Articles Tagged with “Boston car accident lawyers”

textingincar-c-300Here is another reason for Massachusetts and other states to consider passing laws which ban handheld cell phone use by drivers. A new study reports one in four drivers who crashed was using a cell phone within the previous minute. Cambridge Mobile Telematics released the study last week to coincide with April’s Distracted Driving Awareness Month.

Our country needs a reminder this year. Motor vehicle accident deaths are on the rise, as the National Safety Council reported nearly 40,000 deaths in traffic crashes last year. In fact, the period from 2014 to 2016 saw the largest two-year increase in more than 50 years.

Meanwhile, this year has already seen hundreds of deaths across the U.S. Just last month came a horrific accident in Texas. A driver in Uvalde County, who was texting while driving his pick-up truck, crashed into a church bus, killing 13 people. Texas is one of 5 states which do not ban texting while driving.

Driving on U.S. roads became more dangerous in 2016. Preliminary data from the National Safety Council shows more than 40,000 people died in motor vehicle crashes last year, a 6 percent increase from 2015.

  • This was the first year more than 40,000 people have died in traffic accidents since 2007.
  • According to The New York Times, 2015 and 2016 saw a 14 percent increase in traffic deaths, the largest two-year increase in more than half a century.

Attorney David W. White discusses Massachusetts pothole law for motor vehicle damagesJust as sure as it brings snow, winter in Massachusetts always brings potholes. When drivers hit potholes, their cars can sustain major damage, sometimes totaling in the thousands of dollars. They often want to file a claim against the state or community which maintains the road.

NBC Boston recently aired a story on what rights consumers have if their vehicle is damaged by a pothole (1/24/2017). Attorney David W. White was interviewed and delivered bad news for drivers. Under Massachusetts law, drivers do have 30 days to file a claim against a town or state. But drivers are unlikely to recover any money because the state and towns will claim “contributory negligence.”

“If you are one percent at fault, you get zero percent recovery,” he said.

reza-breakstone-webAttorney Reza Breakstone writes about the legal ramifications of self-driving cars in an article published in the Winter 2016-2017 edition of The Litigator, the official publication of the Capital City Trial Lawyers Association in Sacramento, California. Attorney Breakstone co-authored the article with Attorney Paul Hoybjerg of Roseville, California. In the article, “The Self Driving Car: Science Fiction Becomes Reality, Creating a Legal Quandary,” the authors write the time has come for the self-driving car.

“The self-driving car is no longer a distant dream of an imagined future. It is here, it is now, and it is reality. There already exist automated functions that come standard on vehicles: anti-lock brakes, self-parking, cruise control, and crash avoidance cameras. Automated cars will affect more than simply your ability to tie your tie or apply your make-up on the way to work. They stand to completely change the automotive industry, insurance world, legal market, public transport and city planning, while redefining the American culture of feeling “freedom” behind the wheel.”

The article explains the current levels of automation among vehicles on the market, investments in the industry and ramifications for auto insurers and plaintiffs and defendants in personal injury cases.

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“The less thrilling ramifications may be to the bottom line of auto insurers and the plaintiffs’ and defense bars in personal injury cases. Currently, auto insurance premiums account for $200 billion nationwide. The insurance industry, with decreased vehicle ownership and decreased liability issues on the part of the user, will find itself cut out of the equation. Allstate Corp. Chairman Thomas Wilson predicts that driverless cars will have “the most detrimental impact on auto insurance” and one “we don’t want to wait” to figure it out.”

The article says questions of liability and specifically who will be responsible need to be resolved and there must be uniform laws that states are willing to adopt.

“The self-driving car brings with it the hope of decreased fatalities and the excitement of a new horizon of transportation. The technology is closer than most realize. Multiple players, from automakers, insurers, and lawyers must be aware of the change or be left in the dust. While the technology is rapidly gaining steam with the help of major corporations and bright minds, there is still much that must be sorted out before the self-driving car is ready for the road. Or, maybe, before we are ready for the self-driving car.”

Read the full article.

About Attorney Reza Breakstone
Attorney Reza Breakstone joined Breakstone, White & Gluck as an associate in 2015. He has earned a reputation as a tough and tenacious litigator helping both individuals who have been personally injured and burgeoning companies who have had insurance and contract disputes. More on Reza Breakstone.

