Articles Tagged with “Car accident lawyers”

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When properly used, child passenger safety seats can reduce the risk of fatal accidents by 71 percent for infants and by 54 for toddlers, according to the NHTSA.

Buying a car seat takes careful research. But most parents agree: the real hardship comes after you try to buckle your child up safely. While car seats are essential, they are anything but easy to use. And if you use them incorrectly, your child is left without proper protection.

All 50 states have laws requiring car seats for children. In Massachusetts, parents must secure their children in a federally-approved seat until they reach age 8 or over 57 inches tall. This is critical because car accidents are a leading cause of death for children ages 1 to 13, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). For every 32 seconds in 2017, a child under 13 was involved in a passenger vehicle crash.

We are writing about car seats because the NHTSA and other organizations recently observed Child Passenger Safety Week nationwide from Sept. 15 to Sept. 21. If you missed it, we are sharing a few resources and tips. If you are a parent, don’t lose hope. There are a lot of resources out there. The best place to start is with your local police department. Many police departments offer free car seat inspections year-round by appointment.

Selecting a Safe Car Seat

The NHTSA offers a free online resource to help parents select the right car seat. Parents should follow the manufacturer’s recommendations on age, weight and height recommendations for selecting car seats. NHTSA Find & Compare Car Seats

Types of Car Seats

Rear-facing seats. The NHTSA encourages children to use rear-facing seats up until age 3 or they reach the top of the manufacturer’s height and weight requirements. Always check your product manual for this information.

For the first 8 or 9 months, children should ride in rear-facing infant seats. The NHTSA then advises a move to a convertible or all-in-one seat, and that parents keep children rear-facing as long as they can.

As we said, it’s important to read your product manual and the manufacturer’s instructions. In past years, the recommendation was to keep your child in a rear-facing car seat until age 2. But new research has led to a new recommendation. In 2018, the American Academy of Pediatrics announced children can remain in rear-facing seats until they reach 40 pounds or more. While every child is different, this often comes after a child’s second birthday.

Forward-facing seats. Next, children will move into a harness and tether seat. This type of seat limits their forward movement if the car crashes. There are three types of forward-facing seats: convertible, combination and all-in-one.

Booster seats. These give children a boost so they can sit taller and safely use seat belts.

Without booster seats, seat belts can seriously injure children, causing abdominal bruising and injuries. Compared to seat belt use alone, booster seats are shown to reduce the risk for injury by 45 percent in children ages 4 to 8, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

As with the other car seats, there are several types of booster seats: booster seats with high backs, backless booster seats, combination seats and all-in-on-seats.

In 2008, Gov. Deval Patrick signed the Massachusetts Child Passenger Safety Law, adding the booster seat requirement until children reach age 8 or 57 inches tall. At that point, children can move to regular seat belts in the back seat.

Making this transition earlier can leave your child without proper protection and vulnerable to injury. Unfortunately, parents are making this mistake. About 26 percent of children were moved to seat belts too early, according to the NHTSA.

Car Seat Registration and Expiration

Make sure to register your car seat with the manufacturer so the company can contact you if there is a recall. Car seats are frequently recalled and these can be widespread recalls, including mislabeling or defective parts. In 2014, Graco recalled 3.7 million car seats due to defective buckles, disrupting families across the country.

Remember, car seats have expiration dates. Look for the sticker at the bottom. The expiration date should be about six years from the manufacture date.

Never use a car seat beyond the expiration date. While the seat may appear to be in good condition, the plastic and other parts wear from daily use and exposure to sun, making the product less effective in protecting your child.

About Breakstone, White & Gluck – Boston Personal Injury Attorneys

Breakstone, White & Gluck has over 100 years combined experience representing those who have been injured and killed by the negligence and wrongdoing of others, including by car accidents. In 2013, we launched our Project KidSafe campaign to offer education and safety resources for children and families in Massachusetts. Learn more about Our Attorneys and our Project KidSafe campaign.

