Articles Posted in Personal Injury

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.

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. 

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.

photo_103920_20170708-225x300Hundreds of thousands of seniors are hurt or killed in car accidents each year. More than 200,000 drivers over the age of 65 were injured in crashes in 2016, over 3,500 were fatal. Seniors are some of the safest drivers- they are more likely to wear seat-belts, drive sober, and observe speed limits. Yet they are more likely to die in a car crash than other age groups. Behind teenage drivers, seniors have the highest crash death rate per mile driven. With the population living longer, AAA researchers have found that older drivers are now outliving the age when they can drive safely by 7-10 years.  In Rhode Island alone, 20% of drivers are over age 65. The personal injury lawyers at Tapalian Law are always concerned about safe driving habits.  After all, we see clients every day, from new teenage drivers to senior citizens, who suffer from serious car accident related injuries. Our RI injury attorneys know the life-long implications car accident injuries can have on a victim. An aging person’s body is not as agile and flexible as it once was and may not heal from injuries as quickly as a younger person, further complicating the recovery process.  It may be a difficult or embarrassing topic to broach with aging parents. And that’s probably why over 80% of aging drivers never talk to a doctor or family member about it. Typically, when they do it is often too late and happens after a crash or near-collision while on the road.

Why Are Seniors More Likely to Die in Car Crashes?

Fatality rates for older drivers are 17% higher than for 25-64-year-old drivers. Seniors are more likely to die in a car crash than younger people, largely due to having more fragile bodies and underlying medical conditions that can worsen injuries and hinder recovery. But it’s not just the plain fact of old age that can impair older drivers and cause auto accidents. Many other aspects of aging can impede safe driving habits.  As personal injury accident lawyers, we see medication side effects or health circumstances frequently factor into car accidents involving older adults. Over 75% of drivers age 65 and older use one or more medication which can potentially impact their driving ability. As we age, it is common to experience vision changes, hearing loss, delayed reaction time, and mind and cognition impairment. Weaker muscles, decreased flexibility, and reduced range of motion can affect and restrict the ability to hold and turn a steering wheel and press the gas or brake. Arthritis affects half of the middle-aged population and 80% of those in their 70’s. It can cause crippling joint inflammation making the turning, flexing, and twisting needed to operate a motor vehicle and react quickly, painful or physically impossible.

lawn-chemicals-300x199In a milestone case expected to be the first of many, a jury unanimously awarded a 46-year-old man $289 million in a lawsuit filed against Monsanto Company. Monsanto is the maker of farming products and perhaps best known for developing Roundup, a popular weed killer used for decades on crops, lawns, golf courses, and gardens all over the world. The plaintiff, 46-year-old Dewayne Johnson, was diagnosed in 2014 with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a type of cancer that kills approximately 20,000 people in the U.S. each year. The jury ruled that Johnson’s years as a school groundskeeper using Roundup and Ranger Pro, a similar herbicide, on a daily basis contributed to his cancer.  As Providence, RI personal injury attorneys, Tapalian Law has heard a lot of exchanges surrounding this landmark product liability lawsuit. Rhode Islanders, and others across the country, are questioning if they too could unknowingly be exposed to potentially cancer-causing chemicals in their everyday lives.

Potential Cancer-Causing Chemical in Roundup

The potentially cancer-causing chemical at the forefront of the lawsuit is glyphosate. Glyphosate is an active ingredient in both Roundup and Ranger Pro. Numerous studies claim a link between glyphosate and several cancers, the most thoroughly researched being non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. In 2015, the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), released a report that categorized glyphosate as a probable human carcinogen. Some countries are attempting to ban glyphosate products while the state of California has added a label to glyphosate products warning they contain a chemical known to cause cancer.

scooter-300x231Providence residents were in for a surprise this summer when in mid-July, dozens of electric scooters showed up on the streets of Providence unannounced. With the newfound popularity of electric scooters to navigate cities like San Francisco, it was just a matter of time before the vehicles hit the streets of Providence. Bird, the California company responsible for bringing the scooters to Providence, say they want to offer affordable, environmentally friendly vehicle options to communities.  The easily accessible vehicles, available through an app for $1 plus .15/minute, were a novelty with many interested in trying them if not just for the curiosity factor. But, just as quickly as they appeared and local residents got used to seeing them around, the scooters disappeared just a few weeks later due to a lack of regulation by the city. Bird says they plan to return to Rhode Island as soon as they comply with new regulations set forth by the city.

