Reza BreakstoneAttorney Reza Breakstone was recently featured in the LexisNexis Attorney Spotlight Series and discussed specialization, referrals and reviews. Read the article on the LexisNexis website or the PDF version.

 

Woman talking on cell phone in car

Hand-held cell phone use becomes illegal in Massachusetts on Feb. 23, 2020, when the new hands-free law takes effect.

The state of Massachusetts has published a new web page and pamphlet on the new hands-free driving law, which takes effect on Feb. 23rd.

While Massachusetts passed a texting while driving ban in 2010, it was the final New England state to enact hands-free legislation in November. When the new law at last takes effect, drivers will be prohibited from using cell phones and electronic devices, unless they are in hands-free mode or they have to call 911 for an emergency.

Distracting driving is a serious safety threat on the roads, causing 9 deaths and more than 1,000 injuries each day in U.S. traffic crashes, according to the CDC. This goes beyond just cell phone use. Think of it as any activity which takes your eyes off the road, your mind off the road or your hands off the wheel.

Texting while driving and cell phone use cause many injuries each year. If the news stories have not deterred you, the new Massachusetts hands-free law should; it is about to become much easier for police to identify drivers who are using cell phones illegally.

Penalties for violating the Massachusetts hands-free law:

For a driver’s first offense, there is a $100 fine. The second offense carries a $250 fine and drivers must complete a distracted driving education program. Third and subsequent offenses can lead to a $500 fine and drivers will have to attend the education program. At this point, drivers can also face an insurance surcharge.

What becomes illegal under the Massachusetts hands-free law:

No Holding Your Cell Phone. Cell phones must be mounted or installed in your vehicle before you use hands-free technology or voice-to-text communication. Drivers can only touch their cell phones to make an initial swipe to activate hands-free mode.

No Touching Your Cell Phone Screen. Drivers cannot touch cell phones to email, check social media or watch video. All other Internet use and app use is also banned.

Get Your GPS Ready. GPS is a critical tool for many drivers. Going forward, be aware that you can only activate your GPS from an electronic device which is installed in your vehicle or properly mounted on the dashboard.

No Cell Phone Use at Red Lights. You can only pick up your cell phone if your car is stationary and safely outside the travel lane. Hand-held cell phone use at stop signs and red lights is a violation. Along with drivers, cyclists are also banned from using hand-held electronic devices.

Visit the state of Massachusetts web page to learn more.

Our Final Note

Massachusetts drivers must continue to use caution under the new hands-free law. Even if you follow the law, hands-free doesn’t mean distraction- or accident-free.

Free Legal Consultation – Boston Personal Injury Lawyers

Breakstone, White & Gluck is a Boston personal injury law firm with extensive experience handling Massachusetts car accident claims for those injured by negligent driving. If you have been injured, our attorneys are here to advise you of your rights to file a claim against the driver or another party who may be at fault. For a free legal consultation, call Breakstone, White & Gluck at 800-379-1244 or 617-723-7676. You can also use our contact form.

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Breakstone, White & Gluck attorneys at Walk to the Hill - Massachusetts State House - January 30, 2020Our attorneys participated in the Equal Justice Coalition’s Walk to the Hill this morning at the Massachusetts State House. Marc L. Breakstone, David W. White, Ronald E. Gluck and Reza Breakstone joined hundreds of other attorneys in urging state lawmakers to raise state funding for civil legal aid.

Last week, Gov. Charlie Baker released his FY2021 budget and proposed a level budget of $24 million for civil legal aid. The Equal Justice Coalition, the Massachusetts Legal Assistance Corporation and supporters are seeking a $5 million increase and that’s why our attorneys participated today. Civil legal aid provides legal assistance to low-income Massachusetts residents who need help with housing, employment, medical care, immigration matters and domestic abuse. It is the last resort for many families, children and the elderly. Advocates say it’s life-changing for people, creating stability and opportunity to stay in their homes and keep working.

