Personal Injury Updates

Information about Personal Injury in Washington State

Adler Giersch Logo

Yearly Archives: 2012

Drinking and Driving Among Teens Down by 54%

Categories: Practical Tips You Can Use

By Jacob W. Gent. Posted on .

According to the Center for Disease Control[1] the percentage of high school teens who drink and drive has decreased by more than 50% since 1991.[2]  Despite this positive trend, more needs to be done to reduce the likelihood of an impaired teen driving.  Nearly one million high school teens drank alcohol and got behind the wheel in 2011. Teen drivers are 3 times more likely than more experienced drivers to be in a fatal crash. Drinking any alcohol greatly increases this risk.

Although fewer teens are drinking and driving, this risky behavior is still a major threat to everyone on the road.

  • Drinking and driving among high school teens has dropped 54% since 1991. Still, high school teens drive after drinking approximately 2.4 million times a month.
  • 85% of teens in high school who report drinking and driving in the past month also report binge drinking, defined as having 5 or more alcoholic drinks within two hours.
  • 1 in 5 teen drivers involved in fatal crashes in 2010 had alcohol in their system. Most (81%) had BAC’s higher than the legal limit of .08%.

Preventing Teen Drinking and Driving – What Works:

Research shows factors that help keep teens safe include parental involvement, minimum legal drinking age and zero tolerance laws, and graduated driver licensing systems.

  • Minimum legal drinking age (MLDA) laws in every state make it illegal to sell alcohol to anyone under age 21.  Enforcing MLDA laws through alcohol retailer compliance checks reduces retail sales of alcohol to minors.
  • Zero tolerance laws:  It is illegal in every state for those under age 21 to drive after drinking any alcohol. Research has shown zero tolerance laws have reduced the number of alcohol related crashes involving teens.
  • Graduated driver licensing (GDL) systems help new drivers get more experience under less risky conditions. As teens move through stages, they gain privileges, such as driving at night or driving with passengers. Every state has a  GDL system, but specific rules vary. Research indicates GDL systems prevent crashes and save lives.
  • Parental involvement, which focuses on monitoring and restricting what new drivers are allowed to do, keep new drivers safe as they learn to drive. Research has shown that when parents establish and enforce the “rules of the road,” new drivers report lower rates of risky driving, traffic violations, and crashes.

The percentage of teens in high school, aged 16 years or older, who drink and drive has decreased by more than half.




[2] High school students aged 16 years and older who, when surveyed, said they had driven a vehicle one or more times during the past 30 days when they had been drinking alcohol.

Parents: Providing Alcohol to Minors In Washington State Will Get You Into Trouble

Categories: Practical Tips You Can Use

By Arthur D. Leritz. Posted on .

In Washington State, it is illegal for an adult to provide alcohol to minors.  It is also illegal for a property owner to provide a place for them to drink.  The statute provides:

(1) It is unlawful for any person to sell, give, or otherwise supply liquor to any person under the age of twenty-one years or permit any person under that age to consume liquor on his or her premises or on any premises under his or her control. For the purposes of this subsection, “premises” includes real property, houses, buildings, and other structures, and motor vehicles and watercraft. A violation of this subsection is a gross misdemeanor punishable as provided for in chapter 9A.20 RCW.[1]

Violating the law can put you in jail for up to 364 days, subject you to a $5,000.00 fine, or both.[2]

There is a strange exception to the law:  it is not illegal for parents or guardians of their minor child to furnish alcohol to them as long as it is done under their supervision.[3]  This does not mean it is ok for an adult to supervise anyone else other than their child – so providing a safe place for your child and their friends to drink is illegal.  In addition, you may be liable for civil damages if a child leaves your house and is injured because they are intoxicated.

Research has shown that even supervised minors who drink with adult supervision are more likely to have problems with alcohol than kids who are not allowed to drink until age 21. The study was conducted by Barbara J. McMorris, lead author and a senior research associate at the School of Nursing at the University of Minnesota.[4]  She and her colleagues tracked1,945 seventh graders for three years.  Half of the teens were from Victoria, Australia, the other half from Washington state.

