Articles Posted in Personal Injury

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 

m_woman-treadmill-run-silhouette-300x193Driven by the demand for at-home workout equipment during the pandemic, Peloton, maker of the popular exercise bikes and at-home fitness machines, experienced a huge boost in sales of their products and quadrupled their stock value.  That may soon change. This week, the company issued a recall of its Tread+ and Tread treadmills. The recall arrives amidst reports of dozens of injuries, and the death of a young child, associated with the company’s machines.

In March, a 6-year-old boy died in an accident involving a Peloton treadmill. At Tapalian Law, as personal injury lawyers, we know there is never a way to make sense of a death from a devastating accident, and it can seem perhaps even more tragic and senseless when it involves a child. Sadly, childhood injuries from accidents are the number one cause of death in kids under the age of 19, according to the CDC.

In April, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission issued an “urgent warning” to owners of the treadmills to stop using them immediately. The warning came after the commission received 72 reports stating adults, children, pets, and objects had been pulled under the rear of the machine. Of the 72 reports, 29 involved children, including the death of the young boy. At the time, Peloton fought back against the agency’s request calling it “inaccurate” but has since apologized, acknowledged its wrongdoing, and issued the equipment recalls.

m_DSC_1977-2-300x253The use of recreational vehicles in Rhode Island, specifically ATV’s, has long been a contentious topic. This past January, an ATV incident came to light when a Cranston police officer tackled a motorcyclist who had pushed him. The police officer was then surrounded by a group of ATV riders and assaulted by an accompanying motorcyclist. The Cranston police chief has vowed to strengthen action taken on all-terrain vehicles and other similar unlicensed vehicles.

All-terrain vehicles, commonly known as ATV’s, are classified as recreational vehicles and their use has been an issue of concern for years to local residents throughout Rhode Island and police alike, who field complaints concerning the loud noise created by the ATV’s and, more importantly, the unsafe and improper operation of the recreational vehicles. Injuries incurred in a collision with an ATV can be serious and especially dangerous to children.

ATV Laws in Rhode Island

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.

m_FRS330355-300x199Sales of boats and personal water craft like jet skis have experienced a boost this year in Rhode Island, a likely side effect of the Covid-19 pandemic. With social distancing in full effect and vacations put on hold, locals are looking for outdoor leisure activities to bring some pleasure and family-friendly activity to an otherwise disheartening summer. Like purchasing a bike lately, finding a boat to buy is tough with demand in high gear. With the boost in traffic on the water in the ocean, local ponds, and lakes, public officials are seeing a corresponding surge in boat accidents in Rhode Island and Massachusetts resulting in injuries and deaths. As a personal injury lawyer at Tapalian Law, this time of year is typically busy with car accidents due to summer travel. This summer, however, is different and we are seeing higher than average numbers of people injured in accidents and boat collisions on the water.

Causes of Boat Accidents

Known as the Ocean State, Rhode Island is always a popular summer destination for boaters. In particular Newport, Narragansett, Jamestown, Block Island, and other coastal cities and towns, experience high water traffic in the summer as do areas of Massachusetts, like Cape Cod. Sales of boats, jet skis, and other personal water craft have surged this summer due to the pandemic – their use also made more attractive by a decline in fuel prices.  Water traffic collisions and mishaps are prevalent each summer, but more so this year. Negligent behavior accounts for a significant portion of boating related injuries and fatalities, similar to the cause of the majority of car accident cases seen as a personal injury attorney. This uptick in boat accidents and water rescues can be attributed primarily not only to the increase in water traffic, but the use of alcohol, drugs, and inexperience.

WP_20140617_014-300x169Under very tragic circumstances, a 15-month-old toddler died last week after sustaining injuries from a dog bite attack in East Providence. The young girl suffered significant injuries resulting from a “pit bull type” dog and was transported to Hasbro Children’s Hospital in Providence, where she died shortly after. Two adults were also hurt, less seriously, while trying to intervene. This is an extremely heartbreaking and shocking situation to hear about, especially for an innocent child. As personal injury lawyers in Rhode Island, it unfortunately has similarities to dog bite injuries that we encounter with clients of all ages on a regular basis.

What many people don’t realize is that bites can happen with any type of dog, even the normally sweet family dog.  Many of these injuries are minor, in fact, the majority of dog bites don’t require medical care. However, statistics show that when attacks are inflicted by certain breeds, such as pit-bulls, they result in more severe damage, critical injuries, and fatalities. While injuries can occur with any type of dog, 76% of dog bite fatalities involve pit bulls and rottweilers.  Pit-bull’s, the type of breed involved in the East Providence incident, account for 66% of these deaths. The most frequent victims of canine aggression include kids, the elderly, and postal service workers.

Dog Bites & Children

DSCN3629-3-300x272Having been quarantined the last few months due to Covid-19, it’s understandable Rhode Islanders are anxious to get outside and back on the roads again. Traffic has already started to pick up and with the warmer weather, motorcycles are again prevalent on the streets and highways of Rhode Island.  Unfortunately, motorcycle collisions also rise as the weather warms up and as Personal Injury Attorney David Tapalian has seen first-hand, when a motorcyclist comes into physical contact with another motor vehicle or roadway object, it often results in significant or fatal injuries.  Last week, a Rhode Island man died in a motorcycle crash on the Route 146 South off-ramp in Lincoln when his motorcycle struck a curbed island in the road. Only a week prior, a Cranston man was killed in a motorcycle collision in Johnston on Route 6, Hartford Ave, after colliding with a pickup truck. Already two tragic motorcycle fatalities in the Ocean State and summer has just begun.

