Articles Posted in Car Accidents

As in-person schooling resumes, more children will be using Massachusetts school buses to get to and from school and after-school activities. Although school buses tend to be one of the safest ways to transport children to school, accidents resulting in serious injuries continue to occur. School bus accidents do not only include incidents involving motor vehicle collisions but other events such as falling while on the bus or being struck by the door while boarding or de-boarding. Massachusetts school bus accidents can be traumatizing to the children, parents, and school at large.

For instance, recently, a local news report described a Shrewsbury school bus crash on a busy Massachusetts roadway. According to witnesses, the school bus was making a left turn when a semi-truck collided with the bus. Emergency personnel were called to the scene and began transporting the children into ambulances. Fortunately, the bus driver and the injured children were discharged from the hospital with limited physical injuries. However, some children reported that they are continuing to experience anxiety following the collision. Parents told reporters that they reported the unsafe conditions of Route 20 and requested traffic signals; however, the city did not take any actions to remedy the dangerous road.

Massachusetts school bus accidents tend to be complex and require a thorough understanding of state and federal laws surrounding liability and immunity. However, there are many factors that courts will consider when determining fault and apportioning liability. For instance, the law does not require school buses to maintain seat belts, and most do not have them. The lack of seat belts can cause a child to be thrown or fall over when the bus driver brakes too hard or is involved in a collision. Further, in some cases, districts and city officials design unsafe bus stop locations.

Wrong-way car accidents occur when one or more vehicles travel in a lane opposite to the flow of traffic. According to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), wrong-way accidents do not occur as frequently as other types of accidents in Massachusetts. However, these accidents tend to result in more serious injuries and fatalities. These collisions are typically more severe because the wrong-way driver is usually unaware that they are traveling in the wrong lane. As such, the oncoming driver may be driving at high rates or erratically while drivers in the proper lane usually have little to no time to safely avert the impending collision. Wrong-way accident injury victims may be able to recover for their losses under Massachusetts personal injury laws.

Massachusetts wrong way car collisions usually occur because the negligent driver is intoxicated, under the influence of illicit or prescribed medication, distracted, or fatigued. Further, some of these accidents occur because the road conditions are unsafe or the weather presents motorists with obstructions related to fog, heavy rain or snow. The NTSB reports that these accidents are amongst the “most serious types of highway accidents.”

For instance, recently, a local news report described a harrowing Massachusetts wrong-way accident. Law enforcement responded to the scene of an accident in Somerset, Massachusetts. According to reports, an SUV driver was driving east on the highway’s west side when it slammed into a sedan. The sedan burst into flames, and the 21-year-old driver died at the scene of the accident. The 50-year-old SUV driver from Rhode Island, survived, but suffered serious injuries.

New England winter weather can be treacherous, especially for those who do not have experience handling inclement conditions. Although October is the month that sees the highest number of Massachusetts car accidents, winter weather generally increases the likelihood of car accidents, slip-and-falls, and other types of personal injury. In Massachusetts, those that suffer injuries in a car accident or other incident because of another’s negligence may be able to recover for their damages. However, snow and ice-related accidents can present many challenges to injury victims as the circumstances surrounding these accidents may not be clear. It is important that injury victims consult with an attorney to discuss their rights and remedies in these cases.

Many premises liability accidents stem from snow and ice slip-and-falls, trip-and-falls, and step-and-falls. These accidents may occur when a property owner fails to remove snow or ice from their home or business. The failure to make a property safe may result in serious injuries to a visitor or guest. The most common injuries from a snow or ice accident are broken bones, concussions, traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord damage, and organ damage. In many cases, these injuries require both emergency and long-term medical treatment. Even with insurance, these medical treatments are often costly and may deter the victim’s ability to continue gainful employment. In these cases, victims should pursue damages against the negligent party.

In some snow and ice accidents, liability may be evident, especially in situations where it is clear that a property owner failed to make their property safe, or an at-fault driver was acting negligently in operating their vehicle. However, cases are rarely straightforward, and defendants may blame the victim and avoid liability under the state’s comparative negligence or assignment laws. For example, an at-fault driver may argue that the injury victim suddenly braked their vehicle, thereby causing the rear-end driver to slam into them. Moreover, a property owner may try to attribute liability to a third-party hired to remove snow from the owner’s business or home. However, despite the legal theories that defendants may purport to avoid liability, winter weather can lead to disastrous accidents.

The death of a loved one in a tragic Massachusetts accident can have life-long devastating impacts on the victim’s family. Under the law, when another’s negligence played a part in the victim’s injuries or death, the surviving family members may be able to recover damages. Massachusetts law permits family members to recover for their losses under the state’s wrongful death statute.