The Equal Justice Coalition says civil legal aid organizations are being forced to turn away many Massachusetts residents in need due to funding.

Massachusetts Auto Insurance

Today, Breakstone, White & Gluck begins a new series of articles to help you understand your rights and responsibilities under your Massachusetts auto insurance policy. This is more than a document; it’s a critical tool in protecting yourself as a driver and in protecting yourself financially if anyone is injured by your vehicle.

Getting Started with Massachusetts Auto Insurance

When someone buys a car, they learn a tough lesson: auto insurance can be costly for Massachusetts drivers. But under Massachusetts law, drivers are required to purchase an auto insurance policy and this is essential if you are injured in a car crash. Our Boston car accident lawyers share tips for getting started.

Infographic: What You Need to Know About Auto Insurance in Massachusetts

Our infographic explains Personal Injury Protection (PIP) benefits and our recommendations for Bodily Injury Coverage, Underinsured and Uninsured Motorist Coverage and Medical Payments Coverage.

How to File a Massachusetts Motor Vehicle Crash Operator Report

While we hope you are never involved in a crash, drivers can take a few minutes to familiarize themselves with the Massachusetts motor vehicle crash operator report. It is your responsibility to submit this form to your auto insurer if you are involved in a car accident resulting in more than $1,000 property damage or injury.

More Auto Insurance Articles
Still have a question? Please visit our website, where we have more articles on insurance coverage for drivers, bicyclists and motorcyclists.

Free Legal Consultation

Breakstone, White & Gluck – Boston Car Accident Lawyers

Breakstone, White & Gluck represents those injured in car accidents, truck crashes and other traffic incidents across Massachusetts. Our firm is based at 2 Center Plaza across from Boston City Hall and we offer a free legal consultation by telephone. Contact our firm today at 800-379-1244 or 617-723-7676 or use our contact form.

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Crashed car in parking lotWhen someone buys a car, they learn a tough lesson: auto insurance can be costly and confusing for Massachusetts drivers. There are unfamiliar terms, contract language and many of us do not understand the coverages we need to buy – and how much of these coverages. But drivers are required to purchase an auto insurance policy in Massachusetts.

In this article, our Boston car accident lawyers share tips for getting started with your Massachusetts auto insurance policy.
What is a Massachusetts Auto Insurance Policy?

What is a Massachusetts Auto Insurance Policy?

Your Massachusetts auto insurance policy is a contract between you and your auto insurance company. You agree to pay a premium and follow the terms of the policy. Your insurance company will pay for certain costs associated with a car accident and other damage.

Do I Need to Buy a Massachusetts Auto Insurance Policy?

  • You may purchase your policy directly from the company or through an auto insurance agent.
  • Shop around; Different insurers now offer different discounts and pricing since Massachusetts deregulated the industry in 2008 and moved to “managed competition.”
  • After you purchase auto insurance, you should carry your policy number with you and keep it in your car along with your state motor vehicle registration.
  • Make sure you file away the Coverage Selections Page you receive. This shows your policy number and the coverages you have purchased.

Do I Need to Buy a Massachusetts Auto Insurance Policy?

Yes, you need to purchase a Massachusetts auto insurance policy. Under Massachusetts law, you must purchase the “compulsory” mandatory coverages, including:

Bodily Injury to Others
$20,000 per person;
$40,000 per accident

Do I Need to Purchase Other Types of Massachusetts Auto Insurance Coverage?

Personal Injury Protection
$8,000 per person, per accident

Bodily Injury Caused by an Uninsured Auto       

$20,000 per person;
$40,000 per accident

Damage to Someone Else’s Property
$5,000 per accident

Do I Need to Purchase Other Types of Massachusetts Auto Insurance Coverage?

