Articles Posted in Reckless Driver

photo_9135_20090113-300x225Since the legalization of marijuana movement began in the U.S., health and safety experts have been trying to measure the potential impact it would have on traffic accidents. Without ample past reliable data to go off, much of the results so far have been inconsistent. However, according to a new set of studies by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s (IIHS) Highway Loss Data Institute, an increase of up to 6 percent in the number of highway crashes has been found in four states where the recreational use of marijuana is legalized. As Providence personal injury lawyers, Tapalian Law feels any uptick in car crashes is reason to sit up and take notice. Our car accident lawyers see clients everyday who suffer from serious injuries incurred in an auto accident. While the latest reports cannot yet prove a direct risk caused by the use of marijuana among vehicle operators, there is a rising trend in these states and any upsurge in car crashes is cause for attention. At this time it is a challenge to accurately test drivers to determine if they are under the influence of THC, the active ingredient in marijuana. Without this hard proof, much more research needs to be done to explore marijuana use and its relationship to vehicle crashes. After this Tuesday’s election, 10 states and Washington D.C. have now legalized marijuana for recreational use for adults over the age of 21. Rhode Island has not legalized marijuana for recreational use. Medical marijuana is legalized in 33 states, including Rhode Island.

Results of IIHS Study Linking Legalized Marijuana to Car Crashes

The IIHS studies used police reports and insurance claims to determine auto crashes rose between 5.2% and 6% in states with legalized recreational marijuana, in comparison to neighboring states where marijuana use is illegal. Highway crash data from surrounding states was also compared in an attempt to control for factors like weather and economy. One disturbing find from the study is that while most drivers under the influence of alcohol are driving alone or with other adults, approximately 14% of those confirmed to be using pot had a child in the car. As Providence car accident injury lawyers, this find is very troubling. The IIHS feels this reflects a variance between marijuana and alcohol use and it appears that marijuana use isn’t reserved for evenings and other occasions when adults are more likely to consume alcohol. Experts are uncertain whether this reflects an increase in the use of recreational pot or medical marijuana for pain treatment.  The IIHS is clear however, that there is a “correlation”, a connection, between the rise in crashes once pot became legal, however it is not the same as “causation”, meaning other variables could be involved. One of the difficulties with this study, as with similar reports, is the accuracy in measuring how marijuana use impacts car crashes because law enforcement has a difficult challenge due to the way marijuana works in the body.

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.

photo_71959_20160725-1-300x250There’s more bad news for the chronically sleep deprived. Not only are they perpetually tired but also more at risk for causing a car accident. According to a AAA study, drivers functioning on less than 4 hours of sleep have crash risks similar to those of an intoxicated driver with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .12. (Rhode Island law defines a BAC of .08 or higher as driving while intoxicated (DWI)). So, an exhausted truck driver who skimped on sleep in order to reach their destination on-time may be just as much of a danger as a drunk driver on the road! The Providence, RI car accident injury lawyers at Tapalian Law know it can be difficult to pinpoint the cause of an auto accident and this is especially true for car crashes caused by a sleep-deprived driver. We do know that truck drivers are particularly vulnerable to driving while tired due to long, and often monotonous, hours on the road. Recall the much publicized 2014 crash that severely injured comedian Tracy Morgan and killed another passenger in his vehicle. The truck driver who hit Morgan’s vehicle had been awake an estimated 28 hours before the collision took place and driver fatigue was cited as one cause of the deadly crash.

AAA Sleep Deprivation Study: Poor Sleep Alters Brain Function

The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety conducted a review of data from 6,800 car accidents for the period of 2005-2007 to study the effects of sleep deprivation on driving. Only the data from drivers determined to be culpable (whose errors, actions, or lack of actions, led to the crash), were used.  Accidents involving external factors, like brake failure or poor infrastructure, were not factored into the report. The goal of the review was to “quantify” the correlation between hours of sleep and crash risk. The study found that less than 7 hours of sleep increases a driver’s risk of a crash. By far, the greatest risk of crash occurs when a driver is operating on less than 4 hours of sleep. Poor sleep affects brain function and impairs judgement. Fatigued drivers are not just “nodding off at the wheel”, but their decision-making process is also highly impacted by poor sleep quantity and quality. Vehicle operators with less than 4 hours of sleep are more likely to be involved in a single car crash. Fatalities are 3 times more likely with a single vehicle crash than a multi-vehicle crash.

Texting-Driving-Female-2-300x225It sounds dramatic, but yes, two seconds can be the difference between life and death. Taking your eyes off the road for only 2 seconds has been shown to double the odds of a car crash. In 2016, an estimated 3,450 people were killed in the U.S. in crashes linked to distracted driving. As Providence personal injury lawyers, Tapalian Law knows that car accidents caused by distracted driving can result in serious injuries or fatalities, yet are completely preventable. We see it every day on the streets and highways of Rhode Island- drivers performing another task like texting, adjusting the music, putting on makeup- behind the wheel. We multi-task on a daily basis at home, work, and school, but the truth is our brain cannot perform multiple tasks as well as it can when focused on one at a time. The result can be inattentional blindness, a lack of attention not associated with any vision defects. For example, a truck driver busy composing a text may miss a stop sign even though the sign is in plain view. The outcome may be a crash with another vehicle or a pedestrian. When 2 seconds can cause a death or serious personal injury, multi-tasking shouldn’t even be an option.

