Articles Posted in Personal Injury

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.

feet upA picture floating around the internet recently will make you think twice next time you drive with a passenger in the front seat of your car.  The photo shows the x-ray of a female victim who suffered severe and permanently disabling injuries in an auto accident. In comparison, the other passengers in the same crash suffered only minor scratches and bruises. Why? The woman had her feet up on the passenger side dashboard. The force of the collision deployed the passenger side airbag, throwing her foot into her face. As car accident lawyers in Rhode Island, it’s not uncommon to see one passenger in a car crash injured more severely than another. However, the extent of this woman’s injuries from a minor crash were expansive enough to be life-changing, while her fellow passengers were basically unscathed. This is all due to her positioning with her feet on the dash. The impact of the collision snapped a femur, broke a hip in its socket, and dislocated the other hip far where it should be located. In addition, she broke her nose, arm, and ankle.

Injuries from Airbags

We’ve seen a number of clients at Tapalian Law who likely would not be here with us today if not for the life-saving effects of an airbag. As a Rhode Island Car Accident Attorney David Tapalian has seen first-hand the undeniable advantages of airbags when a person is involved in a car crash. In most cases, airbags deploy at a powerful speed of 100 to 220mph. Unquestionably, some people are hurt by the airbag when it deploys. Yet, the safety benefits of airbags far outweigh the risks.

ambulance
After a short reprieve, electric scooter rentals returned to Providence at the end of the year, following the city’s approval to allow e-scooter rental companies Spin and VeoRide, a combined total of 600 scooters. As the prevalence of electric scooters has increased in cities like Providence RI, so have the scooter injuries in these cities. As personal injury lawyers in Providence, at Tapalian Law we have seen scooter accidents result in serious injury when a rider collides with a car or truck, especially if the victim is not wearing a safety helmet.

As the availability of electric scooter rental programs increased, rentals nearly doubled from 2017 to 2018. Emergency room physicians across the U.S. saw a corresponding uptick in the number of patients suffering injuries as the result of a scooter accident, and scooter injuries jumped an alarming 82%. This sharp increase in e-scooter trauma was reported in a recent study by the University of California, San Francisco. Unlike car accidents, data on scooter injuries is still in its relative infancy. However, other studies have reported similar, striking results, as shown in our Rhode Island Accident Lawyer Blog.

An easy, low-cost transportation option, e-scooter rentals can certainly be a useful tool to get around the city. However, as Providence personal injury lawyers we can’t stress enough how imperative it is that operators, especially novice users who are particularly prone to getting hurt, wear a safety helmet and take the time to familiarize themselves with the operation of the vehicle and its rules for use to prevent injury. Providence’s E-Scooter Share Program, as well as the individual rental company websites, provides information on proper use.

bike ridersHaving personally seen the crucial, life-saving consequences of wearing a helmet while riding a bike, Rhode Island Personal Injury Attorney David Tapalian cannot underestimate the importance of this simple, yet essential, safety measure. At Tapalian Law, we have a number of bike accident clients who wouldn’t be here today if not for the critical decision they made to put on a bike helmet. Wearing a helmet is the single, most effective way for a bike rider to reduce their risk of suffering a serious, and sometimes fatal, head injury in a bicycle accident.

A number of states, including Rhode Island, require mandatory helmets for particular age groups, but there are no statewide laws that require bicyclists of all ages to wear helmets. The National Transportation Safety Board wants to change that. The NTSB issued a recommendation this week “that all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, require that all persons wear a helmet while riding a bicycle.”  The question remains- should RI require all bicyclists to wear a helmet?

What Do We Know About Helmet Safety?

bike laneThe City of Providence’s decision to remove a recently installed bike lane on Eaton Street has cyclists in Rhode Island up in arms. Providence’s first two-way bike lane, newly completed in early September of this year at a cost of over $63,000, will be dismantled amid concerns and complaints by local residents, for an additional cost of $64,000.  Rhode Island bicyclists may have good reason to be upset. The majority of bike accidents occur in urban areas and as bicycle accident lawyers, we know one of the best ways to ensure safety for bicyclists is to have designated, safe cycling lanes. Clearly identified and designated bike lanes are essential to ensure safety for vulnerable cyclists and were included in the City’s “Great Streets Initiative” which proposed 60 mikes of bike lanes, including the new lane on Eaton Street.

When Bikes & Cars Collide

When a bicycle and motor vehicle collide, as expected it’s the person on the bike who bears the brunt of the impact and suffers serious injuries, which are sometimes fatal. Across the U.S., 783 cyclists were killed in traffic accidents in 2017. Despite what many Rhode Islanders feel is a step in the wrong direction with the removal of the Eaton Street bike lane, many cities including Providence are developing plans to make bicycle and pedestrian travel safer in urban areas. Bicycle traffic will increase with these safety initiatives while drivers of cars are more distracted than ever; this makes it more important than ever to have access to an experienced Providence bicycle accident attorney if you are injured. Municipalities across Rhode Island are encouraging more bicycle traffic and designated bike lanes are becoming clearly marked throughout the state making it apparent that bicycles are welcome.  Cities and towns will need to do more to make bicycling safer for everyone throughout Rhode Island.

spine xrayAs a Rhode Island personal injury lawyer, Attorney David Tapalian is aware that a spinal cord injury is one of the most devastating types of injury one can encounter in a car accident.  An acute injury to the spinal cord can leave a person without function, movement, or sensation in their body and primarily confined to a wheelchair.  The leading causes of spinal cord injuries in Rhode Island are motor vehicle accidents and injuries due to trauma, such as a serious fall or sports-related injury. A spinal cord injury due to a car accident can affect multiple neurological systems throughout the body and partial paralysis of certain organs and limbs is not uncommon. The psychological impact due to such injuries can be equally devastating.

Typically, treatment options are few and far between. However, there is hope on the horizon in Rhode Island for spinal cord injuries as a local team researches novel possibilities. Injury Attorney Tapalian’s alma mater, Brown University, and the Carney Institute for Brain Science, have teamed up in an effort to find innovative treatments for significant spinal cord injuries.

What is a Spinal Cord Injury?

slip & fall signageA recent change to the law in Rhode Island will make slip and fall cases easier for injured plaintiffs to recover. Prior to the passage of this 2019 law, insurance companies would use the argument of an “open and obvious” danger, as a total bar to the plaintiff’s recovery. With the new slip and fall law in Rhode Island, passed on July 15, 2019, this barrier to recovery on a slip and fall accident in Rhode Island, is forever removed. For instance, prior to this law a landlord that had an “open and obvious” defect due to its size or location, such as a violation of the state’s building code, may have been able to claim the person injured on their property was negligent due to the “open and obvious” nature of the danger. Many Rhode Island personal injury attorneys are in support of the new law, while others feel it will create issues such as compromising the court’s ability to resolve cases in a timely manner and generate pressure on landlords.

How Changes Will Affect the Rhode Island Slip & Fall Law

Prior to the enactment of the new law, insurance companies were able to keep plaintiff’s slip and fall cases away from the jury. Landlords and their insurance companies would be able to skirt any responsibility for your injury, if they could convince a judge that the danger was open and obvious. That is, defense counsel would file a motion to dismiss your case with an argument that plaintiff should have been aware of the danger, since it was an open and obvious defect.  With the removal of this barrier to slip and fall cases in Rhode Island, more claims will now be able to proceed to a jury for their findings of defendant’s negligence.

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