The study found that it didn’t matter in which country parents and youth lived, the idea of teaching teens responsible drinking behavior was not working.   The study found that adult-supervised settings for alcohol use resulted in higher levels of harmful alcohol consequences, contrary to predictions prior to the study.   “The study makes it dear that you shouldn’t be drinking with your kids” says McMorris.

So, the next time you’re asked to buy or provide alcohol to a minor or to allow underage drinking in your home, simply tell them: NO.  It’s bad for them and could also expose you to criminal and civil liability.  Be a smart parent and don’t let any person under the age of 21 drink on your property.

[1] RCW 66.44.270.

[2] RCW 9A.20.021.

[3] RCW 66.44.270(3).

Fire Prevention 101: Keep Your Family Safe

Categories: Personal Injury Resources

By Melissa D. Carter. Posted on .

October marks the month of national Fire Prevention and Awareness.  The risk of serious injury and death from home fires is real.  In 2011, 384,000 homes across the country required fire department emergency responses, which claimed the lives of 2,640 and injured 13,350 others.[1]  Most victims of fires die from smoke or toxic gases and not from burns.[2]  85% of all US fire deaths in 2009 occurred in homes.[3]  Of the home fires that cause death, 40% had no smoke alarms.  The main reason that smoke alarms fail to operate during home fires is missing or disconnected batteries.

Landlord Responsibility to Promote Fire Safety

In Washington, as in many states, a landlord of a residential unit must ensure that all units have smoke detection devices.[4]  The smoke detection device must be designed, manufactured and installed inside the dwelling unit in conformance with nationally accepted standards and per Washington state rules and regulations promulgated by the director of fire protection.  While a tenant must maintain the smoke detector and test/replace batteries periodically, the owner alone is responsible for installation.  The landlord must also ensure the smoke detector’s performance whenever a unit becomes vacant and before re-letting it.

A landlord who does not comply with this law is subject to civil penalty and may be liable to any tenant who is injured from smoke or fire due to the lack of a functioning smoke detector.

Keep Your Home Fire Safe

  • Cooking Safely: never leave cooking food unattended on the stove.  Keep all flammable objects, such as potholders, towels, and clothing, away from flame.  Also keep the handles of pots turned in.
  • Smoking: try to quit.  If you must smoke indoors, never smoke in bed or leave a burning cigarette unattended.  Never smoke while drowsy or under the influence of alcohol or medications.  Don’t empty hot ashes into a garbage can.  Keep ashtrays away from furniture and curtains.
  • Staying warm: stay safe.  Keep any space heaters three feet away from any flammable objects, including curtains, furniture and bedding.
  • Alarms.  Install smoke alarms on every floor of your home, including the basement.  Install smoke alarms in all sleeping rooms, especially those occupied by a smoker.  Test smoke alarms once a moth using the test button.  Test and change your batteries every six months.
  • Escape plan.  Determine a home fire escape plan.  Have at least two exits for every room and agree on a meeting place outside with all household members.  Practice your escape plan twice a year with everyone in your home.

For more information on fire safety, go to:

For the duties of a landlord and tenant regarding smoke detectors go to:

