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Information about Personal Injury in Washington State

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Monthly Archives: November 2013

Drunk Driving Deaths Up for the First Time in Six Years

Categories: Auto Accidents

By Arthur D. Leritz. Posted on .

As we head into the holiday season and New Year, it is more important than ever to keep drunk drivers off the road.  Recent data that was just released indicates that 10,322 people were killed in drunk driving crashes in 2012.[1]  This means that every 51 minutes, a life was lost due to an automobile crash involving a drunk driver.  This represents a 4.6% increase in drunk driving deaths when compared to 2011.  More troubling is that over half of these crashes involved drivers with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .15 or higher – nearly double the legal limit of .08.

Drunk driving fatalities were on the decrease in preceding years.  The 2012 year was the first increase in drunk driving fatalities since 2006.  Drunk driving deaths accounted for a staggering 31% of all traffic fatalities for 2012.

Washington State was one of the few bright spots in the study.  Drunk driving deaths in Washington decreased 7.6% when compared to drunk driving deaths in 2011.

Obviously more needs to be done concerning education and awareness of drunk driving so that we can stop this upward trend and work towards a goal of zero deaths related to drunk driving.  If you see anyone who is impaired attempting to drive a vehicle, stop them.  The life you may be saving could be yours or someone’s close to you.

Ride Safely Out There

Categories: Other Physical Injuries, Practical Tips You Can Use

By Steven J. Angles. Posted on .

Living in the Pacific Northwest means being surrounded by miles of natural beauty that can sometimes be best experienced on the back of a motorcycle or scooter.   However, it’s also no secret that a motorcyclist’s (or scooter operator’s) best defense against sustaining traumatic injury is proper training, constant awareness, reliable equipment, and taking appropriate safety precautions.  For those who prefer this two-wheeled mode of transportation, or are thinking about the transition from driving to riding, here is a quick safety review of Washington State’s “on-road” motorcycle laws:

Are safety helmets required by law?

A: Yes, as of January 1, 2007.  Following the letter of the law also means that your helmet must be certified by the manufacturer as meeting the United States Department of Transportation (DOT) standards listed under 49 CFR 571.218.  The Washington law itself can be found at RCW.37.530

Is eye protection required by law?

A: Yes.  Unless your motorcycle is equipped with a windshield, you are required to wear glasses, goggles, or a helmet with a face shield. RCW.37.530

Does Washington require the daytime use of a headlight?

A: Yes, pursuant to RCW 46.37.522.  As an extra safety precaution, the Code of Federal Regulations, Title 49, 571.108, permits modulating headlights (which flicker quickly between high and low beams in order to make an approaching motorcycle more visible).

How loud can your motorcycle be?

A: This is a tricky one since plenty of riders believe that a louder exhaust note means higher visibility, and therefore, increased awareness from those around them.  However, the letter of the law can be found at section 173-62-030 of the Washington Administrative Code.  It specifies that exhaust systems or mufflers causing “excessive or unusual noise” are prohibited.  The code section also specifies the decibel levels that are legally acceptable when measured at a distance of 50 feet.

Is lane –splitting allowed in Washington?

A: Unlike states such as California, Washington does not allow lane-splitting (riding between lanes of stopped or slower moving traffic, or moving between lanes to the front of the traffic stopped at a traffic light). RCW 46.61.608

What are the Washington State insurance requirements for motorcycles, scooters, or mopeds?

A: Believe it or not, Washington State does not require motorcycles, scooters, or mopeds to be insured under a motor vehicle liability policy, according to RCW 46.30.020.  All other forms of insurance, including “first-party” coverage (i.e. PIP or MedPay), uninsured motorist coverage (UM), or underinsured motorist coverage (UIM) are similarly “optional.”

However, it is always advisable to insure your motorcycle or other 2-wheeled vehicle to the extent possible.  Most attorneys or medical providers that handle personal injury situations will tell you that at some point, they have come across a situation where a motorcyclist has caused serious injury to another person, possibly a pedestrian, or a passenger.  These same attorneys and providers can also share stories of terrible situations where even a fully helmeted and armored motorcyclist or scooter operator has sustained life-altering traumatic injuries, only later to discover that the vehicle causing the collision was uninsured, or woefully underinsured.   Other situations are simply a matter of gravel in the wrong curve causing a motorcyclist to lay down their bike.  When you consider the fact that motorcycle insurance policies in Washington can be less expensive than similar policies for cars, and can offer very similar coverage amounts, it becomes clear why it’s important to invest in coverage regardless of the legal requirements, especially when you’re not protected by the “cage” of your automobile.

