photo_16921_20100303-300x200According to the Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI), more than half of home fire deaths occur during the period of November to March, and a large number of these deaths are caused by holiday decorations like candles and Christmas trees. In fact, fires started by holiday decorations have a tendency to be more deadly than other types of home fires.  As personal injury lawyers at Tapalian Law, we know this is a busy time of year for Rhode Islanders, but we hope you find a few moments to consider these holiday safety tips which can go a long way in keeping you and your loved ones safe from injury and accidents this season.

Christmas Trees One of Leading Causes of Holiday Fires

Each year, approximately 210 fires start because of real Christmas trees, making them one of the leading causes of tragic holiday fires. The Christmas Tree Association recommends buyers look for “vibrant green needles that are hard to pluck”. This means the needles are less likely to shed and cause a fire if they come in contact with a fire hazard. One way to prevent the needles from drying out it to keep the tree regularly watered. Don’t put your tree anywhere near a fireplace, candle, or open flame of any kind. When it comes to tree lighting, using a timer is recommended to avoid the bulbs overheating. Better yet, use LED lights as they are less likely to overheat and spark flames.

photo_58526_20151220-300x272At Tapalian Law, as auto accident lawyers we often use the terms UM and UIM with our clients. The average Rhode Island driver however, may find this confusing. Though two separate meanings, they are often used interchangeably and stand for Uninsured Motorist Coverage (UM) and Underinsured Motorist Coverage (UIM). Unless you’ve been injured in a Rhode Island car accident caused by an uninsured or underinsured driver, you may not completely understand the difference between the two similar sounding coverages. After reading further, you may want take into consideration your current auto insurance coverage to ensure you do carry this type of coverage. If you don’t carry uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage, you may be at financial risk in the event you are hit by an uninsured or underinsured motorist.

Uninsured Motorist Coverage (UM)

Uninsured motorist coverage is a type of insurance coverage that protects you in the case of an accident with an at-fault driver who does not carry liability insurance. It is a form of protection offered along with your own auto insurance that you can elect. Rhode Island drivers are required to carry insurance. It is recommended, however not required, that RI drivers elect uninsured motorist coverage. As a conscientious driver, you may be taking a big financial risk to not elect uninsured motorist coverage. This additional protection is relatively inexpensive compared to your required liability coverage. If you are hit by an at-fault uninsured driver and experience injuries, your health insurance may cover the medical bills they are responsible for, however they would not cover co-pays, deductibles, and other expenses incurred due to the accident. This is where your uninsured motorist coverage would come in handy. If you do not carry this coverage and your personal injuries require a lengthy hospital stay and continued medical care, debt can quickly pile up and take a huge toll on the injured as well as their family. Not carrying UM is an expensive gamble to take.

car-crash-insurance-300x185You’ve been hurt in a car accident. After a hospital visit and incurring a number of medical bills, pharmacy expenses, and missing a few days of work, you find out the driver who caused the accident has no auto insurance. After learning this frustrating news, you wonder – what happens when you are hit by an uninsured driver? How do you recoup your lost expenses and damages when the driver has no insurance to go after? You didn’t cause the accident, so why are you stuck paying all the bills? These are questions we hear often at Tapalian Law. As Providence personal injury lawyers, we frequently get asked by clients what remedy they have after a car accident caused by an uninsured motorist. Can you sue a person who has no car insurance? Sure, but chances are its not worth your time as drivers who have no car insurance generally don’t have monetary assets either. Even if you are awarded a judgement against the uninsured motorist you will likely not end up collecting the compensation anyways. So, what other options do you have?

What is Uninsured Motorist Coverage?

Uninsured motorist coverage is additional coverage available from your own auto insurance carrier that is there to protect you if you are hurt in a car accident caused by a driver with no insurance, also known as an uninsured driver. Although Rhode Island drivers are required to carry liability insurance to cover another driver’s expenses in the case of a crash, it does not require drivers to elect uninsured motorist coverage. As personal injury lawyers, we see an abundance of clients injured in Rhode Island auto accidents and recommend you do carry this type of coverage for your protection in the unfortunate event you are hurt in a crash by an uninsured motorist. It is distressing to hear the Rhode Island Department of Motor Vehicles estimates that 15% of cars in Rhode Island are uninsured, so having uninsured motorist coverage can provide you extra protection in case of an accident.

photo_1595_20060522-200x300An Alabama jury recently awarded $7.5 million to an Army veteran after breaking his hip at a Walmart store. The incident took place in 2015 when the retired sergeant was shopping in an Alabama Walmart and his foot got stuck in the side of a wooden pallet under a watermelon display. This led him to fall and shatter his hip, an injury that permanently changed his life, according to his injury attorney. His lawyer filed a premises liability lawsuit arguing that Walmart neglected to keep its premises reasonably safe thereby resulting in his client’s life-altering injuries. Walmart was sued for negligence and wantonness and lost but said it plans to appeal the $7.5 million decision. At Tapalian Law, our Providence personal injury law firm has helped clients seek compensation for accidents and injuries they have incurred on another person’s, or businesses’, property.