If you have been injured by someone else’s negligence, learn your legal rights from one of our attorneys. For a free legal consultation, call 800-379-1244 or 617-723-7676. You can also use our contact form.

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Drunk driving accidents resulting in injury

The Massachusetts Legislature is being asked to reconsider a ignition interlock law for first-time OUI offenders.

Many of us recall when Massachusetts passed Melanie’s Law to increase penalties for drunk drivers. This was a landmark bill aimed at preventing drunk driving injuries and deaths.

Yet today, when it comes to drunk driving laws, Massachusetts now falls behind some expectations. While ignition interlock devices are mandatory for repeat drunk drivers, they are not required for first-time offenders.

Each year, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) asks Massachusetts lawmakers to extend the requirement to first-time offenders. According to the advocacy organization, 119 people are killed each year in Massachusetts drunk driving crashes and that drunk driving fatalities account for 31 percent of all drunk driving deaths.

In January 2019, Gov. Charlie Baker and Lt. Karyn Polito included the measure in the administration’s road safety bill. According to the State House News Service, a hearing was held on the bill, but it remains to be seen if we will hear more this year. There was more than one bill filed this year, but no update since the summer.

Massachusetts Drunk Driving Laws
Massachusetts lawmakers passed Melanie’s Law in 2005 and this took effect in 2006. Named for the 13-year-old victim of a drunk driver, Melanie’s Law increased penalties for those charged with operating a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol or controlled substances. It also increased jail time in drunk driving accidents resulting in serious injury and death.

Melanie’s Law was the state’s introduction to the ignition interlock device, a small unit designed to detect alcohol on one’s breath. The device is electronically connected to the vehicle’s ignition and won’t allow drivers to operate if they are intoxicated. Over the past 13 years, ignition interlock devices have been installed for more than 17,000 drivers, according to Mass.gov.

According to MADD, ignition interlock devices stopped drivers 31,845 times in Massachusetts between December 1, 2006 and December 1, 2016.

State by State: Ignition Interlock Laws
The national debate over ignition interlock devices dramatically changed in 2013. This is when the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) released new model guidelines encouraging states to pass requirements mandating use of ignition interlock devices for first-time offenders. States were also urged to establish a minimum period of time for use.

According to the National Conference for State Legislatures, 28 states and the District of Columbia now have mandates for all offenders. These include New Hampshire, Vermont and Connecticut. The ignition interlock law is slightly different in Maine. Rather than mandating use, first-time offenders are eligible to get their license back earlier (after 30 days) if they keep the ignition interlock installed for the remainder of their sentence.

Like Massachusetts, Rhode Island requires use of ignition interlock devices for repeat offenders, though there are differences in the state laws.

Federal Law: Ignition Interlock
MADD isn’t the only organization pursuing ignition interlock devices. The Chicago Tribune reported a former NHTSA administrator was before Congress this summer, urging members to pass a law mandating automakers build vehicles with passive ignition interlock devices. According to the official, the technology has been available since 2006 and wider use could save up to 7,000 lives each year.

Breakstone, White & Gluck – Boston Car Accident Attorneys

At Breakstone, White & Gluck, our Boston car accident lawyers specialize in investigating all types of car accidents, including those caused by drunk drivers. With more than 100 years combined experience, Breakstone, White & Gluck has represented numerous drivers who have been struck by intoxicated drivers. In drunk driving claims, the injured person may be entitled to compensation from the at-fault driver’s auto insurance policy. Additional compensation may also be available through other sources, including restaurants, bars and other establishments.

Learn your legal rights. For a free legal consultation, contact us at 800-379-1244 or 617-723-7676 or use our contact form.

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It was painful to learn of the New Hampshire truck crash which killed seven motorcyclists and injured three others last weekend. That one crash could injure so many is heart-breaking and we send our deepest condolences to the families. 