Learn More About Home Fire Prevention


  1. Ahrens M. The U.S. fire problem overview report: leading causes and other patterns and trends. Quincy (MA): National Fire Protection Association; 2003.
  2. Ahrens M. Home structure fires. Quincy (MA): National Fire Protection Association; 2011.
  3. Ahrens M. Smoke alarms in U.S. home fires. Quincy (MA): National Fire Protection Association; 2009.
  4. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Deaths resulting from residential fires and the prevalence of smoke alarms – United States 1991–1995. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report 1998; 47(38): 803–6.
  5. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS). National vital statistics system. Hyattsville (MD): U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, CDC, National Center for Health Statistics; 1998.
  6. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System (WISQARS) [Online]. (2010). National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (producer). Available from:  [Cited 2010 Sept 21].
  7. Finkelstein EA, Corso PS, Miller TR, Associates. Incidence and Economic Burden of Injuries in the United States. New York: Oxford University Press; 2006.
  8. Flynn JD.  Characteristics of home fire victims. Quincy (MA): National Fire Protection Association; 2010.
  9. Hall JR. Burns, toxic gases, and other hazards associated with fires: Deaths and injuries in fire and non-fire situations. Quincy (MA): National Fire Protection Association, Fire Analysis and Research Division; 2001.
  10. International Association for the Study of Insurance Economics. World fire statistics: information bulletin of the world fire statistics. Geneva (Switzerland): The Geneva Association; 2009.
  11. Istre GR, McCoy MA, Osborn L, Barnard JJ, Bolton A. Deaths and injuries from house fires. New England Journal of Medicine 2001;344:1911–16.
  12. Karter MJ. Fire loss in the United States during 2010,. Quincy (MA): National Fire Protection Association, Fire Analysis and Research Division; 2011.
  13. Parker DJ, Sklar DP, Tandberg D, Hauswald M, Zumwalt RE. Fire fatalities among New Mexico children. Annals of Emergency Medicine 1993;22(3):517–22.
  14. Runyan CW, Bangdiwala SI, Linzer MA, Sacks JJ, Butts J. Risk factors for fatal residential fires. New England Journal of Medicine 1992;327(12):859–63.
  15. Runyan SW, Casteel C (Eds.). The state of home safety in America: Facts about unintentional injuries in the home, 2nd edition. Washington, D.C.: Home Safety Council, 2004.
  16. Smith GS, Branas C, Miller TR. Fatal nontraffic injuries involving alcohol: a meta-analysis. Annals of Emergency Medicine 1999;33(6):659–68.

[2] Hall 2001.

[3] Karter 2011.

[4] RCW 43.44.110; See also Moratti ex rel. Tarutis v. Famers Ins. Co. of Washington, 162 Wn. App. 495, 254 P.3d 939 (2011).

Common Treatment Modalities for Facet Joint Injuries

Categories: Other Physical Injuries, Personal Injury Resources

By Melissa D. Carter. Posted on .

Almost everyone is familiar with the injury term “whiplash” as a result of spinal trauma.  What, however, is a facet joint injury, and what are the common treatment methods to reduce or alleviate the pain?

The facet (zygapophyseal) joints are the articulations or connections between the vertebraes in the spine and occur in pairs at each vertebral level. The facet joints work with the corresponding disc to link the vertebrae directly above and below to form a working unit that lends stability and weight-bearing capacity while permitting flexibility and movement of the spine.  The facet joints have a synovial lining, covered with hyaline cartilage.  These joints contain nerves, the medial branches, that transmit pain back to the spinal cord.  Injuries to the spine can inflame the facet joints, or cause the cartilaginous surfaces to wear away, causing back pain in the vicinity of the inflamed joint as the friction increases within the joint space.  On occasion, the pain is located several inches away from the inflamed joint, or even into the limbs.

Treatment of facet injuries includes physical therapy, acupuncture, spinal manipulation, massage, heat and medications to reduce pain.  Anesthetic and steroidal injections under fluoroscopic (x-ray) guidance are another common diagnostic tool that can provide very good therapeutic results in combating a facet joint injury.  Immediate alleviation of pain following a facet injection confirms the pain source.  If conservative treatment modalities provide only temporary relief, radiofrequency neurotomy can provide a longer lasting result.  Under this procedure, a radiofrequency probe deadens the small nerves that supply the facet joint to reduce pain.

A less traditional modality which can have very good results, but not always covered by insurance plans, is prolotherapy.  Prolotherapy involves repeated injections of a solution of concentrated dextrose (pharmaceutical-grade sugar water) and local anesthetic into the injured facet joint.  Prolotherapy is thought to encourage the body to naturally produce connective tissues, collagen and cartilage, in the injured area to reduce pain by stimulating the immune system to bring fibroblasts and chondroblasts to the pain area and to rejuvenate it.[1]


My Car Is “totaled” – Now What?

Categories: Auto Accidents

By Arthur D. Leritz. Posted on .

