Rizk Law Holiday Party at the Urban Office

Rizk Law enjoyed a festive holiday party at the Urban Office on SW Macadam Ave with live music provided by vocalist Lorna Baxter and accompanying instrumentalists. We wish everyone safe travels this holiday season and a happy new year!

By |December 27th, 2017|Uncategorized|

RizkLaw: Intro to Personal Injury Protection

Learn about Personal Injury Protection and how it will help you recover from your next auto accident!

By |December 21st, 2017|Uncategorized|

NTSB Investigates High Speed Washington Train Derailment

Positive Train Control

 

 

On December 18, 2017, Amtrak Cascades’ first run of its new high-speed passenger service between Tacoma and Portland ended in disaster just minutes after departure when the train failed to negotiate a curve where the train crosses over Interstate 5.

Traveling at a speed of 81.1mph in a curved section of the track near DuPont, Washington posted with a 30mph speed limit, the train jumped the track and continued in a straight line over an Interstate 5 overpass near Mounts Road, spilling thirteen of the train’s 14 total cars onto the congested freeway below. Three passengers on the train were killed and those who survived were taken to hospitals with injuries. Miraculously, there were only a few injured passengers in vehicles on the freeway and no fatalities.

It was supposed to mark the beginning of expanded service of Amtrak’s Cascades route between Portland and Seattle with six round-trip trips per day. A separate passenger line, Amtrak Coast Starlight, would also travel the new route once per day. About 867,000 people rode Amtrak Cascades in 2016, with the average train carrying about 250 people. Monday’s train carried around 80 people when it came off the tracks.

Washington Rail Expansion Project Saves Little Travel Time

The line of track, through the Point Defiance Pass, was recently upgraded as part of Washington State Department of Transportation’s $181 million rail expansion project. The upgrades were part of $800 million in capital improvements meant to reduce delays south of Tacoma. Amtrak Cascades shared the tracks with oil and other freight trains. Although the new route was touted as faster, it would shave off only 10 minutes of total travel time.

NTSB Initiates Investigation of Crash

The National Transportation Safety Bureau (NTSB) was on the scene to learn what the crew was doing when the train went off the rails, and why the emergency brake was not activated by the engineer. The investigators interviewed the engineer, conductor, and the other three crew members for a long list of information, including how much sleep they got the night before, what they ate that morning and any medications they were taking. Emergency radio transmissions between the conductor and the dispatcher were reviewed, and video from inward- and outward-facing cameras damaged in the crash were taken to the board’s Washington, D.C. laboratories for data retrieval.

By |December 20th, 2017|Personal Injury|

Social Host Liability During the Holidays

The holiday season is already upon us. From late November to early January, a surge of festivities invites us to socialize with our coworkers, friends, and loved ones. Too often, there are more opportunities and obligations to imbibe than many of us can handle. Consequently, the toll for alcohol-related crashes and fatalities spikes during the holiday season. The number of personal injury claims brought forth against intoxicated persons and their handlers follows suit.

Whether you are a social host or you run an establishment that sells alcohol, be wary of Oregon’s dram shop law that holds both vendors and social hosts liable for personal injury claims after an alcohol-induced incident. Yes, even homeowners can be liable when victims sustain injuries after DUII and other accidents if they are not careful about to whom they serve alcohol.

Social Host and Dram Shop Law

Like every other state, Oregon allows individuals hurt by an inebriated person to pursue a civil claim against the at-fault party. The funds from this claim are allocated to costs associated with the accident, such as medical bills, lost wages, the costs of ongoing care, and pain and suffering, among others. Under certain circumstances, the injured party may also sue the social host or vendor responsible for providing alcohol to the intoxicated person. The victim of the accident must establish just two facts to have a viable lawsuit:

  • The injured party must show that the vendor provided alcohol after the intoxicated person was already visibly intoxicated.
  • The injured party must show that he or she did not “substantially contribute” to the state of intoxication. This means that the injured party must not have taken any action to encourage more drinking by buying more alcohol or aiding his intoxication in any other way, such as by giving the drunk to purchase even more alcohol.

Oregon Social Host Liability

Like vendors, social hosts can be the subject of a personal injury lawsuit. A person who sustains injuries because of an intoxicated person’s negligence may sue the social hosts who served the intoxicated person alcohol. For a successful claim, the victim must prove that:

  • The intoxicated person was visibly intoxicated when the host served him alcohol, and the
By |December 19th, 2017|Drunk Driving and DUII|

Portland Prepares for 2018 Winter Storms with Salt and More Plows

Snow Storm

 

 

 

To prevent a repeat of last winter’s extreme snow and ice accumulations that paralyzed the city for days at a time, Portland plans more widespread use of road salt this year.

