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A recent report issued by the New York Times indicates that for children under the age of 15, the most common cause of death is unintentional injuries resulting from car accidents.  In the majority of fatal crashes, children were not wearing safety belts.  The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration provided statistics that supported the research and indicated that from state to state, there were variations in children’s deaths.


In Massachusetts, for example, between 2010 and 2014, there were 0.25 deaths per 100,000 children, as compared to 3.23 per 100,000 in Mississippi.  In Mississippi, of the 99 children who died in a car accident during the study period, 56 were not wearing seatbelts or were improperly restrained. Additionally, the study indicated that more deaths occurred on roads that were classified as rural by the Federal Highway Administration. The reasons for this vary and may include the distance to trauma centers, poor lighting on roads, and other factors.

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Recently, the Massachusetts Court of Appeals analyzed whether an automobile insurance company had engaged in unfair practices regarding a car accident victim’s claim for damages.  The plaintiff in this case had been awarded a substantial jury verdict of $818,000 for his personal injury claim against the driver who rear-ended his vehicle.  The insurer had offered to settle for $25,000 and $60,000, both rejected by the plaintiff. In the current lawsuit, the plaintiff had argued that the insurer violated Massachusetts law when handling his personal injury claim. In essence, the issue was whether the insurer had refused to pay the claim without conducting a reasonable investigation.

tow accident

The facts of this case indicate that the plaintiff worked as a tow truck operator and had been assisting a vehicle stuck in a snow drift.  While inside his tow truck, on the side of the road, another driver rear-ended his truck.  He alleged that he was injured and brought a personal injury claim against the driver.  The driver’s insurance company attempted to gather information from the plaintiff regarding his injuries, but apparently there remained doubt concerning his bodily injury claims.

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According to Massachusetts law, in an injury claim following a car accident, evidence that the car involved in the collision was registered to the defendant is pricrashma facie evidence it was being operated and controlled by someone for whom the defendant was legally responsible.  At issue in an appeal before a Massachusetts appellate court was how much weight to afford this statute in proving negligence, particularly when the registered owner of a car involved in a crash had granted permission to the driver to use the car. The court held that permission did not mean that the owner had the right to control the driver’s use of the car, especially when she was completing personal errands.

In a collision that was determined at trial to be an accident and not to have involved the negligence of the defendant, the lower court found the owner of the vehicle involved was not responsible for property damage.  Here, the driver had struck the plaintiff’s traffic signal and arm while borrowing the defendant’s car to run personal errands.  According to the trial court, the car owner had not allowed the driver the use of the car, but his brother had done so.  The lower court found that the driver had not been acting as the agent of the car owner, nor was she advancing his interests at the time of the collision. The lower court entered judgment for the defendant, the owner of the car.

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A Massachusetts court recently held that an automobile insurance company had not engaged in unfair claim settlement practices, in violation of state law, when it conditioned a payment of its policy limit on a release of all claims against its insureds. Following a one-vehicle accident in Swampscott, an injured passenger brought negligence claims against the driver and his employer, since the vehicle had been rented in the driver’s capacity as an employee. An automobile insurance compacar crashny defended both the driver and the company against allegations of negligence, specifically arguing that excessive speed caused the driver to crash into a wall after losing control of the vehicle.

In attempting to settle the claimant’s negligence claims, the insurance company rejected an offer by the passenger/claimant to release the insurer from further claims in exchange for the $1 million insurance policy limit. The insurer contended that paying the limit without a release of their insureds could potentially expose them to bad faith claims.

The claimant then alleged that by failing to investigate and make an equitable settlement offer, the insurer was making a willful and knowing violation of Massachusetts law.  The insurance company relied upon case law and specifically Lazaris v. Metropolitan Property & Cas. Ins. Co., 428 Mass. 502 (1998), to make clear that it could condition paying the policy limit on receiving a release of its insureds.

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In an appeal involving an employer’s duty to safeguard confidential information, the Massachusetts Court of Appeal held that a lower court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of an automobile insurance company should be vacahighwayted.  The lower court had found that the plaintiff had not met his duty of showing the company’s negligence in safeguarding his confidential information following a vehicle collision.  An employee of the insurance company had access to the plaintiff’s information and provided it to her boyfriend, who intimidated the plaintiff, as a witness to the crash.

The plaintiff brought a case against the automobile insurance company, and a lower court dismissed four of his five claims.  The plaintiff appealed the grant of summary judgment on his negligent failure to safeguard personal information claim. In this case, the facts indicated that an employee of the insurer had access to confidential data through work that included records maintained by the Registry of Motor Vehicles.

