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Sayer Regan & Thayer, LLP
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How motorcycle safety is a year-round concern: It may seem hard to believe, but today is officially the first day of the fall season, meaning it won't be long before the leaves start to fall, and the temperatures begin their slow and steady decline. Just because we're one-step closer to winter doesn't mean we have to completely abandon all of our favorite warm-weather outdoor activities. Indeed, there is still plenty of time left for bicycling, fishing, grilling and motorcycling.In fact, many motorcyclists consider fall to be among the best season for riding given the more favorable temperatures and, of course, the beautiful scenery created by the changing leaves. Experts caution, however, that as the riding season winds down, riders must remain vigilant while behind the throttle. Furthermore, they urge riders to keep some of the following safety points in mind even after they store their bike for the long winter, and mull making some off-season acquisitions or alterations. Helmets Even though Rhode Island law only requires all new riders to wear a helmet for one year, and all riders under 21 to wear a helmet, many riders still make the wise decision to don the appropriate headgear. However, many opt for open-faced helmets instead of full-faced helmets, fearing that the latter will restrict their visibility. The U.S. Department of Transportation's safety standards dictate, however, that all helmets -- regardless of how they cover your face -- must provide riders with a field of view measuring 210 degrees. In addition, experts point out that full-faced helmets can protect the rider's face from the weather, insects and debris, as well as provide an extra measure of protection in a crash. Accordingly, riders will want to keep this in mind when helmet shopping in the months ahead. Bigger bikes Even though it might be bitterly cold and there are several inches of snow on the ground, this won't stop devoted riders from heading to local shows and dealerships to check out the latest models. While riders may be very tempted to upgrade to a new model with a bigger engine and/or a larger frame, experts advise them to proceed with caution. That's because bikes that weigh more are often harder to maneuver, while a bigger engine will mean higher torque and less room for mistakes. Here's hoping we see a safe fall season for motorcyclists. In the event the unimaginable does happen, however, and you suffer serious injuries in a motorcycle accident, consider speaking with an experienced legal professional to learn more about your rights and your options. http://bit.ly/2cOMM9P
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Understanding more about what you can do after a car accident - II: In a recent post, we began discussing how it was important for people to understand that no matter how careful they are behind the wheel, they can still be victimized by the recklessness of another driver. To that end, we started examining some of the steps that people can consider taking in the immediate aftermath of a car accident that has left them shaken and perhaps even coping with personal injuries.We'll conclude this discussion in today's post. However, it's important to reiterate at the outset that the purpose of this post isn't to cause people unnecessary alarm, but rather to illustrate why it's so important for them to be prepared should the unimaginable transpire. Once the accident scene is finally cleared, experts indicate that the real work begins. Firstly, they advise people to contact their insurance company, informing them of exactly what transpired from the property damage incurred to the bodily injuries sustained. If necessary, they advise supplying relevant documentation such as the police report. Regarding any medical treatment necessitated by the accident, experts recommend that accident victims keep detailed notes and/or records of everything from providers and prescriptions to treatments and medical bills. Furthermore, they suggest keeping a sort of diary to help account for pain and suffering, documenting things like work absences, forfeited activities, or even daily descriptions of how physical/emotional has affected them. Perhaps most importantly, experts advise people to resist the temptation to accept any early settlement offers from an insurance company. Indeed, they strongly suggest that injured parties consider retaining the services of an experienced legal professional -- who can help assess the adequacy of any settlement offers, as well as enforce their rights, and protect their best interests -- as soon as possible. Here's hoping this information proved helpful, such that motorists feel a bit more informed about what they can do if they've suffer life-changing injuries in a car wreck caused by the recklessness of another. http://bit.ly/2cnLsdG
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What are attractive nuisances and why do they matter?: When you live in a neighborhood that is full of children, you are likely going to see the children running here and there during the day. While most children will be supervised, there is a chance that some won't be. Those children are part of the reason why homeowners should make sure that there aren't any attractive nuisances on their property. What is an attractive nuisance?An attractive nuisance is something that could catch the attention of a curious child in such a way that the child simply couldn't help but to investigate. Generally, these attractive nuisances would have to require maintenance and be manmade. Wells, animals, lawn equipment and swimming pools could be considered attractive nuisances. Lakes, rivers and ponds aren't likely to be considered attractive nuisances. Aren't children supposed to understand the dangers that are present? Courts usually assume that children understand some dangers, but not all dangers. The maturity of the child might be a factor in this part of the case. Just because a child might understand the dangers doesn't mean that property owners are in the clear. Property owners have a duty to prevent harm from occurring to children if they have reason to believe that children might venture onto their property. When a child is harmed by an attractive nuisance, the parents might decide to pursue legal action. This can be a very complex undertaking because of the various elements that are likely going to be present in the case. Knowing how Rhode Island law views attractive nuisances might be a good starting point if you think you would like to seek compensation based on this doctrine. Source: FindLaw, "Dangers to Children: What is an Attractive Nuisance?," accessed Sep. 07, 2016 http://bit.ly/2bXJq3W