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Attorney Marc L. Breakstone spoke to Fox 25 News Boston after State Police issued a citation charging former New England Patriots linebacker Brandon Spikes in the hit-and-run accident that injured a family of three. Breakstone is representing the family.

“It’s surprising to them that Mr. Spikes would drive so recklessly and then just leave the scene,” Breakstone told the news station. “It will affect them for a long time. This could have been a story with a tragic ending.”

Spikes will be charged with leaving the scene of a personal injury crash, operating a motor vehicle negligently to endanger, speeding and failure to stay within marked lanes. He was cut by the New England Patriots after State Police opened the investigation.

10528911_s.jpgWith the snowbanks nearly gone, your teen driver is likely asking for the car keys. Now is a very good time to talk to them about paying attention on the roads and following traffic laws.

Young people ages 16 to 19 are nearly three times more likely to be in a fatal motor vehicle crash than other age groups. While cell phone use is a frequent cause, there is also simple inexperience. If you are a parent, you know this conversation takes a lot of work and a lot of repetition.

We offer these safety tips for teen drivers:

  • Always wear your seat belt.
  • Keep your hands on the wheel and your eyes on the road.
  • Do not take phone calls while driving. The caller can leave a voicemail.
  • Remember that under Massachusetts Junior Operator License, teen drivers are not allowed to use cell phones behind the wheel. You cannot send texts or make phone calls. If you are caught, you may be fined and your license suspended. It is important to think about these steps for the safety of others and to keep yourself out of trouble.
  • If you must use your phone, pull off the road to a safe area. Put the car in park and remove the keys. Or ask a passenger to call or answer for you.
  • Travel with the phone in the best place to reduce distraction. If your phone ringing or lighting up with messages distracts you, set it in a bag in the backseat.
  • Remember that whatever is happening on your phone can wait, whether it is a social media post, e-mail or photo. It really can.
  • Be mindful of distractions created by loud music or intense conversation. Explain to passengers you need to limit conversation while driving.
  • Remember you cannot carry passengers under the age of 18 during the first six months with a Massachusetts Junior Operator License. The one exception is you can drive with siblings.
  • Do not look up phone numbers or GPS directions on your phone while driving.
  • Many cars have dashboard GPS systems and infotainment systems. Turn them off until you are more experienced.

Other Safe Driving Habits

  • Never consume alcohol and drive. No driver should, but you are more likely than older drivers to get in car accidents because you lack driving experience.
  • Before entering your vehicle, look around for other cars, trucks and hazards. Make sure you provide bicyclists and pedestrians extra time to pass.
  • Shift your eyes every two seconds and check the rear-view mirror every five to eight seconds. This will help you focus on driving.
  • Do not drive drowsy. If you are tired, you will be less capable of responding to potential car accidents. The Massachusetts Junior Operator License restricts young drivers from traveling between 12:30 a.m. and 5 a.m., unless accompanied by a parent. This is a good step but realize you always have to be aware of your fatigue level and make good decisions at all hours.
  • Even if you have your license, keep practicing. For instance, if you are weak backing up, practice backing into a parking space in an empty parking lot with a parent. Keep practicing because you will need these skills going forward and will not always have the time to practice.
  • There are construction work zones in many places. Be extra attentive, slow down and watch for workers.
  • Check your speed regularly and slow down. A little extra space between you and the car in front of you can make a big difference toward preventing a car accident.
  • Drive defensively. Expect the unexpected will happen and you may have to stop or change lanes.
  • Signal your intentions to turn or switch lanes early enough to give others time to prepare.
  • Do not drive on the highway on your own before you are ready.
  • Limit the number of times you drive your friends home after sports practices, to the mail or school events. Every teenager looks forward to driving around with their friends, but teens are more likely to become distracted this way.
  • Be careful in school zones and school buses. Slow down and watch out for teenagers and children walking or riding bikes. You are required to stop when school buses stop.

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1638064_s.jpgWe have all looked forward to Spring this year, waiting for those snowbanks to finally melt so we can drive and walk and ride our bikes more easily. But we will face other challenges soon as construction projects return to the roads.

National Work Zone Awareness Week is now being observed by safety officials across the country. The annual campaign is held at the start of construction season to encourage safe driving through highway work zones and construction sites. The goal is to protect drivers, passengers, construction workers and others from injuries.

