INSIGHTS On Massachusetts Personal Injury Law

Welcome to the SUGARMAN blog. We'll be sharing our perspectives on the state of the law and current legal issues in Massachusetts personal injury law. Issues relating to medical malpractice, construction site injuries, premises liability, product liability, motor vehicle accidents, insurance, and more will all be reviewed here by our team of lawyers who have prosecuted some of the most complex cases in Massachusetts personal injury law.

Articles Tagged with Transportation

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Early in the morning of August 1, 2016, two people were tragically killed and several others were injured when a Hampton Inn shuttle bus was involved in a rear end crash while transporting passengers from Logan Airport.  A Subaru Legacy rear ended the bus as it was exiting the airport and merging onto Route 1A North.  The accident and the force of the collision resulted in two of the passengers being ejected from the bus and suffering fatal injuries.

The Massachusetts State Police has not yet revealed whether or not the deceased and injured passengers were belted in the bus at the time of the accident or how it was that the passengers were ejected from the vehicle.  The details of this accident, however, illustrate the dangers posed by shuttle buses, buses and passenger vans, which all too often are not designed with the same safety features found in every day vehicles.  From windows that break upon impact allowing for the ejection of passengers to higher propensity for rollovers to safety belts that do not incorporate shoulder harnesses or impact-absorbing headrests, these vehicles are generally more dangerous and uncrashworthy even though they are used to transport tens of millions of people on U.S. roads every day.  Most people who board a shuttle bus, such as a hotel courtesy shuttle, do not even stop to think why it is that the buses do not have safety belts or shoulder harnesses.  Such vehicles should be held to the same safety standards as all other cars on the road, or arguably even higher standards considering the number of people that rely on them for transportation.

One only needs to do a quick online search to see how often accidents such as the one in Boston turn fatal or leave occupants with catastrophic injuries.  Unfortunately, these car accidents will continue to produce tragic results unless safety improvements to these vehicles are implemented.

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SUGARMAN presents its first installment of “Massachusetts Ride-Share Liability,” a blog series navigating the liability implications posed by ride-share companies when involved in an accident causing personal injuries.

In early 2014, questions surrounding liability and insurance coverage of ride-share companies first emerged when an UberX driver struck an entire family crossing the street and killed a 6-year-old girl in San Francisco. While liability of ride-share companies may, at first glance, appear to be rather straightforward, unfortunately, it’s not that simple. So, what happens when an individual has been injured in an accident involving a ride-share company in Massachusetts?

Under the Massachusetts personal auto policy, all registered vehicles are required to carry compulsory bodily injury coverage in the amount of $20,000 per person/$40,000 per accident, with the opportunity to purchase optional bodily injury in the same amounts and higher. This compulsory coverage is available only to individuals that are not occupants of the insured vehicle. A large segment of ride-share drivers–such as those for UberX, Lyft, and Sidecar–utilize their own personal vehicles when chauffeuring ride-share passengers, but fail to disclose their commercial activities (driving for profit) to their respective insurers. When an insurer learns of this, usually after an accident has occurred, the insurer will disclaim all optional coverage, leaving only compulsory coverage available to all non-occupants of the insured vehicle. Consequently, there is no coverage available under the ride-share driver’s auto policy for ride-share passengers injured during a ride-share trip.

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