February 20, 2015

Massachusetts Distracted Driving: You Snooze, You Lose

In my work as a Boston car accident lawyer, I have seen firsthand the devastation that is caused by accidents – everything from distracted driving to drunk driving. Texting, talking on cellphones, eating, applying makeup – these are all threats to everyone’s safety, when done when you are sitting in the driver’s seat.

But now, an auto manufacturer - one of the most upscale - has come up with a new feature in their cars, that is almost certainly going to make drivers fall asleep at the wheel. I’m not kidding.
Mercedes-Benz has designed a new car so that it creates a spa-like experience while you drive. My jaw has dropped as I read about this. I have represented people who have fallen asleep at the wheel, and trust me -- it isn't pretty. The new Mercedes-Benz S550 4-Matic was designed by German engineers to become a spa-like escape on four wheels. To me, this is the very definition of distracted driving.

Scent is pumped into the car, in four different aromas, and it turns off and on intermittently, so that your senses are not dulled to the smell. Some of the heated seats have a seat back that inflates and deflates, massaging your shoulder blades to lower back. Yes, that’s right – you get a relaxing, "mini massage" as you drive. In my opinion as a Massachusetts distracted driving lawyer, heated seats and massage chairs lead to one thing: Dozing off. Falling asleep. And in this case, if you snooze, you really lose. Your life.

Other parts of the automobile are also heated – the armrests, door rests and even the steering wheels. Isn’t all of this car marketing just another way of turning the driver’s seat into a comfy bed? The only thing missing is a blanket and turndown service with chocolates.

I’ve heard of luxury car marketing, but this idea pushes corporate irresponsibility to its limits, and borders on automobile product liability.

Auto manufacturers should be creating safety features that help you to wake up and be alert behind the wheel. If you’re going to pump in fragrance, make those scents in coffee or sweet-orange oil to wake you up and energize you . Massage chairs for drivers' seats should be against the law. Heated massage chairs only want to make you snuggle up and snore.

For Heaven’s sake, please stay awake at the wheel and don’t fall for marketing that does NOT have your best interests at heart.

February 14, 2015

Don't Cause A Massachusetts Motor Vehicle Accident: Clear Snow & Ice From Your Vehicle!

We've all been there. You’re driving your car after yet another snowstorm. Traffic begins to move, and both the cars in front of you as well as yours, pick up speed. And then suddenly, from the vehicle in front of you, a totally unexpected block of snow or an “ice missile” smashes into your car windshield.

Like most motor vehicle accidents, it happens in the blink of an eye – you barely have time to react. You may not have even seen where the snow or ice came from. 9 times out of ten, it was from a vehicle in front of yours – and not necessarily the one immediately in front of yours: Depending on the speed of the vehicles in motion and the wind speed, that flying chunk of snow or ice may have come from two or even three vehicles ahead of yours. Most times, the snow dislodges from the roof, the hood or trunk lid of a vehicle. Why? Because the driver of that vehicle in front of you didn’t remove the snow from the hood, the roof or the trunk lid of his vehicle. It doesn't take an engineer to figure out what happens when a large amount of snow or ice is left sitting on a vehicle that's heated inside and is moving at any speed faster than 10 MPH: Driven by the wind speed produced by the car’s movement, that snow and ice will come off the vehicle - either in a blinding cloud of snow, or a huge piece of snow and ice,crashing into someone else's windshield.

The result? The startled driver slams on the brakes, swerves into another lane, loses control of the vehicle and either crashes into another vehicle or something like a tree, pole, or worse. These are the kinds of circumstances that can cause a fatal Massachusetts car accident. As a Boston motor vehicle accident lawyer, I've seen too many of these otherwise preventable accidents. Many drivers don’t realize that when they don’t remove snow from their car roofs, they’re creating extremely serious safety hazards on Massachusetts roads.

