Not dissimilar to the asbestos trust created for victims of asbestos related diseases, GM is now creating a fund to pay out claims stemming from auto accidents in recalled vehicles. GM has indicated, rightly so, that it will not matter if the accident occurred before or after the safety recall so long as it can be proven that a defect caused or contributed to the injury sustained.

GM has been hit very hard with safety recalls in the past year with over 20 million cars affected by some form of recall. This compensation fund is intended to directly address the 2.6 million defective small cars with faulty air bag switches. GM has come under very heavy criticism regarding these defects which they allegedly knew about for over 11 years without taking proper action. GM is offering settlements based on the severity of injury if the air bag’s failure to deploy caused or contributed to the victims injury. Wrongful death claims will be compensated by at least 1 million dollars.

Creation of a fund like this does not limit a persons civil right to bring a product liability claims but it creates a means for settlement while limiting the extensive costs of a product liability claim. If you or someone you know was injured in an automobile accident with a GM vehicle and the airbag either failed to delpoy or improperly deployed, contact our office right away for a free consultation.

A fascinating study released this week from a Canadian research team suggests that pregnant women, particularly those in their second trimester have a much higher likelihood of being involved in auto accidents. In fact, the numbers are close to women who suffer from sleep apnea. There is no clear indication as to the cause of the spike in auto accidents for women during the second trimester, but it is suggested that increased hormones may be causing distraction or fatigue which results in car accidents.

Anytime a woman is involved in an auto accident while pregnant it is very serious. The babies safety is paramount and hospitals will generally place the expectant mother on a fetal monitoring machine for 24 hours to ensure no harm to the baby. Expectant mothers are limited to what prescriptions they can take and often have to endure tremendous amounts of pain and discomfort following an accident because they can take nothing more than tylenol.

Our office has represented many pregnant women who were injured in car accidents. Some of the more serious cases require emergency Caesarean section delivery of the baby and in some cases the unborn child has also been harmed. These can be immensely complex and serious personal injury cases and requires an experienced personal injury attorney.

A potential settlement in Federal Court will create a 100 million fund for victims of the Meningitis outbreak caused by a Massachusetts pharmaceutical company. The outbreak of meningitis caused by a tainted steroid has sickened over 700 people and killed 64 according to the Center for Disease Control. Victims were from over twenty states with Michigan, Tennessee and Indiana the hardest hit.

The pharmaceutical company filed bankruptcy soon after the outbreak hit. Under federal bankruptcy laws, the company would not have to pay their civil lawsuits and debts. As part of the agreement to enter bankruptcy, a trust fund worth approximately 100 million has been created to aid the victims.

Meningitis is a very serious illness which inflames the lining of the spinal cord and brain. It can result in paralysis and death. If approved the money will be set aside to pay the victims much like the multi-billion dollar trust created for asbestosis/mesothelioma victims created by the manufacturers of asbestos.

Many of you may have seen the surprising news that Wal-Mart plans to start selling auto insurance in many of its stores. There is a precedent for this. Sears and Allstate insurance had a similar relationship for decades (at least while Sears was still relevant). While there are plenty of reasons to attack Wal-Mart, and I’ll leave that for another post, one thing you most certainly do NOT want at a cut-rate is auto insurance. The cheapest possible policy is almost never the best answer and I’ll tell you why.

First, if you buy the absolute cheapest policy available you may not be covered for damages that you cause or which are caused by storms or floods. You may not be covered for hit and run accidents or if you are struck by someone who does not have insurance. In RI, you would be surprised by how many people are driving without any insurance at all. Also, you may not have enough coverage if you seriously injure someone in an accident you caused or if you total someone else’s Mercedes. If you do not have enough auto insurance coverage, then you may be personally liable and are subject to having your wages levied or house attached.

Second, I do not trust Wal-Mart to pay enough money to someone educated enough to tell you about insurance. In other words, do you want to take insurance advice from someone making a cashier’s hourly wage?

This blog has been very very good to me and helped build my business when I left Boston four years ago, but alas, it has been long ignored. Not by intent but merely because we have been too busy during an exceptional period of growth. Starting today, however, I vow to return to the multiple postings per week that generated a lot of buzz and helped bring in many of my clients.

Here are just a few of the things we have been up to in the few months since my last post:

An increase in the number of pedestrians killed in auto accidents has spurred the Department of Transportation to increase spending on grants for safety and education. In 2011, over 4000 pedestrians were killed in auto accidents. This represents a nearly ten percent increase from 2009. Furthermore, this increase occurred during a time period where road safety was actually increasing with the overall percentage of fatalities in auto accidents dropping.

