Automobile and Trucking Accidents

Keeping Massachusetts Families Safe on our Roads and Highways

According to federal government statistics, in 2007, 1.36 fatalities occurred on the nation’s roadways for every 100 million vehicle miles travelled. A more meaningful statistic, however, is that in the same year 41,059 people were killed in the Unites States as a result of motor vehicle collisions, representing a 3.9% decrease from the year before. In 2007, about 2.49 million people were injured in motor vehicle traffic crashes, also representing a decline of about 3.3% from 2006. The federal government attributes the decline in motor vehicle deaths and injuries to more aggressive law enforcement measures and safer motor vehicles.

In Massachusetts, 417 people died from motor vehicles collisions in 2007, a 2.8% decrease from 2006. As a densely populated, Northeastern state with many old, narrow and congested roadways – and a culture that has long viewed lack of driving etiquette as a tolerable quirk among our drivers – Massachusetts families are particularly at risk for accidents whenever we drive, whether on a trip to the corner store or an excursion from Cape Cod to the Berkshires. Our roads are particularly ill-suited for large trucks, tractor-trailers and double semi-trailers.

Steven H. Schafer & Associates has litigated automobile and trucking accident cases since the inception of the firm.

  • Multiple vehicle collisions
  • Pedestrian knock-down cases
  • Trucking accidents
  • Bus accidents
  • Collisions caused by unsafe or hazardous roadway, parking lot and driveway configurations or nuisances created by adjacent landowners

We prove our clients’ personal injury rights within the Massachusetts no-fault auto insurance system. We help you understand your rights when dealing with uninsured motorists or insurance companies who try to settle for less than what you deserve.

We can help you with your motor vehicle liability claim even if your accident happened outside the state of Massachusetts.

 

Recovering Damages for Injuries in Motor Vehicle Collisions

If you have been injured in a motor vehicle collision, you may be entitled to recover compensation for the following damages:

  • Medical bills for necessary treatment and medicine
  • Expenses for rehabilitation and long term care
  • Compensation for physical and emotional pain and suffering
  • Compensation for loss of consortium and society. Your spouse and children may be entitled to compensation for their loss of your affection, support, companionship and other elements of their relationship with you

The claims that you can assert for your damages and whether or not you can collect from an insurance company, will depend upon many factors, including (but not limited to) the severity of your injuries, the amount of your medical bills, the amount of insurance on the other driver’s vehicle, the amount of insurance on the vehicle that your were driving, whether you were driving your own vehicle or someone else’s, and whether you were a passenger or a pedestrian. Massachusetts automobile insurance law is anything but simple, causing one jurist to famously comment, “Navigating the torturous twists of automobile insurance law poses a challenge at least equal to that faced by the uninitiated driver on his first foray into the streets of Boston.”

No-Fault Benefits; UM Coverage; Additional Policies; Liens. Massachusetts was the first state to adopt “No-Fault” automobile insurance. Depending upon the circumstances, “No-Fault” benefits (also called “PIP” or “Personal Injury Protection Benefits”) will pay for medical bills and lost wages, regardless of who is at fault for an accident, but not for pain and suffering. These benefits must be coordinated with private health insurance and other available benefits.

Whether or not you may claim damages for pain and suffering depends upon the severity of your injuries and the amount of your medical bills.

Medicare and Medicaid may further complicate the situation and private health insurers may assert liens against compensation that you receive in a motor vehicle accident case.

If the other driver negligently caused the collision, you can assert a claim for his or her automobile insurance coverage, and possibly against your own insurance company – for uninsured/underinsured motorist’s coverage - if the other driver does not have enough insurance to adequately compensate you. If you were a passenger, you may have a claim against both the driver of the car in which you were riding and the driver of the other vehicle. Under limited circumstances, other insurance coverage (such as coverage on the driver’s own car, if he was driving someone else’s car) might be available for your claim.

We can sort out these details for you to make sure that all available insurance coverage is collected to compensate you for your injuries.

 

Trucking Accidents and Negligence by Other Parties.

Considering the difference in weight between cars and trucks, seldom can the occupant of a car escape from a trucking collision without suffering serious injuries. When a truck or tractor-trailer is involved, we consider many factors contributing to the driver’s or trucking company’s negligence:

  • Whether the driver exceeded federal regulations that limit permissible hours on the road without sleep or rest
  • Weight limits on vehicles, versus the cargo being hauled
  • Whether the truck, tractor or trailer was properly maintained, as evidenced by maintenance logs

All too often, someone is injured or killed by a drunk driver. While we don’t excuse the drunk driver for his irresponsible conduct, we do investigate whether he was served to the point of intoxication at a bar, restaurant, hotel, or club. We investigate whether we can establish “dramshop liability” against that commercial establishment for the irresponsible service of alcohol for profit. See Other Negligence Cases.

Sometimes, inadequate maintenance is the fault of a separate vendor. Sometimes we find an equipment defect that can lead to a product liability claim against a manufacturer. See Products Liability.

The location of the collision – and the configuration of the roadway, the parking lot, or the driveway – may itself have contributed to the accident. Motorists must have adequate and unobstructed sight lines to allow them sufficient time to react to vehicles entering their paths of travel. Motorists must be given positive guidance from signage and markings on the road surface to help them navigate challenging locations. Property owners should not create hazards for travelers on the roadway by creating nuisances from operations on their land or vehicles entering or leaving their facilities. See Premises Liability.

Statute of Limitations. Generally, Massachusetts allows two years for you to claim “No-Fault” benefits and three years for you to file a motor vehicle negligence case, but the facts of your particular case may result in less time or special notice requirements. Due to the time necessary to properly gather evidence and investigate a case before filing suit, and the need to preserve evidence, you should retain an attorney immediately after a collision.

 

How We Use Evidence to Prove Your Automobile or Trucking Accident Case

From the inception of a case, we consider the types of "demonstrative evidence" that will bring alive key pieces of evidence and help a jury understand your case:

  • Photographs and video to memorialize skid marks, gouges in the pavement, the view of each participant, and the damage to the vehicles
  • Black box information from the vehicles
  • Aerial photographs that illustrate configuration of an intersection or the roadway
  • Traffic signal documents pertaining to the operation and sequencing of traffic control devices
  • Time records for drivers and maintenance records for vehicles
  • Enlargements of federal regulations and industry guidelines
  • Diagrams, charts and computer animations to explain our expert’s reconstruction of the accident sequence

As in our other cases, we use digital technology to create demonstrative evidence to explain our client’s injuries:

  • Color enhanced CT scans, MRIs or x-rays that show our client’s injuries
  • Case specific medical illustrations showing pertinent anatomy or steps in a surgical procedure
  • Medical calendars summarizing our client’s medical treatment

 

Results in Motor Vehicle Accident Cases

We have over 20 years experience winning motor vehicle accident cases:

  • $2.7 million recovery for pedestrian struck by driver making a delivery for fast food delivery company
  • $1.25 million verdict for couple injured in three-vehicle collision; narcoleptic driver fell asleep and crossed median line causing head-on collision, second driver following too closely struck plaintiffs vehicle, causing additional injuries
  • $650,000 recovery for driver of SUV struck from behind by refuse truck that failed to stop in time for traffic backup
  • $350,000 settlement for driver seriously injured when another driver cut across her lane of travel when hurriedly entering parking lot of racetrack; racetrack provided no police or traffic control for safety or patrons entering its facility or travelers on roadway