photo_11054_20090517-300x225It’s summer in Rhode Island and we’ve been fortunate to have beautiful weather. Understandably so, RI motorcyclists are taking advantage of ideal riding conditions. Whether there are more motorcycles on the road due to the warm temperatures or not, we do know that motorcycle accident fatalities are up in Rhode Island this year. According to the Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT), there have been 6 fatalities involving motorcycles in the first 6 months of 2018. This is double the amount for the same period of 2017. As Providence, RI motorcycle accident lawyers, we find this increase in fatalities concerning.

Why Are RI Motorcycle Accident Fatalities Up?

Although Rhode Island State Police can’t point to a single determining factor for the increase in motorcycle accident deaths, they do say it’s not just a concern only in Rhode Island. According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Association (NHTSA) the number of motorcycle accident fatalities have increased 60% over the last 20 years. Federal statistics show that motorcycle fatalities typically spike each year between June and September. In 2016, nearly half of all motorcycle deaths occurred in those four summer months. Car accident fatalities also rise during the summer months, especially during summer holidays, as we explored in a recent Tapalian Law personal injury blog. Although motorcycle fatalities have increased this year, motor vehicle related accidents have decreased from this time frame last year. There have been 27 motor vehicle accident fatalities through June 29, 2018. During the same time period in 2017, there were 39 fatalities. As Providence personal injury attorneys, we hope this downward auto accident fatality trend continues its decrease for the remainder of the summer.

DSC_6394-228x300After a dramatic 84% rise in incidents involving emotional support dogs, Delta Air Lines has revised its policies. Effective July 10, 2018, Delta will no longer allow “pit bull type dogs” to serve as service or emotional support dogs on its flights. The policy revision comes after a string of several incidents involving Delta employees, specifically two that were bitten by an emotional support dog in June 2017, as well as passengers being bitten by dogs traveling with their owners as emotional support pets.  As Rhode Island dog bite attorney’s, we frequently see clients who have been injured and suffer from dog bite related injuries to the face and/or body. Often, the victim is bit by a dog owned by a friend or family member, even animals that were serving as an emotional support dog. Dog bite injuries in Rhode Island can be quite severe and require hundreds of thousands of dollars in specialized medical care. Acute infection, permanent disfiguration, and reconstructive surgery may result over a period of years. Dog attacks can also be fatal.

Pit Bulls Most Common Breed Banned

Though Delta does not specify the breed of dog involved in the incidents that led up to the policy change, we do know that over 900 U.S. cities have passed breed specific regulations and pit bulls are the most common type of dog banned in these ordinances., a public education website, cites that pit bulls were involved in 66% of dog bite related deaths in the U.S. from 2005-2017. Pit bulls and rottweilers combined account for 76% of the fatalities. Many argue nature versus nurture when it comes to aggressive breeds and blame the owners, not the breed. However, some animal experts claim it is partially both. Some say the early formative years for a pit bull are very important in how they are raised and their future demeanor. Even the best dog trainer adopting an adult pit bull that was abused as a youngster may have a difficult time re-training the breed. It is noted that pit bulls are descendants of a breed that was bred to fight and some of the breed itself may be inherently more aggressive than other breeds. Though statistics show pit bulls and rottweilers account for the highest number of dog bite fatalities, it is not just these breeds that can be dangerous. Any breed of dog can bite and injure someone. As dog bite lawyers, we have handled Rhode Island dog bite cases and Massachusetts dog bite cases involving both pit bulls and other breeds. Our injury attorneys see first-hand the acute trauma that any breed of dog can cause to an adult or child.

