man texting & walkingThe great majority of us use a cell phone on a daily basis and most of us walk someplace too, whether to pick up a child at the bus stop, a lunch break to pick up a sandwich, or walking the dog. Often, this walking time is used to check email, peruse social media, or send a quick text. A good way to multi-task while getting some exercise? Perhaps. But lately it’s become riskier as a recent study shows that using your phone as you walk is more dangerous, and likely to cause an accident, than listening to music or even talking on the phone. As a personal injury lawyer in Rhode Island, Attorney David Tapalian sees this as a safety concern that isn’t going to disappear anytime soon. Given our ever-present cell phones and the need to always feel connected, it’s an issue that effects everyone, adults and parents alike, and needs to be addressed.

Be Alert as a Pedestrian

Over 6,000 pedestrians were killed in the U.S. in 2018. This is the highest number in more than 20 years, according to the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA). While this recent study may be small and need more in-depth research, the issue of distracted walking and distracted driving is big. While innovations in safety technology have increased the survivability of victims in automobile crashes, pedestrians still remain susceptible to critical, or fatal, injuries when hit by a vehicle.

cell phoneIt’s official. Massachusetts marks the final New England state to join the ban on hands-free driving by making hand-held cell phone use illegal while operating a motor vehicle. Effective February 23, 2020, it will be illegal to use a hand-held cell phone while driving in Massachusetts. As a personal injury lawyer in Seekonk, MA, Attorney David Tapalian is pleased the state has finally joined the coalition against distracted driving. Texting while driving was already illegal in the Bay State, having been banned in 2010. Yet, distracted driving car crashes in MA rose an alarming 170 percent from 2014-2016. Across the U.S., over 3,000 people were killed in distracted driving accidents in 2017 alone. There’s no question whether using a cell phone while driving is safe.

Massachusetts Hands-Free Law

As of February 23rd, under An Act requiring the hands-free use of mobile telephones while driving, use of electronic devices by motor vehicle operators and bicyclists, including cell phones and tablets, will be prohibited unless being used in hands-free mode.  “Hands-free mode”, defined by Mass General Law, is the “operation of a mobile electronic device by which a user engages in a voice communication or receives audio without touching or holding the device; provided, however, that a mobile electronic device may require a single tap or swipe to activate, deactivate or initiate the hands-free mode feature”.

feet upA picture floating around the internet recently will make you think twice next time you drive with a passenger in the front seat of your car.  The photo shows the x-ray of a female victim who suffered severe and permanently disabling injuries in an auto accident. In comparison, the other passengers in the same crash suffered only minor scratches and bruises. Why? The woman had her feet up on the passenger side dashboard. The force of the collision deployed the passenger side airbag, throwing her foot into her face. As car accident lawyers in Rhode Island, it’s not uncommon to see one passenger in a car crash injured more severely than another. However, the extent of this woman’s injuries from a minor crash were expansive enough to be life-changing, while her fellow passengers were basically unscathed. This is all due to her positioning with her feet on the dash. The impact of the collision snapped a femur, broke a hip in its socket, and dislocated the other hip far where it should be located. In addition, she broke her nose, arm, and ankle.

Injuries from Airbags

We’ve seen a number of clients at Tapalian Law who likely would not be here with us today if not for the life-saving effects of an airbag. As a Rhode Island Car Accident Attorney David Tapalian has seen first-hand the undeniable advantages of airbags when a person is involved in a car crash. In most cases, airbags deploy at a powerful speed of 100 to 220mph. Unquestionably, some people are hurt by the airbag when it deploys. Yet, the safety benefits of airbags far outweigh the risks.

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After a short reprieve, electric scooter rentals returned to Providence at the end of the year, following the city’s approval to allow e-scooter rental companies Spin and VeoRide, a combined total of 600 scooters. As the prevalence of electric scooters has increased in cities like Providence RI, so have the scooter injuries in these cities. As personal injury lawyers in Providence, at Tapalian Law we have seen scooter accidents result in serious injury when a rider collides with a car or truck, especially if the victim is not wearing a safety helmet.

