Archive for the ‘Personal Injury’ Category

Dangerous Toys a Risk for Portland Kids

Halloween and the holidays are fast approaching. Many kids look forward to this time of year because they receive gifts, which often take the form of new toys. While a new product is exciting for a child, parents need to be aware of the fact that toys can sometimes be dangerous. Any time a new product is brought into the home, parents should check it carefully to ensure that it is age appropriate and it does not contain choking hazards for small children. 

A personal injury lawyer knows that some toys can also seem safe but actually contain elevated levels of lead or other unexpected dangers. When a toy comes onto the market that presents risks to children, the toy should be recalled. The manufacturer or seller could also be held responsible for any injuries or illnesses that result from the defective toy.

Defective Toys Could Endanger Portland Children

The Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) works to prevent dangerous toys from ever getting to U.S. shelves to be sold to kids. One of their initiatives has been to require that all toys to be sold in the U.S. are tested at independent third party laboratories, no matter where the toys are manufactured. Toys are tested for lead and other hazards that could put kids at risk of illness or injury.

If a toy either is untested or does not pass adequate testing, it should be kept out of the country. U.S. customs has worked with the CPSC to block a full 9.8 million units of defective toys from being able to enter the United States over the past five years.  These blocked units represent more than 3,000 different kinds of toys that could have presented a danger to kids if they hadn’t been stopped.

Despite the success of CPSC and customs at keeping these toys out, some dangerous products still manage to make it to the market. When this occurs and the problem is identified later, the toys need to be recalled.  In 2013, a total of 31 toy recalls occurred in the United States, which was significantly fewer than the 172 toys recalled in 2008. In 2008, 19 recalls were prompted by lead concerns, which hopefully should be avoided with the CPSC testing requirements.

Since recalls don’t occur until a toy is already on the market, there is an unfortunate chance that kids will be made sick or get injured before the problem product is identified.  In 2010, a total of 19 children lost their lives because of defective toys. In 2011, there were 17 fatalities among kids because of problems with toys. The data has not yet been fully compiled for 2012, but a total of 11 fatalities have been identified already due to toy problems. It is likely that this number will be higher once all of the data is in.

Parents need to be aware of the risks of dangerous toys as their children receive presents for Halloween and for other winter holidays. It is advisable for parents to regularly check the website of the Consumer Product Safety Commission to determine if any of the toys that their kids are playing with have been subject to a recall.

Portland accident victims should contact Zbinden & Curtis, Attorneys at Law, by calling 1-503-287-5000 or visiting http://www.zbinden-curtis.com. Serving Portland, Bellmont, Sellwood and surrounding suburbs.

Portland Sporting Accidents an Autumn Risk

Young people are often encouraged to participate in sporting activities as a way to learn to work with others; to practice; and to lose gracefully. Participation in sports can also help to reduce the chances of a young person becoming involved with drugs, and it can reduce the risk of obesity. 

Unfortunately, while there are many positive health and social benefits to participation in sporting activities, playing sports can be dangerous. As young people return to school and resume playing sports, it is very important for schools, athletic departments, coaches, parents and young athletes all to consider how to keep safety in the forefront this academic year. If an injury occurs to a young athlete as a result of the school or staff members on the athletic department, a personal injury lawyer should be consulted for assistance.

Preventing Sporting Accidents

According to the National Athletic Trainers Association, there are more than seven million high school athletes and more than 40 million young people between the ages of six and 18 who participate in some kind of organized sports activity. Unfortunately, each year there are around 8,000 visits to emergency rooms due to kids getting hurt in sports accidents. Further, an estimated 715,000 high school athletes get hurt each year.

Sports accidents can cause injury to any part of the body. The National High School Sports-Related Injury Surveillance Study reports that head injuries and injuries affecting the face were most common during the 2012 to 2013 school year, with a total of 350,356 injuries. More than 200,000 injuries also occurred to each the ankle and the knee while in excess of 100,000 high school students hurt their hands or wrists; and their upper thighs and hips.

