Posts made in April 2018

Who’s Liable When an Autonomous Car Crashes?

With the rise of interest in self-driving cars, two questions commonly comes up – Are they actually safer, and who is liable if a self-driving car crashes?

In 2013, the National Highway Traffic Administration released a 6-level classification system for autonomous cars. Level 0, the lowest level, means the automated system may issue warnings to the driver, but the driver is completely in control of the vehicle. Level 5, the highest level, means that no human interaction is required – the vehicle completely drives itself.

At anything lower than a level 3 autonomous vehicle, the level at which a driver can safely focus their attention on tasks other than driving, a driver is responsible since they clearly need to interact with the car in order to prevent accidents. At level 2, it is required that a driver keep their hands on the wheel and must be ready to intervene should something go amiss with the automated system.

On March 18, a pedestrian in Arizona was killed when she was struck by an autonomous car.  Although it was simply a test run, the car, which was operated by UBER, had an emergency driver in the car.  The victim was walking with her bicycle, and it appeared that the car did not slow down at all prior to striking her.  She was struck at 40 mph.

Later that week, on March 23, a Tesla autonomous vehicle – this one operated by Tesla – slammed into a concrete lane divider on the highway and burst into flames. The driver later died from his injuries.  The driver in the Tesla was repeatedly told by the car’s system that his hands needed to be on the wheel even though the car was on auto-pilot.  In this case, even though auto-pilot was in, the vehicle did state to the driver that auto-pilot is just a driver assistance tool – it is not meant to take the place of an actual driver, and takes care to note that the driver is responsible for their own safety and the safety of others.

Currently, laws have not been able to keep up with technology, and technology has not yet advanced to the stage where level four or level 5 autonomous cars should be on public roads. It is expected that as cars move towards being more and more autonomous, eventually, liability will shift from the driver to the car/its manufacturer.  Autonomous cars in the future may even be programmed not to commit certain traffic offenses, such as speeding, traffic violations, etc. This would mean that autonomous cars might even be the safest option for vehicles in the future – as studies have shown, the vast majority of crashes occur because of human error.

The law firm of Colucci, Colucci, Marcus & Flavin, P.C. has been recognized by Newsweek.com as one of the Top 10 Best Law Firms for Personal Injury in the Country. Attorney Darin Colucci has also been recognized by Newsweek.com for 3 consecutive years as one of the Top 10 Best Personal Injury Attorneys in the Country.

What to do if your child was injured on the school playground

What to do if your child was injured on the school playground

A playground is supposed to be a place where children can go and enjoy themselves while engaging in a range of activities on swing sets, slides, jungle gyms and other common recreational equipment. The interaction with other children while under the supervision of their parents is fun and beneficial, and playgrounds are also a great place for children to exercise and make friends.

However, as fun as the school playground might be, it is also a place where accidents can occur and where children can sustain injuries. Sometimes such an incident might be just an accident, but quite often it can be the result of negligence on the part of the school. The last thing you want to hear as a parent entrusting your child to a school’s care each day is that your child sustained an injury, especially if it is a serious one. Your child’s welfare is, of course, your main concern and should be the school’s as well.

School, city, and county playgrounds are supposed to be properly maintained in order to ensure safety for your children. The playground equipment should be in proper working order, and school playgrounds should be supervised at all times children are present. Negligent supervision, improperly maintained or manufactured equipment, damaged equipment, and unsafe grounds, in general, can put your child at risk for an injury.

If your child has been hurt at a school playground, as a result of negligence, improper supervision, defective equipment or improperly maintained equipment, you may be able to take legal action against the school district, an individual employed by the school or the school board.

Filing a Lawsuit Against a School for Injuries Sustained on a School Playground

There are many different scenarios that may give you the right to take legal action if your child sustained an injury on a school playground. These include:

  • Negligent supervision
  • Staff and/or teachers who have not been properly trained
  • Bad maintenance of grounds
  • A lack of proper security
  • Poorly maintained, poorly manufactured or damaged equipment
  • A failure to protect children against risks of foreseeable harm
  • A failure to repair defective equipment
  • An act of bullying that was not prevented

The school has a duty to ensure safety for all the children in and around a school playground. Failure to provide proper supervision or security and a safe environment can make the school legally liable for any injuries or accidents that occur on its playground. If your child has sustained an injury, it must be proven that the responsible party at the school acted in a negligent manner or failed to provide a safe and secure environment for the children.

