Articles Posted in Car Accident

m_sailboat_toward_verrazano_narrows_bridge-2-300x234It’s not uncommon to see drivers speeding down the highway throughout the state; an unfortunate fact that Attorney David Tapalian sees the repercussions of first-hand as a personal injury lawyer in Rhode Island for over two decades.  Precariously, the speeding trend also applies to bridges, specifically the Newport Pell and Jamestown Verrazzano Bridges, as shown in a study by the Rhode Island Turnpike and Bridge Administration late this summer. Perhaps partially triggered by safety concerns and complaints of loud traffic noise by locals, the study conducted an investigation to determine how many vehicles operated according to the posted speed limits on the bridges and the results were startling. On the Pell Bridge, 70% of people were found to be driving at least 11 miles per hour over the speed limit and 66% of vehicles were doing the same on the Verrazzano Bridge. For context, the speed limit for the Pell Bridge is 40mph, but the average speed people drove was 53mph. The Verrazzano Bridge speed limit is 45mph, but vehicles were travelling 59mph, on average.

Car Accidents on Bridges 

Bridges can already be a hazardous place for drivers before speeding is added into the mix. When a motorist drives across any bridge, they are placing their trust in the engineers, architects, and construction workers who designed and built the structure. Errors can result in structural failures, even a whole infrastructure collapse. If bridges aren’t regularly inspected for safety hazards, they can incur damage that, if left unrepaired, could result in a treacherous situation. For example, if two cars collide in an accident near the edge of a bridge with a missing or damaged guardrail, it’s possible for one or both vehicles to fall off the side into the water or highway below. Visibility can also be difficult on bridges without adequate lighting, making it difficult for motorists to visualize their surroundings. In addition, car accidents on bridges frequently occur at the entrance or exit ramps, especially if there is inadequate signage or a tricky merge with other vehicles.

59cc92e4b17684dfa99766246bc519ca-2-300x179Despite a reduction in the number of miles traveled, 2020 was the deadliest year on U.S. highways since 2007. Fewer cars were on the road during the pandemic, and those that were typically drove less miles. Nevertheless, data shows that the number of deaths on U.S. highways in 2020 grew approximately 7.2% to 38,680, more than any other year in over a decade, according to the NHTSA. One leading factor for the increase is attributed to speeding.

Throughout the pandemic, cars and trucks on the highways had less traffic to contend with and, in turn, increased their driving speeds. In some states, the number of tickets issued for speeding offenses was about double that from before the pandemic. As a personal injury lawyer in Providence, Rhode Island, Attorney David Tapalian has seen first-hand the dire consequences of speeding crashes that are easily preventable and all too often result in serious, life-threatening injuries, or tragic death.

With school back in session and many returning to their pre-pandemic work and travel schedules, the speeding issue hasn’t slowed down but rather continues. Some drivers will continue their poor habits and speed for the thrill or simply because of a lack of visible police enforcement, while others do it because the other vehicles around them are speeding as well. Others feel like they are safe to drive faster since there are increased safety features in cars such as airbags and anti-lock brakes. While a danger on its own, speeding is often exacerbated by distracted drivers, leading to an even greater lag in reaction time and greater risk of collision.  Increasing that risk, some precarious motorists have taken to illegal street racing. One such event had drivers across the country competing to break a record for the fastest trip from coast to coast with some drivers travelling at speeds of over 150 mph on empty highways. Street racing in Rhode Island is an extremely dangerous concern to not only those involved in the racing, but other innocent drivers on the road, pedestrians, and bystanders.

m_FRS330539-300x199From January to early May, 23 people have been killed so far this year in Rhode Island car accidents. For the past four years, the number of deaths in Rhode Island auto accidents has increased and there are a few different theories for the increase in traffic deaths throughout the state. One thought involves the COVID-19 pandemic which saw a great reduction in the number of drivers on the road.  However, having less vehicles to contend with, the motorists that were using the roads felt like they could driver faster, and more recklessly, than usual. Higher speeds result in an increased crash risk and higher likelihood of death. As other parts of daily life return to normal and more vehicles appear on the road, unfortunately, the dangerous habits that some of these drivers picked up didn’t disappear. In addition, the pandemic exponentially increased general anxiety in everyday life, which all too often correlates with an increase in drug and alcohol use. As a personal injury lawyer, Attorney David Tapalian saw an increase in RI car accidents resulting from drivers acting recklessly on the roads and driving under the influence.

