Archive for the ‘Car Accidents’ Category

Jan 2020

More workers are becoming ill due to dust exposure

Massachusetts workers' compensation attorney

Workers who regularly handle building materials such as cement, concrete, and wood are likely exposed to various types of dust. It can come in contact with the skin, get in workers’ eyes and mouth, or be inhaled through the nose.

According to EHS Today, large particles don’t usually make it into the lungs. Smaller particles, however, bypass the natural filtering of our respiratory system. They either build up in the lungs or enter the bloodstream. Dust particles in the lungs and bloodstream can be warded off by naturally-occurring white blood cells, but breathing in high amounts of dust over a long period of time can cause serious and life-threatening health conditions.

What are the common types of workplace dust?

  • Silica: Those who work in construction, mining, glass production, stonecutting, and shingle manufacturing are at risk of inhaling ultrafine silica particles. In fact, silica has been linked to an upsurge of lung diseases that can result in severe, life-long health complications or death.
  • Asbestos: Asbestos is commonly found in building materials such as roofing shingles, tiles, flooring, and cement. Long-term exposure to asbestos can result in shortness of breath, coughing, wheezing, fatigue, lung cancer, and mesothelioma.
  • Flour dust: Culinary and food service workers who handle flour are at risk of breathing in flour dust. Short-term symptoms of breathing in flour dust may include a runny nose, watery eyes, frequent sneezing, coughing, and shortness of breath. Long-term exposure can result in asthma.
  • Wood dust: Construction workers, carpenters, or woodworkers are regularly exposed to dust from cutting and sanding wood. Exposure to wood dust can result in difficulty breathing, nose and throat irritation, and dermatitis (skin irritation).

What can employers do to protect workers?

EHS Today outlines several steps employers should take to better protect workers from the harmful effects of dust exposure.

  • Create safety data sheets to outline the hazards of each dust-producing material.
  • Provide details on how to avoid a dust-related hazard, and remove it (if possible).
  • Offer best practice advice for handling hazardous materials.
  • Provide workers with protective equipment and gear (required by law). This can include gloves, goggles, visors, and face masks.
  • Monitor dust levels in the workplace and alert workers when levels become dangerously high.
  • Provide adequate safety training to workers.
  • Close off areas in a facility where high amounts of dust are likely to be produced.
  • Install a ventilation system that can help remove airborne dust from a facility.

If you have developed a lung illness or any other adverse health condition due to the nature of your job, you may be eligible for worker’s compensation benefits. The Law Offices of Deborah G. Kohl — based in Massachusetts and Rhode Island — can help guide you through the process.

Apr 2019

What is the impact of opioids in the workplace on on-the-job injuries?

Massachusetts workers' compensation attorneyThe opioid epidemic has gained such a grip on the United States and Massachusetts residents and the impact can be felt everywhere, including the workplace. Common opioids used to treat work injuries include:

  • Oxycontin
  • Vicodin
  • Percocet
  • Demerol
  • Norco
  • Lorcet

According to the Workers Compensation Research Institute (WCRI), opioid prescriptions are most likely to given to injured workers who are older, work for companies with smaller payrolls, and in counties where more people have health insurance.

How opioid prescriptions impact workers

The study, dubbed Correlates of Opioid Dispensing, tapped into data on 1.4 million pain medication prescriptions filled within an 18-month period after an injury between October 2014 – September 2015.

The study found:

  • Workers age 55 and older received opioid prescriptions in 49 percent of injury cases, and two or more prescriptions in 24 percent of injury cases.
  • Workers ages 25-39 received opioid prescriptions in 42 percent of injury cases, and two or more prescriptions in 19 percent of injury cases.
  • Mining workers were the most likely to receive opioid prescriptions, accounting for 62 percent of the overall workforce. Construction workers were the second most likely, at 55 percent.
  • In areas with fewer than 20,000 residents, injured workers were prescribed opioids 68 percent of the time. In areas with more than 250,000, injured workers were prescribed opioids 54 percent of the time.
  • Among workers who sustained fractures, 79 percent received opioid prescriptions. For carpal tunnel and neurological spine pain, injured workers received opioids 70 percent and 66 percent of the time, respectively.

