snowy-mailbox-300x169The most common reason for emergency room visits? Slip and fall accidents. Over a million visitors frequent the ER each year as a result of a slip, trip, or fall. The Providence personal injury lawyers at Tapalian Law know just how serious a personal injury that results from a slip and fall accident can be.  Winter snow and ice make for more frequent, and dangerous, slip and fall injuries specifically to us in the Rhode Island and Massachusetts area. But not everyone can stay inside and cozy up in a snowstorm. A number of occupations must continue to work despite poor weather including police officers, firefighters, and medical personnel. We also count on postal workers for important home and business mail and package deliveries. Postal employees who deliver mail are particularly vulnerable to the threat of slip and fall accidents caused by snow and icy conditions. If you have been injured at work or at home in a slip, trip, or fall in Rhode Island or Massachusetts, contact Providence personal injury attorney David Tapalian to see if you are eligible to seek compensation for your injuries. Visit our Rhode Island Accident Lawyer Blog for ways to prevent slip and fall incidents and steps to take after a slip and fall accident.

USPS Asks Customers for Help to Prevent Slip & Fall Injuries

Due to an abundance of postal delivery employees who suffer from slip and fall accidents each winter, the United States Postal Service (USPS) is asking customers for help during the wintry weather. The USPS asks customers in Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and other areas hit hard by winter conditions to keep walkways, sidewalks, and areas around mailboxes clear of snow and ice to help prevent a fall. Customers are requested to shovel, sand, and ice their walkways, sidewalks, and surrounding mailbox area, as necessary to assist deliveries made on foot. If your mail is delivered by a mail truck, customers are asked to clear enough snow from around the mailbox to allow the mail truck safe delivery access. Postal delivery employees don’t want to inconvenience customers by skipping a delivery, however if conditions are not clear or safe to deliver on foot or by mail truck, the workers are instructed to skip the delivery and hold onto the mail or packages until safety conditions improve.

photo_27694_20130907-300x200Motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death for Rhode Island teenagers aged 15-17 and the leading cause of fatality and injury for adolescents nationwide. Over the year’s vehicle safety has improved tremendously, but teenage drivers have not. In fact, the first year with a license is the most dangerous period in a driver’s life, according to AAA. The Providence personal injury lawyers at Tapalian Law focus on helping the victims of auto accident injuries and often the accidents resulting in fatalities or serious injury involve teenage drivers. We know from experience, and statistics show, that new teen drivers have a high likelihood of experiencing a crash or “close call” as newly licensed motor vehicle operators. Newly licensed teen drivers are also four times more likely to engage in risky road behaviors like sudden acceleration, abrupt braking, and hard turns.  Couple the impulsiveness and inexperience of adolescence with a near-constant need for technology, and a recipe for disaster is created for teen drivers in Providence, Rhode Island and beyond.

Lack of Judgement Common Culprit in Teen Crashes

Crash investigations commonly show the cause of teenage car crashes is not a lack of skill, but a lack of judgement. Responsible driving requires good judgement, a solid attention span, the ability to juggle and prioritize multiple functions, and shrewd decision-making skills. Biologically speaking, these are not yet a concrete part of the skillsets of most still-maturing teenagers. However, with gained experience teenage drivers can learn to be safer. As a RI accident injury lawyer, Attorney David Tapalian witnesses the huge impact distracted driving has on car accidents. Rhode Island law prohibits hand-held cell phone use while driving. The cell phone law is even more specific pertaining to new drivers under the age of 18.  In the Ocean State, vehicle operators under age 18 are banned from using any kind of wireless communication device while driving, including all handheld and hands-free cell phones and text messaging devices. Despite the illegality, motor vehicle lawyers know from first-hand knowledge, adults and teenagers alike still text and chat on a cell phone while driving, as mentioned in our Rhode Island Accident Lawyer Blog. According to a survey by AAA, almost 70% of teenage drivers admit to talking on a cell phone and over half admit to reading a text message while operating a vehicle in the past 30 days.  Almost all adolescent drivers admit to keeping their cell phone turned on while driving a car.

photo_116565_20180829-300x157Car insurance is an expensive purchase, particularly for Rhode Island drivers. If you own a vehicle, it’s inevitable. Ranked #4 in a 2018 car insurance rate comparison by state, Rhode Island has the fourth highest car insurance premiums in the Nation. With an average yearly premium of $1,852, it’s helpful to know how the price is determined when making such a significant purchase.  At Tapalian Law, we truly know the importance of having suitable car insurance coverage, as we explored in a recent Rhode Island Accident Lawyer Blog. But why are car insurance premiums in Rhode Island 36% above the national average? Little Rhody may be the smallest state, but we are well populated and pack a lot of drivers into such a small area. Providence personal injury lawyers know that more drivers on the road will almost inevitably lead to more crashes. More accidents lead to more insurance claims, hereby bumping up car insurance rates. Whether you are looking to insure a new teenage driver or shopping around for new car insurance for yourself, its good to know what to expect when price shopping car insurance in Rhode Island.

