Massachusetts personal injury lawyer James M. Lynch examines a recent news story about a Brockton car accident for lessons in auto accident negligence.
A recent single-vehicle car accident in Brockton, Massachusetts, which sent the driver to the hospital with serious personal injuries, illustrates several issues that can arise in an auto accident. While the crash only involved one vehicle, this does not necessarily mean that the driver was at fault.
Though police are still investigating the accident, initial reports indicate that the driver may have had a medical issue while behind the wheel. If true, this could drastically change how the accident gets resolved.
The accident occurred on Wednesday, March 8, 2017. Forty-two year-old Joseph Brooks, a Brockton native, was driving along North Cary Street when he lost control of his Dodge Ram pickup truck. He left the road, ran right through a wooden fence, and drove onto the lawn of one of the houses on the street. While the occupant of the house was at home at the time, the truck came to a stop in the yard so no one inside was hurt.
Mr. Brooks, however, was not so lucky. When his truck went through the fence, wooden posts split and flew into the yard. Unfortunately, one of the fence posts broke and pierced through the truck’s windshield. It hit Mr. Brooks on the head, causing a serious injury that sent him to the hospital in a medical helicopter. Following the accident, he was listed in critical condition.
According to Brockton Police Lieutenant William Hallisey, the crash was a “freak accident.” A neighbor described the chaotic scene of the accident as follows:
It sounded like a tractor-trailer going over a big bump. … I ran out with my phone in my hand, and saw the car on the lawn.
While police are still investigating what caused the accident, they say it is likely that Mr. Brooks either fell asleep at the wheel or had a medical problem that caused him to lose control of his pickup. Either scenario would explain why Mr. Brooks suddenly veered off the road in a residential area.
Unfortunately, this is not just a matter of figuring out what went wrong so it does not happen, again. Whether the crash was caused by something that Mr. Brooks did, or whether it was caused by something else, may impact who could owe money in compensation and who would benefit from it.
If Mr. Brooks did fall asleep at the wheel – not as the result of an unexpected reaction to a medication he was taking the accident would probably be considered negligence or the driver’s fault. If this is the case, Mr. Brooks’ negligence would have caused the crash, making him liable for the costs of the accident. Not only would he and his insurance company have to pay for his own medical expenses, but he would also likely be required to pay for the damages to the fence and yard.
However, if the crash was caused by a medical condition that prevented Mr. Brooks from controlling his pickup truck, the outcome could be very different. If a medical condition was to blame, the crash could be a complete accident – if, for example, Mr. Brooks suffered a sudden heart attack. Conversely, the medical condition could result from someone else’s actions. For example, if Mr. Brooks had a sudden reaction to medications that a doctor should never have prescribed, an insurer might conclude the doctor was partially responsible.
If a medical condition led to the accident, then Mr. Brooks might not be considered negligent, and may not have to pay for the costs of the crash.
Being in a car accident can be a life-altering event. Like Mr. Brooks, you could suffer a severe injury that puts you in the hospital in critical condition.
While recovering is the first thing on your mind, paying for the damage and your medical bills will not be far behind. The costs of recovery in the United States is often far beyond what many people expect to pay or are able to pay, even with their insurance coverage. Struggling to make all of the payments on your own can put a severe strain on you and your family’s finances.
Filing a personal injury claim against the individuals who were ultimately responsible for an accident can make a huge difference. By retaining personal injury attorneys who will determine what actually happened in the accident, and who caused it, individuals can get the compensation they need and deserve from the people who caused their injuries.
About the Author: James M. Lynch is a Massachusetts personal injury attorney and divorce lawyer for Lynch & Owens, located in Hingham, Massachusetts.
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