Many of these injuries can permanently affect a young person’s mobility or cognitive function. Prevention of injuries and accidents is essential and the National Athletic Trainers Association has provided some important back-to-school safety tips including the following:

  • All children and teens who participate in sports during the school year should have a comprehensive medical exam before beginning play. The exam should incorporate an orthopedic assessment.
  • All equipment as well as the playing surface should be carefully inspected at the start of the school year and the start of the season.
  • Equipment, locker rooms and the playing surface must be inspected regularly throughout the season and kept clean and well-maintained to reduce the risk of injury.
  • Schools should have a defibrillator available, as many young athletes have suffered heart attacks or cardiac problems that resulted in death or serious damage.
  • A written emergency action plan should be developed and there should be a plan in place for who will provide on-field care if a student athlete suffers an injury.
  • Parents, athletes and athletic department staff should be educated on the signs of concussion and students should receive prompt medical attention if they have potentially suffered a head injury.

By following these tips, hopefully young people will be able to reap the benefits of playing sports this year while the number of injuries can be kept to a minimum.

Portland accident victims should contact Zbinden & Curtis, Attorneys at Law, by calling 1-503-287-5000 or visiting http://www.zbinden-curtis.com

Portland Tractor-Trailer Accidents and HOS Limits

An Oregon truck accident caused the death of a 26-year-old victim after a semi-truck pulling a trailer reportedly hit the young man’s vehicle from behind and drove over it. The victim’s Acura was crushed and pinned beneath the semi truck, which then proceeded to rear-end another truck after rolling over the car. According to KATU, the accident happened at around 5:00 p.m. 

It is unclear at this point exactly how the accident happened, although there will be an investigation and the family of the victim may wish to speak with a truck accident lawyer in Portland, OR for information about how the law will apply to the crash.

In many cases, when an accident involves a large truck, it often turns out that the truck driver did something negligent or careless that caused the crash to happen. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) imposes strict regulations to try to prevent dangerous truck driver behavior, but the regulations are often disputed.  One recent disagreement that led to a court battle this past August centered around hours-of-service times. While the court largely upheld the FMCSA’s ruling, debate continues between truck industry groups and safety advocates, each of whom dislike the new hours-of-service rules for different reasons.

Hours of Service Rules Should Help Prevent Accidents- But Do They?

The new FMCSA hours-of-service rules set the maximum number of hours that a driver can travel at 11 hours per day.  The total amount of driving needs to be done within 14 hours of the time that the trucker came on duty.

In addition to the daily limit, there is also a weekly limit as well. A driver who has worked for a period of 60 hours for seven days or 70 hours for eight days must stop and rest for at least 34 hours before getting back on the road. The hours need to be continuous and completely off duty, and the driver must be home and not on duty for at least two periods of time between the hours of 1:00 a.m. and 5:00 a.m.

It is this weekly limit that many professional truck groups object to strenuously, arguing that this significantly interferes with the autonomy of truckers and that the new regulation will force truckers to travel more often at higher-traffic times rather than off-peak times.

Safety advocates, on the other hand, are not worried that the FMCSA is going too hard on truckers. To the contrary, safety advocates suggest that the FMCSA has not gone far enough with its regulations to protect the public.  These advocates warn that a trucker is likely to be really tired after 11 hours and is at risk of a drowsy driving crash or a distracted driving accident if he starts to zone out and stop paying attention behind the wheel.

As advocates debate these issues, however, the regulations are here to stay and should remain unchanged for the foreseeable future. Only time will tell as to whether these stricter hours-in-service limits make a difference in reducing the number of truck accidents that occur because of drowsy driving.

Car accident lawyers in Portland OR can help if you or a loved one has been injured in an accident. Contact Zbinden & Curtis today at (503) 287-5000 for a free case consultation.

Portland Bicycle Accidents in Focus

Under the laws in Oregon, certain individuals on the road are described as “vulnerable user[s] of a public way.” These individuals include farm tractors; skateboarders, roller-skaters, inline-skaters, people on scooters, and bicyclists. Individuals within these categories are considered vulnerable because they have an increased chance of being severely harmed in a collision. Motorists are expected to treat these vulnerable road users with respect and take reasonable steps to avoid an accident. 

Car accident lawyers in Portland, OR  know that drivers who cause serious injury to vulnerable road users can face criminal charges if their actions were negligent or intentionally harmful to the person on the road. Drivers can also face civil liability if they cause injury, which means they can be sued by the person they hurt through their negligence.

Citations and Civil Actions Against Drivers Who Break the Law 

According to Oregon Live, a 64-year-old truck driver was issued a citation in mid-September in connection with a bicycle accident that occurred in late August.

