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

Can You Avoid Making a Dangerous Left-Hand Turn?

Left Turn Signal

What driver hasn’t impatiently waited to make a left-hand turn, while anxiously anticipating a quick dash between two oncoming cars? It’s a dangerous move that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) says is involved in 61 percent of crashes that take place while turning.

A study by New York’s transportation planners also concluded that left-hand turns were three times as likely to kill pedestrians as right-hand turns, and 36 percent of fatal accidents involving a motorcycle involve a left-hand turn in front of the motorcycle.

Even when there is a left-turn lane and traffic signal, if your judgement is off or visibility is poor you are risking a collision. AAA advises drivers to signal a left-hand turn at least 150 feet in advance of the intersection, and yield the right of way to other traffic. To safely complete a left-hand turn, you must consider:

  • The speed of oncoming traffic
  • The time involved to complete the turn before the light changes
  • Whether or not there are other vehicles, bicycles, motorcycles or pedestrians in the path

Whenever possible, it is always better to avoid a left-hand turn by using a different route.

UPS Finds a Way to Eliminate Left-Hand Turns

While considering the danger of left-hand turns, United Parcel Service also was concerned about the time its drivers spent at each left-hand turn intersection. Because idling and waiting to turn left takes time and uses fuel, in 2004 UPS began to require that its drivers avoid turning left whenever possible.

The company later added to its trucks an onboard GPS navigation system called ORION (On-Road Integrated Optimization and Navigation), that tells drivers the best route to take using right turns. By choosing driver routes that minimize and sometimes eliminate left-hand turns, UPS has been able to save millions of gallons of fuel and decrease driver time in making deliveries.

How do UPS drivers do it? Instead of waiting to make a left turn, a driver continues ahead to the next intersection, turns right, and then makes two more right turns around the block, using the traffic light to go straight across the intersection. While some left-hand turns are unavoidable or not always necessary, such as in residential neighborhoods where traffic is low, when possible this maneuver can help any driver avoid accidents, while saving time and fuel.

Left-hand Turns on and off Highways Are Especially Dangerous

Higher speed limits on many highways across Central and Eastern Oregon went into effect in 2016, pushing the maximum allowable speed limit to 65 mph on U.S. Highway 20, which was a contributing factor in this accident.

On March 24, 2017, Oregon State Police Troopers and emergency personnel responded to a report of a fatal two-vehicle crash on U.S. Highway 20E in Brothers, Oregon. An investigation of the accident revealed that a 2005 Nissan Altima, while traveling westbound, was struck by an eastbound 2010 Toyota Rav4 attempting to make a left-hand turn into the Brothers Rest Area. The Toyota’s front passenger side corner impacted the front of the Nissan, causing extensive damage. One of the passengers suffered fatal injuries as a result of the collision.

Diverging Diamond Interchange Replaces Left-hand Turns

In 2009, the State of Missouri constructed the first Diverging Diamond Interchange (DDI), also called the Double Crossover Diamond Interchange (DCD) to solve the problem of dangerous freeway left-hand turns. Since then, more than 80 have been built in the U.S. Due to its safety, efficiency, and cost-effectiveness, the DDI has become a popular choice for upgrades to high volume intersections.

A traditional left-turn intersection uses a 3-phase traffic signal with a separate left turn phase and 26 points of conflict between vehicles. With a Diverging Diamond Interchange, through traffic and left turns happen at the same time, eliminating the need for a separate left turn phase, and reducing conflict points to 14, to reduce collisions by 50% and minimize their severity.

Diverging Diamond Interchange

A DDI is more efficient with fewer signal cycles and less chance for conflict and accidents because it allows for free-flowing movements that aren’t conflicting with other traffic movements. One direction moves at a time, clearing out all the traffic, while avoiding wait time for a left-turn signal.

By |July 18th, 2017|Auto Accidents|

Homeless Women’s Village First of its Kind in Portland

Despite efforts to contain Portland’s widespread homelessness, a recent report unveiled that the city’s homeless population has increased by 10% since the city’s homeless crisis began two years ago. In a new effort to provide some stability, the city is testing out its first government-supported homeless village.