Getting in a collision is scary. In addition to getting the medical care you need, often the first task (and sometimes most daunting) is dealing with the property damage loss.  If your vehicle is “totaled” (meaning the cost of repair is more than the actual cash value of the car) then you will have to deal with an insurer to come up with a fair value for the vehicle.  Here are a few important things to remember:

  1. Insurers will value the vehicle at “fair market value” or “actual cash value.”  So, don’t take their word for it.  Do your homework and check local ads for similar vehicles in your area with similar mileage, options, condition, etc. If you think their offer is too low.
  2. If you are making a claim under your own policy and you can’t agree on a value, invoke the independent appraisal clause in your policy and get an independent appraiser to look at it.  If you are dealing with the at-fault party’s insurer, make a claim under your own policy (if you have that coverage) or you may need to consult with an attorney.
  3. The insurer also has to add in any applicable taxes, license fees and any other fees required to transfer ownership.
  4. If you just put on new tires or other accessories or items that add to the value then let the insurance company know about it.  They will likely give you credit for that – but remember it will not be dollar for dollar.  The key thing to remember is the “fair market value” of anything added to the vehicle.
  5. If you decide to keep the vehicle, the insurer will deduct the salvage value of the vehicle from the settlement amount.  You will also be issued a new title that indicates your vehicle is a salvage vehicle.

Pedestrian Safety Facts

Categories: Auto Accidents

By Jacob W. Gent. Posted on .

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 4,378 pedestrians were killed in motor vehicle collision nationwide, with another 69,000 pedestrians injured in 2008. This averages out to one motor vehicle collision-related pedestrian death every 2 hours, and a pedestrian injury every 8 minutes.1 Pedestrians are 1.5 times more likely than passengers in a motor vehicle be killed in a motor vehicle collision on each trip.2

Pedestrians ages 65 and older accounted for 18% of all pedestrian deaths and approximately 10% of all pedestrian injuries in 2008. 1 One in five children between 5 and 9 years old killed in traffic collision was a pedestrian. 1 Alcohol-impairment, whether the driver or pedestrian, was reported in nearly half (48%) of traffic-related incidents resulting in pedestrian death. Of the pedestrians involved, 36% had a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) above the illegal limit of .08.1

Higher vehicle speeds increase the chances of a pedestrian being struck by a motor vehicle as well as injury severity.3 Most pedestrian and bicyclist deaths occur in urban areas, at non-intersection locations, and at night.1

How can pedestrians avoid being injured or killed by a motor vehicle?

  • Pedestrians should be alert at intersections, where drivers may fail to yield the right-of-way to pedestrians while turning onto another street. 1
  • Pedestrians can increase their visibility at night by carrying a flashlight and wearing light reflective clothing. 1
  • Pedestrians should cross a street at designated crosswalks whenever possible.
  • Pedestrians should always walk on a sidewalk, if present.  If no sidewalk is available, pedestrians should walk facing oncoming vehicle traffic. 1


  1. Department of Transportation (US), National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Traffic Safety Facts 2008: Pedestrians. Washington (DC): NHTSA; 2008 [cited 2010 May 19].
  2. Beck LF, Dellinger AM, O=Neil ME. Motor vehicle crash injury rates by mode of travel, United States: Using exposure-based methods to quantify differences. American Journal of Epidemiology 2007;166:212B218.
  3. Rosen E, Sander U. Pedestrian fatality risk as a function of car impact speed. Acc Anal Prev 2009;41:536-542.



Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder – Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Categories: Psychological Injury

By Arthur D. Leritz. Posted on .

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a diagnosis frequently made for patients who have survived a serious traumatic event, but it is also a diagnosis that is greatly misunderstood.

While PTSD has been commonly associated with veterans returning home from combat zones, 8% of the general population in the United States is believed to have suffered from PTSD at some point in their lives. (1)   In comparison, 13.8% of veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan reportedly suffer from PTSD. (2)  Enlisted personnel are twice as likely to suffer from PTSD as officers. (3)

There is no doubt that physical trauma caused by armed conflict, assaults, motor vehicle crashes, falls, burns, or loss of a limb can, and often does, result in significant pain and emotional traumatic injury.  However, the mere presence of psychological distress related to traumatic injury does not necessarily mean the patient has post-traumatic stress disorder.

