Articles Posted in Auto Accidents

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Motorcyclist approaches an intersection between a driver.Cars and motorcycles must share the same road. It is your responsibility as the driver to look out for each other. You must learn to share the road and drive responsibly. Driving a motorcycle, however, places you at risk for more serious injuries because your entire body will absorb the impact from any form of collision.

Even if you wear proper gear, from helmets to a Kevlar vest, you can still face major injuries because a motorcycle leaves you exposed. Sadly, other drivers may fail to see motorcycles because they are smaller. On top of that, others engage in reckless behavior such as DUI or distracted driving.

A collision between a car and a motorcycle running at high speeds usually results in a catastrophe. If you find yourself in this situation because of another driver’s negligence, consider contacting a reputable accident attorney to help you find justice. Learn more about the most common causes of crashes between a car and motorcycle; and what you can do to mitigate it.

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How to amend a police report.We rely on police officers to maintain peace in our neighborhoods and to ensure that the rule of law is enforced. Beyond that, we also need them to record important information via police reports. However, there are also times when the need to amend a police report arises.

That is understandable. We all make mistakes, and there is no reason why police officers would be the exception.

Still, an error in a police report is not like a mistake in any other document. A single error can influence the initial impression of a case and have lasting consequences.

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Bicycle Accident

What to do after being in a bike accident.

Developing a habit of riding a bike can be good for your health, your bank account, and even the environment. However, be extra cautious whenever you are using that two-wheeler because a bike accident can be devastating.

The aftermath of an accident can leave you shaken and bewildered. You may get disoriented from the incident and become unsure of what to do next.

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Single car crash

Single vehicle crash

If you have been involved in a single-vehicle accident recently, you may be confused about who is responsible and even assume you are at fault. However, these types of car crashes are not always so straightforward.

You may not deserve a ticket, fines, or criminal charges, and you may not be responsible for paying for damage, including to your own vehicle, or for paying medical expenses if you were injured. In fact, another party may be liable for the accident and for expenses that resulted from it.

Our legal team at Breakstone, White & Gluck put together this post to give you more information about single-vehicle and liability. We want you to know how to protect your rights and understand your options after a one-car accident.

What Is a Single-Vehicle Accident?

Most of the time, car crashes involve two or more vehicles that collide with each other, and all vehicles become damaged. However, a single-vehicle accident is a crash with damage to only one car, truck, van, or motorcycle. A single-vehicle collision is less common, but this type of crash happens every day.

One-car accidents can occur pretty easily, when you think about it. Some common causes include:

  • Exceeding the speed limit
  • Driving too fast for weather conditions
  • Operating under the influence of drugs or alcohol (DUI)
  • Distracted driving, such as talking on a cell phone
  • Medical emergency, like a seizure or diabetic episode
  • Poor visibility or excessively bright sunlight
  • Obstruction, animal, or pedestrian in the road
  • Poor road maintenance
  • Another vehicle veering into your lane
  • Hitting the accelerator by accident instead of the brake
  • Mechanical failure of the vehicle

A single-vehicle accident can involve more than one car or truck, but only one is damaged. Say another car moves unexpectedly into your lane and you veer onto the sidewalk to avoid a car crash, hitting a mailbox. The other car is fine but yours is damaged; this is a classic single-vehicle crash.

As you might guess, private and municipal property damage often occurs with single-vehicle crashes. Typically, fences, light posts, utility poles, street signs, fire hydrants, guardrails, and landscaping, including trees, are involved. A single-vehicle accident could also entail you spinning out and winding up facing the wrong way on a busy road, or you could flip your vehicle in a roll-over crash.

Generally speaking, one-car accidents are categorized differently than if a single vehicle hits a bystander or pedestrian. Another criterion for this type of accident is that only the driver of the vehicle or their passengers are injured in the crash, not people outside the car or truck.

Determining Liability in a Single-Car Crash

If your actions are found to be the proximate cause of a car crash, you are considered liable. Proximate cause means something you did started the chain of events that led to the crash. Let’s look at some of the accident causes listed above as examples.

Imagine you’re driving in slippery snow. Even if you’re going the speed limit, you may be doing what’s called driving too fast for conditions, and you should slow down to accommodate the weather. If you slide off the road into a traffic light, you are liable for the crash.

What if someone calls you on your mobile phone while you are driving? Even if you only pick up the phone to see who’s calling, without actually answering the call, you could be considered liable if you are distracted and run off the road into a fire hydrant. Carelessness and failure to obey the rules of the road often result in single-vehicle accidents.

Never assume, though, that you are at fault simply because you were in a single-vehicle accident. There are times when another party or conditions beyond your control are the cause of a crash. It’s very important to know your rights when it comes to these types of accidents, which we discuss below.

