By Karen Piso Nadeau, Esquire
In Massachusetts, during the COVID pandemic, we experienced the negative consequences of isolation, trying to stay safe and keep our families healthy. Staying at home, not going into Boston, shutdowns and business anything but usual meant fewer people out and about and less cars, bikes, and pedestrians on the road. The positive impact of this was a decrease in accidents in Massachusetts whether it be car, bicycle, pedestrian, motorcycle, truck, construction site, or slip and falls. Little traffic on the roads and ghost towns meant a smaller risk of accidents and personal injuries. With the Commonwealth’s emergency orders lifted and venturing out again, it comes as no surprise that there have been more reports of car accidents, construction site accidents and other incidents resulting in personal injury or death. With the good weather and summer upon us in New England, there have already been many horrific news reports with drownings, construction site tragedies and dog attacks as well as vehicles crashing into buildings.
As personal injury lawyers, located in Cambridge, Massachusetts we are focused on safety and environments that are free of hazards and dangers. Too often, we see injury cases with accidents that were preventable. We say things like:
If only the driver stopped at the stop sign.
If only the pedestrian used the crosswalk.
If only the driver was not on a cell phone.
If only they were not so distracted.
If only the landlord inspected their property.
If only the business owner removed the tripping hazard.
If only they were paying attention.
If only the teenager was wearing a seatbelt.
If only there was a designated driver.
If only the dog owner was watching his dog.
At Nadeau Harkavy LLC, we dedicate a lot of our blogs to addressing safety and highlighting accidents that often were preventable with just a little care and caution. This blog will address some of the things to consider this summer while on the roads to keep us all safe while we enjoy the good weather and celebrate our freedom to do many of the things that we love that were put on hold during the height of the pandemic.
Here is a list of safety tips while on the road for summer and beyond:
- Wear a Seatbelt
The single most effective thing we can do to reduce risk of serious injury in a car is to wear a seat belt. Mass law requires every person in a passenger motor vehicle to wear a safety belt or sit in a child passenger restraint. See Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 90 Section 13A. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), seat belt use in passenger vehicles saved an estimated 14,955 lives in 2017. Seatbelt use rate was 90.3 % nationally in 2020 according to NHTSA. Wearing a seat belt significantly reduces the risk of serious injury and fatality.
- Do Not Drink & Drive
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), every day, about 28 people in the United States die in drunk driving crashes. There were 10,142 deaths from drunk driving crashes in 2019.
If you are drinking, do not drive. Plan a safe ride home. Choose a non-drinking friend as the designated driver. If hosting a party, make sure all guests leave with a sober driver. Never drive if you have been drinking. Call a taxi, Uber or Lyft.
- Do Not Text While Driving
Sending or reading a text takes your eyes off the road for 5 seconds according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). In 2019, 3142 people were killed in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted driving.
Massachusetts law prohibits operators of motor vehicles from using any electronic device including mobile telephones unless used in hands free mode. See Mass.gov.
Teens need to speak up when they see a friend driving distracted. Parents lead by example.
Do not let your cell phone distract you.
- Respect One Another on the Road
The Red Cross offers the following safety tips on the road:
-Be well rested and alert
-Use caution in work zones
-Give your full attention to the road
-Observe speed limits
-Be respectful of other motorists
-Don’t follow another vehicle too closely and
-Follow the rules of the road.
According to the Massachusetts Department of Transportation, in 2020, MA saw 334 road deaths despite a major decrease in traffic, and many of those deaths were caused by excessive speed or erratic driving.
There are a lot more cars, trucks, bicycles, pedestrians, and motorcycles sharing our roads, now that we have more freedom coming out of the pandemic and the good weather to enjoy.
The Cambridge Community Development Department provides tips whether you are operating a vehicle, riding a bicycle or walking across the street as a pedestrian. As to drivers of vehicles, yield to pedestrians entering or using crosswalks. As to bicyclists, obey traffic signs and signals. As to people walking, obey walk signals, use crosswalks, and look up from your cell phone when crossing a street.
If you are operating a car, pickup truck, work truck or any other vehicle on the road, make sure any objects are safely and properly secured on your vehicle so there are no flying objects that can act as deadly weapons if they become dislodged and strike another vehicle on the road.
- Make Sure You Have Adequate Insurance Coverage
You may ask how this is a safety tip for summer and beyond. However, insurance coverage is your safety net and perhaps the most important tip to consider before you ever find yourself in a situation involving someone harmed due to personal injury in an accident. Having adequate insurance coverage is important not only if you cause an accident and someone else makes a claim against you. It is also important to have adequate coverage to protect you and your family in the event the person who harms you has inadequate insurance to compensate you for your loss. We have handled many personal injury cases where lack of insurance coverage can devastate a victim and their family.
If you are found to be the party responsible for an accident whether it be from a car crash or a dog bite or injury at your home, you want to make sure you have adequate liability coverage or bodily injury coverage for any claims made against you. Talk to a TRUSTED insurance agent about this. This is NOT where you want to save money on your insurance policy. Placing your assets at risk is not a desirable path.
In the event you or a household family member suffers injuries due to another’s negligence, you want to have sufficient uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage to protect you and your loved ones. We have too many cases where our clients have no idea that they chose little to no uninsured and underinsured coverage on their auto policies. It is not until a tragedy strikes that they discover they lack the coverage and protection to be fully compensated for the damages, injuries, lost income, medical bills and disability suffered in an accident.
For example, we represented a child riding his bicycle that was struck by a hit and run automobile suffering broken bones requiring surgery. Luckily, his parents had sufficient underinsurance coverage on their own auto policy to receive the compensation he deserved as the vehicle that struck him was never identified. Also, we represented a gentleman who suffered a serious neck injury requiring surgery and had a long period of time missed from work. The driver that rear-ended him had little car insurance and no assets. Luckily, this victim got good advice from his trusted insurance agent and had 1 million in underinsurance coverage to protect him and his family. Otherwise, he would have received very little money for his injuries and disability.
We have seen an increase in cases with insufficient insurance coverage leaving victims and their families financially helpless. For the most part, to save money on insurance costs, important coverage is reduced or eliminated without the client appreciating the inadequate protection until it is too late. Some insurance companies and insurance agents are not being transparent and take no time to explain the consequences, instead trying to rope in a customer by offering a reduced premium with little coverage or protection. Clients are often shocked to learn that saving $200 or $300 dollars on their insurance policy cost them thousands or even hundreds of thousands in coverage. Be aware of the coverage being cut or eliminated to save you a few bucks and if it is really worth it. Don’t blindly trust the insurance company or insurance agent claiming they are saving you money on your policy. Often, you are giving up important coverage like personal injury protection benefits, medpay benefits, increased liability coverage, or uninsured/underinsured coverage to protect you and your family from the financially crippling consequences of an accident resulting in personal injury.
In summary, take a little time to consider and implement these safety tips on the road for this summer and beyond. Share this with family and the kids. Enjoy the freedom we now have again to venture out and have a safe, happy, relaxing summer full of great memories!
When someone is injured in a motor vehicle accident, slip and fall, or through any other accident, a thorough investigation of the accident events is necessary to determine the cause of the accident and secure important information. As a victim of an accident, make sure everything is done to protect your interests. The lawyers at Nadeau Harkavy LLC help victims and their families recover compensation in serious injury and wrongful death cases arising from car crashes and other accidents. If you have any questions about your legal rights relating to a car accident, wrongful death or other accident, feel free to contact us for a free consult today at 617-674-7640.