Compensation for Pedestrian Accident Injuries

The vulnerability and risk of serious injury or death when pedestrians come up against vehicles traveling on the road is well known. Pedestrians have no feasible way to sufficiently protect themselves in the event of an accident, and catastrophic injuries are a frequent consequence of these collisions.

Government officials are cognizant of this danger and use a number of measures to increase pedestrian safety, including the installation of crosswalks, street lighting, and sidewalks. Despite these efforts, some communities are more pedestrian-friendly than others, and any area, regardless of location, that requires pedestrians and cars to share the same space, introduces a risk of injury.

When pedestrian accidents do occur, the largest question looming in the mind of the victim, once immediate medical treatment is received, is how to recover compensation for medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. In other words, where does an injured party look for recovery – the driver, the driver’s insurance company, their own insurance company – or is compensation necessarily available? The answers to these questions will be explored below.

When Is Compensation Available?

Drivers have a responsibility to operate their vehicle in a safe and reasonable manner, and claims for pedestrian injuries would be handled as a personal injury lawsuit for negligence if this care was not exercised. Most accidents involving pedestrians and cars can be easily classified as the fault of the driver, which typically means pursuing the driver’s insurance company for financial recovery.

However, the liability of the driver in part assumes the pedestrian was conducting him/herself in a prudent manner, i.e., using crosswalks to cross intersections or using sidewalks when available. Evidence that the pedestrian was jaywalking, walking in the street, or unexpectedly darted into traffic can be used by the defendant to show the pedestrian contributed to his/her own injuries. In Massachusetts, if the plaintiff is found to be at fault for 51 percent or more of the accident, no recovery is possible. Thus, working with an experienced personal injury is key to combating these defenses.

Who Pays Compensation to the Victim?

Massachusetts is a no-fault accident liability state, which means that specific protection is written into every policy that requires accident victims to first seek recovery from their own insurer. Consequently, the pedestrian may first have to access benefits from their own insurance company for medical bills and other losses before the driver’s insurer would have any responsibility to compensate for an injury victim.

If the driver’s insurance disputes the claim, which is a common response, a negligence suit must be filed to secure the right to seek additional relief. Going after the other driver’s insurance is particularly important if the injuries are significant and caused a loss to a person’s quality of life. No-fault provisions will pay for medical bills, lost wages, and necessary household expenses, but only up to $8,000.

Further, this amount is reduced to $2,000 if the injured party has medical insurance, but it still does not account for the intangible pain and suffering many accident victims experience when this experience alters the trajectory of their lives. An experienced Cape Cod personal injury attorney can assess whether a claim for negligence exists, and determine the most effective way to pursue compensation, whether that be through negotiation or litigation.

Speak with a Cape Cod Attorney

Pedestrians should be able to go from point A to B without worry of being hit by a car. If you were the unfortunate victim of a negligent driver, contact the personal injury attorneys at Goldberg & Weigand, LLP about your legal rights. Drivers have a responsibility to avoid hurting others, and if they failed in this duty, you may have a legal claim. Call our Cape Cod attorneys today for a free consultation.

Liability for Dog Bite Injuries

Domesticated dogs have served as a human companion for thousands of years, and provide both affection and protective benefits to their owners. Americans particularly love their dogs, and spend a lot of money each year keeping them healthy and happy. Most dog and human encounters are pleasant and uneventful, but dogs remain animals that cannot always be counted on to act predictably or in a non-aggressive manner.

Dog bites do happen, and the consequences for the victim can be very serious. The laws penalizing owners for these incidents are intended to encourage responsible dog ownership in order to protect the public from harm. Statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicate that one of every 69 people will be bitten by a dog, and with 90 million dogs registered in 2017, the chances of this happening are numerous. Dog owners will be held liable for harm caused to another person by their dog, and a discussion of the legal claims a dog bite victim could file to claim compensation, as well as common defenses presented against responsibility in these cases, will follow below.

Legal Claims for Dog Bite Liability

Massachusetts’ dog bite laws take a strict liability approach to assigning responsibility to owners for harm caused by their animals. This rule means that owners are liable for any bodily harm caused by their dog, including injuries that do not involve a bite, even if they did not know or have reason to know their dog could be violent and aggressive. Thus, it does not matter if the owner was at fault for the injury, which makes it easier to present a case justifying a damages award. In addition, it is also possible to file a negligence lawsuit against the dog owner for dog bites and other injuries, but the victim will need to prove the owner failed to use reasonable care, often a failure to restrain the animal or otherwise keep it controlled.

