Articles Tagged with boston car accidents

Teen Driver Safety Week is Oct. 18-24, 2020. Breakstone, White & Gluck is sharing articles to encourage parents and teens to discuss safe driving decisions.

Teen driver wearing a seat beltSeat belts are a simple step for safety. As a parent, you probably remind your child to buckle their seat belt before each ride. But when your teen becomes a licensed driver, you won’t always be there. Still, what you say matters. Teens are twice as likely to wear a seat belt as a driver or passenger when parents set rules and monitor their driving behavior, according to the Teen Driver Source website, which is operated by the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

Tell your teen you expect them to wear a seat belt whenever they travel in a motor vehicle. This includes when they drive and when they are traveling as a passenger. As a second step, put this in writing. Find a teen driving safety agreement with your teen and state this is one of your expectations. If you catch your teen driving without their seat belt, you can step back their access to the keys until you have a discussion.

Seat belts are required by law. Wearing a seat belt is required by law in Massachusetts. Drivers and their passengers must both wear seat belts.

Seat belts protect against deadly force. The goal isn’t to scare your teen. But the reality is cars, trucks and other vehicles are heavy and powerful machinery. We all need to wear seat belts to protect against the potential force of a car crash.

Seat belts reduce the risk of fatal injury to front seat passengers by 45 percent, according to Teen Driver Source. They also reduce the risk of moderate to critical injury by 50 percent.

Seat belts also reduce the risk of ejection from the vehicle. Those who do not wear seat belts are 30 times more likely to be ejected from a vehicle during a traffic crash, according to Teen Driver Source. When a person is ejected from their vehicle, they are more likely to die in a crash. This was the case for 3 out of 4 people.

How seat belts prevent injuries. Seat belts are designed to spread crash forces across the stronger bony parts of the body, including the shoulders, rib cage and pelvis, according to the Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). They are also designed to prevent occupants from being ejected from a vehicle.

Drivers and passengers should all wear seat belts – to protect themselves and each other. If there is an accident and one of the vehicle’s occupants is not wearing one, they could be ejected and increase the risk of injury to others in the vehicle.

In a frontal crash, drivers and front passengers are left at an increased risk for injury if the back-seat passengers are not wearing seat belts. Exposure to unbelted occupants increases the risk of injury or death to other vehicles by 40 percent, according to the IIHS.

More People Are Wearing Seat Belts in Massachusetts

The good news is more people appear to be wearing seat belts in Massachusetts. In 2018, the state conducted a seat belt usage observation study, reporting 81.58 percent of drivers and front outboard passengers were observed to be wearing seat belts. This was 7.9 percentage points over the year before and the highest ever observed rate in Massachusetts.

To reach this number, the state observed 28,265 drivers and front outboard passengers in 24,2145 vehicles at 147 observation locations. You can learn more by reading the study.

According to the IIHS and other organizations, states with primary enforcement seat belt laws have higher seat belt use rates. In 2019, the IIHS reported states with primary enforcement laws saw 91 percent seat belt use compared to 86 percent. Massachusetts has a secondary enforcement seat belt law, meaning police can stop drivers for traffic violations, then issue citations for failure to wear seat belts. But police cannot stop drivers just because they are not wearing seat belts.

If you are parent or teen, we hope this is good background information. The point is you should wear your seat belt every time you ride – and encourage others to do the same.

Free Legal Consultation – Boston Personal Injury Lawyers

With more than 100 years combined experience, Breakstone, White & Gluck fights for the rights of those injured by the negligence or wrongdoing of others. Our attorneys specialize in the handling of car accidents, truck accidents and bus collisions in the Boston area. If you have been injured, learn your legal rights. For a free legal consultation, call our attorneys at 800-379-1244 or 617-723-7676. You can also use our contact form.

To learn more about teen driving safety and other topics, please visit our Project KidSafe campaign page.

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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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Boston Personal Injury Attorney David W. White is interviewed by Boston 25 News

Attorney David W. White was interviewed by Boston 25 News for a story which aired last night, “Mass. ‘Pothole’ Law Leaving Many With a Hole in Their Wallet.” The 25 Investigates team found cities and towns in Massachusetts are not compensating drivers for motor vehicle damage caused by winter potholes on municipal roads. Surprising many is that state law favors this position.

