All posts by Bodkin & Mason Staff

Negligence – The Necessary Ingredient In a Personal Injury Case

Injuries at the heart of any personal injury case are almost always unintentional. Because of this, placing responsibility on a party for causing an accident can be tricky. For this reason, personal injury legal experts seek to find negligence by one or more parties in auto accidents, work injuries, pedestrian, bicycle and slip & fall accidents.

Slip and Fall victim on ice

Determining Negligence…

Duty

In order for a personal injury victim to have grounds to file a lawsuit, the victim must be able to demonstrate that the defendant had a duty to exercise some form of care to the plaintiff.

Breach of Duty

Next, the victim and his or her personal injury lawyer must show that this duty has been breached.

Cause

The third step in determining that a defendant has indeed been negligent in a way that affected the plaintiff is to demonstrate that the defendant’s breach of duty resulted in the damages sustained by the plaintiff.

Proof

A plaintiff and his or her legal counsel must prove that the injury he or she sustained as a result of the defendant’s negligence has negatively impacted his or her personal affairs.

In most cases, the defendant is not meaning to cause harm to the plaintiff. However, because the defendant has neglected the plaintiff’s safety, he is to blame for the injuries that were incurred.

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If you are the victim of an accident caused by another person’s negligence – We can help you.  Don’t let insurance companies make important decisions for you and your family. As an accident victim you must protect your rights!

For a free consultation on any personal injury matter, call Bodkin & Mason, LLP today at (508) 459-6253.  Bodkin & Mason – Dedicated to serving accident victims throughout Massachusetts.

 

 

 

 

Motorcycle Safety Tips for Charity Rides

The weather is nice and it’s that time of year again!  Motorcyclists are enjoying the open roads and lots of charity motorcycle rides are taking place. Charity rides are events that attract motorcyclists of all skill sets and ages. They create situations where ignoring the rules of the road can have serious consequences.

motorcycle-riders

Before you head out this year read up on these motorcycle safety tips, wear protective gear, and be sure to drive defensively.

We know you want to have fun while spending time with like-minded folks for a great cause, but we also want you and your friends to be here tomorrow!  Here’s some sobering statistics from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS):

  1. Motorcyclists are 30 more times likely to die in a crash than people in cars.
  2. Motorcyclists over 60 years old are at greater risk.
    “Because of slower reflexes, weaker eyesight, more brittle bones, and other disadvantages, riders over 60 years old are three times (3x) more likely to be hospitalized after a crash than younger ones.”
  3. “In 2014, fatally injured motorcycle drivers were 28 percent more likely to be operating without a valid driver’s license …”
  4. Fatalities from motorcycle accidents are bunched at the ends of the age spectrum: (2014 stats) 36% of the motorcycle fatalities were motorcyclists age 50 and older, and 30 % of the fatally injured motorcyclists were younger than 30.
  5. Speeding and alcohol are frequently involved in fatal accidents.

Motorcycle safety tips to help you optimize the odds of a safe and healthy ride

VISIBILITY…

Drivers of vehicles  need to be vigilant for motorcyclists, and motorcyclists need to make themselves more visible.

Drive within a lane, occupying the same spot as an automobile. Resist the temptation to ride with multiple motorcycles across one lane. Avoid riding in between lanes and weaving in between vehicles.

Avoid riding behind trucks and larger vehicles.
Doing so makes it more difficult to be seen; you may be in the vehicle’s blind spot.

Keep your headlight on while riding.

Flash your brake light when slowing down and signal before changing lanes.

Be vigilant about the vehicles around you, especially coming from side streets.

GEAR…

Clothing, gloves, footwear, and helmets made for riding motorcycles are your first best choices for riding gear. They are made for safety first, comfort second.

Invest in a full-face, DOT certified helmet.
Helmets are mandatory in Massachusetts. “Helmets are about 37% effective in preventing motorcycle deaths and about 67% effective in preventing brain injuries. “

Wear protective clothing.
Resist the T-shirt, shorts, and sandals. Wear leather that will protect you from road rash, and over-the-ankle foot gear.

The Bike…

Ride a bike with ABS brakes.
IIHS data shows that motorcycles equipped with ABS brakes were 37% less likely to be involved in a fatal crash than bikes without it. “No matter what kind of rider you are, ABS can brake better than you,” says Bruce Biondo of the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles Motorcycle Safety Program.

Ride a bike you can handle.

Inspect your tires before each ride.
Under-inflated tires make the bike harder to control, impacting response time.

Take formal motorcycle safety training or a refresher course.
The Massachusetts RMV maintains a comprehensive list of  businesses and organizations in many cities/towns offering motorcycle safety classes.

Download more motorcycle safety tips (PDF) recommended by the Motorcycle Safety Foundation.

Share the road…

 

Sources:

  1. Motorcycle Fatality Facts (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety)
  2. 10 Motorcycle safety tips for new riders (Consumer Reports)
  3. Motorcycle Safety Foundation

How to Avoid Seat Belt Submarining

What is seat belt submarining?

Submarining occurs when the rider is propelled underneath the lap seat belt during a collision. Sometimes the rider is propelled out of the vehicle. Submarining can result in severe injuries like internal bleeding, spinal injuries, injuries to the lower limbs, and death, even in low-speed collisions.