A wrongful death occurs when a person dies because of the negligent, wrongful, or reckless conduct of another party. Typical defendants in these cases include individuals, companies, government agencies, or other similar parties. Wrongful death actions follow the same general theories as personal injury claims, except that they are deceased. However, wrongful death claims differ from survival actions. Under Massachusetts law, a spouse, partner, or child of the victim can file a wrongful death lawsuit. On the other hand, survival actions are generally brought on behalf of the victim’s estate to compensate the person who died.

Massachusetts wrongful death claims may follow a variety of different incidents. For example, many wrongful death claims arise from assaults, birth injuries, car accidents, motorcycle accidents, truck accidents, pedestrian collisions, recreational activity accidents, and defective products. However, Massachusetts maintains several exceptions to the wrongful death statute. For example, in some cases, employers may not face liability for an employee’s wrongful death if they died while on the job. However, family members may be able to pursue a legal claim under a different legal theory.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), traffic accidents are a public health concern in the United States, and a serious issue in Massachusetts. Car crashes are among the leading causes of severe injuries and death, killing nearly 100 people every day. Although fatality rates are improving slowly, it is still considerably higher than other developed nations. Many factors contribute to the outcome of a Massachusetts car accident. These factors include the driver and passenger’s age, the use of seat belts and restraints, the driver’s impairment level, and whether the accident involves pedestrians, bicyclists, or motorcyclists.

In the last full reporting year, CDC data indicates that 400 people died in a Massachusetts car accident. In 2020, there has already been close to 76,000 reported crashes and 286 fatalities. Nearly 1000 of these accidents involved pedestrians, and 824 involved bicyclist collisions. Although the overall number of accidents decreases slightly, the rate of fatal accidents remains similar to past reporting years.

The majority of these accidents involve motorists between the ages of 25 and 34, followed by those between 35 and 44. However, there is a significant number of crashes where the driver’s ages are unknown. Over 2000 passenger vehicle occupants died in a Massachusetts motor vehicle accident in the last reporting year. Many fatalities occurred because the driver or passenger was not wearing a seat belt or other restraint. Massachusetts law and policymakers encourage and require motorists to use these safety restraints, as they are a proven way to reduce an accident’s severity. Wearing a seat belt and buckling children into age and weight appropriate booster seats can reduce the risk for severe injury and death by 50%. In Massachusetts, seat belt laws are secondary, and cover drivers and passengers over 13 years old. Further, child restraint laws require that children seven years old and younger are buckled in a car or booster seat.

Under Massachusetts law, parents maintain the legal duty to ensure their child’s safety and well being. Inherent in this duty is parental responsibility for their child’s negligent conduct. Massachusetts parental liability laws provide that a parent may be held financially responsible for injuries and property damage that their child causes. In some cases, parental liability may extend to certain criminal acts their child engages in as well, such as vandalism. However, the most common situation where a parent may be held responsible is motor vehicle accidents.

These cases often fall under one of two main legal theories, vicarious liability or direct liability. Under vicarious liability, a parent may be responsible for injuries and property damage even though they did not have direct involvement in the situation. This typically applies in situations where a parent is the owner of the vehicle involved in the accident. In these situations, the parent would be liable for their teenager’s acts while they were driving the parent’s vehicle. Whereas, under direct liability, a parent may be responsible if they failed to control their child when they knew that their child would engage in negligent or reckless conduct.

For example, recently, a Massachusetts news report described an accident involving five teenagers. According to state law enforcement officials, the single-vehicle accident occurred shortly after midnight. The police department stated that the collision involved five individuals who ranged from 13 and 15 years old. Three of the juveniles were ejected from the vehicle and were transported to a local hospital. The other two occupants exited the car after the accident and did not require immediate medical attention. Video footage shows that the white jeep rolled over, and the roof was completely crushed.

Pedestrians, such as daily commuters, runners, hikers, and those traveling by stroller or wheelchair, are among the most vulnerable type of road users in Massachusetts. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) classifies these groups of people, along with young drivers, bicyclists, and school bus occupants as “higher risk transportation system users.” These individuals tend to suffer the most significant injuries and damages when they are involved in an accident. The NHTSA’s most recent data indicates that these users accounted for over 50% of the nearly 400 traffic fatalities reported to the state.

The rate of pedestrian fatalities occurs more frequently during colder months (October-February) than warmer ones (March-September). Research suggests that these rates coincide with low visibility, unsafe roadways, and judgment errors. Although motorists have a higher duty to act with reasonable care for others’ safety, pedestrians must also abide by a similar duty of care. Both motorists and pedestrians must take steps to prevent foreseeable danger to themselves and others. When a party fails to adhere to this standard, their right to damages may be reduced or barred.

Massachusetts follows a modified comparative fault model. Under this model, an injury victim who is more than 51 percent responsible for their injuries will be ineligible to collect damages. However, if the plaintiff is less than 51 percent responsible, their recovery will be reduced by their share of liability. Massachusetts pedestrian accident victims may face a reduction in their damages in cases where they unsafely enter the roadway, fail to use crosswalks, or otherwise violate traffic rules.