The bicycle accident involved a 16-year-old boy who was biking near the intersection of Southeast Seventh Avenue and Taylor Street.  A tow truck driver in the vicinity reportedly hit the bicyclist, leaving him with injuries that were described as non-life threatening.  Instead of stopping to help the young man he had hit, the tow truck driver drove away and left the scene of the accident. The driver of the truck should have stopped after the crash to make sure the victim was OK, but he didn’t. Oregon Live now reports that he faces criminal charges for leaving the scene of the accident. The driver has also been cited for careless driving and for causing serious injury to a vulnerable road user.

It is unclear what criminal penalties he will face as a result of his citations. However, the fact that he was cited for these legal violations could be helpful to the injured bicyclist if he wishes to take legal action. Motorists involved must stop and offer assistance to all accident victims. This is particularly true when a collisions involves a bicyclist or a pedestrian, as the resultant injuries may be more serious.

An injured victim in a bike accident case needs to prove that the other driver was negligent or breached a legal duty in order to recover compensation.  Being able to show that the driver was cited for being careless and causing injury to a vulnerable road user can be very helpful to a plaintiff in proving his case or negotiating a favorable settlement.

Car accident lawyers in Portland OR can help if you or a loved one has been injured in an accident. Contact Zbinden & Curtis today at (503) 287-5000 for a free case consultation.

Oregon Drowning Victims Don’t Look Like What You’d Expect

Recently, the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) sent out a call to action urging all swimming pool owners to secure their pools with fences and encouraging parents to teach kids of all ages how to swim. The call to action was prompted by the fact that the majority of child drowning incidents occur in backyard swimming pools or in backyard spas. 

The CPSC’s advice is important to follow, but it is also important to realize that many kids drown within site and arms reach of parents or guardians. At Zbinden & Curtis, our Portland injury attorneys know that these kids lose their lives because many people do not know what drowning looks like. Recently, Oregon Live published an article explaining some of the common signs of drowning and dispelling some of the myths about how a drowning victim will act.

The Truth About Drowning Victims

Oregon Live reports that most people believe a drowning victim will shout, call for help and flail his arms around. We believe this because this is how the movies portray drowning and because most people have not actually seen a real-life drowning incident.

In reality, however, this is not what drowning looks like at all. In fact, most drowning victims are physiologically unable to shout or to cry out for help because the body will not let them talk unless or until they can breathe. When they are drowning, they cannot breathe and so they cannot speak.

Drowning people also cannot flail their arms about or wave for help because when they are drowning, their instincts will force them to extend their arms down to press on the surface of the water. If a drowning person is yelling and flailing about, he or she is not drowning but is instead experiencing “aquatic distress.” This person will need help, but can assist in his own rescue by grabbing a life jacket or a thrown ring. A person who is truly drowning typically cannot help in his rescue since instinct won’t allow the body to do so.

Instead, the body’s instinctive drowning response causes the drowning person to struggle on the water’s surface for between 20 and 60 seconds before the drowning person is submerged. The drowning person will remain upright in the water during this time and will not be kicking his feet.

The drowning person may also have his head tilted backwards with his mouth at the water level and open.  His eyes may be either closed or glassy, or may be covered by his or her hair.  Trying to roll over on his back; trying to swim in a particular direction but not actually moving; or moving the limbs as if trying to climb an invisible ladder are also signs of drowning.

Being aware of these signs is very important because kids can drown within just a few minutes even when being watched.

Kids are thus in danger of drowning not only if they wander into a pool unsupervised but also when parents are right there. Lives can be saved if caregivers know the signs of drowning and if swimming pool owners properly secure their pool areas to avoid a child falling in. If a swimming pool owner fails to secure his pool and a child is hurt, he could be sued by the parents for resulting injuries or wrongful death.

If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident in the Portland area, contact Zbinden & Curtis. Call (503) 287-5000 for a free case consultation.

Oregon ATV Accidents Can Be Dangerous or Deadly

According to the Rockford Register Star, a 19-year-old Oregon man suffered critical injuries in February when he was involved in an ATV accident. Riding ATVs or all-terrain vehicles is a popular pastime and both adults and children enjoy using these vehicles to go off-roading. Unfortunately, as this recent accident shows, ATVs aren’t always harmless fun.

Our Portland, OR accident attorneys urge everyone in the state to be very careful in using ATVs and other recreational vehicles. While we know that these can be a great time, we urge you to follow basic safety tips, and we urge parents to use common sense about letting their kids ride on these vehicles or on 4 wheelers or other related types of off-road transportation.

