Posts tagged with "car accident"

2 men looking at car accident damage

Injured by an Uninsured Driver – What’s Next?

Being in a motor vehicle accident can be a stressful and traumatic experience. The first and most immediate concern is, of course, ensuring that any injuries suffered by the driver and passengers are treated. But regardless of whether the accident was serious or just a minor fender bender, at some point, the insurance companies get involved.

Under normal circumstances, if there is a clear case of who was at fault, then the responsible party’s insurance company will end up footing the bill for the accident and additional resulting expenditures. In some cases, if the insurance claims adjusters are offering a seemingly unfair amount, you may want to retain a personal injury attorney to help settle the case and ensure just compensation.

But what happens if you are in an accident with an uninsured driver? You certainly can’t file a claim with the negligent party’s insurance company if that person has no insurance, but there is no reason you should have to handle the financial costs on your own, no matter how minor or huge.

Of course, in most states, including Massachusetts, automobiles are required to have insurance, but many people still manage to drive without it. This could be because they have allowed their insurance to lapse or they simply never acquired any in the first place. Regardless, if a negligent party was at fault for an accident, you are entitled to compensation, and there are steps you can take when dealing with a driver who does not have insurance.

What to do when you are injured by an uninsured driver

Many of the initial steps that you would follow when in an accident caused by an uninsured driver in Massachusetts are the same as what you would do if the driver was insured. First, call the police. You will want an accident report, as it can help you with a personal injury claim later on. Besides, the individual driving without insurance was also breaking the law.

Even if the driver doesn’t have insurance coverage of any type, that person may still be liable for paying for some of the damage to your car out of his or her own personal assets due to at-fault laws. The police report will be an important document in determining fault.

Get all the information you can

Make a note of the driver’s contact information, the license plate number on the car, and the car make and model. Write down all the details of the accident while they are still fresh in your mind. And even though the information may be on the police report, it is a good idea for you get the contact information of any witnesses as well.

Additionally, use your cellphone to take pictures of both cars and the area where the accident happened so that you can better describe the details to a personal injury attorney.

Call your insurance company

It is always important to call your insurance company in a timely manner. Some policies may have a time limit on how long you have to make a claim. Additionally, you may want to consider adding uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage to your policy. This protects you in case of an accident with an uninsured driver. And since Massachusetts doesn’t require a high amount of coverage for drivers, the insurance will also protect you if the negligent driver is underinsured — that is, doesn’t have enough coverage to adequately compensate you for damages and injuries.

If you don’t have uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage, you may have a collision or personal injury protection part of your policy that provides compensation for your medical bills in addition to the damage to your car. It is always wise to know everything your insurance policy covers so that there are no surprises after an unfortunate accident.

Call a personal injury attorney

If, after speaking with your insurance agent, you have been left without a means of compensation for the damages and injuries you’ve suffered, it would be a good idea to contact a personal injury attorney in Massachusetts. An experienced personal injury lawyer will be able to help you file a claim with your insurance company against the negligent driver and attempt to recoup monetary compensation from the driver’s personal assets.

Recovering funds may be difficult, especially if the negligent driver doesn’t have much in the way of personal assets. However, there may be other avenues that can be pursued. The driver might actually have insurance coverage under someone else’s policy, or more than one party may be responsible for the car accident, leaving you other options to pursue a personal injury lawsuit.

Contact Us

An experienced personal injury attorney in Massachusetts can help research and discover all possible avenues leading to potential sources of compensation. At the Boston law firm of Colucci Colucci Marcus & Flavin, PC, our attorneys help clients recover the maximum possible compensation for their injuries. For a free initial consultation with one of our professional and experienced personal injury lawyers, call (617) 698-6000, or contact us online via our email form.

No lawsuit can happen without these three components, no matter how terrible the conduct of the people involved.

No matter how outrageous a defendant’s conduct may be, there’s one thing you can never sue for:

Picture this: A person is walking down the sidewalk, enjoying a warm Spring day, when out of nowhere a drunk driver hops the curb and strikes them over from behind. The pedestrian flies through the air, lands on his feet and finds himself to be completely unharmed. A miracle occurred, as most people would have been permanently injured or killed.

On what grounds can that pedestrian, unharmed only by a stroke of luck, sue that driver, who clearly acted negligently and was at fault for what happened.

The answer is, none. There is no chance of a lawsuit here. The pedestrian does not have a case.

Why? Because you can’t sue for what could have happened, only what did happen. In this case, no one was injured.

Lawsuits aren’t some kind of bad luck lottery ticket, where people profit off of their own misfortune. No, personal injury lawsuits are about compensating people for their suffering and to help them adjust to life-changing events.

The three elements of a lawsuit

A lawsuit requires liability, causation, and damages. In this example, the driver was liable for what happened as he got behind the wheel of a car while intoxicated, which is a clear case of negligent behavior. He is also the one who caused the pedestrian to be struck, it wasn’t a faulty steering wheel or other mechanical problem. Both of those elements are required for a case, but so is damages. In this example, there were no damages as no one was injured.

