Worcester Auto Accident Lawyer
At the law office of Peter Ventura, we handle car accident cases of all kinds — the soft-tissue injuries that could keep you away from work for a few weeks, and the very serious and sometimes catastrophic injury cases which involve permanent injuries and lifelong problems and consequences. We routinely examine all sources of compensation for every claim including the other driver’s liability insurance, and even the client’s own underinsured motorist coverage and any other sources of compensation available to satisfy the client’s damages.
$3,000,000 Car Accident
Peter Ventura successfully resolved a high speed car accident case for $3,000,000 in Worcester County, MA. Due to the severity of the crash, the client, who was a minor, suffered a traumatic death.
Personal injury cases are often the result of car crash incidents. While there is certainly no way to prevent all accidents from happening, there are steps you can take to reduce the chances of you being involved in a wreck that could leave you injured or even worse. Here are a few tips to help you avoid a car crash:
1. Reduce Distractions
Distraction is the number one cause of most car crashes. Distractions can range from music being too loud, children fighting in the backseat, talking on the phone, applying makeup, or even looking at a map. Sometimes, people get so comfortable behind the wheel that they think they can multitask. When you are driving you should consider that as your one and only task. Simply remove distractions from your vehicle so that you can clearly focus on the roadway.
2. Check for Safety
Before driving your vehicle, remember to check for any safety hazards. Common issues may be things such as a flat tire, leaking fluid, or impaired windows. Make sure that you can operate your vehicle in a safe manner before you drive away. Vehicle malfunction is a common cause of some of worst wrecks in Massachusetts.
It is also important to check for personal safety. Ask yourself how you feel before you start the engine. Do you feel tired? Do you feel sick? Do you have any ongoing health concerns that you should monitor closely? Personal safety is critical as it impacts whether or not you are in the appropriate physical condition to drive your car.
3. No Cell Phone Rule
Cell phones should never be used when you are behind the wheel of a car. It is never safe to text and drive, as your attention is divided when you are talking on the phone. If the conversation is necessary, simply pull off the road safely in order to take the call.
4. Know Your Surroundings
While there are certain things you can do to help yourself avoid crashes, you have limited control over the outside world. That is why it is important to pay attention to your surroundings. Make a mental note of the weather forecast for the day so you will know if the roads will be icy or wet. Pay attention to the drivers around you. Are they on their cell phones? Does their vehicle have body damage suggesting that they have been in numerous wrecks? Are there emergency vehicles nearby? Listen for the sound of sirens so you may move safely out of the way. The more you know about your surroundings, the more you can prepare and help yourself avoid crashes in Massachusetts.
5. Reduce Nighttime Driving if you Have Difficulty Seeing
Drivers do not see as clearly in the dark and this can make it difficult to determine road conditions, make quick stops for wild animals, or see other vehicles. These are exacerbated if you have trouble seeing, so if possible, try to reduce or eliminate nighttime driving.
Worcester Crash Data: Dangerous Intersections and Road Conditions
In 2013, there were nearly 5,000 vehicle collisions in Worcester, Massachusetts. This amounts to more than 13 accidents per day, with many accidents resulting in serious or life-threatening injuries. A significant portion of these accidents occurred at intersections, and many of them involved wet, snowy, and icy conditions.
Take a look at our 2015 Worcester crash map here.
Most Common Intersection Accidents
According to the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT), there are more than 100 intersections in Worcester that saw at least seven accidents in 2013. Many of these intersections saw well over seven accidents, with several seeing 30 or more.
Along with highways, intersections are some of the most dangerous places when it comes to vehicle collisions. According to the Federal Highway Administration, about half of all accidents and half of all accidents resulting in injuries occur at intersections. Some of the most common types of intersection accidents include:
- Head-on collisions
- Rear-end collisions
- T-bone accidents
Many of these accidents result from distracted driving, illegal maneuvers (such as running red lights and stop signs), obstructed views, and drivers’ misjudgment of speed or distance. Nationally, approximately 33 percent of all fatal intersection accidents occur at intersections with stop lights. This is true even though these “signalized” intersections account for only 10 percent of the more than three million intersections nationwide.
