Posts tagged with "car accident dui"

This design from may have contributed to the death of Trooper Thomas Clardy

This auto design defect contributed to a state trooper’s death

Unfortunately, in our business we deal with tragic events. It’s hard to imagine a sadder situation than what recently happened to one of our State Troopers. Although pulled over on the side of the road in a Ford Explorer, his vehicle was rear-ended by another motorist and as a result, the Trooper was killed. A Ford Explorer is one of the largest non-commercial vehicles on the road, so the question goes begging: How could someone sitting in the driver’s seat of such a big SUV suffer a fatal injury from a rear-end impact? We have looked extensively into this precise fact pattern and have learned some unfortunate truths about the automotive industry as a whole.

It’s clear that front seats in nearly all cars found on the road are inadequately constructed and fail catastrophically in rear end accidents. More specifically, the seats break and thrust the occupant backwards toward the back seat. When the seat is thrust into this reclined position, the seatbelt is rendered ineffective, allowing the occupant to slide backwards, (or “ramp”) most often striking his or her head on the back seat. The result is often a fractured neck leading to either paralysis or death.

Research shows that this problems has existed for nearly 50 years. The National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration has admitted that their standard is woefully inadequate but has refused to change it due to lobbying efforts from the automotive industry. A renowned expert that we’ve had the pleasure of working with has made it his life’s crusade to expose this problem in an effort to stop these senseless deaths and life changing events. Dr. Alan Cantor has actually constructed seats out of cardboard that have passed the strength test required by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, literally.

Please also know that children in rear car-seats have been killed by the driver’s seat breaking and the driver’s body mass being thrust rearward. Dr. Cantor suggests that parents place child seats in the third row of any SUV that has one, or be placed behind the lighter of the two front seat occupants.

I haven’t had the opportunity to view the Explorer that the Trooper was seated in just prior to his death, but I intend to. I’m willing to bet that, predictably, the seat failed leading directly to his death. As a consumer, please be aware. And if you are wondering, the seat strength of any particular car is not listed anywhere in the car’s specs or in any consumer report because it’s not required to be. Based on our extensive research it would appear that only Mercedes, BMW, and Volvo have seats that are reinforced in a way that addresses this ongoing dilemma.

Automobile Accidents, At-Fault Surcharge Aids in Accountability for Massachusetts Drivers

Automobile Accidents, At-Fault Surcharge

In Massachusetts, there are real consequences for causing automobile accidents. One of these has to do with insurance.

When their insured was more than 50 percent at fault, state law allows insurance companies to tack a surcharge onto that driver’s insurance rate and put the incident on the driver’s record.

A so-called “at-fault surcharge” will be imposed if all of the following factors apply:

  • The driver is more than 50 percent at fault under the Massachusetts Standards of Fault
  • The at-fault vehicle is a private passenger car
  • The payment on the other party’s claim is more than $500
  • The claim payment is for Damage To Someone Else’s Property, Collision, Limited Collision or Bodily Injury To Others (for accidents in 2006 or later)

If the driver’s insurance company finds the driver was more than 50 percent at fault, it will notify the driver and the Merit Rating Board (MRB), which will add the accident to the driver’s record. Based on the insurance company’s merit plan (which adjusts rates based on performance) the accident may also result in increased car insurance premiums.

Within 20 days of the claim payout, the insurance company will notify the driver if he or she will be assessed a surcharge. If the at-fault driver is not the policyholder on the car, both driver and policyholder will receive a notice.

Appealing a Automobile Accident Surcharge Assessment

There is a formal appeal process for at-fault surcharge assessments. Within 30 days of receiving notice of the surcharge, a driver may pay a $50 fee to file an appeal with the Division of Insurance Board of Appeal.

The appeal process is almost like a mini-trial in which evidence is offered and witnesses may be called. The driver may appear in person, may provide a written statement or may elect a representative to appear on their behalf.

After the hearing, the matter is taken under advisement and the decision is mailed out within two to four weeks. A decision to “vacate” the decision means the board found the driver was not over 50 percent at fault. The board will remove driver’s license points and inform the insurance company of the decision.

Conversely, an “upheld” decision means the driver did not overcome the presumption of fault and the board agrees with the insurance company’s findings. An unfavorable board decision may be appealed to a county Superior Court.

Personal Injury Lawsuits

An at-fault finding can have significant financial consequences. It clearly has implications for the outcome of any personal injury lawsuit that may have been filed in connection with the accident. Talk to an experienced car accident attorney to discuss your specific case.