Negligence requires more than the strict liability to win compensation, so it is not typically used in these cases but is available if circumstances require another approach. Note that victims only have three years from the date of the injury to file a lawsuit, so quick action should be taken to avoid loss of evidence and to mitigate the financial damage these injuries can inflict due to medical bills and lost time at work.

Common Defenses

While dog owners will be held to a high standard to protect the public’s safety from dog-related injuries, there are still limits on when that liability applies. The actions of the victim can have some bearing on the responsibility of the dog owner for the attack. Specifically, evidence of any of the following may be used to defend against the strict liability standard used to assign liability in dog bite cases:

  • The victim was on the property without the owner’s permission. However, those on the premises executing a legal duty, such as mail delivery or utility maintenance, would be covered;
  • The injured party was committing another tort (wrongful conduct) at the time of the attack; or
  • The injured party provoked the dog, i.e., teasing, tormenting, or abusing the animal.

A practical reality of many dog bite situations is that they involve friends, neighbors, and family, none of whom the victim truly wishes to punish. It is possible to obtain just compensation for these injuries without demonizing the animal or vilifying the owner. An experienced dog bite attorney can assist with settling a claim in a respectful and civil manner that avoids injecting unnecessary animosity.

Contact a Dog Bite Attorney

Dog attacks can be devastating, and cause long-term physical and emotional harm. If you are the victim of a dog bite attack, speak with the attorneys at Goldberg & Weigand, LLP about pursuing the owner for damages. Owners must be held accountable for the actions of their animals, and Goldberg & Weigand, LLP will fight to get you the compensation you deserve. Contact the New Bedford office today for a free consultation.

Gas Explosions Common in the Andover Area

Explosions and over forty houses on fire rocked the cities of Lawrence, Andover, and North Andover last month, forcing mass evacuations and a state of emergency. Even now, thousands are facing the increasing chill in the air without their normal gas heat or cooking capabilities.  While the pipeline investigation continues, many are forced to rely on small electrical space heaters and hot-plates.

As of October 2nd, according to Columbia Gas, over two thousand people did not even have that option as their homes’ electrical capabilities were still not up to par for a space heater.  Columbia has pledged to have natural gas back to all affected homes by November 19th.  This means that for many families it will be another six (6) weeks in the growing cold without proper heat or cooking capabilities.

Scooter Accidents in Barnstable County

Users of scooters and other modes of alternative transportation often find themselves disrespected by conventional motorists.  Areas with high tourism like Barnstable County on Cape Cod often are “home” to many of these devices which make getting around more efficient. 

Unfortunately, many motorists driving cars and trucks fail to properly keep a watch for and yield to operators of scooters and other such modes of transportation.  When a person on a scooter is involved in an accident with a motor vehicle, there are many subtle legal issues that need to be addressed.  Often times, the scooter operator is assumed to be at fault or the scooter operator does not understand that they may be covered under various insurance policies. 

Call a Barnstable County Scooter Accident Lawyer Today

It is critical in every accident situation, but especially in an accident involving a “non-motorized” mode of transportation, to get experienced and knowledgeable legal help.  People operating scooters, bicycles, skateboards, roller blades…or any other type of non-traditional transportation should seek such competent legal help soon after an accident, whether or not it involves a motor vehicle.  Goldberg & Weigand LLP has been helping such accident victims on Cape Cod and the surrounding areas for over thirty (30) years.

Crushing injuries and crushing syndrome: A fatal combination

One of the most significant injuries a person can suffer is a crushing injury. With a crushing injury, the muscles, tissues, veins, arteries, bones and other parts of the body are compressed, many to the point of cutting off circulation. Depending on the injury itself, there may be little or no blood flow.

While the injury is devastating, one of the bigger problems is the risk of compartment syndrome. This is when increased pressure causes muscle, nerve and tissue damage. The blood vessels may also be significantly impacted.

What is the highest risk of a crushing injury?

Even more risky is crushing syndrome. This syndrome occurs when the body has a major shock. It may enter into renal failure after a significant crushing wound. Even if a patient seems fine while pinned beneath a heavy object, the risk of this syndrome is high. Moving the weight off the victim or even shifting it enough to reduce its impact could cause the body to go into shock. It is a particular risk for patients who have been under crushing weight for four hours or longer.

What happens with crushing syndrome?

With crushing syndrome, there is significant compression. The cells suffer from compression and decreased circulation. Oxygen does not reach the body part. As a result, the body has to switch to the anaerobic metabolism. This leads to a buildup of lactic acid.

Without enough oxygen, the cells struggle to retain their contents. Over time, they become permeable and spill their contents. Some cells begin to die. Toxic substances, myoglobin, potassium and other substances enter the surrounding tissues but do not enter the blood without circulation.

