June 2010 Archives

Boston injury lawyers wish you a safe and enjoyable Fourth of July holiday

Boston Injury Lawyer Jeffrey S. Glassman and the staff at our law offices wish all of you a safe and happy Fourth of July holiday. Please do your part to celebrate responsibly, which means don't drink and drive, practice safe driving and safe boating, and leave the fireworks to the professionals.
Fireworks are illegal in Massachusetts but that won't stop many from traveling to Rhode Island where some fireworks have been legalized. The Boston Globe reports that Massachusetts is one of only four states where fireworks remain illegal.

While the Globe article makes light of the risk associated with fireworks, the fact of the matter is that fireworks accidents are a real danger around the Fourth of July. In 2006, 11 people were killed and more than 9,200 were treated in emergency rooms for fireworks-related injuries, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. More than two-thirds of fireworks injuries occur around the Fourth of July.
-One-third of all fireworks injuries involve children under the age of 15 and nearly half of all fireworks accidents involve victims under the age of 20. The most frequent injuries reported involve the hands and eyes, as well as the head, face and ears. More than half of all injuries involve burns. Other common injuries associated with fireworks include contusions, lacerations, and foreign objects in the eyes. Fireworks injuries are associated with blindness, third-degree burns and permanent scaring.

-Firecrackers cause the most injuries, followed by sparklers and rockets. More than one-third of all fireworks-related deaths involve professional-grade fireworks that are sold to consumers.

-Common causes of injuries include the availability of high-grade fireworks being sold to novice users, being too close to fireworks, operator error, child curiosity and experimentation with homemade devices.

Residents and guests who are injured by fireworks, whether on private property or at a professional fireworks display, may be able to seek damages to recover the cost of medical care, lost wages, pain and suffering and other losses that result from a fireworks accident in Massachusetts.

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Enforcement aimed at reducing Massachusetts boating accidents over Fourth of July weekend

Authorities urge boaters to stay safe on the water as the Fourth of July holiday ushers in the height of the summer boating season.

We have reported on our Boston Personal Injury Attorney Blog that it has been a particularly deadly season for Massachusetts boating accidents. By the first week of June, six fatal Massachusetts boating accidents had been reported this year, compared to 10 during all of last year. So far, 21 people have died in accidents off the coast of Massachusetts in 2010.
The National Safe Boating Council is encouraging boaters to wear life jackets and stay safe on the water during the upcoming holiday weekend.

"Boating is a big part of Independence Day celebrations," said Virgil Chambers, executive director of the National Safe Boating Council. "The Fourth of July weekend may be one of the only days some people get on a boat the entire summer, and it's even more important that every boat operator remembers to share the 'Wear It!' message."

Drowning is the cause of death in about 90 percent of all recreational boating accidents.

ABC40 reports that Massachusetts Environmental Police will be teaming up with state police and local law enforcement to crack down on drunk boating over the holiday. The effort is part of "Operation Dry Water Weekend," which is occurring along coastal areas nationwide.

"We are out conducting patrols looking for people that are under the influence," said Sergeant Scott Amati of the Mass. Environmental Police.

The enforcement effort will also be a chance for authorities to conduct safety checks and help boaters better understand what they need to know to stay safe on the water.

Boat Massachusetts provides additional information on boating laws and boater responsibilities.

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Woman involved in fatal Massachusetts car accident had history of traffic accidents and violations

A driver involved in a fatal Massachusetts car accident last weekend has a long string of accident and had previously had her license suspended in 2008, the Taunton Gazette reported.

We reported the accident on our Boston Car Accident Lawyer Blog. It happened on I-495 Friday night when the woman reportedly lost control. The Toyota Rav4 rolled over and ejected the driver and passenger from the vehicle. The 29-year-old passenger died as a result of his injuries. Authorities say the driver lost control near the weigh stations, where the road narrows from three lanes to two.