If an accident occurs because you did not clear the snow or ice from your vehicle, you can, be cited for either of two Massachusetts motor vehicle offenses: One is legally called "Driving with an Unsecured Load," which carries a fine of up to $200.00. This other is called "Driving To Endanger”; This is a more serious, criminal offense (as opposed to receiving a civil fine.) Either way, it's going to cost you. Connecticut passed an “ice missile law” last year, and police in that state enforce it vigorously. The Boston Globe previously ran an editorial exactly a year ago in February 2014, urging the Massachusetts Legislature to pass an equally specific law; click here to see that clip.

Hopefully, this will never happen to you. But if your vehicle is struck by snow or ice because another driver didn’t remove snow or ice from his or her vehicle, and you are injured in a resulting Massachusetts motor vehicle accident, you're going to need an experienced Massachusetts car accident lawyer. You may be entitled to significant financial compensation for your injuries, based on the damages involved.

As a Dedham, Massachusetts car accident lawyer, I hope this post reminds all Massachusetts drivers to take the time to clear snow & ice off their vehicles, before they hit the road. We all have enough to worry about when driving in this awful winter weather, without having the unnecessary anxiety of never knowing if a flying avalanche will come crashing down and cause another Massachusetts car accident.

Use your head. And your hands, to clear that snow & ice off your car.

January 30, 2015

Reducing Massachusetts Liquor Liability Injuries: When Will Colleges Here Ban Hard Liquor on Campus?

If you've ever seen the movie Animal House you know the havoc that is wreaked from too much drinking, and the hazing that tragically still goes today on at many college fraternities around the United States.

It's always been pretty much acknowledged, at least tacitly, that this movie was based on the drinking culture that has for many years been reported at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire, one of the world’s preeminent Ivy League colleges. Perhaps you’ve heard the nickname for Dartmouth's location? No, not Hanover, but Hangover, New Hampshire.

We’ll all that reported alcohol abuse may be at least slowing down, as Dartmouth College this past Thursday announced that it will ban hard liquor on campus. It will also forbid pledging at Greek sororities and fraternities – an event that usually entails binge drinking – and the college will require all students to undergo a special four-year program designed to prevent sexual violence.

As a Boston, Mass. liquor liability lawyer, I applaud Dartmouth College for taking the lead to curb drinking on its campus. Dartmouth is to be admired for its stance and having the courage to speak out and make sure that their school does not further tolerate excessive drinking on campus. The plan is called “Moving Dartmouth Forward,” and is designed to reduce dangerous behavior on campus.

I’m a Boston personal injury attorney, and I have seen firsthand the problems and tragedies that result when people drink too much. The script is usually all too familiar: Before you know it they get behind the wheel of a car and injure someone else – or kill them. Or their behavior gets out of hand – and they commit a sexual assault – or become the victim of a sexual assault. Or they simply wind up doing stupid things – like jumping off a roof – and permanently injure themselves by suffering a spinal-cord injury. The list goes on and on, and I’m glad that Dartmouth is enforcing a zero-tolerance policy on this issue. Though it should be noted that altruism is not likely the sole motivator behind this toughened campus policy: Liquor liability laws can hold colleges and fraternities liable for injuries caused to persons by students who become intoxicated on campus, and resultantly injure innocent persons. When a person becomes intoxicated at someone's home and later injures a third party because of that intoxication, a similar liability can attach to the person who hosted the gathering where the alcohol was served. The law that applies in that type of circumstance is called social host liability.

Dartmouth’s restrictions start at the end of this March 2015, and ban the possession or alcohol consumption of alcohol that is 30 proof or stronger than that. The Ivy League college will also create what they call a “consent manual,” which is meant to specifically outline what is acceptable – and not acceptable – in terms of sexual behavior, to reduce all "ambiguity." Not that I think "ambiguity" is a problem when it comes to sexual assaults.

Other colleges that ban hard liquor on campus include Colby, Bowdoin, and Providence colleges.
I hope that Massachusetts colleges will soon follow suit.