The long-term risks

According to the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries, injured workers who receive one week’s supply of opioids, or at least two opioid prescriptions, are twice as likely to sustain another injury within one year in contrast to those who don’t receive opioids.

This, in part, is due to the lingering effects of opioid painkillers. Upon returning to work after roughly three months of using opioid prescriptions, workers may experience dependency and tolerance to the drug.

At Law Offices of Deborah G. Kohl, we are deeply concerned with how opioids impact workers. In the event of a workplace injury, we’ll gladly work with you to help you through the process of obtaining workers’ compensation benefits.

To learn more, contact us today to set up a free consultation.

Sep 2016

Speeding a Factor in Rhode Island Car Accidents

Massachusetts car accident attorneysA fiery fatal crash occurred recently in Rhode Island, and law enforcement officers are reporting speed is likely a factor. According to Turn to 10, the accident came to the attention of law enforcement when they received multiple 911 calls about a collision in the area. The car involved in the collision was a red 2004 GMC Envoy, which had ben traveling north when it went around a curve and left the road.

The car hit the pole of a traffic light, and then it struck a cement block wall. The car started on fire upon the impact with the wall, and the fire consumed the car completely. It is believed there was one occupant in the vehicle at the time of the deadly accident, but officers responding to the collision scene were initially unable to approach the car as a result of the flames, small explosions, and extreme temperatures. The fire department had to be called to the scene in order to put out the fire.

The collisions is currently under investigation by multiple law enforcement agencies, including by the Rhode Island State Fire Marshal’s Office. However, preliminary investigations suggest the car may have been traveling as fast as 90 MPH at the time before the accident happened. If this turn out to be the case, the collision will end up being one of many in which people lose their lives as a result of speeding.

How Speeding Affects Rhode Island Car Accidents

Speeding is a leading cause of car accidents. As in this recent tragic Rhode Island accident, speeding can cause a crash when a driver loses control of a car and leaves the road. This often happens around curves, as occurred in the fiery accident which caused the death of the driver. Drivers who go around curves too fast could also end up rolling their vehicle over. Rollovers are a very common type of high-speed single vehicle accident.

Speeding not only increases collision risks, but also makes the chances of injury or death greater. Both occupants of the speeding car and other motorists on the road face a higher chance of injuries and fatalities when a car crash happens at high speeds. Automotive Fleet explains this is because the force of a collision increases exponentially if a car accident happens.

When a car accident happens at 75 miles an hour, as opposed to occurring at 25 miles an hour, the force of the crash is nine times greater at the higher speed.  If a crash happens at 50 miles an hour, the crash forces are four times greater in the faster crash.  Drivers need to be aware of this substantial added risk and they should make sure to do everything possible to avoid speeding-related accidents by driving both within the speed limit and at a speed which is safe for current traffic conditions.

Mar 2014

Providence Has Highest Number of Pedestrian Deaths in Rhode Island

Massachusetts car accident attorneysProvidence has consistently been the area in Rhode Island with the highest number of pedestrian fatalities. From 2005 to 2012, there were 18 pedestrian deaths in Providence, RI compared with  eight in Cranston and Warwick, and six in Woonsocket.

Pedestrian fatalities are also a problem nationwide. Although walkers and bikers account for just 12 percent of trips, they account for 14 percent of fatalities. The pedestrian death toll has climbed significantly in recent years, with a 15 percent increase in the number of pedestrian deaths since 2009. An 8.7 percent decline in the number of fatalities among pedestrians in the first half of 2013 is not enough to reduce the rising death toll. Experts believe that this decline may have been caused by fewer people walking since the economy has improved and more people can now afford to drive.

Walking and bicycling are good for people and good for the environment and there is a direct link between walking and the obesity rate.  A 2012 report indicated that every $1.00 invested in improving conditions for  bikers and walkers could yield as much as $11.80 in benefits. Yet, just 1.6 percent of federal transportation dollars are devoted to the needs of bicyclists and pedestrians.

Clearly, there is a problem with how money is allocated and with how pedestrian safety is prioritized in the United States. A serious effort must be made to change that, and half-measures are not enough.

Pedestrians who are injured in accidents should understand their legal rights, and can obtain damages from drivers who cause their collisions or from other responsible parties. A Providence accident lawyer can represent victims injured in collisions.