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3 car crash

Three car crash

Even a minor car accident can cause the parties involved all kinds of trouble. Now, imagine how messy things can get if you are ever involved in a three-car accident.

Numerous factors can make sorting a multi-car accident way harder than the typical two-vehicle collision. Chief among those factors is figuring out who should shoulder the blame for the incident.

We frequently get questions regarding multi-vehicle crashes as people want to know what happens in that scenario. If you are curious about that topic yourself, then you have come to the right place. Go ahead and continue reading if you wish to learn more about the aftermath of multi-vehicle accidents.

What Is a Multi-Car Accident?

To get things started, let’s first define what a multi-car accident is. Multi-car crashes involve three or more vehicles hitting one another. If only two are involved in the collision, then that is a typical auto accident.

You may also sometimes hear multi-car collisions referred to as chain reaction crashes. Authorities label that kind of incident as a chain reaction crash because of how it usually unfolds. One driver may be the cause of the initial crash, but it can snowball from there. In only a matter of seconds, a collision involving only two vehicles can turn into a large pile-up.

The danger presented by such an incident cannot be overstated. We cannot overstate the danger presented by such an incident. We must all do what we can to minimize multi-vehicle crashes, if not eliminate completely.

Common Causes of Chain Reaction Crashes

Now that we know what multi-car accidents are, we can turn our attention to a related topic similarly important. To be more specific, we will discuss the common causes of three-car accidents.

Learning about the common causes of multi-car collisions is crucial if you want to steer clear of them. Check out the bullet points below so you can protect yourself better.

  • Driving Under the Influence – Driving under the influence is one of the most irresponsible things any motorist can do. You become a hazard to yourself and others when you get behind the wheel of your vehicle while intoxicated by drugs or alcohol. Beyond the possibility of being involved in an accident, you should also avoid driving under the influence because it can net you fines and possible jail time.
  • Distracted Driving – Drugs and alcohol are commonly highlighted as causes for crashes, but simple distractions can be dangerous too. Texting or using your smartphone while you are driving diverts your attention, and that should never happen. Even something like eating while driving can be dangerous, so try to enjoy your breakfast at home.
  • Fatigue – Never underestimate the effect that fatigue can have on you and your driving skills. It is too easy to make mistakes when you are driving while dealing with fatigue. Look for a rest stop or stay at home if you are feeling tired because the driver’s seat of your car is not the place for you.
  • Speeding – Speeding reduces the amount of time you have to react to the vehicles in front of you. When you notice that the car in front of you is not moving, pumping the brakes may no longer help. You may crash into that other vehicle and potentially cause a three-car accident too.
  • Tailgating – For those who may be unaware, tailgating refers to sticking too closely to the vehicle in front of you. Like speeding, tailgating reduces the amount of time you have to react. You are more likely to rear-end the vehicle in front of you if you like to tailgate while driving.
  • Ignoring Traffic Lights – You should remember that traffic lights not only direct your actions but also tell other motorists when to stop or go. By ignoring the red light, you risk driving straight into other vehicles and causing a massive pile-up.
  • Turning Improperly – The turn signals on your car are there for a reason. Use them to signal your turn, so other drivers know what you are planning to do. You should also make sure that you are in the proper lane before turning to avoid any accidents.
  • Bad Weather – Inclement weather can lead to terrible driving conditions, and it can affect numerous motorists. Snowstorms and heavy rains can affect visibility to the point where you cannot see anything in front of you. As much as possible, try to avoid driving in bad weather because you and other motorists are more susceptible to crashing during that time.

Inherent Danger of Chain Reaction Crashes

A three-car accident is dangerous. You can argue that it presents an even greater threat than the usual two-vehicle collision.

But, why are multi-car accidents inherently more dangerous? That is the question we will be answering using the bullet points in this section.

  • Multiple Collisions – Individuals involved in multi-car accidents are more susceptible to serious injuries because more than one crash takes place. The Mayo Clinic notes that rear-end collisions can cause whiplash injuries and are the types of crashes in pile-ups. More parts of your body may also get injured because the forces are coming from different directions.
  • Collateral Damage – An auto accident involving only two vehicles can already be quite dangerous for others because of flying debris and the potential of engines exploding. Add more vehicles to the mix, and now you have the potential for a catastrophic event. If one car’s engine explodes, numerous other drivers and vehicles may be affected.
  • Large Vehicle Involvement – A large vehicle such as a 10-wheeler truck being involved in an accident can cause a disastrous chain reaction. More vehicles are likely to crash into that truck because of how large it is. On top of that, the vehicles crashing into the truck may also sustain more damage.
  • Injuries to Onlookers – Many of us have this tendency to slow down or even stop when we see a car accident. It is not appropriate behavior, but it is an instinct we mindlessly follow sometimes. Do not stop if you encounter that kind of scene because you could end up being included in the wreckage as well.
  • Damage to Surroundings – Do not discount the damage to the surrounding environment a multi-vehicle pile-up can cause. The road may need to be closed for a while due to the damage it sustained and surrounding structures may also be hit with debris. Whoever caused the accident may end up on the hook for some heft repair bills.