Dangerous Road and Weather Conditions in Massachusetts
MassDOT’s data show that the majority of auto accidents in Worcester in 2013 occurred during daylight and on dry roads. However, a significant portion – more than a third – occurred from dusk to dawn. In addition, more than a quarter occurred under wet, snowy, or icy conditions. In fact, the Winter months actually see the highest number of accidents in Worcester, which correlates to an increased likelihood of dark and slippery roads. Of the 4,920 crashes in Worcester, MA in 2013:
- At least 518 occurred while it was raining
- At least 209 occurred in while it was snowing
- At least 1,246 occurred on roads that were wet, icy, or snow-covered
- At least 1,599 occurred between dusk and dawn
- At least 114 occurred on unlighted roadways
The fact that most collisions occur under favorable road conditions shows that drivers need to be vigilant about the risk of accidents at all times. It also shows that driver-related factors – such as texting, drinking, or falling asleep behind the wheel – are much more likely to lead to accidents than bad road conditions alone.
Read the Rest of Our Four-Part Series on Worcester Crash Data
For more statistics and information on common causes of car accidents in Worcester, you can read the rest of our Four-Part Series:
- Worcester Car Crash Data: Dangerous Intersections and Road Conditions (Part 2 of 4)
- Worcester Car Crash Data: Dangerous Intersections and Road Conditions (Part 3 of 4)
- Worcester Car Crash Data: Dangerous Intersections and Road Conditions (Part 4 of 4)
- 2013 Crash Report for Worcester, MA (illustrated)
Click the image to view our Top 10 Most Dangerous Intersections in Worcester in 2015.
What NOT To Do After A Car Accident
Massachusetts car accident attorneys can provide crucial help following a collision. Among other things, we can thoroughly investigate the accident, help prove who was at fault, defend you against unfair accusations, and help secure full and fair compensation for your injuries.
But we lawyers usually “appear on the scene” days after the crash, if not longer. By that time, you might have unwittingly done as much damage to your legal case as was done to your car! To help preserve your legal rights, don’t do any of the following nine things after an accident:
1. Don’t leave the scene
Under no circumstances should you leave the scene of an accident, even a very minor one. We know that it’s human nature to want to flee from frightening situations, but you must resist this impulse. It is a criminal offense under Massachusetts law to leave the scene of the accident. So no matter how bad the situation seems for you after a crash, it can only be made worse by fleeing.
2. Don’t admit to fault or apologize
After a crash, stunned drivers sometimes pop out of their vehicle and say, “I’m so sorry! I didn’t see you!” or something similar. Even if you believe the accident to be your fault, you gain nothing by saying so at the time of the accident. Your lawyers and other investigators will examine all the facts surrounding the crash and determine who is responsible. You do, however, have a responsibility to clearly and honestly tell the police the events that led to the crash.
3. Don’t neglect to call the police
You and the other driver might agree to keep the police out of it and allow your insurance companies to handle the claims. But that’s a bad idea for a couple of reasons. First, without police involvement, you won’t have a formal report of the accident, which can be useful for your insurance company or in any subsequent lawsuit. Second, you have no idea whether the other driver is honest. What happens if the other driver provides false information? Or if their insurance isn’t up-to-date? You could end up in a vastly more complicated situation than you’ve bargained for and have to carry more costs.
4. Don’t get chummy or angry with the other driver
You might be infuriated that your brand-new car is smashed thanks to someone else’s negligence, or you might feel guilty that you were fiddling with your CD player at the time of the crash. Either way, say as little as possible to the other driver beyond exchanging essential information. You could easily say something that could be used against you later (e.g., “Oh, don’t worry, I’m not hurt!” or “Well, you jammed on the brakes so suddenly, you made me crash into you!”) Before getting out of your car, take a few deep breaths to clear your head and get your emotions under control.
5. Don’t forget to document evidence
Get key information from the other driver such as their name, address, telephone number, driver license number, license plate number, vehicle description, and insurance information. But don’t forget to obtain the name and telephone number of witnesses, as well. Take numerous pictures of the crash scene from different angles. Also, at first opportunity, write down all the facts you can remember about the crash, including weather conditions and the state of the road.