Federal Laws Should go Farther at Helping Reduce Fatalities 

Federal lawmakers are making at least some effort to try to make conditions better for bicyclists. The Safe Streets Act of 2014 has been proposed in Congress. The Act would require that states and municipalities create an official agency policy statement within the next two years that takes the needs of all road users into account for transportation projects receiving federal transportation funds.

There are currently 238 different jurisdictions in the U.S. that have voluntarily adopted Complete Street policies. The policies must address how roads and transportation projects can work for everyone, including kids, the elderly, pedestrians, bike riders, public transportation, freight trucks and cars. The Safe Streets Act would require that all states and jurisdictions use the Complete Streets framework for almost all projects involving federal funding. The U.S. Department of Transportation is directed by the law to establish guidelines to make sure that states comply.

While this law sounds good, it is not enough to make a difference in keeping pedestrians safe. First, it gives states two years just to come up with policies to consider the needs of all citizens on its roads. Second, it does not force specific positive changes to existing infrastructure that would help to make the roads safer.  Pedestrians deserve real solutions that make improving conditions for walkers a true priority, and that means taking action now to improve existing infrastructure and educate the public about pedestrian collision risks.

Contact a Providence accident lawyer at the Law Offices of Deborah G. Kohl at 508-677-4900 to schedule your free consultation.

Jan 2014

Avoiding a New England Auto Accident on Snowy and Icy Roads

Massachusetts car accident attorneysThe Fall River Herald News reported on a devastating snowstorm that started the winter of 2014 off on the wrong foot by causing nine deaths. Snow storms and winter weather can be fatal for a lot of different reasons, including the fact that snow and ice on the roads significantly increases the risk of an auto accident.

The Federal Highway Administration (FHA) indicates that weather is a contributing factor in about 24 percent of all car accidents that occur in the U.S. each year, with snow playing a role in around four percent of total crashes and ice playing a role in about three percent of all collisions. Car accident lawyers in Fall River, MA note that weather-related accidents that happen in the U.S. each year cause around 629,000 deaths, which is far too many fatalities.

Every driver should do his part to avoid becoming involved in one of the tragic accidents that tend to occur during the colder months. Fortunately, there are a lot of safe driving practices that you can adopt to reduce the chances that you’ll becoming involved in a collision.

Tips for Driving Safely In the Winter and the Massachusetts Department of Transportation both provide some essential tips for drivers heading out onto the roads during the winter season:

  • Avoid driving during bad weather whenever possible. If the snow is coming down or if it is freezing and there is ice on the roads, you should stay off of them unless you have someplace you need to go right away. If you do need to drive during a storm or when the roads are bad, make sure you’ve allowed time for the snow plow and sanding truck to go through and clear the roads.
  • Be extra vigilant in high-risk areas. Many people know that bridges and overpasses tend to freeze first before other areas of roads.  Roads that don’t get as much vehicle traffic also tend to form ice more quickly than roads on which more cars pass through. Remember, ice can form on the road, especially on a bridge or overpass, even if the temperature has not reached below freezing.
  • Give yourself more time to stop. You should slow down during bad weather, since the faster you are going the more time it will take you to stop. You should also leave three times the distance between the front of your car and the back of the vehicle that is ahead of you as you would in the summer. This way, you’ll be less likely to get into an accident if your car or the lead vehicle spins out of control, and you reduce the chances of having to slam on the brakes in an effort to avoid a rear-end collision.
  • Know your vehicle. You can’t count on your car to keep you safe, even if it has four wheel drive. However, you can put your vehicle into low-gear in order to gain traction if the roads are icy or if you are going up a hill. You should also skip using features like cruise control if the roads are icy.

Hopefully, by following these safe winter tips, you can reduce the chances of getting into a collision that could cause injury to yourself or to others.

Contact the Law Offices of Deborah G. Kohl in Providence today at 508-677-4900 to schedule your free consultation. 

Drivers in Rhode Island: Who’s More Likely to Text and Drive?

Massachusetts car accident attorneysIt’s no secret that texting and driving has become a major concern in Rhode Island, Massachusetts and across the United States. As the number of smartphone users and texting accidents has risen in recent years, so have educational efforts designed to teach teens and high school students not to engage in these dangerous behaviors. Recent studies, however, indicate that these anti-distracted driving programs may be better aimed at older drivers who admitted to texting while driving more often than teenage drivers.

