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Tragic last walk home from school for Massachusetts child

Boston is mourning the tragic loss of a child, in the midst of the holiday season. According to the Boston Globe, a seven-year-old child has lost her life, and the child’s mother is recovering from injuries after being struck by a car while walking on the sidewalk, on the way home from school.

The woman alleged to be involved in the crash is a 36-year-old woman who, according to law enforcement officials, has “a long record of traffic violations,” and “was drunk behind the wheel” at the time of the motor vehicle accident that took the young girl’s life. Authorities indicate that the woman failed multiple sobriety tests and refused to take a breathalyzer test. Witnesses claimed the woman attempted to back up her car and flee the scene of the accident. Just hours before the accident occurred, a neighbor, who knew the driver, claimed she greeted the woman while she was walking in the neighborhood, and explained that she was slurring her words and had a “vacant look,” which she believed was due to intoxication. She never expected to see the woman behind the wheel soon after their encounter.

The woman was arraigned in Dorchester, Massachusetts, District Court. Her charges included motor vehicle homicide and causing bodily injury while operating a motor vehicle under the influence. She pled not guilty to both, and remains in custody without bail.

The woman’s attorney contends that the accident was caused by the woman’s eyesight problems, and poor tires on her vehicle. The Suffolk County District Attorney told the Boston Globe that the woman’s SUV “struck a parked car, jumped onto the sidewalk, hit a fire hydrant” and then hit the woman and her child who were on the sidewalk. The District Attorney is confident that the evidence will show the woman was impaired by alcohol when she was driving, and explained that the accident was avoidable. The report further indicates that the woman has an extensive record of driving infractions and other serious arrests.

In 2010, the Governor’s Highway Safety Association reported a sharp increase in pedestrian fatalities during the six-month testing period, for the State of Massachusetts. From a national perspective, the six-month figures, year-over-year, were nearly identical, and in 2009, over 4,000 pedestrian fatalities were reported.

Massachusetts recovery for bystanders in the zone of danger

Massachusetts law has evolved regarding the ability to recover for purely emotional injuries suffered by those who witness the death of a loved one due to another’s negligence. Thirty years ago, in the decision of Dziokonski v. Babineau, the court held that “a parent who sustains substantial physical harm as a result of severe mental distress over some peril or harm to his minor child caused by the defendant’s negligence state[s] a claim for which relief might be granted, where the parent either witnesses the accident or soon comes on the scene while the child is still there.” Prior to this ruling, recovery was only provided when the close relative was within the “zone of danger” or immediate proximity of the accident. Courts have even expanded the current rule to provide for recovery by someone who has “familial proximity” to the victim.

If you have witnessed the death of a family member or child due to the negligence of a drunk or reckless driver, you may be entitled to recovery for emotional injuries. In addition to pursuing a case on behalf of the accident victim, an experienced personal injury and wrongful death attorney can help you determine whether you may be entitled to recovery.

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