As the availability of electric scooter rental programs increased, rentals nearly doubled from 2017 to 2018. Emergency room physicians across the U.S. saw a corresponding uptick in the number of patients suffering injuries as the result of a scooter accident, and scooter injuries jumped an alarming 82%. This sharp increase in e-scooter trauma was reported in a recent study by the University of California, San Francisco. Unlike car accidents, data on scooter injuries is still in its relative infancy. However, other studies have reported similar, striking results, as shown in our Rhode Island Accident Lawyer Blog.

An easy, low-cost transportation option, e-scooter rentals can certainly be a useful tool to get around the city. However, as Providence personal injury lawyers we can’t stress enough how imperative it is that operators, especially novice users who are particularly prone to getting hurt, wear a safety helmet and take the time to familiarize themselves with the operation of the vehicle and its rules for use to prevent injury. Providence’s E-Scooter Share Program, as well as the individual rental company websites, provides information on proper use.

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In what may be the largest child wrongful death settlement in U.S. history, Swedish furniture chain Ikea reached a $46 million settlement with a California couple whose 2-year-old son was killed in a tragic accident. The fatal accident occurred when an Ikea dresser tipped over and crushed the toddler in 2017. The young boy, Jozef Dudek, had been put down for a nap when the incident occurred. As a Rhode Island wrongful death lawyer, Attorney David Tapalian fully understands that no amount of money can ever make up for the tragic loss of a loved one, especially a young child.

Injuries Leading Cause of Death for Children

Accidental injuries are the leading cause of death for children under the age of 19, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), and furniture tipping is more common, and dangerous, than one thinks. Every 30 minutes, a child is sent to the emergency room because of tipping furniture, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), and a child dies every ten days. Sadly, most of these tip-over incidents are preventable.

Scene of car accidentThe U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) released preliminary data in late December that shows a decline in motor vehicle accident deaths for the first nine months of 2019. From January to September 2019, an estimated 26,730 fatalities occurred in U.S. auto accidents, compared to 27,335 fatalities during the same January to September period of 2018. A 2.2% deduction in motor vehicle fatalities is reflected, despite vehicle miles traveled during this period having increased by 1%. As an experienced car accident lawyer in Providence, Rhode Island, Attorney David Tapalian hopes to see the downward trend continue into 2020; all-inclusive motor vehicle traffic fatality statistics for 2019, including the last three months, will be released sometime in 2020.

How are the Statistics Compiled?

The NHTSA compiles motor vehicle traffic fatality statistics using police crash reports, among other sources. One source, NHTSA’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS), is a census of fatal traffic crashes in the U.S. (the 50 states, District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico). For a crash to be involved in FARS, it must involve a motor vehicle accident traveling on a traffic way and the resulting death of at least one person (vehicle occupant or nonoccupant) within 30 days of the crash.

pedestrians in streetMotor vehicle accidents involving pedestrians have been on a sharp rise over the past decade throughout the country. In fact, pedestrian fatalities have increased 35% since 2008, compared to a 6% decrease in all other motor vehicle crashes in the same period. A recent report by the Governors Highway Safety Association estimates 6,227 pedestrians were killed on U.S. roads in 2018.  Based on preliminary 2018 data, this is the highest number of pedestrian deaths due to car accidents since 1990. Why are pedestrians in Rhode Island and the U.S. at such a high risk for getting killed by a car?  Automobiles are safer than ever with the latest technology and innovative safety features including sensors that tell a driver when a person or another vehicle is too close. Rear backup cameras in particular are mandatory for vehicles manufactured after May 2018. As RI personal injury lawyers, we certainly recognize the importance of these safety features however we know no amount of technology can make up for one of the most dangerous types of drivers, a driver distracted at the wheel.