Our experienced car accident lawyers in Providence know that texting while driving is a dangerous habit for all drivers. No matter your age or driving experience, it’s important to remember to put your phone away while driving and not to send texts, post photos, or visit your favorite social media sites while behind the wheel.

Adults more likely to text while driving than teens

A recent study published by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety suggests that young adults – namely drivers age 19-24 and 25-39 – are significantly more likely to text and drive than teenage drivers. The AAA study revealed the following information:

  • Of drivers aged 16-18, a total of 58 reported cell phone use while driving. Twenty percent of teens in this age group said they used the phone fairly often. Thirty-one percent reported having sent a text or email while driving and 7 percent regularly send texts while driving.
  • A total of 72 percent of drivers age 19-24 said they used the phone while driving, and 27 percent reported using their phone fairly often. Forty-two percent reported texting while driving and 11 percent said they text and drive regularly.
  • Eighty-two percent of drivers aged 25-39 reported using their phone and nearly half – 42 percent – reported doing so fairly often. Of the drivers surveyed, 45 percent admitted to having sent or received texts while driving and 10 percent said they do it frequently.
  • Among drivers aged 40-59, seventy-two percent reported using the phone while driving, with only 30 percent reporting as doing so on a regular basis. Drivers age 40-59 were also more likely to text, at 24 percent, and even less likely, at two percent, to text on a regular basis.
  • Just over half – 51 percent – of drivers aged 60-74 reported using their phone while driving and only 15 percent reported doing so regularly. Only seven percent had sent a text while driving and one percent reported as doing so regularly.
  • Among drivers aged 60-74, 51 percent said they use the phone while driving and 15 percent said they do so regularly. In this age group, seven percent had sent a text behind the wheel and one percent did so routinely.
  • Thirty-one percent of drivers aged 75 and older reported using the phone while driving, but only seven percent do so regularly. Among drivers aged 75 and older, only one percent report either sending a text ever or sending a text regularly.

What this data suggests is that drivers with a little more experience behind-the-wheel might be more likely to text while driving. In the event of a texting-related car crash, though, it’s important for these drivers to remember that their experience won’t matter to an accident victim, their car accident lawyer, or law enforcement officials.

Car accident lawyers in Providence can help if you have been injured in an accident with a texting driver. Contact the Law Offices of Deborah G. Kohl at (508) 677-4900 for a free case consultation

Oct 2013

Rollover Accident in Providence Important Reminder of Risks

Massachusetts car accident attorneysA motorist has been killed in a rollover accident that occurred on Route 146 in Providence. The accident was a single vehicle crash and the victim was thrown from his vehicle after his truck rolled. According to initial reports, the driver did not have a seat belt on at the time of his accident. The cause of the rollover crash has not been determined by investigators, but police indicated the driver may have been operating the vehicle erratically before the collision.

Car accident lawyers in Providence know that around 10,000 people die each year in the United States from rollover crashes, and that around 200,000 total rollover accidents happen each year. Many of these crashes occur in circumstances just like this tragic accident, with just a single driver involved and the motorist not wearing a seatbelt. Drivers need to be aware of the serious risks of rollover accidents, and should do everything they can to keep themselves safe from becoming a victim. A full one-third of fatal accidents nationwide involve rollover crashes.

Protecting Yourself From Rollover Accidents

One of the best ways to protect yourself from being involved in a rollover accident is to be careful about what car you buy and drive. Light trucks are significantly more likely to roll and there are 127 percent more rollovers per registered light truck as there are for any other kind of vehicle. The Providence man was one of many victims in a truck, which tend to be more prone to tipping due to the fact they are top-heavy. SUVs and vans also have a higher rollover risk while passenger cars with a low center of gravity, wide tires and a stable base are the least likely to roll.

