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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

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.

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

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