Drivers can buy additional optional types of coverage. These are recommended but not required by law. Optional coverages include:

  • Bodily Injury
  • Medical Payments
  • Uninsured/Underinsured
  • Property Damage
  • Collision Comprehensive

We write about these coverage types on Breakstone, White & Gluck’s website. You can also click on our infographic below.
What if An Auto Insurance Company Refuses to Sell Me An Auto Insurance Policy?

What you need to know about Massachusetts auto insurance infographic

Click to view our infographic on buying Massachusetts auto insurance.

Our attorneys recommend you purchase as much auto insurance as you can afford and may need to cover your expenses if you were injured in a motor vehicle accident. This may include your medical bills, lost wages and other expenses.

As many drivers learn, the mandatory coverages are not enough to adequately cover the high costs after a crash – for financial losses associated with an injury and/or damage to a motor vehicle. Each year, we represent drivers who have been hit and injured by uninsured drivers.How Can I Lower My Auto Insurance Premium in Massachusetts?

If this happens to you, you too will have to look to your own auto insurance policy.

What Happens if I Do Not Purchase Auto Insurance in Massachusetts?

This is a serious offense. Under M.G.L. c. 90, § 34J, drivers may face potential penalties and fines if they are convicted or plead guilty to operating an uninsured motor vehicle. This charge may be brought against drivers caught operating their own vehicle without insurance as well as those who allow others to drive their vehicles without coverage.
Drivers can face fines of $500 to $5,000 and up to one year of imprisonment in a house of correction. The Registry of Motor Vehicles can also suspend a driver’s license for up to 60 days for a first offense and up to a year for second and subsequent offenses.

What if An Auto Insurance Company Refuses to Sell Me An Auto Insurance Policy?

Auto insurers can refuse to sell you auto insurance based on non-discriminary grounds and they can set their rates based on your driving history, where you live and other factors. They cannot, however, refuse based on your gender, race, national origin, marital status, religion, occupation or age. It is also against the law for an auto insurer to refuse to sell you a policy based on your income or information from a credit reporting agency.
Are My Family Members Covered by My Auto Insurance Policy?
Before you purchase auto insurance, read the Massachusetts Consumer Bill of Rights for Auto Insurance. This will help you respond if you are denied or want to question the auto insurer about their rates.

If an auto insurers turns you away, you can still purchase coverage through another company or the Massachusetts Auto Insurance Plan (MAIP). You automatically become eligible for this coverage if an insurer refuses to sell you a policy.Are My Family Members Covered by My Auto Insurance Policy?

How Can I Lower My Auto Insurance Premium in Massachusetts?

Do your research online and learn your options for auto insurance discounts. You may qualify for discounts based on your driving record or organizations you belong to (such as AAA) or if you are 65 or old. Your teen may be eligible for discounts for getting good grades.How Do I Keep My Auto Insurance Policy in Good Standing in Massachusetts?

Ask about discounts when you meet an insurance agent. Discounts may vary between agents and you do not want to start working with an agent unless they offer the discounts you want.

Are My Family Members Covered by My Auto Insurance Policy?

Make sure you understand who is covered to drive your motor vehicle. Your auto insurance policy must list all licensed drivers in your household, even drivers who have their own auto insurance policies. You can exclude a member of your family by submitting an exclusion form.

You may be asked to list other drivers who use your vehicle. Work closely with your auto insurance agent on this point so you will have coverage if you need it.

How Do I Keep My Auto Insurance Policy in Good Standing in Massachusetts?

Read your policy before you sign it and ask your insurance agent questions. Ask as many questions as you need so you are aware of what you must do to stay in good standing.
What Should I Do if I am Injured in a Car Accident in Massachusetts? Do I Need to Contact My Auto Insurance Company?
If you move, update your address with your insurer promptly. Garaging a vehicle in another location may void your auto insurance. To avoid this, let your insurance agent know if you move to another home or apartment or when your teen heads to college and takes a car. This notification should be done promptly, within a few days.

