Personal Injury Updates

Information about Personal Injury in Washington State

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Long Road Trips for the Holidays

Categories: Auto Accidents, Practical Tips You Can Use

By PI-Advisor. Posted on .

The winter road trip: long, family-packed car rides for holiday gatherings or ski-trips into the mountains.  It is a time for scenic beauty, family memory making, but also a potentially dangerous time with snow, ice and slick road conditions.  Here are a few pre-cautions to take before you hit the road to ensure you and your loved ones are prepared for the long trip this season:Winter Driving

  1. Before taking off always check road and weather reports, especially if driving over mountain passes and isolated areas.  If you must travel through bad weather, be prepared for longer travel times and road closures.   The Washington State Department of Transportation has a mobile app for iPhones and Android for statewide access to traffic alerts, cameras, ferry schedule and more.
  2. Check traction on tires and pressure levels.  Good tires are important to winter driving.  Always have chains in your vehicle, especially if the vehicle is not all wheel/four wheel drive.  In Washington State, the penalty for not using chains when advised is a $500.00 fine.  Lastly, know how to install chains before leaving on your trip.
  3. Visibility is also key to winter driving.  Check headlights, blinkers and brake lights before trips.  Wash your car before any trip to ensure windows are clear and headlights are bright.  Ensure windshield wipers are working proper and windshield wiper fluids are topped off.
  4. Have an emergency kit in your car including flashlights, extra batteries, flares, jumper cables, first aid kit, water, and non-perishable food.  Many local auto supplies store have preassembled emergency kits.
  5. Before long road trips, have your vehicle checked by an automobile mechanic, including fluid levels and brakes.  Breaking down on the side of the road in bad weather means increased risks and increased wait time for help.
  6. Pack extra blankets, clothes, gloves, food and water.

For more tips on winter driving, visit www.aaa.com for their complete list.

Most drivers will make it to their driving designation without any issues.  However, it’s always best to prepare for the worst to stay safe this winter season.  And while this last tip may not be on AAA’s list of winter road trip tips, we recommend bringing a good soundtrack.

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.  http://www.frontiersin.org/Journal/10.3389/fnhum.2013.00012/abstract

 

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.

Older Professional Drivers More Likely to Die in Motor Vehicle Collisions

Categories: Auto Accidents

By Jacob W. Gent. Posted on .

Older workers who drive as part of their job have a significantly higher fatality rate as a result of motor vehicle collisions than younger workers.

A recent report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention noted workers 65 and older are three times more likely to die in motor vehicle collisions than workers aged 18 to 54.  The risk for older drivers begins to increase at 55, and then increases much more at 65 and older. 

According to the CDC report, more than 11,500 workers aged 18 and over died while driving for work between 2003 and 2010. Among these deaths, 26.9 percent were among those aged 55 and older.  The traffic death rate varied with race and ethnicity, with the highest rates among older American Indian/Alaskan Native drivers, more than four times that of younger drivers.  The traffic death rate for older white and black drivers was three times that of younger drivers, while Hispanic drivers aged 65 and older the death rate was twice that of younger drivers.

The risk is not restricted to workers employed in typical transportation occupations, such as drivers of tractor-trailers or delivery trucks.  The risk cuts across all industries and occupations.  Workers in transportation and warehousing accounted for a third of the deaths. The traffic death rate was highest for all age groups in that category, but highest (21.2 percent) for those aged 65 and older, the report noted.  By occupation, the rates were highest among those working in transportation and material moving.  These jobs accounted for 50 percent of all the deaths, with workers aged 65 and older accounting for 22.9 percent of deaths.

Most deaths were caused in collisions between vehicles, and 48 percent of these deaths were of drivers aged 65 and older.  Among those aged 65 and older, 23 percent of the accidents happened while driving a car, 22 percent while driving a tractor trailer and 15 percent while driving a pickup truck.  Drivers over 65  accounted for 9 percent of the deaths involving off-road or industrial vehicles, compared with 2 percent for younger workers.

