Articles Posted in Reckless Driver

uber-image-2-300x169On April 30, 2021, Will Good, a 30-year-old restaurant cook in Boston, hailed an Uber for a late-night ride home from work to his home in Somerville. No one could have predicted how life-changing this ride would be. During the commute, the driver of the Uber vehicle swerved and crashed into a parked car, the impact causing Mr. Good to hit his head on the passenger headrest and slump onto the backseat, unable to move.  Following a two month stay at Massachusetts General Hospital and an additional two months at Spaulding Rehabilitation, the Boston car accident ultimately left Good paralyzed as a quadriplegic.

As a personal injury lawyer helping victims throughout RI and MA, Attorney David Tapalian knows how critical injuries to the neck and head can be and unfortunately, many have tragic or life-altering outcomes.  A music lover who enjoyed his job cooking at Uni, a Japanese restaurant, Will Good is now confined to a wheelchair with around the clock nursing care requiring two caretakers alternating day and evening shifts.

A lawsuit filed by attorneys on behalf of Mr. Good this past Tuesday in Suffolk Superior Court, alleges Uber was negligent in hiring the driver responsible for the crash and, based on the driver’s past history, knowingly put others in harm’s way. With a questionable driving record dating back to 1996 showing multiple moving violations, crashes, at least 20 citations, and a state-imposed driver retraining, there is hardly a doubt that the Uber driver was a potential danger to others on the road.

m_Silhouette-hands-handcuffs-freedom-300x249Governor Charlie Baker continues his push to crack down on drugged driving laws in Massachusetts. Baker’s legislation attempts to close many of the loopholes that allow motorists, such as the driver that killed State Trooper Thomas Cardy, to go free of penalty for driving under the influence of certain drugs and causing injury or death. Baker’s proposal, originally filed in 2019, has been refiled and named after Cardy, who was killed in 2016 during a traffic stop by a medical marijuana patient who was convicted of involuntary manslaughter, but acquitted of driving under the influence of cannabis. As a personal injury lawyer in Massachusetts and Rhode Island for over 20 years, Attorney David Tapalian sees a tragic number of car accidents caused by drivers impaired by alcohol and other substances.  While breathalyzers provide reliable blood alcohol content (BAC) levels, accurately measuring the level of other substances, like marijuana, in a driver’s body proves to be more difficult, and controversial.

Drugged Driving Bill in MA

The aim of Governor Baker’s drugged driving bill is to close gaps in the current laws that can allow motorists impaired by drugs such as cannabis, prescription medications, and other drugs, to be held unaccountable for these offenses. The proposal seeks to expand the 12-step drug recognition expert (DRE) training for police officers to identify whether a person is impaired and if so, by what substances. The DRE process includes specialized observations of the motorist as well as measurements of heart rate, temperature, and blood pressure. The bill would also subject suspected drivers to a blood test for THC (the primary active ingredient in marijuana) and require Massachusetts courts to recognize the DRE trained police officers as experts. 

m_FRS101825-200x300Each year in the U.S., about 10,000 people die in drunk driving accidents, according to the NHTSA. In an effort to put a dent in this startling number of completely preventable deaths, Congress is making a push with an anti-drunk driving provision for new cars in its infrastructure bill. The proposed legislation, if passed, will require automakers to include technology that detects and stops drunk drivers in motor vehicles by as early as 2026. As a personal injury lawyer in Providence, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts for over two decades, Attorney David Tapalian has seen the devastation families suffer when a loved one is injured or killed by a drunk driver.

How Can Vehicle Technology Prevent Drunk Driving Accidents?

With an infinite number of safety options available in today’s newest vehicles, from sensors and cameras that detect pedestrians to approaching cars in a motorist’s blind spot, it seems logical that some type of anti-drunk driving technology would be an addition to the large menu of options. Yet, the critical question remains of exactly how to prevent drunk driving crashes with the latest in technology. The proposed bill isn’t exact, but calls for something that will “passively monitor the performance of a driver of a motor vehicle to accurately identify whether that driver may be impaired”. Studies will need to be conducted involving various alcohol detection systems before recommendations are provided to auto manufacturers.  Infrared cameras are one example, and are currently being utilized by car manufacturers like GM and Nissan. The camera looks for signs of a lack of driver alertness, such as drowsiness or impairment, and if identified, warns the driver and if need be, takes further action. Another idea tested by Volvo involves alcohol sensors that detect a driver’s blood alcohol content (BAC) by measuring the air inside the vehicle. Ultimately, the Department of Transportation will have to make the final call as to what is the best solution to put a damper on intoxicated drivers.