6. Don’t refuse medical evaluation and attention at the scene
Refusing medical attention at the scene might bring more suffering later. You may think you’re fine, but some injuries are not immediately apparent or you might fail to recognize certain symptoms as dangerous. In addition, turning down a medical once-over or basic medical evaluation could affect your future legal claim. The other driver’s attorney and insurance company might argue that in refusing medical treatment at the scene, you weren’t seriously injured or that any injuries identified later were unconnected with the accident.
7. Don’t talk to an insurance adjuster without your lawyer
Just as casual chatting with the other driver can inadvertently harm your case, so can a seemingly simple conversation with an insurance adjuster. Insurance companies are looking for ways to limit or deny your claim, and any off-the-cuff statement you make to them (“I feel fine, thanks”) may be used against you later.
8. Don’t forget to file a Motor Vehicle Crash Operator Report
Under Massachusetts law, if you’ve been involved in a collision that caused injury, death, or over $1,000 worth of damage, you’re required to file a Motor Vehicle Crash Operator report within 5 days of the accident. You must do this even if police were on the scene.
9. Don’t try to represent yourself
Crash victims who represent themselves after car accidents tend to accept financial settlements too early and for too low a sum. This can have unfortunate consequences. For example, sometimes injuries arising from the accident (such as spinal cord or neurological damage) are diagnosed weeks or months after the incident. If you accept a settlement too early, you could preclude yourself from receiving compensation for injuries identified later. A Massachusetts car accident attorney can help you preserve your rights and receive the full compensation that you deserve.
Side-Impact and T-Bone Car Accidents
Side-impact collisions, also called T-bone collisions, refer to accidents in which a vehicle is struck on the side by another vehicle. Due to the biomechanics of injury associated with these accidents, these kinds of cases create a greater risk of serious injury because an occupant of the vehicle which is struck is generally subject to considerable forces in which an occupant is minimally protected.
While many newer vehicles have side airbags, some older model vehicles do not. Because of the potential damage to protective door and window structures in these accidents, vehicle occupants in this kind of impact often suffer significant, if not catastrophic, injuries. Many of these incidents occur at intersections and are the result of a driver’s failure to yield at a stop sign or other traffic control light.
Contributory Negligence for Not Wearing a Seat Belt in Massachusetts
Wearing a seat belt is a crucial way to reduce injury in the case of a car accident, but what if you weren’t wearing a seatbelt and you are hurt by a negligent driver? At this time, you can’t be pulled over for not wearing a seat belt in Massachusetts. If you are pulled over for another reason, you can be fined if you or passengers aren’t buckled up. How negligence and compensation are determined in a personal injury lawsuit can be significantly affected if you were not wearing your seatbelt at the time of the accident.
If you were in a car accident and you were injured, your negligence could be considered a contributing factor to your injuries. Failure to wear a seatbelt does not automatically prevent you from filing a personal injury lawsuit against the other driver, but it can potentially reduce the amount of financial compensation you receive as a result of the accident.
Your compensation will be determined using a number of the following factors:
- The medical bills you have incurred,
- time lost from work,
- future wages you may no longer be able to earn, and
- the pain and suffering you have endured
These factors will all be considered when it comes time to decide what you will receive monetarily as a car accident victim.
Determining who is at fault in any car accident can get complicated. When you have been injured in a car accident and you were not wearing a seat belt, you will need to consult with an attorney to determine what you are entitled to under the Massachusetts seat belt laws.
Other Car Accident – Seat Belt Information:
- Proving Fault in a Massachusetts Car Accident
- Serious Motor Vehicle Accidents
- Rear-End Collision Accidents
As long as the other party is deemed more negligent than you, you can file a personal injury lawsuit against the other driver for injuries you sustained in a car accident. When negligence is determined, each party is assigned a percentage of responsibility. As long as your percentage of responsibility is 50 percent or less, you have the right to sue the other party in a personal injury lawsuit.
A car accident attorney can discuss the specifics of the accident with you to see if you have a viable lawsuit.
$1,024,892 Car Accident
A car accident occurred in Oxford, MA, when the defendant’s SUV crossed double yellow center lines of the road and struck the plaintiffs’ vehicle head on. A married couple, the husband, 61, suffered soft tissue injures and bruising, and a loss of consortium. The wife, 62, suffered multiple fractures of her right ankle with resulting skin and wound complications. Peter Ventura resolved the injury-ridden case for $1,024,892.