However, when circulation is restored by relieving pressure, it’s possible for the patient to go into shock or to develop other life-threatening conditions. The rush of potassium affects the rhythms of the heart. The toxic substances cause liver damage and respiratory distress. Myoglobin may gather in the kidneys and cause renal failure or rhabdomyolysis.

Even a patient who is alert may rapidly fall ill once the heavy object lifts away. Emergency medical providers at the scene must address the risk of high potassium levels, pain and other conditions before moving an object off a patient and transporting them to the nearest hospital. Not making a plan could result in an extremely ill patient who could, potentially, die from the toxins that built up in the body.

Why does summer lead to more car accidents than winter?

When a blizzard or an ice storm rolls into Massachusetts during the winter, it is easy to imagine that the coldest months of the year are also the most dangerous months to drive. That ice and snow on the road often send vehicles spinning out of control, it makes it far harder to stop when something unexpected happens and storms even make it harder to simply see the lines on the road.

However, as dangerous as winter can be, the statistics paint a different picture. The most deadly car accidentstend to happen in October, August, June, July and September. It is clear that the summer and early fall carry the greatest risk, even if the roads remain clear. Why is this?

Tourists

Vacations put summer tourists on roads they have never traveled before. They get confused, they focus more on the GPS than the road and they make mistakes. Plus, tourists simply increase the overall road congestion. More traffic leads to more accidents, and that leads to more injuries and fatalities. People travel far more in the summer, and they put everyone — from other tourists to locals — at risk.

Teens

Teenage drivers make mistakes and lack experience. They tend to take unneeded risks. The only way to really overcome it is for them to get older and gain experience, but that means a lot of those young drivers do crash every year. During the school year, they’re busy and spend more time inside. During the carefree days of summer, far more teens end up on the roads, and that leads to a predictable increase in accidents.

Motorcycles and bikes

Cold winter weather means cyclists stay home and motorcycles sit in the garage. The warmth of spring and summer puts them all back on the roads. This leads to an increase in traffic congestion. It can also lead to accidents when drivers forget to check their blind spots and neglect to be careful around these smaller vehicles. Spring and early summer often carry an increased risk because people “forget” how to drive around motorcycles and bicycles.

Construction zones

Construction grinds to a halt in the winter, but crews work around the clock when it warms up. This leads to traffic delays. Stopped traffic can cause rear-end accidents. Delays lead to aggressive driving and road rage. Traffic lane shifts and smaller lanes in construction zones can also lead to accidents. One report found that 773 people die every single year, on average, from accidents in road construction zones.

As you can see, the summer months can lead to massively increased risks as injuries and fatalities become more common. Those involved in accidents must know all of the legal rights that they have.

Riding a bike? Don’t forget these safety tips

If you enjoy riding your bike, you don’t want to avoid doing so because of safety concerns. Instead, you need to learn more about what could go wrong to prevent trouble at every turn of the road.

Although you don’t have any control over drivers and other pedestrians, there are still steps you can take to boost your overall level of safety. Here are five tips to keep in mind:

  • Watch for opening doors. You spend so much time watching out for moving vehicles that you forget one thing: Someone could open a car door into your path. If this happens and you’re unable to swerve, you could strike the door head on.
  • Watch for cars turning in front of you. As a vehicle passes by you, take into consideration that they may immediately attempt to turn back in front of your face to get to where they’re going. If you’re not aware of this, you could ride yourself right into an accident.
  • Don’t spook pedestrians. It’s best to pass behind pedestrians, as going in front of them can lead to someone making a quick move and causing an accident. When you travel behind pedestrians, there is no question about who has the right of way.
  • Use hand signals and eye contact to communicate with drivers. You always want motor vehicle drivers to know what you’re doing, and the best way of doing so is with hand signals and exaggerated eye contact.
  • Use the bike lane, if available. You may think you are safest when riding on a sidewalk, but this is very rarely the case. You should always use the bike lane. If one isn’t available, drive among the cars, as this is where you will be safest.

These are just a handful of the many bicycle safety tips you can follow to avoid trouble on the road.

If you do your best but still find yourself in an accident, call for immediate help. You’ll feel better once police and an ambulance arrive at the scene.

Upon receiving medical treatment and discussing your long-term prognosis with your doctor, revisit the accident. This will help you better understand the cause, your role and what to do next. Learning more about your legal rights will help you decide which steps to take, such as how to hold the negligent driver responsible for his or her actions.

How long does a mild brain injury take to heal?

When people suffer a blow to the head, they stand a pretty decent chance of suffering some form of brain injury, even if it is only a mild form. In some cases, extremely mild brain injuries may disorient individuals for a short time before they return to their previous levels of mental clarity.