Night-Illumination-2-300x225You’ve finally purchased that new car. You negotiated a fair price and got the color you wanted. As you drive it off the lot, another car comes speeding along and slams into you from behind. Have you heard this story before? As injury lawyers serving MA and RI, we’ve heard it more than a few times. If you’re fortunate enough to avoid serious injury, your next concern is likely worrying about the money you just lost in a matter of seconds.

How Much Value Does a Car Lose After an Accident?

Currently, if your vehicle is damaged in an auto accident in Massachusetts by another driver who is at-fault, the at-fault driver’s insurance company is responsible for paying for your vehicle repairs. That’s well and good to get you back on the road, but what happens when you decide to sell that car in the future? When it comes to resale, you’re likely going to get less money for that same car because it’s been involved in a crash.

m_sailboat_toward_verrazano_narrows_bridge-2-300x234It’s not uncommon to see drivers speeding down the highway throughout the state; an unfortunate fact that Attorney David Tapalian sees the repercussions of first-hand as a personal injury lawyer in Rhode Island for over two decades.  Precariously, the speeding trend also applies to bridges, specifically the Newport Pell and Jamestown Verrazzano Bridges, as shown in a study by the Rhode Island Turnpike and Bridge Administration late this summer. Perhaps partially triggered by safety concerns and complaints of loud traffic noise by locals, the study conducted an investigation to determine how many vehicles operated according to the posted speed limits on the bridges and the results were startling. On the Pell Bridge, 70% of people were found to be driving at least 11 miles per hour over the speed limit and 66% of vehicles were doing the same on the Verrazzano Bridge. For context, the speed limit for the Pell Bridge is 40mph, but the average speed people drove was 53mph. The Verrazzano Bridge speed limit is 45mph, but vehicles were travelling 59mph, on average.

Car Accidents on Bridges 

Bridges can already be a hazardous place for drivers before speeding is added into the mix. When a motorist drives across any bridge, they are placing their trust in the engineers, architects, and construction workers who designed and built the structure. Errors can result in structural failures, even a whole infrastructure collapse. If bridges aren’t regularly inspected for safety hazards, they can incur damage that, if left unrepaired, could result in a treacherous situation. For example, if two cars collide in an accident near the edge of a bridge with a missing or damaged guardrail, it’s possible for one or both vehicles to fall off the side into the water or highway below. Visibility can also be difficult on bridges without adequate lighting, making it difficult for motorists to visualize their surroundings. In addition, car accidents on bridges frequently occur at the entrance or exit ramps, especially if there is inadequate signage or a tricky merge with other vehicles.

DSCN5905-300x225With the beautiful Fall weather and rise in temperature over the summer months, motorcycle riders and bicyclists have taken to the streets to enjoy the open air. More than a year into a pandemic, people are increasingly more comfortable being out and itching to do so. Unfortunately, Rhode Island has also seen an increase in the amount of motorcycle accidents in the state over the past few months. As of August, Rhode Island experienced 10 fatal motorcycle crashes.  In fact, these types of collisions are about one-third of the total vehicle accident deaths in the state. In comparison, past years have seen approximately 13 motorcycle fatalities in total.  As a personal injury lawyer in Providence, RI, for over 20 years, Attorney David Tapalian has seen the complete devastation suffered by families after a losing a loved one in a tragic, and too often preventable, motorcycle accident and wants all drivers to increase their awareness of this serious safety concern. With months still left to go in 2021, it’s important for both motorcyclists and other drivers on the road to take note.

Importance of Wearing a Helmet

Plenty of data shows that wearing a helmet can significantly increase your chances of surviving a motorcycle accident, as well as minimize the severity of the injuries suffered. This is one simple step, yet a very critical one, that motorcyclists can take to protect themselves from potentially life-threatening injury. Motorcyclists are less protected than those travelling in cars and therefore, are more prone to serious and life-altering injuries if involved in a collision. Sadly, the majority of motorcyclists who were killed in crashes this year in Rhode Island were not wearing helmets, according to Peter Alviti, Director of the Rhode Island Department of Transportation.

59cc92e4b17684dfa99766246bc519ca-2-300x179Despite a reduction in the number of miles traveled, 2020 was the deadliest year on U.S. highways since 2007. Fewer cars were on the road during the pandemic, and those that were typically drove less miles. Nevertheless, data shows that the number of deaths on U.S. highways in 2020 grew approximately 7.2% to 38,680, more than any other year in over a decade, according to the NHTSA. One leading factor for the increase is attributed to speeding.