It’s a homeless camp with a twist. Residents of Kenton Women’s Village — formerly known as the POD Village — reside in fourteen tiny houses reserved for homeless women in Portland. The village provides a community atmosphere with oversight and ongoing support from Catholic Charities, a non-profit organization. It is a cost-friendly alternative to traditional homeless shelters which are not effective for everyone who needs a place to stay.

Portland Explores New Territory in Homelessness Fight

Kenton Women’s Village is a one year pilot project that emerged from a collaboration between the City of Portland, the Joint Office of Homeless Services, Catholic Charities, and the Village Coalition. The project received strong support from a majority of neighborhood residents and top local officials such as Mayor Ted Wheeler and Multnomah County Chairwoman Deborah Kafoury. It officially opened on June 10th.

The goal of the project is to experiment with new methods to combat homelessness, a rampant problem throughout greater Portland. The fleet of homes lies on N Argyle Street on property owned by the Portland Development Commission. Each individual pod is assigned to one resident. At 8 feet by 12, the homes are too small to have their own bathroom and cooking facilities. They are not equipped with running water or electricity; however, each home is equipped with solar panels to charge a cell phone and locks on doors. Residents share a community bathroom and kitchen.

Individual homes like these may save the city public funds in the long run, as they are less expensive to provide and manage than a homeless shelter. These homes can work well for homeless citizens who cannot thrive in shelters; those who have difficulty getting along with others can resort to their own pods for privacy. That is not to say that conflicts do not arise in Kenton Women’s Village.

Eighteen days after the village began to accept residents two of the women left. One cited verbal

By |July 14th, 2017|Protecting Oregonians|

RIZKLAW sails to Portland blues fest 2017

By |July 10th, 2017|Uncategorized|

Should TriMet Increase Transit Police?

The tragedy that ensued on May 26th aboard a MAX train has sparked a raging desire for safety aboard public transportation and an ensuing debate that seeks to determine the best course of action. While many are in support of an increase in police presence, many others are skeptical that additional armed officers would do little to improve safety. There are valid concerns and heated passions on both sides of the debate. At the heart of the situation is the sincere regard for the safety of passengers, many who rely on public transportation each and every day.

TriMet Stabbings

It is a story that has become a national sensation. Three brave men aboard a MAX train out of the Hollywood station in Northeast Portland defended two girls being verbally harassed and intimidated by a rogue white supremacist spouting anti-Muslim racial slurs and hate speech. The man, now in the custody of the state, slashed the three men’s throats. Just one survived.

The attacker had a long list of prior run-ins with the law and was a convicted felon. He had convictions for felony robbery, kidnapping, and weapons. He had spent eight years in state prison serving time in four different institutions due to disciplinary issues. His mother claimed that she had long suspected he may have mental health issues and he was living on the streets at the time of the attacks.

The attacks immediately left Portland users of mass public transportation shaken. TriMet officials responded by beefing up security and police presence. They continue to explore different avenues to keep riders safe by adding even more security and police officers permanently, yet there is a strong force of opposition to this proposal.

To Police or Not to Police

The default response to any terror attack is to increase security. The idea is that personnel dedicated to responding to incidents will be skilled in utilizing de-escalation techniques while keeping the public safe.

TriMet held a board meeting in June to discuss ideas moving forward. Present was a witness of the MAX stabbings, who believed that the lives of the slain men could have been saved had there been some kind of

By |July 10th, 2017|Protecting Oregonians|

Retail Giants Ignore Port Trucking Labor Abuse

Port Driver Justice

Major US retailers for over a decade have chosen to ignore signs of labor abuses within their supply chain, as port trucking companies force their drivers into debt, making them work up to 20 hours a day, sometimes paying them pennies per hour.

To get from manufacturer to retailer, goods are transported by port trucking companies that use independent drivers, often coercing them to sign truck lease purchase contracts they don’t understand. A driver must then pay all expenses for the use and maintenance of his truck from the low wages he receives. If he becomes sick and falls behind with the payments, the company can fire the employee, seize the truck and tens of thousands of dollars the driver has paid toward buying it.

Heavily lobbied by the trucking industry, Target, Home Depot, Costco, Walmart, JC Penney and other retailers have chosen to ignore reports of port trucking company labor abuses. They can look the other way because there are no laws requiring them to police their vendors or the subcontractors those vendors hire.

