Most Boston drunk driving accidents involve one or more personally owned vehicle.  They also typically occur late at night or in the overnight hours after the bars close since this is the most likely time for someone to be out on the road while drunk.  While this is certainly the norm in terms of Boston drunk driving crashes, it is not the only time drunk driving accidents occur in Boston and around the nation and not every accident involves  personal vehicles.

Boston drunk Driving In some cases, we have seen drivers of vehicles, such as a semi tractor trailer or other large commercial vehicle, involved in a Massachusetts drunk driving collision.  Because of the size of these commercial vehicles,  there is so much weight that is transferred into energy in a crash that smaller vehicles and pedestrians or bike riders do not really stand a chance.  These vehicles also take a lot longer to stop than a standard passenger vehicle. Continue reading

With Memorial Day upon us it is a good time to talk about the risk of teen drunk driving accidents as we head into the summer months.

Drunk Driving Car Accident Statistics involving Fatalities in Boston

Drunk driving is not only very dangerous to the person behind the wheel, it presents a grave danger to anyone else on the road. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) records indicate more than 10,000 people die each year in the U.S. from alcohol-related traffic crashes.  This number means on average, one person will be killed by a drunk driver nearly every 50 minutes of every day.  Not only is this unacceptable in terms of lives lost, it results in cost to society of around $44 billion each year. There are a variety of factors which make up this cost, but the costs to the victims and their families can be astronomical in terms of  money and emotional pain.  We must remember for each Boston drunk driving accident death, there is a family who is left behind to deal with the pain and suffering. Even in cases which do not prove fatal, there can be tremendous pain and suffering and lives may be altered forever.

Boston drunk drivingIn some cases, it is the passengers in the drunk driver’s vehicle and in other cases, it is pedestrians and drivers or passengers in other vehicles. Due to the higher level of recklessness we tend to see in Boston drunk driving accidents, as compared to accidents in which defendant was acting negligent, but still sober, we tend to see much more severe personal injury.  These are all factors which can make a Boston drunk driving crash more complex from a legal perspective. Continue reading

Drunk driving collisions are among the most dangerous types of car accidents in Boston.  They tend more often to result in fatalities or serious bodily injury to one or more plaintiffs than other “typical” crashes.  While any car accident has the potential to be severe, the reason impaired driving accidents are so often catastrophic is because of the extreme reckless acts so often committed by a drunk driver. Things like wrong-way driving, red-light running and extreme speed all become more common when someone is under the influence of drugs or alcohol. When plaintiffs do survive a serious drunk driving accident, they are often left with severe and lasting injuries including, but not limited to permanent brain damage.

Boston Drunk Driving Accident Lawyer While there is no such thing as a “typical” drunk driving accident, we often see cases where drunk drivers were speeding excessively, operating with a complete disregard for the traffic laws as codified in Chapter 90 of the Massachusetts General Laws (M.G.L.), and the level of recklessness may actually be enough for the police to charge a drunk driver with assault with a dangerous weapon (his or her car) in addition to drunk driving as we can see in a recent example of a serious alleged Boston drunk driving car accident. Continue reading

A recent study published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs revealed 1 in 3 recent high school graduates have ridden with an impaired driver in the last year, and they were more likely to be a passenger of a marijuana-impaired driver than one who is alcohol-impaired. drugged driving injury

Although the prevalence of marijuana use has increased with a growing movement toward cannabis legalization nationally, this behavior remains as risky as ever.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in a report to Congress last summer, reveals the signs of marijuana-impaired driving may be more difficult to detect than alcohol-impaired driving, but it’s no less dangerous. Marijuana users are about 25 percent more likely to be involved in a crash than drivers with no evidence of marijuana use, according to NHTSA. Some of the ways cannabis impairs a person include:

  • Reduced reaction time and less ability to make decisions;
  • Impairment of coordination, distorted perception, memory loss and trouble problem-solving;
  • Divided attention to tasks.

Safe driving requires the person behind the wheel to be alert and ready to rapidly respond to hazards. While some argue drivers under the influence of marijuana are less of a danger than those under the influence of alcohol, the reality is there is nothing safe about driving under the influence of any substance.  Continue reading

Typically, a worker who is injured on the job in Boston is precluded from filing a civil personal injury lawsuit.  The reason is identified in Chapter 152, of the Massachusetts General Laws (M.G.L.), which stipulates workers’ compensation is a single-recovery system.  If a worker is an employee (as opposed to an independent contractor), and the injury occurred in the course and scope of employment, he or she must file a workers’ compensation claim to obtain recovery. drunk driver injury

However, there are limited exceptions to this preclusion. One is when injuries result on-the-job due to negligence of a third party. This person is not the employer or a co-worker or a manager. Negligence of contractors, vendors and completely separate third parties may be grounds for third-party litigation.

Because so many people drive in the course and scope of employment and because drunk driving is such a prevalent problem, we see many cases wherein workers are harmed by drunk drivers. These individuals may claim workers’ compensation coverage, and also pursue third-party litigation against the drunk driver and other responsible third parties.  Continue reading

We are entering the deadliest time of the year for teen drivers. That’s saying something considering traffic accidents are the leading cause of teen deaths all year long.

Spring break. High school and college graduation. Senioritis, spring and summer road trips. Summer break. Whole crops of freshman and sophomore drivers hitting the roads for the first time. Bad weather. Good weather. Heavy traffic. Long trips home from college.