Establishing Liability from Multi-Car Accidents

In a three-car accident, who pays? That question must be answered because the victims deserve fair compensation. Of course, assigning blame in an accident involving three or more vehicles is not going to be easy.

Even if the guilty party already knows they are at fault, they will not take responsibility that easily. They know how much money they could potentially lose, so the odds of them accepting blame are low. They may also think they can pin the blame on others, given how many drivers are involved.

You need to identify the parties who are at fault for the multi-car accident. One way to do that is by identifying the drivers who were being negligent at the time the incident occurred. There are different ways to tell if a driver was being negligent.

One or More of the Drivers Involved Violated Traffic Laws

Sorting out who is to blame in a multi-vehicle collision will be complicated, but there is a way to simplify matters. What you can do is try to identify any drivers who were committing traffic violations. Usually, their illegal actions contributed to the crash.

During the investigation, the police officers may discover that one or more of the drivers involved in the accident was drunk. It is also possible that one of the drivers was distracted by their phone before the crash. Speeding is yet another example of irresponsible driving behavior. In other words, they were being negligent, and they must be held responsible.

The investigation may reveal that one driver’s negligent actions directly led to the first crash. Name them in your lawsuit so you can recoup the compensation you deserve. The other drivers will likely do the same thing.

One or More of the Drivers Involved Was Not Driving Properly

So, what if none of the drivers involved in the multi-car accident violated any traffic laws? Who will get the blame then? In that scenario, the investigators will look at how the pile-up unfolded and follow the sequence of events.

Let’s say that the accident occurred because the driver at the front of the line suddenly stopped even though the light was green. Because of their unexpected action, the driver behind them could not stop in time. More vehicles followed because the incident occurred at a busy intersection.

In that scenario, the blame can be on the driver upfront. They should not have stopped when they did. They will have to answer for what happened.

The multi-car accident could also be the result of one driver rear-ending another. They may have been tailgating on a busy stretch of the road and failed to notice the light turning. By the time they were pumping the brakes, it was already too late.

Multiple drivers can also be responsible for the incident because they were driving carelessly. Two cars tailgating in the same line can contribute to a massive pile-up. The drivers of both those vehicles will have to answer for their actions and potentially provide financial compensation.

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If you’ve been in a rear-end accident recently, you might have heard the term “brake checking” used in describing what happened. If you’re not familiar with it, we explain brake checking here. We discuss whether or not it’s legal in Massachusetts, why people brake check, and what to do if you’ve been in an accident involving brake checking.

Is Brake Checking Someone Illegal in MA?

Brake checking auto accident.

Before we get into discussions about the legality of brake checking in Massachusetts, it’s helpful to define brake checking first. Brake checking is the act of hitting your brakes suddenly when someone is driving too close to your bumper, also known as tailgating (more about that below).

Brake checking can involve slamming on your brakes at high speed, or it can be constantly tapping your brakes so the person behind you has to continually slow down or stop. Brake checking, per se, isn’t specifically illegal in Massachusetts; however, it is considered reckless driving, which is illegal, according to General Laws, Chapter 90, Section 24.

Reckless driving is any kind of driving that involves wanton or willful disregard for the safety of other motorists sharing the road with you.

Reckless driving can result in traffic citations (AKA tickets), fines, and even jail time, depending on the situation. Other forms of reckless driving include speeding, driving too fast for conditions, ignoring traffic signals, driving under the influence, and drag racing. If reckless driving causes an accident, even stiffer penalties may apply, based on the unique aspects of the case, as discussed below.

Therefore, brake checking is actually illegal in Massachusetts and should be avoided at all costs. As well as fines and jail time, engaging in reckless driving can be a surchargeable offense (similar to adding points to your driving record) that can result in a suspended license. This means you will be unable to drive for a certain period of time, making it hard to get to work, school, and other activities.

Why is brake checking considered reckless driving? Because it can force the person behind you to crash into your vehicle or veer into traffic to avoid hitting you. Other motorists or pedestrians could be injured or killed, and there could be widespread damage done to multiple vehicles or personal property.

Brake checking can cause a host of dangerous consequences. There could be children or pets in the vehicle that could be hurt in a crash. It can precipitate single-vehicle accidents, where one car swerves at the last minute and hits a utility pole or fence. A swerving car can also cause other vehicles to swerve in response, setting up a cascade of accidents involving many people.