January 19, 2015

Massachusetts Texting & Driving Accidents: How To Stop Them? Part Two of Two

In my previous post on this subject, I discussed how Scott Tibbitts, a chemical and space engineer who previously designed motors and technology for NASA, formed a company named Katasi to find a way to tackle the problem of preventing people from texting while driving. Mr. Tibbitts devoted his time and energies to this task, following the death of a colleague who was killed by a driver who was texting while driving. This is a dangerous behavioral problem that has vexed public safety professionals for several years now.

Tibbitts and his team did it! Their answer is Groove: A small device that plugs into a port that’s located just under any steering wheel (these ports are located in most car models made after 1996): Once plugged in, the device connects the car to the Internet. Each driver of the vehicle must first be registered with Groove. Once that drive plugs his device into the port under the steering wheel, within seconds of the car moving, Groove determined who that particular driver is and immediately notifies that person's smart phone carrier (AT&T Mobility, Verizon Wireless, etc.,) allowing the carrier to block all incoming distractions (such as texts) before they reach the phone. No worries about the texts being lost: After the ignition is turned off, Groove again notifies the carrier, and all messages and texts that were blocked while the car was on and moving, come rolling right in, so no messages are missed.

Obviously, the key link in making Groove work effectively and seamlessly is the cell phone carriers: Katasi is now working actively with two major U.S. carriers to deploy Groove in 2015, Tibbitts knows this is not enough. "Our goal is to have every carrier on board with Groove, providing the capability to limit distractions before they get to the phone when a subscriber is driving" he said.

Dave Sueper’s widow, Diane Misgen, told Couric that she was both honored and hopeful that Groove will make a huge difference, and prevent needless tragedies of the kind that took her husband from her. Speaking to Couric, she said "It was so reassuring to me that this was going to save so many lives. And I think for my kids, it's also heartwarming to know that someone else who had nothing to do with our family took on that challenge in honor of their dad."

As a Boston Massachusetts distracted driving lawyer, my message in today’s post is to ALL of the wireless cell phone carriers in the United States: Get on board and be part of this incredible SOLUTION to this deathly epidemic. Stop dragging your feet in the name of expenses and corporate profits. Get off your butts and work with Katasi to make this a universal reality across this country, now.

To know more about Groove and find out whether it is available to you, visit katasi.com.

January 11, 2015

Massachusetts Texting & Driving Accidents: An Electronic Solution May Be On The Way – Part One of Two

Readers of this blog know that I’ve posted many times on the subject of Massachusetts texting and driving accidents – pleading with drivers to put down that smart phone when behind the wheel. Despite the numerous deaths and injuries that have resulted, human behavior just doesn’t seem to change: People think they can do this, without causing any problems. Thinking that is like thinking you can walk across the Massachusetts Turnpike, blindfolded, and not get killed. Yet, this behavior goes on.

Well, if human behavior can’t seem to change on its own, perhaps science and technology can help it change. The impetus for this technological change was caused by a tragedy: On May 8, 2008, a man Dave Sueper, a husband and father of two, was driving in his car, on his way to a business meeting with a colleague. Driving through an intersection, Mr. Sueper was “T-boned” when by a distracted teenage driver who was texting as he ran a red light. The person Mr. Sueper was on his way to meet was a man by the name of Scott Tibbitts, a chemical and space engineer who previously designed motors and technology for NASA. Mr. Tibbitts was deeply affected by the tragedy. As Dave Sueper was, Tibbitts was the father of two children at the time. As an electronics engineer, he obsessed with finding a way to prevent more motor accidents and deaths due to texting while driving (distracted driving.)

Tibbitts had recently sold his space engineering company, Starsys Research Corp., and the time was right for a new challenge, professionally. He devoted himself to finding a way to stop the growing scourge of texting while driving. Just how serious is this epidemic? The U.S. Department of Transportation estimates that cellphones (smartphones) are implicated in 1.6 million car crashes each year; these motor vehicle crashes cause over half a million injuries and claim 6,000 lives each year. Think drunk driving is the worst or only insane thing you can do while behind the wheel? Texting while driving has replaced drinking while driving as the leading cause of teenage vehicular deaths; Teen distracted driving is the cause of 20 percent of all teen highway deaths in the U.S. I’ve been a Brookline, Massachusetts car accident lawyer for 20 years, and I can assure you: The emergence of cell phones, smart phones and texting has caused and explosion of these injuries and deaths. It is quite horrific.