If you already have your car and aren’t shopping for a new one, there are also some behavioral changes you can make to avoid a rollover crash. For example, drivers should:

  • Always slow down around curves and turns, as the top cause of rollover crashes is going around a turn too fast and swerving sideways. The turning vehicle can tip as the side wheels come off the ground when going around the curve, or can run up against a guardrail or curb and be forced over.
  • Avoid low air pressure in tires. Most newer cars will let you know when your air pressure is low. You can also get a tire gauge and check to make sure the tires are within the pressure levels recommended by the manufacturer.
  • Slow down for dangerous road conditions. Roads that are slick because of rain or inclement weather can increase the chances of a rollover crash.
If a rollover accident does occur, whether or not you have a seat belt on could mean the difference between life and death. In 2010, more than 65 percent of rollover accident fatalities involved motorists who were not buckled up when the crash occurred. Like the Providence driver who was killed, these motorists can be thrown from their cars and sustain serious injuries as a result. Motorists who are involved in rollover accidents without seat belts are also more likely to sustain head or spinal cord injury from striking objects within their vehicle even if they are not ejected from the car.

Car accident lawyers in Providence can help if you have been injured in an accident. Contact the Law Offices of Deborah G. Kohl at (508) 677-4900 for a free case consultation

Sep 2013

Speed-Related Accidents a Primary Threat in Rhode Island

Massachusetts car accident attorneysAccording to The Herald News, a 21-year-old driver from Tiverton, RI was killed in a single-car crash when the 21-year-old’s vehicle struck a utility pole. A passenger in the vehicle was also injured and rushed to the hospital but has since been released.

Car accident lawyers in Providence know early morning accidents involving young men also commonly involve speeding, alcohol, or both. Unfortunately, it appears this accident may have fit the classic pattern of a young driver coming home from a night partying and driving way too fast.

Excessive Speed Is Often Fatal

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has warned that “speeding is one of the most prevalent factors contributing to traffic crashes” and has the data to back up that warning. In 2007, speeding played a role in causing 31 percent of all deadly car accidents – a total of 13,040 people were killed in crashes involving excess speed.

The NHTSA cautions that speeding is dangerous because it makes it harder for drivers to navigate curves and obstacles, because it increases stopping distance and increases the chance of a driver hitting something, and because it increases the distance that a car travels while a driver reacts to a hazard or dangerous situation.

Unfortunately, despite the fact that most people know how risky speeding is, many people continue to go too fast. The NHTSA data shows that young men are the worst offenders when it comes to speeding, with 39 percent of male drivers between the ages of 15 and 20 who were involved in fatal accidents reportedly exceeding the speed limit at the time. For males ages 21-24, this number drops slightly but is still well over 35 percent.

Speeding among young men is often combined with alcohol use, and the NHTSA reports that 52 percent of drivers age 21 to 24 who were involved in fatal accidents and who were speeding had a blood-alcohol content of .08 or higher.

The Tiverton man who was involved in the recent car accident may have been intoxicated at the time of his speeding crash, but the toxicology report has not yet been finished and the results will not be known for several weeks. The young man was out for his 21st birthday with two friends and was driving home after the celebration.

While it is not clear whether he was intoxicated, it has become clear that the driver was definitely speeding. A data recorder recovered from his 2006 Pontiac Grand Prix reveals that the car was going as fast as 122 miles per hour three seconds before it crashed into a utility pole.

Lawyers in Providence, RI can help if you have been injured in an accident. Contact the Law Offices of Deborah G. Kohl at (508) 677-4900 for a free case consultation.

Aug 2013

Medical Problem Blamed for Four-Vehicle Accident in Massachusetts

Massachusetts car accident attorneysAccording to, a Massachusetts man recently caused a four-car accident after he crossed the center line while driving in Milton. The driver claims that his actions behind the wheel were caused by a medical issue.

Our Fall River injury lawyers know that drivers are expected to behave in a reasonably competent and safe manner behind the wheel. While some medical issues arise unexpectedly and cannot be helped, in other cases, drivers should be aware of the fact that they may have medical problems that could cause them to drive in an unsafe way.

Man Claims Medical Problem the Cause of Accident

This multi-vehicle collision allegedly occurred as a result of a 58-year-old Massachusetts driver who was traveling home form work when he crossed the center line into oncoming traffic.

The driver claims that he crossed the line because he had a medical episode that was brought on by dehydration, fatigue and the extreme heat. He said that he was traveling home from his job when he began to feel lightheaded and started sweating. According to his reports, the next thing he knew was that he was outside of his vehicle and his vehicle was stopped across the road.

The driver claims that he did not know what happened until witnesses informed him that he had crossed over the center line in his car. Although he doesn’t remember the incident, he said he has “no reason to dispute” the account given by witnesses.