Beyond this, follow state laws. Always operate with reasonable care. Do not speed or use your cell phone while driving. Pay your Massachusetts vehicle excise taxes on time. Keep your license and motor vehicle registration in your car, accessible if you are stopped by a police officer. Respond to traffic tickets and parking tickets promptly.

What Should I Do if I am Injured in a Car Accident in Massachusetts? Do I Need to Contact My Auto Insurance Company?

Review your auto insurance policy with your agent so you understand before an accident happens. You are required to notify your auto insurance company if you have been in a car accident resulting in property damage, injury or death. Massachusetts is a no-fault state and your auto insurer is responsible for paying your initial medical bills and lost wages under your PIP benefits coverage. But you have to alert your insurer that you have been injured to start this process.

If you have suffered serious injuries, it is important to consult an experienced Boston car crash lawyer to help you learn your legal rights. Contact Breakstone, White & Gluck of Boston for a free legal consultation at 800-379-1244 or 617-723-7676. You can also use our contact form.

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Driver stops for pedestrians in BostonPedestrian safety is always an important topic. But in Massachusetts, the topic is most critical during the winter months, when a large number of pedestrian accidents happen.

First, everyone on the road – drivers, pedestrians and cyclists – must use reasonable care and follow traffic laws. Then, take another careful look at intersections and school zones you travel through. Read traffic signs and find the crosswalk markings. They may not be as visible during snow conditions, at night or when a large truck is in the next lane. Make sure to stop well before the crosswalk.

Under Massachusetts law, pedestrians have the right of way when they are in a crosswalk and the “Walk” signal is operational. When there is no signal, drivers shall yield the right of way to pedestrians.

Finally, learn where pedestrian accidents and crosswalk accidents have happened in Massachusetts. Read the list below and take away any insights you can to protect yourself, older parents and young children.

Lynn
From 2007 to 2016, the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) reported the highest numbers of pedestrian crashes were in Lynn. The downtown area – the roads along Washington Street, Central Avenue and Union Street – saw a total of 321 pedestrian crashes, including 223 incidents which resulted in injury or death. There were another 98 crashes without injuries.

Chelsea
The area approaching the Tobin Bridge saw 260 pedestrian crashes over the same decade. The crash cluster included Chestnut Street, Cherry Street, Ash Street and Everett Avenue. These reports included 192 pedestrian crashes resulting in injury or death and 68 other incidents with no injury reports.

Fall River
MassDOT reported North Main Street and surrounding streets had the third highest number of pedestrian accidents. There were 143 pedestrian injuries and deaths. This cluster included North Main Street then stretched over Interstate 195 to Columbia Street, Hope Street, down to Peckham and Palmer streets.

Cambridge
Central Square is one of the busiest pedestrian walking areas in all of Massachusetts. Central Square and nearby streets ranked fourth for pedestrian accidents in Massachusetts. With 143 total crashes, this cluster includes Lansdowne Street and Hancock Street. This area is near the Central Square T stop, bus services and Cambridge city services.

Boston
With 134 pedestrian crashes, a stretch of downtown Boston ranked fifth for the most pedestrian accidents. This area included Boylston Street to the Mass Turnpike, Route 93 and Frontage Road. There were 84 crashes resulting in injury or death.

New Bedford
This Bristol County community saw 82 pedestrian crashes between Route 6 and Hawthorne Street, which is near the waterfront and Buzzards Bay. Of these, 65 crashes resulted in death or injury.

Quincy
There were 77 total crashes which injured pedestrians in downtown Quincy between 2007 and 2016. These pedestrian crashes happened along Hancock Street, between Elm Street and the corner of Washington Street corner. This area sits near Quincy City Hall, the Thomas Crane Public Library and National Park Service.

Worcester
85 Worcester pedestrian accidents were reported in a cluster of streets along Francis J. McGrath Boulevard. These streets included Southbridge Street, Charleton Street and Sycamore Street. Injury was involved in 55 of these Worcester pedestrian crashes.