Checking motorists with brakes has also been known to spark incidents of road rage. This also puts everyone in the vicinity in harm’s way. An enraged party could follow a brake checker home or to their workplace or confront them on the street, engaging in threats, assault, or violence involving firearms.

Why Do People Brake Check?

So, what’s the motivation behind brake checking anyway? There are basically two reasons why drivers brake check other motorists. One is usually out of anger or frustration, and the second involves insurance fraud.

In the first scenario, the car in front (let’s call it Car A) gets frustrated with the vehicle behind it (Car B). Car B has been tailgating Car A for miles, flashing its lights and honking its horn, presumably urging Car A to go faster. The driver of Car A finally explodes and starts applying the brakes, hoping Car B will get the message and either back off or pass.

In the second instance, Car A slams on its brakes to intentionally get Car B to crash into it. The driver of Car A then files a fraudulent insurance claim against the driver of Car B, asking for property damage reimbursement and money for medical treatment. Insurance fraud is a serious offense that carries stiff legal penalties, including incarceration.

To be clear, there are times when any driver might need to apply their brakes suddenly, regardless of who is behind them. This can happen if a pet or child runs into the road, for instance. This is not considered brake checking.

The reasons why people brake check provide clues as to how to avoid this phenomenon. If someone is driving too close to the rear end of your vehicle, the answer isn’t to keep pumping the brakes. Instead, use your directional signal, pull over at a safe place, and let the other party pass you.

There is no reason to get in an accident or risk the safety of others by brake checking someone. Enforcing traffic laws is the responsibility of law enforcement, not you. You and everyone else on the road with you will stay safer if you play it cool.

There are a few other solutions to prevent brake checking problems in general:

  • Avoid driving slowly unnecessarily. You can in some conditions be ticketed by law enforcement for going too far under the speed limit. If people are routinely driving right on your bumper, perhaps you are going too slowly or gawking at your surroundings instead of concentrating on driving.
  • If you’re riding with a new driver, like your teen with a learner’s permit, stay off busy roads until they’re more confident and have a better sense of speed and distance perception. Encourage young drivers to keep a safe distance from cars in front of them, as described below.
  • If you must drive slowly because of a mechanical problem, bad road conditions, poor visibility, or a load in the rear of your vehicle, use your hazard lights (AKA flashers) to alert people behind you to stay back.
  • Try to stay out of areas where you know bumper-to-bumper traffic occurs on a daily basis, such as at commuter rush hour.
  • Make it your policy to always maintain a safe distance from cars in front of you. Always leave room for braking. You should have at least a car’s length of space between you and other vehicles and even more at higher speeds or if the weather is bad.
  • If you feel someone in front of you is going too slowly, first give them the benefit of the doubt. There may be someone in front of them slowing things down that you cannot see. A polite beep or one flash of lights is usually fine, but repetitive honking and turning lights on and off only escalates the situation.

If I Caused an Accident from Brake Checking Someone, Am I Liable?

If you’ve been hit from behind or caused another accident by brake checking someone, you may be wondering if you can be found at fault. The answer is yes, you can be liable, depending on the circumstances surrounding the accident. Not all rear-end crashes, for example, are the fault of the driver in the rear.

Now, wait a minute, you may be thinking, isn’t Massachusetts a no-fault accident state? Yes, but in accidents involving death or these serious injuries, sometimes one party is found liable:

  • Broken bones
  • Permanent scarring
  • Disfigurement
  • Disability

Normally, after an accident, each party’s own insurance covers their vehicle damage and any medical expenses. But accidents involving wrongful death or serious injury are another story.

This is why it’s essential to speak with an experienced car accident lawyer after a crash where brake checking may have occurred, whether you were the driver in Car A or Car B as described in the scenario above.

This is a good time to review what to do if you’re in an accident, regardless of whether brake checking was the cause or not. Follow these steps to stay safe, protect your rights, and keep calm at the scene of a motor vehicle crash.

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Massachusetts statute of limitationsThe idea of moving forward with legal proceedings can be daunting for some people. Hesitating can be risky, though, and it can cause you to run into issues related to the Massachusetts statute of limitations.

We understand why some individuals balk at taking legal action right away. Handling legal matters can take a lot of time. If you have a full-time job, the legal proceedings can also mess up your schedule.

All of that said, you should take care of any legal matters as soon as you can.

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clean driving recordMany of us work hard to preserve and improve our reputation. A person’s reputation matters a great deal in their professional and even their personal life. As a motorist, possessing a clean driving record is the closest thing to having a pristine reputation.

The current status of your driving record can make a huge difference in your life. It can affect things like your driving privileges and even your job search. Don’t forget about the impact that your driving record can also have on your finances.

Although it may not seem like it, the reality is that your driving record can have an enormous impact on your life. Learn more about the importance of having a clean record and other relevant topics by reading on.

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