Tibbitts knew drivers were obviously not changing their habits, and he became consumed with finding a technological answer to how this behavior could be prevented. In an interview with Yahoo Global News Anchor Katie Couric, he commented, "There has got to be something that will fix this technically. (BTW: Watch that video link with Katie Couric to see a fascinating social experiment with Japanese movie goers, about texting while driving. I think you'll find it very interesting.) Tibbitts continued, "This feeling — it just wouldn't let [me] go." The technological challenge wasn’t going to be easy: Several previous attempts to stop this behavior had been tried, typically using apps on smart phones that would tap into GPS signals to pick up on when a phone is traveling more than 10 MPH, and then disable distracting phone features such as texting. But the problem was that those apps can easily be overridden by the driver. Further, those apps don't make any distinction between whether the phone’s user was traveling in his own car, someone else’s car in which he is merely a passenger, or even a public bus that’s traveling faster than 10 MPH. This was the challenge that Tibbitts and his team at his new company, Katasi, had to solve. Click on that link to learn more about this fascinating company, and what it's doing to create a safer world.

I’ll talk about just how Tibbitts and his company, Katasi, went about tackling those problems.

December 29, 2014

AVOID MASSACHUSETTS SOCIAL HOST LIABILITY BY HAVING GUESTS SIGN WAIVERS?

It’s the Holiday Season, and that means house parties, correct? My parents, neighbors and relatives had them each year, and they were always fun, lighthearted events. The only thing most people needed to be really concerned about was whether your oddball relatives would cooperate, or whether the food would be good. However, things are different nowadays, aren’t they? (Note: I didn’t say “better,” I said “different.”)

In the newest social development to give rise to the ongoing debate of whether people these days think & act foolishly, or prudently, consider Exhibit “A” on that topic: It seems that an idea is circulating around the internet, suggesting that Massachusetts residents who plan on throwing a holiday party in their home, might want to present a Liability Waiver to their guests who arrive at the front door. Yes, you read that correctly: A Liability Waiver, otherwise known as a Release of Liability, supposedly waiving any liability claims against the homeowners, for any injuries the guest might suffer at or after the gathering to which the guest has been invited. Presumably, this idea was cooked up to supposedly protect the homeowner if the guest was injured because he or she drank too much alcohol at the party, and somehow became injured at or immediately after the party. This idea arose over the internet, presumably because the non-lawyer people who dreamed this idea up, think that it will actually work.

Not exactly. The legal reasons for this are twofold: 1) First, such a waiver would only act to possibly – though not certainly - prevent a liability claim by the guest, and the guest only, for injuries he or she suffered as a result of becoming intoxicated at the party. Such a Release would not act to automatically prevent a successful claim against the homeowner under Massachusetts social host law. It might act to reduce the homeowner’s proportion of negligence within the case if an issue of comparative negligence were raised, but how much protection it would provide would be highly variable case-to-case, and would be highly dependent on the surrounding facts and circumstances particular to each case. 2) No such Release or Waiver would ever act to bar liability claims of third parties who might be injured as the result of a drunken party guest. For example, if a guest became intoxicated at a house party, left the house, drove away in his car and struck and injured or killed an innocent third party, that third party would still be able to sue the homeowners under the Massachusetts social host law.

As a Boston, Massachusetts Social Host Liability Attorney, I've seen a wide variety of cases come before me. For a case like this to succeed, a number of factors need to come together, and it takes a very experienced Massachusetts Alcohol Liability Lawyer to successfully litigate and win these cases. So, for those who are throwing holiday parties in their home, try a different set of tactics: Use common sense: Limit the number of guests to a reasonable amount that you can comfortably observe. Monitor your guests’ alcohol consumption. Hide the car keys of anyone appearing at all intoxicated.