Sometimes accidents are unavoidable. And sometimes poor choices can lead to a serious or fatal accident. Unfortunately, drivers with a poor driving record also are frequently uninsured or underinsured -- often because they cannot afford the high insurance premiums that come with a poor driving record. A Boston injury lawyer will review the driving record and available insurance of an at-fault driver and use that information when building a case to compensate victims for lost wages, medical expenses, and other costs associated with an accident. In cases where a Massachusetts accident is caused by an uninsured or underinsured motorist, an attorney may be able to help victims collect on the assets of an at-fault driver, or by filing a claim with their own insurance company.

There is no information about whether the driver was insured in this case.

The Gazette reports that Registry of Motor Vehicle records show the driver has been at-fault in five accidents between 2003 and 2008. She was also convicted of two moving violations in 2006 and 2007. Her license was suspended in May of 2008 after she failed to complete a mandatory driver retraining class following her fifth accident. She completed the class in January of 2009 and her license was reinstated. The state revoked her license after last week's accident pending the resolution of the case, which is still under investigation.

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Massachusetts work accident injures two at utility facility

Two employees of NSTAR were injured in a Massachusetts work accident Thursday afternoon after a reported explosion at the utility's Charlestown facility, the Boston Globe reported.

One worker was severely burned and another suffered smoke inhalation. Both were transported to Massachusetts General Hospital. The workers were performing routine maintenance at a substation adjacent to the Mystic power plant in Everett when the incident occurred at about 1:30 p.m. Investigators are trying to determine how and why high-voltage electricity escaped from insulated wire, which caused a "flash incident" and injured the workers.

The company said the injuries were not life threatening. However, anyone injured on the job should seek the advice of a Massachusetts workers' compensation lawyer to help protect their rights. Complying with reporting requirements and other legal mandates is essential to ensuring that you are protected in the event that future complications make it necessary for you to receive additional medical care or take time off from work. In the event that you later become disabled as the result of a Massachusetts work injury, it will be critical to show that your disability stems from an on-the-job injury.

Failure to follow the appropriate steps in the wake of a seemingly minor work injury can have a drastic impact on your future financial well-being. Tragically, some employees who have been injured on the job fail to seek the advice of a qualified attorney. By the time they determine a company is not acting in their best interests, it can be too late to seek the compensation to which they would have been otherwise entitled.

The Boston Herald report is available here.

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Massachusetts construction accident seriously injures worker, halts courthouse construction project in Salem

A Massachusetts construction accident has led to a stop-work order on the J. Michael Ruane Judicial Center in Salem.

The Salem District Court project on Federal Street in Salem was halted by the state last week after a 500-pound panel fell, seriously injuring a worker. Daniel O'Connell's Sons of Holyoke, the project's construction manager, told the Salem News that it has been ordered to stop installing the limestone panels.

The $106.5 million project includes 195,000 square feet of building space. Construction began in June 2007 and is scheduled to be completed in June 2011, according to the Massachusetts Division of Administration and Finance.

Two investigations are under way as officials attempt to determine the cause of the Massachusetts work accident. The construction manager has hired a private engineer to review the installation of the panels. Meanwhile, the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration is also investigating the incident.

The 34-year-old construction worker was listed in fair condition on Friday at Massachusetts General Hospital. He was hospitalized on Tuesday after his legs were badly injured when a stone panel fell four stories and shattered on the ground.

The man is employed by General Mechanical Contractors of Auburn, a heating and air-conditioning subcontractor. That company said it was not involved in the cause of the accident.

Construction crews continue to work on other parts of the building but the accident scene remains roped off with police tape.

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Highway work a frequent cause of Massachusetts work accidents

The death of 52-year-old state police Sgt. Douglas Weddleton, who was run down Friday night while working at a road construction site on I-95, has put the spotlight on Massachusetts road construction accidents and accidents involving police officers and emergency responders.

The Enterprise News reports the story of Trooper Mark Lombardi, who was reaching for the microphone in his cruiser to call a tow truck for an early morning accident on Route 24.

He woke up 12 hours later in the hospital. A drunk driver traveling more than 80 mph slammed into his cruiser in the breakdown lane of Route 24 southbound, near the Route 139 exit in Stoughton.

It was the first of three times his cruiser has been struck on state highways.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation reports that more than half the officers killed accidentally in 2008 died as a result of an automobile accident.

