m_woman-treadmill-run-silhouette-300x193Driven by the demand for at-home workout equipment during the pandemic, Peloton, maker of the popular exercise bikes and at-home fitness machines, experienced a huge boost in sales of their products and quadrupled their stock value.  That may soon change. This week, the company issued a recall of its Tread+ and Tread treadmills. The recall arrives amidst reports of dozens of injuries, and the death of a young child, associated with the company’s machines.

In March, a 6-year-old boy died in an accident involving a Peloton treadmill. At Tapalian Law, as personal injury lawyers, we know there is never a way to make sense of a death from a devastating accident, and it can seem perhaps even more tragic and senseless when it involves a child. Sadly, childhood injuries from accidents are the number one cause of death in kids under the age of 19, according to the CDC.

In April, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission issued an “urgent warning” to owners of the treadmills to stop using them immediately. The warning came after the commission received 72 reports stating adults, children, pets, and objects had been pulled under the rear of the machine. Of the 72 reports, 29 involved children, including the death of the young boy. At the time, Peloton fought back against the agency’s request calling it “inaccurate” but has since apologized, acknowledged its wrongdoing, and issued the equipment recalls.

468bddc63e662ecf3a104b26db86c196-300x206Head-on collisions, also known as front impact collisions, are among the most deadly types of car accidents in the United States. According to the Insurance Information Institute (III), frontal collisions account for around 2% of accidents, but account for 10% of motor vehicle accident deaths. These statistics highlight the dangers associated with Rhode Island head-on collisions.

Frontal crashes occur when the front of one vehicle slams into the front of an incoming vehicle or stationary object. The leading causes of head-on collisions involve impaired drivers, unsafe passing, wrong-way driving, driver distraction, driver fatigue, and unsafe road conditions. Although head-on collisions may seem straightforward, there are often various factors at play that can affect liability and damages. For example, a wrong-way driver may claim that road signs were unclear or not visible. Similarly, a driver may claim that they had no choice but to swerve into oncoming traffic to avoid an accident. However, these defenses may not dissolve liability or diminish the motorist’s negligence.

Those that do not suffer fatal injuries in a head-on crash often experience severe and permanent disabilities. Frontal crashes may result in traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, neck injuries, broken bones and fractures, organ damage, paralysis, and burns. Victims often experience secondary injuries from flying debris or additional accidents. In some cases, adrenaline and stress mask serious injuries. It is important that head-on collision victims seek medical attention, even if their injuries appear minor.

m_DSC_1977-2-300x253The use of recreational vehicles in Rhode Island, specifically ATV’s, has long been a contentious topic. This past January, an ATV incident came to light when a Cranston police officer tackled a motorcyclist who had pushed him. The police officer was then surrounded by a group of ATV riders and assaulted by an accompanying motorcyclist. The Cranston police chief has vowed to strengthen action taken on all-terrain vehicles and other similar unlicensed vehicles.

All-terrain vehicles, commonly known as ATV’s, are classified as recreational vehicles and their use has been an issue of concern for years to local residents throughout Rhode Island and police alike, who field complaints concerning the loud noise created by the ATV’s and, more importantly, the unsafe and improper operation of the recreational vehicles. Injuries incurred in a collision with an ATV can be serious and especially dangerous to children.

ATV Laws in Rhode Island

m_1281636-300x161Although Spring beckons, national news sources recently reported a surge in death tolls related to winter storms across the United States. In Rhode Island, we are no stranger to snow storms and the state’s proximity to the ocean makes nor’easters and winter blizzards a common occurrence throughout the winter months. The freezing rain, heavy slush, snow, and ice result in treacherous road conditions. These weather conditions increase the likelihood of a Rhode Island car accident.

In some situations, a winter driving accident is an unavoidable consequence of dangerous roadways. However, drivers can, and should, adjust their driving habits to accommodate these conditions. Motorists should make sure to remove snow and ice from their vehicles before going out in bad weather. The failure to completely clear a car can result in dangerous snow and ice flying off of a car. Further, ice and snow on a car can decrease visibility, resulting in accidents. Moreover, vehicles traveling during these dangerous conditions should increase their braking distance as snow and ice can reduce a vehicle’s ability to adequately grip the pavement. As a Rhode Island car accident lawyer, David Tapalian sees numerous clients hurt each winter in snow and ice related crashes.

