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I’m going to comment on something tonight, but what occurred surrounding the events that I’m going to speak to in this post are so outrageous, so lacking in any common sense on any level, so thoroughly disproportionate to rational and reasoned thinking, and so tragic, that I wasn’t immediately sure if I should post it here in my Injury Law blog, or my Criminal Law blog.  The events in this incident strain belief, and the non-answers surrounding it issued so far by the Police Department involved, further strain credulity.

Full disclosure, before proceeding further:  I am basing my understanding of the events described below, on published reporting from The Boston Globe,  MSN and other media sources. (click on link for Boston Globe story published July 17 2017.) I have not yet had the opportunity to fact-check every description of this incident that follows.  However, based on the media accounts that I have reviewed, these reports are consistent with each other, and thus as of this date I have no reason to doubt their fundamental accuracy.  If, after publishing this post I learn of any errors within it, I will issue an appropriate correction in this blog promptly.

A young man killed himself Saturday night, July 8, in the wealthy town of Hingham. His name was Austin Reeves.  He was 26 years old, and universally liked by all who knew him – employers, friends, schoolmates, and more.  Said one of his employers of him, “He was charming and funny and outgoing. He could talk to anyone, and everyone always enjoyed him.”   Austin had no history of either mental illness or violence of any kind. After finishing working for his employer at a 75th birthday party reception earlier that day and evening, Austin had a phone conversation with a former girlfriend, with whom his relationship had failed a month earlier.  Something was said  in that conversation that apparently hurt him a great deal.  During the conversation, Austin mentioned that he owned a gun.  Note:  No information to date indicates that Austin made any specific threat in that conversation.  However this former girlfriend became worried about him, and phoned the Hingham Police Department at approximately 9:19 PM, asking them to simply conduct a wellness check on Austin at his home – that is all.  The Hingham Police then called the Reeves household, where they spoke to Austin’s father, Russell Reeves, and asked Russell if Austin had a gun in his possession.

How does this picture look to you?  Pretty scary, huh?  Well, you’d be surprised how often I see these types of Massachusetts motor vehicle accidents, caused by distracted driving.  That’s code for “Using a smart phone when behind the wheel.”

Mass Pike rollover
Despite the gravity of this problem, some would say that this subject is a classic battle between civil libertarians vs. law-and-order types.  I prefer to call it Realists vs. Members of the Flat Earth Society.

Because, as a Massachusetts car accident attorney, it’s my opinion that one would have to believe the earth is flat, to conclude that the time is long past due to ban the use of all hand-held devices while driving any motor vehicle.  An anemic attempt to address this massive problem was enacted in 2010, banning drivers aged 16 and 17 from using the devices while driving – but not adults.   The assertion at that time that this was “really a youth problem” was pathetic, and driven largely by special interest groups that didn’t want to interfere with “adult use” of these accident-causing devices.  Predictably, that embarrassing excuse of an effective public safety statute did little to stem this deadly, and growing, problem.

OK – Here it is, July 2 2017 and people everywhere are celebrating the Fourth of July (in what will very likely turn out to be a very short work week this coming week – added bonus, no?) Yes, that means parades, cookouts and each outings.  I love this time of year; I’m a summer person.

But Fourth of July celebrations also mean something else:  Fireworks celebrations.  And while the vast majority of these fireworks displays are run by cities and towns under professional management, an enormous amount of the fireworks that you hear in any given neighborhood, are being lit off by individuals – usually young people.  As I write this post, I can hear the occasional firecracker now (or entire pack of them!)  Most people – especially young people – don’t appreciate the real danger of lighting off fireworks such as firecrackers, bottle rockets, ground spinners, ladyfingers, M-80’s, sparklers, and more. Continue reading

In my previous post on this subject, I discussed how a dedicated Boston anesthesiologist by the name of Amy Reed, a wife and mother of six, died due to uterine cancer spread by a medical device known as a power morcellator.  These new surgical devices were thought to offer a superior method over conventional surgery, in removing uterine and ovarian cysts.  The medical term for such procedures is laparoscopic uterine hysterectomy and myomectomy.

Tragically, power morcellation, as it came to be known, wasn’t a superior method to treat these conditions. Continue reading

A leaf from a beautiful tree fell to earth the other day.  It made not much sound as it broke from its branch, nor much noise as it struck the ground.  But if irony were sound instead of feeling, the noise would have been heard for thousands of miles.  For the life of a gifted young physician, a person who dedicated her life to helping enhance the quality of others’ lives, ended entirely needlessly with the death of that leaf.  And the irony that defined this loss, is that it was caused by a defective medical product; a product of her own profession.

Dr. Amy Reed’s last medical fight, waged on a broad scale to change how physicians treat the type of uterine cancer that she was being treated for, was won too late for her.  But not too late for others facing similar types of cancer. Continue reading

It isn’t unique to any particular city in this state, but Massachusetts bike-motor vehicle accidents tend to be highest in Boston.  No surprise there, given the population density of the state’s capital and the number of employers here.  It’s caused by an increasing number of people who live in communities near the city, that don’t want to drive cars to work.  I can’t say that I blame them:  The traffic jams and parking charges in Boston are both intolerable and unaffordable.  Recently, bike safety advocates have held rallies in Boston celebrating “National Ride Your Bike To Work Day,” (that wouldn’t be sponsored by bicycle manufacturers, would it?) complete with posters demanding “Safe Streets Now.”

Not a bad idea to ride a bike to work (assuming it’s not too far,) but with that alternative, comes unavoidable trouble:  Cars and bikes are going to collide, and when that happens, the injuries that can result are often pretty serious.  City leaders have tried to come up with “solutions” – such a bike-only lanes in traffic – but anyone who thinks such anemic approaches are going to solve this problem, are dreaming. So then, what is a more effective solution?  In my view as a Boston bike accident lawyer, as long as cars and bikes can weave in and out of the current scheme for “designated lanes”, collisions will always result.  Painting “Bikes Only” or “Vehicles Only” on the streets themselves, will not meaningfully reduce these accidents and injuries.  Let’s face it:  When you’re driving, are you staring down at the asphalt to see what markings might be there?  The honest answer is that most drivers don’t – so they could be in a lane that’s marked “Bikes Only,” and still hit a bicyclist.

The only real way that demarcating lanes for bikes only is going to work, would be to erect barriers between vehicular and bike lanes, so that a car or truck cannot cross over into a bikes-only lane, or make a turn into one either.  And doing something like this takes big money:  Think of the hundreds of miles of streets and roads this would have to be done on.

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

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