Role of the Wolfpack

Formed in 2019 and nicknamed the “wolfpack”, the State Police Traffic Safety Unit makes sure that people are aware of their existence. On a quest to decrease the amount of fatal car accidents on Rhode Island roadways, the officers ensure that they are visibly present on the highways in an effort to deter reckless motorists. A recent interaction involved an officer pulling over a 19-year-old male for trying to prompt other cars to race him on the highway. The officer pulled the teen over and began the protocol to test for driving under the influence. Law enforcement stresses the importance of going through the process of conducting the entirety of the test when there is proper warrant to pull someone over. By going through the motions, people are deterred from engaging in reckless behavior in the future, including both the person in question and those who happen to see while passing. The Department of Transportation is also expected to increase funding for the Traffic Safety Unit which will be used to double the size of the “wolfpack” and keep RI drivers safer on the roads.

m_Tesla_1-203x300Tesla is well-known for their innovations in the electric vehicle industry, notably their Autopilot system technology. Autopilot is not designed to be used solely without human input; however, many users treat it that way which has resulted in a rash of deadly accidents, and legal action, against the enormously lucrative company. Tesla claims their systems are designed to reduce automobile crashes caused by human error and distractions, which account for a majority of the roughly 40,000 traffic fatalities in the U.S. each year. However, the NHTSA has a dozen active investigations into crashes involving this assistive driving technology, and recently released a list of at least 10 fatalities from crashes involving Autopilot since 2016.

While Autopilot can help control certain aspects of driving the car, such as changing lanes, the driver must still maintain awareness of their surroundings despite stories of drivers that fall asleep at the wheel or read a book while relying on the vehicle technology to make decisions for them. These actions are dangerous as the system is not meant to be self-driving and can result in serious injuries, or death, to both the driver and innocent motorists, pedestrians, or bicyclists. Attorney David Tapalian is an experienced personal injury lawyer who helps victims of car accidents in Rhode Island and Massachusetts, including those crashes caused by a negligent or distracted driver.  If you’ve been the victim of a dangerous auto accident, call 401-552-5000 to see how Tapalian Law can help you hold the negligent driver liable for your injuries.

Recent Tesla Accidents 

file0001452955445-2-300x179Driving the roads of Rhode Island at night and another car is coming toward you in the opposite direction, do you ever feel like you’re being blinded by the other vehicle’s headlights? Typically, we blame it on the other driver forgetting to turn off their high beams, but lately it seems to happen more often with just regular headlight use. After a blinding encounter like this, sometimes it can take more than 10 seconds for your eyes to readjust. As Providence personal injury lawyer David Tapalian knows, taking your eyes off the road for even a mere few seconds can be the difference between getting home safely and being involved in a serious night-time car accident.

You may find it reassuring to know that these seemingly brighter headlights are not just your imagination. There’s no denying the automotive industry has made tremendous safety improvements over the years, including improvements in lighting technology. Sometimes, however, these enhancements lead to an alternative problem, for instance the blinding glare of LED and high-intensity headlights. There are various reasons for these brighter lights causing a dangerous distraction to drivers, one being the prevalence of SUV’s and tall pickups, as well as small, short cars. The physical placement of headlights on a taller vehicle, such as an SUV, are going to be mounted higher and when the lights shine towards a shorter car, it can be directly into the driver’s eyes. Complaints of blinding glare from these headlights have increased greatly, according to the NHTSA. Being that over half of the nation’s motor vehicle accidents happen in the dark, as a personal injury law firm helping Rhode Island car accident victims, we feel it’s a crucial element for drivers to be aware of. 

Reasons for the Blinding Glare

468bddc63e662ecf3a104b26db86c196-300x206Head-on collisions, also known as front impact collisions, are among the most deadly types of car accidents in the United States. According to the Insurance Information Institute (III), frontal collisions account for around 2% of accidents, but account for 10% of motor vehicle accident deaths. These statistics highlight the dangers associated with Rhode Island head-on collisions.

Frontal crashes occur when the front of one vehicle slams into the front of an incoming vehicle or stationary object. The leading causes of head-on collisions involve impaired drivers, unsafe passing, wrong-way driving, driver distraction, driver fatigue, and unsafe road conditions. Although head-on collisions may seem straightforward, there are often various factors at play that can affect liability and damages. For example, a wrong-way driver may claim that road signs were unclear or not visible. Similarly, a driver may claim that they had no choice but to swerve into oncoming traffic to avoid an accident. However, these defenses may not dissolve liability or diminish the motorist’s negligence.

Those that do not suffer fatal injuries in a head-on crash often experience severe and permanent disabilities. Frontal crashes may result in traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, neck injuries, broken bones and fractures, organ damage, paralysis, and burns. Victims often experience secondary injuries from flying debris or additional accidents. In some cases, adrenaline and stress mask serious injuries. It is important that head-on collision victims seek medical attention, even if their injuries appear minor.

m_frange-batch01-02916-300x300Consider this scenario: You’re in a car accident in Rhode Island. Stopped at a red light, the driver behind you looks down to read a text, doesn’t realize the light has turned red, and crashes into your car. Badly hurt, you are rushed to the hospital suffering a number of injuries from the rear-end impact, including whiplash, a serious face abrasion, and a dislocated shoulder. The texting driver is clearly at fault for the crash and given a citation for distracted driving, according to the police report obtained by your Rhode Island Car Accident Attorney David Tapalian. After a week in the hospital, you are released but regular doctor visits and twice-weekly physical therapy sessions for your shoulder and neck injuries are required. In the meantime, you are unable to work at your regular job which requires heavy lifting, but thankful for the health insurance coverage your employer provides its workers.