Drivers

  • Drivers and passengers are at the greatest risk in a construction zone, accounting for an average of 85 percent of the deaths in highway work zone crashes, according to the Federal Highway Administration (FHA).
  • In 2010, 576 people died in work zone crashes, the equivalent of one work zone fatality every 15 hours in this country, according to FHA.

Construction Workers

  • Construction workers face many risks on highway work zones. In 2013, 105 construction workers died at road construction sites in this country, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Other injuries are not included in this figure.
  • Transportation accidents accounted for 66 percent of roadway work zone fatal occupational injuries in 2013. In 69 percent of these cases, a pedestrian worker was struck by a vehicle. Backing vehicles out accounted for 27 of the 48 pedestrian vehicular accidents.

Safety Reminders for Drivers

  • Move Over. It’s the law in Massachusetts and most other states. Make sure you move over when you see construction signs and lights. And if additional room is not available, slow down.
  • No Speeding. In Massachusetts, you can face double the original fine for speeding in a work zone and cause a serious car accident.
  • No Distracted Driving. Pay extra attention to the roads as you travel through work zones; reduce distractions in your car from information systems and passengers.
  • No Cell Phone Use. Eliminate distracted driving. Do not use your cell phone to text, check e-mail or social media. If you need to use your phone, use a hands-free system.
  • Expect the Unexpected. You may not have any notice of a work zone until you are stuck in it. Be patient and be prepared to follow the signs and traffic cops and flaggers. This may mean not following the traffic signals at times.
  • Pay Attention to the Signs and Look for Alternate Routes. Look for signs which direct you to detour routes and share other important information. Do not use your GPS until you are safely outside of the construction work zone.
  • Mass511. The state’s traffic information system may help you avoid construction areas. Visit the webpage or call.

Safety Reminders for Pedestrians

  • Use crosswalks in construction areas if it is safe to do so. If not, follow pedestrian pathways which have been marked by the construction operation.
  • Watch how traffic flows before you step out into the street. You may be able to identify a safer path.
  • If you know you will be walking through a work zone, consider carrying a neon glow vest and wear it as you cross a street. You want to stand out to road traffic, police officers and flaggers and the construction crew.

Safety Reminders for Cyclists

  • Cyclists want to learn about roadway construction ahead of time. After all, there is nothing much worse than a mile of recently milled black top to shake your fillings loose. Call the local town or city hall or call the Mass511 service.
  • Some of the cycling clubs in the Boston area also do a good job of alerting members of safety issues. One popular source of information is the Charles River Wheelmen’s safety articles. Look for cycling clubs in your area and ask if they offer a members forum or a newsletter.

Safety Reminders for Construction Workers

  • Be vigilant about following OSHA and other safety procedures of your profession.
  • If you are working on foot, make sure you are always aware of any vehicles around you and where there are flaggers and traffic cops.

Related links:

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2464285_s.jpgDuring the past few weeks, snow plows have had little rest in the Boston area and Central Massachusetts. For most of us, they have been part of the background noise of a harsh winter and we have not even noticed them. But as of this week, two people have died as a result of snow plow crashes in the Boston area. Please be aware of the risks and talk to your family members about how you can stay safe.

On Monday afternoon, a 60-year-old employee at a Whole Foods store in Medford was struck and killed while walking across the store’s parking lot. The employee was just leaving work. The area was not open to the public at the time. The snow plow was operated Yerardi Landscape and Design of Medfield, authorities said. The snow plow accident remains under investigation by Medford Police and the Massachusetts State Police.

A week ago, a 57-year-old Weymouth woman was struck and killed by a snow plow driver who was clearing the parking lot outside her condominium complex, Tara Gardens. The driver had just cleared the woman’s parking space for her and a friend told The Boston Globe she had gotten out of her vehicle to ask him not to block her vehicle in as he left. Weymouth Police and the Norfolk County District Attorney’s office are investigating the snow plow death.

We share a few safety tips:

1) Listen to Advisories. Follow the recommendations of state and local officials about when it is best to avoid walking or driving outside.

2) Wear Neon-Colored Vests and Bright Clothing. If you are walking in the street, a neon vest or bright clothing should be a requirement, even during the day. You want snow plow drivers, as well as other drivers, to see you.

Keep a vest in your car. You can use your vest when walking from your car to your destination. It may also come in handy someday if you break down.

3) Do Not Approach Plow Trucks. Pedestrians should never approach plow trucks. Let them stay focused on removing snow.