“You would think the law would be a little more supportive of people who suffer damages to their cars because we can’t maintain our roads,” Attorney White said in the interview. He later added, “The city can say you were 1% negligent yourself and that is an absolute defense to the case. And they’ll win, they will win.”

The investigative team found a handful of exceptions when cities actually paid drivers for pothole damage. But most drivers in Massachusetts had to foot their own bill, at an average cost of $306, according to AAA. The costs can be much higher for some drivers.

If a driver is successful in making a claim, there is a $5,000 maximum compensation.

About Breakstone, White & Gluck – Boston Car Accident Lawyers
The Boston personal injury lawyers at Breakstone, White & Gluck specialize in representing those injured by negligent and reckless driving in Massachusetts. If you have been injured in a car accident or a truck collision, seek immediate medical treatment and consult our attorneys to learn your legal rights. For a free legal consultation, call 800-379-1244 or 617-723-7676 or use our contact form.

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Red light crashes

Drivers who run red lights are causing a record number of deaths in Massachusetts and across the U.S., according to a new study.

While red means stop, we have all seen cars speed on, especially if you live in Boston. Our attorneys have represented countless clients who have been seriously injured or killed by another driver’s recklessness at intersections. Now, a new study reports running a red light is causing a record number of traffic fatalities across the United States. From AAA’s Foundation for Traffic Safety:

  • Red light running crashes have reached a 10-year high in the U.S.
  • 939 people were killed when drivers sped through red lights in 2017, a 28 percent increase over 2012.
  • More than a quarter of all intersection accidents happen because drivers run red lights.
  • Nearly half of those injured in red light crashes were passengers or occupants of other vehicles. Pedestrians and cyclists accounted for more than 5 percent of fatalities.
  • Over 35 percent of traffic deaths were red light running drivers themselves.
  • 85 percent of drivers consider it very dangerous to run a red light, yet one in three reported speeding through one in the past 30 days, according to AAA Foundation’s Traffic Safety Culture Index.
  • On the same note, nearly half (more than 2 out of 5 drivers) found it unlikely that they would ever be stopped by law enforcement.
  • Despite these responses, running a red light can have serious consequences, resulting in a possible insurance surcharge or criminal charges.

AAA officials count Americans driving more and distracted driving as two causes. Meanwhile, the Federal Highway Administration reports more than 50 percent of fatal and injury crashes in the U.S. happen at or near an intersection.

Massachusetts Red Light Accidents

Red light crashes are a danger at Massachusetts intersections. From 2008 to 2017, Massachusetts lost 43 people when drivers ran red lights, according to Wicked Local. These deaths are just the drivers who were caught and are in addition to other injuries.

Safety Recommendations: Roundabouts and Traffic Cameras

AAA officials say roundabouts and traffic cameras could reduce the number of crashes. Massachusetts is actively working to convert rotaries into roundabouts, which are considered safer because they force drivers into the correct lanes. However, with more than 100 rotaries across Massachusetts, change will take time.

There is long-standing opposition to traffic cameras at Massachusetts intersections, even as AAA says traffic cameras have reduced fatal red light running crashes by 21 percent in large cities. Overall, traffic cameras have contributed to a 14 percent reduction in all fatal crashes at signalized intersections.

Unlike some states, Massachusetts does not have a state law permitting use on local intersections. While MassDOT operates traffic cameras along the MassPike, there is a battle over local intersections.

More than a decade ago, several Massachusetts communities attempted to pass ordinances allowing for red light cameras, among them Saugus, Lawrence and Springfield. South of Boston, Brockton also approved a local traffic camera ordinance. Traffic cameras were never installed. Citing privacy concerns, state lawmakers declined to pass the legislation necessary for these local ordinances to stand. Now years later, there are state lawmakers interested in similar legislation, so we may be revisiting the debate at some point. Here is one lawmaker’s blog.

Across state lines, you may find traffic cameras at red lights in Rhode Island, along with 19 other states. Rhode Island, however, does not have a state authorizing the use of speed cameras (Source: Governors Highway Safety Association).

AAA only recommends traffic cameras at intersections with demonstrated patterns of red light violations or high crash rates. Cameras should be part of broader traffic safety programs and drivers should be notified through signage and other methods.