The Federal Highway Administration (FHA), reports that over a ten-year period inclement weather accounted for nearly 20% of weather-related collisions. These accidents resulted in serious injuries and fatalities. Last month, Rhode Island state troopers urged motorists to stay off the road after the state experienced 18 weather-related accidents in one day. Moreover, following the series of accidents, Rhode Island Governor Raimondo imposed a tractor-trailer ban until the roads were cleared.

m_PSX_20180829_095410-300x157Anyone who has ever been involved in a Rhode Island car accident knows that the moments following the collision are best described as a blur. You may be injured, confused about how the accident occurred, and wonder what your next steps should be. This is normal. While statistics show that many drivers will be involved in at least one car accident in their life, it’s impossible to prepare ahead for a car crash or collision.

However, the minutes, days, and weeks after a car accident are also a critical time, both for your health as well as the viability of any personal injury case you may later decide to bring against any of the other drivers involved. Thus, anyone involved in a Rhode Island motor vehicle accident should follow these steps to ensure they get the medical attention they need and preserve their rights to recover financial compensation from the at-fault party. An experienced personal injury lawyer can advise you along the way.

Report the Accident

After an accident, the first thing to do is to report the accident by calling 911. Reporting a crash does two things. First, the 911 operator will send emergency responders to the scene to check you out and ensure whether or not you need emergency medical treatment. Second, when police respond to the scene, they will create an accident report. An accident report is critical to the success of a Rhode Island car accident claim because it serves as proof that the accident occurred.

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m_frange-batch01-02916-300x300Consider this scenario: You’re in a car accident in Rhode Island. Stopped at a red light, the driver behind you looks down to read a text, doesn’t realize the light has turned red, and crashes into your car. Badly hurt, you are rushed to the hospital suffering a number of injuries from the rear-end impact, including whiplash, a serious face abrasion, and a dislocated shoulder. The texting driver is clearly at fault for the crash and given a citation for distracted driving, according to the police report obtained by your Rhode Island Car Accident Attorney David Tapalian. After a week in the hospital, you are released but regular doctor visits and twice-weekly physical therapy sessions for your shoulder and neck injuries are required. In the meantime, you are unable to work at your regular job which requires heavy lifting, but thankful for the health insurance coverage your employer provides its workers.

Fast forward a month, you receive a bill for thousands of dollars from the local hospital where you received emergency medical care after the crash. This must be a mistake- you have health insurance! You ignore the bill but it keeps appearing in your mailbox month after month. During this time, you continue to visit the doctor and attend physical therapy sessions on a regular basis. Your car accident lawyer is working diligently on your Rhode Island car accident claim, negotiating a settlement with the at-fault drivers’ insurance company who has admitted fault for its insured’s negligence. Your facial injury has healed, your neck and shoulder mobility show improvement, and you’re hopeful the doctor will clear you for light-duty work soon. Looking forward to moving on from this chaotic time in your life, you plan to catch up on your rent payments once your personal injury claim is settled and you receive the compensation from your car accident settlement from Attorney Tapalian.

Stunned, therefore, is the only way to describe how you feel when you receive a notice in the mail informing you a hospital lien has been placed on your pending car accident settlement due to your unpaid hospital bills. How could this be possible? You have health insurance! Why are you receiving the bill and why didn’t the hospital just bill your health insurance carrier? According to Attorney Tapalian, unfortunately this is a situation that occurs all too often with Rhode Island car accident claims and it’s a real problem. It happens with car accident settlements in Rhode Island and in many other states. After treating an injured car accident patient, instead of billing the patient’s own health coverage, whether private health insurance, Medicare, or Medicaid, the hospital bills the patient directly. If the patient doesn’t pay up, which in most cases isn’t even financially possible for the injured person to do, the hospital may place a lien on the patient’s compensation from a potential car accident settlement claim, per RI General Laws § 9-3-4. The hospital lien requires the hospital be paid prior to the patient/client receiving any money from their settlement.

When it comes to common questions among Rhode Island car accident victims, one of the frequently asked questions involves whether an accident victim who shares responsibility for causing a car accident can still recover for their injuries from other at-fault drivers. The answer is laid out in the state’s comparative fault statute, located in Rhode Island General Laws section 9-20-4.