A large percentage of those who receive blows to the head suffer some form of mild traumatic brain injury (TBI), which may cause numerous symptoms that range from inconvenient to debilitating. If you recently suffered a blow to the head, you should prioritize seeking out professional medical treatment from an experienced attorney as soon as you can. You may avoid many of the frustrations of recovering from a mild TBI.

Should you confirm that you did suffer a mild TBI, you can consult with an experienced attorney to protect your rights during recovery and make sure that you fully understand all the issues at stake.

Symptoms and duration of mild TBIs

The term “mild TBI” may apply to a number of different injuries and symptoms, ranging from a mild concussion to a serious medical issue that may leave you impaired for much longer than you anticipated. Those who receive more severe diagnoses may suffer a coma or even die from the injury.

If you received any kind of blow to the head, you may have a mild TBI. In some cases, the symptoms associated with mild TBIs can last for a year if untreated, which is plenty of time for the symptoms to destroy your career and family life.

Mild TBIs may present many symptoms, including

  • headaches that last for hours or days
  • nausea and seizures
  • a feeling of fog clouding your thoughts
  • great difficulty performing tasks you previously completed with ease
  • short temper
  • difficulty communicating with others
  • frequent misunderstanding of the things you read and hear spoken to you
  • unexplained personality or preference changes

How should your employer respond to your injury?

Depending on the nature of your injury and whether or not you sustained it on the job, your employer bears a number of responsibilities to ensure that you receive proper care and ongoing treatment. You may even have opportunities to receive back pay for work you miss because of the injury.

Often, when it comes to employers, mild TBIs seem like an unconvincing story. Many employers do not truly understand how serious of an injury mild TBIs can be.

You may need help securing full compensation for your injuries and working with your employer to ensure that you receive all the benefits you deserve while you recover from your injury. An experienced attorney can help you fight for fair treatment for as long as you really need to recover.

STEAMSHIP AUTHORITY HIGH-SPEED FERRY CRASHES INTO JETTY

On Friday, June 16, 2017 at approximately 9:45 p.m., the Woods Hole, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket Steamship Authority’s high-speed ferry, Iyanough, crashed into a jetty at the Hyannis Harbor entrance.  The ferry was reported by the Steamship Authority to be travelling at approximately 32 knots, or 38 miles per hour (the maximum allowable speed in that area) when it struck the jetty. The 48 passengers on board had no warning prior to the vessel striking the jetty.  One man who was on an outside stairway fell and suffered a head injury.  Many others onboard struck tables, walls and other objects upon the violent impact.  About 15 passengers were taken off the vessel and transported by ambulance to Cape Cod Hospital where they were treated for a variety of injuries.  Goldberg & Weigand LLP has interviewed several of the passengers and we will be presenting claims against the Steamship Authority for some of the injured passengers.  For more information call Peter M. Goldberg at (508)775-9099 or email pgoldberg@capeinjurylaw.com

Construction accidents: Any type can be dangerous

Most construction workers enjoy their job, despite the fact that there are many risks associated with their employment.

Any type of construction accident has the potential to cause serious injury or even death. This is why employers and construction workers alike need to familiarize themselves with the steps they can take to reduce the risk of an accident.

Here is a short list of some of the most common construction accidents:

— Slip-and-fall. This is often the result of debris on a construction site. Anything left on the ground, from shingles to tools, can be a trip hazard.

— Fall from height. Construction workers often work on roofs, scaffolding, and ladders. Even when the proper safety measures are in place, it’s possible that a person could fall to the ground, thus suffering a serious injury.

— Equipment accidents. Many types of equipment are used on construction sites. For example, forklifts are a big part of many job sites, as this makes it easier to transport items. Any inappropriate use can lead to an accident.

— Fires. While not common, there is always the potential for a fire on a construction site. This can be the result of leaking pipes, exposed wiring, or the use of flammable chemicals.

— Lifting injuries. Construction workers regularly lift heavy items. This can lead to an immediate injury, or distress that accumulates over time.

A construction accident can injure a single individual or several workers. If you find yourself in this position, do the following:

— Call for medical help

— Report the accident and your injuries to your employer

— Listen to the advice of your medical team with regard to your treatment strategy

Also, you should consult with an attorney who can help you better understand your legal rights.

Since you may not be able to return to work in the near future, you can file a claim for workers’ compensation benefits. This will give you the money you need to pay for some or all of your expenses as you recover.

If your claim is denied, work with your legal team to formulate an appeal. You don’t want to give in to the system, as you have an injury that deserves compensation.

(508) 203-6600

Get in touch with us today to get started with your FREE case review. We’re only a call, click, or short drive away.