About Richard Rizk

“Helping Everyday People, Every Day” is not just a slogan. It is my passion. I seek justice for you, an injured and/or disabled person facing a powerful insurance company or employer. Why? Because helping folks in claim distress makes best use of my unique blend of insurance defense and inside claim handling experience. I worked for insurance companies or their law firms from 1990 to 2001. As a result, I know insurers and employers have great power and sometimes abuse that power. I now work to prevent that from happening. I opened Rizk Law Offices in 2002. I have a big heart and insights only a former insurance attorney can have. Call me if you think I might be able to help you. – Richard H. Rizk

Anti-regulation Threatens Trucking Safety

Truck Safety

 

 

 

 

 

 

The current administration’s goal to remove two existing regulations for each new one and cap the cost of new regulations, when applied to the trucking industry, may backfire. Many in the trucking industry believe that the government’s goal to eliminate “unnecessary rules” that supposedly are bad for business threatens the safety of truck drivers and other motorists who share the road.

Truck driver is one of the deadliest occupations in the U.S. From 2010 to 2015, truck driver fatalities rose 11.2 percent, with 745 drivers killed on the job in 2015. What makes this occupation so dangerous?

Long hours, low pay, and tough working conditions has a created an annual turnover rate of truck drivers to near 100 percent. Trucking industry experts say that the demand for rapid delivery due to the rise of online shopping has put more trucks on the road, contributing to higher incident rates for accidents and deaths. They say that the push to deliver the load, in too many cases, forces drivers to choose between productivity and safety. Due to de-regulation and de-unionization of the trucking industry, drivers have been incentivized by the pay-by-the-mile system to push themselves to maximize revenue from each shift, with more time driving and less time sleeping.

Administration Rolls Back Hours of Service Rules

The Hours of Service Rules for truck drivers set down by the Federal Motor Carriers Safety Administration (FMCSA) in 2013 limited a driver to work no more than 70 hours a week, with an eleven hour driving limit per day, and two consecutive 1am to 5am rest periods during a 34 hour restart. In December 2016, congress caused the FMCSA to suspend the requirement of rest periods.

The FMCSA pointed to research that showed that fewer rest periods coincide with less attentive drivers who were more likely to drift between lanes. The Teamsters union also came out strongly against the administration’s ruling, saying that it “fails to recognize the benefit of well-rested truckers” to overall highway safety. The rollback of these rules is short-sighted and one that could jeopardize the lives of Americans traveling on the nation’s thoroughfares,” Teamsters General President James P. Hoffa said. “Truckers, like most of us, do their job better when they get proper rest.”

Trucker Sleep Apnea Study Halted

The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has been calling for better screening of truck drivers for sleep apnea since 2009. Sleep Apnea is a serious disorder that occurs when a person’s breathing is interrupted during sleep. People with untreated sleep apnea stop breathing repeatedly during their sleep, sometimes hundreds of times. Even brief episodes can disrupt normal sleep patterns and trigger fatigue and the need to sleep during the day.

In 2017, the Trump administration halted a year-old effort to seek better ways to screen truckers for sleep apnea, which has been linked to deadly accidents. According to a study released by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), fatigue and sleep deprivation is the most common cause of truck accidents due to driver error.

By |September 16th, 2017|Truck Crashes|

Sept 15-23 National Child Passenger Safety Week Kicks Off with New Child Seat Law

As of May 26, 2017, all child passengers under age two must use a child seat with a rear-facing harness, unless the child turned one year of age prior to May 26, 2017. Children under age two must be securely fastened in a car seat with harness or in a booster seat until they reach age eight or 4’9” in height and the adult belt fits them properly.

How Important Are Child Passenger Safety Restraints?

Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for children ages one through twelve years old. In 2015, 20 percent of the 981 children aged eight and under that were injured in Oregon traffic crashes were using adult belts or no restraint at all. Nationwide in 2015, a total of 663 passenger-vehicle occupants aged twelve years or younger died as a result of a crash, and nearly 132,000 were injured. Among the children who died, 35% were known to be unrestrained. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) says “to keep child passengers as safe as possible, drivers should use age- and size-appropriate restraints for all child passengers until adult seat belts fit properly.”