Trucking Companies Push Costs Onto Drivers

In 2008, the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, California banned older trucks from entering the harbor. Port trucking companies were suddenly faced with a $2.5 billion problem of replacing 16,000 aging big rigs with newer, cleaner trucks. Their solution was a lease-to-own program to push the cost onto individual drivers. Trucking companies arranged to finance their fleet, then passed on the cost of each truck to an individual driver. By that time, most port trucking companies were employing truckers as low-paid independent contractors who had to cover their own expenses.

Coalition for Responsible Transportation Fights Port Trucking Regulation

A lobbying group of retailers, shippers and trucking companies led by retailer Target called the Coalition for Responsible Transportation was formed to steer policy while regulators decided the rules for clean trucks. The coalition and its parent organization, the Retail Industry Leaders Association, fought port trucking-specific bills that would have converted California drivers to employees, given cities the right to regulate port trucking, and held retailers themselves liable in civil cases that workers brought against their vendors.

To date, the companies have paid lobbyists over $12.6 million to fight bills that would have protected the rights of truckers, even after hundreds of truckers have told regulators they were treated as modern-day indentured servants. U.S.

By |July 4th, 2017|Truck Crashes|

Portland’s Driving Has Gotten Worse

Allstate recently released its latest America’s Best Drivers Report and by the looks of it, Portland drivers are getting worse. Allstate reviews its own claim data to rank cities according to various factors that depict their driving abilities. Last year, Portland ranked at the very top — of the very last page — at #181.

The report analyzes the average number of years that take place between insurance claims, the relative claim likelihood, how many hard braking events occurred within 1,000 miles, and also accounts for each city’s rank after controlling for the population density and average annual precipitation. The report also contrasts each city’s suburban metro area to depict how much time passes, on average, between accident claims in traditionally less congested areas. In Portland, the average driver goes just 6.5 years between accident claims. The national average is 10 years. Portland suburbs also rise above the national average, with 8.6 years between claims.

Portland has been steadily dropping in the rankings since 2010 when the city placed at 113th.

How Allstate Collects Data

Allstate’s report is based on collision frequency and evaluates data collected from its own archive of claims. The report also includes data collected by special sensors installed in many of their drivers’ cars that detect the movement of the vehicle. Allstate customers agree to install these devices in exchange for an insurance discount. These devices detected a high rate of hard braking events among Portland drivers. Hard braking events are strong predictors of collisions.

When a hard brake event occurs, a rapidly-moving vehicle experiences a drastic decrease in speed. At times, the vehicle’s anti-lock braking system is activated. Hard brakes often occur when there is significant congestion on the roads but can happen at any time a driver is distracted or following the vehicle ahead too closely. These events are also common on wet roads and are almost always a reaction to an unexpected situation.

“Lead Foot” Syndrome

Allstate and Progressive regularly use data from devices that monitor their customers’ driving habits in order to reward them for good driving. Progressive releases their own annual report evaluating how long it really takes drivers to come to a complete stop. Their first

By |July 4th, 2017|Auto Accidents|

July 4th Holiday Could Be Deadliest for Traffic Fatalities

Highway

If the past 30 days of traffic statistics are an indication, we could see a record number of traffic fatalities in the days up to and during July 4th, historically the deadliest holiday for fatal crashes.

Predictions for Record July 4th Road Travel

For the fourth year in a row, AAA is expecting record travel on July 4th. According to its statistics, 44.2 Americans (13.7 percent of the population) will travel 50 or more miles away from home, with nearly 80 percent of trips by vehicle. It adds up to 1.2 million more travelers than last year and an increase of 2.9 percent over 2016. Those numbers point to the highest travel volume for the holiday on record.

AAA reported as many as 22 percent saying they will head to the beach. Small towns and rural areas will be the next popular destinations for 21 percent, and the cities will see an increase of 19 percent. Ten percent will head to lake areas, and mountains will be the destination for only 5 percent. In all, more than half-million Oregonians will get away during the July 4 holiday, the majority by vehicle.

Oregon’s Robust Economy Encourages More Travel

Oregon’s economy plays a part in the amount of holiday travel throughout the state and the likelihood of traffic fatalities. In December 2011 during the recession, the Oregon unemployment rate was at 8.9 percent. Six months later in July, with the unemployment rate still high, there were no recorded traffic fatalities on July 4th, considered to be one of the deadliest holidays for travel.