How are Car Insurance Rates Determined?

Auto insurance premiums vary from state to state and from company to company but there are a multitude of similarities among them.  Vehicle insurance providers determine your premium based on a number of risk factors. Some of these risk factors you can control, some you cannot.

car insurance onlineOnline shopping is a huge time saver. It’s the place most of us go to research and price compare purchases from baby strollers to computers to refrigerators. Information is quick, easily accessible, and the research and purchase can be done right from home in your pajamas. So how about buying auto insurance online? Commercials advertise free, online insurance quotes all the time. How difficult can it be to buy car insurance online? As Providence auto accident lawyers, we deal with insurance companies every single day, but we understand for most people wading through the fine details of car insurance, deductibles, and legal jargon can be a frustrating ordeal. The ease of being able to comparison-shop and obtain auto insurance online sounds appealing.  Tapalian Law knows that Rhode Islanders are involved in thousands of traffic accidents each year resulting in serious injuries and fatalities and proper insurance protection is a must. So, whether you live in Newport or work in Providence, quality car insurance is not just a smart decision, it’s also the law in Rhode Island.

Why is it Difficult to Purchase Car Insurance Online?

The percentage of American households who shopped online for car insurance hit a record high last year. However, only a quarter of those drivers actually made the purchase online, according to a J.D. Power survey. Car insurance is an extremely important purchase and not one to be taken lightly, as anyone who has been hurt in a car accident knows well.  Consumers are doing their due diligence and researching the variety of car insurance options online, but why aren’t they making the final acquisition online?  There are a few explanations but the general consensus says shopping for car insurance online can be a frustrating experience.

photo_9135_20090113-300x225Since the legalization of marijuana movement began in the U.S., health and safety experts have been trying to measure the potential impact it would have on traffic accidents. Without ample past reliable data to go off, much of the results so far have been inconsistent. However, according to a new set of studies by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s (IIHS) Highway Loss Data Institute, an increase of up to 6 percent in the number of highway crashes has been found in four states where the recreational use of marijuana is legalized. As Providence personal injury lawyers, Tapalian Law feels any uptick in car crashes is reason to sit up and take notice. Our car accident lawyers see clients everyday who suffer from serious injuries incurred in an auto accident. While the latest reports cannot yet prove a direct risk caused by the use of marijuana among vehicle operators, there is a rising trend in these states and any upsurge in car crashes is cause for attention. At this time it is a challenge to accurately test drivers to determine if they are under the influence of THC, the active ingredient in marijuana. Without this hard proof, much more research needs to be done to explore marijuana use and its relationship to vehicle crashes. After this Tuesday’s election, 10 states and Washington D.C. have now legalized marijuana for recreational use for adults over the age of 21. Rhode Island has not legalized marijuana for recreational use. Medical marijuana is legalized in 33 states, including Rhode Island.

Results of IIHS Study Linking Legalized Marijuana to Car Crashes

The IIHS studies used police reports and insurance claims to determine auto crashes rose between 5.2% and 6% in states with legalized recreational marijuana, in comparison to neighboring states where marijuana use is illegal. Highway crash data from surrounding states was also compared in an attempt to control for factors like weather and economy. One disturbing find from the study is that while most drivers under the influence of alcohol are driving alone or with other adults, approximately 14% of those confirmed to be using pot had a child in the car. As Providence car accident injury lawyers, this find is very troubling. The IIHS feels this reflects a variance between marijuana and alcohol use and it appears that marijuana use isn’t reserved for evenings and other occasions when adults are more likely to consume alcohol. Experts are uncertain whether this reflects an increase in the use of recreational pot or medical marijuana for pain treatment.  The IIHS is clear however, that there is a “correlation”, a connection, between the rise in crashes once pot became legal, however it is not the same as “causation”, meaning other variables could be involved. One of the difficulties with this study, as with similar reports, is the accuracy in measuring how marijuana use impacts car crashes because law enforcement has a difficult challenge due to the way marijuana works in the body.

file0001091226410-300x170Bicycles are gaining popularity, especially in urban areas like Providence. With the recent arrival of the city’s first bike-share program, JUMP Bikes, city residents and visitors are now offered an environmentally friendly, heart-healthy, and affordable way to navigate Providence to explore for fun or commute to work or school. The bicycle accident injury lawyers at Tapalian Law see bike accident clients on a regular basis who have been hit by a car and suffer from slight to life-threatening personal injury. As with all modes of transportation, there’s always some negative with the positive. Cycling is great for the atmosphere and our bodies but is also accompanied by the risk of serious personal injury, most frequently from cars or trucks. Getting “doored” is a frequent occurrence to bicyclists.  A “dooring” is a type of collision where a cyclist is struck by a vehicle door that was opened without checking the side view mirror for approaching bicyclists.  Motorcyclists can also fall victim to door related accidents. Due to the lack of physical protection, bicyclists and motorcyclists can suffer significant bodily harm when involved in an accident. 