A July 2003 crash on Route 25 in Wareham left Trooper Ellen Engelhardt with permanent brain injuries. She is now in a nursing home.

For every fatal accident, there are 1,000 close calls. Traffic accidents while on the job are a leading cause of Massachusetts workers' compensation claims.

Massachusetts Move Over Law took effect last March and requires all drivers to move over and/or slow down whenever an emergency or maintenance vehicle is display flashing lights. Please comply with this law. You could not only save yourself the hassle of a ticket, you could save a life and send a father or mother home safe to their family.

Friday's accident occurred at a road construction zone, where Massachusetts work accidents are a common danger. As we reported last week on our Boston Personal Injury Attorney Blog, the Federal Highway Administration estimates that more than 1,000 workers are killed each year in highway accidents and more than 52,000 are seriously injured.

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Woman charged after Massachusetts car accident claims life of highway worker

A Lowell woman has been charged with vehicular homicide in connection with a December Massachusetts car accident that claimed the life of a man working on Route 3 in Chelmsford, the Newburyport News reported.

Massachusetts State Police charged the 34-year-old woman with motor vehicle homicide, marked lanes violation, operating in the breakdown lane and failing to move over for an emergency vehicle. She was driving a 2001 Acura MDX northbound on Route 3 on Dec. 1, 2009 when her vehicle struck the rear of a 1999 Peterbuilt truck that was parked at a work set-up site, according to authorities. A 44-year-old man was killed and a 30-year-old worker seriously injured after the men were pinned between the truck and the defendant's vehicle.

Road construction accidents are a frequent cause of Massachusetts work injuries. Workers who are injured on the job should contact a Boston workers' compensation attorney to discuss their rights.

The Federal Highway Administration reports that more than 1,000 workers are killed each year in highway accidents and another 52,000 are seriously injured. In this case, the men were working for United Oil Recovery Inc., an environmental cleanup company. They were providing cleanup services at the scene of a previous motor vehicle accident.

Massachusetts' Move Over Law took effect March 22, 2009 and requires drivers to move over and/or slow down when approaching emergency or maintenance vehicles with flashing lights.

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Authorities investigate fatal Boston pedestrian accident

Police are investigating a fatal Boston pedestrian accident that closed several lanes of I-495 early Monday morning, ABC5 reported.

As we reported recently on our Boston Personal Injury Attorney Blog, authorities continue to deal with a large number of serious and fatal pedestrian accidents in Massachusetts. In 2008, a total of 75 people were killed and more than 350 were injured in Massachusetts pedestrian accidents, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The accident occurred in Marlborough at about 5:30 a.m. when a male pedestrian in his 40s was struck by a vehicle south of exit 23C, according to authorities. The pedestrian was pronounced dead at the scene. Police continue to investigate the accident and the highway was closed until about 10 a.m., at one point backing up traffic for more than 17 miles.

The Boston Herald reported that the man may have been inexplicably in the middle of the highway at the time of the accident, which occurred near the Route 9 exit in Westborough.

Anyone traveling I-495 who has information about the incident is asked to call State Police at 508-832-9124.

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Freak explosion causes Massachusetts trucking accident

Three people were injured when aerosol paint inside a party truck exploded, causing the victims to be splattered in paint, the Associated Press reported.

Massachusetts trucking accidents are frequently caused by dangerous or unsafe loads, though exploding paint is not an everyday occurrence. Motorists who are injured in a trucking accident should contact a Boston injury lawyer to discuss their rights. In this case, the truck apparently belonged to a party rental company, which could be responsible if customers were injured; just as a Massachusetts premise liability claim would apply if a customer were injured on business property.

Massachusetts State Police reported that the driver was stopped on U.S. Route 3 in Tyngsborough on Wednesday; a passing motorist had alerted the driver to smoke coming from the back of the truck.

Police report the explosion occurred when the truck's driver and two passengers opened the back door, showering them in orange paint. The driver and one of the passengers suffered serious injuries and were flown to Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston. The other passenger was taken to Southern New Hampshire Regional Hospital with minor injuries.