It is now accepted in the health care community based on a growing body of scientific literature that persistent and profound changes in some of the body’s physiologic systems occur in individuals with PTSD.  Researchers have found evidence of damage to the physical systems associated with PTSD such as increased sympathetic nervous system activity, alterations in stress hormones secretion, memory processing and limbic system abnormalities in brain imaging studies of traumatized patients.

In order for a psychological injury to rise to the level of a diagnosis of PTSD, it must meet all of the specific diagnostic criteria of the DSM-IV (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual — 4th edition) published by the American Psychological Association, including the following:

  • Exposure to a traumatic event in which “the person experienced, witnessed, or was confronted with . . . actual or threatened death or serious injury, or a threat to the physical integrity of self or others.” The patient must also have experienced the event with “intense fear, helplessness, or horror.”
  • The traumatic event is persistently re-experienced “by distressing recollections of the event, distressing dreams, reliving of the event, or intense psychological or physical distress at exposure to cues that remind the patient of the trauma.”
  • Persistent avoidance of stimuli associated with the trauma or “numbing” of the senses. Examples include: avoiding thoughts of the event; avoiding activities, places, or people that arouse memories of the event; inability to recall important aspects of the trauma; diminished interest or participation in life activities; feelings of detachment; reduced range of emotional expression; or a lack of a sense of future.
  • Persistent symptoms of increased arousal. Examples are: insomnia, irritability, difficulty concentrating, or an exaggerated startle response.
  • A duration of more than one month, with a disturbance in the person’s social and work life. (1)

In the area of motor vehicle crashes, there are characteristics that make for a greater risk of PTSD or related psychological symptoms, including:

  1. The event is completely out of the individual’s control, much like an unprovoked and completely unexpected physical attack.
  1. The event causing the traumatic injury involves feelings of helplessness and fear; the victim was unable to do anything to avoid or prevent it.
  1. Phobias.  Fear of driving or fear of the traumatic event’s location.
  1. Injuries can be very painful.  PTSD has been associated not only with the physical trauma of a violent event, but also arising from intense pain experienced by the patient separate from the traumatic event itself.  Prolonged and severe pain experienced immediately after a traumatic injury, but before the intervention of care, can be the traumatic experience itself leading to PTSD symptoms.
  1. Cognitive disorders can increase PTSD symptoms. Cognitive disorders following trauma are often not diagnosed early on.  This can have a very negative psychological impact on those who experience further fear, anxiety, or depression because real symptoms are not believed or validated by the treatment provider.  This can lead to the exacerbation of PTSD symptoms.

Treatment of PTSD

The most successful treatment for PTSD has been the use of cognitive-behavioral therapy, often in conjunction with medication. (5)  The medications Sertraline (Zoloft) and Paroxetine (Paxil) are Selective Serotonin Re-uptake inhibitors (SSRI) that are the first medications to have received FDA approval as indicated treatments for PTSD. (5)   In addition to cognitive-behavioral therapy and medications, group therapy is also frequently used for mildly to moderately affected PTSD patients.  (5)  In the group setting, the PTSD patient can discuss traumatic memories, PTSD symptoms, and functional deficits with others who have had similar experiences. This approach has been most successful with war Veterans, rape/incest victims, and natural disaster survivors. (5)

PTSD and Traumatic Brain Injury

PTSD and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) have several symptoms in common.  Among these are irritability, concentration deficits, amnesia for the causal event, reduced cognitive processing ability, and sleeping disturbances.  The overlap of symptoms of PTSD with traumatic brain injury can make diagnosing more challenging for a healthcare professional not well versed in both conditions. (6)

