According to a report by the Boston Herald, speeding drivers killed more drivers, passengers, and motorcyclists in Boston in 2020 than at any other time in at least the past four years, as noted by the Massachusetts Vision Zero Coalition. The increase in fatal accidents was believed to be the result of fewer cars on the road during the pandemic and drivers who decided to take advantage of the relative emptiness of the streets to drive fast.
Nationally, the number of fatal accidents caused by speeding has decreased in recent years. For more than two decades, speeding was a factor in about one-third of all traffic fatalities in the U.S. Just before the pandemic began, speeding was a factor in about 26 percent of all traffic fatalities in the U.S., and a factor in the same percentage of fatal accidents in Massachusetts.
If you were injured or lost a loved one in an accident a speeding driver caused, you can pursue compensation for your injury or loss. An experienced car accident attorney can provide information about this legal process. They understand the seriousness of injuries that speeding causes and the amount of compensation you need to move on from your accident.
Why Are Speeding Accidents So Dangerous?
Speeding refers not only to driving faster than the posted speed limit, but also driving faster than is safe for the weather or traffic conditions. Speeding creates hazards that increase the likelihood of severe or even fatal injuries.
Those hazards include:
- An increased likelihood that the driver will lose control of their vehicle
- Reduced effectiveness of the vehicle’s protective equipment such as the steel frame, airbags, and seat belts
- A decrease in the amount of time a driver has to perceive danger and respond to it by pressing the brakes
- An increase in the amount of space a vehicle needs to come to a safe stop
- An increase in the severity of the crash, which results in more severe injuries
- Reduced ability for other drivers on the roadway to judge speed and safely determine a safe distance to keep from others
Speed-related crashes produce an annual cost to society of approximately $40 billion a year in increases to insurance premiums, the time and manpower needed by local governments to respond to accidents caused by speeding or to track down and cite drivers who exceed the speed limit, uninsured healthcare costs, and lost productivity.
Speeding is more common among certain demographics. According to statistics compiled by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), a speeder is more likely to be:
- Male: Male drivers of all ages are far more likely than females to speed. 26-30 percent of all male drivers under the age of 35 who have been involved in a fatal accident were speeding at the time the accident occurred. The percentage of female drivers involved in fatal speed-related accidents was not over 18 percent for any age group.
- Young: Younger drivers are more likely to be involved in fatal speeding crashes. Thirty percent of males and 18 percent of females in the 15- to 24-year-old age group who were involved in fatal accidents were found to be speeding at the time of the crash. This is the demographic with the highest amount of speed-related fatal accidents.
- A repeat offender: Drivers involved in fatal crashes often have previous negative entries on their driving record. More than a quarter of them were previously cited for speeding, and almost a quarter had previously had their driver’s license suspended or revoked. One in every five drivers involved in a fatal accident has had a previously recorded crash.
- Alcohol-impaired: Alcohol impairment creates deficits to the skills drivers need to operate their motor vehicles safely, including the ability to control one’s speed, brake effectively, and exercise good judgment. Thirty-seven percent of all drivers involved in speed-related crashes were impaired by alcohol at the time of the accident.
- Driving at night and on the weekends: Speeding is more common at night, particularly on the weekends. About 66 percent of all fatal accidents between the hours of midnight to 2:59 AM on Friday and Saturday nights involve speed as a factor.
Why Do People Speed?
According to the NHTSA, speeding is a type of aggressive driving behavior.
- To escape areas of traffic congestion. Speeders are often attempting to get through a congested area of the roadway by jumping from lane to lane and driving quickly to get ahead of the crowd.
- Because they are running late for work, school, or an appointment.
- Because of anonymity within the vehicle, which can cause some drivers to take unnecessary risks simply because no one can recognize them.
- Out of disregard for others and the law. For some people, driving fast is simply the way they normally drive, and they are not considering the dangers that they are creating for others around them.
Injuries Caused by Speeding
As previously mentioned, speeding increases the severity of a car accident, resulting in more serious injuries. Some of the injuries that can be caused by a car accident, such as traumatic brain injuries or spinal cord injuries, are capable of causing secondary impairments to other parts of the body and result in permanent disabilities.