It goes without saying that pedestrians are extremely vulnerable on the roads. A man or woman serves little chance against a 2 or 3000 pound vehicle. Pedestrians do not wear helmets or safety equipment and have absolutely no means to protect themselves from an impending accident. Broken bones, scarring, head injuries, and internal injuries are quite common in pedestrian vs. auto accidents. Unfortunately, as the DOT here reports so is death.

Accident frequency is on a high lately mostly due to distracted driving. Earbuds in the ear listening to music, smartphones with email, twitter, text or Facebook have all led to an increase in the number of distracted drivers who are more likely to fail to see a pedestrian. Of course, pedestrians also bear some responsibility. The DOT report also states how frequently, especially in urban areas, that pedestrians jaywalk. Pedestrians must understand the risk they face in the streets and act with due care and caution.

The Rhode Island State Health Department has ordered that Charlesgate Nursing Home can not take in any new patients following the death of a resident a little over a week ago. According to news reports, which are not releasing the name of the deceased, a woman was brought to the hospital on July 20 after she was found to have a very high body temperature. She ultimately passed away with a body temperature of 107 degrees. While the cause of death is yet to be confirmed, one can safely assume the extreme temperature contributed to her untimely demise. Further, the nursing home stated that the woman, who had lived at the home for over a year, was in good overall health and her death came as a surprise.

This unfortunate incident occurred during the heat wave Rhode Island experienced during that week. A spokeswoman for the facility stated that air conditioners were operational and that all residents had fans in their rooms. Unfortunately, the victim lived on the fourth floor of this facility which happens to be the only floor without air conditioners in every room.

It is early to speak on the matter, and I am certainly without all of the facts, but this sounds like a tragic event that could have been avoided. I am certain that during the heat wave, Charlesgate must have been aware of the condition of the fourth floor and something could have been done to avoid this tragedy.

I have seriously neglected this blog which has been so important to me and my practice in the past few years. It’s been for good reason, however! We’ve been very busy moving into our new location and perfecting our new space. I invite everyone – past, current and future clients to come by and see us at our new office at

696 Reservoir Avenue, Cranston.

Come say hi and grab a cup of coffee and see what has been keeping us so busy for the past few months.

An article on MSN and a recent commercial from Farmers Insurance have brought to light the fact that over 1/3 of all homeowner insurance claims are related to dog bites. The average payout of this large number of claims is $30,000. This amount is not a surprise since victims of dog bites often suffer serious injuries including scarring. Even more frightening is the fact that a large percentage of dog bite victims are children.

Victims of dog bites are entitled to compensation for their personal injuries including medical bills, lost wages (if applicable) and pain and suffering. Damages for pain and suffering, especially if there is a scar can be substantial. Fortunately, as this article points out, most dog bites are covered by homeowners insurance in Rhode Island and Massachusetts. Owners of dogs, especially breeds that are known to be dangerous, are responsible for controlling their pets and are, in most cases, liable for damages when their pet attacks someone.

If you are a pet owner, you should take steps to make sure that you have insurance to cover losses if they should bite someone. No matter how well behaved your family pet may be, animals may make mistakes and bite someone. In fact, a lot of attacks on children occur from the family pet. Do not take the risk of being responsible for huge damages. Make sure that your homeowners or renters insurance will cover your pet. If you own one of the ten breeds in this recent MSN article, you may find that you have to pay slightly more for insurance.

The Providence Journal is reporting a relatively serious bus accident which occurred between two RIPTA buses at the terminal in Kennedy Plaza, Providence. There is not a tremendous amount of information available yet about how such an accident between two buses occurred, but pictures included in the report show pretty significant damage. At least five injuries are being reported but there may be many more. If you were among those injured in this bus accident at Kennedy Plaza on May 3 it is important to speak to an experienced personal injury attorney right away.

RIPTA is a self insured agency. That means that claims for personal injury will go directly through RIPTA and not an insurance company. RIPTA has a claims department dedicated to handling accident cases. Their claims department, however, is notoriously difficult to deal with. They often delay decisions and settlement offers, make questionable liability decisions, and make low offers for settlement. If you are involved in a case against RIPTA, it is imperative to speak with a car accident attorney experienced with settling claims against RIPTA.

The good news is that liability is often not an issue for passengers on the bus. Since you are riding on their bus, you can not be held responsible for the negligent actions of the driver. If the accident includes collision with another vehicle, you will be able to collect damages regardless of which driver is responsible. Even if there is joint negligence between the two drivers, you will be able to collect from one, the other, or both drivers. Those involved in a bus accident are entitled to compensation for medical bills, lost wages and pain and suffering.