P.S.: If you have a dog and Fido doesn't like strangers, put him or her in the basement with a chew toy and water for the night. Because you won’t get out of hot water if Fido bites a guest, either.

December 24, 2014

Man Killed in Boston Pedestrian-Motor Vehicle Accident on Christmas Eve

Christmas Eve, 2014. A time when families and friends gather to celebrate the blessings they have, and to give and receive gifts. A time of warmth, hope, and ideally happiness.

Yet tragedy knows no holiday. And tragically, earlier today in East Boston, a man was killed in a pedestrian-motor vehicle accident. You can read an initial news report of the tragedy, filed by CBS4 Boston (WBZ-TV,) by clicking here.

How awfully sad. While the victim's identity hasn't yet been released, all that you need to know is that he was somebody's someone: Somebody's son, somebody's brother, somebody's husband, somebody's friend. Killed in a Boston pedestrian-car accident, on Christmas Eve. As a Massachusetts pedestrian-motor vehicle accident attorney, I see far too many of these types of accidents. They are almost always very serious, given the obvious reality that when a pedestrian is struck by a 2,000 lb. vehicle, terrible injuries are likely to result. My plea, yet once again, to anyone with a driver's license: Watch what you are doing when you're driving. Do NOT text and drive - do NOT engage in distracting conversation with anyone else in the car, kids or adults. Do NOT read your email. PUT DOWN that cell phone.

Or the next story about someone being killed or seriously injured in a Massachusetts pedestrian-car accident, may mention your name as the deceased. Worse still? You may be the one who lives - and you will carry the guilt of killing someone accidentally, for the rest of your life.

December 15, 2014

Massachusetts Regulators Propose Crack Down on Assisted Living Facilities

In Massachusetts right now, there’s a bit of a war going on between the Massachusetts Executive Office of Elder Affairs, nursing homes and assisted living facilities. As is so often the case, while the consumer is the party who is supposedly is designed to benefit from these regulatory skirmishes, that isn’t always what results.

Have you ever noticed these 'Assisted Living Facilities' when driving around Massachusetts (or elsewhere,) and wondered, “What are these places?” Well, in theory, they were developed about 15-20 or so years ago as a kind of an alternative to a nursing home, for primarily elderly residents who need some kind of care outside their families’ homes, but weren't so seriously disabled that they needed a nursing home or skilled nursing facility with round-the-clock care. These facilities – or real estate developments as many would call them – supposedly offered primarily elderly residents (or otherwise infirmed persons) an alternative environment to a nursing home. In theory, many such residents would need limited assistance – perhaps to bathe or similar functions – and many would hire their own part-time nurse, Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN,) or nurses’ aide to come in for a few hours every day to help with these daily living functions. In practice, many assisted living facilities operate more like apartment complexes that have almost exclusively elderly residents, than anything else. Advocates for the elderly have criticized this practice, saying it’s an essentially low-ball way to make money off elderly patients – without being regulated as nursing homes or skilled nursing facilities.

This ‘sub-nursing home’ option became quite popular with the public, for a variety of reasons: 1) The primary one is that the cost for an assisted living facility is usually far less than that for a nursing home of skilled nursing facility. 2) Next, in theory at least, these facilities offered the resident a greater degree of independence and autonomy; but 3) - and as a Massachusetts nursing home neglect attorney, in my opinion this next one is very important – they offer the adult children of the elderly parents that they place in these facilities, a ‘way out’ of the guilt that usually results when placing an aging parent in a traditional nursing home. So, for a variety of reasons, assisted living facilities have grown rapidly, to the point now where approximately 14,000 in Massachusetts live in these facilities across the state. These facilities are regulated by the Massachusetts Executive Office of Elder Affairs – but trust me, as a Dedham Massachusetts nursing home lawyer – the oversight to date hasn’t exactly been strict or aggressive. However, it looks like that’s about to change, and that’s what the current battle between the state, the nursing home industry and the assisted living facilities is all about.