The horrific accident happened Friday night in the community of Randolph, New Hampshire. The motorcyclists belonged to the Jarheads MC, a motorcycle club for Marine Corps veterans and close friends, according to The Boston Globe. The group was reportedly traveling to their annual meeting eastbound on Route 2 when they were struck by the truck traveling west. Reports said the truck crossed the double yellow line.

By Monday, the driver – a 23-year-old Springfield, Mass. man – had been charged with seven counts of negligent homicide in the case. Massachusetts State Police took Volodoymyr Zhukovskyy into custody at his home. He was then taken to Springfield District Court, where he waived extradition to New Hampshire.

New Hampshire authorities are still investigating the cause of the crash, but there are questions about whether Zhukovskyy should have been driving at all following his arrests on OUI charges last month and back in 2013, according to news reports. Meanwhile, his employer, Springfield-based Westport Transport is said to be cooperating with police.

While this type of collision causing so many injuries is rare, motorcycle crashes are not, especially during the summer in New England. Per mile, motorcyclists are 28 times more likely than passenger car occupants to die in a crash, according to the Insurance Information Institute. In fact, Massachusetts authorities report they have responded to four fatal motorcycle crashes between Saturday night and Monday morning.

Some of the crashes involved a single motorcyclist. This was the case in New Bedford, Belchertown and Andover. But in Westport, a preliminary investigation shows the motorcyclist was traveling westbound on Route 177 when there was a collision with a Ford Ranger turning onto Tickle Road. The driver of the Ford Ranger stayed on the scene and was said to be cooperating with police.

In addition to local authorities, motorcycle accidents should be investigated by an experienced motorcycle crash attorney. In some cases, another driver may not appear to be involved. But drivers who speed, stop short, pass a motorcycle illegally or fail to check their blindspot cause motorcyclists to crash all the time. These are known as no-contact crashes.

When trucks hit motorcyclists, injuries can be more severe as we saw in New Hampshire. Truck companies have a responsibility to train drivers how to operate near motorcyclists. Truck drivers must also take care to properly load vehicles, especially if they are carrying equipment and materials on open open trailers.

 At Breakstone, White & Gluck, we urge drivers to observe the following:

  • Motorcyclists have the right to operate on the same roads as drivers and must follow the same traffic laws and signals.
  • Provide motorcyclists room. Travel several car lengths behind motorcyclists. 
  • Motorcyclists are permitted to ride two abreast in a lane in Massachusetts and New Hampshire. (Source: The Massachusetts Motorcycle Manual and AmericanMotorcyclist.com). 
  • Motorcyclist are not permitted to travel between traffic lanes (or split lanes).
  • Accidents can happen when drivers fail to look before they turn. In fact, this was the cause of 44 percent of all motorcycle crashes in 2013, according to esurance.com.
  • Attempt to make eye contact with motorcyclists at intersections. Many motorcyclists do not have self-canceling turn signals like car and you cannot trust a motorcyclist will turn until you see it.
  • Check your mirrors and blindspots often.
  • Some drivers have trouble driving in the rain. Expect the same from motorcyclists. Be patient and give them more room.
  • Do not speed through traffic lights or make quick unexpected movements at traffic lights and intersections.
  • Do not speed on any roads.
  • Do not overload trucks and trailers. Secure equipment and materials behind a closed door or under secure ratchet straps, bungee tarp straps or other appropriate equipment.
  • Do not attempt to pass motorcyclists unless you must. While you are allowed to do so in Massachusetts, the motorcyclist may not be expecting the move and surprises can lead to accidents and falls.
  • Never drive when you are tired; do not drive when you are normally sleeping or getting ready for bed.
  • Never drink and drive.
  • Remove all distractions from your car, including cell phones. Hold heavy conversation and limit snacks and drinks.

Massachusetts Motorcycle Safety Tips

If you are a motorcyclist, please read our past blog, “Massachusetts Motorcycle Safety Tips.” The article can be a resource if you are just starting to ride, looking to become licensed or have questions about your Massachusetts auto insurance policy.