Treatments for PTSD, TBI and other co-morbidities are typically symptom-focused and evidence based.  For example, early data shows that the treatments that have worked well in Veterans with PTSD alone, such as cognitive processing therapy, prolonged exposure or SSRI’s, can also work well for Veterans who have suffered a mild traumatic brain injury as well as emotional trauma.  (7)  Memory aids can also be useful in this population.  Patients can also benefit from occupational rehabilitation and case management, depending on the severity of their injuries. Patient should be referred to consultants, such as neurologists, neuropsychologists, and substance abuse or other specialized treatment as needed. (7)



  1. American Psychiatric Association. (2000). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (4th ed., text rev.). Washington, DC: Liebowitz, Michael R, Barlow, David H., Ballenger, James C., Davidson, Johnathan, Foa, Edna, Fyer, Abby.
  2. Gradus, Jaimie L. Epidemiology of PTSD, National Center for PTSD.
  3. The History of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder,
  4. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Mental Health: A Report of the Surgeon General—Executive Summary. Rockville, MD: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Center for Mental Health Services, National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Mental Health, 1999.
  5. Friedman, Matthew J.  PTSD History and Overview, National Center for PTSD.
  6. Glaesser, al. (2004).  Posttraumatic Stress Disorder in patients with traumatic brain injury.  BMC Psychiatry. 2004; 4: 5.)
  7. Summerall, E. Lanier.  Traumatic Brain Injury and PTSD, National Center for PTSD.

Back to School Safety

Categories: Other Physical Injuries

By Jacob W. Gent. Posted on .

It’s that time of year again: summer is starting to wind down and students are returning to the classroom. Parents are inundated with information packets from schools covering an array of topics. Shopping for supplies and new clothes, completing enrollment and medical forms, registering for classes, signing up for sports and other extra-curricular activities, and coordinating the family schedules can become overwhelming. With all that’s coming at them, it’s easy for parents to overlook the critical issues of health and safety for their children.

Children need to be safe and healthy to learn at school. Talk to younger children about getting to and from school safely: walking on sidewalks, crossing at crosswalks, wearing helmets when riding bikes, and watching out for drivers who may not see them.

Talk to teenagers about safe driving. One in three teen deaths in the United States is the result of a motor vehicle collision. Teens are more likely than experienced drivers to underestimate or not recognize dangerous situations when driving.[1] Teens are more likely to speed and tailgate. The presence of male teenage passengers increases the likelihood of risky driving behavior.[2] Teenagers have the lowest rate of seat belt use compared with all other age groups. In 2005, 10% of high school students reported they rarely or never wear seat belts when riding with someone else.[3] Male high school students (12.5%) were more likely than female students (7.8%) to rarely or never wear seat belts.[4]

School playgrounds are also sources of injury. Each year, emergency departments in the United States treat more than 200,000 children ages 14 and younger for playground-related injuries. Organized sports also come with the risk for injury, sometimes very serious. Be sure to read through and discuss information about playground and sports safety provided by the Center for Disease Control in their toolkit, Heads Up: Concussion in High School Sports.

So be sure your child’s back to school list includes things like a helmet, a seatbelt, and a meaningful conversation about safety at school, on the roadway, playground and athletic field.

Source: Centers for Disease Control

[1] Jonah BA, Dawson NE. Youth and risk: age differences in risky driving, risk perception, and risk utility. Alcohol, Drugs and Driving 1987;3:13B29.

[2] Simons-Morton B, Lerner N, Singer J. The observed effects of teenage passengers on the risky driving behavior of teenage drivers. Accident Analysis and Prevention.

[3] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Youth Risk Behavior SurveillanceCUnited States, 2007 [Online]. (2009). National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (producer). [Cited 2009 Nov 6 ].

[4] Id.

Bicycle Crashes and Injury Statistics

Categories: Bicycle Injury

By Arthur D. Leritz. Posted on .

Recently, I was out for a nice, leisurely evening bicycle ride with my wife, our 9 year old nephew and our 12 year old niece.  We were all having a nice time until the kids stopped short, I did not, and I ended up flying over my handle bars.  One broken arm and one broken rib later, it got me wondering how often bicycle crashes occur in this country.