Choosing the Right Child Car Seat for Your Vehicle

Not all child car seats fit in all vehicles. Make sure the car seat you choose is the right fit for your vehicle and can be installed and used correctly every time. Test the car seat you plan to buy to make sure it fits well with your vehicle. The label on the seat tells the type of vehicle best for the seat and where on the vehicle to install it. Be sure to register your new child car seat, so the manufacturer can inform you if there is a recall. You should only purchase a new child car seat, never a used one or one that has been involved in an auto accident; and if you are involved in a crash, replace the child seat.

What Type of Car Seat Is Right for Your Child?

It is important that you use a car seat that fits your child’s current size and age, which will change as your child grows. All children up to age twelve or thirteen should ride in the back seat. There are four basic types of child car seats:

  • Rear-Facing Car Seat
  • Forward-Facing Car Seat
  • Booster Seat
  • Seat Belt

Rear-Facing Car Seat: the best seat for a young child, it has a harness and, in a crash, cradles and moves with your child to reduce the stress to the child’s neck and spinal cord. You should keep your child rear-facing as long as possible. Your child should remain in a rear-facing car seat until he or she reaches the top height or weight limit allowed by your child car seat’s manufacturer. There are three types of rear facing child car seats:

  • Infant Car Seat – designed for newborns and small babies, it is a small, portable seat that can only be used rear-facing, so when your child outgrows the seat after about eight or nine months you should purchase a convertible or all-in-one car seat and use it rear-facing.
  • Convertible Seat – this seat can change from a rear-facing seat to a forward-facing seat with a harness and tether as a child grows. Because it can be used with children of various sizes, children can stay in the rear-facing position longer.
  • All-In-One Seat – this seat can also change from a re-facing seat to a forward-facing seat with a harness and tether, but also to a booster seat as the child grows. It can be used by children of various sizes, so it allows for children to stay in the rear-facing position longer.

Forward-Facing Car Seat: has a harness and tether that limits your child’s forward movement during a crash. Once your child outgrows the rear-facing car seat, after about three or four years of age, your child is ready to travel in a forward-facing car seat with a harness and tether. There are three types of forward-facing car seats:

  • Convertible Seat: as a child grows, this seat can change from a rear-facing seat to a forward-facing seat with a harness and tether.
  • Combination Seat: this seat transitions from a forward-facing seat with a harness and tether into a booster seat as your child grows.
  • All-in-One Seat: the seat can change from a rear-facing seat to a forward-facing seat with a harness and tether and to a booster seat as a child grows.

Booster Seat: once your child outgrows a forward-facing car seat with a harness, it is time to travel in a booster seat, but still in the back seat. Keep your child in the booster seat until he or she is big enough to fit in a seat belt properly. There are four types of booster seats:

  • Booster Seat with High Back: this seat is designed to boost the child’s height so that the seat belt fits properly and supports head and neck. It is ideal for vehicles that don’t have head rests or high seat backs.
  • Backless Booster Seat: it is designed to boost the child’s height so the seat belt fits properly. Because it does not provide head and neck support, it is a good choice for vehicles with head rests.
  • Combination Seat: this seat transitions from a forward-facing seat with a harness to a booster seat as the child grows.
  • All-in-One Seat: this seat can change from a rear-facing seat to a forward-facing seat with a harness and tether and to a booster seat as the child grows.

Seat Belt

For a seat belt to fit properly, the lap belt must lie snugly across the upper thighs, not the stomach. The shoulder belt should lie snugly across the shoulder and chest and not cross the neck or face. Your child should still ride in the back, where it is safer.

By |September 15th, 2017|Child Injury Accidents|

Can Bridge City Survive the Big Quake?

Burnside Hawthorne Bridges

Portland Oregon, at the confluence of two rivers with a population of over 600,000, is a bridge-dependent city. Each of its thirteen bridges spanning the Willamette River are vital to keeping transportation flowing. In 2011, the city of Portland began to prepare for the inevitability of destruction from a predicted major earthquake without any usable bridges.