There’s often more to a car accident that meets the eye. A rear-end accident might seem to be caused by an inattentive driver, but in reality was caused by faulty brakes. A head-on collision might raise the specter of drunk driving, but a malfunctioning steering wheel might be the real issue.
When a car accident is caused by a defect in the car, the manufacturer of the car or its parts may be legally obligated to compensate you for your injuries. But they might not be the only ones responsible: sometimes the car dealership or the person from whom you bought the vehicle is also liable.
A seller of a vehicle could be legally responsible for injuries sustained due to a defect in the vehicle under two circumstances:
- when the seller made a fraudulent statement about the vehicle that you relied upon to your detriment when purchasing it, or
- when the seller made negligent misrepresentations about the vehicle that caused you to buy it.
What does this mean? Let’s start with fraud. If the seller intentionally makes a false statement about the car that prompted you to buy it, and you were later injured as a result of that false statement, the seller may be liable for your injuries.
For example, let’s say that you were interested in a particular used car but didn’t want to buy a car that had been involved in an accident. You informed the dealer of this and he assured you, either directly or implicitly, that this was not the case. Based on this assurance, you bought the car. Subsequently, you become involved in a crash and learn that your car had previously been involved in a wreck, after all. You may then be able to seek financial compensation from the seller of the car.
What if you can’t prove fraud?
You may still be able to recover for your injuries if the seller made a negligent misrepresentation about the vehicle and you relied on that misrepresentation when deciding to purchase the car. A negligent misrepresentation is a statement that recklessly disregards the truth.
To illustrate: a vehicle seller may say that a used car’s brakes are in great condition, prompting you to buy it. Later you are injured in an accident due to the car’s faulty brakes. If the dealer made his statement without knowing that the brakes were in good condition, or without having examined the brakes to assess whether they were in good condition, the dealer may be as responsible as if he had knowingly lied about the brakes’ condition.
Massachusetts Car Accident FAQs:
1. What should I do immediately after a car accident?
Naturally, if someone has been injured in the accident, calling an ambulance should be the first priority. Beyond that, the most important steps to take after an accident is to obtain the name, telephone number and insurance information of the other driver, provide the other driver with your identifying information, take pictures of the accident scene and the respective vehicles, get the names/telephone numbers of any witnesses, and call the police. (For tips on what not to do after a car accident, read this.)
2. Who will pay for my medical bills following the accident?
Usually, it’s your own auto insurance company, oftentimes supplemented by your own health insurance company. Massachusetts is a “no-fault” car accident state, which means that each driver’s auto insurance company will pay for their respective drivers’ medical bills, regardless of who caused the accident.
Under Massachusetts law, your Personal Injury Protection (PIP) section of your auto insurance policy is responsible for covering your medical bills, lost wages and other related expenses up to $8,000. If you have private health insurance, and if your medical bills exceed $2,000, however, the excess should be submitted to your health insurance carrier. If your health insurance carrier denies coverage, then PIP will cover the remainder up to a total of $8,000. It’s normal to have lots of questions after an accident, which is why we wrote an auto insurance FAQ page.
3. Since Massachusetts is a no-fault state, under what circumstances can I seek damages from a negligent driver after a car accident?
In Massachusetts, you can only seek additional financial compensation, such as pain and suffering or unreimbursed expenses, from the negligent driver under specific circumstances. The accident must have caused you to suffer:
- a broken or fractured bone
- permanent and serious disfigurement
- permanent hearing loss
- permanent eye damage/loss of vision
- amputation of a limb
- medical expenses in excess of $2,000
- death –the surviving family members of wrongful death victims can also seek damages from an at-fault driver.
4. How can I prove that the other driver was at-fault?
You can prove fault by gathering evidence that the other driver was responsible for the accident. Photos shot at the accident scene, photos of vehicle damage, statements of witnesses, testimony from car mechanics, and the police report of the accident may be good sources for proof the other drivers’ negligence. A Massachusetts car accident attorney can help you collect evidence, including the testimony of an accident reconstruction expert, if necessary.