a0b7bf6eb8febc2d57f7769bd6b44b66-1-300x260Slips, trips, and falls are some of the most common types of injury and account for over 1 million ER visits each year in the U.S.  Though most falls are minor and result in a bump or bruise, 1 in 5 falls causes a serious injury like a broken bone or head injury, according to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC). Falls are the 3rd leading cause of unintentional injury-related deaths for all ages and the number one cause for those ages 65 and older. Slips, trips, and falls can happen at home, at work, at the grocery store, or simply walking down the street. Slip and fall accidents can be particularly serious to the elderly. Falls are also mostly preventable. Rhode Island property and business owners alike are obligated to maintain safe conditions for those who are expected to come upon their property and make repairs in a timely manner. As individuals, we must hold ourselves accountable by being aware of our surroundings and avoiding unnecessary distractions that can result in a fall, like looking down at a cell phone while walking. In light of June being National Safety Month, the Providence slip and fall lawyers at Tapalian Law would like to share with you some tips to eliminate common tripping hazards and reduce injuries from a slip and fall.

Distracted Walking

Cell phones have made it easy for us to stay in contact with work, friends, and family 24/7 but they are also a major cause of slip and fall accidents. Falls are frequently the consequence of inattention or a distraction, like looking down to use a cell phone. This is known as distracted walking. Like distracted driving, distracted walking can cause injury, both minor and severe. Looking down at a cell phone while walking can cause a crash into another person, a trip down a flight of stairs, a fall off a sidewalk, or worse. Distracted walking can cause a person to unknowingly walk into traffic or take a serious fall, resulting in severe injuries or a fatality.  If you must use a cell phone while walking, stop in a safe spot out of the way of other pedestrians and vehicles to make your call or send your text to avoid an injury due to distracted walking.

Effective Monday, June 11th, tractor trailer trucks passing through Rhode Island will now be charged a toll when passing through two points on Route 95. The new tolls, located at Exit 2 near the Hopkinton and Richmond border and Exit 5 in Exeter, cost $3.25 and $3.50 respectively. Rhode Islanders may see this as a good way to create funds for fixing the oft-complained about roads, bridges, and highways in the state, especially since Rhode Island has the worst bridges of any state in the nation. But many truck drivers don’t agree and are preparing for eb0110f3db0f0937b346451ffcb7d14c-300x200a legal battle. Their argument? Truckers claim that tolling only tractor-trailer trucks is illegal.

Purpose of the New Rhode Island Truck Toll

The new tractor-trailer tolls are part of the Rhodeworks legislation that became law in February 2016 as a way to rebuild Rhode Island’s infrastructure. The purpose of the truck tolls in particular is to collect revenue to rebuild ailing bridges, followed by other transportation projects. Rhode Island ranks 50, last in the nation, in overall condition of its bridges. It is said that 22% of the state’s bridges are structurally deficient. Rhode Island is counting on millions in revenue from the toll- an estimated 7.2 million a year, as estimated by state officials. Within the next year or two, 11 or 12 more toll locations are projected to go up around Rhode Island. Governor Gina Raimondo says the additional revenue, and subsequent investment in infrastructure, will be a positive for the state leading to safer roads as well as employing thousands of construction workers. The original toll project was slated to unfold in March. However, it was delayed to continue further testing of the electronic tolling systems. These steel tower systems use sensors to charge the tractor-trailers, which often have an EZ-Pass. The tolls do not require the trucks to stop or otherwise slow down.

photo_83961_20170203-300x200Summer is here and school is out. So are the teenage drivers. From Memorial Day until back to school, thus begins the 100 deadliest days for summer driving involving teen drivers, according to Motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death for U.S. teenagers. Teenage drivers new to the road can be a risk every day of the year, but even more so once school is out. They are on the road more and are all too often the cause of car accidents. As auto accident injury lawyers at Tapalian Law, we know that car crashes are more frequent in general during the summer months than other times of year. Every summer day, an average of 10 people die in car crashes involving teen drivers. Nearly 2/3 of those injured in these crashes are victims other than the teen themselves. These are startling statistics and as injury lawyers, Tapalian Law urges those with teen drivers to share these facts and discuss with them the importance of using extreme caution when on the road.