Major Quake Destruction Predicted for Portland

The Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Industries sees 1 in 3 odds of Oregon experiencing a magnitude 8 or 9 Cascadia Subduction Zone earthquake sometime within the next 50 years. The last Oregon quake of that strength was in 1700, with a magnitude of 8.7 to 9.2. Today, a quake of that strength would be enough to destroy buildings and roads, take down power lines, block streets, rupture gas lines, and break water and sewer lines, causing many areas to be uninhabitable.

In that scenario, the State of Oregon predicts pockets of isolation where people may be stranded due to broken transportation infrastructure for 72 hours or longer. The bridges of the Willamette River are the city’s transportation connection. In the aftermath of a devastating earthquake, first responders would need those vital links to administer aid to all areas of the city.

Majority of Portland Bridges Not Designed to Survive a Quake

Varying in age, each bridge spanning the Willamette River is unique in construction, with some built in the early 20thcentury to carry horse and buggy across the River. Even bridges more recently built were not designed by current standards to withstand an earthquake of the magnitude that geologists predict for Oregon.

“A majority of the bridges…were built prior to scientists’ current understanding of the regional seismic threat and prior to the engineers’ current understanding of effective seismic design,” said Portland State University civil and environmental engineering professor Peter Dusicka. “We have learned a lot in the past several decades; unfortunately, a majority of our infrastructure is significantly older,” he said.

Oregon bridge engineers did not design for Cascadia-level earthquakes of magnitude 8 or 9 until the mid-1990s. Even the relatively new Fremont Bridge, built in the 1970s, is not expected to be useful following a major quake. If the bridge survives, engineers predict that the ramps leading up to the bridge will not hold up.

Bridge Replacement vs Retrofit

The susceptibilities of Portland’s bridges are complex, each having different weaknesses, with some

By |September 6th, 2017|Protecting Oregonians|

Lane Departure Warning Systems Offer Crash Prevention with Limitations

Lane Drift

New research data from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) indicates that lane departure warning systems lower rates of single-vehicle, sideswipe, and head-on crashes of all severities by 11 percent and lower the rate of injury crashes of the same type by 21 percent. While encouraging, several limitations currently exist preventing this life-saving technology from reaching its full potential.

The latest data in this ongoing study, led by IIHS vice president for research Jennifer Cicchino, is based on 2015 police crash reports, which includes information on the circumstances of the crash, allowing researchers to examine the types of crashes that lane departure warning systems are designed to prevent.

“This is the first evidence that lane departure warning is working to prevent crashes of passenger vehicles on U.S. roads,” said Cicchino. “Given the large number of fatal crashes that involve unintentional lane departures, technology aimed at preventing them has the potential to save a lot of lives.”

A 2015 study of lane departure warning on trucks in U.S. fleets found lane departure warning systems cut the rate of relevant crashes nearly in half, a reduction greater than the new data. A similar study of Volvo cars in Sweden found a reduction of relevant injury crashes of 53 percent.

AAA believes that lane departure warning could totally eliminate almost 50 percent of all head-on collisions. Why hasn’t current test data shown those results? Greg Brannon, the Automobile Association of America’s director of automotive engineering, called IIHS’ studies “encouraging,” but said that drivers need to understand the limitations as well as the capabilities of the safety technology in their vehicle.

Limitations within Lane Departure Warning Technology

There are two types of lane departure warning systems, activated by unintended lane departure:

  • Lane departure warning systems (LDW) which give the driver visual, audible, and/or vibrating warnings when the vehicle is leaving its lane
  • Lane keeping systems (LKS) which automatically take steps to ensure the vehicle stays in its lane

Lane warning and lane keeping systems are based on:

  • Video sensors mounted behind the windshield, typically beside the rear mirror
  • Laser sensors mounted on the front of the vehicle
  • Infrared sensors mounted either behind the windshield or under the vehicle

Because they rely on visible lane markings, lane departure warning systems typically cannot decipher faded, missing, or incorrect lane markings or markings covered in snow or obscured by rain or excessive glare from the sun.

