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My previous post on this subject talked about how a lot of drivers end up driving around with too little of some very important types of auto insurance.  I ended the last pointing out that many drivers who have been injured in Massachusetts motor vehicle accidents can suffer not only devastating physical injuries, but suffer financial losses as well due to the “other driver” not carrying enough bodily injury insurance to pay for all of your damages.

This can happen in two principal scenarios:

  • The other driver who caused your injuries was driving illegally without any insurance, and has no assets you can attach to pay for your damages.

Or

  • The other driver does carry the compulsory minimum Bodily Injury To Others coverage of $20,00 per person/$40,000 per accident, but your (and/or your occupants) damages exceed that amount.

Continue reading

OK, folks.  Time to talk about something that may not be sexy or on the average person’s radar screen, but if you drive a car in Massachusetts (and over 85% of residents here do,) it’s far more important to everyday life than you think.

I’m talking about your auto insurance coverages – specifically, uninsured motorist coverage – called “UM coverage”, and underinsured motorist coverage – called “UIM coverage.  Why so important?  Because your statistical chances of being injured by another driver, or you injuring someone else, are very high. If you don’t know enough about your auto insurance policy, you could find yourself in real legal and financial trouble.

I’ll make this explanation as easy to understand as I can.  Note:  If you have easy access to your auto insurance policy right now, getting your policy out and looking at your Coverage Selections Page, otherwise called your “DEC Page” (for “Declarations,”) will make what I’m going to talk about a lot easier to understand.  If you don’t have your policy in easy reach, keep reading because you’ll still learn valuable information that can protect you, legally and financially.

OK – The holidays are now over, it’s now officially 2017, and we all (or at least I) face three cold, icy, miserable months ahead until we can hope for signs of spring.  (Sorry to you ski-lovers for this description, but I’m made for summer.)  Cold, ice, snow and slush make for dangerous conditions, whether it’s driving or walking.  A lot of different types of accidents can happen in winter, most notably slip and fall accidents as well as car accidents.  This being so, I thought a “Top Ten List” of what people should do right away if they’re injured, would be helpful, so here goes:

  1. First, get appropriate medical attention: Obviously, this is the most important thing after suffering a serious accident or injury. There are many types of injuries, where physical symptoms do not become immediately apparent, but instead take time to symptomize.
  2. If at all possible, use your smartphone to take pictures of the accident scene! If you are so badly injured that you cannot take pictures, and but there is a passenger or a witness who can take photos, have them do it.  Also, have several photos taken of yourself, even if you are bleeding, or on a stretcher.  It is extremely important to secure and preserve photographic evidence of an accident scene!   While this may seem gory or extreme at first thought, such photos will become very important later on when the defendant’s insurance company claims that you were not seriously injured (which they almost certainly will.)



In my previous post on this subject, I wrote about how recovering damages for injuries suffered due to falls on Massachusetts municipal sidewalks, is legally very difficult.  In theory, if a person in Massachusetts is injured in a slip & fall accident due to snow or ice being on a sidewalk, that person can sue the municipality as the owner of the sidewalk – but only if the snow or ice was accompanied by some other defect that made the sidewalk dangerous (such as a gap in concrete or asphalt, etc.)

Even more so – and worse for persons injured due to falls on these sidewalks, whether the fall was caused by snow, ice, or other structural defects in the sidewalk, liability for any such injuries has always been capped at $5,000 per event.  This is courtesy of a special statute, M.G.L.  c. 84, §15, enacted several years ago.  Attempts to change this law have always been successfully opposed by the organization that represents the 351 city and towns in Massachusetts, the Massachusetts Municipal Association.  Your tax dollars at work, huh? Continue reading

The world of civil liability law in Massachusetts, or tort law as attorneys call it, is changing.  And as with most change that takes place within society, there are opposing forces to change; one that supports the change; one that doesn’t.  If that doesn’t exactly excite you, if you’re a homeowner you might want to know that one such major change in the area of Massachusetts tort law that was seen in recent years, was the Supreme Judicial Court’s (SJC) ruling on the subject of whether or not homeowners could be held liable for slip & fall injuries occurring on their property due to snow and ice not being removed from the property in a timely fashion.  The legal upshot:  They can now.

Years of legal principle in Massachusetts had generally insulated homeowners from such liability, applying an arcane and often little-understood idea previously known as the “unnatural accumulation” principle.  This convoluted theory held that unless the offending snow and ice that caused the injuries in question was the result of “unnatural accumulation” – i.e., previous shoveling or plowing – then the homeowner was not liable.  As a Boston, Massachusetts slip and fall attorney, I can assure you:  This often confusing rationale usually resulted in unjust rulings and verdicts, and in fact discouraged homeowners from shoveling or removing snow & ice from their property.  That no longer results, as homeowners can now be held liable for injuries due to snow & ice on their property, regardless of how it ended up there.

