Personal Injury Updates

Information about Personal Injury in Washington State

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Washington’s Coalition to Reduce Underage Drinking Continues the Fight

Categories: Auto Accidents, Personal Injury Resources

By Richard H. Adler. Posted on .

I had the distinct privilege and honor to attend the monthly meeting of Washington’s Coalition to Reduce Underage Drinking (RUaD) this last Friday in Olympia.  A special guest was State Rep Roger Goodman and he presented for an hour talking about DUI legislation.  I was seated between Amy Ezzo, Washington’s Director for MADD and a representative from the Washington State Patrol.  Around the room were various representatives from the liquor control board, DSHS, the Attorney General’s office, as well as various other representatives of state agencies.  It was truly inspiring to be amongst these talented individuals, all of whom are working together to reduce underage drinking in the state.

RUaD has been working tirelessly to raise awareness and support legislation that targets underage drinking since its inception in 1998.  Here are some alarming facts pulled from the RUaD website on students and drinking:

  1. 40% of 12th graders reported having a drink in the last month.
  2. 23% of 12th graders reported riding in a car with a driver who had been drinking.
  3. 12% of 12th graders reported driving a car after they had been drinking.
  4. 19% of 12th graders reported drinking 3 or more days in the past month.
  5. 25% of 12th graders reported drinking 5 or more drinks at least once in the past two weeks.
  6. 36% of 12th graders reported getting alcohol from friends, 31% reported getting alcohol at a party and 19% reported giving money to someone to buy alcohol for them.

Now, for the good news:  parents are the #1 influence on their kids on this issue.  So, it is important to keep this dialogue with your kids current, as the percent of kids who think you would catch them if they drank alcohol dropped from 72% in 8th grade to 37% in 12th grade.

For more information about underage drinking, go to their website at

National Athletic Trainers Association's (NATA) Annual Meeting

Categories: Events

By Richard H. Adler. Posted on .

This week is the 63rd National Athletic Trainers’ Association Annual Meeting and Clinical Symposia in St. Louis, Missouri.  I am invited to present a mock trial demonstration of an athlete that suffered catastrophic traumatic brain injuries because of sports-related concussions  that were not properly managed on the sidelines or in the exam room.   Following the mock trial I will join a panel of the nation’s leading medical and neuropsychological experts to debrief on the medical-legal issues regarding  concussion management.

In addition to this presentation, I will also participate in the NATA’s formal press/media release on “Preventing Sudden Death in Collegiate Conditioning Sessions.”  Since 2000, 21 National Collegiate Athletic Association football players have died from cardio-vascular events as a result of full-intensity workouts.  My role will provide insight to the legal issues for athletic trainers, doctors, coaches, school administrator on the importance of proper standards of care to prevent preventable traumatic brain injuries and other preventable traumatic medical events.

For more information regarding the new guidelines, visit

National Summit on Sports Concussion

Categories: Brain Injury

By Richard H. Adler. Posted on .

The 6th Annual National Summit on Sports Concussion & Other Athletic Injuries: Established and Emerging Science for Return-to-Play takes place on June 22, 2012 in Los Angeles, CA.  I am pleased to be an invited speaker on few topics including “Mandating Player Safety by Increased Accountability for Non-Compliance on the Sidelines and Exam Room” and demonstrating a “Cross Examination in a Concussion Case”.   The Summit will draw from top leaders in sports concussion evaluation, treatment, and research.  Medical specialists, research scientists, legal advocates and those that work in the insurance world are scheduled to speak as well.  It will be a day of collaboration to help prevent preventable brain trauma and make sports safer and fun for all ages, particularly youth athletes.  For more information, please visit the Sports Concussion Institute’s website.

Sports Concussion Institute

The Zackery Lystedt Law – Three Year Anniversary Update

Categories: Brain Injury

By Richard H. Adler. Posted on .