Few Vehicles on the Road with Lane Departure Warning Systems

In 2000, the United States company Iteris developed the first lane departure warning system in Europe for Mercedes Actros commercial trucks.

In 2002, the Iteris system became available on Freightliner Truck’s North American vehicles. With this system, the driver is warned of unintentional lane departure by an audible rumble strip sound on the side of the vehicle drifting out of the lane, but the warning is not generated if the driver gives an active turn signal before crossing the lane.

Honda was the first U.S. passenger vehicle automaker to introduce this feature, with its Lane Keep Assist System (LKAS) on the 2003 Inspire.

Nissan followed in 2004 with its Infiniti FX and in 2005 on the M vehicles, which issues a warning tone to alert the driver when the vehicle begins to drift over lane markings.

Also in 2004, Toyota added a Lane Keeping Assist feature to the Crown Majesta, which applies a small counter-steering force to aid in keeping the vehicle in its lane.

In 2006, Lexus introduced a multi-mode Lane Keeping Assist system on the LS 460. The LS 460’s LKA system issues an audiovisual warning, steers the vehicle to hold its lane, and applies counter-steering torque to ensure the driver does not over-correct the steering wheel while attempting to return the vehicle to its proper lane.

Audi began offering its Audi Lane Assist feature in 2007 on the Q7. This system will not intervene, but will vibrate the electric power-steering system when it detects an unintended lane departure. The electric power-steering system will then introduce a gentle torque that will help guide the driver back toward the center of the lane. However, a driver engaging the turn signal or accidently leaving it on will prevent the Lane Assist feature from functioning.

By |September 3rd, 2017|Auto Accidents|

Rizk Law means…

  • Respect
  • Ingenuity
  • Zeal
  • Kindness
  • Loyalty
  • Avenging
  • Wonder
By |August 31st, 2017|Uncategorized|

Airbag Giant TAKATA Files Bankruptcy

IMPORTANT SAFETY RECALL…

The defect in these vehicles could kill or injure you or other people in your vehicle.

Tens of millions of drivers around the country have received alarming safety recall notices clearly stating how defective airbag inflators under pressure could cause the airbags to rupture and kill them. From owners of reliable Asian brands to owners of luxury European machines, almost no one is safe from these ticking time bombs. The recalls started showing up in people’s mailboxes back in 2008, with Honda issuing the first round for four thousand 2001 Honda and Civic models. Since then, recalls have continued expanding, affecting over a quarter of all vehicles on U.S. roads.

Over 42 million vehicles across 34 manufacturers have been fitted with faulty airbags since as early as 2004, killing 12 and injuring over 200 in the U.S. alone. From Honda to Ferrari, drivers still have no way of knowing if the airbags in their vehicles might be waiting to burst. Currently, just 35% of affected vehicles have had their inflators replaced. The full scope of the recall could take until 2023 to complete.

Japanese auto supplier Takata Corp lies at the heart of history’s greatest auto recall. The company is hanging by a thread, having just recently filed for reorganization bankruptcy for debts of over $9 billion. It also plans to sell a vast portion of its operations that have not been affected by the scandal to Chinese-owned Key Safety Systems Inc. for $1.6 billion. With nearly worthless shares, the company faces its downfall in its third generation of operation.

Takata Timeline of Events

2008

Four thousand Honda Accord and Civic models recalled from the year 2001.  

2009

In 2009, two women were killed by the airbags of their 2001 Honda Accords, one in Oklahoma and one in Virginia. The family of Gurjit Rathore of Virginia sued Takata and Honda for $75 million, claiming the companies were aware of safety issues since 2004. A $3 million settlement was reached in 2013.

2010

Honda again expanded recalls.

2011

In April, Honda recalled 896,000 Honda and Acura models from 2001-2003 to discover faulty airbag inflators were used as replacement parts. The recall was again expanded in December.