Reducing Red Light Accidents in Massachusetts
Drivers have a responsibility to operate with care and pass other vehicles, cyclists and pedestrians at a safe distance in Boston and every other community in Massachusetts.

The Boston area commute is stressful. Leaving your home a few minutes earlier was once an effective way to beat the traffic. Unfortunately, as traffic congestion has grown, you now have to leave even earlier in many Massachusetts communities and that isn’t always enough to beat the 2-3 hour commutes. But even in these conditions, practicing patience and putting down your cell phone are paramount to preventing red light crashes and distracted driving accidents causing injury or death. Always watch for pedestrians and cyclists, maintaining a safe distance at all times and taking extra care when approaching crosswalks and bike lanes. Remember you may not be able to see a pedestrian until that moment they step onto the road.

Free Legal Consultation – Boston Car Accident Lawyers

Breakstone, White & Gluck has been recognized for our superior results for clients. Founded in 1992, our law firm specializes in representing those who have been injured due to the negligence and wrongdoing of others. We specialize in handling cases involving car accidents and truck crashes in Boston, Cambridge, Cape Cod, the South Shore, the North Shore and across Massachusetts. If you have been injured, learn your rights. Contact our firm for a free legal consultation: 800-379-1244 or 617-723-7676 or use our contact form.

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Woman hailing a rideshare driver in BostonA new report says Uber, Lyft and their drivers should move to fix auto recalls quickly. What actually happens is far different in many cases.

In New York and Seattle, one in every 6 rideshare vehicles registered for Uber and Lyft has an open safety recall on it, according to Consumer Reports. This means while a vehicle has been recalled, the driver continues to operate it and carry passengers without addressing the broken parts. Some of the recalls, such as those involving Takata airbags, have been associated with serious car accidents and injuries. Others involve defective seat belts or the potential for car fires or engine failure.

Consumer Reports reviewed safety records for 94,000 rideshare vehicles registered to Uber and Lyft in New York City and King County, Washington, where Seattle is located. Some drivers work for more than one company, so the consumer website grouped them together and also included some data for smaller competitors.

Consumer Reports called for stronger safety recall laws and says rideshare vehicle defects should be repaired promptly to protect the public from car accidents and injuries.

When shown the data, Uber’s response was that it “encourages and reminds” drivers to have recalls fixed. The company said it blocks certain vehicles from using its platform if there is a “DO NOT DRIVE” warning from the manufacturer or the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Uber also participates in the NHTSA’s twice-a-year campaign to raise awareness about addressing auto recalls.

Lyft’s response was rideshare drivers, by using their personal vehicles, are representing that their cars meet safety standards. It went on to say drivers have a “strong personal incentive” to repair their vehicles since they are used for work and in their personal lives, “driving their kids to school or friends around town.” The company said it works with lawmakers, regulators and local officials to develop safety regulations.

Safety Tips for Rideshare Passengers

Use an App to Check For Recalls

Consumer Reports suggests consumers check for auto recalls using the myCarfax app. Once you book your Uber or Lyft, you will receive the vehicle’s license plate. Type that number into myCarfax to check if the car has a safety recall.

Avoid the Front Seat

You can also avoid the front passenger seat. Rideshare drivers may still be operating with defective Takata airbags. Takata and auto manufacturers have spent years recalling millions of airbags because they have the potential to explode and cause traumatic and deadly injuries. Around the world, 24 people have been killed and hundreds of people have suffered injuries.

The Takata recall repairs have been slow at times. The NHTSA has announced the recalls in increments and there have been delays in delivering new airbags to local car dealers at times. But rideshare drivers and the companies have a greater responsibility to address safety recalls because they provide transportation to the public.

Monitor the Model Year of Your Uber

Consumer Reports observed a number of Lyft and Uber vehicles operating even though they didn’t meet the vehicle age requirements set by the rideshare companies or states and cities. This isn’t exactly an auto part recall, but it is closely related. Cars should have expiration dates. An aging vehicle can put rideshare passengers at risk.

The next time you are in a Lyft vehicle, remember the company requires Massachusetts drivers to use vehicles which are 2003 or newer; vehicles should be 2004 or newer on Cape Cod, Springfield and Worcester. Read the Lyft application checklist. As for Uber, the company requires vehicles to be 15 years or newer. Read the Uber vehicle requirements. 

Report Any Safety Issues

If you use a rideshare vehicle and observe safety risks, take a photo and report your concern to the rideshare company or local police.