What is Premises Liability?

Legally speaking, premises liability holds property owners and residents liable for accidents and injuries that occur on their property. This could be a homeowner’s or business owner’s property. When someone comes onto your property, they have a “reasonable expectation” of not getting injured. Just as drivers are required to operate their motor vehicle with a “duty of care” to avoid injuring others in a car accident, many states including Rhode Island require property owners to exercise “reasonable care” in maintaining their property for those who may come upon the property such as an invited guest or delivery person. At a business such as a restaurant, owners expect patrons on their property to conduct business and therefore need to keep the property in proper, safe, working condition. If an owner breaches this duty of care, they may be held liable for the injuries that occurred on their property, such as a slip and fall, that took place due to the owner’s failure to fix a dangerous condition on the property that they knew about, or should have known about. The slip and fall attorney’s at Tapalian Law have helped clients who have been hurt in a premises liability accident in Rhode Island and Massachusetts.

photo_90488_20170526-300x203A recent New York Times article titled, Buckle Up a Helmet to Save a Life, began “Riding a bicycle without a properly fitted helmet is simply stupid”. After seeing the aftermath and devastation one of our clients incurred after getting hit while riding his bicycle in Providence, as injury lawyers at Tapalian Law we tend to see the author’s point. A human on a bicycle is no match for a vehicle or SUV weighing between an average of 4,000-6,000 pounds. Our client was hit by an elderly woman and sustained serious injuries requiring hospitalization for over 30 days as well as a number of surgeries. Thankfully, his youth and strong determination worked to his advantage and he made a tremendous recovery. However, this was not without a robust amount of energy and effort on his part. We represented our client in his personal injury lawsuit and were able to obtain him a very comfortable settlement to compensate for the injuries he sustained in the Providence bike accident. In summary, bicycle injuries can be devastating and even life-threatening so if you are riding a bike, it is in your best interest to take any and all safety precautions you can to protect yourself from injuries.

Bicyclists & Head Injuries

As personal injury lawyers, we know that like the large majority of car accidents, bicycle accidents often take place close to home. Bicycle accidents can happen anywhere, and they do. Whether it be a leisurely bike ride down the street for exercise or high-speed training for a bike race far from home, it doesn’t matter. The Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute states that “All it takes is gravity – the distance to the ground- to cause a head injury”.  A low-speed fall can be just as dangerous and cause just as much trauma as a high-speed fall. Without a properly fitting bicycle helmet, one is much more likely to endure a head trauma or brain injury than is a rider with proper head protection. In fact, one startling statistic reported by New York City states that 97% of cycling deaths and 87% of serious injuries occurred to people who were not wearing helmets.

wet-floor-3-300x225It’s not often that we take the time to look down when we’re walking down the sidewalk, in a parking lot, or into our local big box store. After all, Rhode Islanders are busy people, why would we bother looking at the ground when we’ve got so much to do? Well, you may re-think this next time you’re headed out to the store. A recent report by CNA, an insurance and risk management services provider for businesses and professionals worldwide, revealed that half of all flooring they surveyed at test sites does not meet the minimum threshold for adequate friction. Simply put, the flooring being used in many places of business is not as safe and slip-proof as it should be. Ironically, most large businesses have fall prevention programs in place to combat slip and fall accidents and prevent injuries in their businesses, such as maintenance staff to mop up spills quickly, but often fail to address the actual flooring surface selection. The personal injury attorneys at Providence-based Tapalian Law have helped clients in Rhode Island and Massachusetts who have been hurt in a slip and fall accident.

Where Do Slip & Fall Accidents Occur the Most?

According to the CNA study of slip and fall liability claims occurring from January 1, 2010 to December 31, 2016, retail and real estate businesses present the greatest potential for slip and fall accidents. Injuries occurred most often at these sites:

clock-300x225This coming weekend marks the end of daylight savings time as the clocks fall back. With this change, Rhode Islanders may be driving longer at night leading to an increase in driver fatigue and road hazards resulting in a car accident. According to experts at Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, “any time change can exacerbate drowsiness and your body may need a few days to adjust accordingly”. Virginia Tech estimates that fatigue is the cause of close to 20 percent of automobile crashes. And sadly, this type of crash is preventable. The personal injury attorney’s at Tapalian Law in Providence specialize in helping Rhode Island residents who have been hurt in car accidents, including crashes caused by a drowsy driver.

