Recently in Car Accidents Category

August 27, 2012

Plymouth Teen on Leave from the Coast Guard Killed in Kingston Accident

800px-Chevrolet_TrailBlazer_--_06-05-2010 By IFCAR (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.jpgLast week, a 19-year-old Plymouth man was killed in an automobile accident while on leave from the U.S. Coast Guard. According to Kingston Police Chief Joseph Rebello, Chad Kierstead was riding in a Ford Explorer driven by 19-year-old Pat Donnelly when the sport utility vehicle (SUV) struck a utility pole while headed east on Route 80 in Kingston. The force of the crash reportedly snapped the pole into two pieces and sent the Explorer flying into a tree before the vehicle rolled and landed on its side. Chief Rebello stated the driver was walking around outside of the SUV when emergency responders arrived at the crash scene. Meanwhile, Kierstead, 19-year-old Tyler Barrows, and 19-year-old Chris Corbo remained inside of the vehicle. Two of the young men were transported to Boston area hospitals via emergency helicopter and the other two were taken to South Shore Medical Center by ambulance. A few hours after the crash, Kierstead was pronounced dead at Massachusetts General Hospital.

An accident witness reportedly told police the Explorer was speeding at the time of the crash. It is unclear whether Donnelly was racing another vehicle when he lost control of his SUV. According to Chief Rebello, police are currently investigating whether drugs or alcohol played a factor in the fatal crash. The cause of the accident is presently under investigation by the Massachusetts State Police Accident Reconstruction Unit.

Car accidents are one of the most common causes of personal injury and death in Massachusetts each year. Collisions like this one are often caused by reckless, careless, distracted, or impaired drivers. Unfortunately, motor vehicle crash victims frequently suffer devastating and costly injuries. If you were injured or a loved one was killed in an automobile collision, you may be eligible to receive damages for your medical costs, suffering and pain, permanent or temporary disability, lost wages and benefits, and funeral expenses. Contact a capable Massachusetts automobile accident lawyer to discuss your legal rights and options for recovery.

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July 8, 2012

Haverhill Teenager Sentenced to One-Year in Jail Over Fatal Texting While Driving Collision

1307593_mobile_phone_in_hand sxchu username sqback.jpgIn what is being heralded as a landmark case, an 18-year-old Haverhill man was recently ordered to serve a one-year sentence in the Essex County House of Corrections after a jury convicted him of causing a deadly crash while driving and texting behind the wheel of a car.

In February 2011, Aaron Deveau was driving when his car allegedly crossed the center line of a roadway and struck a vehicle headed in the opposite direction head-on. 55-year-old Daniel Bowley reportedly suffered extensive injuries in the crash and died in a Boston hospital 18 days later. Bowley's girlfriend, Luz Roman, was also injured in the crash.

In 2010, Massachusetts passed legislation making it a crime to harm someone in an automobile accident while texting behind the wheel. In addition to charging Deveau with motor vehicle homicide, prosecutors also charged him with violating the recently enacted law. In a bench trial, Deveau testified he was not texting and driving at the time of the collision, and that he did not remember doing so at all that day. According to prosecutors, evidence that Deveau was in fact texting two minutes before the crash proved his negligence.

District Court Judge Stephen Abany reportedly imposed the maximum sentence on Deveau in an effort to deter other would-be texting while driving offenders. A portion of Deveau's 2-year and 2 ½-year concurrent sentences were suspended, however, because he was only 17 at the time of the accident and had no prior criminal history. Deveau's driver's license was also suspended for 15 years.

A spokesman for the Massachusetts State Police, David Procopio, said that the criminal case was important and the maximum sentence sought by prosecutors was appropriate. He also said it was vital for drivers to remember that distracted driving is both dangerous and deadly. According to Judge Abany, although a criminal sentence normally takes into account punishment, rehabilitation, public safety, and deterrence, his primary concern when he handed down Deveau's sentence was deterrence. Judge Abany said that his goal was to send a message that all drivers need to "keep their eyes on the road."

