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Articles Posted in Auto accident

Like many states, Massachusetts has a dram shop act that attaches liability to a business that overserves a customer with alcohol who then proceeds to cause a personal injury accident. The statute can create many interesting legal issues, but it is important for plaintiffs who were injured in crashes with drunk drivers to understand whether they have a claim against a bar, restaurant, or other business that served alcohol to the defendant before the personal injury accident took place. As seasoned Boston car accident lawyers, we are prepared to help you assess your claim and to determine whether you are entitled to compensation.

The Massachusetts Court of Appeal considered a case in which issues surrounding the liability involved with serving liquor to a guest were involved. The victim was killed in a one-car accident after leaving a restaurant owned by one of the defendants where he had been served alcoholic beverages. The plaintiff, the decedent’s estate, alleged that the restaurant was negligent and reckless in serving the decedent more drinks while he was showing signs of obvious intoxication and that this conduct was the direct and foreseeable cause of his death.

According to Massachusetts’ dram shop act, a plaintiff asserting a claim under the statute must provide within 90 days of filing the complaint an affidavit that lists enough facts to raise a legitimate question regarding the liability of the defendant.

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Insurance policies can be very confusing, and it can seem impossible to know whether your expenses after a car accident are covered. There are many different types of insurance policies, and each insurer can include a different array of terms, such as exclusions about what it will and will not cover in the event that an injury or damage happens. Although these policy terms may seem clear upfront, they can often be worded in tricky ways or include exceptions that are challenging to interpret. Our dedicated team of Boston car accident lawyers has handled many car accident cases. This includes negotiating with insurance companies to make sure that our clients are treated fairly. We can answer any questions about a car accident and whether your insurance company or another insurance company should provide you with coverage.

In a recent case, an appellate court was asked to decide whether a motor vehicle exclusion in a homeowner’s insurance policy relieves another insurance company of its duty to provide coverage for the insureds when the insureds provided alcohol to a minor in their home, and the minor caused a car accident. The victim of the car accident filed a lawsuit against the insureds, who owned the home where they provided the minor with alcohol. The homeowner’s insurance company defended the insureds in the action, subject to a reservation of its rights in the homeowner’s insurance agreement.

The parties entered into a settlement agreement, in which the victim released the insureds, and the insurance company agreed to pay the victim coverage limits depending on its duty to indemnify the insureds under the homeowner’s insurance policy. The lower court concluded that the motor vehicle exclusion applied and relieved the insurance company of its duty to indemnify the insureds.

Many employers allow employees to use vehicles for work-related purposes. Although some of them understand that this exposes them to liability if the employee is involved in a crash, others fail to understand the risks. Our seasoned team of Boston car accident lawyers are prepared to help you protect yourself in an accident involving a third-party who was using your vehicle.

In a recent appellate case (the “Case”), the Massachusetts Court of Appeal discusses this issue. In the Case, the owner of a restaurant allowed employees to use his vehicle to get to and from their homes and the restaurant. The owner required some employees to sign an agreement that limited the use of the vehicle to get to and from work. Under Massachusetts law, employers are liable for the tortious acts that their employees commit under the course and scope of employment. This concept is known as vicarious liability. One morning, one of the employees assisted another individual with jump-starting his car.

The employee removed the cables and lowered the hood of the restaurant owner’s car at which time it accelerated and struck the owner of the other car that was being jumped. The victim filed a claim for negligence and alleged that the restaurant owner was legally responsible as the owner of the vehicle that caused his injuries.

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Motorcycle accidents can lead to some of the most serious and catastrophic injuries for victims including traumatic brain injuries, broken bones, and debilitating back injuries. At the Law Office of Michael O. Smith, our seasoned team of Massachusetts car accident lawyers has helped motorcyclists with securing the compensation that they deserve after a careless driver causes them to suffer injuries in an accident. Although much of the attention surrounding motorcycle safety awareness month is focused on reminding riders about safe practices, it’s also about reminding drivers to be mindful and share the road.