New Bedford
Along Acushnet Avenue and Sawyer Street, approaching Interstate 195, there were 72 pedestrian accident reports. Of these, 55 pedestrian accidents involved injury or death.

Somerville and Cambridge
There were 69 pedestrian crashes reported in the traffic cluster around Davis Square in Somerville, just along the Cambridge border. Davis Square is where Highland Avenue converges with Holland Street, College Avenue, Dover Street and Day Street. Just a mile from Tufts University in Medford, Davis Square is an ideal commuter location, with an MBTA Red Line subway service into Boston and Cambridge.

About the Data
This data was published in the MassDOT 2016 Top Crash Locations Report, December 2018.

About Breakstone, White & Gluck

At Breakstone, White & Gluck, our attorneys provide experienced representation to those injured by negligent driving, including in pedestrian accidents and bicycle crashes. If you have been injured, learn your rights. For a free legal consultation, contact our attorneys at 800-379-1244 or 617-723-7676 or use our contact form.

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Attorney Marc L. Breakstone

Attorney Marc L. Breakstone was interviewed by NBC Boston in segment: “After Fatal Pembroke Crash, Could Holiday Hosts Be Held Liable?”

Attorney Marc L. Breakstone was interviewed by NBC Boston as part of its ongoing coverage of the Hi-Way Safety Systems holiday party and the subsequent deaths and injuries. At least three employees are now facing criminal charges, including one in an alleged high-speed drunk driving crash in Pembroke, which killed a teenage girl. A fourth employee was found dead in a Rockland motel in the subsequent hours.

The NBC Boston segment, which aired on January 8, 2020, focused on whether the party hosts may also face criminal charges under the Massachusetts social host law and civil lawsuits. The company reportedly hosted the party.

Breakstone is a Boston personal injury lawyer with over 30 years of experience representing victims of negligence. He said victims may able to file civil lawsuits in these serious cases.

“Key is the issue of control. If I control the service of alcohol in my home, and I have the ability to shut someone off and don’t, I could be liable.”

The Plymouth County District Attorney’s office and police now want to interview each party guest to learn more about the circumstances. In the wake of the crash, the Massachusetts Department of Transportation has announced Hi-Way Safety Systems can no longer bid on state contracts. Hi-Way Safety Systems has announced the employee who caused the Pembroke crash which killed a teenage girl and seriously injured another victim has been fired. He has been charged with one count of manslaughter while operating under the influence of alcohol, two counts of operating under the influence causing serious bodily injury and other offenses. He was ordered held without bail in Plymouth District Court.

Watch the NBC Boston segment.

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Attorney David W. White, a Boston personal injury lawyerAttorney David W. White was interviewed by Boston 25 News about the potential for social host liability lawsuits following the Hi-Way Safety Systems holiday party and fatal crash in Pembroke, Massachusetts. The driver in that crash is now facing numerous criminal charges related to a teen’s death and injuries to others at the scene, including manslaughter while operating under the influence of alcohol (OUI).

“Now in Massachusetts, that’s a very hard thing to prove,” he said. “You have to be able to show that the host knew or should have known that the guest was getting intoxicated. And it has to be their alcohol. So if a guest brings his or her own alcohol to the party, then there would not be any social host liability.”

Parts of his interview was broadcast last night and this morning. Follow the news website for ongoing coverage: https://www.boston25news.com/

54805316 – traffic jam with row of cars on expressway during rush hour

If you have been injured, it is important to submit a Massachusetts motor vehicle crash operator report.

Have you reported your car accident to police?

While we hope you are never involved in a crash, drivers can take a few minutes to familiarize themselves with the Massachusetts motor vehicle crash operator report. Reviewing it can be helpful should you ever be in a crash – or witness one.

You can find the Massachusetts motor vehicle crash operator report online. It is available on the state of Massachusetts website.