This February’s unemployment rate was the state’s best showing since at least 1976. Today’s low Oregon unemployment rate of only 4 percent means more discretionary income to plan getaway trips, with fewer Oregonians opting for “staycations.”  It could also mean more fatal crashes.

More Vehicles on the Road Due to Lower Gas Prices

The price of gasoline also determines the likelihood of holiday travel. Nearly all states have seen a yearly price drop at the gas pump, which tends to encourage more trips. Gas prices have been declining every year since 2014, when the price per gallon was over $3.50. Today’s price of only $2.29 ($2.67 in Oregon) during July fuels an increase in holiday travel.

By |July 2nd, 2017|Auto Accidents|

Dump Truck Runs Over Flagger at Construction Site

Flagger Sign

For the second time in only a month a flagger was struck and killed in Happy Valley, Oregon. On June 23rd, a flagger directing traffic at a construction site off the intersection of Southeast 132nd Avenue and Rose Meadow Drive was accidentally run over by a dump truck. Both driver and flagger were with the crew that was working to repair a natural gas leak.

On June 23, 2017 just after 4:12pm, Deputies with the Happy Valley Police Department responded to an injury traffic crash near the intersection of SE 132nd Ave. and SE Rose Meadow Dr. in Happy Valley. Initial reports indicated that a construction flagger had been struck by a dump truck. Personnel with the Happy Valley Police Department, Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office, Clackamas Fire District, and American Medical Response arrived on scene and pronounced the flagger deceased.

Dump Truck Rolls Backward Killing Flagger

Crews with Northwest Natural Gas were at the scene of a natural gas leak, and had Southeast 132nd completely closed to traffic. A dump truck driver who was there to help crews with the gas leak experienced mechanical problems, and was trying to remove his truck from the construction area. According to police reports, the flagger in this tragic accident was helping the driver move his stalled truck out of the road. The driver placed the truck in neutral, and the truck rolled backward while the flagger was behind. The truck hit the flagger and then ran over him.

Proving Driver Negligence with Vehicle Malfunction

While this tragic accident was unintentional and due to truck mechanical failure, one could argue that, had the truck been properly maintained, it might not have malfunctioned. The truck driver would therefore be considered negligent. All drivers owe a duty to properly maintain their vehicles so that mechanical issues within their control don’t cause an accident. Because an accident is too serious not to consider every possible factor, a typical accident investigation will examine the accident scene, police reports, and current condition of the vehicle involved. A proper investigation will also examine the truck’s maintenance records.

Accident Reconstructionist Determines Cause and Contributing Factors

The Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office Criminal Reconstruction and Forensic Team (CRAFT) responded to the scene and assisted in the investigation. In cases that involve fatality and personal injury, an accident reconstructionist conducts collision analysis to identify the cause of a collision and contributing factors, such as the malfunctioning vehicle, the roadway, and the role of the driver.

By |July 2nd, 2017|Personal Injury|

Uber Attempts to Win Portland by Offering Transportation Funds

Rideshare company, Uber, has seen its fair share of controversy right here in Portland, Oregon since its arrival in 2013. From accusations of using special software to avoid regulation attempts by city officials to accusations of intentionally overcharging customers, the service has generated a fair share of opposition. Recently, in an attempt to revamp its image in a more positive light, the company made a tempting proposal to the Oregon Legislature.

Uber Attempts to Avoid Regulation in Portland…again

Just a few years ago, Uber made headlines when it was discovered that they were using a software program called Greyball to avoid detection by law enforcement officers and city officials in cities in which Uber was operating illegally (like Portland). The program allowed code enforcement officers to use Uber, but strangely, they would not be able to hail a ride.

Uber claims the program was used to deny rides to users violating their terms of service. This included people aiming to physically hurt drivers, competitors, or “opponents who collude with officials on secret ‘stings’ meant to entrap drivers.” The program detected city employees based on their location, credit cards, and other information gathered by the Uber app so that drivers could avoid impromptu inspections.

Erich England, a local code enforcement inspector, attempted to hail an Uber downtown in 2014 as part of a sting operation against the company. He was unsuccessful. Greyball blocks unwanted riders by launching a “no ride available” notification or a ride cancellation. At the time, Uber had started operations without seeking permission from the city of Portland. Uber is now under federal investigation for its use of Greyball.