State police continue to investigate the cause of the accident.

The Nashua Telegraph reported that the 2004 Mitsubishi box truck was owned by Christian Party Rentals. The State Fire Marshal's office said equipment -- believed to be aerosol cans -- malfunctioned, igniting other supplies in the back. When the door was opened, oxygen was added to the mix and resulted in the explosion.

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Young riders at increased risk of Massachusetts ATV accidents

"Sean's Bill," a measure aimed at reducing the risk of Massachusetts ATV accidents involving young children, passed the House 141-12, the Daily News Tribune reported.

The bill changes the state's minimum age for operating an ATV from 10 to 14 and is named for Sean Kearney, an 8-year-old Waltham boy who was killed in an accident four years ago. State Rep. Peter Koutoujian, D-Waltham, said the child was driving a large ATV at a friend's house unsupervised when it flipped over and pinned him face down in the sand. The child was pinned beneath the 500-pound vehicle for more than half an hour.
In 2004 and 2005, a total of 935 ATV accidents involving children occurred in Massachusetts. The Consumer Product Safety Commission reports that 2,500 children under the age of 16 have died in ATV accidents in the last two decades.

Just before Memorial Day, a 12-year-old Plymouth girl flipped an ATV into a cranberry bog but was saved. Memorial Day begins the long summer riding season and the most dangerous time of the year for ATV accidents.

"If springtime deaths and injuries are an indication of what's to come, we urge all ATV riders, young and old, to take all necessary safety precautions," said CPSC Chairman Inez Tenenbaum. "Far too many people are losing their lives and sustaining life-threatening injuries, which in many cases are preventable. CPSC is working diligently to ensure that the ATVs on the market meet mandatory standards and to promote safe riding practices."

Anyone injured in a Massachusetts ATV accident should contact a Boston accident attorney to discuss their rights. ATV accidents can involve premise liability, defective product or wrongful death litigation. Additionally, ATV manufacturers and distributors are now required by federal law to provide safety instruction to new riders and their family members. When a business fails to protect consumers in violation of law, it can and should be held responsible if a rider is seriously injured or killed.

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Distracted driving causes Boston car accident; Harvard doctor urges doctors to warn patients

Physicians should warn patients of the dangers of using cell phones or text messaging, just as they would warn about the dangers of smoking, Reuters reported.

As we reported earlier this month on our Boston Car Accident Lawyer Blog, distracted driving is a leading cause of Massachusetts car accidents.

Nationwide an estimated 6,000 motorists are killed each year in accidents caused by distracted driving, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Hours before the report was published in the New England Journal of Medicine, the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation approved the Distracted Driving Prevention Act, which will provide incentives to states with distracted driving regulations.

Of primary concern to federal safety officials is drivers who text message behind the wheel, which increases the chance of being involved in an accident by 23 times. But the journal article, published by Dr. Amy Ship of Beth Israel Deacon Medical Center and Harvard Medical School in Boston, also urges doctors to talk to patients about the dangers of using a cell phone while driving. She points to a 2006 study that found that using a cell phone while driving poses the same risk as driving while intoxicated.

"Although there are many possible distractions for drivers, more than 275 million Americans own cell phones, and 81 percent of them talk on those phones while driving," Ship wrote.

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Fatal Massachusetts car accidents on I-93 make it one of the deadliest highways in the nation

Interstate 93 in Massachusetts is the eighth-deadliest highway in the nation, according to a list compiled by The Daily Beast. Motorists are most likely to be involved in a Massachusetts car accident on I-93 than any other highway in the state.

Between 2004 and 2008, the 47 miles of I-93 in Massachusetts had 61 fatal accidents that claimed 67 lives, or an average of 1.30 fatalities per mile.

Road Safe America has titled summer the "100 Deadliest Days." More than 50,000 fatal accidents occurred in June, July and August from 2004 to 2008, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Some roads really are more dangerous than others, whether because of poor design, heavy congestion or challenging terrain, including available roadside distractions. In compiling its list, the Daily Beast examined federal crash statistics for nearly 250 stretches of interstate highways to find out, mile-for-mile, which were the deadliest.

