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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.

Auto insurance policies take many different shapes and forms. It can be difficult to understand the extent and limits of your coverage, especially if your policy is written in legalese. Although it is best to have a clear understanding of your coverage before an accident occurs, sometimes questions come up following an unfortunate crash. As dedicated Boston car accident lawyers, we have assisted numerous individuals and families with understanding whether they are entitled to coverage following a car accident and we are standing by to assist you.

Recently, the Massachusetts Court of Appeal issued an opinion in a case where the plaintiff filed suit against an insurance company seeking coverage as a household member under a policy held by the mother and step-father of his partner. The plaintiff and his long-term partner had a child together. The court was asked to interpret the phrase “related by blood” when it comes to people who do not share a blood relation but who share a blood relationship through a third party.

At the time of the accident, the plaintiff was living with his partner and her mother and step-father. He was injured while riding as a passenger in a vehicle owned by a third party. The injuries were severe, resulting in several days of hospitalization, long-term disabilities, and medical bills exceeding $40,000. The plaintiff settled with the at-fault driver for her policy limits in the amount of $100,000.

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Auto insurance can come in handy when you are involved in an accident, but only if your insurer treats your claim fairly and provides you with the coverage that you deserve. As dedicated Boston car accident lawyers, we have seen countless cases involving insurance companies who refuse to provide their insureds with the response that the insured is owed based on the provisions in the policy. If you were injured in a car accident, we are standing by and ready to assist you with all aspects of your claim, including ensuring that your insurer plays by the rules.

Recently, the Court of Appeal considered an appeal in Martin v. Hanover Ins. Co. 92 Mass. App. Ct. 1104 in which the plaintiff, an insured, alleged that her insurance company engaged in unfair claim settlement practices in violation of Massachusetts law. The plaintiff was injured in a car accident where the at-fault driver made a U-turn and struck the plaintiff’s vehicle. The parties did not dispute that the other driver was at fault and the plaintiff received the total policy benefits for the at-fault driver’s insurance policy. The plaintiff then filed a claim for underinsured motorist benefits with her insurer.

The insurer did not provide a settlement offer and the plaintiff filed a civil claim against the insurer demanding arbitration. The complaint also alleged that the insurer engaged in unfair claim settlement practices and that the plaintiff deserved damages as a result. The matter proceeded to arbitration and the arbitrator concluded that the plaintiff was entitled to $50,000 in damages related to the accident. A civil court affirmed this ruling and the parties moved on to litigating the unfair settlement practices claim.

A major aspect of any car accident is dealing with insurance companies. There are many different policy provisions and protocols that you may need to review to ensure that you are making your claim appropriately and that you receive the coverage that you deserve. Even if you are doing your best to follow all of the proper steps, insurance companies usually don’t have your best interest in mind. This means that they will try to do whatever they can to avoid paying you the coverage that you deserve. The dedicated Boston car accident lawyers at the Law Offices of Michael O. Smith are prepared to help you assert your rights to the fullest extent.

A recent case discussed the application of an underinsured motorist policy and the arbitration provision included in the insured’s policy. The plaintiff suffered injuries in a car accident and eventually obtained a settlement for the amount of that driver’s policy limits. The plaintiff’s insurance company was not a party to that settlement but provided consent to it.

The plaintiff then sought underinsured motorist coverage from her insurance company, which invoked the arbitration provision in the plaintiff’s policy. Arbitration is a form of dispute resolution in which the parties agree to let a neutral arbitrator resolve the matter. The outcome of an arbitration is binding on the parties in the same way that a court judgment is binding.

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