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.

photo_39111_20150703-300x208In our tech-savvy society, we constantly want faster and better technology. Automakers scramble to keep up with continually updated tech demands by cramming more intricate technology options into our vehicles. Cars used to have only a small number of buttons and knobs. Now, automakers have upped the ante by adding as many as 50 buttons on the steering wheel and dashboard that have multiple functions. As injury lawyers assisting car accident victims, Tapalian Law can easily see how this could increase the levels of distracted driving and realize an increase in car accidents caused by distracted drivers.

Study Shows GPS & Texting Most Distracting Driving Behaviors

Programming a destination into a built-in GPS system takes drivers an average of 40 seconds and is said to be the most distracting activity for a driver based on a study by AAA’s Foundation for Traffic Safety. At a rate of 25mph, a vehicle can travel the length of four football fields during that short 40 second spurt. As Providence car accident injury lawyers, Tapalian Law knows prior research shows that the risk of a crash doubles when drivers take their eyes away from the road for only two seconds.  Texting was the second-most distracting task performed in the study. Although guidelines recommend that automakers prevent texting from being available while driving, in two-thirds of the 2017 vehicles tested, the test drivers could text while driving. Motorists already have a multitude of distractions in the car, and not just texting and GPS systems. Eating, drinking, changing the radio station, and chatting with passengers can all be distractions to a driver.

photo_39856_20150805-300x199On October 6th, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) released fatal crash data for 2016. NHTSA data reports a 5.6% rise in traffic fatalities from 2015. Collected from all 50 states and the District of Columbia, data shows that 37,461 lives were lost on U.S. roads and highways in 2016 and equates to 102 traffic related fatalities, per day. An enormous 94% of serious crashes are related to human error, or human choice. At Tapalian Law, we are personal injury lawyers who pride ourselves on fighting hard to help victims of auto accidents in Providence and the surrounding communities. We make it our duty to seek the just compensation our personal injury clients deserve.

Drunk Driving Crashes Continue to Cause Biggest Number of Fatalities

It comes as no surprise that the biggest culprit of auto accidents deaths is drunk driving, as this has long been the trend. Speeding-related crash fatalities closely follow behind drunk driving deaths. The NHTSA continually creates programs with the goal of expanding awareness of the acute risk of driving while impaired by alcohol or drugs. Alcohol-related fatalities in 2016 continue to account for a third of all motor vehicle deaths, following the trends of 2015 and 2014. Astoundingly, these accidents accounted for 10,497 deaths in the U.S. in 2016. This is especially tragic as drunk driving crashes are completely preventable. Impaired motorcycle drivers with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08 or higher accounted for the type of vehicle most frequently involved in these types of accidents, followed closely by passenger cars and light trucks. The age groups most often responsible for these fatal alcohol-related accidents were ages 21-24 and ages 25-34.

photo_1927_20060907-1-200x300Warwick police put drivers to the test last week when they conducted an undercover assessment to see if drivers complied with Rhode Island state law that requires them to stop for a pedestrian in a crosswalk. Financed in part by a Rhode Island Department of Transportation grant, “Walk Wise Warwick” was formed to create awareness after a pedestrian was hit and killed earlier this year trying to cross Main Avenue in Warwick to reach a convenience store. At Tapalian Law, as Providence personal injury attorney’s we see pedestrian injuries often caused by a driver who does not obey the law requiring them to stop for pedestrians in a crosswalk. This may be due to distracted driving, speeding, drunk driving, or general lack of knowledge of the law. Whatever the reason, pedestrian fatalities are on the rise and are at the highest number in more than two decades.

Rhode Island Pedestrian Fatalities Saw Huge Increase in 2016

Rhode Island saw 7 pedestrian deaths during the period of January-June 2016. This is a tremendous jump, 250%, compared to that same 6-month period in 2015, when there were 2 pedestrian fatalities. According to the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA), the number of pedestrians killed in U.S. traffic accidents jumped 11% last year, the biggest single-year increase in pedestrian fatalities ever seen. Alarmingly, this equates to nearly 6,000 pedestrians killed in accidents. As Rhode Island auto accident lawyers, we continually hear about new automotive safety technology designed to decrease car crashes and their resulting deaths and personal injury. It would make sense that new safety measures would increase the safety of drivers and pedestrians, however the GHSA is showing differently. They are finding a spike in the motor vehicle related deaths of both pedestrians and cyclists. In 2016, traffic related deaths went up 6% across the U.S. One might assume this increase in crash fatalities accounts for the jump in pedestrian accidents, however the National Safety Council tends to think there is something else causing the upturn in pedestrian accidents.

photo_18671_20100814-300x199Nerf guns, or blasters, are tremendously popular among both adults and children alike. Using a soft foam “dart” or “bullet”, they create seemingly harmless fun. However, some emergency room doctors are warning of potential harm after treating serious eye injuries caused by the toy guns. If you or your child uses a Nerf blaster, the personal injury attorneys at Tapalian Law ask you to take note of the potential eye injury risk these toys could cause. After all, many of us were brought up using Nerf products and still do to this day. Considering they are made of soft foam, we often consider them to be a safer alternative than some other hard plastic toy options on the market, but that may not always be the case.