Now, the subject of sidewalk liability is about to become the next area of legal review by the SJC – and people in this state may be in for quite a change in this area of liability law.  The obvious reason?  This is New England.  Slip and fall injuries taking place on municipal sidewalks that covered with either snow or ice are inevitable, and even though businesses could in rare circumstances face liability for such injuries, they usually don’t.  Resident property owners almost never do.  The reason for this is that at common law, a duty to remove snow or ice only existed if the defendant owned the sidewalk. Because neither businesses nor homeowners own public sidewalks, there is no duty to clear the snow and ice.  Thus, the legal responsibility for maintaining them has always fallen on the city or town, not the business owner that the sidewalk abuts, nor the homeowner that the sidewalk abuts.

When you’ve been injured in an accident, it’s important to speak with a lawyer – a very qualified, experienced Massachusetts injury attorney.   It’s important for anyone who’s been injured in an accident to know that the legal process doesn’t simply involve walking in to a courthouse and asking for damages.   Before then, There’s vital information about the accident that your attorney will need before he or she can begin representing you.  Having this information ready before you first meet with your attorney, will assure that the entire process moves as fast – and legally productive – as possible. Continue reading

Many people as of now have heard about the wrong-way collision earlier this week on Route 496 in Middleborough, which killed all occupants of both vehicles – 5 people in total.  They included the 31 year-old drive of the vehicle driving the wrong way on Route 495, and the 4 occupants of the vehicle that she hit.  Those 4 occupants were college students from schools in the Worcester area.

There’s been some talk lately about how, on a statistical level, wrong-way motor vehicle crashes or head-on car crashes are fairly rare.  On a purely statistical level, that’s true:   These type of motor vehicle accidents amounted to just 3 percent of crashes on divided highways recently, killing about 360 people every year according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA.)  But while those numbers may not seem so high, here’s another truth:  These types of motor vehicle accidents are, statistically, far more fatal than other types of car accidents.   In my long career as a Massachusetts highway accident attorney, I’ve seen the reality of this on an up-close, more often than I care to say.  The reasons for this are just a few, but very powerful: Continue reading

I’ve been around Massachusetts awhile.  I was born and raised in Brookline, and educated in the Boston area.  I’ve never really lived anywhere else but this area, and I’ve watched it change a lot over the past 20-25 years.  While a good amount of construction and development has changed the face of Boston and its suburbs, one of the biggest changes has nothing to do with the skyline.  It has to do with the streets – specifically, what’s on them now, that wasn’t on them to any near degree that it was 20-25 years ago.  What is that?  Bicyclists.  There are more bicyclists on the roads in Boston and the suburbs in the Route 128 Belt, than were ever seen as recently as the early 1990’s. Continue reading

Readers of this blog know that I carry a special torch for nursing home residents in general, and for victims of Massachusetts nursing home neglect or abuse in particular.  Of the several types of legal wrongs that can bring me to my feet, elder abuse and nursing home patient neglect are among the strongest.

On August 1 2016, I posted that the federal Centers for Medicare Services (CMS) was conducting hearings on changing an especially onerous and unconscionable provision (clause) that is presently in almost all nursing home contracts and long term care facility contracts.  That provision is known as a ‘pre-dispute arbitration clause,’ and what is essentially did was to force families and patients who entered nursing homes and long-term care facilities, to agree in writing to this clause, or the patient would not be admitted to the facility.  It’s also referred to as “nursing home forced arbitration.” What did this clause – often referred to as a “hammer clause” – mean?  It required – on day one, long before any dispute about care of the patient even arose – that the matter be submitted to forced arbitration – instead of the matter being decided in court. Continue reading

I’ve posted about the lunacy of texting & driving repeatedly.  Here’s a link to some of my previous  recent posts on this subject.

Most of what I have had to say on this subject, is, of course, in written format in this blog.  But despite my efforts and the efforts of many other professionals in the legal and public safety fields, this problem continues, unchecked.  Thinking that perhaps people just can’t or don’t get the important message of not texting or using a cell phone when driving, by only reading something, I thought readers might get the point more viscerally, through a video.  As a Massachusetts distracted driving lawyer, I know first-hand how important it is that people cease this insanity – yesterday.    Therefore, take 3 minutes to watch this video on the insanity – and even cruelty – of texting while driving:

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