Automobile accidents are one of the leading causes of personal injury and wrongful death in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Crashes are frequently caused by distracted, careless, inattentive, or impaired drivers. Unfortunately, car accident victims often suffer devastating and costly injuries. If you were hurt or a family member was killed in a motor vehicle collision, you may be eligible to receive compensation for your medical expenses, pain, suffering, disability, lost wages, and funeral expenses. A qualified Massachusetts auto and motorcycle accident attorney can help.

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November 21, 2010

Airbag Performs Heimlich Maneuver

1227906_the_sultans_wife.jpgRichard Silvia was driving down Route 28 in Falmouth, Massachusetts, last week when he choked on some raisins he was eating. He passed out. His truck crossed the road, hitting two cars, and nosed into an embankment. The impact stopped the truck and his airbag deployed. The force of the airbag expelled the raisins, and Silvia regained consciousness with only a scraped wrist. The other drivers also suffered only minor injuries. The incident made national news.

Silvia was ticketed for impaired driving. I guess he should have pulled over as soon as he choked and died safely by the side of the road.


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October 30, 2010

A Seatbelt Saves a Life

602535_seatbelt.jpgOn I-495 near the US Route 1 interchange in Plainville, a 1996 Toyota Avalon went off the road and crashed into a tree last Saturday, according to the Attleboro Sun Chronicle. The 18 year old driver was not wearing a seatbelt. She was airlifted to Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, where she died. The 21 year old passenger was wearing a seatbelt. She was treated for minor injuries at Sturdy Memorial Hospital in Attleboro. Seatbelts save lives -- but only when they are worn.

Massachusetts has a law requiring that all drivers and passengers over 11 years of age must wear a seatbelt when riding in a car. But not everyone obeys this law. A recent Massachusetts study found that on average more than one out of four front seat drivers and passengers were not wearing their seat belt. There were some interesting but predictable variations on the rate of seatbelt use among different groups.

The rate of seatbelt usage among women was 79%; among men it was 68%. The rate for people over 65 was 82%; for other adults it was 73%; for teens it was 67%. People driving commercial vehicles buckled up only 50% of the time, and pickup truck drivers only 61%. Those figures are depressing and somewhat scary. We have worked hard to make manufacturers put out safer cars by forcing them to pay for the injuries they could have prevented by providing airbags and seatbelts. But we have to do our part and use these safety features, too.

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September 28, 2010

Will The New Texting While Driving Law Work?

1131636_no_cells.jpgOn September 30, 2010, the new, highly publicised Massachusetts law banning texting while driving takes effect. The same law bans any cell phone use while driving for those under 18 except for certain emergency calls, generally 9-1-1 calls for police or medical assistance.

Everyone agrees that texting while driving is dangerous. If you look at your phone for three seconds to read or compose a text message while you are driving on the highway at 65 mph, you travel the length of a football field without looking at the road. Of course the same is true for checking out who is calling you on the cell phone or scrolling through your contacts list to make a call, or entering a phone number to call, none of which seem to be prohibited by this new law.

The Governor's press release makes it seem like we can expect much safer roads now. "Without question, this new law will save lives on our roadways," the Governor is quoted as saying. On the other hand, a new study released today by the insurance industry shows that such bans have no effect on crash statistics, and seem to have no effect on how much people text behind the wheel. The Boston Globe reports that texters may be causing more accidents by holding the phone down near the seat to avoid detection, and that police departments are talking about getting SUVs so they can ride higher and look down into potential suspects' cars. Of course if it's the police car driver who is doing the looking, that is pretty unsafe, too.

Some have suggested that parents have to set an example and stop using cell phones -- texting or talking -- if they expect their children to obey the law, and that they have to talk to their children about the dangers of distracted driving. Maybe the "shotgun texter," a friend in the passenger seat who will text for the driver, will become as popular as the "designated driver," who stays sober and drives his drinking friends where they need to go. It seems that education may be the best way to fight texting while driving, and that the new law may be more important as an expression of what is the right way to behave than as a means to prosecute violators.