The deadliest highway in America -- from 2004-2008, the last five years for which statistics are available -- was I-95 in Florida. A total of 662 fatal accidents occurred on the 382-mile stretch of highway, claiming 765 lives.

The mile-for-mile comparison ranked I-76 in New Jersey the second-deadliest in the nation, where 3 miles of road saw five fatal accidents, which claimed six lives, or 1.64 fatalities per mile.

Other deadly roads in the Top 10 included:

3) I-4 in Florida: 132 miles of road/234 fatalities.
4) I-15 in California: 287 miles of road/506 fatalities.
5) I-10 in California: 243 miles of road/387 fatalities.
6) I-59 in Louisiana: 11 miles of road/16 fatalities.
7) I-94 in Illinois: 62 miles/89 fatalities.
8) I-93 in Massachusetts: 47 miles/67 fatalities.
9) I-95 in Delaware: 23 miles/30 fatalities.
10) I-55 in Tennessee: 12 miles/16 fatalities.

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Parents encouraged to be proactive in avoiding Massachusetts car accidents involving teenagers

The Daily News Tribune has published a useful guide for parents seeking to properly insure their young drivers.

As our Boston Car Accident Lawyer Blog reported earlier this spring, summer is a dangerous time for Massachusetts car accidents involving teenagers. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that traffic accidents are the leading cause of death among teenagers ages 15 to 20. In 2008, more than 228,000 young people were injured and 2,739 were killed in traffic accidents. In Massachusetts, 68 young motorists lost their lives.
Well over half of all teen drivers in Massachusetts will be in a car accident during their first two years on the road.

Here are the steps you should take to help protect your teen:

-Add your teen to your insurance policy: Massachusetts law requires your child be added to your insurance policy when he or she gets a driver's license. Begin the conversation with your insurance agent early.

The cost of insuring a teen driver depends on a number of factors, including driving record and experience, age and type of vehicle being driven, and where you live. Many parents are shocked to learn how much it costs to insure a teen driver. However, given the frequency of accidents, it may be worthwhile to select a higher premium with a lower deductible.

A car for your teen: SUVs have a higher accident rate than passenger cars. Their higher center of gravity also makes them more prone to rollover accidents. Additionally, the larger vehicle may give a teen a false sense of security. Conversely, smaller two-door vehicles have a higher injury rate. Newer cars with anti-lock brakes and airbags have fewer serious injury accidents. Vehicle safety ratings are available through the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

High-performance sports cars are often a poor choice for teen drivers. The insurance premiums alone may be enough to discourage allowing a teen to drive a sports car. Regardless of the car you choose, checking the insurance rates is a good idea before finalizing plans as your choice of vehicles can have a dramatic impact on the cost of insurance.

Massachusetts Law: Drivers under 18 will be issued a junior operator's license. For the first six months, they cannot drive with friends unless a driver over the age of 21 is riding in the front passenger seat. Until they are 18, teens are not permitted to drive between 12:30 and 5 a.m. unless with a parent. Violations can result in a 60-day license suspension and a $100 fine.

Junior operators face a 90-day license suspension for speeding and must pass the learner's permit and road tests again. Additionally, they will be required to pay a $500 reinstatement fee and complete a Driver Attitudinal Retraining Course.

Visit the Massachusetts junior operator's website for more details.

Advanced Driver's Courses:
Enrolling your teen in advanced training can be a good idea. Parents should also monitor their teen's progress and continue to set limitations on their driving rights. The state laws set minimum standards. But no two young drivers are alike and a parent is in the best position to monitor a child's competence behind the wheel.

Focus on Safety:
Continue to have frequent conversations with your child about the dangers of poor driving habits, including distracted driving, drunk driving and speeding.

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Fair treatment by insurance company a critical issue in the wake of a Massachusetts car accident

The Massachusetts Attorney General's Office is seeking to institute new rules aimed at protecting consumers from the perils of buying auto insurance.