About Breakstone, White & Gluck

The Boston car accident lawyers at Breakstone, White & Gluck specialize in representing those injured in motorcycle accidents caused by the negligence of other drivers. If you or a loved one has been injured, learn your legal rights for seeking compensation. For a free legal consultation, contact us at 800-379-1244 or 617-723-7676 or use our contact form.

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Woman talking on cell phone in car

Hand-held cell phone use would become illegal under new legislation proposed by the Massachusetts’ governor’s office.

Many of us expected Gov. Charlie Baker and Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito would file legislation to limit drivers to hands-free cell phone use this year. But the Baker-Polito Administration went much further last week when it filed, “An Act Relative to Improving Safety on the Roads of the Commonwealth.” In announcing the legislation, the administration reported more than 15,000 people were seriously injured in Massachusetts traffic accidents between 2012 and 2016. Another 1,820 people were killed, including 14 road workers.

The Massachusetts Legislature now has a great deal to consider in coming months. Because these proposals will impact us all, we encourage you to follow the media coverage and share your thoughts with your local legislators and town officials.

Cell Phones. In 2010, Massachusetts banned texting while driving. There have been similar proposals, but no action on handheld cell phones. Meanwhile, distracted driving accidents have increased, claiming 3,450 lives in 2016, according to the NHTSA.

The Baker-Polito proposal would require drivers who use electronic devices to go “hands-free” and make use of hands-free driving equipment, such as Bluetooth. Drivers would have to use voice commands instead of reaching for hand-held cell phones. The proposal does allow “a single tap or swipe to activate, deactivate or initiate hands-free mode.”

If this proposal is approved, Massachusetts would be the 16th state to have a hands-free cell phone law, joining all the New England states.

Primary Seat Belt Enforcement. According to the GHSA, 34 states have primary seat belt laws for drivers and front-seat passengers.

Massachusetts has a secondary seat belt law, meaning police officers cannot simply pull a motor vehicle over for a seat belt violation. A police officer must first observe another moving violation, such as speeding or running a red light.

A primary enforcement law for seat belts has been a hard sell in Massachusetts. But we urge you and your family to use the debate as a reminder to wear a seat belt every time you ride. According to the NHTSA, seat belts saved an estimated 14,668 lives in traffic accidents in 2016. Wearing a seat belt is an easy choice we can all make to protect ourselves.

Road Workers. The Massachusetts Department of Transportation would be granted authority to lower speed limits in construction zones. Fines would double in areas where workers are.

Truck Sideguards. In 2014, the Boston City Council approved a truck sideguard ordinance for all city-contracted trucks – the first in the nation. The governor’s proposal builds on this, mandating sideguards for all state-owned trucks and vehicles over 10,000 pounds. Along with sideguards, trucks must be equipped with convex and cross-over mirrors to increase driver’s visibility. If approved, trucks would have to be equipped by Jan. 1, 2020. All state and municipal contractors would have to do the same by 2022.

The sideguards are intended to protect the area between the truck’s front and back wheels, blocking it off to cyclists and pedestrians who can be caught underneath. Massachusetts has seen numerous cyclists who have been seriously injured or killed by these types of truck accidents.

Electric Scooters. The proposal would start regulating electric scooters like bicycles and allow scooter rentals to move ahead in local communities. This has been a point of contention in the Boston area as bikeshare and rideshare companies are eager to start scooter rentals here. Cities have argued that scooters are illegal because they don’t have directional signals as stated under current state law.

Ignition Interlock Devices. When drivers are convicted of operating under the influence or drunk driving in Massachusetts, they are permitted to apply for a hardship license. With this proposal, anyone who applies for a hardship license must use an ignition interlock device for a minimum of six months. The proposal also clarifies that the Registry of Motor Vehicles has authority to impose penalties if drivers attempt to drive after consuming alcohol or tamper with a device.

Further Reading:

Mass.gov: “An Act Relative to Improving Safety on the Roads of the Commonwealth.”