The state, through the state Office of Elder Affairs, believes that assisted living facilities are too eager, in their quest for revenue and profits, to accept residents that need a sufficient level of care that they really ought to be in nursing homes or in a skilled nursing facility. To this end, the state has drafted new regulations that would prohibit assisted living facilities accepting residents who are so frail or disabled that they need more than 90 consecutive days of skilled nursing care. The trade association which represents the interests of the assisted living facility industry, the Massachusetts Assisted Living Facilities Association, is trying to push back these proposed changes, claiming that regulations that force frail or infirm elderly residents to leave these facilities would force many into nursing homes against the wishes of the residents and/or their families. The industry is also concerned about a provision in the new regulations that the state has drafted, which would allow the state to make these changes without public hearings that allow interested parties to speak in opposition to them.

So, which party here – the state, the nursing home industry or the assisted living facility industry, has a greater claim to the truth on this issue? And most importantly, what is the best policy for the elderly and frail residents of these facilities? As a Brookline, Massachusetts nursing home neglect lawyer, I’ve seen far too many cases of nursing home neglect and abuse. If that is ultimately what is going on with assisted living facilities accepting residents who end up at risk because they need more care than such a place can provide, then we’re going to essentially create a whole new category of elders who are being neglected or abused.

I certainly don’t want to limit the housing options of elders who don’t want to go to a nursing home. Believe me – having seen the inside of too many nursing homes in my lifetime, I’m in favor of any reasonable option to keep an elder either in their home or in an assisted living facility. But not if placing the elder in such a facility will end up causing even more neglect to the elder. A very careful balancing act is needed here. We'll see what develops as these regulations move forward.

December 7, 2014

Dedham Massachusetts Pedestrian-Car Accident Kills Woman, 54

I’ve written many times on this blog about Massachusetts pedestrian-motor vehicle accidents, but sometimes events like this just hit closer to home, for whatever reason, geographic or otherwise.

Such is the case for this post, as a pedestrian was killed this past Friday night in Dedham, next door to my town of Westwood, under circumstances that are even worse than a pedestrian-motor vehicle accident: A hit-and-run. At approximately 10:45 p.m. Friday, December 5, Dedham police officers responded to a car accident at a location on Washington Street at Lower East Street. There they found a 54-year-old woman, identified later as Ms. Jeannie Heppler, lying critically injured on the sidewalk. She had been hit by a motor vehicle – and the driver fled the scene of the accident. He or she left this woman on the side of the street, critically injured. Ms. Heppler was transported to nearby Norwood Hospital where she was pronounced dead.

Police believe that Ms. Heppler was crossing Washington Street when she was hit in the southbound travel lane by a passing vehicle. Investigators are searching for a 2000-2006 Ford Escape that has passenger side headlight damage as well as damage to the passenger side view mirror. Anyone with information about this event is asked to call the Dedham Police Department at (781) 751-9300.

As a Boston pedestrian-car accident attorney, I’ve seen many Massachusetts pedestrian-motor vehicle accidents. They can happen anywhere, in a crowded city environment or a rural country road, and when they happen, the physical injuries are very often extremely serious. That's why an experienced Massachusetts pedestrian-car accident law firm is needed by anyone who has been injured in this type of accident. But for a driver to leave an injured person lying on the side of the road after he or she has accidentally hit that person, is beyond belief. How someone like that can believe that he or she would be “better off” by running and avoiding responsibility, by leaving an innocent person to quite possibly die on the side of the road like an animal, is stunning to me.

As a Boston injury lawyer, I have seen this kind of conduct increase with alarming frequency – and it begs the question of why and how such acts of inhumanity are indeed on the rise. Both professionally and personally, I attribute it to the de-sensitization of our society, brought on by the de-personalization that results from the digital age: The dramatic and vast reduction in human-to-human contact in everyday life (automated, voice-command systems prevail everywhere, with real people removed from daily interaction.) Add to this toxic mix the rise of social media, which despite its initial promise of ‘connecting’ us all, has in fact disconnected us from each other. Taken together, this produces the toxic result of de-sensitizing, de-personalizing, and in sum “numbing-out” much of the population when it comes to empathy for others. The result? An ever-coarser society that lacks compassion and dignity.

