Articles Posted in Safety

m_FRS330355-300x199Sales of boats and personal water craft like jet skis have experienced a boost this year in Rhode Island, a likely side effect of the Covid-19 pandemic. With social distancing in full effect and vacations put on hold, locals are looking for outdoor leisure activities to bring some pleasure and family-friendly activity to an otherwise disheartening summer. Like purchasing a bike lately, finding a boat to buy is tough with demand in high gear. With the boost in traffic on the water in the ocean, local ponds, and lakes, public officials are seeing a corresponding surge in boat accidents in Rhode Island and Massachusetts resulting in injuries and deaths. As a personal injury lawyer at Tapalian Law, this time of year is typically busy with car accidents due to summer travel. This summer, however, is different and we are seeing higher than average numbers of people injured in accidents and boat collisions on the water.

Causes of Boat Accidents

Known as the Ocean State, Rhode Island is always a popular summer destination for boaters. In particular Newport, Narragansett, Jamestown, Block Island, and other coastal cities and towns, experience high water traffic in the summer as do areas of Massachusetts, like Cape Cod. Sales of boats, jet skis, and other personal water craft have surged this summer due to the pandemic – their use also made more attractive by a decline in fuel prices.  Water traffic collisions and mishaps are prevalent each summer, but more so this year. Negligent behavior accounts for a significant portion of boating related injuries and fatalities, similar to the cause of the majority of car accident cases seen as a personal injury attorney. This uptick in boat accidents and water rescues can be attributed primarily not only to the increase in water traffic, but the use of alcohol, drugs, and inexperience.

WP_20140617_014-300x169Under very tragic circumstances, a 15-month-old toddler died last week after sustaining injuries from a dog bite attack in East Providence. The young girl suffered significant injuries resulting from a “pit bull type” dog and was transported to Hasbro Children’s Hospital in Providence, where she died shortly after. Two adults were also hurt, less seriously, while trying to intervene. This is an extremely heartbreaking and shocking situation to hear about, especially for an innocent child. As personal injury lawyers in Rhode Island, it unfortunately has similarities to dog bite injuries that we encounter with clients of all ages on a regular basis.

What many people don’t realize is that bites can happen with any type of dog, even the normally sweet family dog.  Many of these injuries are minor, in fact, the majority of dog bites don’t require medical care. However, statistics show that when attacks are inflicted by certain breeds, such as pit-bulls, they result in more severe damage, critical injuries, and fatalities. While injuries can occur with any type of dog, 76% of dog bite fatalities involve pit bulls and rottweilers.  Pit-bull’s, the type of breed involved in the East Providence incident, account for 66% of these deaths. The most frequent victims of canine aggression include kids, the elderly, and postal service workers.

Dog Bites & Children

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.

cell phoneIt’s official. Massachusetts marks the final New England state to join the ban on hands-free driving by making hand-held cell phone use illegal while operating a motor vehicle. Effective February 23, 2020, it will be illegal to use a hand-held cell phone while driving in Massachusetts. As a personal injury lawyer in Seekonk, MA, Attorney David Tapalian is pleased the state has finally joined the coalition against distracted driving. Texting while driving was already illegal in the Bay State, having been banned in 2010. Yet, distracted driving car crashes in MA rose an alarming 170 percent from 2014-2016. Across the U.S., over 3,000 people were killed in distracted driving accidents in 2017 alone. There’s no question whether using a cell phone while driving is safe.

Massachusetts Hands-Free Law

As of February 23rd, under An Act requiring the hands-free use of mobile telephones while driving, use of electronic devices by motor vehicle operators and bicyclists, including cell phones and tablets, will be prohibited unless being used in hands-free mode.  “Hands-free mode”, defined by Mass General Law, is the “operation of a mobile electronic device by which a user engages in a voice communication or receives audio without touching or holding the device; provided, however, that a mobile electronic device may require a single tap or swipe to activate, deactivate or initiate the hands-free mode feature”.

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.

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In what may be the largest child wrongful death settlement in U.S. history, Swedish furniture chain Ikea reached a $46 million settlement with a California couple whose 2-year-old son was killed in a tragic accident. The fatal accident occurred when an Ikea dresser tipped over and crushed the toddler in 2017. The young boy, Jozef Dudek, had been put down for a nap when the incident occurred. As a Rhode Island wrongful death lawyer, Attorney David Tapalian fully understands that no amount of money can ever make up for the tragic loss of a loved one, especially a young child.

Injuries Leading Cause of Death for Children

Accidental injuries are the leading cause of death for children under the age of 19, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), and furniture tipping is more common, and dangerous, than one thinks. Every 30 minutes, a child is sent to the emergency room because of tipping furniture, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), and a child dies every ten days. Sadly, most of these tip-over incidents are preventable.

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?

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