About Breakstone, White & Gluck – Boston Car Accident Lawyers
With more than 100 years combined experience, Breakstone, White & Gluck specializes in representing individuals injured in car accidents, truck accidents and other catastrophic collisions. If you have been injured, learn your rights at 800-379-1244 or 617-723-7676. You can also use our contact form.

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cellphone-car-300.jpgOne in four drivers admitted to texting while driving in the past month, a new AAA survey reports. While teenagers often get the most blame, this survey found drivers age 25-39 are actually the worst offenders.

Texting while driving is against the law in Massachusetts and 40 other states. But in the new survey, 26 percent of drivers reported sending a text or e-mail while driving in the past month. Among drivers age 25-39, 45 percent admitted to texting or sending an e-mail while driving and 10 percent admitted they did so fairly often.

These drivers were also most likely to drive while talking on a handheld cell phone, with 82 percent admitting to doing so in the past month and 43 percent saying they did it fairly often. Talking on a cell phone while driving is still legal in many states, including Massachusetts, but legislation is pending to restrict that activity.

Drivers 19-24 were second most likely to text while driving, with 42 percent confessing to it at least once in the previous month and 11 percent saying they did it fairly often.

Drivers age 16-18 were third most likely, followed by drivers ages 40-59, then 60 and older. Drivers age 75 and older were the least likely, but even one percent of them admitted to texting and 31 percent admitted to talking on a handheld cell phone while driving in the previous month.

A few notes:

  • One out of 10 fatal car crashes involves distraction, resulting in more than 3,000 deaths per year in the U.S.
  • At any given daylight moment, approximately 660,000 drivers in the U.S. are using cell phones or manipulating electronic devices while driving, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
  • Using a cell phone while driving quadruples your chance for being involved in a car accident, according to AAA.
  • Talking on a handheld cell phone is banned in 12 states and the District of Columbia. It is legal in Massachusetts and the rest of New England. Cell phone use is restricted for novice drivers in 37 states and the District of Columbia.
  • Texting while driving is banned for drivers in 41 states and the District of Columbia, including Massachusetts. It is also banned in other New England states. Six other states have bans prohibiting novice drivers from texting.
  • Using hands-free devices or infotainment systems is not safer than using handheld cell phones or texting, according to a study by a University of Utah research team. The study last summer tested voice-to-text technology which allows drivers to talk on the phones, send texts and e-mails and use social media without touching a cell phone. The study measured driver alertness using cameras mounted inside the vehicle and diagnostic tools to measure reaction time and brain activity.
  • Researchers ranked voice-to-talk technology as more dangerous than using a handheld cell phone and listening to a radio.

Related:
Map of handheld cell phone bans, Insurance Institute for Highway Safety

Hands-free talking, texting is unsafe, University of Utah

Teens report texting or using phone while driving significantly less often than adults, AAA Continue reading

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) hosts Child Passenger Safety Week from Sept. 19 to Sept. 25, providing parents an opportunity to check the traveling accommodations for those they hold most dear: their children.

The NHTSA estimates three out of four parents are not properly restraining their children in the car. But car and booster seats provide your child the greatest amount of protection and are especially important in light of the fact that motor vehicle crashes are responsible for the majority of deaths among children ages four to eight years old. Child safety seats reduce injury rates by 58 percent.

Massachusetts law mandates use of child safety seats. The law, which was expanded in July 2008, now requires parents to restrain children five to seven years of age or up to 4′ 9″ tall. Previously, child safety seats were required for children under 5 years of age and under 40 pounds.

The new law also requires children ages eight to twelve to wear a safety belt.

Drivers who violate this law can be stopped by police and face a $25 fine, but the real price is far greater in respect to your child’s safety.

One problem parents face in securing their children is the proper method changes with age. Click here to learn more.

If you’re a parent, make sure your child’s safety seat is properly installed. On Sept. 25, police stations and other inspection sites across Massachusetts will be participating in National Seat Check Saturday. Visit this website and search for an inspection station near you.
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