Other injuries that are commonly found in car accidents that are the result of speed include:
- Broken bones
- Soft tissue injuries
- Damage to the vertebrae and discs of the spine
- Internal injuries, such as damage to the lungs, spleen, or kidneys
- Burns from the chemicals used in the vehicle or from heat or flames resulting from the crash
- Cuts and abrasions that can result in significant scarring or disfigurement
Claims for Boston Speeding Accidents
If you sustained injuries in a Boston car accident that was caused by a speeding driver, Massachusetts allows you three years to file a lawsuit.
To show the speeding driver in your case is liable (legally responsible) for covering the costs and impacts of your injuries, you generally must prove that they were negligent.
Plaintiffs prove negligence by showing:
- The defendant owed you a duty of care. “Duty of care” refers to the actions that a reasonable person would take in similar circumstances to protect others from becoming harmed by his or her actions. The duty of care that a Boston driver owes to other users of the roadway is to drive his or her motor vehicle safely and legally, which includes not speeding.
- The defendant breached their duty of care. “Breach” refers to the actions that the driver took that were contrary to the duty of care that was owed. Speeding breaches the duty of care, as it is neither safe nor legal.
- The breach resulted in the accident, which caused your injuries and the expenses and impacts you incurred. You must prove that the speeding caused your injuries and expenses.
Massachusetts allows car accident claimants to pursue the recovery of both economic and non-economic damages. To “recover damages” means to obtain compensation for the expenses (economic damages) and impacts (non-economic damages) of your injury.
The expenses and impacts for which you may be compensated in a Boston speeding lawsuit include:
- Medical expenses, such as the cost of treatment, surgery, hospitalization, ambulance service, physical therapy, rehabilitation, and medical devices such as prosthetic limbs, wheelchairs, or crutches
- Lost wages from being too injured to work or needing to miss work to attend an injury-related medical appointment
- Loss of future earning capacity if your injury leads to permanent disabilities that prevent you from earning in the same capacity as you did before the accident
- The cost of repairing or replacing the vehicle you were driving at the time of the accident
- Physical pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Loss of the enjoyment of life, if your injury prevents you from partaking in activities and events you previously enjoyed
In some Boston speeding lawsuits, you may also recover punitive damages, which are awarded to punish the offender, rather than compensate a plaintiff for any specific expense or impact. Punitive damages are only awarded in such cases where the court finds the defendant acted in a malicious, willful, wanton, reckless, or grossly negligent manner.
Wrongful Death Claims for Boston Speeding Accidents
If you have lost a spouse, child, or parent in a Boston motor vehicle accident caused by a speeding driver, you can pursue compensation for your loss through a wrongful death lawsuit. Like any lawsuit, a wrongful death lawsuit is filed in civil court, and the statute of limitations is three years from the date on which the death occurred. The executor or the administrator of the deceased person’s estate files the claim, and any settlement or award recovered is divided among family members.
The damages you can recover through a Boston wrongful death speeding accident claim include:
- Loss of income you could have expected had your loved one lived
- Loss of services, protection, care, assistance, companionship, comfort, guidance, counsel, or advice of the decedent
- The reasonable funeral and burial expenses of the decedent
- Mental and emotional anguish, pain, and suffering incurred by family members of the deceased because of the loss
For a free legal consultation, call 833-552-7274
A Car Accident Lawyer Can Help You
In an instant, a speeding driver can change your life forever, leaving you with permanent disabilities, chronic pain, and an inability to earn the same amount of income as you did before your injuries occurred. In some cases, you may lose a family member to a speeding accident and experience your own injuries and impacts.
An experienced Boston car accident attorney can help you through:
- A free case evaluation to provide you with information about the legal process of pursuing compensation
- A case valuation, based on the actual expenses and impacts of your injury, including those you will likely face in the future
- Identification of all potential sources of liability in your case and all insurance resources that can be accessed to provide you compensation—insurance pays nearly all claims
- Negotiation with the at-fault party’s insurance provider to fight for a fair settlement offer on your behalf
Timely filing of all paperwork necessary to bring a lawsuit, and representation at all stages of the litigation
- The collection and organization of evidence and witness testimony that will be used to prove your case in court
- Guidance as to the pros and cons of accepting or rejecting any offered settlement.
- Assistance collecting your settlement or award
With speeding being a factor in more than a quarter of all accidents in Boston, it is good to be aware of the process of obtaining compensation for the injuries that tend to arise out of speeding accidents. However, car accident cases are often confusing and riddled with legal formalities and procedures that are difficult to understand without legal training.
An experienced accident attorney can help you explore your legal options for obtaining compensation after an accident caused by a speeding driver.