Its been almost three years since Washington State Governor Christine Gregoire signed the first-in-the-nation law protecting youth athletes and concussion by removing the child from a game or practice after a concussion and requiring medical clearance by a licensed healthcare provider.  The law was named after Zackery Lystedt.  Since that day, the three key components of the Zackery Lystedt Law are now law in 36 states (most recently Hawaii and Florida) and the District of Columbia.  Since 2009, the Lystedt Family continue to spread their message to ensure that all youth athletes are protected from experiencing the same tragedy by preventing preventable brain injuries.  Richard H. Adler, as Chairman of the Brain Injury Association of Washington has worked with many other coalition partners, including Stan Herring, MD (UW Medicine/Seattle Seahawks Team Physician), over the last three years have with countless Monday lunch phone conferences, presentations, and traveling to deliver the message, “when in doubt, sit them out.”

USA Football reported on the Zackery Lystedt Law, three years later.  Click here to read the full article.

ESPN SportCenter Special Report on Zackery Lystedt and Safety in the NFL

Categories: Brain Injury

By Richard H. Adler. Posted on .

Whether you are a sports fan or not, when ESPN covers a story, people listen.  This is especially true the week before the Super Bowl, so when ESPN chose a special story to air during the week leading up to the big game, you just know it is important and a ‘must see.’  Last week ESPN travelled to Maple Valley, WA to do an interview with Zackery Lystedt and his parents, Victor and Mercedes, as part of a special report for its “SportsCenter” television show.  The report focused on “Safety in the NFL,” and the recent and future rule and equipment changes to make the game safer for players at all levels and ages.   The change started in Washington and with Zackery Lystedt.  Two years ago the NFL Commissioner, Roger Goodell, came to Seattle, WA as an Honorary Chair of the Brain Injury Association of Washington’s Annual Fundraising Gala.  Mr. Goodell met Zack, medical specialists, and advocates and credits this visit with changes we are now seeing in the NFL.  The 45 minute episode on ESPN contains a 5 minute feature story on the Lystedts, the law named after him, the Brain Injury Association of Washington, and how the NFL is changing the game.  Zack’s story is one worthy of your time and one that will warm your heart.

ESPN SportsCenters Special Report – Life Changed by Concussions


Recommended Documentary – "A Not So Still Life"

Categories: Brain Injury

By Richard H. Adler. Posted on .

As the Chairman of the Brain Injury Association of Washington, I was invited to participate in a movie trailer for “A Not So Still Life,” an inspirational documentary of hope and triumph of local artist and traumatic brain injury survivor, Ginny Ruffner. This is an amazing story with a heartwarming message of never giving up and following your passion in life. It’s a 2-thumbs up documentary.

We were very fortunate to have Ginny Ruffner as our keynote speaker at the Brain Injury Association of Washington’s 5th annual Gala, Dinner, and Auction last October at the Grand Hyatt Seattle.

If you are interesting in obtaining a copy of the movie, simply contact my office at 206.682.0300 or email my assistant,

A Not So Still Life TBI Testimonial


NFL Toughens up On Fines for Improper Head Hits

Categories: Brain Injury

By Richard H. Adler. Posted on .

In October 2010, the issue of concussions and brain injuries had caught the attention of the NFL as seen by the significant fines assessed against players who caused helmet-to-helmet contact during tackles.  The fines were an initial attempt to draw black-and-white boundaries for players and league officials and to send a strong and new signal that helmet-to-helmet hits were now off limits.  The NFL’s actions demonstrated concern about the long term consequences for players and for the future of the sport.  For the remainder of the season, many players appeared unfazed by the new fines and improper hits continued throughout play-offs.   But then again, change like this does not come overnight.


In 2011, whenever football practices and games resume, and in an effort to “walk-the-talk” against helmet-to-helmet hits, the NFL will heighten its fines to reach into the owners’ pockets.  The new rule was designed to force a cascade of implementation requiring coaches to instruct players on safe and proper tackle techniques in this new era.  Despite some objections by players and owners, the NFL has clearly entered a new and enlightened era on protecting the brains of its players and the future of football.  Equally as important, the NFL’s change will have an immediate and longer term cascading effect on youth sports and the need to have greater awareness of risks and consequences when a youth athlete is suspected of having a concussion. This growing awareness will result in the prevention of preventable brain injuries in youth athletes.


