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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

spine xrayAs a Rhode Island personal injury lawyer, Attorney David Tapalian is aware that a spinal cord injury is one of the most devastating types of injury one can encounter in a car accident.  An acute injury to the spinal cord can leave a person without function, movement, or sensation in their body and primarily confined to a wheelchair.  The leading causes of spinal cord injuries in Rhode Island are motor vehicle accidents and injuries due to trauma, such as a serious fall or sports-related injury. A spinal cord injury due to a car accident can affect multiple neurological systems throughout the body and partial paralysis of certain organs and limbs is not uncommon. The psychological impact due to such injuries can be equally devastating.

Typically, treatment options are few and far between. However, there is hope on the horizon in Rhode Island for spinal cord injuries as a local team researches novel possibilities. Injury Attorney Tapalian’s alma mater, Brown University, and the Carney Institute for Brain Science, have teamed up in an effort to find innovative treatments for significant spinal cord injuries.

What is a Spinal Cord Injury? 

slip & fall signageA recent change to the law in Rhode Island will make slip and fall cases easier for injured plaintiffs to recover. Prior to the passage of this 2019 law, insurance companies would use the argument of an “open and obvious” danger, as a total bar to the plaintiff’s recovery. With the new slip and fall law in Rhode Island, passed on July 15, 2019, this barrier to recovery on a slip and fall accident in Rhode Island, is forever removed. For instance, prior to this law a landlord that had an “open and obvious” defect due to its size or location, such as a violation of the state’s building code, may have been able to claim the person injured on their property was negligent due to the “open and obvious” nature of the danger. Many Rhode Island personal injury attorneys are in support of the new law, while others feel it will create issues such as compromising the court’s ability to resolve cases in a timely manner and generate pressure on landlords.

How Changes Will Affect the Rhode Island Slip & Fall Law

Prior to the enactment of the new law, insurance companies were able to keep plaintiff’s slip and fall cases away from the jury. Landlords and their insurance companies would be able to skirt any responsibility for your injury, if they could convince a judge that the danger was open and obvious. That is, defense counsel would file a motion to dismiss your case with an argument that plaintiff should have been aware of the danger, since it was an open and obvious defect.  With the removal of this barrier to slip and fall cases in Rhode Island, more claims will now be able to proceed to a jury for their findings of defendant’s negligence.

providence car accidentProvidence Car Accident Lawyer David Tapalian recently recovered $85,000 for a Tapalian Law client involved in a rear-end collision accident where the impact caused significant damage to the client’s GMC Sierra pickup truck. Our client, a local resident, was stopped in traffic on Allens Avenue in Providence, RI when he had the unfortunate luck to be struck from behind by another vehicle with substantial force enough to bend the metal rear bumper downwards.

The crash resulted in damage to both vehicles, as noted on the police report, and the victim consulted with Tapalian Law shortly after the accident.  Despite the significant bumper damage, we knew immediately upon reviewing the pictures of the damaged truck, that the defendant’s insurance company would argue that the impact was not considerable enough to cause physical damage to the plaintiff, our client.  If the insurance company can argue that an impact was not sizable, they then argue that there is no causation to our client’s injuries when it comes time to settle the car accident claim.  However, we knew from the accident reconstruction experts that our personal injury firm in Rhode Island deals with, that this was a significant rear-end hit.

Although our client complained of pain at the scene of the crash, he did not want to be transported by rescue to receive medical assistance.  As a car accident attorney in Providence, David Tapalian always urges clients to seek immediate medical care after an auto accident, regardless of how you feel at the time. As expected, the day following the vehicle crash our client was experiencing pain and visited an urgent care center with reports of pain in the lower back, radiating down the left leg, as well as tingling and shooting pain down his left arm.  As recommended by the urgent care physician, our client tried a significant course of physical therapy.  Even with the physical therapy, his symptoms remained.  He then treated with a pain specialist with his chief complaint being lower back pain.  Our client articulated that the pain occurred after the accident and his Rhode Island physician administered two sets of therapeutic and diagnostic right lumbar facet medial branch blocks. Our client then treated with a different modality of treatment, namely chiropractic care.  Even upon discharge from all medical care, he had residual pain and his health was not returned to pre-accident status.

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