A confluence of risk factors makes the next 10 weeks or so — from the beginning of spring break to the end of the graduation party season — the most tragic of the year on the nation’s roads.teen-accident-risks-300x225

Every one in three traffic deaths in the U.S. is caused by a drunk driver, according to national statistics. In Massachusetts, 2.2 percent of drivers report driving after drinking too much at some point in the last 30 days – which is higher than the national average of 1.9 percent. The actual number is likely much higher, given self-reporting errors.drunk driving injury

Drunk driving crashes cost Massachusetts millions of dollars each year in emergency services, medical services, property damage and loss of productivity – not to mention the devastating personal and financial burden of individual victims and families. In terms of recovering some of those losses, civil litigation is usually the best recourse victims have. Although some criminal cases will conclude with a restitution order, a drunk driving accident lawsuit often results in higher compensation – a necessity for those whose lives are forever altered.

But drunk drivers aren’t the only possible defendants in these cases. MGL ch. 138 section 69 prohibits the sale or delivery of alcohol to an intoxicated person on any licensed premises. Although this is a Massachusetts statute aims to establish grounds for criminal justice action, courts have also held violation can be used to establish civil liability of restaurants, bars, nightclubs and other venues after an impaired driving crash. These cases are not simple or easy, but they can be an important means of damage recovery and a way to help prevent future drunk driving crashes by holding these businesses accountable. Continue reading

A recent report by The Drive indicates operating under the influence of drugs is a growing and serious problem in Massachusetts, but one police and government officials aren’t prepared to sufficiently take on. OUI injury lawyer

NBC Boston reports the number of driver’s license revocations for operating under the influence of drugs has risen 65 percent over the last three years, with the legalization of marijuana and the rising tide of the opioid crisis blamed. Police say they are “constantly” responding to drugged-driving crashes and stopping motorists who are too high to drive safely. Further, not enough police officers have the proper specialized training necessary to identify a driver who is under the influence of drugs – and prove it beyond a reasonable doubt. That’s because drug impairment isn’t tested the same way as alcohol impairment. With alcohol, MGL ch. 90 section 24 indicates anyone with a blood-alcohol concentration that exceeds 0.08 is considered impaired. However, there isn’t the same kind of testing for drugs, though some states have set arbitrary limits. But a person who uses marijuana daily may have high levels of THC in their blood, yet not meet the criteria for being impaired; drugs tend to stay in the system longer than alcohol, meaning testing positive for it isn’t a surefire indicator of impairment.

That has implications not just for the criminal justice system, but also on civil impaired driving cases, spurred by the crashes these motorists cause. There is of course the indirect impact which is that if law enforcement is ineffective in identifying, arresting and prosecuting offenders, the streets aren’t as safe and we’re likely to see an increasing number of these offenders on our streets. The direct impact, though, is that evidence derived in the criminal case can also be used in civil litigation, though the processes are totally separate. Evidence of impairment can be used when working to establish a defendant’s negligence, or the failure to use reasonable care resulting in a foreseeable harm.  Continue reading

In the criminal justice system, a drunk driver or a drugged driver who causes serious injury as a result of a crash face up to 10 years behind bars, with a minimum mandatory of six months. However, as recently reported by The Patriot Ledger, felony drunk driving defendants on average serve a little over a year in prison. Only 42 percent of defendants in misdemeanor cases serve time in jail, with the average serving about 8 months. drunk driving injury

But for those injured in Massachusetts drunk driving crashes, the journey is only just beginning. Anyone injured in a crash caused by another motorist in the Commonwealth must first file a claim with their own health and auto insurance companies (though personal injury protection benefits) before pursuing a claim against the other driver. Problematically, drunken and drugged drivers have disparately few assets and often only the minimum mandatory auto insurance coverage.

For most victims, that means their own insurer will cover the first $2,000 in medical bills, after which time their own medical insurance kicks in (with their auto insurer stepping in to reimburse policyholders for doctor co-pays, deductibles and lost wages) up to $8,000. Those who do suffer severe injuries can file a liability claim against the other motorist for a range of damages, which includes past and future medical expenses, lost wages, lost earning capacity, pain and suffering, loss of life enjoyment and loss of consortium. However, state law mandates drivers only need carry a minimum of $20,000 for every person who is injured in a crash – an amount that has remained stagnant since the 1990s. There is a state bill legislators are currently considering that would raise that to $50,000, but there is no guarantee that will pass. Given the fact that health care, wages and other expenses have risen the last two decades, it makes little sense that the minimum mandatory auto insurance policy would not also rise.  Continue reading

Negligent Entrustment in Boston Drunk Driving Cases

In some drunk driving accidents in Boston the defendant is driving a vehicle owned by a parent, friend, or other family member. There is generally nothing wrong with lending someone a car, but as discussed in Picard v. Thomas, a 2004 case from the Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) of Massachusetts, a claim for negligent entrustment of motor vehicle can be made pursuant to the  Massachusetts General Laws (M.G.L.)  and common law if the following elements are met:

  • Vehicle owner entrusted his or her vehicle to a person who is incompetent or unfit and this incompetence or other unfitness resulted in injuries to plaintiff
  •  Vehicle owner gave actual permission to the at-fault driver
  • Vehicle owner had actual knowledge of at-fault driver’s unfitness or incompetence with respect to operation of a motor vehicle.

happy hour DUI accidentIn other words, if a person lets another person use their vehicle despite knowing this person is not able to safely operate a motor vehicle, vehicle owner can also be held liable for any personal injury suffered in connection with a serious or fatal motor vehicle accident in Massachusetts.

Continue reading