Seat belt submarining can be caused by improper use of the seat belt or deficiencies in the make and/or installation of the seat belt. You have no control over the manufacturing and installation of the seat belts, but you can check that they are secure and look “right” to you.  And, you do have control over using your seat belts properly.

Proper Seat Belt Use

The lap belt is to be worn snugly across your lap and pelvis, not your stomach. Pregnant women should place the lap belt below their stomachs. The seat belt should fit across your shoulder and not dig into your neck. It should be worn over the shoulder and not underneath an arm. If the seat belt is very snug or does not reach the  buckle, purchase an after-market restraint and extender, and have it professionally installed. Please watch the video for additional tips on how to properly wear a seat belt.

Seat Belts and Safety for Children

Massachusetts drivers will be interested in learning about Massachusetts’ enhanced child safety law (aka Booster Seat Bill). In summary,

“…all children riding in passenger motor vehicles must be in a Federally-approved child passenger restraint that is properly fastened and secured until they are 8 years old or over 57 inches tall” — Mass.gov Public Safety, Enhanced Child Passenger Safety Law

Child passenger safety is a big topic, and we will cover it in more detail in another post.

Injuries can be avoided by wearing seat belts properly. If you or a loved one has incurred injuries from submarining a seat belt when a collision occurred, contact experienced personal injury law attorneys like the Worcester-based law firm Bodkin & Mason.  We can be reached at 508-459-6353, and welcome your inquiry to determine whether you have a claim. You can also use our on-line, “Do I Have a Case” form to connect with us.

Pedestrian Accidents on the Rise in Worcester County

It is getting darker earlier these days, signaling the start of winter and the snow and ice season.  As personal injury attorneys, we have a heightened awareness of the types of accidents that commonly occur this time of year in Central Mass. For example, we know that pedestrian accidents will be on the rise. The darkness hides those who are on foot. The snowdrifts  hide those who are on foot. Snowdrifts cause double parking here in Worcester, MA and extra vehicles in the road hide those on foot. Slush and frozen sidewalks make walking a challenge, even when walking in designated walking areas.

Snowy weather conditions

According to this 2014 report by NHTSA.gov, pedestrian accidents have been on the rise nationwide.

“In 2012, 4,743 pedestrians were killed and an estimated 76,000 were injured in traffic crashes in the United States…On average, a pedestrian was killed every 2 hours and injured every 7 minutes in traffic crashes.” (Traffic Safety Facts: Pedestrians, April 2014) – (PDF 1.20 MB)

The Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS*) reports fatality statistics for 2013 as:

# Type Location
4735 Pedestrian fatalities nationwide
743 Pedalcyclist fatalities nationwide

Clicking through to more detail,  we learn that while pedestrian fatalities for Massachusetts declined 15% from 2012 to 2013, for the same period, they increased 43% here in Worcester County.

Pedestrian fatalities in Massachusetts for 2013
Click to view larger version

Recent pedestrian accidents in the Worcester area show no consistent pattern of behavior that a pedestrian can avoid, nor consistent injuries resulting from similar accidents.

  • Nov. 23, 2015 – Worcester Police Dept. responds to MV accident on Millbury St
    Upon arrival police observed a 26-year-old Worcester man suffering from head and leg injuries. The male victim was attempting to cross Millbury Street when he was struck by a dark colored small vehicle. The vehicle did not stop.  (WPD FB page)
  • Oct. 12, 2015 – 17 Year Old Girl Hit by MV on Hamilton St
    A 33-year-old male from Hudson was traveling west on Hamilton Street. He stated that he was blinded by the solar glare when he struck the pedestrian. The pedestrian was struck while in a crosswalk as she attempted to cross Hamilton Street. (WPD FB page)
  • Sept. 1, 2015 – Worcester MA Police Log
    “…pedestrian accident that occurred near 1350 Main Street…The [11 year old] girl was attempting to cross the street in the crosswalk when she was struck by a Toyota Senna minivan near the centerline of the roadway. “
  • In July,  a man from Worcester was struck by a motorcycle while walking on Lincoln Street and suffered serious head injuries
  • In May, two pedestrians were struck by a tractor trailer in Kelley Square, leaving one dead and one with serious foot and leg injuries

The Worcester police department has been running its Operation Safe Cross initiative since 2009 to raise awareness about drivers’ responsibilities when pedestrians step into the street.

 So, how do you  keep yourself safe when walking? Here’s some safety tips for pedestrians.

  • Walk in designated walking areas (sidewalks). Walk along the shoulder facing traffic if there is no sidewalk.
  • Wear reflective clothing, walking shoes or gear.
  • Use a flashlight if walking at dawn, dusk or in the dark.
  • Be vigilant for vehicles. Remember every vehicle has blind spots
  • Look both ways before crossing.
  • Cross the street in designated areas like in crosswalks or at street corners with street lights.
  • Cross with the Walk signal or Green light.
  • Never cross in between two parked vehicles or from behind an obstructed view like a large box truck

* FARS is a nationwide census providing NHTSA, Congress and the American public yearly data regarding fatal injuries suffered in motor vehicle traffic crashes.