The 58-year-old driver was injured, along with four other people. The driver who crossed the center line was in the hospital for the longest period of time. He was cited by the police after the accident.

The police indicate that there has not yet been a decision made on whether the man will face any additional criminal liability for the accident. The police refrained from commenting on the accident because the driver should first have the chance to be heard on the citation in court.

The driver reportedly said that he hopes this is a “speedy process,” and that he intends to make his medical records available. He believes that his medical records will show he suffered a medical episode causing him to loose consciousness and cross the center line.

Of course, even if this is true, this is not necessarily an excuse for his behavior and it will not necessarily help him to avoid either criminal or civil liability. Driver fatigue is a top cause of accidents when drivers fall asleep behind the wheel, and it is not a defense to charges that a driver has caused an accident since reasonable drivers don’t continue to operate a vehicle when they are dangerously exhausted.

Additionally, drivers who know they suffer from a medical condition that is exacerbated by heat or dehydration and who choose to drive anyway may be considered to have been dangerously reckless or negligent when they made the choice to get behind the wheel despite their condition. This would mean that even if a medical problem was the immediate cause of the accident, the ultimate cause was the fact that the driver made the dangerous choice to drive.

If you have been injured in an accident, contact an experienced lawyer at 508-677-4900. The Law Offices of Deborah G. Kohl serves clients in Providence, R.I., Foxborough, and Fall River, Mass.

Jul 2013

Truck Drivers Speak Out Against Increasing Weight & Size Limits

Massachusetts workers' compensation attorneyLawmakers in Congress are eager to expand the size of commercial trucks, with proposals suggesting that the size limits increase from 80,000 pounds on five axles to 97,000 pounds on six axles. Congress has also asked the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) to conduct a study on the impact of proposed changes to size and weight limits on commercial vehicles.

Our Fall River accident lawyers know that larger trucks may be more dangerous to operate and may be more likely to be involved in serious accidents. Recently, Landline Mag reported that the Owner Operator Independent Driver Association (OOIDA) has also spoken out against increases in the size of trucks, cautioning about potential dangers associated with larger vehicles as well as about the potential problems these trucks could experience on the aging infrastructure throughout the United States.

Truck Drivers Speak Out Against Weight-Limited Increases

OOIDA  is a professional organization that has as many as 150,000 members. OOIDA has a long history of fighting against proposed increases in truck size and weight limits. In fact, OOIDA along with three of its members recently submitted statements to the Federal Highway Administration expressing concerns.

OOIDA cautions that an increase in truck size would have significant costs, which would be passed on to small-business truckers. OOIDA also expressed concern that that roads and bridges in the United States are not built for such massive and oversize trucks. In fact, much of the infrastructure in the United States was built even before 53-foot trailers became the norm. If the size of trucks is increased even further, then trucks could be forced to change their routes or travel on roads that they are not able to safely traverse.

In addition to the concerns about cost and safe passage on the roadways, OOIDA has also warned that there could be serious highway safety issues associated with making trucks even bigger. As a statement from three seasoned drivers with more than 70 years of experience indicated, “Any seasoned driver will tell you that extra weight means extra responsibility and a reduced margin for errors.”

The statement was made in response to the FHWA’s request for public comments that is part of a widespread study related to the impact of changes to trucking laws. The FHWA was instructed by Congress to conduct the study when Congress passed a law called Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century, or MAP-21.  The survey is expected to be completed and delivered to congress by 2014.

The Safety Risks of Large Trucks

Large trucks already present certain safety risks as a result of their size. Their large size and heavy weight results in a long stopping distance because the vehicles have so much momentum. Furthermore, the fact that trucks significantly outweigh passenger vehicles creates a situation where drivers of passenger cars are often seriously hurt or killed when a truck crash happens. Finally, the size of the trucks results in the vehicles having large blind spots.

Making trucks bigger will only exacerbate these issues. It is very important that FHWA take into account the safety risks and the concerns of commercial truckers when advising Congress on whether the size of trucks should be increased.

If you have been injured in an accident, contact an experienced lawyer at 508-677-4900. The Law Offices of Deborah G. Kohl serves clients in Providence, R.I., Foxborough, and Fall River, Mass.