Since the Greyball fiasco, Uber has discovered another way in which it may get Portland regulators off their tracks. In a last-minute attempt to thwart regulation, the rideshare company has offered to pay a surcharge of 50 cents per ride to help fund an expansion of electric vehicles as part of an $8.2 billion transportation funding package. In exchange, Uber wants statewide preemption on local regulation. This comes after a bill failed that would have granted Uber preemption from regulation by Portland and other cities. The bill would have legalized rideshares across Oregon and placed oversight

By |June 29th, 2017|Employment Law|

Zidell Remakes Itself with South Waterfront Development

Zidell Yards Development      

Portland’s Zidell Marine launched its final barge into the Willamette River on June 16, 2017, symbolically marking the end of an era, with plans to remake its 33 acre site into a new mixed use neighborhood along the South Waterfront.

At the South Portland Business Association’s June 7th luncheon meeting, Portland attorney Charlene Zidell unveiled Zidell Marine’s long-awaited masterplan for its South Waterfront development, with a brief history of the company and its contribution to the city of Portland.

Zidell’s Post World War II Salvage and Barge Building Business

From the beginning, salvaging and re-purposing has been central to Zidell’s philosophy. Following World War II, Emery Zidell used the family’s South Waterfront scrap yard to dismantle, scrap, and re-use parts of retired warships to construct barges and petroleum tankers.

By 1960, the company’s ship-dismantling and re-constructing operation had become the largest in the country. In 1961, it launched its first barge, and has been building barges ever since. Seeing a changed market, in September 2016, Zidell decided to exit the barge-building business, but will continue to lease barges and operate its Tube Forgings of America business in Northwest Portland.

Zidell Reinvents Itself as a Developer

After over 60 years in the salvaging and barge-building business, the company plans to once again reinvent itself, this time as a developer in the rapidly expanding South Waterfront area, home to Oregon Health & Science University towers. In 2012, working with the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), Zidell completed an extensive, 19 year-long, $20 million clean-up of the site, in preparation for sustainable redevelopment.

In a question and answer session during Charlene Zidell’s talk, South Portland Business Association member attorney Richard Rizk asked her to name the greatest challenge Zidell Marine has experienced with moving forward with the project. She explained that its 19 year-long, $20 million remediation project, working with the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), to clean up the site in preparation for new development has been the greatest challenge so far.

The 118-unit Emery Apartments, now ready to rent with complete amenities and services, was the first building to rise from the Zidell Yards. Across the street from The Emery are parks and retail, on the corner is the OHSU Wellness Center, and within walking distance is the streetcar, a new light rail station that connects to downtown Portland and the Airport, and the OHSU aerial tram.

A 21st Century Vision for a Vibrant Community

In December, 2016, the Zidell family revealed its ambitious new vision to recreate Zidell Yards into something distinct, bold, and of lasting value for the City of Portland. Although the company has received architectural drawings, it has not yet hired an architect to complete the plan.

Zidell’s vision is to create a healthy 21st century living, working, and recreational environment along the Willamette River that incorporates culture into the fabric of the community. It plans to redevelop the 33 acre site to accommodate 2,600 residential units, 1.5 million square feet of office space, a grocery store, a retail anchor, restaurants, parking, a 200-room hotel, three parks, a public plaza, and a waterfront greenway with recreational access to the river.

Zidell will need to renegotiate with the city how many of the three parks planned for development Portland Parks will own, and is currently working with the city to include structures that will extend out into the water, such as dock and swimming pool.

Infrastructure Construction Will Pave the Way for Development

The necessary infrastructure construction on the undeveloped site, with roads and sewers, will start at the end of 2017, and construction will start fall 2018, with buildings opening two years later.

The development of Zidell Yards depends on the extension of Bond Avenue, which runs parallel to Moody Avenue, until it stops at Whitaker Street, near the tram terminal. The two roads will be the development’s main arteries, with Moody as a one-way street southbound and Bond going one-way northbound.

The Portland Development Commission (PDC) has pledged urban renewal dollars and Portland Bureau of Transportation funding to pay for the extension of Bond and additions that would help connect it to downtown, and the PDC promised funding for the project’s waterfront greenway. With road construction concurrent with the surrounding development by Zidell, the city can use tax revenue from the project to fund the road construction.

By |June 25th, 2017|South Portland|