Potential Eye Injury from Nerf Guns

After concern being raised by physicians in London seeing serious eye injuries, U.S. doctors are starting to take note and re-examine the safety of these products. According to doctors in London, three patients were taken to the hospital with eye pain and blurred vision after being hit in the eye with a Nerf gun projectile being used by a child. All three patients suffered from inflammation in the eye and a pooling of blood in the back portion of the eye, called hyphema. The child patient also developed swelling in their cornea and retina. The bleeding in the patients did eventually cease and their eyesight returned to normal. As personal injury lawyers, we know that minor injuries can quickly turn into major damage with life-long repercussions. Doctors warn that eye injuries can quite often be serious and can cause long-term issues, potentially the development of glaucoma, as well as vision damage including permanent loss of eyesight.

file000251845750-232x300A jury awarded $40 million to a North Providence man in what is believed to be the largest medical malpractice award in Rhode Island history. Represented by a medical malpractice attorney, Rhode Island resident Peter Sfameni was awarded $40 million, amounting to $62 million with interest, by a jury in Superior Court for errors made during his treatment at Rhode Island Hospital in 2010. Mistakes made throughout his medical treatment led to the eventual amputation of his right leg. Tapalian Law is a personal injury law firm located in Providence who is ready to fight for your right to compensation for a medical malpractice claim.

A Rhode Island Medical Malpractice Attorney Can Help You Seek Compensation 

A 2016 study by Johns Hopkins suggests that medical malpractice occurs more often than we think. Medical malpractice lawsuits can be extremely costly to physicians and hospitals. In 2015, an Exeter man was awarded $25 million, the highest award in a medical malpractice lawsuit at that time, in a malpractice claim against Rhode Island Hospital.  Medical malpractice occurs when a doctor, or other medical professional, fails to properly treat a patient’s medical condition and their negligence results in harm or worsened injury to the patient. A medical error is not always a negative reflection on a particular physician but is commonly due to poor systems within a hospital or medical office setting.  It is often due to a lack of communication among staff leading to poor patient care or an absence of safety protocols. Examples of medical malpractice cases include: missed or delayed diagnosis, birth injuries, anesthesia, or medication errors (incorrect dosage or prescription), and surgical errors. Guidance from a medical malpractice lawyer will assist you in determining if an error was made by your doctor or physician.  In the case of Mr. Sfameni, he suffered from a genetic blood-clotting disorder requiring him to take blood thinners. He presented at the Rhode Island Hospital emergency room in December 2010 suffering from various medical issues. Throughout his care for these problems, he was taken on and off the blood thinners, based on the advice of the various doctors who treated him. While off the medication he became seriously ill, suffering from severe blood clots in his legs and lungs. His right leg had to be amputated due to gangrene.

DSCN3343-300x225Rhode Island is home to over 80 certified Medicare and Medicaid nursing homes which provide a vital service to elderly and disabled patients. These facilities contain over 8,500 resident beds, 90% of which are full. As an injury law firm advocating for elder abuse victims who have incurred a personal injury in a nursing home, at Tapalian Law we find it unsettling that a recent review by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services found 33 states failed to report incidents of potential abuse or neglect in skilled nursing facilities, as required by Federal Law. The probe discovered more than 1 in 4 cases of possible nursing home abuse allegedly went unreported to police.

Federal Law requires immediate notification of instances of physical or sexual abuse against nursing home patients. Nursing homes should be a comfort to residents who need the medical care, daily assistance, and social opportunities offered by these types of facilities. A nursing home shouldn’t be a frightening experience fraught with elderly abuse and neglect. Tapalian Law is a personal injury law firm helping victims of nursing home neglect and abuse and their families. We realize that nursing homes are a critical element in the lives of many Rhode Island residents and provide a vital service to elderly or disabled patients and their loved ones.

