Archive for June, 2013

Jun 2013

Court Rules in Favor of Injured Victim After Bus Accident

In 2006, a bus accident occurred when the driver of a Providence school bus drove her vehicle into a sinkhole.  Fortunately, no children were injured in the accident but the school bus driver suffered serious harm as a result of the injuries that she sustained. According to WPRI, the bus driver filed a lawsuit against the city to recover compensation for her injuries and was awarded $65,000 by the jury who believed that the city’s negligence had contributed to her losses. 

The city, however, appealed the jury award granted to the bus driver. The city argued that it should have been able to provide more information to the jury about the fact that the bus driver obtained workers’ compensation benefits. The Supreme Court, however, disagreed and this May the court said that the bus driver was entitled to the money that the jury awarded. Our Providence car accident lawyers know that suing the city can be very difficult and that many legal issues were raised by this case that were resolved in favor of the injured victim.

Bus Accident Verdict Protects the Rights of Injured Victim

Sinkholes have become a major cause for concern in Rhode Island and throughout the United States since they create great risk of injury. In this accident case, for example, the sinkhole was created during an April rainstorm. The driver of the bus was hurt when a patch placed on the road during construction work failed. The front wheels of her bus went into the sinkhole, causing a wreck that left her seriously hurt.

It was the city’s responsibility to make sure that the sinkhole on public property was repaired in a safe way and to ensure that the roads were safe to travel on. By failing to make sure that the sinkhole had been safely repaired and that the patch during construction was sound, the city created circumstances where an accident was very likely to occur. Their negligent failure to keep the roads safe was a direct cause of harm to the bus driver and the city thus had to pay for what they had done.

Suing the city is more complicated than taking legal action against any other private individual because there are special “sovereign-immunity” rules that protect government employees and agencies. Still, a negligent government entity can be held accountable and in this case, the lawsuit went forward and the jury found for the injured bus driver and ordered the city to compensate her.

This wasn’t the end of the case, though, because defendants who are found liable and ordered to pay damages can appeal the decision if they believe that something went wrong in how the laws were applied. In this particular case, the city argued that it should have been able to ask more questions of the bus driver about the fact that she had received workers’ compensation benefits from her injury. She got those benefits because the bus accident happened while she was performing her job.

However, workers’ compensation benefits don’t prevent an injured victim from filing a lawsuit when a third party was to blame for the crash. This is because of a rule called the Collateral Source rule that prevents evidence about insurance from affecting a person’s right to compensation.  The bus driver was thus able to keep the money she was awarded.

The case illustrates a few very important points. First, if the city or government creates a danger, you can sue and win. Second, your workers’ comp benefits or other insurance benefits won’t reduce the amount of money that you are entitled to receive if you are hurt and sue the third party who was responsible for injuring you.

If you have been injured in an accident, contact an experienced lawyer at 508-677-4900. The Law Offices of Deborah G. Kohl serves clients in Providence, R.I., Foxborough and Fall River, Mass.

Jun 2013

New England Road Trip? Preparation & Safety are Key

Summer is a prime season for drivers to take road trips and our Fall River accident lawyers know that many people through Massachusetts will be heading out on vacations in their cars this summer. Unfortunately, with drivers on the road taking trips and with vacationers traveling in their cars for long distances, the chances of a car accident are increased. 

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration NHTSA recently provided information for drivers taking summer road trips about how they can avoid risky behaviors that can increase the risk of accident injuries. NHTSA’s recent safety advisory has several key tips for drivers heading out on road trips and everyone should consider the advice in order to stay safe over the summer.

Tips for Summer Road Trip Safety

NHTSA’s tips focus on both driver and passenger behavior and on how to prepare a vehicle for a safe trip. To avoid endangering yourself and others, NHTSA recommends:

