Snow and snow plows are a way of life in Boston, especially when snow falls have paralyzed Boston businesses and schools. A snow plow can be a motor vehicle designed for that purpose or a truck outfitted with a plow. Regardless, a snow plow operator should be trained for the task and be cognizant of other vehicles and pedestrians when performing snow plow work. Unfortunately, because of weather, the size of the snow plow vehicle and difficulty in seeing pedestrians or motorists, snow plow accidents occur each winter, often resulting in serious injuries or death.
Two recent accidents in the Boston area highlight the dangers in snow plow activity. In Medford, a Whole Foods worker was struck and killed while walking across the store’s parking lot by a snow plow that was clearing the lot. In a related scenario, a 57-year old woman was killed when a plow backed over her after she had exited her car at her condominium complex. The driver had just cleared her parking spot so her vehicle could park there and she was apparently going to ask the operator to not block her spot with shoveled snow when she was hit. Another woman had entered the victim’s car to move it when she heard a thump and saw the unfortunate woman in the track of the plow that had backed over her.
If you were injured in a snow plow accident or a loved one sustained fatal injuries, consult with snow plow accident lawyer Neil Burns about your legal options and possible compensation.
Tips to Protect Yourself
During and immediately after a snowstorm, expect to see snow plows on city and suburban streets. Some are municipal owned vehicles while others are privately contracted operators. In any case, take the following precautions when going outside:
- Be aware at all times of the snow plow’s location
- Wear bright clothing that contrasts the white environment
- Do not go outside if officials advise against it unless it is an emergency or you need to get food
- Avoid approaching a snow plow; the driver likely cannot see you as s/he is focused on the job
- Stay as far away as possible from plows if you are driving or keep a safe distance behind one
- If a plow has prevented you from driving, call the company that owns the plow or your apartment or complex manager rather than talking to the operator unless the operator is out of the vehicle or sees you and stops work
In a snow plow accident, you can be sure that the defendant and its insurer will seek to hold you totally or comparatively negligent in the accident. Contact Boston snow plow accident lawyer Neil Burns if a snow plow was the cause of your injuries.
Factors in a Snow Plow Accident
Snow plows are engaged in a specific activity so there are certain factors that can lead to accidents:
- White-out conditions where neither pedestrian nor operator are aware of each other.
- Operator fatigue. Some drivers may have been working for many hours without a break and in freezing temperatures.
- Impaired operators. Some drivers may be intoxicated or have taken drugs to keep them alert.
- Lack of training.
- Defective equipment.
- Lack of attention by pedestrian.
Snow plows are slow moving by nature and are large vehicles. Regardless, it is difficult to see other motorists or pedestrians if it is snowing, or there is a huge accumulation of snow or the operation is taking place at night.
Liability of a Snow Plow Operator or Company
If a snow plow is municipally owned, any accident injury or wrongful death claim would be directed against the city. A claimant has to follow the claim notice and filing requirements under the Massachusetts Tort Claims Act where you have to file appropriate notice of your claim to the appropriate entity. If a city or town was involved, then the claim must be brought to that entity’s applicable agency or office. Since time is of the essence in such claims, immediately contact Boston car accident lawyer Neil Burns.
Often, landscaping companies are involved in the snowplow business or individuals hire themselves out for the job. Private persons need to be aware that their auto liability insurance will usually not cover them for any property damage or injuries they cause if they are using their vehicle for profit or for a commercial use. These private plows sometimes have sufficient insurance; sometimes not. You can secure more insurance by increasing your Underinsurance coverage immediately.
Snow plow operators are under a duty to exercise reasonable care and the companies that might hire them have a duty to train them and to ensure they are not working too many hours. The equipment must also be inspected and serviced. If defective, the operator, company and possibly equipment designer or manufacturer could be held liable under product liability principles.
Damages in a Snow Plow Accident
You are entitled to compensation for any injuries sustained by the negligence of a snow plow operator; employing company, city or state; or equipment designer or manufacturer of the plow or vehicle itself. Your compensation includes:
- Loss of wages
- Medical expenses
- Emotional trauma
- Pain and suffering
- Spousal loss of consortium claim
If a loved one was killed, then the decedent’s surviving heirs through a claim brought by the estate administrator may claim:
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Any medical expenses incurred for the fatal injuries
- Pain and suffering only if the decedent was consciously aware before succumbing
- Loss of financial support
- Loss of the love, moral support, guidance, companionship and counsel from the decedent
- Punitive damages if the defendants were grossly negligent
If you or your loved one is found to be comparatively negligent, your degree of causal responsibility must be less than 50% or you cannot collect any compensation. Your award is decreased by your percentage of fault. For instance, a $100,000 award is reduced to $60,000 if you are found 40% liable.
Hire an Experienced Motor Vehicle Accident Lawyer
Call Boston car accident lawyer Neil Burns, attorney with over 25 years of experience, if you were injured by a snow plow or any other motor vehicle. These cases can involve complex issues of liability and proof that a well-seasoned and knowledgeable injury attorney like Neil Burns can handle to your satisfaction.