College student sues MBTA for 2009 trolley crash

A Merrimack College student was on a Boston Green Line trolley two years ago to celebrate finishing her freshman year of college. The celebrations were cut short during a mass transit accident that happened when her trolley slammed into another trolley, injuring 68 people. The student’s back was broken and she suffered nerve damage, a serious concussion, and cuts to her face, The Boston Globe reports.

The student has filed a personal injury lawsuit with a personal injury law firm against the MBTA and the trolley operator, who is believed to have been texting at the time of the accident. The student claims that she suffers from vertigo, nausea, and constant headaches which impair her ability to concentrate on her studies. The student now risks losing her scholarship and requires a cane to walk around campus.

“I was injured as a result of something that was perfectly preventable,” the student told The Boston Globe. “As a result of negligence, I was personally affected in a way that has cost me money, time, and many parts of my life. I would like to see things change for the better. No one else has to be a victim like this.”

Prosecutors allege that the trolley operator was composing a text to his girlfriend at the time of the accident. The operator was texting while accelerating the trolley along a subway track. He ran a yellow light and two red lights before hitting a stopped trolley with its brake lights on.

The crash caused approximately $10 million in property damage and potentially permanent damage to at least one college student’s life. The student seeks damages for medical bills and lost wages, as well as damages for pain and suffering. The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority declined to comment on the pending litigation.

Maryland Police Conduct DUI Sweep

In anticipation of the upcoming holiday weekend travel period, Baltimore police recently conducted a city-wide sweep, searching out those with outstanding warrants for drunk driving-related charges. Baltimore police say the timing of the sweep coincided with the increased traffic of the holiday season in an effort to keep drivers safe as they go about their preparations and celebrations.

The sweep, which lasted three days, has been planned for some time, but was accelerated after an alleged drunk driving accident involving two Baltimore police officers earlier this month. According to Sgt. Stacey Graves, two officers were on patrol when they were hit by a drunk driver, and one suffered serious injuries during the crash. Graves said the incident reinforced the need to find DUI offenders and get them off the streets.

According to the police department, the sweep was a success, settling 113 outstanding DUI warrants, including 55 felonies. Graves says that many of the sweep targets were repeat offenders who can pose the most danger to other drivers. “It’s really important to go after them because those are people who seem to not be deterred,” Graves said. “We want to make sure they are in custody. With the holidays coming up there is increased traffic on the road.” This means more Maryland traffic ticket violations.

Although the sweep has been completed, Baltimore police say that their efforts are only beginning. According to Graves, police will continue to seek offenders with outstanding warrants, and will be on the lookout for drunk drivers using saturation patrols and similar efforts. “[Drunk driving] is not worth it,” Graves said. “Don’t drink and drive. Call a friend or make arrangements prior to drinking at a party.”

Firefighter widow entitled to worker’s comp death benefits

One of the foundations of workers’ compensation is that it is “no-fault” insurance. It is available because of the broad understanding that in the course of everyday life workers are going to get hurt on the job. Workers’ compensation is supposed to be the system that provides financial recovery benefits in the fastest way possible. It doesn’t always work swiftly.

Workers’ Compensation lawyers in Jackson Heights know that the process of applying for benefits is cumbersome. The wait to learn if any benefits will be forthcoming can take years. Many times they are denied for the flimsiest of reasons, and the appeal to reverse a bad decision can take more years.

In Pennsylvania, one woman’s case had to be taken all the way to the state’s Supreme Court. Happily for her, the court ruled unanimously in her favor. What that means is that she will be able to finally receive death benefits under the state’s workers’ compensation laws.

The claim came from a woman whose husband had been a Philadelphia firefighter from 1974 to 2003. He died in 2004 after contracting hepatitis on the job. The widow attempted to claim her death benefits, but the city fought her request.

A doctor, who had never treated the firefighter, speculated on behalf of the city that the man might have contracted hepatitis while in the military in 1969. He cited one reference in the man’s military record. And on that basis, in 2007, a workers’ compensation judge denied the widow death benefits. She appealed.

In 2008, the state’s Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board reversed the original finding, saying the doctor’s opinion wasn’t based on his own expertise. Yesterday, some seven years after the death, the state’s Supreme Court upheld the award of benefits to the widow, saying that the evidence upon which the doctor based his opinion was too limited, uncorroborated and speculative, making it unreliable.