In Massachusetts alone, nearly 800,000 residents are planning to travel for Memorial Day Weekend according to the Massachusetts Department of Transportation. With the warmer weather, many may opt to take their motorcycles instead of their passenger vehicles.

Across the country, 20% of fatal accidents involve a motorcyclist even though there are far fewer motorcycle riders on the highways compared to passenger vehicles. This equates to motorcyclists being 28 times more at risk of suffering an injury in an accident compared to passengers in a regular vehicle according to the Governor’s Highway Safety Association.

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There are several critical points in a lawsuit, including a number of procedural steps. Before the jury deliberates on whether or not a defendant acted negligently, the judge will provide the jury with a set of jury instructions that the jury must follow when deliberating. Many parties appeal the outcome of a jury’s decision on the basis that the judge did not give the proper jury instruction. Knowing whether or not the judge is providing the proper instruction and advocating for the instructions that are the fairest and most equitable to your case is a critical step in your lawsuit. As seasoned Boston car accident attorneys, we have courtroom experience that we are ready to put to use on your behalf.

In a recent case, the appellate court considered a plaintiff’s challenge to the jury instructions that the judge provided. The woman was injured in a motor vehicle crash and filed a suit against the driver of the other vehicle alleging that the defendant acted negligently and caused her injuries. The defendant was working at the time of the crash when he allegedly rear-ended the plaintiff as she was attempting to turn right onto a busy street.

The judge declined to instruct the jury on violating a safety statute on the basis that the regulations the plaintiff cited in support of the proposed instruction referred to public highways and there was no evidence in the judge’s opinion that the accident involved a public highway. He also declined to instruct the jury on comparative negligence. The plaintiff appealed on the basis that omitting these instructions and failing to provide a more complete instruction regarding the issue of the defendant’s duty to the plaintiff was a reversible error.

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Most people are aware that speeding can lead to serious accidents but drivers continue to break them anyway. Recently, the City of Boston reduced speed limits to 25 miles-per-hour with the goal of reducing the number of traffic-related pedestrian deaths and injuries. According to recent reports, Mayor Marty Walsh and the Boston City Council are considering reducing the speed limit to 20 miles-per-hour to provide even greater protections.

The move to reduce speed limits originated with the City’s VisionZero program, which was backed by Governor Baker and the Massachusetts Legislature. In 2016, Governor Baker signed a piece of legislation called the Municipal Modernization bill that allows municipalities to reduce speed limits from 30 miles-per-hour to 25 miles-per-hour as the default for areas where no speed limits are posted. This is especially important for high-traffic areas that adjoin residential communities like Boston, Quincy, Dedham, Cambridge, and Arlington. It is important for drivers to be aware of this change and to reduce their speed to 25 miles-per-hour in affected areas.

Although the speed limit reduction may not seem like it will make a big difference, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety conducted a study concluding that the 5 mile-per-hour reduction from 30 miles-per-hour to 25 miles-per-hour led to a 29% reduction in vehicles traveling 35 miles-per-hour or more. Also, data shows that 90% of pedestrians who are hit in a vehicle accident are hit by a vehicle that was traveling faster than 20 miles-per-hour.

Insurance policies provide us with protection in the event of a Massachusetts personal injury accident, but they can be incredibly confusing. Conflicts often arise after an accident when it comes to determining which policies will apply, whether the injured party is entitled to the full policy limits and whether another insurer can assert a subrogation claim against a party who received insurance policy proceeds on top of recovery from another source. Our diligent car accident lawyers have handled numerous claims involving complex insurance disputes and we are ready to help you fight for the settlement or judgment that you deserve.

In the recent case of Enterprise Rent-a-Car Company of Boston, Inc. v. Arbella Mutual Insurance Company, a Massachusetts appellate court considered whether the self-insurer owner of a rental car can assert a subrogation right under a Massachusetts statute against the insurance carrier of the person who operated the vehicle to recoup personal injury protection benefits that it paid.