The ATV Accident

The February ATV accident that caused the 19-year-old to suffer critical injuries occurred when he was traveling in a ditch along a roadway. The ditch was filled with ice and the ATV skidded out of control.

When the ATV lost control, the young driver crashed into a tree. The driver was taken to the hospital in critical condition.

Avoiding ATV Accidents

This ATV accident wasn’t the first in Oregon, and it won’t be the last. There are, however, certain things people can and should do if they plan on riding all-terrain vehicles, 4x4s, snowmobiles or any other type of vehicle intended for off-roading or joy riding.

Some of the key safety tips include:

  • Riding in open areas away from trees, cars and other obstacles that you could crash into in the event that you lose control. There are also designated ATV trails that you can ride on in various locations, and you should consider sticking to these trails.
  • Maintaining a safe and reasonable speed when riding on an ATV or other recreational vehicle. The appropriate speed should be determined by the current weather conditions and the potential dangers of the environment where you are riding the ATV.
  • Wearing appropriate safety gear including a helmet, boots and gloves. It is possible to buy full-face sports helmets specifically intended for ATV riders that both make riding safer and that make it easier to protect yourself in the event that an accident occurs.  Whatever helmet you purchase, make sure it is DOT approved so you know it meets minimum safety requirements.
  • Riding with a friend so you are not alone in the event that you do get injured. If you are in a remote area, make sure you have a cell phone with reception or some means to get help in the event that something does go wrong.
  • Refrain from riding when you have consumed any alcoholic beverages, drugs or intoxicating substances.

Parents of young children who are interested in riding any type of all-terrain or off-roading vehicle should also think carefully about the safety risks involved. While unlicensed drivers can operate certain types of off-road vehicles for recreational use, this doesn’t mean it is safe or advisable to allow your children to do so.

If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident in the Portland area, contact  Zbinden & Curtis. Call (503) 287-5000.

Considering Premises Liability In the Case of the Woman Trapped Between Two Walls

On January 16, 2013, firefighters responded to an unusual situation in downtown Portland. A woman had fallen into a tiny eight inch gap between the exterior walls of two Portland buildings and was trapped inside of the walls. The woman was ultimately rescued by firefighters, but questions remain as to how she fell into the gap in the first place.

Our Portland injury attorneys know that property owners have an obligation to keep their property safe and to prevent people on their property from becoming injured. In this case, the woman fell between two exterior buildings, so whether one or both of the building owners or occupiers could be held liable will depend upon how she fell and whether any of the building owners were responsible in any way for creating (or not correcting) conditions that led to the fall.

The Obligations of Property Owners

Slip and fall incidents happen far too often in Oregon, with people falling because of wet floors, ice and snow tracked into buildings, cracked sidewalks, slippery surfaces and a whole host of other dangers. In most cases, these slip and falls happen within a building or on public property such as a sidewalk.

In this unique case, the Portland woman did not fall within a building but instead she fell between two buildings. According to Oregon Live, the space between two buildings was reachable in one of two ways. One way is from the roof of the building next to the parking garage. The other is from a narrow adjacent wall along the back of the garage.

The owner of that property could be held liable only if there was some known hazard or danger that the property owner either was aware of or should have been aware of with reasonable inspection. For example, if the narrow wall along the back of the garage was constructed in such a way that it was possible for someone walking near it or leaning over it to fall, this could be considered a defect and a danger to patrons.  The key question in any injury lawsuit arising out of the incident would be whether the property owner(s) were negligent in any way that led to the fall and any resulting harm.

However, it is also important to note that a spokeswoman for one of the buildings involved questioned how the incident occurred while simultaneously appearing to blame the victim. This seems to indicate that the woman may have been doing something she shouldn’t have been or engaging in dangerous behavior.

If a person does engage in wrongful or dangerous behavior, such as trespassing, this does not necessarily disqualify the individual from recovering compensation in a premises liability case. The person’s behavior would need to be considered in light of the situation, as well as in light of whether a property owner knew there were trespassers and knew they were in danger. Contributory negligence law in Oregon allows a victim to make a recovery as long as they were not at a greater percentage of fault than the party against whom recovery is sought.

If you or a loved one has been injured on commercial property in the Portland area, contact  Zbinden & Curtis. Call (503) 287-5000.