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Recently, a Massachusetts appeals court affirmed a judgment in favor of an insurance company in a civil action for damages following a motor vehicle accident.  Following an accident, automobile insurance companies may pay damages to an injured individual after a determination that their insured was legally at fault for a collision. In this lawsuit, the pcrashed carlaintiff received a payment from the at-fault party’s insurer. He argued that sales tax was recoverable as damages in tort, and it should therefore be recoverable under the insurance policy, even though he had not submitted proof he replaced his damaged vehicle.

The court stated that when looking at an insurance contract, the language is a question of law to be determined by the judge and, on appeal, by a reviewing court.  According to the common law of torts, injured individuals accrue a right, following an accident, to be compensated for injuries that have been wrongfully inflicted by another individual or entity.

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In a personal injury lawsuit following a car accident, the issue of liability, or legal fault, was conceded. This means that the defendants admitted they were at fault, and the issue before the jury was the amount of damages to award the injured victim.  The prcar crashocedural issues in this case reflect the importance of medical records and documentation in a motor vehicle injury lawsuit. Here, the judge ultimately found that the medical evidence did not support the plaintiff’s allegations of harm, and the jury’s excessive verdict was not grounded in the evidence. The result was a serious (nearly 90%) reduction of the plaintiff’s original award.

Following a car accident in July 2004, the plaintiff victim brought a lawsuit alleging negligence against the driver of a pickup truck and his employer. The facts indicated that the defendant driver had rear-ended the victim’s car and then struck her passenger door. The victim underwent medical care and then, two years after the initial car accident, was again-rear ended. In the ensuing lawsuit, the defendants conceded liability, and the matter was tried on the issue of damages.

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An appeal before the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court addressed the measure of punitive damages to be awarded to a motor vehicle accident victim and his fpedestrianamily.  Insurance companies that delay payment, after liability has been demonstrated in a car accident claim, may be assessed additional damages for their conduct. The issue in this case centered on how to calculate punitive damages, specifically, whether post-judgment interest should be included in the amount to be multiplied.

The plaintiffs in this personal injury claim included the victim, his wife, and his daughter.  They filed a personal injury lawsuit for injuries after the victim was struck by a van driven by an employee of the defendant employer.  The victim had been crossing the street in Boston when he was struck and suffered serious injuries, including a fractured skull. The plaintiffs claimed negligent infliction of emotional distress, negligent operation of a motor vehicle, and loss of consortium.

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The Massachusetts Court of Appeal upheld a lower court’s judgment in a personal injury lawsuit brought by a pedestrian injured by a truck driver who struck her in the evening, while she was crossing the street in a marked crosswalk.  The issue before the trial court had been the relative fault of the two parties, since eyewitness testimony indicated that the plaintiff may not have obeyed the pedestrian signal. pedestrian sign

The jury had been instructed on Massachusetts law addressing a driver’s legal responsibilities at crosswalks, which included the prohibition against an “operator” entering a marked crosswalk while a pedestrian was crossing.   After the jury found the plaintiff 35% at fault, her damages award was reduced by that percentage (her total damages were $70,000, and the awarded judgment was $45,000). The city appealed, challenging the judge’s instructions to the jury on the ground that the statute did not apply to the circumstances of the case.

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A recent study found that commercial truck drivers with three or more medical conditions double or quadruple their chance for being in a crash than healthier drivers.  The study let by the University of Utah School of Medicine found that truck drivers poor health could be dangerous not only to themselves, but to other drivers around them.  The study found the rate of crashes resulting in injury among all truck drivers was 20 per 100 million miles traveled.  For truck drivers with three or more medical conditions, the rate of crashes shot up to 93 per every 100 million miles traveled.

This study tells us that truck drivers with poor health could lead to increased crash risk.  Some truck drivers have difficulty keeping healthy due to their line of occupation.  Truck drivers typically sit for long periods of time, deal with poor sleep and have difficulty finding healthy meals, verses fast food, when working.  These problems lead to truck drivers declining health.  One study finds that over 1/3 of all commercial truck drivers have at least one medical condition such as heart disease, low back pain or diabetes.  The study finds that one health condition experienced by truck drivers, such as diabetes, is manageable, but diabetes in combination with other medical conditions such as high blood pressure and anxiety, can greatly increase the risk of a truck crash that not only injures the truck driver, but can also injure other innocent victims traveling on the road.

The study concludes its in the public’s best interest to continue to investigate the issue of health of our nations commercial truck drivers.  Occupants of other vehicle’s get injured in approximately 75% of all crashes involving trucks.  Perhaps one solution would be to make sure our commercial truck drivers know the health risk’s of working for long periods driving in a sedentary capacity.  This way, Commercial Truck drivers will be able to limit the decline of their health causing less of a chance of a truck crash causing bodily injury to themselves or other travelers that share the road with them.  If you or a loved one have experienced a motor vehicle crash with a truck, please contact an experienced attorney, such as the ones at The Law Offices of Michael O. Smith at 15 Broad Street, in Boston, to understand your rights and remedies.