If the injury was sustained as a result of an act of bullying, the offending child’s parents might also be held liable for the injury, as well as the school staff members who were negligent in preventing or stopping the incident of bullying.

Additionally, if the school is private, then there will likely be different parties or organizations that could ultimately be held responsible.

When seeking to file a claim, it is important that you speak with a lawyer who is experienced in playground injury cases. The attorney will know what questions to ask and what to investigate in order to find out who was ultimately responsible and whom the case should be filed against.

The playground injury lawyer will also investigate many of the facts of the case by traveling to the playground, inspecting the grounds and equipment, taking pictures, and building a case of evidence so that negligence or another cause of injury can be successfully proven, ensuring that you receive the compensation you need and deserve. Compensation can cover medical bills, pain and suffering, mental anguish, and any future medical bills or expenses for care that may be incurred as a result of the injury.

It is important to file a claim or lawsuit in a timely fashion, as cases such as this often have strict deadlines. Keep all records of the incident, including any photos you might have taken, notes on responses or communication with school staff and officials, any school or police reports, and medical paperwork and expenses. Having all this information organized and available will make it easier for the lawyer to file the necessary claim and paperwork in a timely fashion.

If your child has been injured at a school playground and you wish to know what your legal options might be and who might ultimately be held responsible, contact the experienced and professional attorneys at the Boston law firm of Colucci, Colucci, Marcus & Flavin, PC. You’ll find that our attorneys are experienced in cases involving school, city and county playground injuries and will fight hard for you to ensure that you receive the maximum possible compensation for your child’s injuries. For a free initial consultation with one of our seasoned personal injury lawyers, call us at (617) 698-6000, or get in touch with us via email.

I was injured in a motor vehicle accident by a person who fled the scene (‘hit and run’) or by a person who doesn’t have enough insurance to cover my injuries. What do I do?

Too often, individuals suffer serious and disabling injuries but the person or business responsible does not carry enough insurance to adequately compensate him or her.

For example, our office recently resolved a case where a man was permanently disabled after he was struck by a motor vehicle while he was walking to his car. The at-fault driver fled the scene and was unable to be identified.  This is typically called a ‘hit and run’ accident.  Our client suffered catastrophic injuries, underwent numerous surgeries and could not return to work.  Despite an exhaustive investigation by our firm, (reviewing surveillance video, interviewing witnesses, and working with police) the only insurance available to compensate him for his medical expenses, pain and suffering, and lost wages was the “Uninsurance” coverage in his own automobile insurance policy.  Many people aren’t even aware that this coverage option exists.  “Uninsurance” is coverage that is available from your own insurance policy if the person who injures you is either “un-insured” or can’t be identified, (like a “hit and run” driver).  It is “optional” coverage, however, and will cost you more in premiums—but it is worth it.

In the case described above, our client only maintained $20,000 of “Uninsurance” benefits. This meant that, despite his catastrophic injuries, the most he could recover was $20,000 from his own auto insurer.

How do I protect myself and the other passengers in my car?

When purchasing your auto insurance, the most powerful thing you can do to be responsible for yourself and your loved ones is to make sure you carry optional “Under Insurance” and “Uninsurance” coverage with the highest limits you can afford. “Under Insurance” coverage will protect you if your injuries and damages exceed the insurance coverage of the at-fault driver.  “Uninsurance” coverage will protect you if you are injured by an unidentified person (“hit and run”) or uninsured vehicle.

At minimum, we suggest carrying $100,000 per person/$300,000 per accident of Under/Uninsurance coverage. Generally this is referred to as a “$100/$300 policy.”

Finally, we also suggest carrying optional Medical Payments Coverage, which is referred to as “Med-pay”. Med-pay is supplemental medical insurance through your automobile insurance that will pay for medical bills and medical liens.  It is relatively inexpensive.  Generally, $5,000.00 in Med-pay coverage costs around $30 per year.  Consulting a qualified insurance agent is your best bet to find the coverage that’s right for your particular budget.

The law firm of Colucci, Colucci, Marcus & Flavin, P.C. has been recognized by Newsweek.com as one of the Top 10 Best Law Firms for personal injury in the country. Attorney Darin Colucci has also been recognized by Newsweek.com for 3 consecutive years as one of the Top 10 Best Personal Injury Attorneys in the country.