5. The other drivers’ insurance company keeps trying to contact me about the accident. What should I say to them?
You should say absolutely nothing to the other drivers’ insurance company. Their goal is to find a reason to pay you the least amount of money possible, and they’ll use whatever you say to that end. Instead, direct them to speak to your Massachusetts car accident lawyer. If you don’t yet have a lawyer, then inform them you won’t be speaking to them until you’ve sought legal advice.
6. Can I still receive compensation if I am partially at fault in the car accident?
It depends on how much responsibility you share for the accident. Massachusetts is a modified comparative fault state. This means that you can only recover damages if you are 50% or less at-fault. The total damages you receive will then be reduced by the percentage of fault you share in causing the crash. For example, if you were found 25 percent responsible for the accident, you would receive 75% of the total damages. Note, however, that if you are found to be responsible for more than 50% of the accident, then you cannot recover any damages at all.
7. My accident occurred ten months ago. Can I still file a personal injury lawsuit?
In Massachusetts, the statute of limitations for injuries or property damage arising from a car accident is 3 years, starting from the day of the accident. Nonetheless, to increase your chances of obtaining full and fair compensation, you should file your lawsuit as soon after the accident as is reasonably possible.
8. Why should I have a Massachusetts motor vehicle accident lawyer?
A knowledgeable Massachusetts motor vehicle lawyer can help you fight for the maximum amount of compensation to which you’re entitled. No matter whether you’re seeking to collect compensation from your own insurance company, or are involved in a dispute with the other driver’s insurance carrier, your lawyer will ensure that your claims are filed in a timely manner, collect all critical evidence, forcefully argue on your behalf, and negotiate a fair settlement.
9. How much does a Massachusetts personal injury lawyer cost?
Almost all personal injury lawyers, including Attorney Peter Ventura, accept cases on a contingency fee basis. This means that you only pay a fee if the lawyer wins your case. As payment, the lawyer will take a percentage, usually 33.3%, of what he or she has recovered for you through settlement or at trial.
10. How much is my case worth?
Without reviewing all the evidence and circumstances of your case, it’s difficult for an attorney to provide even a ballpark estimate of how much your case might be worth. This is especially true if your medical condition following the accident has not yet stabilized or if you’re seeking damages such as pain and suffering. That said, once all the evidence is assessed, a skilled car accident attorney should be able to use his or her best judgment and experience with previous cases to estimate the potential value of your claim.
11. How quickly will my case be resolved?
The answer to this question varies from case to case. It depends on the extent of your injuries, the complexity of the case, whether a settlement is an option, and whether liability is disputed. In a straightforward case, you may be able to reach a resolution in as little as six months. A more complex case may take two years or more to resolve. Your attorney will be able to give you a reasonable estimate of the case’s timeline once he or she has become familiar with the case details.
“Attorney Ventura was excellent. I was injured in a car accident and he really looked out for my best interests. He is thorough and professional as well as easy to reach and always there when I needed him. His support team was outstanding. They kept me well-informed throughout the process. I would highly recommend Attorney Ventura for any of your personal injury needs. He’s the best.”
Personal injury lawyer Peter Ventura investigates and presents claims on behalf of people injured in a wide variety of motor vehicle accident scenarios:
- Car accidents on the Mass Pike, and any public or private roads
- Crashes involving multiple vehicles or passengers
- Collisions with semi trucks or other commercial vehicles
- Auto accidents involving drunk drivers or hit-and-run motorists
- Accidents caused by uninsured or underinsured drivers
- Bicycle or pedestrian accidents caused by negligent drivers
- Motorcycle accidents
Expert Legal Representation for Auto Accident Insurance Claims
Our law firm is known throughout the region for our attention to detail on insurance coverage issues and proof of damages on Massachusetts auto injury claims. In any case where the nature or extent of your injuries comes into dispute, we can assemble a team of experts tailored to the demands of your case.
Peter Ventura’s ability to work effectively with experts on complex damages claims can enhance your recovery of damages (and protect you from mistakes or defects in the presentation of evidence less experienced lawyers might make) on the different parts of your claim: bodily injury, property damage, medical expenses, lost wages, impaired earning capacity, pain and suffering, and future losses.
Our experience with hundreds of auto accident claims can make a significant difference in the outcome of your case. To learn how you can benefit from the counsel of a seasoned Worcester car accident attorney, contact the law office of Peter Ventura, Attorney at Law, for a free consultation.