The report was published Aug. 23 in the CDC publication Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

 

Pop Quiz: How Much Do You Know About Your Health Insurance?

Categories: Practical Tips You Can Use

By Steven J. Angles. Posted on .

With open enrollment for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, also called “Obamacare,” beginning on October 1st, 2013, now is an excellent time to ask yourself how much you know about your own health insurance.  If you plan on shopping for health care insurance in the Washington State marketplace, are you familiar enough with the terms used by insurance companies to make the most informed decision for yourself and your family?  For example, do you think that a “premium” is an expense at the time of receiving medical service or a prescription? Do you think a “copay” is the cost of obtaining insurance?

According to poll results released in August 2013 by the American Institute of CPAs, more than half of Americans are not equipped with the basic knowledge of health insurance concepts and definitions to understand the basics of health insurance plans.[1]  According to the poll, 51 percent of adults surveyed could not accurately identify at least one of the three most common health insurance terms present in insurance contracts: premium, deductible, or copay.  (Incidentally, the poll also found that 41 percent of those surveyed were not knowledgeable about the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, with 48 percent of young adults ages 18 to 34 having no knowledge of this change in health care laws.)  This is especially troubling given that the Affordable Care Act requires all Americans to buy health insurance or pay a penalty beginning in 2014.

If you have suffered a traumatic personal injury and are lost in a sea of unfamiliar insurance terms, understanding the basics of health insurance is important to help you make more informed decisions about your medical needs and expenses, and how they affect your household finances.  However, knowing what your medical provider’s billing department is referring to when you speak with them during an appointment, or how to read the constant stream of statements you receive in the mail will also reduce the stress already there when you are living with and treating for injuries caused by another person’s negligence.

In addition to the many ways available on various web sites to help you increase your Insurance 101 I.Q., we have additional resources on our web site.



[1] http://www.aicpa.org/press/pressreleases/2013/pages/us-adults-fail-health-insurance-101-aicpa-survey.aspx

Adult Seat Belt Use Statistics

Categories: Auto Accidents

By Jacob W. Gent. Posted on .

Did you know:Seat belt

  • Approximately 6,400 adults are injured in a motor vehicle collision each day in the United States?
  • More than 2.3 million adult drivers and passengers were treated in emergency departments for injuries from crashes in 2009.
  • In one year alone, deaths and injuries to drivers and passengers from crashes cost $70 billion in medical and lost work.
  • Young adults age 18-34 have the highest crash-related injury rates of all adults.
  • 7.3 million more adults would have worn their seat belts in 2008 if all states had primary enforcement seat belt laws achieved 88% use.*

Motor vehicle collisions are the leading cause of death for people between the age of 5 and 34.  Seat belt use by adults is the most effective way to reduce injuries and death caused by motor vehicle collisions.

  • Seat belt use reduces serious injuries and deaths in crashes by 50%. Air bags provide added protection but are not a substitute for seat belts in a crash.
  • Seat belt use is higher in states that have primary enforcement laws (88%) than in those states that do not have them (79%).
  • In 2009, about 12,000 more injuries would have been prevented and about 450 more lives saved if all states had primary enforcement seat belt laws.

Between 2002 and 2008, the percentage of adults who always wear seat belts increased from 80% to 85%.  Still, 1 in 7 adults do not wear a seat belt on every trip. Primary enforcement seat belt laws have a significant impact on getting people to buckle up.*  In 2010, 19 states–where 1 in 4 adult Americans live–did not have a primary law.

Be smart. Be safe.  Buckle up!

 

 

* A primary enforcement seat belt law means a police officer can pull someone over and issue a ticket to the driver just because someone in the vehicle is not wearing a seat belt. A secondary enforcement law allows a police officer to issue a ticket for someone not wearing a seat belt only if the driver has been pulled over for some other offense.

Source: Center for Disease Control and Prevention Vital Signs

2013 Walk Like MADD/MADD Dash Washington a Huge Success

Categories: Events

By PI-Advisor. Posted on .