Fast forward a month, you receive a bill for thousands of dollars from the local hospital where you received emergency medical care after the crash. This must be a mistake- you have health insurance! You ignore the bill but it keeps appearing in your mailbox month after month. During this time, you continue to visit the doctor and attend physical therapy sessions on a regular basis. Your car accident lawyer is working diligently on your Rhode Island car accident claim, negotiating a settlement with the at-fault drivers’ insurance company who has admitted fault for its insured’s negligence. Your facial injury has healed, your neck and shoulder mobility show improvement, and you’re hopeful the doctor will clear you for light-duty work soon. Looking forward to moving on from this chaotic time in your life, you plan to catch up on your rent payments once your personal injury claim is settled and you receive the compensation from your car accident settlement from Attorney Tapalian.

Stunned, therefore, is the only way to describe how you feel when you receive a notice in the mail informing you a hospital lien has been placed on your pending car accident settlement due to your unpaid hospital bills. How could this be possible? You have health insurance! Why are you receiving the bill and why didn’t the hospital just bill your health insurance carrier? According to Attorney Tapalian, unfortunately this is a situation that occurs all too often with Rhode Island car accident claims and it’s a real problem. It happens with car accident settlements in Rhode Island and in many other states. After treating an injured car accident patient, instead of billing the patient’s own health coverage, whether private health insurance, Medicare, or Medicaid, the hospital bills the patient directly. If the patient doesn’t pay up, which in most cases isn’t even financially possible for the injured person to do, the hospital may place a lien on the patient’s compensation from a potential car accident settlement claim, per RI General Laws § 9-3-4. The hospital lien requires the hospital be paid prior to the patient/client receiving any money from their settlement.

When it comes to common questions among Rhode Island car accident victims, one of the frequently asked questions involves whether an accident victim who shares responsibility for causing a car accident can still recover for their injuries from other at-fault drivers. The answer is laid out in the state’s comparative fault statute, located in Rhode Island General Laws section 9-20-4.

Under Rhode Island’s comparative fault statute, any injured driver, regardless of their role in causing the accident, can file a claim against any other party they believe caused or contribute to the accident. However, this does not mean that the at-fault party will be held completely liable for all of an accident victim’s damages. Section 9-20-4 provides that an injury victims’ “damages shall be diminished by the finder of fact in proportion to the amount of negligence attributable to the person injured.”

In plain English, this means that an accident victim’s total recovery amount will be reduced by their own percentage of fault. For example, suppose you were injured in a Rhode Island car accident and that you sustained $300,000 in damages. If, after a trial, the jury found that you were 30 percent responsible for causing the collision, you would recover a total of $210,000. This figure represents your total damages, less 30 percent, or your own percentage of responsibility.

highwayAs a result of the Covid pandemic, countless Rhode Islander’s continue to work virtually from home, a number of schools are conducting learning online, and many families are choosing to forgo vacation and travel plans and stay close to home for the holidays. These factors have resulted in much less traffic on the roads and highways throughout Rhode Island, particularly during the early weeks and months of the pandemic. Despite drivers in Rhode Islander driving fewer miles, surprisingly the state has seen a “concerning” uptick in traffic fatalities and serious car accidents this year. As a car accident lawyer in Rhode Island for over 20 years, Attorney David Tapalian has seen this surprising influx in motor vehicle collisions and injuries first-hand. The unanticipated rise in auto accidents is unusual considering the decrease in cars on the road.

Car Accident Fatalities So Far This Year

The Rhode Island Department of Transportation reported 45 motor vehicle or motorcycle accident fatalities as of Wednesday, October 29th. Only days after the announcement, three more people were killed in auto crashes on Route 95 on Sunday. In comparison, there were 49 motor vehicle fatalities total in RI last year. In addition, over 200 people have been injured in car accidents so far this year.

m_o_2n6vqaKqA-300x200Normally a relaxed summer getaway for visitors, Rhode Island’s Block Island has suffered a number of tragic traffic fatalities as well as a number of serious injuries over the last month. In early August, a male teenager from Connecticut suffered fatal injuries in a car accident when the female driver, suspected of being intoxicated, lost control of her vehicle on West Side Road. Later that same week, a 22-year old Cranston man riding a moped was killed in a head-on collision with an SUV.  Most recently, a passenger was injured in a roll-over crash and the 20-year old driver under suspicion for driving under the influence. As a personal injury lawyer in Rhode Island, Attorney David Tapalian is used to seeing a spike in car accidents during the summer months, however, this season is out of the ordinary for Block Island.

This summer has been marked by tragedy and serious concern from Block Island residents and long-time vacationers. Typically, a summer retreat for longer stays, the island is experiencing visits from a higher than usual number of people visiting for the day, possibly due to the coronavirus pandemic. With vacations put on hold for most, the desire to “get away” is still there. Some are satisfying that desire with local day trips, many of whom are unfamiliar with the island and unfortunately, under the influence of alcohol while operating vehicles.

Moped Accidents

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