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Understanding more about what you can do after a car accident: As most people make their way to work, school or other appointments, they will inevitably hear a local traffic report on the radio detailing how a certain stretch of highway or popular thoroughfare is moving slowly thanks to a serious accident. While we have a tendency to tune these reports out, particularly if the accident in question is nowhere in our vicinity, they nevertheless serve as a grim reminder that car crashes are by no means a rare occurrence. Indeed, the truth is that even the most careful driver can still be victimized by the recklessness of another at any time.This isn't meant to cause unnecessary alarm, but rather to impress upon people the importance of being prepared in the event the unimaginable does happen. To that end, today's post, the first in a series, will discuss some of the steps that should consider taking in the immediate aftermath of a crash, a time when then are likely experiencing a host of emotions and perhaps even dealing with personal injuries. Experts advise that once the initial shock of the accident subsides, the first order of business should be making sure that all parties are physically okay and, if not, to summon emergency medical assistance. Indeed, they advise not to move any injured party -- particularly if they are unconscious or complaining of neck/back pain -- unless they are in imminent danger. In the event of physical injuries and/or property damage to vehicles, experts strongly advise motorists to consider calling the police, who can not only help keep people remain calm and on point, but file a detailed report that can prove helpful should legal action prove necessary. Regardless of whether a motorist decides to call the police, experts indicate they must exchange basic information with all other motorists involved, including names, addresses, license plate numbers, drivers' license numbers and, of course, insurance information. They also urge motorists not to take this step until their emotions have subsided, and they are capable of being civil and cooperative. Furthermore, they indicate that no conversations concerning fault should be undertaken or apologies issued, as their interpretation of events could be incorrect. We'll continue this discussion in a future post. In the meantime, consider speaking with an experienced legal professional as soon as possible if you've suffered life-changing injuries in a car accident caused by the recklessness of another. http://bit.ly/2bWgoyz
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Is it time to consider lane-splitting in Rhode Island?: As much as we would like to think otherwise, the simple truth is that the roads and highways throughout the nation -- including right here in Rhode Island -- have always been a very dangerous place for motorcyclists. Indeed, this is still the case despite all of the advancements we've made in road safety and knowledge we've gained about dangerous driving practices. Interestingly enough, lawmakers in California recently passed a bill legalizing a highly unusual riding practice known as lane-splitting, which supporters believe will actually reduce the number of serious and even fatal motorcycle accidents, and eventually become the norm in other states.What is lane-splitting? Lane-splitting is when motorcyclists weave their way through traffic congestion by riding between lanes at varying speeds. Until last Friday, the practice was considered neither legal nor illegal in California, existing in a sort of legal limbo such that state lawmakers never expressly outlawed it and the Highway Patrol provided its tacit approval by not citing people for doing it. What does the new law accomplish? At its core, the new law legalizes lane-splitting. However, it does not currently provide any sort of details as to speed limits and safety guidelines. That's because the Highway Patrol was given the authority to do this and the agency is expected to release the final details in the coming weeks. Is lane-splitting actually any safer? A study conducted by researchers at the University of California-Berkeley found that of the 5,969 motorcycle accidents that took place in the state from July 2012 to August 2013, 997 involved lane-splitting. Despite this finding, the authors concluded that it was a relatively safe practice if performed at speeds of 50-miles-per-hour or lower. In fact, the UC Berkeley researchers made the following eye-opening findings: The fatality rate among lane-splitting motorcyclists traveling at moderate speeds was 1.2 percent versus 3 percent overall. The head injury rate among lane-splitting motorcyclists traveling at moderate speeds was 9 percent versus 17 percent overall. The torso injury rate among lane-splitting motorcyclists traveling at moderate speeds was 19 percent versus 29 percent overall. Are most Californians accepting of lane-splitting? Surprisingly, most Californians don't seem to like lane-splitting. Indeed, the state's Office of Traffic Safety determined that two-thirds of surveyed motorists expressed displeasure with the practice. Is Rhode Island one of the state's considering lane-splitting? The states identified as potentially following California's lead include Oregon, Nevada, Arizona, Texas and Washington. What are your thoughts on this subject? Is this something you'd be willing to consider allowing here in Rhode Island? If you've been seriously injured or lost a loved one in a motorcycle crash, consider speaking with an experienced legal professional to learn more about your options for pursuing justice. http://bit.ly/2bgsRzF
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Road debris is a bigger danger than you might realize: Almost everyone has experienced some sort of frightening near miss with road debris from the remnants of blown tires to decidedly more menacing objects like mattresses or ladders that have clearly fallen from their trailers, truck beds or vehicle roofs. While many are able to dismiss these close calls, there are others who aren't so lucky. By way of illustration, consider a report released by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety last week, which linked a rather shocking number of injuries -- and fatalities -- to road debris.According to the study, there were over 200,000 car crashes caused by road debris on U.S. roads and highways from 2011 through 2014, resulting in roughly 39,000 personal injuries and as many as 500 fatalities. Perhaps not surprisingly, the researchers determined that the majority of these crashes were caused by motorists swerving to avoid obstructions on interstate highways. Indeed, the report