Sometimes people say things like “I could have been killed.” They rightly find themselves shocked by how terribly things could have gone because of someone else’s bad behavior. Those issues shouldn’t be ignored. There may be some kind of legal consequence that will fall on the person who caused that problem. However, a lawsuit is not the solution for things that could have happened but didn’t.

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.

Defective Smoke Detectors: After the fire Claims for Injuries Caused by Defective Smoke Detectors

Defective Smoke Detectors

Fire is an ancient danger. According to Greek myth, fire had to be stolen from the gods, and it remains devastating, dangerous and unpredictable. Over 3,000 people are killed every year in residential fires in the U.S as smoke, flames and deadly gases race through their homes.

These deaths are tragic because a very simple modern technology – properly designed, tested, and installed smoke alarms – should be able to keep the ancient danger of fire at bay. The tragedy of a fatality is compounded immeasurably when a smoke detector is installed, but it fails to work. If that happens in your family, you may have a wrongful death claim against the manufacturer of the defective smoke alarm.

Why Smoke Detectors are Vital

Smoke alarms are vital in houses because fires can break out for so many different reasons. The cause could be spontaneous combustion of old building materials left behind by a contractor. It could be a clogged chimney, a candle or a short in electrical wiring somewhere in the house. And of course it could be a kitchen fire, the result of a burner inadvertently left on.

Smoke detectors are supposed to warn of fires caused by these things. This is especially important because, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, most fatal fires happen at night, when people are asleep.

We are all at our most vulnerable when sleeping. That’s why it’s terrible when a defective smoke alarm not only fails to provide protection, but also lulls us into a false sense of security.

Types of Smoke Alarms

Smoke alarms come in two main types. Ionization detectors sense smoke particles and use an electronic current. Photoelectric detectors sense beams of light, which diminish when smoke is present. Some commercial smoke alarms contain a combination of the two types; these are called dual sensor smoke alarms.

A stable power source is needed for the smoke alarm to be effective. Alarms can be directly connected to a home’s electrical wiring or run on batteries. They can also be wired into the house with a battery backup.

The batteries can be replaceable, or they can be sealed-long life batteries. Not surprisingly, in the digital age, smoke alarms based on wireless technology are now found in many homes.

After a Smoke Alarm Failure

It doesn’t matter which type of smoke alarm or power source is chosen. The bottom line is that if a smoke alarm fails and an injury or death results, you may have a cause of action for personal injury or wrongful death. There are several possible legal grounds to consider, starting with a products liability claim against the manufacturer. Talk with an experienced products liability attorney in your area to learn more about your rights and legal options.

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.

What is umbrella insurance?

Most insurance is specific to a certain realm. Car insurance typically covers damages inflicted by a motor vehicle and homeowner’s insurance covers damages and liability related to a home.

Umbrella insurance is something else. It is a form of legal liability insurance for an individual person or a family. It can be used as a source of money that goes above and beyond other types of insurance.

For example, say you have a car insurance policy that covers $100,000 and you have the worst day of your life and cause $300,000 worth of damage. Your car insurance policy would only cover that first $100,000 and you’d be on the hook for the rest.

If you had umbrella insurance, which may be up to $1 million or $2 million, you could have the umbrella insurance cover the rest of the damages.

It’s called “umbrella” insurance because it covers so many different areas at once. It’s an extra safety net available that can give you peace of mind and help you sleep at night. It only applies to severe cases, but those are the cases where it is needed the most.

Most of us don’t think of ourselves as negligent, but even small mistakes can have dire consequences.

Let’s say you put your bag down on the staircase in a store for a minute and someone trips over it, falls down the stairs and breaks their neck. Legally, that’s your fault for putting that bag on the staircase knowing full well that it’s a place where people are going to walk. The umbrella coverage would kick in for that scenario because you committed a negligent act, and someone got hurt severely.

The only way someone can collect the money from the umbrella insurance coverage is to sign a release that blocks them from suing you ever again over the matter. They always agree to those terms.

The rub is the have to ask for it. Insurance companies are not obligated to tell anyone that their client has umbrella coverage, but they have to be honest when asked. A lawyer who knows what they are doing will ask, and our firm has benefited from knowing when to ask.

Man charged with OUI after fatal Massachusetts accident

As common as car accidents are, the vast majority of people will probably never be involved in a serious or fatal car accident. Nobody wants to get into a car accident, which is why most people practice defensive driving techniques and do what they can to avoid a collision. Unfortunately, some people overestimate their driving abilities (or in some cases alcohol tolerance) and attempt to drive when they should not. This contributes to accidents that could likely have otherwise been avoided.

A fatal accident occurred recently in Massachusetts when a car ran a red light and collided with a truck. The driver of the truck that was struck was taken to a nearby hospital, where he remains in critical condition. A female passenger was taken to the same hospital after the accident, but she was pronounced dead. The driver who ran the red light is facing many charges, including Operating Under the Influence and open container violations.

