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shutterstock_1434011420-300x225A person who negligently operates a motor vehicle or watercraft can be subject to both civil and criminal liability for their conduct, allowing two or more court proceedings to proceed simultaneously in response to a single incident. Although the procedures, burdens of proof, and consequences of liability for criminal and civil claims against a negligent party may vary, both types of cases play a role in holding reckless or negligent people accountable for their actions. A recently published news report discusses criminal charges being brought against the operator of a watercraft that was involved in a fatal crash near Boston harbor this July.

According to the news report, the operator of a boat that crashed into a fixed navigational beacon and ultimately sunk is being charged with manslaughter as a result of the incident. These criminal charges are proceeding independently of any civil claims that may be brought by the family of the woman who drowned after the crash. Criminal and civil claims based on negligent conduct follow different procedures from each other.

A criminal complaint is brought on behalf of the government (usually a state or municipality) in response to alleged criminal conduct. Unlike a civil suit, a criminal conviction does not necessarily require any victim to suffer an injury, meaning that a reckless motorist can be convicted of a crime for their conduct even if nobody was injured during the incident. Criminal convictions, however, do require the government to prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt, which is a higher burden of proof than the standard needed to prove civil liability (civil liability must only be proven by the preponderance of the evidence). Because of this higher burden of proof, criminal convictions are generally more difficult to obtain than a civil judgment.

shutterstock_1525846904-300x200Many people in Massachusetts utilize the state’s railway system for daily transportation, business, school, and leisure. While trains are typically safe, they pose some inherent dangers that can have deadly consequences to anyone in the vicinity—asserting rights and recovering damages after a Massachusetts railway accident is challenging and requires a thorough and nuanced understanding of various state and federal laws and regulations.

Train accidents and injuries may stem from engineer impairment, manufacturing defects, negligent drivers, weather conditions, or train car fires. These accidents can cause life-threatening injuries and fatalities. For instance, according to a recent news article, the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authorities (MBTA) recently released a preliminary report on the July Green Line accident. The light rail vehicle slammed into another MBTA train while the trains were traveling west. The collision caused 24 passengers and three crew members to suffer injuries requiring hospitalization. The preliminary investigation revealed that the striking train sped to 31 mph, triple the speed limit, before slamming into the train ahead. That train was traveling approximately ten mph when it was struck from the rear. The MBTA announced that they were in the process of terminating the employee that was involved in the accident. They also noted that the local district attorney’s office investigated the operator’s conduct just before the collision.

These cases present challenges, especially when the victim is an employee of the railroad. Unlike other employment injury cases, the Massachusetts workers’ compensation system does not cover railroad employees. Instead, they must file a claim under the Federal Employers’ Liability Act (FELA). In these situations, the injury victim must prove that they meet the elements of a claim. The victim must establish that they were :

shutterstock_1809160840-300x200It is a common misconception that when criminal charges are filed against an individual for an accident a civil lawsuit cannot be filed too. In an instance of wrongful death—where an individual is responsible for the wrongful death of another—criminal charges are often initiated by law enforcement if drinking or other substances played a role. However, families can also financially recover in these cases by filing a wrongful death lawsuit too. Every state has different requirements for a wrongful death lawsuit, and Massachusetts is no exception.

Recently in Leominster, there was a multiple-vehicle crash in the breakdown lane. One individual was changing the tire on his vehicle when another man drifted into the breakdown lane and struck the rear of the first car. The man changing the tire was also hit and sustained fatal injuries. The driver of the other vehicle was transported to the hospital with minor injuries. State police indicate the crash remains under investigation.

A person can legally be held liable for another’s wrongful death under two circumstances: (1) if the person’s negligence causes the death of another; or (2) if they willfully or recklessly acted and this act caused the death of another. Massachusetts courts use a standard utilized in many other states to determine if a lawsuit can be brought: the defendant can be held liable if the deceased could have recovered damages for the personal injuries if he had not died.

shutterstock_1132794227-300x200Thousands of people rely on the public transportation systems in cities to get to work and school every day. In Massachusetts, many people specifically use the MBTA, especially the agency’s buses, trains, subways, and ferries. However, when an accident occurs on the MBTA or other public transportation systems, individuals may be unsure of how to obtain financial compensation. While pursuing a lawsuit is different than if a person was suing a person or private business, individuals injured on public transportation still have the ability to bring a negligence suit against the responsible party.

According to a local news article reporting on the accident, a train on the Green Line of the MBTA recently crashed into another train on Commonwealth Avenue in Boston. The former train was traveling 30 miles per hour—three times the area’s speed limit. While there were no casualties, 27 people aboard the trains were injured, including four train operators. The National Transportation Safety Board is leading an investigation into the crash to determine the cause of the accident.