Meditation and Chronic Pain

Categories: Other Physical Injuries

By Melissa D. Carter. Posted on .

A recent Brown University study proposed that meditation can help patients manage their chronic pain.[1]  The study analyzed the intimate connection in mindfulness between mind and body, as meditation training begins with a highly localized focus on body and breath sensations.

Meditation and Chronic Pain

The study’s researchers state that the repeated concentrated sensory focus enhances control over localized alpha rhythms in the primary somatosensory cortex, where sensations from different parts of the body are mapped by the brain.  By learning to control their focus on the present somatic moment, researchers say, meditators develop a more sensitive “volume knob” for controlling spatially specific, localized sensory cortical alpha rhythms, thus enabling optimal filtering of sensory information.  Meditators learn to control which body sensations they listen to, and also how to regular attention so that it does not lean toward negative physical sensations, like chronic pain.

The study team used a brain imaging technology called magneto encephalography (MEG) to show that alpha rhythms in the cortex correlate with sensory attention and that the ability to regulate localized alpha brainwaves on a millisecond scale is more distinct in people who have had standardized mindfulness training than in those who have not.  The team also used a computer model that simulates the electrical activity of neural networks and predicts how the alpha rhythm is generated.  One prediction from this study is to explain how gaining control of alpha rhythm not only enhances sensory focus on a particular area of the body, but also helps people overcome persistent competing stimuli, such as chronic pain signals.

The study proposes that training chronic pain patients in the standardized mindfulness techniques of focusing on and then focusing away from pain, should result in MEG-measurable, testable improvements in alpha rhythm control.

“By this process of repeatedly engaging and disengaging alpha dynamics across the body map, according to our alpha theory, subjects are re-learning the process of directly modulating localized alpha rhythms,” they wrote.



[1] Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, “Mindfulness starts with the body: somatosensory attention and top-down modulation of cortical alpha rhythms in mindfulness meditation,”Catherine E. Kerr, Matthew D. Sacchet, Sara W. Lazar, Christopher I. Moore and Stephanie R. Jones.


Sobriety Checkpoints: Like It or Not, They Work

Categories: Auto Accidents

By Arthur D. Leritz. Posted on .

The idea of sobriety checkpoints are a controversial issue here in Washington State, despite the fact that they seem to work.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, those states that have sobriety checkpoints reduced alcohol-related fatal, injury and property damage crashes each by about 20%.[1]   This same study also found a correlation between the frequency/publicity of sobriety checkpoints and a reduction in alcohol-related fatalities: the more checkpoints that are conducted, the lower the amount of driving deaths caused by impaired driving. iStock_000018130522XSmall (2)

Washington is only one of 12 states that do not allow sobriety checkpoints.[2]  Sobriety checkpoints are currently not legal in Washington State and it may very well take an amendment to the State Constitution to authorize these checkpoints.  This idea is gaining in popularity after recent highly publicized cases involving deaths and serious injuries due to impaired driving, such as the recent case in North Seattle where a mother and her infant son were severely injured and the grandparents were killed as they were crossing the street when they were hit by an impaired driver.  Just this week, Rep. Brad Klippert, R-Kennewick, said that his staff is drafting language for a new bill to authorize the checkpoints, which would stop drivers even if they have done nothing wrong.  Rep. Roger Goodman, D-Kirkland, has said that he plans to hold a hearing on the proposal.[3]

If you see someone driving erratically, call 911.  If you, a friend or family member has been injured as a result of impaired driving, the Attorneys at Adler Giersch, PS are ready and willing to help you.

[1] Countermeasures That Work: A Highway Safety Countermeasure Guide for State Highway Safety Offices, 6th Ed. 2011 DOT HS S11 444.

[2] Checkpoints are permitted under the United States Constitution.