Causes of the Rise in Pedestrian Accidents

One of the main sources of pedestrian injuries and accidents in Rhode Island, and the entire country, is distracted driving.  Distracted driving, commonly taking the form of texting and overall smartphone use while operating a vehicle, might also include the distractions of other passengers in the car, loud music, eating or drinking. A rise in population growth, specifically in cities, is another reason for the uptick in pedestrian injuries and accidents. Cities like Providence RI are a hotbed for pedestrian activity. With multiple colleges and universities throughout the city, on any given day thousands of people are walking the streets. What makes pedestrians more likely to be hurt in a car accident in Providence, is that many of the thousands of college students are new to the city and therefore not familiar with the city’s roads and infrastructure. As personal injury lawyers in Providence RI, at Tapalian Law we have seen a number of clients hurt in car accidents caused by out of state drivers. Inexperienced pedestrians and inexperienced drivers are a dangerous mix.  Other factors attributed to the rise in pedestrian fatalities include weather conditions, fuel costs, and the upsurge of SUV’s on the roads.

bike ridersHaving personally seen the crucial, life-saving consequences of wearing a helmet while riding a bike, Rhode Island Personal Injury Attorney David Tapalian cannot underestimate the importance of this simple, yet essential, safety measure. At Tapalian Law, we have a number of bike accident clients who wouldn’t be here today if not for the critical decision they made to put on a bike helmet. Wearing a helmet is the single, most effective way for a bike rider to reduce their risk of suffering a serious, and sometimes fatal, head injury in a bicycle accident.

A number of states, including Rhode Island, require mandatory helmets for particular age groups, but there are no statewide laws that require bicyclists of all ages to wear helmets. The National Transportation Safety Board wants to change that. The NTSB issued a recommendation this week “that all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, require that all persons wear a helmet while riding a bicycle.”  The question remains- should RI require all bicyclists to wear a helmet?

What Do We Know About Helmet Safety?

bike laneThe City of Providence’s decision to remove a recently installed bike lane on Eaton Street has cyclists in Rhode Island up in arms. Providence’s first two-way bike lane, newly completed in early September of this year at a cost of over $63,000, will be dismantled amid concerns and complaints by local residents, for an additional cost of $64,000.  Rhode Island bicyclists may have good reason to be upset. The majority of bike accidents occur in urban areas and as bicycle accident lawyers, we know one of the best ways to ensure safety for bicyclists is to have designated, safe cycling lanes. Clearly identified and designated bike lanes are essential to ensure safety for vulnerable cyclists and were included in the City’s “Great Streets Initiative” which proposed 60 mikes of bike lanes, including the new lane on Eaton Street.

When Bikes & Cars Collide

When a bicycle and motor vehicle collide, as expected it’s the person on the bike who bears the brunt of the impact and suffers serious injuries, which are sometimes fatal. Across the U.S., 783 cyclists were killed in traffic accidents in 2017. Despite what many Rhode Islanders feel is a step in the wrong direction with the removal of the Eaton Street bike lane, many cities including Providence are developing plans to make bicycle and pedestrian travel safer in urban areas. Bicycle traffic will increase with these safety initiatives while drivers of cars are more distracted than ever; this makes it more important than ever to have access to an experienced Providence bicycle accident attorney if you are injured. Municipalities across Rhode Island are encouraging more bicycle traffic and designated bike lanes are becoming clearly marked throughout the state making it apparent that bicycles are welcome.  Cities and towns will need to do more to make bicycling safer for everyone throughout Rhode Island.

car dashboardBuying a new car today requires a lot of research, not just to review safety scores and dependability, but to choose from the myriad of safety options and technology that are available. A number of safety features now come standard when purchasing a new vehicle, such as back-up cameras required in all new vehicles effective May 2018, but other options will bump up the sticker price quite a bit.  While some auto buyers won’t mind the price jump if they feel they are getting the most advanced safety and technology features out there, other buyers will be deterred by the costly options. We explained how a number of these features work in a two-part Tapalian Law Rhode Island Accident Lawyer blog, Driver Assistance Technologies- Sorting Through the Options Part 1 and Part 2.

With all of the cutting-edge safety technologies available, some critics still think not enough is being done to keep drivers and pedestrians safe from car accidents. The goal should be “fewer, not smarter, cars”, reports opinion writer Allison Arieff in a recent New York Times article, because despite all of the latest cutting-edge features available in today’s new vehicles, far too many fatal car accidents and serious injuries are still happening.

Increase in Pedestrian Deaths

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