There are important aspects to remember when a person has been injured on public transportation and is thinking of bringing a personal injury lawsuit. For example, in Massachusetts, an employer is responsible for an injury or death caused by the negligent act of one of its employees. This includes public agencies like the MBTA. Therefore, if an individual was injured on public transportation in Boston, they would bring a lawsuit against the MBTA—not the worker driving the train. This is because employers are expected to properly train and oversee their employees, ensuring they do not make drastic mistakes that endanger passengers.

shutterstock_1426522853-300x200Massachusetts car accidents can cause serious injuries and damages to anyone in the vicinity of the collision. However, passengers are often particularly vulnerable as they have very little control over the driver’s actions. Moreover, passengers are typically unable to escape a potential collision, unlike bikers and pedestrians who might have the ability to quickly move out of harms’ way. After an accident, passengers can recover damages from the at-fault party, even if they were a passenger in the negligent driver’s vehicle.

While the law permits recovery against the at-fault driver, passengers are often left in a precarious position, especially when the passenger and driver are friends or family. Passengers fear that filing a claim or lawsuit against their loved one or their insurance provider will impact that person’s premiums. However, this line of thought can leave an injury victim without the critical funds they need to recover from an injury. However, an attorney can assist victims in understanding all potential avenues for relief and how best to achieve their goals.

Drivers should take steps to protect all road users, including their passengers. The failure to do so can result in serious injuries and fatalities. For example, a Massachusetts news report recently described a harrowing incident that took the life of a drunk driver’s passenger. According to the report, police responded to the accident scene where they discovered a rolled-over vehicle. Police explained that the small SUV rolled over into a gully on an infield between the exit ramp and road. After toppling over several times, the car stopped upside down in a flooded area of the gully. Troopers extricated the vehicle’s passenger, but he died shortly afterward. The vehicle’s driver was transported to the hospital but was released. Police indicated that the driver was intoxicated at the time of the accident, and he admitted that he consumed alcohol before the incident. The driver was charged with several offenses, including felony motor vehicle homicide and operating under the influence of liquor.

shutterstock_106140917-1-300x199As the weather heats up in New England and people are out in our waterways for recreation or work, the risk of accidents on the water increases. Massachusetts boating accidents and collisions can be especially deadly when passengers are ejected from a watercraft into open water as the trauma from a crash is compounded by the risk of drowning. A local news report discusses a recent boat collision in Boston Harbor that resulted in the death of a 27-year-old woman.

According to the report, a boat with eight people on board collided with a fixed navigational beacon that was in the harbor. The collision sent all eight people into the water. After emergency responders were notified of the accident, Coast Guard and other authorities were able to rescue seven of the occupants. The last occupant was not found until the next morning when her body was recovered from the harbor. The article does not state if any of the occupants of the boat were wearing life jackets at the time of the crash or if intoxication was involved in the cause of the accident.

Navigating crowded or shallow waterways can be very dangerous, especially at night. All occupants of a boat should be wearing life jackets at all times the boat is in motion, and the operator of the craft must be careful to avoid potential hazards, as not all features or beacons are illuminated at night. In the event of an accident that results in injury, death, or drowning of a passenger, the owner or operator of the boat may be liable for the damages incurred.

shutterstock_181828862-300x200Drivers traveling on Massachusetts highways and interstates often face the frustration of being stuck behind a slow driver. When traffic laws permit, as indicated by a dashed white or yellow line between the lanes, drivers are allowed to pass other vehicles on the road. Drivers must be prudent and use caution when attempting to pass. However, because the presence of a dashed line alone does not mean that it is safe to pass. A fatal Massachusetts car accident recently occurred when two vehicles attempting to pass another vehicle collided with each other, slid off the roadway and struck trees.

According to a local news article reporting on the recent crash, two vehicles were involved in the crash on Route 391 near Chicopee. The two vehicles were traveling southbound in the center lane when they each crossed the dashed white line into the left lane to pass another slower vehicle in the center lane. After completing the pass, one of the vehicles lost control and struck the other vehicle, causing both vehicles to spin out of the traffic lanes, across the right shoulder, and into the heavy vegetation. Both vehicles struck trees at dangerous rates of speed, and the drivers were pronounced dead at the scene.