Report Findings by Department of Health and Human Services

Texting-Driving-Female-300x225Effective June 1, 2018, Rhode Island law will prohibit the use of hand-held cell phones while driving in a move to prevent accidents caused by distracted driving. The new law will further the distracted driving laws Rhode Island put into effect in 2011 making it illegal to send, read, or compose text messages while driving. Since the “no texting” ban went into effect, police officers across Rhode Island have issued hundreds of tickets for violations, with few issued for repeat offenders.  As a personal injury law firm, Tapalian Law hopes the existing ban on texting and the cell phone ban coming forth in 2018, will contribute to a decrease in severe injuries and tragic deaths due to car accidents caused by distracted driving. Interestingly, the majority of drivers agree that distracted driving is the biggest cause of auto accidents and should be illegal, according to an online study by Progressive Insurance, but many drivers still knowingly do it.

Key Findings from Progressive Distracted Driving Study

Not surprisingly, teenagers make up the largest group of drivers reported as distracted at the time of a fatal crash. In fact, the American Automobile Association (AAA) released a report earlier this year that states millennials exhibit the riskiest driving behavior of all age groups. The Progressive study reports 62% of 18-34 years old’s are very, or somewhat, confident in their ability to text while driving, even though 64% agree that using a phone to text while driving is a main cause of car accidents. Only 6% of those ages 55 and older feel comfortable in their ability to safely text and drive. More men than woman feel “very confident” in their ability to text while driving, even though the majority of men and woman agree it should not be allowed. 

photo_61182_20160204-300x262The U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill last week that would speed the introduction of self-driving cars to the road. Following a rise in deadly car crashes in recent years after a decline, proponents say that self-driving vehicles could help remove the human error factor that causes about 94% of fatal car crashes in the U.S. each year. As personal injury attorneys who help injured car accident victims daily and see the gravity of serious vehicle accidents, we realize finding a way to eliminate the bulk of car crashes, collisions and related injuries and deaths would be tremendous. Police in Providence and throughout Rhode Island respond to vehicle accidents with injured victims multiple times a day due to distracted driving and human error. Is it really possible to remove all human error from driving with self-driving cars and greatly lessen crashes and save lives?

SELF DRIVE Act

The SELF DRIVE Act (Safely Ensuring Lives Future Deployment and Research in Vehicle Evolution) passed through the House with a two-thirds vote. In summary, the proposed bill would give the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) the power to regulate the design, construction, and performance, of self-driving vehicles. The NHTSA is responsible for doing so now for driver-operated vehicles.  Individual states, including Rhode Island and Massachusetts, would keep the authority to dictate vehicle registration and licensing. The NHTSA would be given a timeline to come up with safety rules and performance standards that automakers must meet for the autonomous vehicles. The vehicle manufacturers would be required to provide a plan for how its passenger’s privacy would be protected- for example, where does the passenger travel to each day and what are its driving style preferences? How will this information be kept private? The legislation would also increase on a yearly basis the number of autonomous cars that are able to travel and be tested on public roads.

file371243652775-300x200The U.S. restaurant industry is a booming business, including in Rhode Island, and employs about 10% of the overall workforce. Given its large size and number of staff, it’s no surprise that workplace injuries are a common, and inevitable occurrence. Cuts, burns, and slip & falls are common injuries for those employed in restaurants. As Rhode Island personal injury attorneys, Tapalian Law has assisted many clients injured in the workplace with their workers compensation claims. Fortunately, the bulk of restaurant injuries and accidents, though common, are of low severity and only require minor medical care. However, more severe injuries can prove to be very costly, not only monetarily, but also physically and mentally, to the injured. A serious workplace injury will often include multitudes of medical bills, hospital expenses, and wages lost from time out of work.

Why Are Restaurant Employee Injuries So Prevalent?

Anyone who has worked in the Rhode Island restaurant industry knows how fast-paced it is. Whether working as a server or bartender, or in the kitchen, potential harm lurks everywhere. Common worker injuries in the kitchen are burns, especially in restaurants where food is fried. Hot fryer oil can cause second and third degree burns resulting in permanent injury needing extensive care. Not only can hot oil splash while cooking, but spilled oil is slippery and can lead to slip & falls. Slip & falls, sprains, and strains from heavy lifting of boxes or deliveries, can be quite serious and require a long rehabilitation process and physical therapy. As any restaurant employee knows, food prep is a daily task and slicing, dicing, and cutting by both kitchen staff and servers constitutes a great number of kitchen-related mishaps as well. Cuts can be minor but if deep or infected, can quickly become grave.  Although only 2 percent of restaurant workplace injuries are considered severe, according to the National Restaurant Association these cases can incur workers compensation claims of $100,000 or more. Incidentally, California has a much higher rate of serious restaurant workplace injuries than average, 31% of accidents are severe, according to a 2015 Workers Compensation Best Practices Report.

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