Cell Phones & Passengers Main Cause of Teenage Car Accidents

Teenagers are easily distracted by the cell phones that are such an integral part of their everyday lives. Most teens spend a good deal of time each day texting or on social media. It is hard for them to imagine not having access to their phones. But it’s a well-known fact to us as Rhode Island personal injury attorneys that cell phones and driving do not mix together well. They create a recipe for distracted driving that can result in severe crashes and vehicle related fatalities. Findings by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute showed that texting creates a crash risk 23 times greater than driving while not distracted. Driver distractions, including cell phone use and texting, caused close to 60% of teen driving crashes according to dashboard camera surveys performed by Lytx DriveCam. These crashes resulted in moderate to severe accidents. About 15% of the teenagers were distracted by talking to passengers in the same vehicle, 12% were using a cell phone, and 11% were distracted by something else in the car, whether it be a radio, GPS system, eating, or drinking. The presence of other teenagers in the vehicle along with a teenage driver increases the risk of a crash resulting in personal injury. The risk increases exponentially along with the number of passengers in the car.

photo_1999_20061006-200x300A jury has awarded $31.3 million to an Iraq War veteran paralyzed in a swimming accident at the University of Rhode Island’s Alton Jones campus. The accident took place in 2014 and left Brett Smith of Farmington, CT, paralyzed from the chest down with limited use of his hands. The jury awarded $28 million to Mr. Smith, and $3.3 million to his wife, Stacie Smith. The amount, awarded this week, constitutes compensation for past, present, and future pain and suffering as well as future medical care. It also includes an amount for home renovation and equipment expenses to accommodate Mr. Smith’s needs. Represented by his Rhode Island lawyer, Mr. Smith claimed that URI was negligent and failed to properly warn guests about the swimming risks on their property.

Incident Took Place on URI Premises

The accident took place the weekend of July 25, 2014 at the Whispering Pines Conference Center on URI’s Alton Jones campus where the Smiths were attending a wedding rehearsal dinner. After the dinner, some of the wedding party guests allegedly asked the staff if they were permitted to swim in Loutitt Pond and received responses from the staff that it was allowed. A group of guests decided to swim, some jumping off a large rock into the water. Smith did the same but struck his head on a submerged rock while swimming underwater after the dive. Smith’s lawyer states that alcohol was not a factor in the accident.

Texting-Driving-Female-1-300x225Each year, thousands of people die in distracted driving accidents. All too often, these accidents are caused by cell phone use. As of today, June 1, 2018, a new Rhode Island law goes into effect banning the use of hand-held cell phones while driving. If you are already in the habit of not using a cell phone at all while driving, or using a hands-free device, you are ahead of the game. However, for the 600,000 or so others that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administrations projected used a cell phone while driving in 2017, this is a new habit that will need to be learned quickly. At the RI personal injury law firm of Tapalian Law, we know that distracted driving often leads to severe injuries, including death.

What Does the New “Hands-Free Law” Mean for Rhode Islanders?

As Rhode Islander drivers, we know this law has been in the works for a while. Now that June 1st has arrived, what exactly does this new law mean for those driving in Rhode Island? Drivers may still use cell phones while operating a vehicle, but they must be used in a hands-free capacity. Hands-free equipment may be a headset, earbud attachment, or a hands-free system installed within the vehicle. The following rules apply to RI drivers while the vehicle is in motion:

photo_41811_20151002-300x208For most, Memorial Day marks the beginning of summer in Rhode Island and beyond. Commonly, a weekend filled with cookouts, celebrations and often, alcohol. Alcohol and impaired driving plays a huge role in why Memorial Day weekend is one of the deadliest weekends for auto accident fatalities. For the second year in a row, the National Safety Council (NSC) is predicting over 400 roadway related deaths this holiday weekend. With the excitement of warmer weather and an extra day off work for some, there are more people driving on the road. As Providence personal injury lawyers, Tapalian Law knows that driving and alcohol are a deadly combination and see the severe injuries related to auto accidents every day.