Passing other vehicles is one of the most dangerous actions to be taken on the road. All drivers involved in a pass or in the proximity of other drivers attempting to pass should be mindful of the dangers. Passing is legal in Massachusetts when there is a single dashed yellow or white line dividing lanes on a roadway. A dashed yellow line divides single lanes from oncoming lanes, and passing should only be attempted if there are no other vehicles in the oncoming lane and visibility is sufficient to overtake any vehicles safely. Dashed white lines divide traffic going the same direction, but vehicles should only attempt to pass other vehicles if the maneuver can be completed at a safe speed and control of their vehicle can be maintained. If multiple vehicles are passing at the same time, the drivers should allow sufficient space between themselves to prevent a multi-vehicle accident if one of the cars loses control.

shutterstock_1536906239-300x200Construction workers and anyone in the vicinity of a construction site should be aware of the various hazards at these locations. However, despite awareness, safety equipment, and avoidance, these locations are inherently dangerous, and Massachusetts construction accidents continue to result in serious injuries to many people every year. Many construction site accidents involve falling equipment or debris. The most common falling objects include tools, machinery, equipment, materials, supplies, and demolition debris. The height of the fall often makes even small objects a serious danger.

While some accidents are unavoidable, the majority of these situations are preventable and involve negligence. These accidents may occur because of insufficient barricades, insufficient warning signs, improper tool or equipment use, defective equipment, improper stacking, and inspection failures.

For instance, a local news report described a recent accident at a Boston University construction site. According to investigators and University Officials, erector crew errors were to blame for the accident that sent steel beams tumbling. One of the 44-foot beams was improperly constructed, which caused it to fall and slam into other beams. The initial fall resulted in a harrowing domino effect on the construction site.

shutterstock_1274312725-e1622138775946-300x232Hit-and-run accidents present unique challenges for victims and their families. Massachusetts accidents involving a fleeing driver tend to result in serious injuries and, in turn, significant legal consequences. Victims and their families often face visceral anger towards the fleeing driver and the aftermath their reckless negligence caused. The feelings are understandable, as these accidents can leave victims in a precarious financial and medical situation. Those who have suffered injuries in a hit-and-run accident should contact a Massachusetts personal injury attorney to discuss their rights and remedies.

Under Massachusetts’ hit-and-run statute, drivers who knowingly get into an accident that results in injuries or property damage must provide the other driver with their relevant identifying information. Pertinent information includes the driver’s name, address, and vehicle registration number. The failure to do so may result in significant civil and legal penalties. There are many reasons individuals leave the scene of an accident. In some rare cases, a driver may not realize they were involved in an accident, or they might be frightened of the consequences. However, in the overwhelming majority of instances, the driver leaves because they are engaged in illegal activity, do not have insurance, are under the influence, or have a warrant out for their arrest.

If a driver is identified, their defense attorney will likely purport various defenses to avoid liability. In some cases, a defendant may argue that they were unaware they caused an accident. Further, they may claim it is a case of mistaken identity. These cases are complicated and require plaintiffs to prepare a compelling and legally sound case, especially when the facts and circumstances are unclear. For example, police are investigating a recent New Bedford crash involving a 19-year-old. Officials received a call around 2:30 a.m. reporting a car in the woods near an off-ramp. Emergency responders discovered that the car had struck a metal pole and hit a tree in the woods. Tragically, the driver was ejected from the vehicle and succumbed to his injuries later in the day. Officials are investigating whether another vehicle was involved in the accident.

shutterstock_1753657874-300x204Most drivers and passengers who have driven on a large highway have probably experienced the fear of a fast-moving large truck or tractor-trailer. These instances are especially frightening when traffic is slowing, and a truck is quickly approaching from behind. In some cases, the driver can maneuver their vehicle to get out of the truck’s path. However, despite safe driving techniques, some drivers cannot avoid an accident with a negligent truck driver. These Massachusetts truck accidents tend to result in the most severe injuries and damages.

There many ways that a Massachusetts truck accident can occur. However, the most common types of collisions are jackknife accidents, tire blowouts, unsecured load accidents, underride accidents, and hazmat accidents. These accidents tend to result from distraction, alcohol or drug use, speeding, driver fatigue, unsafe driving and techniques. Although any accident can result in serious damages, these accidents often result in traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord damage, broken bones, organ laceration, and death.

For example, recent news reports described a harrowing Massachusetts tractor-trailer accident. Preliminary investigation reports state that as traffic was slowing, the tractor-trailer slammed into the back of the sedan; the sedan then slammed into a van. The driver of the sedan died from his injuries, and the van driver suffered serious injuries. The tractor-trailer driver did not sustain any injuries in the accident. In addition to potential civil charges, the District Attorney announced that their office would be pursuing criminal charges against the tractor-trailer driver.

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