had the frightening experience of having steering wheels come loose as they drove down the highway. One driver said all he did was bump the steering wheel with his knee and it came off.

Once a manufacturer determines there is a safety defect, it has 5 days to notify the NHTSA. Automakers are then responsible for recalling defective motor vehicles or equipment.

Americans may associate Toyota, General Motors and Takata with most auto recalls. Yet Ford has made its own headlines for safety defects. Last year, it recalled 1.3 million F-150 Super Duty pick-up trucks with faulty door latches last year. Consumers reported the doors were swinging open while the vehicles were in operation. It also issued smaller recalls fixing more door latches and to stop cars from overheating. The company had received 29 reports of engines overheating and catching fire in some vehicles with 1.6-liter GTDI engines.

At Breakstone, White & Gluck, our Boston personal injury lawyers have investigated serious car and truck crashes caused in part by defective parts. We have over 100 years combined experience representing individuals injured by car crashes, truck accidents and other traffic collisions in Boston and throughout Massachusetts. Many of our car accident and other personal injury cases involve product liability claims and investigation into dangerous and defective products.

Highlighted Cases
$3 Million Settlement in Tractor-Trailer Crash
Breakstone, White & Gluck negotiated a $3 million settlement for our client, who was hit by a tractor-trailer truck owned and operated by a beverage distributor. Read more about the case and the investigation of the truck.
$1.15 Million Settlement in Defective Fitness Equipment Injury
Breakstone, White & Gluck negotiated a $1.15 million settlement for our client who was seriously injured while using defective fitness equipment at a local gym. The trainer who was supervising our client was also negligent in a number of ways. Read more.

Contact Breakstone, White & Gluck
If you have been injured, learn your rights. For a free legal consultation, contact our Boston personal injury lawyers at 800-379-1244 or 617-723-7676 or use our contact form.

Woman talking on cell phone in car

Americans are checking their cell phones every 12 minutes, according to new research. This means more distraction, including in the car.

As we wait out this snowstorm, you may be checking your smart phone more than usual. This is understandable. But how often do you check on an average weekday? One report shows Americans are checking their smart phones every 12 minutes or 80 times a day. And between Facebook, Twitter and e-mail, we all know someone who may check even more often.

Use your smart phones as often as you want – except in the car. Please consider these thoughts as you wait out the snow:

20180305-seatbelt-1200There is nothing more important than protecting your family and other passengers in the car. Many of us drive less often in the winter in Massachusetts. But in a few weeks, families will be back in the car more for afterschool sports, activities and weekend trips.

Take a few minutes now to inspect your vehicle’s seat belts and child passenger safety seats. Make sure this equipment is working and properly adjusted to fit each child. Replace car seats if your children have outgrown them. Then talk to your family about the importance of always wearing a seat belt.

Dangers on the Road for Children

Drowsy Driving

A new study shows college students are engaging in drowsy driving and do not consider it to be as dangerous as texting while driving and operating under the influence.

As a parent, you have probably talked to your college student about the risks of drunk driving and texting while driving on many occasions. What about drowsy driving? A new study reports college students are not taking this risk as seriously – even as drowsy driving causes an estimated 300,000 traffic crashes each year in the U.S.

The study was published in the February edition of the journal Sleep Health. Researchers conducted four focus groups involving 26 undergraduate students in 2016. Students were asked about their driving behaviors and perceptions about dangerous driving.

Most of the students considered themselves safe drivers, yet they viewed drowsy driving as less risky than operating under the influence of alcohol and distracted driving. Students actually said drowsy driving was “normal” and an “unavoidable part of their lives.” They admitted to drowsy driving in the past. Whether as a driver or passenger, many had actually been in some way involved in a drowsy driving car crash or near accident. In most cases, students were driving alone in the early morning or at night.

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Local communities are restricting road use to stop the flood of drivers who use Waze and other traffic apps.

Commuting is a battle in Massachusetts, full of frustrations and hazards. But residents, communities and lawmakers continue to fight back to improve safety.

On Monday, the state House of Representatives considered a controversial bill proposing new fines for jaywalking and jaywalking while distracted (or as The Boston Globe writes, “Jay-texters”). Meanwhile, WBZ reports communities are closing off roads in response to traffic apps such as Waze and Google Maps.