About Breakstone, White & Gluck

With more than 100 years combined experience, our Boston personal injury lawyers specialize in representing individuals who have suffered catastrophic injuries in car crashes, commercial truck collisions and Uber and Lyft accidents. Breakstone, White & Gluck is experienced at filing successful claims against both the major rideshare companies.

Learn your legal rights if you have been injured. Call our law office for a free legal consultation today: toll-free 800-379-1244 or 617-723-7676 or use our contact form.

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20 mph speed limit

In Boston, city officials are interested in lowering speed limits to 20 mph in neighborhoods to reduce traffic fatalities. The proposal comes just two years after the city lowered speeds from 30 to 25 mph and will require state approval.

First, the City of Boston dropped speed limits to 25 mph, with a goal of reducing traffic fatalities and pedestrian injuries. Now, Mayor Marty Walsh and the Boston City Council have their eyes on 20 mph on neighborhood streets. The next step is obtaining state approval.

The City of Boston first sought to lower speed limits as part of its VisionZero campaign a few years ago. That proposal also required approval from the state Legislature and Gov. Baker’s signature.

Gov. Baker signed the Municipal Modernization Bill into law in 2016, including language that allowed cities and towns to lower the default speed limit from 30 to 25 mph. Cities and towns can now lower speed limits on all (or select) municipal roads in thickly settled areas or business districts. Many communities have done so, including Boston, Cambridge, Quincy, Arlington and Dedham. Now, unless traffic signs are posted otherwise, it’s 25 mph in these communities. 

While the speed limit in these communities has dropped, the fines remain the same. In Massachusetts, speeding carries a $105 fine for speeding. If you exceed the speed limit by 10 mph, there is an extra $10 fine per each mile per hour.

Boston was the first to approve lower speeds, with this taking effect in January 2017. But the City of Boston’s goal was always 20 mph and remains so for city neighborhoods. In fact, the Boston City Council approved a 20 mph speed limit back in 2016.

As the City of Boston pursues a 20 mph speed limit for neighborhoods, there is early data showing that the 30 to 25 mph drop has changed traffic patterns for the better. According to an Insurance Institute for Highway Safety study, after the lower speed limit took effect, Boston saw a 29 percent reduction in traffic traveling over 35 mph.

Mayor Walsh also announced other transportation initiatives last week, including the creation of special drop-off and pick-up sites for Uber, Lyft and other ridesharing vehicles. Data from the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities confirms that Boston is the truly the hub of ride-hail services. During 2017, nearly 35 million rideshare trips began in the city. Boston saw more than 6 times as many rideshare starts as Cambridge, which has the second largest presences in Massachusetts.

Walsh’s other proposal is to give every student in the Boston public school system a MBTA pass. The price tag hasn’t been negotiated yet with the MBTA. Currently, the city receives a subsidy from the MBTA and pays $5.6 million for MBTA passes for students in Grade 7 and 8 who live more than a mile and a half from their schools.

Data That Supports 20 MPH

  • According to the VisionZero Network, 9 out of 10 pedestrians who are hit by a vehicle traveling 20 mph survive. Increase the speed to 30 mph and the survival rate drops to 50 percent. At 40 mph, just 10 percent of pedestrians survive.
  • Speed is a factor in nearly one-third of all traffic deaths in the U.S. (Source: VisionZero Network).
  • Speeding crashes claimed the lives of 59,374 people on U.S. roads from 2010 to 2015 (Source: VisionZero Network).
  • Cars speeding through red lights are a leading cause of urban car crashes, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Some states and local communities permit use of red light and speeding cameras to improve enforcement. But many do not, including Massachusetts and our neighboring New England states. Rhode Island is the one exception, allowing red light cameras by state law and city ordinance. State law permits use of speeding cameras in school zones on weekdays.

Related:

Walsh to propose 20 mph limit in neighborhoods and new Uber, Lyft pickup sites, Boston Globe, March 7, 2019

Slow Down! Boston, Cambridge and Other Cities Have Dropped Speeds to 25 MPH, Massachusetts Injury Lawyer Blog, May 23, 2017

City of Boston to Lower Speed Limits to Reduce Traffic Fatalities, Massachusetts Injury Lawyer Blog, December 14, 2015

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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.

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