Inexperienced Drivers Often Cause Accidents Resulting in Personal Injury

While many view rental scooters as a welcome and environmentally friendly addition to cities, others have some concerns. Cities where rentals are currently offered have seen a spike in emergency injuries to riders, as well as pedestrians. The main cause for the injuries is inexperienced scooter operators. As personal injury lawyers, Tapalian Law knows with inexperience comes an increased risk of injury. Just as new teenage drivers have a higher accident rate than more experienced drivers, the same is likely to occur with scooter riders. The Cedars-Sinai Emergency Department in Los Angeles states they have seen a “definite increase” in patients seeking medical treatment for head, wrist, elbow, and hip injuries related to scooter usage. Older patients are especially vulnerable to these injuries. Although Bird recommends riders wear a proper safety helmet, many riders are not heeding the recommendation. Nor are they wearing additional protective gear such as knee and elbow pads, and wrist guards. And it’s not only riders that are getting hurt. Pedestrians are getting injured as they try to avoid getting hit by reckless scooter drivers navigating sidewalks.  In addition, operators of the scooters are often wearing earbuds which can make them oblivious to traffic and pedestrians around them, adding to the potential for injury. As Rhode Island personal injury lawyers, Tapalian Law can see the concerns pedestrians and car and truck drivers in Providence have about inexperienced scooters joining the traffic flow and the potential for accidents and injuries.

photo_4556_20071230-300x200It’s a terrible tragedy no parent should ever have to experience. A 6-year-old Somerset, MA boy was involved in a fatal crash while on a leisurely bike ride with his family. The family was bicycling on the East Bay bike path on July 24th, when the fatal crash occurred at the intersection of the East Bay bike path and Poppasquash Road in Bristol, RI.  A 21-year-old Connecticut driver collided with the young boy on his bicycle and some area residents are claiming poor visibility at the site may be to blame. As Rhode Island bike accident injury lawyers, at Tapalian Law we have seen catastrophic injuries and tragic fatalities result when a bicycle collides with a vehicle. The weight of a car or truck colliding with a bicycle almost always has horrific results involving severe injuries including brain trauma, serious bodily injury, and often fatalities. Over 800 lives were lost in 2015 alone in the U.S., in crashes involving a bicycle and motor vehicle, according to the NHTSA.

Town of Bristol Had Been Warned

A concerned citizen had warned the Bristol Town Administrators assistant four years ago via email about the poor visibility at the East Bay bike path and Poppasquash Road intersection where the tragic bike accident took place. The email spoke of several near crashes witnessed at the sight. With this email, Bristol was put on notice of a potentially dangerous problem. The question remains however whether even though the Town was alerted to the potential problem, did it properly address the safety issue and if so, did it continually maintain surveillance of the area to ensure its safety continued. The Town said at that time they worked to address the issue at the location by sending the Department of Transportation (DOT) to perform landscaping to improve visibility. Some nearby residents feel further safety measures need to be taken such as installing flashing lights and reducing the speed limit to make the intersection safer.

photo_5152_20080305-1-300x225Family of two victims of the fatal duck boat accident in Branson, Missouri earlier this month have filed a $100 million lawsuit. The July 19th accident killed 17 people. The attorney in the wrongful death lawsuit says the company was negligent for taking 29 passengers on the lake with prior knowledge of a strong storm predicted. The lawsuit also claims the duck boat operators have long known that the boats had safety concerns and failed to heed recommendations from a federal agency to make the boats safer. The lawsuit names multiple defendants including Ripley Entertainment Inc., Ride the Ducks International, Ride the Ducks of Branson, the Herschend Family Entertainment Corp., and Amphibious Vehicle Manufacturing. As Rhode Island injury lawyers experienced with wrongful death lawsuits, Tapalian Law knows these types of wrongful death cases are extremely trying for the families who are struggling to come to terms with the loss of their loved one(s) and get answers as to why and how such a tragic and unnecessary accident occurred in the first place.

Wrongful Death Lawyer Won $17 million in Past Duck Boat Tragedy

The attorney who filed the wrongful death lawsuit in the Branson, MO case, Robert J. Mongeluzzi, claims the duck boats are “death traps” and “sinking coffins” and his goal is to ultimately have them banned. The lawsuit cites the operators past history of safety issues and accuses them of ignoring prior safety recommendations made by the National Transportation Safety Board, such as removing a canopy that prevents passengers from escaping if the boat takes on water. Attorney Mongeluzzi has a history of past success with a similar duck boat case. In 2012, he settled a $17 million case in the wrongful deaths of 2 victims killed in a 2010 duck boat accident in Philadelphia. Of the settlement, $15 million went to the families of the 2 young victims and the remaining $2 million went to the other crash survivors.

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