Massachusetts Motor Vehicle Crash Operator Report – Driver Obligations

M.G.L. Chapter 90, Section 26 states the driver of a motor vehicle involved in a crash must report the collision if anyone was killed, injured or if property damage resulted in an excess of $1,000 in damage. This damage may be to a vehicle involved in the crash or to another type of property, such as a fence or building.

All drivers involved in crashes must file a report with the Massachusetts police department which has jurisdiction, their auto insurance company and the state Registry of Motor Vehicles.

Drivers have five days to file a report. The exception is when a driver suffered serious injury and is unable to file a police report right away.

Police departments must accept motor vehicle crash reports from any driver who unlawfully left the scene of a hit and run accident, even when the property damage falls under $1,000.

When a driver operates someone else’s vehicle under the influence of alcohol and there is a crash, the vehicle’s owner is responsible for reporting. They have five days to report the crash, based on when they learned about the crash.

Filing a motor vehicle crash report is your responsibility as a driver, whether you were injured or at fault in the crash. Failure to fill out a motor vehicle crash report has consequences. Drivers can have their licenses suspended by the RMV. They may also face criminal penalties.

Motor vehicle crash operator reports are the first step if you need to have your car repaired, replaced or if you have been injured. Police will consider the crash report you submit as part of their investigation in determining who was at fault and whether to cite that person. A traffic citation or criminal charges can support your claim seeking financial compensation for medical expenses, lost wages and other damages.

Filling Out The Report – What Drivers, Passengers and Others Should Know

If you are seriously injured, you cannot gather evidence and information at the accident scene. The investigation will largely fall to the police department which responds.

But if you can collect information, your cell phone is the best tool you have after a car crash. Take photos of everything, from your own vehicle to the roadway and the other vehicle.

This is where it becomes valuable to review the Massachusetts motor vehicle crash report before an accident. By doing so, you will have a better understanding what information to capture on the scene. As you can see, the report requests the other driver’s license and insurance information. It also asks drivers to report:

  • Crash Location
  • Vehicle You Were Driving
  • You and Your Passengers
  • Other Vehicles Involved in the Crash
  • Non-Motorist(s) Involved
  • Crash Conditions
  • Crash Diagram
  • Witness Information
  • Property Damage Information
  • Description of What Happened

Read the motor vehicle crash report for more information on each of these points. The report contains a section dealing with pedestrian accidents and bicycle accidents.

What’s Next

When you have been injured, receive medical attention first. Then you can file a police report, consult a Boston car accident lawyer or contact your auto insurance company if you were operating a motor vehicle when the accident occurred. You should decide which order based on the severity of your injuries. We recommend consulting a lawyer first if you have been injured.  Our lawyers can explain your legal rights, answer your questions and assist in handling all the important steps, including contact with the auto insurance companies. We have represented clients in communities across Massachusetts, from Boston to the North Shore, South Shore, Cape Cod, the New Bedford area and Worcester.

Avoid all contact, whether by phone or email, with the other driver’s auto insurance company. It is also recommended that you and your family stay off social media. Do not confide in friends or co-workers about a car accident until you have spoken to a lawyer and made some progress in your physical recovery.

For additional tips, please visit Breakstone, White & Gluck’s website page, “What to Do When You Have a Car Accident.”

About Breakstone, White & Gluck – Massachusetts Car Accident Attorneys

With more than 100 years combined experience, Breakstone, White & Gluck represents individuals and families who have been injured by negligent drivers in Massachusetts. Clients turn to us for our experience and results in cases involving car accidents, truck crashes, bus accidents and pedestrian accidents. 

If you have been injured by a negligent driver, learn your legal rights. Call 800-379-1244 or 617-723-7676 or use our contact form.

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Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly recently gave Breakstone, White & Gluck and our Project KidSafe campaign a nice mention. In 2019, our campaign donated over 4,000 bicycle helmets to children throughout the Boston area with help from more than 30 community partners and police departments. We look forward to continuing our work to protect children in 2020.

Read the article on the Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly website (subscription access required).

Helmet head (but in a good way)