In the event that the driver of this vehicle might be monitoring online reports of this event: Beyond a name, the person you killed had a face. And here it is.

November 27, 2014

Massachusetts Car Accidents: Be Thankful If You Aren't In One On Thanksgiving Weekend.

I’m sorry that I haven’t posted to this blog in a while; the combination of too much work, and a little too much travel.

So, what are you thankful for this Thanksgiving holiday? You must have a list, and for many, the short list probably includes being thankful that some kind of family argument didn’t erupt with a relative during Thanksgiving dinner. That, or you’re grateful you probably don’t have to work on Friday.

If you get to where you’re going and back without being in a Massachusetts car accident this weekend, you should definitely add that one to the list. Why? Because Thanksgiving is traditionally the busiest travel holiday of the year, with an unbelievably high number of vehicles on the road all over the country. In Massachusetts, all the major highways will be jam-packed over the weekend – especially Thursday and Sunday. Those highways include the Mass. Pike, Route 128, Routes 3 & 92, and Interstate 95. Thank God I’ll be nowhere near them!

But what do you do if you’re one of the unlucky ones, and are injured in a car accident? As a veteran Boston Massachusetts car accident lawyer, I’ve put together a list of what you should do if this happens to you: Here’s a brief list:

1) Pull Over, Immediately. Assuming your vehicle is still drivable, under Massachusetts law, you must stop at once if your vehicle hits another motor vehicle, including a motorcycle or bicycle, or a pedestrian. Note: The same law applies if you hit an animal, or if your vehicle hits another person’s property. Don’t even think of driving away, or you’ll expose yourself to a Massachusetts criminal charge of leaving the scene of an accident.

2) Dial "911." Call the police at once on your cell phone. If you don’t, your insurance company might deny coverage, and in the worst case you could be prosecuted if you do not report a collision.

3) Accept Medical Treatment. Even if you don't feel immediately injured - be sure to accept any medical evaluation that EMT’s offer. Far too often, car accident victims discover a few days later, that they in fact suffered serious injuries. These are called “soft tissue injuries, because no fractures or lacerations may be immediately involved. These injuries typically worsen over time.

4) Cooperate With Law Enforcement. As a Quincy, Massachusetts car accident law firm, we strongly recommend that you refrain from admitting any guilt in connection with your collision. Do not talk to the other drivers or passengers involved in the crash, except to exchange contact information.

5) Take Notes. If you can, jot down notes about the accident as soon as possible. By doing so, you will be prepared with as much evidence and documentation as possible, without later forgetting this critical information when it will be needed by your attorney.

6) Take Photos With Your Camera Or Smartphone. If you can't take photos immediately, return to the scene as soon as possible to do so, or ask a friend to do so. Photograph any obstacles, obstructions, adverse road conditions, signs, trees, vegetation, and any other relevant information.

7) Call A Family Member or Friend. You should call someone as soon as possible to let them know what has happened to you, and to inform them of your whereabouts.

8) Contact Your Insurance Carrier and Your Attorney. As soon as you can, call your insurance carrier - but only to report that the accident occurred. Do not answer any other questions about the accident other than the date, time, and location of the accident. Do not speak with anyone else involved in the accident or their insurance company, without first obtaining legal advice from an experienced Massachusetts car accident law firm.

And remember - don't drive until the tryptophan wears off. Doing otherwise is being a real turkey.

October 16, 2014

Massachusetts Distracted Driving Accidents: The Scary Truth

You think Spooky World is going to scare you this Halloween?

As a Boston Massachusetts distracted driving accident lawyer, I can tell you three frightening stories of what happens when you practice distracted driving on the road. Texting and driving are two words that should never, ever be spoken together – and certainly never practiced in tandem. It’s a recipe for disaster. The Massachusetts Anti-Texting Law, otherwise known as the "Safe Driving Act," also prohibits drivers from texting, emailing, and reading from handheld devices such as Smart phones, and devices such as iPads, when on the road. That should be enough warning for us all. But for some people, it's not. For some shock value, consider these three horrific stories of how some people think they can "drive safely."