Injuries from Bicycle Accidents

At the time of a “dooring” bicycle crash, you may feel shock as well as a rush of adrenaline and injuries may not be instantly visible. You might feel bumped or bruised, but are able to get up and walk away. It is imperative to seek immediate medical attention, no matter how you feel. Inner injuries, like internal bleeding, can go undetected and without proper medical treatment can turn fatal. Bicyclists can suffer from traumatic brain injuries, especially if not wearing a proper safety helmet. Broken bones, lacerations, chipped teeth, serious bruising, road rash, and spinal cord injuries can all happen during a bike accident. If a person on a bicycle gets hits by a door, the impact might throw them into oncoming traffic causing them to get hit by a passing vehicle. Cyclists may also see a car door opening upon approach and swerve into moving traffic to avoid getting hit by the door. In 2016, a Cambridge, Massachusetts bicyclist died when a motorist opened their car door, causing the woman to veer into traffic where she was struck and killed by a truck. In a recent Rhode Island Accident Lawyer Blog, Tapalian Law explained the “Dutch Reach”, a habit that motorists can adapt when exiting a vehicle to prevent and avoid “dooring” accidents.

71-DSC_7273-300x240Bicyclists abound around Providence. With the launch of the city’s first bike-share program, more bikes are appearing on the streets of Rhode Island’s capital. It’s a great boost for rider’s health and a plus for the environment. It will take automobiles awhile to get used to sharing the road with more bicyclists, and both drivers and cyclists alike will need to heed extra caution. The personal injury lawyers at Tapalian Law in Providence see severe injuries occur to bicyclists when they collide with a vehicle. We know that bicycles are no match for a car or truck. Bicycle accidents can cause serious injuries to the brain, broken bones, abrasions, lacerations, and fatalities. Bike accidents transpire more frequently in urban areas like Providence so with the upsurge in bicycles in the city a corresponding spike in bike-related personal injury may take place. Statistics clearly show that cyclists are much more likely to be injured or killed by a car than by anything else on the road.

“Dooring”: Car Door Related Accidents in Providence

A “dooring” is a type of traffic collision where a cyclist rides into a car door or is struck by a car door that was opened without checking the side view mirror for cyclists. Dooring is unfortunately a very common occurrence among cyclists and one that personal injury lawyer David Tapalian sees frequently. It is not only scary, but can be deadly. A car driver doesn’t normally intend to open their car door to hurt a cyclist, but the results can be tragic nonetheless regardless of intention. The opened door may hit the cyclist causing them to crash head-on or if the bicyclist is able to see the door opening quickly, they may swerve into traffic to avoid the open door, thereby crashing into a moving vehicle or falling off their bike. Either way, the outcome can cause detrimental injuries to the bicyclist and to other cars, passengers, or pedestrians, on the road. 

photo_71959_20160725-1-300x250There’s more bad news for the chronically sleep deprived. Not only are they perpetually tired but also more at risk for causing a car accident. According to a AAA study, drivers functioning on less than 4 hours of sleep have crash risks similar to those of an intoxicated driver with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .12. (Rhode Island law defines a BAC of .08 or higher as driving while intoxicated (DWI)). So, an exhausted truck driver who skimped on sleep in order to reach their destination on-time may be just as much of a danger as a drunk driver on the road! The Providence, RI car accident injury lawyers at Tapalian Law know it can be difficult to pinpoint the cause of an auto accident and this is especially true for car crashes caused by a sleep-deprived driver. We do know that truck drivers are particularly vulnerable to driving while tired due to long, and often monotonous, hours on the road. Recall the much publicized 2014 crash that severely injured comedian Tracy Morgan and killed another passenger in his vehicle. The truck driver who hit Morgan’s vehicle had been awake an estimated 28 hours before the collision took place and driver fatigue was cited as one cause of the deadly crash.