2013

By |August 30th, 2017|Auto Accidents, Product Liability|

Every Hour is Rush Hour in Portland

Although Portland is now the 26th largest city in the U.S., its traffic has quickly outpaced that. A comprehensive study on traffic patterns released by INRIX Inc. places Portland at #12 on a list of the nation’s top 15 cities with the worst traffic congestion. INRIX, a leader in transportation analytics, studied over one thousand cities across 38 countries for the largest traffic congestion study ever conducted. The study looked at 240 cities in the United States, which was deemed the most congested developed country in the world.

It wasn’t INRIX’s first study on global traffic patterns, but it was the first study in which the company performed an economic analysis to include figures showing the direct and indirect costs of congestion. The analysis estimated the total cost to the average driver in a city and the total cost to the city population. Direct costs were considered to be paid by the driver through wasted time and fuel while indirect costs took into account the increased costs to businesses that are then passed onto the consumer through higher prices. At #12, Portland drivers spent an average of $1,358 and lost 47 hours to congestion in just one year. The city lost $1 billion.

Why is there so much traffic?

The study cites “a stable U.S. economy, continued urbanization of major cities, and factors such as employment growth and low gas prices” for reasons that traffic continues to rise. In Portland, the combination of population growth, a robust economy, and cheap gas is a toxic formula.

These days, nearly every hour is considered “rush hour” on the city’s most populated freeways. If you’ve been noticing your daily commute getting longer, it’s not your imagination. With more jobs and more money to buy cars to drive to those jobs, and more freight traffic, there are certainly many more cars on the road slowing you down. Overall, nine key bottlenecks in the Portland metro area conspire to make your daily commute just a little more excruciating, one day at a time.

Portland’s Major Bottlenecks

#9: I-205 SB. Interstate 205 going southbound resembles a parking lot between the hours of 2:30 and 6pm, particularly the 5.3-mile stretch between the Glenn Jackson

By |August 29th, 2017|Auto Accidents|

Will Portland Commuters Soon Pay Tolls on Local Interstates?

The Oregon Legislative Assembly pulled off its biggest achievement of the 2017 session: it approved a huge transportation bill (House Bill 2017) that seeks to raise $5.3 billion over the next ten years. By introducing tolls on interstate highways, new taxes, and raising current transportation taxes and fees, the state hopes to raise enough revenue to repair its failing infrastructure, expand public transit, and reduce highway traffic congestion.

The bill’s approval is a boon to legislators who have tried to pass a revenue-producing package to strengthen the state’s infrastructure two years in a row with little success. Crumbling roads and bridges put lives at risk and are at high risk for causing mass destruction in the event of an earthquake. By taking somewhat drastic, out-of-the-box measures, the state expects to meet its goal.

Some of these measures are attracting more attention than others. To the average commuter, they are all generally unwelcome expenses.

New Taxes

Part of the package outlines tax and fee increases such as:

  • New sales taxes on cars and bikes
  • Increased gas tax
  • Increased vehicle registration fees
  • A -cent gas tax and $15 vehicle registration fee in the Portland metro area
  • A 0.1% employer payroll tax to pay for public transit projects

Upon implementation, Oregon would see its first tax on bike sales, a 3% tax. Used and new vehicle sales would also see a 0.75% tax.

Interstate Tolls on the Horizon

A central component of the hefty 298-page bill is the proposal to build a toll system on I-5 and I-205 beginning at the Oregon-Washington border, up through Portland, and until the highways connect in Wilsonville. The bill would create a transportation commission that would seek federal approval to add tolls to the state’s most congested highways: I-5 and I-205. It could take until December 31, 2018 to receive such approval, upon which construction can begin.

It remains unclear exactly what the toll system would look like, but we do know that the tolls would work on a value pricing system, meaning that the rates would vary by the level of congestion and the time of day. Value

By |August 28th, 2017|General News|

Self-Driving Crash Trucks Use Military Tech to Shield Road Crews

Crash Truck

While crash trucks have been used for some time to successfully shield road construction workers from arrant vehicles, until now one worker has been required to sit behind the wheel and drive the truck.

The Colorado Department of Transportation, with technology from Kratos Defense & Security Solutions, recently announced its plan to road-test an unmanned autonomous crash truck in the fall of 2017.

