Articles Posted in Safety

file000480371600-300x217With the arrival of Spring, electric scooters abound in Providence. Electric scooters, also known as e-scooters, are still new to the downtown scene having only arrived to cities nationwide in 2018. Being in their relative infancy, e-scooters and their safety have not yet been studied extensively. As personal injury lawyers in Providence, we know that like a pedestrian or bicyclist, sharing the road with cars and trucks in such close proximity poses a huge safety risk, especially to riders not protected by a helmet.  Although the guidelines outlined in the Providence E-Scooter Pilot Program, include the need for riders to obey traffic laws and encourage riders to wear helmets, plenty of electric scooters can be seen zipping around the city driving recklessly and unfortunately, most riders are not wearing a helmet.  Marked by a rise in serious injuries to e-scooter users, especially first-time users, this safety concern was the catalyst for a recent study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Texas’ Austin Public Health Department to find out why there is such a high prevalence of injuries among electric scooter operators.

What Prompted the Investigation into E-Scooter Injuries?

A considerable rise in emergency room visits for users and pedestrians prompted Austin, Texas city leaders to request an investigation by the CDC into scooter-related crashes and injuries. Seeking alternative modes of transportation in the big city, especially emission-free transportation, Austin residents took to the streets when the e-scooters arrived. Following this, emergency rooms in the area began to notice a large number of visits from electric scooter drivers with broken bones and head injuries. The ER visits included injuries both minor and major, such as a University of Texas student, a star baseball shortstop, that missed his season after he hit a pothole riding an electric scooter tearing his Achilles tendon and requiring surgery. In January 2019, Austin experienced its first scooter related death when a 21-year-old University of Texas student died a day after suffering critical injuries after his electric scooter collided with a car.

Texting-Driving-Female-3-300x225Texting while driving has been illegal in Rhode Island for many years now and less than a year ago the state banned the use of hand-held devices while driving. But as we all know; it still continues and we see first-hand the detrimental effects of car accidents caused by cell phone use and distracted driving every day as personal injury lawyers in Providence. In an effort to promote the severity of distracted driving, Rhode Island State Police stopped 813 vehicles during a highway safety campaign last week issuing 93 warnings or citations to drivers for using cell phones for texting or making phone calls while operating a vehicle. Tapalian Law feels strongly about promoting the dangers of texting and cell phone use while driving since April is Distracted Driving Awareness month, but also throughout the year in an effort to keep Rhode Island motorists safe on the road. The number of people hurt or killed in distracted driving crashes each day in the U.S., at least nine fatalities and 100 injured, speak for themselves about the severity of this preventable problem in Rhode Island and across the country.

What is the Fine for Texting & Driving in Rhode Island?

The State Police emphasize the dangers of distracted driving, especially texting and using a hand-held cell phone while driving, and fines are assessed in hopes of deterring negligent drivers in Rhode Island and preventing car accidents. Drivers using a cell phone while operating a vehicle in Rhode Island can be fined up to $100 and those texting while driving can be fined up to $100 along with a possible 30-day license suspension. Use of earphones, headsets, headphones, or similar devices while driving or riding a bike may lead to a fine of up to $85. The fines may seem hefty to some, but are a small price to pay to prevent a car crash and avoid potential serious injury and death.

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.

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.

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_11054_20090517-300x225It’s summer in Rhode Island and we’ve been fortunate to have beautiful weather. Understandably so, RI motorcyclists are taking advantage of ideal riding conditions. Whether there are more motorcycles on the road due to the warm temperatures or not, we do know that motorcycle accident fatalities are up in Rhode Island this year. According to the Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT), there have been 6 fatalities involving motorcycles in the first 6 months of 2018. This is double the amount for the same period of 2017. As Providence, RI motorcycle accident lawyers, we find this increase in fatalities concerning.

Why Are RI Motorcycle Accident Fatalities Up?

Although Rhode Island State Police can’t point to a single determining factor for the increase in motorcycle accident deaths, they do say it’s not just a concern only in Rhode Island. According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Association (NHTSA) the number of motorcycle accident fatalities have increased 60% over the last 20 years. Federal statistics show that motorcycle fatalities typically spike each year between June and September. In 2016, nearly half of all motorcycle deaths occurred in those four summer months. Car accident fatalities also rise during the summer months, especially during summer holidays, as we explored in a recent Tapalian Law personal injury blog. Although motorcycle fatalities have increased this year, motor vehicle related accidents have decreased from this time frame last year. There have been 27 motor vehicle accident fatalities through June 29, 2018. During the same time period in 2017, there were 39 fatalities. As Providence personal injury attorneys, we hope this downward auto accident fatality trend continues its decrease for the remainder of the summer.

DSC_6394-228x300After a dramatic 84% rise in incidents involving emotional support dogs, Delta Air Lines has revised its policies. Effective July 10, 2018, Delta will no longer allow “pit bull type dogs” to serve as service or emotional support dogs on its flights. The policy revision comes after a string of several incidents involving Delta employees, specifically two that were bitten by an emotional support dog in June 2017, as well as passengers being bitten by dogs traveling with their owners as emotional support pets.  As Rhode Island dog bite attorney’s, we frequently see clients who have been injured and suffer from dog bite related injuries to the face and/or body. Often, the victim is bit by a dog owned by a friend or family member, even animals that were serving as an emotional support dog. Dog bite injuries in Rhode Island can be quite severe and require hundreds of thousands of dollars in specialized medical care. Acute infection, permanent disfiguration, and reconstructive surgery may result over a period of years. Dog attacks can also be fatal.

Pit Bulls Most Common Breed Banned

Though Delta does not specify the breed of dog involved in the incidents that led up to the policy change, we do know that over 900 U.S. cities have passed breed specific regulations and pit bulls are the most common type of dog banned in these ordinances. Dogsbite.org, a public education website, cites that pit bulls were involved in 66% of dog bite related deaths in the U.S. from 2005-2017. Pit bulls and rottweilers combined account for 76% of the fatalities. Many argue nature versus nurture when it comes to aggressive breeds and blame the owners, not the breed. However, some animal experts claim it is partially both. Some say the early formative years for a pit bull are very important in how they are raised and their future demeanor. Even the best dog trainer adopting an adult pit bull that was abused as a youngster may have a difficult time re-training the breed. It is noted that pit bulls are descendants of a breed that was bred to fight and some of the breed itself may be inherently more aggressive than other breeds. Though statistics show pit bulls and rottweilers account for the highest number of dog bite fatalities, it is not just these breeds that can be dangerous. Any breed of dog can bite and injure someone. As dog bite lawyers, we have handled Rhode Island dog bite cases and Massachusetts dog bite cases involving both pit bulls and other breeds. Our injury attorneys see first-hand the acute trauma that any breed of dog can cause to an adult or child.

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