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September 9, 2010

Tom Brady Car Crash Injures Passenger

1151556_semaphore.jpgWhen Tom Brady's car and Ludgero Rodrigues' minivan crashed in Back Bay, Boston, yesterday, what most people wanted to know first is whether the New England Patriots' star quarterback was injured. The answer was no, and we all breathed a sigh of relief. The outlook for the season was still good.

Next, we all wanted to know what happened and who was at fault. Rodriguez ran a red light, we were told, and crashed into Brady. Well, maybe. According to the Boston Police report, Rodrigues says the light was green when he went into the intersection of Commonwealth Avenue and Gloucester Street, and Brady ran into him. The physical evidence shows clearly that Brady's front end rammed the middle of the passenger side of the van. Brady says the light was green for him as he entered the intersection. A 74 year old woman who was walking her dogs says that as she was in the ambulance with Brady, he asked her if the minivan ran the red light, and she assured him it had. She reported that the walk light came on for her to cross Commonwealth Avenue just before the minivan came past. The police wrote Rodrigues a ticket for running the red light based on her evidence. Plus, the minivan's driver was a 21 year old with a poor driving record, though later we found out that the bad record had been exaggerated.

As an afterthought, seemingly, we heard reports that the minivan driver's 49 year old father, Rogerio Rodrigues, was in the back of the van and had to be cut out with the "jaws of life" and taken to the hospital. It turns out he has severe injuries -- a broken back -- and has undergone several operations with more to come. Local trial lawyers speculated on how much Tom Brady could collect from his insurance if Brady later found out he was injured. Nobody seems to be concerned about Rugerio Rodrigues' rights.

A passenger in a crash can sue either or both of the drivers. It is rare that the passenger has any degree of contributory fault. Rather, it is almost always one or both of the drivers whose negligence caused the crash. So to Rogerio Rodrigues, the red light controversy would seem to be unimportant. But the question is, how much insurance does the minivan carry? If Brady was not at fault, Rogerio would have to rely on the minivan's insurance to pay his entire claim. But if Brady was even 1% at fault, even if Ludgero was 99% at fault, Rogerio could collect the entire judgment against Brady. And that could be a sizeable amount.

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July 16, 2010

Short Deadline Precludes Claim for Massachusetts Motorcycle Accident Injuries

On July 15, 2010, the Massachusetts Appeals Court held in DiNitto v. Town of Pepperell that two motorcyclists who were injured when they failed to stop at a hidden stop sign could not recover from the town because they had failed to give the town the 30 day notice required by the Massachusetts highway defect statute and tried instead to sue the town under the Massachusetts Tort Claims Act. The court held that the highway defect statute was the exclusive remedy for the injured motorcyclists, and that it applied to the town's negligent failure to keep "trees, brush and overhanging vegetation" growing on adjoining town land from obscuring the sign.

The highway defect statute, over a century old, permits limited recovery against a negligent county, city, or town (and under G.L. c. 81 §18, the state) for bodily injury or property damage caused by a defect in a road. But it also requires that the claimant give the government notice of the time, place and cause of the injury or damage within 30 days.

The more recent Tort Claims Act generally permits claims against the government for injury or damage caused by the negligent acts of government employees. It has a far more realistic two year notice requirement. But it specifically left the highway defect statute intact as the exclusive remedy for those injured by a "defect or a want of repair...in or upon a way."

The DiNittos argued that the untrimmed vegetation from adjacent town property was not a defect in the road itself. The court relied on some old cases defining the reach of the highway defect statute broadly to permit recovery which was otherwise unavailable at that time. It cited an 1872 case applying the statute to "obstructions overhanging the way," and a 1920 case involving the limb of a tree growing next to the road which hung too low over the road. Cases enlarging the injured person's right of recovery were now used to preclude it.

Whenever there is an injury or property is damaged on or near a road or sidewalk, it is critical to get to an experienced lawyer immediately. Defects in the design or maintenance of the property may have played a role, and the very harsh 30 day notice requirement may apply. Waiting for too long or going to the wrong lawyer may cause you to lose your chance of recovery for your injuries or damage.

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