Articles Posted in Personal Injury

photo_119204_20190212-300x200A recent state Supreme Court decision upheld a ruling declaring the City of East Providence is not liable for a teenager’s bicycle crash injuries that occurred in a city park. The incident, which took place in 2010, involved a teen who suffered a broken arm in a bike accident in Rumford’s Glenlyon Park. Then 17-year-old, Austin Yattaw, suffered a double compound fracture to his left arm after being thrown from his bike while riding down a grassy slope on the side of a stairway at the park. The front tire of his bike wedged in between a crack in the retaining wall below causing him to be thrown from the bike resulting in injury. In 2013, a lawsuit was filed on behalf of Yattaw alleging the City of East Providence was negligent in maintaining the park and was responsible for his injuries. The city is protected by the state’s Recreational Use statute. As Rhode Island personal injury lawyers, we are familiar with this term, but most people aren’t familiar with this state law and how it protects certain Rhode Island land owners.

What is Rhode Island’s Recreational Use Statute?

The purpose of the state’s Recreational Use statute is to “encourage owners of land to make land and water areas available to the public for recreational purposes by limiting their liability to persons entering thereon for those purposes”, as stated in Rhode Island General Laws, Chapter 32-6 Public Use of Private Lands – Liability Limitations. By allowing use of the land for recreational purposes, either directly or indirectly without charge, the landowner is essentially not liable and does not extend any assurance that the premises are safe for any purpose. The land owner does not assume responsibility for, or incur liability for, any injury to a person caused by an act of omission on the part of that person, nor does the land owner owe a “duty of care” to that same person.

photo_113343_20170924-300x200In light of the recent sudden, and unfortunate, death of actor Luke Perry of Beverly Hills 90210 and Riverdale fame, strokes and their causes are receiving renewed attention.  There are many causes for a stroke and although most are unrelated to auto accidents, as personal injury attorneys in Rhode Island and Massachusetts, we are often asked the question- can a car accident cause a stroke?  A stroke can, in fact, be a result of a car accident under certain circumstances, such as severe whiplash resulting from a crash.  Even a modest impact in a collision can result in whiplash significant enough to cause an arterial dissection.   An arterial dissection  takes place when the lining of an artery tears and separates from the vessel wall.  This may occur from excessive trauma in the neck area.  Experiencing serious whiplash can result in a blood clot forming at the tear site and once this tear occurs, it can travel to the brain to block the flow of blood to the brain tissue.  Though arterial dissection’s do not account for a high number of strokes, they can still cause considerable difficulties after a trauma. Aside from an arterial dissection, significant head trauma occurring from a wreck can result in a stroke taking place in the weeks or months following an injury.

You May Be Entitled to Compensation if You Suffer a Stroke Due to a Car Accident

If you suffer a stroke caused by a car accident in Rhode Island or Massachusetts, you may experience substantial lifelong damages. If you are unable to recover to your pre-stroke abilities, you may be rewarded extensive compensatory damages. The experienced RI and MA car accident lawyers at Tapalian Law know how to present your damages in order to seek maximum compensation on your behalf for your losses. Car accidents causing a stroke can have a significant monetary value and the insurance companies know this. Aggressive insurance companies will fight hard to prove your stroke was not a result of the injuries caused by their insured so they aren’t responsible. This is why you need a top-rated Rhode Island car accident attorney like David Tapalian on your side to fight for your legal rights. Following is a list of some of the damages your injury lawyer may present on your behalf after you suffer a stroke resulting from a car crash in RI or MA:

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.

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.

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