According to the U.S Department of Transportation and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration:

  1.  In 2010, 618 bicyclists were killed and an additional 52,000 were injured in motor vehicle traffic crashes.1  The average age of the rider was 42.2
  2. 72% of the bicyclist fatalities in 2010 occurred in urban areas and 67% at non-intersections.
  3. The majority of bicyclist fatalities, 28%, occurred between the hours of 4-8pm, with the second highest number, 25%, between the hours of 8-midnight.4
  4. The majority of bicyclists killed in 2010 were males (86%), and the highest number of male fatalities were between the ages of 45 and 54.  The most males injured were between 25 and 34.5
  5. Surprisingly, about 24% of bicylists killed in 2010 had a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .01 grams per deciliter or higher, and over 1/5 had a BAC of .08 or higher.  In 2010 34% of crashes involved alcohol involvement – either for the bicyclist or motorist.6
  6. Alaska had no bicyclist fatalities in 2010 and the District of Columbia had the highest, with 8.3% of the total number of traffic fatalities.  Washington State was at 1.3%, short of the national average of 1.9%.7


Before getting on your bike:

  1. Make sure you have a properly fitting helmet (mine was the only thing on me that wasn’t scratched when I crashed, ironically).
  2. Obey the rules of the road and check your local municipality for additional bicycling ordinances.  Remember, bicyclists are considered vehicle operators and are subject to all traffic laws, signs and signals.
  3. When riding your bike, use proper hand signals to alert other bicyclists and motor vehicles on the road.  When driving your car, be especially cautious around bicycle riders and even more so around children who are riding bicycles.
  4. Increase your visibility by wearing bright and/or reflective clothing when riding a bicycle, especially at night, and make sure your bicycle is equipped with reflectors on the front and rear, as well as the wheels.
  5. Make sure to properly maintain your bicycle.  This includes checking for loose wheels, making sure the seat is adjusted properly, the brakes are in working order and that the tires are properly inflated every time before you go for a ride.


If you are injured while riding your bike due to the fault of a motorist, in Washington State you may have coverage under the driver’s policy, if they carried personal injury protection (PIP) coverage.








Save Face, Wear a Helmet!

Categories: Other Physical Injuries

By Jacob W. Gent. Posted on .

A new study found motorcyclists are less than half as likely to break a nose or dent a jaw when wearing helmets.  Citing a rise in the number of motorcycles on the road and a rise in the number of motorcycle-related collisions, the University of California, Los Angeles conducted a study of the relationship between helmet use and facial injuries following traffic collisions.

The study, led by Dr. Joseph Cromptom and published in the Archives of Surgery, examined the records of over 46,000 bikers sent to hospitals nationwide following collisions between 2002 and 2005.  77% of bikers were wearing helmets at the time of the crash.  Overall, approximately 1,700 bikers suffered nose injuries, 2,300 had eye injuries and 800 busted their jawbones. Another 1,400 had facial bruises following the collision.  However, helmeted riders were less likely to sustain these injuries and were 60% less likely to suffer any serious face-related injury compared to helmet-free riders,

Information regarding the type of helmets worn was not available, so the researchers could not determine whether the presence of a face shield reduced the risk of injury.  Dr. Peter Layde, co-director of the Injury Research Center at the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee, who was not involved in the UCLA study, said face shields likely play some role in preventing injury, but helmets can also absorb blows to the side of the head and prevent fractures there from extending to the face.

Despite numerous studies demonstrating the safety benefits of motorcycle helmets, the debate whether state governments should require motorcyclists to wear helmets continues. The number of states with mandatory helmet laws has actually decreased in the last few decades, due to lobbying from the motorcycle community.

Nineteen states and Washington, D.C. have mandatory helmet laws for all riders, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.  Twenty-eight states only require some bikers – such as those under 21 or under 18 – to wear a helmet.  Three states, Illinois, Iowa and New Hampshire, have no motorcycle helmet laws.

“I think [the UCLA study] certainly supports the idea that there should be mandatory helmet laws,” Crompton, who rides a motorcycle, told Reuters Health.