We all expect our insurance to be there in the event that we are involved in a serious or fatal Massachusetts car accident. Unfortunately, auto insurance companies frequently look out for their own interests, at the expense of consumers. The advent of insurance available for purchase from websites, without the assistance of a knowledgeable insurance agent, has further compounded the issue. Progressive insurance has been under significant fire for offering low rates that consumer advocates contend includes coverage that falls short of providing adequate protection in the event of an accident.

Consulting with an experienced Boston injury lawyer can help protect your rights when dealing with an insurance company in the wake of a car accident in Boston or the surrounding area. Insurance companies have a moral and legal obligation to treat customers in a fair manner. When an insurance company operates in bad faith, it can and should be held responsible.

The new measure aims to "increase the level of transparency, enhance policy holders' ability to shop effectively for policies, and better prevent deceptive practices by insurance companies," according to the Attorney General's Office.

Not surprisingly, the insurance industry claims additional safeguards are unnecessary.

The National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies contends the new regulations are unjustified.

"The sweeping set of new regulations put forward by Attorney General Martha Coakley are unnecessary and ill-advised, to say the least," spokesman Paul Tetrault said. "Consumers are well protected by existing laws and regulations."

According to the Attorney General's Office, the new regulations would:

-Protect consumers from insurance companies that use discriminatory practices.

-Require ratings practices to be fair and transparent.

-Prevent misleading advertisements.

-Ensure consumers are made aware of discounts.

-Protect against policy cancellation or non-renewal without adequate notice.

-Guard against unfair interest rates on installment plans.

-Require proper reporting of at-fault reversals.

-Prevent agents from steering consumers to certain insurers based on commissions.

-Require insurers to promptly reply after a claim is filed.

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Drunken boating targeted in effort to reduce Massachusetts boating accidents

Authorities were on the water in force over the Memorial Day weekend, a trend law enforcement promises will continue through the summer months as safety advocates vow to reduce the dangers of serious and fatal Massachusetts boating accidents.

As we reported recently on our Boston Personal Injury Attorney Blog, a total of 21 people have already died this year in boating accidents off the coast of Massachusetts.
The Boston Globe reported there have already been 6 fatal boating accidents in Massachusetts this year, compared to 10 in all of 2009. The U.S. Coast Guard and local authorities cite boating while intoxicated as the leading contributor to serious and fatal boating accidents.

This summer, authorities in Massachusetts will participate in Operation Dry Water, an aggressive campaign to increase checkpoints for drunk captains and to educate boaters about the dangers of drinking and boating. Part of the challenge facing efforts to combat drunk boating is that alcohol is permitted on boats, with the exception of some areas like Massachusetts state parks. However, boat operators can be held to the same standards as the driver of an automobile. In both cases, operation of a vehicle with a blood-alcohol level over .08 is illegal.

A first BUI offense in Massachusetts is punishable by up to 30 months in jail and a $1,000 fine. An offender may also have his or her driver's license suspended even though a motor vehicle was not involved.

Another challenge for law enforcement is that drinking and boating does not carry the same stigma as drinking and driving. While driving a car while intoxicated has become less acceptable, many people remain more tolerable about drinking and boating.

Meanwhile, authorities are convinced that better education and the use of life vests can help prevent Massachusetts boating accidents. The Coast Guard reports that two-thirds of boating fatalities result from drowning while only 1 in 10 boating accidents involve a driver who has received boating safety instruction.

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Boston motorcycle accidents injury police officers

Two Boston police officers were injured in Massachusetts motorcycle accidents, which occurred within blocks of each other in Roxbury, the Boston Globe reported.

One of the officers was off-duty and riding his personal motorcycle when he was involved in an accident at Warren Street and Martin Luther King Boulevard. The second officer was on duty and responding to the first crash when he was involved in a motorcycle accident in the 500 block of Warren Street while riding his department motorcycle. While many people may not associate work accidents with traffic crashes, serious and fatal traffic accidents are a leading cause of Massachusetts work accidents.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that 1,044 of the 5,214 fatal work accidents reported in 2008 involved highway accidents, not counting those accidents that occurred on city streets.

Both officers were transported to Boston Medical Center for treatment and the causes of the accidents are under investigation.

You can watch the report from My Fox Boston here.

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