details accidents involving everything from fallen branches and tires to boat trailers and swing sets. Although all 50 states fine motorists for failing to secure a load -- $100 to $500 here in Rhode Island -- this is of little consolation to motorists involved in head-on collisions with potentially deadly detritus. The good news is that there are things people can do to make the roads safer and to protect themselves from these types of crashes. For those hauling objects: Always ensure that any load being hauled is safely tied down and that chains on trailers are secure Always perform the necessary maintenance on vehicles to prevent things like tire blowouts and other mechanical failures that can send debris flying into traffic Always avoid taking interstate highways when driving with oddly-shaped items or heavy loads (if possible) For those driving: Follow the three-second rule (i.e., no tailgating) Make a habit of scanning the road head for debris every 12-15 seconds If a collision with debris is inevitable, reduce your speed Try to maintain an open space to at least one side to allow time to change lanes if debris is spotted If you have been injured or lost a loved one in a crash caused by the negligence of another motorist, it's imperative to consider speaking with a skilled legal professional who can help you seek justice. http://bit.ly/2b011ro
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Committed and compassionate advocacy for victims of bicycle accidents: Even though the unofficial end of summer -- the start of the school year -- is now just a few weeks away, there is still plenty of time left to enjoy favorite outdoor activities from gardening and barbequing to fishing and, of course, bicycling. In fact, many people will ride their bicycles right up until the snow flies while even a few more hardy souls will continue to do so right through the winter. What all of this means from a safety perspective is that motorists must continue to be on the lookout for bicyclists, and bicyclists must continue to remain vigilant against the reckless actions of motorists.Some of these reckless actions include: Passing bicyclists too closely Driving too fast for conditions Turning right on a red light and hitting bicyclists approaching from behind Turning in front of bicyclists at intersections or driveways Failing to scan surroundings for bicyclists while backing out or opening vehicle doors Neglecting to see bicyclists due to distracted driving Overtaking bicyclists but failing to see them until it's too late In case you have any doubts about just how real the threat of bicycle accidents is, consider statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showing that in 2013 alone more than 900 bicyclists lost their lives while estimated 494,000 were taken to emergency rooms for treatment for serious injuries. At Sayer Regan & Thayer, LLP, we know how devastating bicycle accidents can be for victims and their families. Indeed, those bicyclists fortunate enough to survive a collision caused by a negligent motorist are frequently left with life-changing and wholly debilitating bodily harm from traumatic brain injuries to spinal trauma. Thanks to our decades of experience, however, we know what it takes to prepare and present wholly compelling cases, and to fight to secure the justice and peace of mind that bicycle accident victims deserve. To learn more about our approach in these cases, please visit our website. http://bit.ly/2be2W8B
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Study finds teen drivers are distracted by more than texts: If asked to identify some of the most dangerous driving habits among teens, there's a good chance most people would identify things like driving under the influence, speeding and, of course, distracted driving. While it's true that all of these are factors in fatal motor vehicle accidents involving teen drivers, distracted driving remains one of the single biggest threats. If you don't believe it, consider that statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration show that ten percent of drivers between the ages of 15 to 19 involved in fatal collisions were found to be distracted in 2013, the largest percentage among all age groups.While distracted driving among teens is usually synonymous with texting while driving, a recently released study by researchers with Students Against Destructive Decisions and Liberty Mutual Insurance found that the danger posed by smartphones has perhaps evolved beyond texting. Indeed, the study found that while 27 percent of surveyed teens confessed to texting while driving, an astounding 68 percent confessed to using apps -- the ubiquitous downloadable small games or programs -- while driving. The researchers made the following additional findings among the surveyed teens, all of which were equally shocking: Almost 80 percent of teens implicitly believed that using apps while behind the wheel is not distracted driving. 64 percent of teens believed that using music apps while driving is dangerous, yet 46 percent admitted to using them while behind the wheel. 41 percent of teens believed that using music apps while driving is dangerous, yet 58 percent admitted to using them while behind the wheel. The researchers theorized that the reason teen drivers create this seemingly artificial distinction between texting and using apps while driving may have to do with the perception of the apps as "utilities," meaning they somehow aren't as dangerous given that they can help fulfill an actual objective. The flaws in this logic become apparent, however, when you stop to consider that just like sending a text message, actions like changing a song and searching for a station or entering a location or checking directions can all take a driver's eyes away from the road ahead. "Any behavior that takes your eyes and focus off the road, even for mere seconds, can impair your ability to react to hazards and other vehicles," said one research scientist. "It's not the apps themselves that are dangerous, but how ... our teens interact with them while behind the wheel." As alarming as this study is, the researchers did suggest that parents can help mitigate the risks of their teens engaging in this and other forms of distracted driving by asking them to keep their smartphones out of reach while driving, reinforcing the importance of mapping out destinations before leaving, and having a conversation in which expectations for driving are set. If you have been seriously injured in a crash caused by a distracted driver, consider speaking with an experienced legal professional to learn more about your rights and your options for seeking justice. http://bit.ly/2bdTthH
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