Despite all the evidence to the contrary, many people believe that they will be able to consume alcohol and drive with no impairment. Unfortunately, this is simply not the case, especially when you are over the legal limit. Any number of factors could have led to this accident. Perhaps the driver’s reflexes were slowed and he could stop at the light, or perhaps his decision-making was impaired and he simply chose to go through the light.

Whatever the reason for the man’s actions, a woman is now dead and another man is in critical condition because of one driver’s negligence. It is for reasons like this that the law provides protection for victims of negligent driving practices. Money certainly will not replace the life of the woman who was killed, but it can perhaps make the recovery process easier for the man who now has unexpected medical bills to pay for. Massachusetts residents who find themselves in accidents are encouraged to seek legal help in the aftermath of such an accident to find out if they could qualify for compensation.

Source: WHDH, “One charged in fatal Beverly car accident,” May 11, 2015

Our approach to car accident claims is unique and client-focused

Our law office takes pride in delivering great results and satisfying customers who were worried that their claim was not good enough. While other firms may reject cases for reasons such as large expenses or small chance of recovery, we treat all cases with the same level of care and severity. This means that if you are in Boston, whether you were struck by another car, a large truck or even a motorcycle, we will do our best to represent you.

This representation includes sparing no effort in determining exactly how your accident played out and thus determining the full extent of the damages and who was at fault. We accomplish this through working closely with specialists to recreate and reenact accidents. It may not seem particularly important, but such reenactments can reveal a great deal of information about accidents that you may not even have thought to consider.

Nobody expects to get into a car accident, so it is impossible to properly prepare for an accident if it should occur. Additionally, car accidents happen extremely fast, and it can be difficult to recall exactly what happened in the heat of the moment. If there are no eyewitnesses present, or if you cannot get the eyewitnesses to testify, any claim you make could end up just being your word against the other driver’s.

In the aftermath of a car accident, you will likely be suffering from severe unexpected injuries or property damage, which could put a strain on your finances. A successful claim that ensures you do not have to pay for the other driver’s negligence is your best option, but you must be able to prove who was at fault in the accident. This is why it is so important that you get legal assistance. Visit our car accident webpage to learn more about how we can help you with your accident claim.

Massachusetts residents injured in fatal crash

We recently mentioned that severe weather conditions are contributing to accident, but the weather fluctuates, and it is not always so cold as to freeze roads. With this in mind, it is important to remember that just because the weather is not extreme does not mean that there are no dangers on the road. Even in normal weather, the roads are still a dangerous place, and any number of factors could contribute to a devastating car accident.

One such accident occurred recently in Rhode Island, when a young man allegedly caused an accident while driving the wrong way down I-95. The young man has been charged with drunken driving, which may have contributed to his car crashing into an oncoming pickup truck. The accident claimed the life of his passenger, and caused serious injury to one of the two Massachusetts residents in the pickup truck. The young man driving the other vehicle escaped with non-life-threatening injuries.

It is an unfortunate but necessary risk that nearly all people must take at some time or another. We cannot simply stop driving; we still have to go to work and buy groceries, but being on the road automatically makes you at risk for accident. Even if you are a defensive driver who has never been ticketed or gotten into an accident, you cannot control the other drivers on the road. What you can control is what happens after the accident.

If you or a loved one is injured in a car accident, you will likely be facing large unexpected medical costs. You should not have to pay for the negligence of another, which is why the law allows you to recover compensation for your injuries. A successful lawsuit can ensure that the person who caused the accident pays for the fallout, not the person who was victimized.

Source: Boston Herald, “Police: 1 killed, 3 hurt in wrong-way Interstate 95 crash,” March 8, 2015

The immediate aftermath of a car accident

Those who have been in a car accident know the feelings of panic and confusion that often come with the crash. From the second you feel the impact and realize that you have been involved in a car accident, your mind will likely begin to flit about in fright as it tries to make sense of what has happened. Yet even though your mind is in such a state of panic, it is in these crucial minutes just after an accident that you must be most levelheaded in order to resolve the issue properly.

For those who have not been involved in an accident, or even those who have been involved in an accident and feel that they could have handled it better, you are in luck. This article details some of the best practices to engage in just after an accident. Employing some of these practices to make sense of the chaos of an accident can often be the difference between proving fault and accepting fault.

One of the best ways to prove fault in an accident is to get an accurate impression of the scene immediately following the collision. Contacting a police officer and speaking with witnesses can help you get a better idea of exactly what happened, and can also help you prove your case if you end up filing a lawsuit. Any additional evidence can also help your case, such as pictures of the damages and road design.

Of course, all of the evidence in the world is moot if you cannot present it properly, which is why it is in your best interests to contact an attorney. A legal professional with experience in personal injury and car accidents can help you present your evidence to support your case and prove who was at fault in the accident. If you can prove that you were not at fault, you may be entitled to compensation.