Negligent Driving in Rhode Island

Using a hand-held cell phone while operating a moving vehicle is illegal in Rhode Island. Hands-free devices are allowed per the June 2018 law, and while helpful do not necessarily equate to safe driving. Our brains are simply incapable of expertly performing two thinking tasks at the same time- like operating a vehicle and talking to a friend on the phone, even using a hands-free device. As Rhode Island personal injury lawyers, Tapalian Law knows that inattention to the road can easily result in a collision with a vehicle, bicyclist, pedestrian, or a stationary object like a parked car. Laws, common sense and distracted driving campaigns are important, but not always heeded. Drivers still struggle to avoid the temptation to text, check emails, and use social media when on the road. We must continue to spread awareness of the dangers of distracted driving, and also find solutions to lessen it with the aid of auto manufacturers and help from technology features.

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.

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_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.

photo_41811_20151002-300x208For most, Memorial Day marks the beginning of summer in Rhode Island and beyond. Commonly, a weekend filled with cookouts, celebrations and often, alcohol. Alcohol and impaired driving plays a huge role in why Memorial Day weekend is one of the deadliest weekends for auto accident fatalities. For the second year in a row, the National Safety Council (NSC) is predicting over 400 roadway related deaths this holiday weekend. With the excitement of warmer weather and an extra day off work for some, there are more people driving on the road. As Providence personal injury lawyers, Tapalian Law knows that driving and alcohol are a deadly combination and see the severe injuries related to auto accidents every day.

Warm Weather Holidays Deadlier for Auto Accidents

Car travel has the highest fatality rate of any major form of transportation. The summer holidays, including Memorial Day and the Fourth of July, correspond with a higher number of roadway vehicle accidents and roadway fatalities than the cold weather holidays. In Rhode Island and the New England area, we associate the winter time with more car accidents due to snow and ice. However, the summer holidays have a higher per day fatality rate than do Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s when considering the entire country. Winter holidays may also be associated with more air and train travel while car travel is more likely in the summer months increasing the number of drivers on the roads and highways. As it is throughout the year, drunk driving is a huge contributing factor in Memorial Day weekend car crashes.

distracted-driving-gif-from-nsc-300x158Distracted driving is an issue that greatly affects us all personally. It also affects our children, parents, and other loved ones. Distracted driving is a serious concern in Rhode Island and beyond. It is a major cause of the almost 40,000 motor vehicle deaths that occurred last year in the United States. Tapalian Law is a Providence personal injury law firm that sees the aftermath of car crashes every day. Distractions such as cell phones, texting, and GPS systems, are all too often the cause of a crash that can result in death or tragic personal injury. Perhaps most disturbing is that distracted driving deaths are completely preventable. April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month and to bring awareness to this serious matter, Rhode Island recently joined the first-ever coordinated advertising campaign against distracted driving.

“Just Drive New England”

In an effort to promote National Distracted Driving Awareness month this April, Rhode Island joined forces with nine other Northeastern states as well as Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands in the “Just Drive New England” initiative. This campaign will utilize enforcement and education to inform the public of the extreme dangers of distracted driving. Distracted driving can take place in many forms. It may be using a cell phone to talk, text, or send an email, applying makeup, adjusting a music station, chatting with passengers, amongst other distractions while operating a motor vehicle. Driving distracted can be as deadly as drunk driving, speeding, or aggressive driving, according to the Rhode Island State Police. The goal of the “Just Drive New England” campaign is to inform and educate drivers of these dangers and change their driving habits. The National Safety Council shares further information on their website about distracted driving and the “Just Drive” initiative.

photo_17210_20100314-300x199According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, over 1,000 people are injured each day in the United States in accidents involving distracted drivers. Drivers who text and drive are six times more likely to cause a car accident.  In an effort to crack down on this serious issue in Rhode Island, police gave out a record number of tickets for texting and driving in 2017. As discussed in a previous Tapalian Law blog on distracted driving, effective June 1, 2018, Rhode Island law will prohibit the use of hand-held cell phones by motorists while driving to further strengthen the prevention of auto accidents caused by distracted driving. Although Rhode Island already has a “no texting” law in effect, many say that police have not truly enforced the law and that it can be difficult to prove a motorist was texting while driving. As Providence personal injury lawyers, we know that it can be difficult for a person injured in a car accident to prove that the crash was caused by a driver who was texting unless there are witnesses, or camera footage involved. However, police are beginning to take an increased interest and statistics shown by the Rhode Island Judiciary show that enforcement of the law has been gradual, and the amount of tickets has increased over the past four years for distracted driving. This is positive news for those who have been hurt at the hands of a distracted driver.

Tickets Have Increased in Quantity Each Year 

Rhode Island police issued the highest number of distracted driving tickets thus far in 2017, with a total of 1,167. There were 216 distracted driving tickets issued in 2014, 503 in 2015, 923 in 2016, and the highest number in 2017 of 1,167. When the new cell phone use law goes into effect in June, first-time offenders will face a $100 fine which can be suspended with proof of purchase of a hands-free device. If you have been injured in an auto accident by a distracted driver, seek the assistance of an experienced Rhode Island personal injury attorney like David Tapalian. A Providence injury lawyer well practiced in car accident claims and injuries, Attorney Tapalian can counsel you throughout the process of seeking compensation for your injuries and assist you in proving fault of the other driver in your RI or MA accident. In the case of a distracted driving accident, it is much easier for you to prove fault and seek restitution for the harms caused by the other motorist if they have been issued a police citation for distracted driving.

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