Motorcycle Crashes Surge in Summer Months 

Across the U.S., statistics show motorcycle fatalities typically spike between the months of June and September. Rhode Island alone reported 18 motorcycle accident fatalities in 2018, a sharp increase from prior years. Riding a motorcycle is inherently riskier than driving a motor vehicle, like a car, truck, or SUV. Not only are motorcycles less stable when there’s a need to brake quickly or swerve, they are less visible to other drivers. When a motorcycle is involved in a crash, the rider is much more likely to be severely injured, or killed, due to the lack of protection that a typical car or truck would provide. As a personal injury attorney in Rhode Island, David also sees an uptick in car accidents in the summer months, frequently due to negligence and reckless operation, like drunk driving and speeding. It’s critical that vehicle operators, on two-wheels or four-wheels, are extra vigilant about their own driving and keep an eye out for other motorists on the road.

bicyclistSome things in life you just can’t plan ahead for, like the recent Covid-19 pandemic. Hundreds of Rhode Islanders lost their lives, and our lives now, and moving forward, will be very different. Serious accidents, in comparison, have some similarities- they can be deadly, almost impossible to plan ahead for, and the after- effects are often life-changing. Take for instance, the recent surge in bike sales across the U.S., due to people itching to get outside and move again, while still social-distancing. Many who haven’t ridden a bike in years are again enjoying the pastime. Unfortunately, with the uptick in cycling, however, comes a corresponding increase in bike accidents. As a personal injury lawyer in Rhode Island, Attorney David Tapalian knows well the unexpected turmoil a critical bicycle accident can put upon a victim as well as their family. No one wants to think about death or serious injuries, but by taking a few steps prior to your next bike trip, you may be able to save yourself, and your family, some difficulties in the event you do experience a bicycle crash.

It’s Not Just You, It’s the Drivers…

Though not always the case, negligent motor vehicle operators are frequently the cause of a bicyclist getting hurt. Even the most prepared and careful cyclist can fall victim to a negligent driver. Drivers are distracted more than ever by cell phones. The ping of a text or a social media update is just too tempting for some to ignore, even while driving 60mph. In addition to technology, negligence can take the form of drunk driving, speeding, road rage, even plain inexperience. As a Rhode Island personal injury attorney, David sees an abundance of serious bicycle accidents in Providence and all over the state, caused by distracted drivers. These types of crashes are completely preventable. Why should an innocent cyclist die because of a text message?

covidAs families spend more time quarantining at home during the coronavirus pandemic in Rhode Island and beyond, there is no doubt stress levels have hit a high for everyone, including parents. The demands are constant and it’s not an easy feat for parents to work from home, especially with young children, and simultaneously provide proper supervision for a child or multiple children, work, cook, clean, help with online schooling, and keep up with the news about the latest virus precautions. As a result, doctors expect more childhood injuries to occur during the coronavirus pandemic amidst stay at home orders. As a personal injury lawyer in Rhode Island, Attorney David Tapalian knows that an injury to a child can be particularly scary during normal times, but even more so now during the Covid-19 outbreak. Many are fearful of visiting the emergency room or walk-in medical clinic for fear of leaving with germs worse than the injury they came in for. As a parent himself, Attorney Tapalian understands and empathizes with this predicament, and there may be alternative options to visiting a doctor’s office with your child during this precarious time.

Why are More Kids Getting Hurt During the Coronavirus Outbreak?

One of the main reasons more kids are getting injured at home during the pandemic is a lack of supervision. Parents are busy working from home, or at an essential job outside the home, stressed out, and short of childcare options. Naturally, kids are curious and bored with the lack of normal everyday activities, lack of sports, school, and play dates. Due to the fear of germs during the virus outbreak, there are more cleaning supplies and chemicals around the house, like bleach, and therefore, young children are at a higher risk than usual for accidental poisoning from household chemicals. As the weather warms up, kids of all ages are out riding bikes and bicycle accidents in Rhode Island are unfortunately a side effect of some of these trips. As a Rhode Island personal injury attorney, David has witnessed a number of bike accidents that have occurred over the past few months. Adults and children alike have more time to spend outdoors cycling, which is positive, but the mistake of choosing not to wear a helmet, forgetting to wear a helmet, or wearing an ill-fitting helmet, can be deadly. If a child sets out on a bike ride, skateboard, or scooter without a helmet, the results can be tragic.

man texting & walkingThe great majority of us use a cell phone on a daily basis and most of us walk someplace too, whether to pick up a child at the bus stop, a lunch break to pick up a sandwich, or walking the dog. Often, this walking time is used to check email, peruse social media, or send a quick text. A good way to multi-task while getting some exercise? Perhaps. But lately it’s become riskier as a recent study shows that using your phone as you walk is more dangerous, and likely to cause an accident, than listening to music or even talking on the phone. As a personal injury lawyer in Rhode Island, Attorney David Tapalian sees this as a safety concern that isn’t going to disappear anytime soon. Given our ever-present cell phones and the need to always feel connected, it’s an issue that effects everyone, adults and parents alike, and needs to be addressed.

Be Alert as a Pedestrian

Over 6,000 pedestrians were killed in the U.S. in 2018. This is the highest number in more than 20 years, according to the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA). While this recent study may be small and need more in-depth research, the issue of distracted walking and distracted driving is big. While innovations in safety technology have increased the survivability of victims in automobile crashes, pedestrians still remain susceptible to critical, or fatal, injuries when hit by a vehicle.

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