According to recent National Highway Transportation Safety Administration data, over 60 million children in the United States are involved in traffic accidents every year. In fact, Massachusetts motor vehicle accidents are one of the leading causes of death for children 14 years old and younger. Other causes of death are bicycle accidents, injuries related to incidents at school or after school programs, and dog bites. Although many safety agencies have implored the public to use child safety seats and other restraints, these accidents and injuries continue to occur, and the outcomes can be devastating.

When a child suffers injuries or wrongful death in a Massachusetts accident, their loved ones must understand the child’s rights and remedies. Although the evidentiary burden is typically the same, whether the victim is a minor or an adult, there are some differences between these lawsuits. First, under the law, children cannot bring their own lawsuits. Anyone under 18 years old is considered a “minor.” The law requires that these lawsuits are filed by the child’s “next friend.” Usually, this is the minor’s parent or legal guardian. Settlement agreements for $10,000 or higher must receive approval from the Court. A judge will review the settlement and ensure that the representative understands that the funds must be used for the child’s benefit. Finally, the statute of limitations is different in cases involving children. In typical accident cases, the statute of limitations expires three years after the date of the incident causing the injury. However, the statute of limitations in minors’ cases expires three years after reaching their 18th birthday.

Accidents involving children are particularly tragic and can result in serious permanent disability or death. For instance, a recent report indicates that a 10-year-old girl suffered fatal injuries in a multi-vehicle accident in Massachusetts. An initial investigation reveals that the children were passengers in a Subaru driven by a 29-year-old woman. The woman made contact with the back of a Toyota SUV, and both drivers pulled over to assess the damage. They stopped in the left lane and decided to address the damage later; as they were about to continue driving, a JEEP crashed into the Subaru, causing it to slam into the Toyota. The young girl died in the accident, and six other people suffered serious injuries.

Massachusetts pedestrian accidents often result in life-threatening injuries. Despite common misconceptions, individuals who are hit by a car are not automatically entitled to compensation. Pedestrian injury victims wishing to recover damages must establish that the other party was negligent. In many cases, the party who hit the pedestrian may dispute liability, and insurance companies may deny coverage. In addition to threshold tort issues, pedestrian accident victims must abide by strict filing and notice requirements and the state’s statute of limitations.

Under Massachusetts law, injury victims must prove that their injuries meet the minimum criteria to file a tort action against the responsible party. If a victim cannot meet the threshold, they may recoup losses through their Personal Injury Protection coverage. Victims who wish to file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver, must be able to establish that they suffered more than $2,000 in medical expenses related to broken bones, eye or ear injuries, or permanent scarring or disfigurement.

Pedestrians may recover economic and non-economic damages for their injuries and losses. Economic damages are generally objective, quantifiable losses such as lost wages and medical bills. Whereas, non-economic damages are subjective and include losses related to loss of enjoyment of life, pain and suffering, and loss of companionship and consortium. Unlike many other states, Massachusetts only allows punitive damages, which are designed solely to punish the wrongdoer, in cases of wrongful death where the defendant acted willfully or with wanton disregard of another’s safety. Injury victims must file their damages claim within three years of the accident—however, certain narrow exceptions exist, such as when the victim was a minor when the accident occurred.

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration, wrong-way crashes result in nearly 400 fatalities every year. Although wrong-way crashes do not occur as much as other types of Massachusetts car accidents, when they do, they are much more likely to result in a fatality. Wrong-way crashes occur when one vehicle is traveling in a direction against the proper flow of traffic. These accidents typically happen on a divided highway or an exit or entrance ramp, and generally involve head-on collisions occurring at high speeds. If a wrong-way collision results in the death of a motorist, it may be the basis for a Massachusetts wrongful death lawsuit.

Despite the various public service campaigns to educate and enforce safe driving habits, wrong-way accidents still occur. The leading causes of wrong-way crashes are motorists driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, speeding and engaging in dangerous maneuvers, improper passing, vehicle malfunctioning, and road hazards that lead to a loss of control. The nature of these accidents tends to cause serious and potentially fatal injuries. Some common injuries after wrong-way accidents are traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord damage, broken bones, and burn injuries. Many victims and their families experience enormous financial burdens in the aftermath of these accidents.

Recently, a Boston news report indicated that two people died, and one person suffered severe injuries in a wrong-way accident. According to the report, a 30-year-old woman drove her vehicle in the wrong direction on a highway. She collided with another car driven by a 66-year-old woman. The woman was transferred to a Boston hospital, where she succumbed to her injuries. A 39-year-old passenger in her car died at the scene of the accident. The accident involved another vehicle; however, that passenger did not require emergency medical treatment. Police stated that they are continuing to investigate the circumstances that led to the tragic accident.

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