The Boston car accident attorneys at Sweeney Merrigan Law want drivers to be safe on the road. However, Boston has some of the most statistically dangerous traffic patterns and congested intersections in the country and we understand that car accidents are inevitable, especially in dense cities like ours. Car crashes can cause serious or even fatal injuries, result in thousands of dollars in property damage, and may even leave victims of reckless drivers permanently disabled. If you find yourself in such a situation, it’s important to connect with a reliable personal injury attorney as soon as possible to ensure you aren’t stuck paying for someone else’s negligent actions.
There are over 36,000 miles of roads connecting the state of Massachusetts, accommodating as many as 5 million vehicles on any given day. As the largest city in the state, Boston is home to a significant portion of this vehicle traffic. With over 3 million licensed drivers in the Boston area, it’s no surprise that the city ranks among the nation’s worst when it comes to traffic. While no one likes to sit in bumper to bumper traffic, the high volume of vehicles on the road also means a greater chance of accidents. From 2011-2015, 1,768 people lost their lives on Massachusetts roads, 101 within the city of Boston. However, if you expand to the Greater Boston area – including cities such as Cambridge, Newton, Framingham, Worcester, Providence, and Lowell (among many others) the number is much greater.
Although fatal accidents happen for a number of reasons, AAA president Sandra Marsian reported that distracted driving is one of the leading causes of fatal accidents.
Distracted driving involves any activity that requires you to take your hands off the steering wheel or divert your eyes from the road ahead. While texting and cell phone use are one of the most common causes of distraction behind the wheel, other activities such as eating, navigating with GPS, making calls with hands-free devices, conversations with passengers, and slowing down to look at roadside distractions like accidents (often called “rubbernecking”) are all dangerous on Boston roadways. Since the Boston area sees some of the heaviest traffic and has one of the highest accident rates in the country, it’s crucial for Boston drivers to use good judgment behind the wheel.
Recent changes in Massachusetts law prohibit texting while driving but these laws are unable to eliminate the practice completely. According to the NHTSA:
Car accidents at high speeds can cause all manner of serious injuries. Some of the possible injuries from a car accident include:
This list is by no means exhaustive, and there are countless possible injuries that can result from car crashes. It’s vital for Boston drivers to operate their vehicles safely, stay vigilant while driving, and know the biggest risks of driving in the Boston area.
Car accidents can happen just about anywhere and be caused many, many different events and factors. Therefore, it’s impossible to predict exactly when and where an accident may occur. However, data from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) shows us exactly what Massachusetts drivers struck in every fatal accident, allowing us important insight.
Collisions with other vehicles are far and away the most common single cause of fatalities in Massachusetts, but fixed objects are the leading killer. If you add up all collisions with fixed objects, 677 people were killed in this time frame, 174 more than in collisions with motor vehicles.
Hopefully these data help point out some of the most statistically dangerous road hazards for Boston drivers. Here is a little more information on the most common accident types:
Unsafe speed for the road or conditions is a significant factor in motor vehicle accidents that cause injuries or death. The Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) assigns speed limits based on several factors to offer the optimal flow of traffic at a safe speed. It’s difficult for MassDOT to please everyone, though. Whenever a speed limit is up for debate, the residents and business owners in the area typically prefer lower speed limits for increased safety, while motorists prefer higher speed limits to reduce their travel times.
There are various factors that MassDOT considers when assigning speed limits, but the most important thing to remember about posted speed limits is they strive for balance between reasonable travel time and the safety of the people in the surrounding area. While cruising a few mph above the posted speed limit is generally acceptable and common practice for many drivers, it’s a wise idea to drive within posted limits, even if you believe them to be unreasonable.
The state of Massachusetts requires you to file a Motor Vehicle Crash Operator Report after any car accident that caused an injury, death, or property damage over $1,000. A good rule of thumb is to contact the police for anything more than very mild fender benders in which no one suffered injury. For serious accidents, your first step after coming to a stop should be to assess your injuries. If it’s too painful to move, don’t. Wait for emergency responders to arrive. If you only seem to have sustained mild injuries, it’s still crucial to take things easy. Some injuries are not immediately visible, and adrenaline pumping from the crash may dull pain sensations.
Once you ensure that you and the other drivers are not seriously wounded, contact the authorities and notify them of the crash. While you wait for police to arrive, it’s a good idea to try to move your vehicles out of the flow of traffic, if possible. However, before you do this, you should try to take pictures of the accident scene. Quickly photograph any damage to your vehicle and others, debris in the road as it lies, any skid marks from drivers hitting their brakes, and landmarks around the accident scene. These photos can be valuable if liability for the accident is questionable.
When the police arrive, take care with what words you use. Even seemingly innocent phrases like “I’m sorry” can land you in trouble. Avoid saying anything that even remotely sounds like an admission of fault, even if you were at fault. Answer the police’s questions honestly and concisely. Once you’re finished providing your statement and the accident site is clear, you should seek medical attention as soon as humanly possible after the crash, even if you only sustained minor injuries. Should you wind up involved in a lawsuit for the accident, the court will assume that if you waited to seek medical treatment, your injuries couldn’t have been too bad.
Massachusetts requires all motorists to carry auto insurance. Unfortunately, many drivers opt for low-cost policies with minimal coverage. If one of these drivers or one with no insurance at all causes an accident, you may need to file a claim against your own insurance policy. Different insurers have varying policies when it comes to these situations, so it’s a good idea to look for any verbiage concerning underinsured or uninsured driver coverage in your policy agreement before signing. Reaching out to a personal injury attorney can help mitigate the potential damage of an accident with an underinsured driver, and an attorney can also help you navigate the insurance claims process.
If you own a vehicle in Massachusetts, your insurance coverage must include:
Massachusetts follows a modified comparative negligence law, meaning that you can only recover compensation for a car accident if you are less than 50% at fault for the crash. This is why it is so important to avoid admitting fault when providing police with your statement. A court may turn a seemingly innocuous statement against you and drastically reduce the compensation you receive.
While Massachusetts is a modified comparative negligence state, the state handles most minor traffic accident claims under No Fault rules. This means that drivers cannot take each other to court for motor vehicle accidents unless certain conditions are met. For car accident victims to be eligible to pursue remedies outside the no-fault system, he or she must:
This system is in place to ease the court’s burden in minor traffic accident cases, while still providing victims of serious injury a way to recover damages.
Victims of car accidents have three years from the date of their accident to file a personal injury claim in a Massachusetts court. This deadline – known as the Statute of Limitations – is the same three years for typical car accidents as well as wrongful death and product liability cases. In special circumstances, the deadline may be extended to allow for discovery of an injury that wasn’t visible or detectable until long after the crash.
If you are pursuing a claim against a government entity, however, claims must be filed within 30 days of the accident.
After you’ve handled your medical issues, dealt with the police, and filed a claim with the appropriate insurers for your accident, your next step should be to retain the services of a qualified attorney to represent your car accident case. If you suffered injuries or property damage due to another driver’s carelessness, you shouldn’t have to pay for it on your own.
The Boston car accident attorneys at Sweeney Merrigan Law are dedicated to client success. We have successfully secured more than $30 million in damages for our clients, and we want Boston drivers to know they can turn to us for representation after a car accident. When it comes to compensation for property damage, medical expenses, pain and suffering, and lost wages, we will explore every possible avenue for our clients. If you have been in a serious accident and are looking for compensation outside of Massachusetts no-fault system, then contact us at Sweeney Merrigan Law today. Aside from our years of experience, we are dedicated to fighting for the rights accident victims in Boston and ensuring that our clients receive all the benefits that they are entitled to under the law.