Throughout the pandemic, cars and trucks on the highways had less traffic to contend with and, in turn, increased their driving speeds. In some states, the number of tickets issued for speeding offenses was about double that from before the pandemic. As a personal injury lawyer in Providence, Rhode Island, Attorney David Tapalian has seen first-hand the dire consequences of speeding crashes that are easily preventable and all too often result in serious, life-threatening injuries, or tragic death.

With school back in session and many returning to their pre-pandemic work and travel schedules, the speeding issue hasn’t slowed down but rather continues. Some drivers will continue their poor habits and speed for the thrill or simply because of a lack of visible police enforcement, while others do it because the other vehicles around them are speeding as well. Others feel like they are safe to drive faster since there are increased safety features in cars such as airbags and anti-lock brakes. While a danger on its own, speeding is often exacerbated by distracted drivers, leading to an even greater lag in reaction time and greater risk of collision.  Increasing that risk, some precarious motorists have taken to illegal street racing. One such event had drivers across the country competing to break a record for the fastest trip from coast to coast with some drivers travelling at speeds of over 150 mph on empty highways. Street racing in Rhode Island is an extremely dangerous concern to not only those involved in the racing, but other innocent drivers on the road, pedestrians, and bystanders.

m_FRS330539-300x199From January to early May, 23 people have been killed so far this year in Rhode Island car accidents. For the past four years, the number of deaths in Rhode Island auto accidents has increased and there are a few different theories for the increase in traffic deaths throughout the state. One thought involves the COVID-19 pandemic which saw a great reduction in the number of drivers on the road.  However, having less vehicles to contend with, the motorists that were using the roads felt like they could driver faster, and more recklessly, than usual. Higher speeds result in an increased crash risk and higher likelihood of death. As other parts of daily life return to normal and more vehicles appear on the road, unfortunately, the dangerous habits that some of these drivers picked up didn’t disappear. In addition, the pandemic exponentially increased general anxiety in everyday life, which all too often correlates with an increase in drug and alcohol use. As a personal injury lawyer, Attorney David Tapalian saw an increase in RI car accidents resulting from drivers acting recklessly on the roads and driving under the influence.

Role of the Wolfpack

Formed in 2019 and nicknamed the “wolfpack”, the State Police Traffic Safety Unit makes sure that people are aware of their existence. On a quest to decrease the amount of fatal car accidents on Rhode Island roadways, the officers ensure that they are visibly present on the highways in an effort to deter reckless motorists. A recent interaction involved an officer pulling over a 19-year-old male for trying to prompt other cars to race him on the highway. The officer pulled the teen over and began the protocol to test for driving under the influence. Law enforcement stresses the importance of going through the process of conducting the entirety of the test when there is proper warrant to pull someone over. By going through the motions, people are deterred from engaging in reckless behavior in the future, including both the person in question and those who happen to see while passing. The Department of Transportation is also expected to increase funding for the Traffic Safety Unit which will be used to double the size of the “wolfpack” and keep RI drivers safer on the roads.

468bddc63e662ecf3a104b26db86c196-300x206Head-on collisions, also known as front impact collisions, are among the most deadly types of car accidents in the United States. According to the Insurance Information Institute (III), frontal collisions account for around 2% of accidents, but account for 10% of motor vehicle accident deaths. These statistics highlight the dangers associated with Rhode Island head-on collisions.

Frontal crashes occur when the front of one vehicle slams into the front of an incoming vehicle or stationary object. The leading causes of head-on collisions involve impaired drivers, unsafe passing, wrong-way driving, driver distraction, driver fatigue, and unsafe road conditions. Although head-on collisions may seem straightforward, there are often various factors at play that can affect liability and damages. For example, a wrong-way driver may claim that road signs were unclear or not visible. Similarly, a driver may claim that they had no choice but to swerve into oncoming traffic to avoid an accident. However, these defenses may not dissolve liability or diminish the motorist’s negligence.

Those that do not suffer fatal injuries in a head-on crash often experience severe and permanent disabilities. Frontal crashes may result in traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, neck injuries, broken bones and fractures, organ damage, paralysis, and burns. Victims often experience secondary injuries from flying debris or additional accidents. In some cases, adrenaline and stress mask serious injuries. It is important that head-on collision victims seek medical attention, even if their injuries appear minor.

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

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