  • Making sure that regular maintenance is performed on your car to keep it in top shape. Tune-ups, battery checks, tire rotations and oil checks can keep your vehicle running well and can avoid disasters like a vehicle breaking down while you are driving.
  • Using a tire pressure gauge regularly. NHTSA recommends checking tire pressure, including the pressure on the spare, at least one time per month in order to prevent a blowout that could lead to a dangerous accident.
  • Checking all lights on vehicles. Headlights, of course, are necessary to help you to see in the dark. Brake lights, emergency flashers and turn signals are all important lights as well as they allow you to communicate your intentions to other drivers in order to avoid car wrecks.
  • Having an emergency roadside kit. A fully charged cell phone; jumper cables; drinking water and nonperishable foods will help you to stay hydrated and safe in the event that your car does break down.
  • Buckling seat belts on every road trip. Wearing your seat belt can help to reduce the chances of dying or suffering serious injury if you are involved in a crash.
  • Avoiding drinking and driving or driving while distracted. It is very dangerous to drive when impaired and it is just as risky to drive while looking at a cell phone, texting or facing other distractions. You endanger yourself when you drive drunk or distracted and you also put other motorists, pedestrians and bicycle riders at risk.
  • Protecting children in the car. Kids should be in age-appropriate car seats in order to ensure they are protected in the event of a crash. Children under the age of 12 should not sit in the front seat as airbag injuries could occur, and no kids should ever be left inside of cars since heatstroke can happen within just a few minutes.
  • Looking out for pedestrians, bike riders and motorcycle riders. People tend to be on their bikes or on foot more often during the summer in order to enjoy the warm weather. Drivers need to do their part to protect those who share the road on foot or on a bike or motorcycle.

By following these tips, Fall River drivers can enjoy road trips throughout Massachusetts and beyond while staying safe and minimizing the risk of an auto accident occurring.

If you have been injured in an accident, contact an experienced lawyer at 508-677-4900. The Law Offices of Deborah G. Kohl serves clients in Providence, R.I., Foxborough and Fall River, Mass.

Jun 2013

Multi-Vehicle Accident on Mass Pike Proves Deadly

Recently, a fatal car accident in Weston, MA caused a portion of the Mass Pike to be closed. According to WGGB, one person died in the accident and two others were injured, including children.  The accident, like many fatal crashes, was a multi-vehicle accident involving three vehicles.  

Our Fall River accident lawyers know that multi-car crashes are often very serious or even deadly. These accidents often happen on highways or when vehicles are traveling at high speeds and they can raise many complex legal issues that must be addressed by injured victims and family members left behind.

Multi-Vehicle Accidents A Risk to Motorists

The multi-vehicle accident that recently shut down part of the Mass Pike occurred on May 25th when three vehicles collided. A mother and her children were in one of the cars involved in the crash and the mother was killed due to the impact. The two children were taken to nearby Beth Israel Hospital and treated for injuries that were described as not being life-threatening.  Unfortunately, the children will not only have to cope with the injuries they sustained but will also have to cope with the loss of their mother in the accident.

The portions of the Mass Pike that were shut down included ramps going from the Mass Pike eastbound to Route 95 north/south as well as the ramp from Route 95 northbound to the Mass Pike. The areas had to be closed down for several hours as EMTs responded to help the accident victims and as law enforcement reviewed the accident scene for their reports and had the area cleaned up to be safe for traffic again.

The names of the victims of the deadly crash have not been released and there is little available information about how the multi-car accident happened. However, it is known that there were three cars involved. Any car wrecks with more than two vehicles are considered to be multi-car pileups and this collision was one of many examples of multi-car pileups resulting in the death of motorists.

Multi-car pileups can occur any time and anywhere, but certain conditions make these types of accidents more likely. For example, a multi-car wreck is more likely to happen when:

  • Cars are traveling at high speeds. When an accident happens, surrounding vehicles at high speeds often have a lot of momentum and can take a long time to stop.  These fast-moving cars thus may hit the impaired vehicles before the brakes can alter the outcome.
  • Cars are traveling in close proximity to each other. On highways and on-ramps, for example, the cars may be close together and when one or two vehicles are involved in a crash, other motorists may be unable to stop in time to avoid hitting the impaired vehicles.

This accident happened on a Mass Pike ramp, so it is likely that the drivers in this case were going at high speeds and were packed closely together with nowhere to go when the crash occurred. These are all conditions that increase the chance of a multi-car wreck.

Unfortunately, when multi-car wrecks happen, it can be hard to determine who was to blame. Getting to the bottom of who is at fault is important so victims can take legal action to recover compensation for their injuries and/or for the wrongful death of loved ones involved in the crash.

If you have been injured in an accident, contact an experienced lawyer at 508-677-4900. The Law Offices of Deborah G. Kohl serves clients in Providence, R.I., Foxborough and Fall River, Mass.