Warm Weather Holidays Deadlier for Auto Accidents

Car travel has the highest fatality rate of any major form of transportation. The summer holidays, including Memorial Day and the Fourth of July, correspond with a higher number of roadway vehicle accidents and roadway fatalities than the cold weather holidays. In Rhode Island and the New England area, we associate the winter time with more car accidents due to snow and ice. However, the summer holidays have a higher per day fatality rate than do Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s when considering the entire country. Winter holidays may also be associated with more air and train travel while car travel is more likely in the summer months increasing the number of drivers on the roads and highways. As it is throughout the year, drunk driving is a huge contributing factor in Memorial Day weekend car crashes.

photo_89336_20170508-300x204In 2017, a $40 million settlement was awarded to a North Providence man in what is believed to be the largest medical malpractice award in Rhode Island history. In 2015, $25 million was awarded to an Exeter man in what was the highest medical malpractice settlement at that time. We often hear the term medical malpractice with large settlement figures attached. Injuries and treatment resulting from medical malpractice can be extremely extensive and costly. Medical malpractice cases include many complicated components and usually involve outside medical experts. As an experienced personal injury lawyer who works with Rhode Island medical malpractice cases, Attorney David Tapalian knows that a medical malpractice lawsuit can be a lengthy and complicated process and not one that an injured person wants to go through alone. If you think you have a potential RI medical malpractice case, do not try to navigate the system on your own. Consult the expertise of the Providence, RI personal injury and medical malpractice lawyers at Tapalian Law.

Establishing a Medical Malpractice Case in Rhode Island

To determine the potential for a medical malpractice case, the injured must prove that a relationship existed between the doctor and the patient. If your neighbor is a doctor and chatted with you about your medical issues one day but had never treated you or saw you in their office for medical purposes, it would be more difficult to prove a patient/doctor relationship versus your long-time physician with a lengthy medical history file for you as their patient. Once that relationship has been clearly established, the plaintiff will need to prove negligence on the part of the medical professional and ensuing injuries and damages. It is extremely helpful to have an experienced RI medical malpractice lawyer like David Tapalian on your side to successfully prove these damages.

photo_81528_20161009-300x225Keyless ignition is yet another big convenience added to our vehicles over the last decade or two. No longer having to fumble with a key to start up the car? Sounds great.  At Tapalian Law, RI personal injury lawyer David Tapalian is all for the latest and greatest safety technology and convenience features to make the driving experience safer and less distracting. Along with keyless ignition, the majority of newer vehicles have keyless entry, allowing us to gain entry into and start our car without every touching a key. But the truth is, this convenience can also be deadly. Lately, more attention is being brought to its potentially detrimental result- death or injury from carbon monoxide poisoning.

How is Keyless Ignition Causing Fatalities?

Keyless entry and keyless ignition are both automotive features that allow a vehicle to be entered, or the engine started, without having to manually handle a key. If the key fob is on the person, in their hand, a pocket, or purse within the designated distance range, the key fob can transmit a radio signal therefore allowing the car door to be opened or the engine started. On the other hand, it also allows the driver to exit the vehicle with the key fob while the car is still running. Many newer model cars, especially electric or hybrid vehicles, are extremely quiet leaving us to sometimes question if the engine is even running. Because the vehicle is so quiet, it can be easy to forget to turn off the engine and leave the vehicle running. Older drivers can be especially prone to doing so. But this is where the danger of carbon monoxide lies. If said vehicle is parked inside an enclosed garage attached to a home, the carbon monoxide can build up and seep into the home silently poisoning those inside, often in their sleep. Carbon monoxide is a poisonous gas that one cannot see, taste, or smell. When breathed in, it can displace oxygen in the blood depriving the heart, brain, and other vital organs of necessary oxygen. This can result in death. Those with carbon monoxide exposure that is not fatal may end up with other sicknesses and injuries such as headache, dizziness, vomiting, nausea, or unconsciousness, as well as brain damage. Some automotive manufacturers are facing wrongful death lawsuits or personal injury lawsuits as a result.

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