The third annual Walk Like MADD/MADD Dash on Sunday, September 15th was a huge success.  This year registered participants nearly double to 480.  Total funds raised for the event went above and beyond MADD’s $50,000 goal to $56,800!  The walk took place at Magnuson Park, its first year after moving from the Seattle Center.

Team Adler Giersch, PS led by attorney Arthur D. Leritz had a total of 21 registered walkers (including children and dogs) and raised $2,360.00 to benefit Mothers Against Drunk Driving.  Mr. Leritz is also on the Advisory Board for MADD and participated in its pre-walk reception with MADD National President, Jan Withers, on Friday, September 15th.

By walking we hope to raise awareness of not only drunk driving, but underage drunk driving and those adults who allow kids to drink.   Adler Giersch encourages others to walk, run, speak out, write editorials, and talk to neighbors and to continue to be heard in all ways possible to stop drunk driving and underage drinking!

MADD was founded in 1980 to “To aid the victims of crimes performed by individuals driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, to aid the families of such victims and to increase public awareness of the problem of drinking and drugged driving.”  Since its beginning MADD has save 300,000 (and counting) lives to date and have broadened their mission “to stop drunk driving, support the victims of this violent crime and prevent underage drinking.”

 

madd

BUI Laws Toughened Up as of 2013 Boating Season

Categories: Personal Injury Resources, Practical Tips You Can Use

By Steven J. Angles. Posted on .

Summer on the waters of Washington State means getting boats out of dry dock, picturesque  white sails dotting the horizon, and flotillas of vessels grouped together to celebrate our  spectacular weather.  However, as of July 28, 2013, the Washington State Legislature has empowered law enforcement to crack down even more on boaters that operate their vessels under the influence.

According to Washington State Park data, alcohol is a factor in 30 percent of boating fatalities.[1] Senate Bill 5437, signed by Governor Inslee on May 16, 2013, creates stiffer penalties for boating under the influence (“BUI”) and expands prior BUI laws to include offenses for operating while under the influence of marijuana.  Boaters should be aware of the following new changes[2]:boating

  1. Per the revisions to RCW 79A.60.040, the penalty for BUI is no longer a misdemeanor (which carries a maximum of 90 days in jail and a fine of no more than $1,000.00.)  Boaters will now face gross misdemeanor charges for BUI, which means a maximum sentence of 364 days in jail and a fine of up to $5,000.00.
  2. Boat operators are deemed to have given implied consent to have their breath or blood tested for the concentration of alcohol, marijuana, or other drugs in their system, subject to RCW 46.61.506.  If the operator refuses to take the test, they will be issued a class 1 civil infraction under RCW 7.80.120 that carries a penalty of $1,000.00.
  3. Law enforcement officers are authorized to issue citations when investigating boating accidents, or, perform an arrest for violations of any criminal statutes.
  4. Operating a vessel without the proper safety equipment may result in citations for both the owner and operator of the vessel

In essence, the new laws allow law enforcement on the water more of the authority already permitted when investigating DUI cases on land.  The laws are also clearly anticipating the potential rise in BUI incidences due to the legalization of marijuana in Washington State.

Injuries caused by collisions on the water present special challenges for the injured parties, law enforcement, and emergency medical personnel.  An injured person may have to wait much longer to be evaluated at the scene for injuries due to the distances involved and the generally slower nature of boat travel.   Often times, there are few independent witnesses to what actually happened to cause the collision, making it difficult for law enforcement to perform a complete investigation.  In addition, there is the ever-present danger that an injured party may fall overboard and injure themselves more severely.

The attorneys at the law firm of Adler Giersch PS are experienced in cases of injuries from vessel collisions, and are available for a free consultation.



[1] http://www.parks.wa.gov/newsreleases/?number=%2013-021

[2] http://apps.leg.wa.gov/documents/billdocs/2013-14/Pdf/Bills/Session%20Laws/Senate/5437-S.SL.pdf