As an attorney and advocate for those with traumatic brain injuries ranging from sports concussions to pedestrians struck in a crosswalk, I wholeheartedly agree with the NFL’s stand to make sports safer and protect players.  In 2009, I was fortunate to lead a coalition of local community partners dedicated to making sports safer for youth athletics.  As the then-President of the Brain Injury Association of Washington, we joined with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Harborview Medical Center, the Seattle Seahawks/Sounders FC, University of Washington,  Seattle Children’s Hospital, Washington Interscholastic Activities Association, Washington State Youth Soccer Association, Washington State Athletic Trainers Association, and Cannfield & Associates Risk Managers, to help pass the first-in-the-nation youth sports and concussion.  This law standardized the best medical and coaching practices by requiring the removal from the practice or competition following suspicion of a concussion or head injury until the youth athlete was cleared in writing by a licensed healthcare provider trained in the evaluation and management of concussions.  This law also educates students, parents and coaches to know and understand the signs and symptoms of concussion and “when in doubt, sit them out.”


To read more about the NFL’s new fines, click here to read the full New York Times article.

New Publication from Richard H. Adler

Categories: Practical Tips You Can Use

By Richard H. Adler. Posted on .

According to the National Safety Council, 1 in 8 drivers will be involved in a motor vehicle collision each year.

Chances are great that the “one” is either you or someone you know, and traumatic injuries often result. For many, the injuries can be long term or life altering. Those with traumatic injuries have to confront the realities of their injuries, changes to their daily activities, dealing with insurance companies who likely have conflicting interests, adjusting to economic losses, and getting traction onto the road to physical, emotional and financial recovery.

From Injury to Action provides the background and information you will need to stay ahead of insurance companies trying to take advantage of you as they protect their profits at your expense. And whatever your injury, you will learn about the likely cause of your pain, your treatment options, and strategies to put you in the best position to reach an optimal outcome for your health and financial recovery.

To order a free copy of this book, click here to order online.

Teen Driver Rules in Washington

Categories: Practical Tips You Can Use

By Richard H. Adler. Posted on .

CDC statistics show some scary facts about teenage drivers. Teen drivers are four times likelier to crash than older drivers.

Crash risk goes up when teens drive with other teens in the car. Nearly two out of three teen crash deaths that involve 16-year-old drivers happen when a new driver has one or more teen passengers.  Washington has responded by putting some special rules in effect for drivers under 18:


  • For the first 6 months, you cannot drive with passengers under the age of 20 unless they are members of your immediate family (such as a spouse, child, stepchild, or siblings, both by birth and marriage).
  • For the next 6 months, you cannot carry more than 3 passengers who are under 20 years old who are not members of your immediate family.

Nighttime driving:

  • For the first 12 months, you cannot drive between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. unless you are with a licensed driver age 25 or older. The only exception to this rule is if you drive for agricultural purposes, meaning you transport farm products or supplies under the direction of a farmer (See RCW 46.20.070).

Cell phones:

  • You aren’t permitted to use wireless devices while driving, even with a hands-free device. This includes talking on cell phones and sending or receiving text messages. You may only use a wireless device to report an emergency.

For more information see

What is a Traumatic Brain Injury

Categories: Brain Injury

By Richard H. Adler. Posted on .

Brain injuries and other types of serious head injuries can be caused by many types of trauma. Brain injury can occur with or without an obvious blow to the head in an accident, fall or other incident. Brain injuries require specialized diagnostic and treatment techniques to address the cognitive, functional and emotional effects.

The effects of a traumatic brain injury, whether catastrophic or mild, can affect your daily activities at home and work.