AAA Sleep Deprivation Study: Poor Sleep Alters Brain Function

The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety conducted a review of data from 6,800 car accidents for the period of 2005-2007 to study the effects of sleep deprivation on driving. Only the data from drivers determined to be culpable (whose errors, actions, or lack of actions, led to the crash), were used.  Accidents involving external factors, like brake failure or poor infrastructure, were not factored into the report. The goal of the review was to “quantify” the correlation between hours of sleep and crash risk. The study found that less than 7 hours of sleep increases a driver’s risk of a crash. By far, the greatest risk of crash occurs when a driver is operating on less than 4 hours of sleep. Poor sleep affects brain function and impairs judgement. Fatigued drivers are not just “nodding off at the wheel”, but their decision-making process is also highly impacted by poor sleep quantity and quality. Vehicle operators with less than 4 hours of sleep are more likely to be involved in a single car crash. Fatalities are 3 times more likely with a single vehicle crash than a multi-vehicle crash.

Texting-Driving-Female-2-300x225It sounds dramatic, but yes, two seconds can be the difference between life and death. Taking your eyes off the road for only 2 seconds has been shown to double the odds of a car crash. In 2016, an estimated 3,450 people were killed in the U.S. in crashes linked to distracted driving. As Providence personal injury lawyers, Tapalian Law knows that car accidents caused by distracted driving can result in serious injuries or fatalities, yet are completely preventable. We see it every day on the streets and highways of Rhode Island- drivers performing another task like texting, adjusting the music, putting on makeup- behind the wheel. We multi-task on a daily basis at home, work, and school, but the truth is our brain cannot perform multiple tasks as well as it can when focused on one at a time. The result can be inattentional blindness, a lack of attention not associated with any vision defects. For example, a truck driver busy composing a text may miss a stop sign even though the sign is in plain view. The outcome may be a crash with another vehicle or a pedestrian. When 2 seconds can cause a death or serious personal injury, multi-tasking shouldn’t even be an option.

Negligent Driving in Rhode Island

Using a hand-held cell phone while operating a moving vehicle is illegal in Rhode Island. Hands-free devices are allowed per the June 2018 law, and while helpful do not necessarily equate to safe driving. Our brains are simply incapable of expertly performing two thinking tasks at the same time- like operating a vehicle and talking to a friend on the phone, even using a hands-free device. As Rhode Island personal injury lawyers, Tapalian Law knows that inattention to the road can easily result in a collision with a vehicle, bicyclist, pedestrian, or a stationary object like a parked car. Laws, common sense and distracted driving campaigns are important, but not always heeded. Drivers still struggle to avoid the temptation to text, check emails, and use social media when on the road. We must continue to spread awareness of the dangers of distracted driving, and also find solutions to lessen it with the aid of auto manufacturers and help from technology features.

e65b5845610276e0e4ebe18ba15aa1bf-300x200Following the tragic death of a 6-year-old boy this summer on the East Bay Bike Path in Bristol, RI, avid bicyclists and concerned locals alike are asking- is it safe to ride a bike in Rhode Island? It’s a particularly perplexing question for parents of young children.  Kids are encouraged to get outside in the fresh air and exercise but at what risk? We proudly teach our children to ride a bike, ensure their helmet is properly strapped on, and explain the basics of road safety. But when a child is hit by a car and killed in a seemingly safe place to ride, the East Bay Bike Path, it’s natural we are going to have apprehensions. As Providence personal injury attorneys, Tapalian Law knows not only the enjoyment cycling can bring, but also the detrimental effects of a bicycling accident. Bicyclists injured in a RI bike accident can suffer brain trauma, head injuries, broken bones, internal bleeding, severe cuts and bruising, even death. While cycling can certainly be a great competitive sport or leisure activity, it can also be dangerous. As Rhode Island bike accident injury lawyers, we see catastrophic injuries and fatalities result when a bicycle collides with a vehicle. 

What is Rhode Island Doing to Make Bicycling Safer?

The Providence Journal recently asked bicycling advocates whether they think the biking systems in Rhode Island are safe for children and the responses were mixed. Much depends on where the child lives, goes to school, and whether the traffic in that area moves at slower speeds. Overgrown trees and bushes are a huge issue for bicyclists at crossings, making it difficult for bike riders and vehicle drivers alike to see each other. Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza cites that children can, in fact, safely ride in the city and that efforts are made to plan the city around people, not cars. He added that a city bicycling advisory council provides input into bike safety as new projects are developed throughout Providence. Bicycle crossings have been installed by the Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) at various busy intersections and “Sharrows”, symbols painted on the road with the symbol of a cyclist with arrows, were installed to remind drivers to share the road with bicyclists. After the death of the young boy in Bristol, RIDOT vowed to review every spot where dedicated bike paths cross roads. The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (RIDEM) is responsible for maintenance issues along the bike path and Rhode Islanders are encouraged to contact them with maintenance concerns like shrubbery overgrowth.

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