The driver rented a car from the plaintiff and was involved in an accident while operating the rental car resulting in injuries to him and the three passengers who were in the vehicle. The rental car company paid over $15,000 in personal injury protection (PIP) benefits to the passengers. The rental company then filed a motion seeking to compel arbitration on the issue of whether it could seek subrogation from the renter’s insurer or the other driver’s insurer. The renter’s insurer moved for summary judgment and the lower court granted the motion on the basis that it was the renter’s personal insurer and should not be required to pay for the PIP benefits to the passengers.

Lawsuits relating to car accidents can take a long time to resolve, but the medical expenses, lost earnings, and other financial costs that are associated with the accident continue to pile up. Massachusetts law permits some parties to receive interest from the date that the lawsuit is initiated to the date that a judgment is entered. This can offset a portion of the expenses that the plaintiff has to pay as they wait for the trial to take place. As dedicated Massachusetts car accident lawyers, we can help you ensure that you assert your legal rights to the fullest extent possible following a car accident.

Recently, a Massachusetts court considered the issue of prejudgment interest in a claim where the jury found that the plaintiff was entitled to $8,250,000 in damages. The verdict was entered on April 11, 2018, and the case was originally filed on February 25, 2015. The plaintiffs requested prejudgment interest for the three-year period that the litigation was ongoing.

The defendants objected to this on the basis that they did not owe interest for the full time period. Instead, they asserted that certain portions of the judgment award for things like future lost wages, future medical bills, and personal care should not be included in the prejudgment interest calculation. The main issue, therefore, was whether or not the defendant should be required to pay prejudgment interest on the portion of the award that was allocated to future expenses and damages.

Recently, Gov. Charlie Baker and Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito introduced a new piece of legislation that would affect when drivers can use their cell phones behind the wheel. The measure is called “An Act Relative to Improving Safety on the Roads of the Commonwealth” and it was inspired by the roughly 15,000 people who suffered serious injuries in Massachusetts traffic accidents during the period between 2012 and 2016. Almost 2,000 people lost their lives, which includes 14 roadside workers.

The proposed law changes a number of statutes based on recommendations from the Strategic Highway Safety Plan and updates a number of laws that were created before different types of mobile technology became widespread. According to Gov. Baker, the bill includes “common sense proposals to substantially reduce distracted driving, stiffen penalties associated with operating under the influence, improve safety requirements for certain trucks and to begin establishing a regulatory framework for new forms of transportation.”

Perhaps the biggest impact for most Massachusetts drivers would be the requirement to use hands-free devices while driving. Sixteen other states currently have a hands-free technology law. This means that drivers are prohibited from touching or holding a cell phone while operating a motor vehicle except to perform a tap, swipe, or activation of the hands-free mode. It would also allow law enforcement officials to stop and cite individuals who are not wearing a seatbelt.

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Car accidents can be incredibly stressful for the victim when it comes to dealing with insurance companies and knowing whether you are being treated fairly. Our experienced team of Boston car accident lawyers is well versed in the rules that apply to insurance companies when it comes to settling accident claims and tendering policy limits. Contact us today to start learning more about whether you are receiving the fair treatment that you deserve following a car crash.

In Hopkins v. Liberty Mut. Ins., the court concluded that the insurer violated clear Massachusetts laws requiring insurers to make a good faith and prompt attempt to resolve insurance claims. Following a jury-waived trial, the judge concluded that the insurer engaged in knowing and willful violations of Massachusetts laws prohibiting insurers from engaging in unfair and deceptive claim settlement practices. More specifically, the statute deems it an unfair claim settlement practice if the insurer fails to make a prompt, fair, and equitable settlement of claims where liability has become reasonably clear. The plaintiff sought compensation for injuries that she sustained in a five-car accident involving a work truck owned and operated by an employer and driven by an agent-employee. This driver caused the first impact, which unleashed a chain reaction series of accidents involving the other five drivers.

The judge awarded the plaintiff damages for her injuries and the statutory violations as well as attorney’s fees. The defendant appealed on the basis that the statute that prohibits insurers from delaying settlement of claims does not allow recovery for each alleged act or omission and that the statute does not allow for an award of multiple damages and attorneys’ fees.

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