Under Rhode Island’s comparative fault statute, any injured driver, regardless of their role in causing the accident, can file a claim against any other party they believe caused or contribute to the accident. However, this does not mean that the at-fault party will be held completely liable for all of an accident victim’s damages. Section 9-20-4 provides that an injury victims’ “damages shall be diminished by the finder of fact in proportion to the amount of negligence attributable to the person injured.”

In plain English, this means that an accident victim’s total recovery amount will be reduced by their own percentage of fault. For example, suppose you were injured in a Rhode Island car accident and that you sustained $300,000 in damages. If, after a trial, the jury found that you were 30 percent responsible for causing the collision, you would recover a total of $210,000. This figure represents your total damages, less 30 percent, or your own percentage of responsibility.

highwayAs a result of the Covid pandemic, countless Rhode Islander’s continue to work virtually from home, a number of schools are conducting learning online, and many families are choosing to forgo vacation and travel plans and stay close to home for the holidays. These factors have resulted in much less traffic on the roads and highways throughout Rhode Island, particularly during the early weeks and months of the pandemic. Despite drivers in Rhode Islander driving fewer miles, surprisingly the state has seen a “concerning” uptick in traffic fatalities and serious car accidents this year. As a car accident lawyer in Rhode Island for over 20 years, Attorney David Tapalian has seen this surprising influx in motor vehicle collisions and injuries first-hand. The unanticipated rise in auto accidents is unusual considering the decrease in cars on the road.

Car Accident Fatalities So Far This Year

The Rhode Island Department of Transportation reported 45 motor vehicle or motorcycle accident fatalities as of Wednesday, October 29th. Only days after the announcement, three more people were killed in auto crashes on Route 95 on Sunday. In comparison, there were 49 motor vehicle fatalities total in RI last year. In addition, over 200 people have been injured in car accidents so far this year.

m_1834262-169x300At some point each day, most of us are a pedestrian, especially as we try to increase our time outdoors, and distance from others, amid the Covid-19 pandemic. Some stroll or jog for exercise, walk to school, to work, or to pick up lunch. Others are walking the dog or pushing a stroller. Being a pedestrian is a typical part of our day, especially in walkable cities like Providence, where sidewalks and pedestrian bridges are easily accessible to those on foot. Unfortunately, however, the rate of pedestrians killed in traffic crashes is at its highest in almost 20 years. According to the most recent data, 6,283 pedestrian fatalities were recorded in 2018. As a personal injury lawyer in Providence RI, Attorney David Tapalian has helped countless victims of pedestrian accidents seek compensation for their losses after they were injured by a reckless driver. Having seen such devastating injuries as a result of these often-preventable incidents, at Tapalian Law we were pleased to see the National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA) announce this October as the first National Pedestrian Safety Month.

The goal of Pedestrian Safety Month is to increase awareness of pedestrian safety to both drivers and walkers alike. With daylight savings time on the horizon, daylight hours will decrease and pedestrians will be outside when its darker, increasing the risk for a potential accident. During the months of September to February, over 30% of pedestrian fatalities occur between the hours of 6:00pm and 8:59pm, according to the NHTSA.

Safety is a Shared Responsibility

m_o_2n6vqaKqA-300x200Normally a relaxed summer getaway for visitors, Rhode Island’s Block Island has suffered a number of tragic traffic fatalities as well as a number of serious injuries over the last month. In early August, a male teenager from Connecticut suffered fatal injuries in a car accident when the female driver, suspected of being intoxicated, lost control of her vehicle on West Side Road. Later that same week, a 22-year old Cranston man riding a moped was killed in a head-on collision with an SUV.  Most recently, a passenger was injured in a roll-over crash and the 20-year old driver under suspicion for driving under the influence. As a personal injury lawyer in Rhode Island, Attorney David Tapalian is used to seeing a spike in car accidents during the summer months, however, this season is out of the ordinary for Block Island.

This summer has been marked by tragedy and serious concern from Block Island residents and long-time vacationers. Typically, a summer retreat for longer stays, the island is experiencing visits from a higher than usual number of people visiting for the day, possibly due to the coronavirus pandemic. With vacations put on hold for most, the desire to “get away” is still there. Some are satisfying that desire with local day trips, many of whom are unfamiliar with the island and unfortunately, under the influence of alcohol while operating vehicles.

Moped Accidents

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