4) Contact the Property Owner Instead. If you live in an apartment or condo complex, keep the phone number of your building management company handy on your cell phone. If you have a complaint, take a photo to send to the building owner, who can share it with their plow company.

Do the same if you work at a business office, unless you are the owner; then safe snow removal is your responsibility.

5) Expect Plows Everywhere, Even After the Snow Ends. Expect plows everywhere for a while. Even when it is not snowing, expect plows will be out trimming down high snow banks and opening up narrow roads.

6) Do Not Follow Plow Trucks Too Closely. When driving, stay a few car lengths behind plow trucks. The snow plow could hit something hard unexpectedly and not be able to stop. Avoid passing snow plows.

7) If You Have An Accident with a Snow Plow Truck. If you are driving, make sure you stop in a safe place. As you do, take note of what the plow truck looks like and the license plate if you can do so safely. If the plow driver does not stop, immediately notify the local police department to file a car accident report.

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20141006-texting.jpgThis month, students at four high schools in Massachusetts will sit down at computer simulators and learn what it feels like to text or use a cell phone while driving and then crash.

This is part of Arbella Insurance Foundation’s Distractology 101 program, which will visit Braintree High School, Phillips Academy in Andover, Falmouth High School and Sacred Heart High School in Kingston. Although the young drivers will not actually suffer or cause injury, or feel the remorse of having caused the collision, they will be taught the lesson that distracted driving behaviors, such as cell phone use, using a GPS and even eating and drinking, can result in car accidents and serious injuries. These behaviors should be considered as or more dangerous than speeding or running a red light.

Consider these statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA):

Texting while drivingDrivers may claim they are not texting behind the wheel. But Massachusetts State Police say that at least 440 of them were doing just that in June.

State Police cited these drivers over three weeks in the Merrimack Valley, part of a federally funded enforcement grant involving 12 communities. Another 509 drivers were ticketed for impeded operation, after being caught engaged in distractions such as reading and grooming while driving.

The numbers are notable as today marks three years since the Safe Driving Law took effect in Massachusetts, placing new restrictions on drivers under 18 years old and banning all drivers from texting while driving. Three years later, how well are you complying with the law?

The law bans texting by drivers, including reading, writing or sending messages. This includes text messages, e-mails and messages sent through social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter. Drivers cannot text while driving or sitting at red lights, intersections or on other public ways. Texting while driving is a primary offense, meaning police can pull drivers over when they suspect the behavior.

The law also covers more than cell phones. It bans communicating through any device while you are driving, including tablet computers and laptops.

Fines for Texting While Driving in Massachusetts
Drivers are permitted to talk on cell phones in Massachusetts. But operators under 18 years old are banned from all cell phone use, a measure passed as part of the Safe Driving Law.

One area of confusion with the texting while driving ban has been the use of GPS, especially GPS apps in smartphones. The Registry of Motor Vehicles reported back in 2010 that such use was not a violation of the law, though State Police said they would use discretion with GPS units and could cite drivers for “unsafe operation.”

Across the country, 41 states ban texting while driving. Fines in Massachusetts drivers are $100 for the first offense, $250 for the second and $500 for third and all subsequent acts. When a driver causes serious injury or death as a result of texting, they can also face criminal charges.

One Massachusetts newspaper has called for more. In today’s edition, the Worcester Telegram & Gazette noted that drivers who violate the law do not face any impact on their license or auto insurance rates and called on the Legislature to strengthen laws.

“To create a true deterrent, lawmakers must strengthen the penalties, particularly for second and subsequent offenses,” the Telegram & Gazette wrote.

Maybe the Legislature will review the law. Enforcement will continue. State Police have launched Phase 2 of their “Text with one hand, ticket in the other,” campaign in the Lowell and Merrimack Valley area.

But the discussion goes beyond a $100 ticket to safety and responsibility on the road. Any cell phone use that takes a driver’s attention off the road is negligent and can cause a car accident resulting in serious injuries or death. So we ask again. Have you complied with the law? Are there are additional steps you could take?

If you have any doubts about safety, or the terrible effects three seconds of inattention might bring, please watch this video: “From One Second To The Next,” by Werner Herzog. It is part of AT&T’s It Can Wait campaign.

Related:
Texting While Driving Crackdown Nets 440, Lowell Sun.

Tougher penalties needed, Worcester Telegram & Gazette.

Safe driving law applies to more than just texting behind the wheel, The Boston Globe.
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