Tips to Avoid Driver Fatigue

These tips from Virginia Tech expert Jeff Hickman may not only be helpful during the daylight savings time transition but also during the upcoming busy holiday season, another time you may be tempted to drive drowsy.

thermometer-and-pills-300x225As explored in a recent Tapalian Law blog, a Vietnam veteran died in July at the Bedford VA Medical Center in Bedford, Massachusetts while his nurse’s aide allegedly played video games on her phone. We questioned the potential of the family to file a wrongful death for medical malpractice lawsuit. When a patient incurs an injury resulting from neglect by a hospital, doctor, or other healthcare professional they may be able to file a medical malpractice lawsuit. In order to have a valid medical malpractice case, certain criteria must be met and negligence proven, as discussed in Part 1 of the blog. However, what happens when a patient dies due to medical negligence, such as 68-year-old Vietnam Vet Bill Nutter did? In the unfortunate circumstance of a patient’s death, certain family members may be eligible to file a wrongful death lawsuit. At Tapalian Law, our Providence personal injury firm can assist families of deceased victims who believe their loved one died due to medical malpractice. We also help victims who have incurred injury due to medical negligence with medical malpractice claims in Rhode Island and Massachusetts.

What is Wrongful Death?

A wrongful death is a death caused by another’s act of negligence. The act of negligence could be medical malpractice, a car accident, a motorcycle accident, or a workplace accident, among other causes. When a family member dies due to the negligence of another person such as a doctor, hospital, or drunk driver, surviving dependent’s may qualify to file a wrongful death lawsuit. Proof of injury in a wrongful death claim is essential. In the particular example in Part 1 of the blog, a wrongful death case may arise because a patient, Mr. Nutter, died possibly as a result of medical negligence. His eligible family members may attempt to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the responsible hospital or doctor. Even seemingly straight-forward wrongful death lawsuits can be complex and turn quite complicated. When hiring a wrongful death attorney, you should seek out experience. Attorney David Tapalian is a skilled and tenacious lawyer helping Rhode Island and Massachusetts residents with their wrongful death and medical malpractice legal needs.

hospital-room-300x225A Vietnam veteran died at the Bedford VA Medical Center in Bedford, Massachusetts this past July while his nurse’s aide played video games on her phone, according to a Boston Globe report. The 68-year-old veteran, Bill Nutter, was hospitalized at the Bedford VA with multiple medical ailments suffered from the effects of Agent Orange, including diabetes and a condition that could suddenly send him into cardiac arrest. Because of this condition, he was to be monitored on an hourly basis by the staff at the VA Medical Center. After his passing, Mr. Nutter’s wife was informed that her husband died of cardiac arrest and “they couldn’t do anything about it”, but days later she was informed by a doctor that allegedly the hourly check-ups had not been performed. It is unknown whether the family has consulted with a medical malpractice attorney. At Tapalian Law, we have helped victims of medical malpractice in Rhode Island and Massachusetts, and these sad circumstances sound like they could turn into a potential wrongful death lawsuit for medical malpractice.

What is Medical Malpractice?

Medical malpractice occurs when a hospital, doctor, or other healthcare or medical professional, through a negligent act or omission, causes an injury to a patient. The negligence may be due to errors in diagnosis, treatment, aftercare, or health management. According to the American Board of Professional Liability Attorney’s, to be considered medical malpractice under the law, the claim must meet the following criteria:

18556427_435655140127887_307219908854212933_n-225x300If you’ve ever been hurt in a car accident or injured in a slip and fall, you may already know the answer to this question. But if you’re fortunate enough to have never been hurt in a car crash or accident, you may wonder what happens in the aftermath. As Rhode Islanders, we see commercials and advertisements every day for personal injury law firms. But what do personal injury law firms do to help people who have been hurt in a car accident, slipped on a broken step, or whose child was bit by a neighborhood dog? As Providence personal injury lawyers, we will tell you what happens when Tapalian Law handles your case.

The Initial Personal Injury Consultation

As a Providence personal injury firm, Tapalian Law offers a free, no-obligations consultation to those who have been hurt in a Rhode Island or Massachusetts accident, whether it be an auto accident, motorcycle crash, dog bite, or slip and fall. We have also helped clients with bicycle injuries, pedestrian accidents, workers compensation as well as other practice areas. When you meet with us there is no charge. You pay no fees unless we are successful at getting you a fair and just settlement and you receive compensation. The initial consultation process begins when you contact us by phone or with the contact form on our website. You will speak directly, and confidentially, with Attorney David Tapalian who will ask you some basic questions about your accident and injuries. He will ask where and how the accident took place, the date of the accident, what type of injuries you incurred, and what medical treatment you have received thus far. You will then set-up an in-person consultation, again at no charge, with Attorney Tapalian at our Providence or Seekonk office, or at another convenient location for you. If you are too hurt to come to us, we will come to you. We will delve into further details of your claim, such as whether a police report was filed, if any driver citations were issued, where you received medical attention, and if any witnesses saw the incident. Based on this information, if Attorney Tapalian feels you have a solid personal injury claim and he feels he can help you seek compensation for your injuries, he will advise you of how to move forward. If you decide to hire Tapalian Law for your personal injury needs, you will complete some paperwork and we will begin on your injury case. However, if Attorney Tapalian believes there is not enough strong evidence with which to conduct a personal injury claim, he will give you his honest opinion.

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