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_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_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.

a0b7bf6eb8febc2d57f7769bd6b44b66-1-300x260Slips, trips, and falls are some of the most common types of injury and account for over 1 million ER visits each year in the U.S.  Though most falls are minor and result in a bump or bruise, 1 in 5 falls causes a serious injury like a broken bone or head injury, according to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC). Falls are the 3rd leading cause of unintentional injury-related deaths for all ages and the number one cause for those ages 65 and older. Slips, trips, and falls can happen at home, at work, at the grocery store, or simply walking down the street. Slip and fall accidents can be particularly serious to the elderly. Falls are also mostly preventable. Rhode Island property and business owners alike are obligated to maintain safe conditions for those who are expected to come upon their property and make repairs in a timely manner. As individuals, we must hold ourselves accountable by being aware of our surroundings and avoiding unnecessary distractions that can result in a fall, like looking down at a cell phone while walking. In light of June being National Safety Month, the Providence slip and fall lawyers at Tapalian Law would like to share with you some tips to eliminate common tripping hazards and reduce injuries from a slip and fall.

Distracted Walking

Cell phones have made it easy for us to stay in contact with work, friends, and family 24/7 but they are also a major cause of slip and fall accidents. Falls are frequently the consequence of inattention or a distraction, like looking down to use a cell phone. This is known as distracted walking. Like distracted driving, distracted walking can cause injury, both minor and severe. Looking down at a cell phone while walking can cause a crash into another person, a trip down a flight of stairs, a fall off a sidewalk, or worse. Distracted walking can cause a person to unknowingly walk into traffic or take a serious fall, resulting in severe injuries or a fatality.  If you must use a cell phone while walking, stop in a safe spot out of the way of other pedestrians and vehicles to make your call or send your text to avoid an injury due to distracted walking.

Effective Monday, June 11th, tractor trailer trucks passing through Rhode Island will now be charged a toll when passing through two points on Route 95. The new tolls, located at Exit 2 near the Hopkinton and Richmond border and Exit 5 in Exeter, cost $3.25 and $3.50 respectively. Rhode Islanders may see this as a good way to create funds for fixing the oft-complained about roads, bridges, and highways in the state, especially since Rhode Island has the worst bridges of any state in the nation. But many truck drivers don’t agree and are preparing for eb0110f3db0f0937b346451ffcb7d14c-300x200a legal battle. Their argument? Truckers claim that tolling only tractor-trailer trucks is illegal.

Purpose of the New Rhode Island Truck Toll

The new tractor-trailer tolls are part of the Rhodeworks legislation that became law in February 2016 as a way to rebuild Rhode Island’s infrastructure. The purpose of the truck tolls in particular is to collect revenue to rebuild ailing bridges, followed by other transportation projects. Rhode Island ranks 50, last in the nation, in overall condition of its bridges. It is said that 22% of the state’s bridges are structurally deficient. Rhode Island is counting on millions in revenue from the toll- an estimated 7.2 million a year, as estimated by state officials. Within the next year or two, 11 or 12 more toll locations are projected to go up around Rhode Island. Governor Gina Raimondo says the additional revenue, and subsequent investment in infrastructure, will be a positive for the state leading to safer roads as well as employing thousands of construction workers. The original toll project was slated to unfold in March. However, it was delayed to continue further testing of the electronic tolling systems. These steel tower systems use sensors to charge the tractor-trailers, which often have an EZ-Pass. The tolls do not require the trucks to stop or otherwise slow down.

photo_83961_20170203-300x200Summer is here and school is out. So are the teenage drivers. From Memorial Day until back to school, thus begins the 100 deadliest days for summer driving involving teen drivers, according to AAA.com. Motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death for U.S. teenagers. Teenage drivers new to the road can be a risk every day of the year, but even more so once school is out. They are on the road more and are all too often the cause of car accidents. As auto accident injury lawyers at Tapalian Law, we know that car crashes are more frequent in general during the summer months than other times of year. Every summer day, an average of 10 people die in car crashes involving teen drivers. Nearly 2/3 of those injured in these crashes are victims other than the teen themselves. These are startling statistics and as injury lawyers, Tapalian Law urges those with teen drivers to share these facts and discuss with them the importance of using extreme caution when on the road.

Cell Phones & Passengers Main Cause of Teenage Car Accidents

Teenagers are easily distracted by the cell phones that are such an integral part of their everyday lives. Most teens spend a good deal of time each day texting or on social media. It is hard for them to imagine not having access to their phones. But it’s a well-known fact to us as Rhode Island personal injury attorneys that cell phones and driving do not mix together well. They create a recipe for distracted driving that can result in severe crashes and vehicle related fatalities. Findings by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute showed that texting creates a crash risk 23 times greater than driving while not distracted. Driver distractions, including cell phone use and texting, caused close to 60% of teen driving crashes according to dashboard camera surveys performed by Lytx DriveCam. These crashes resulted in moderate to severe accidents. About 15% of the teenagers were distracted by talking to passengers in the same vehicle, 12% were using a cell phone, and 11% were distracted by something else in the car, whether it be a radio, GPS system, eating, or drinking. The presence of other teenagers in the vehicle along with a teenage driver increases the risk of a crash resulting in personal injury. The risk increases exponentially along with the number of passengers in the car.

photo_1999_20061006-200x300A jury has awarded $31.3 million to an Iraq War veteran paralyzed in a swimming accident at the University of Rhode Island’s Alton Jones campus. The accident took place in 2014 and left Brett Smith of Farmington, CT, paralyzed from the chest down with limited use of his hands. The jury awarded $28 million to Mr. Smith, and $3.3 million to his wife, Stacie Smith. The amount, awarded this week, constitutes compensation for past, present, and future pain and suffering as well as future medical care. It also includes an amount for home renovation and equipment expenses to accommodate Mr. Smith’s needs. Represented by his Rhode Island lawyer, Mr. Smith claimed that URI was negligent and failed to properly warn guests about the swimming risks on their property.

Incident Took Place on URI Premises

The accident took place the weekend of July 25, 2014 at the Whispering Pines Conference Center on URI’s Alton Jones campus where the Smiths were attending a wedding rehearsal dinner. After the dinner, some of the wedding party guests allegedly asked the staff if they were permitted to swim in Loutitt Pond and received responses from the staff that it was allowed. A group of guests decided to swim, some jumping off a large rock into the water. Smith did the same but struck his head on a submerged rock while swimming underwater after the dive. Smith’s lawyer states that alcohol was not a factor in the accident.

Texting-Driving-Female-1-300x225Each year, thousands of people die in distracted driving accidents. All too often, these accidents are caused by cell phone use. As of today, June 1, 2018, a new Rhode Island law goes into effect banning the use of hand-held cell phones while driving. If you are already in the habit of not using a cell phone at all while driving, or using a hands-free device, you are ahead of the game. However, for the 600,000 or so others that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administrations projected used a cell phone while driving in 2017, this is a new habit that will need to be learned quickly. At the RI personal injury law firm of Tapalian Law, we know that distracted driving often leads to severe injuries, including death.

What Does the New “Hands-Free Law” Mean for Rhode Islanders?

As Rhode Islander drivers, we know this law has been in the works for a while. Now that June 1st has arrived, what exactly does this new law mean for those driving in Rhode Island? Drivers may still use cell phones while operating a vehicle, but they must be used in a hands-free capacity. Hands-free equipment may be a headset, earbud attachment, or a hands-free system installed within the vehicle. The following rules apply to RI drivers while the vehicle is in motion:

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