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Articles Posted in Motorcycle Accidents

Aerosmith guitarist, 59-year-old Joe Perry, was hospitalized last week after his motorcycle was hit from behind while he was traveling in Middleboro. Fortunately for Perry, he suffered only a back injury and some minor cuts and bruises. Edmund Lindberg, a 28-year-old Iraqi war veteran and Worcester County Jail Correctional officer whose motorcycle was struck days earlier when a car made an abrupt left turn into his path, wasn’t so fortunate. Just thirty minutes after the collision Lindberg was pronounced dead at a local hospital.

Motorcycle accidents can and often are deadly. According to a June 2010 report of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the number of fatalities has more than doubled over the past 10 years. According to the Insurance Information Institute (III) there has also been a significant increase in deaths among riders age 40 and up.

Motorcyclists, who have virtually no protection in a crash, must be extremely careful to avoid accidents. The Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) offers these safety tips: “(1) Get trained and licensed; (2) Wear protective gear–all the gear, all the time–including a helmet manufactured to the standards set by the DOT; (3) Ride unimpaired by alcohol or other drugs; (4) Ride within you own skill limits; and (5) Be a lifelong learner by taking refresher rider courses.” MSF offers a wealth of information on safety and rider training courses as well as information about Massachusett’s and other area states’ laws regarding motorcycling. Additional information can be found in the Department of Transportation’s publication, Motorcycle Safety.

We hope you’ll have an injury free ride.
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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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