Road Construction Worker One of Nation’s Most Dangerous Jobs

Construction workers face collision with speeding motorists on a daily basis. Nationwide, there is a work zone crash every five minutes, every day.

On May 23, 2017 in Happy Valley, Oregon, a flagger who attempted to stop a motorist driving towards a well-marked construction zone was struck by the vehicle as it plowed into the work zone.

Crash Truck Driver in Dangerous Position

To shield workers standing on the road performing maintenance, road crews have been using large crash trucks as impact attenuators. With a massive yellow or orange bumper on the back for impact absorption, crash trucks inch along behind crews that are filling potholes, striping lanes, and clearing clutter from along the roadway. While workers ahead are shielded from a collision, until now one unlucky worker has been required to drive the truck.

Colorado DOT Teams with Military Tech for Safer Crash Truck

Recognizing that risking one life to save others just doesn’t make sense, the state of Colorado’s Department of Transportation, with its relatively flexible autonomous driving regulations, has partnered with San Diego-based Kratos Defense & Security Solutions, Pennsylvania-based Royal Truck & Equipment, and British engineering firm Colas UK to test self-driving, unmanned crash trucks on its roadways.  Colorado’s government has a track record of welcoming autonomous vehicles. In October 2016, it allowed a self-driving Budweiser truck, shadowed by a convoy of protective vehicles, to make a delivery.

GPS Navigates Crash Truck

Like other self-driving trucks, the self-driving crash truck has a traditional body with added autonomous technology. The crash truck is controlled by a computer, which dictates both the steering and the pedals of the truck. On the road without a driver, the truck follows behind a human-driven lead car hooked up to precise GPS that emits a signal that the crash truck uses to maintain its speed, position, and heading. The truck mirrors the movements of the car that emits its location and path to the truck via radio waves, while

By |August 26th, 2017|Personal Injury|

Oregon Transportation Funding Bill Finally Gets Green Light

Transportation Funding Bill

After over two years of planning, negotiating, and compromise, the Oregon State legislature has finally passed a transportation bill that will provide funding for needed repairs and upgrades to Oregon’s highway infrastructure and statewide expansion of transit.

Earlier Funding Proposal Lacked Bipartisan Support

In June 2015, Oregon lawmakers revealed a transportation package that would have given new funding each year of $205 million for state and local roads and seismic upgrades to earthquake-vulnerable bridges. Also included in the package was funding for mass transit (not light rail) and bicycle and pedestrian paths.

Funding would have been provided through increased taxes and fees, with a 4-cent per gallon increase in the gas tax, flat fees for new vehicle registration, driver license, and vehicle registration, and a new income tax for transit projects that would have been placed on people who work in Portland and Eugene transit districts.

Oregonians may have accepted increases in taxes and fees for needed highway infrastructure repairs and upgrades, but Republican lawmakers refused to consider a transportation plan that would not repeal the Clean Fuels Bill that Governor Kate Brown had signed into law in March 2015. Environmental groups were unhappy that the carbon reduction plan developed over seven years would be replaced with one written by the Western States Petroleum Association. The transportation package failed to get bipartisan support, and the Clean Fuels Bill remained intact.

Oregon Lawmakers Try Again with a New Transportation Funding Bill

After a year of visioning and public hearings, in February 2017 a House and Senate panel revealed a new transportation funding package that would provide $5 billion a year for transportation work, to fund roads, bridges, and public transit, without listing specific projects that would be funded. The work could be paid for by gas tax hike, highway tolls, or lottery revenue.

In May 2017, the panel presented an $8 billion transportation package with more details to Oregon legislators and the public, with funding coming in over the next decade from increased taxes and fees. Added to a .06 percent higher gas tax, to increase another .02 every other year through 2026, were higher registration fees on vehicles with higher-than-average fuel efficiency, because those drivers pay less in fuel taxes than other drivers. There would also be taxes on new and used car sales and bicycles, a state-wide payroll tax increase of 0.1 percent starting

By |August 19th, 2017|Auto Accidents|