My wife Debbi Kickham has told me three absolutely true horror stories about people she has met in her lifetime, who told her about what they do when they drive. Each story is so unbelievable, that Debbi never forgot them. And when I heard them, my jaw dropped.

An old friend of Debbi's, who was in medical school, once drove from Massachusetts to California. Care to know what this obviously bright person did as he drove? He propped a medical textbook in his lap, and glanced down from time to time to read, to break up the monotony of driving from one coast to another. This dangerous behavior goes beyond the pale. He probably ended up in a Hospital Emergency Ward - horizontally, and long before he thought he would.

Another one of Debbi’s colleagues, who owned a bridal shop on the side, told her that when she drove home after working 9-5 every day, she did something that made her feel like the ultimate multi-tasker during her commute. She sewed hems on bridal headpieces as she was driving. We are not kidding, folks. She told this to Debbi with pride, and with a laugh. It's unbelievable.

And here’s the kicker: A story so terrifying it will curl your hair. One of Debbi’s friends recently told her that her Mom has an unusual beauty routine: She curls her hair with her curling iron, plugged into the cigarette lighter, as she drives. (No, not as a passenger.) Now that you've picked yourself up off the floor after hearing that, can you believe how shocking it is? And you thought that women putting on makeup as they sat in the driver’s seat was bad. While these stories might seem like they take the cake, there are even worse stories of distracted driving out there.

We don't know if those terrible driving stories ever led to a Massachusetts car accident -- and we hope that they never did. But practicing such distracted driving is like playing with fire.

I am urging everyone who reads this blog post to stop, pay attention to the road, and never, ever, do anything else while driving except keep your eyes glued to the road. Driving and being out on the road is already dangerous enough – Reminder: You're driving over one ton of steel and glass - which can kill at just 5 MPH, never mind typical road speeds. Use your head: Don’t do anything that could ultimately kill you – or any number of innocent victims.

October 10, 2014

Fall In Massachusetts: Nice, Just Don't Slip and Fall on Wet Leaves

So many people love the Fall season. I'm just not one of them. For many people, it’s a time for apple-picking, football games, Halloween and clean, crisp air. For me, it's a time for longing the warm summer air and beach days that have left us. It’s also the season for leaf-peeping, which here in Massachusetts, people do in droves.

But did you know that autumn leaves, while beautiful, can pose a threat and can precipitate a Massachusetts slip and fall injury? “Fall” is the operative word here. Think about it: Dew falls during the nights and mornings, and it rests on leaves that have fallen everywhere. Aside from dew, rain also can pour down on leaves. The result? Moist leaves that are as slippery as a banana peel – or a sheet of ice, in winter. People certainly know how dangerous snow and ice are, but are probably not as familiar with how dangerous wet leaves can be. A Massachusetts slip and fall injury caused by simply wet leaves can be very serious.

Wet leaves can pose a problem at private homes -- especially on walking surfaces like driveways, stairs and porches. At public places and at businesses, wet leaves that are not raked away or that simply pile up can be very dangerous, at entrances and exits, and on stairwells. One false move, and you’re on the ground with a broken wrist, a twisted ankle, or far worse - and when and where you least expected it. If that happens, you will need a Boston slip and fall attorney.

When slip and fall injuries are caused by someone else’s negligence – such as by someone not raking their leaves, or letting wet leaves pile up by an entrance, for example -- you as the victim deserve to be compensated for your physical pain and suffering, as well as economic harm the injury has caused you. You could very possibly find yourself with large hospital bills, and may need to take time off from work so that your injuries can heal. As a Boston personal injury attorney, I can assure you that you do not have to become victimized by these events, without legal recourse. Under Massachusetts law, you have legal rights when you are injured due to someone else’s negligence. A Massachusetts slip and fall injury that is caused by wet leaves falls under the heading of "premises liability," and an experienced Massachusetts injury attorney can help you obtain the financial damages you deserve.