City Unprepared for Last Year’s Thaw and Freeze Event

Last year’s storm was complicated by a short thaw followed by a days-long deep-freeze that turned packed snow into a sheet of ice that plows couldn’t remove. Traffic was stopped trying to navigate slippery hills and city streets, and schools and businesses were closed for days at a time. Finally, the Washington Department of Transportation brought in eight plows and a supply of road salt, however, many felt that not enough salt was applied and too late to be effective.

Portland Reconsiders More Road Salt Use This Year

The city has begun to re-evaluate its long-held belief that road salt draining into rivers and streams from runoff is too environmentally hazardous. This year, city officials felt that the benefits of using road salt during the area’s crippling though relatively short winter freezes would outweigh any environmental damage.

The city’s new plan calls for more widespread use of road salt, with six new salt spreaders that can be installed on city trucks, and it will turn to other bureaus and private businesses to get more crews out clearing roads. City Commissioner Dan Saltzman and the Transportation Bureau asked for $1.2 million to buy new snow-clearing equipment and $1.6 million a year for PBOT’s weather-response staff and materials. Instead the bureau got $30,000 for the new salt-spreaders, with $300,000 set aside in contingency funds for any unforeseen snow removal costs.

“If we do see a major snow or ice event on the level of last year, I won’t be hesitant to ask for more money,” said Saltzman.

City’s Goal of Passable Roads During This Year’s Snow and Ice Storms

Portland’s transportation bureau this year is prepared for what weather forecasters predict to be a similar snowy season due to the influence of La Nina, a pattern of oceanic cooling. The city will keep 300 tons of salt on hand, enough to treat between 2,000 and 3,000 lane-miles of roadway, and will be able to receive and store another 1,000 tons of salt ahead of a big storm.

With a goal of trying to achieve “passable” roads that are navigable for vehicles with front-wheel drive, Portland will try to limit its use

By |December 16th, 2017|Auto Accidents|

New CPSC Rule Bans Toxic Phthalates in Children’s Toys

Child with Toy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After nearly a decade of proposals and delays, in October 2017 the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) issued a final rule prohibiting the manufacture, distribution, and sale of toys and child care products containing five phthalate chemicals known to cause neurodevelopmental and reproductive disorders in children.

Phthalates are chemicals used to soften or plasticize vinyl. The CPSC’s 2017 final rule bans five phthalates in children’s toys, however does not require warning labels on products containing these toxic chemicals.

CDC Detects Widespread Phthalate Exposure

As early as 2003, researchers at the US Center for Disease Control (CDC) documented “widespread exposure to a high level of a group of chemicals called phthalates” across the general American public, causing the CDC to recommend that the chemicals and their effect on human health be studied further and unlocking funding for studies focused on phthalates.

National Academy of Sciences Report Shows Phthalate Health Risk

In December 2008, the National Academy of Sciences published a report linking phthalates to the following conditions:

  • Asthma
  • Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder
  • Breast cancer
  • Obesity and Type II Diabetes
  • Low IQ
  • Neurodevelopmental issues
  • Behavioral issues
  • Autism spectrum disorders
  • Altered reproductive development
  • Male fertility issues

Earlier in May 2005, researchers had identified an association between pregnant women’s exposure to phthalates and adverse effects on genital development in their male children.

Congress Passes Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 with Phthalate Ban

In August 2008, Congress passed the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 (CPSIA), which prohibits toys and child care items containing three phthalates (DEHP, DBP, and BBP) and also imposes an interim ban on three additional phthalates (DINP, DNOP, and DIDP) until the CPSC’s Chronic Hazard Advisor Panel (CHAP) had completed an investigation on those phthalates.

CHAP Finally Publishes Its Phthalate Report with Deadline for CPSC

Six years later in July 2014, the CHAP published a report recommending that the CPSC ban five phthalates, including a permanent ban on DINP, with a recommendation to also ban DIBP, DPENP, DHEXP, and DCHP. The report, called the first major regulatory document in the federal government highlighting the extent of the new science on the risks of phthalates, gave a deadline of January 14, 2015 for a final rule by the CPSC.

Litigation Follows Missed CPSC Phthalate Final Rule Deadline

Because a final rule had not been passed by the January 14, 2015 deadline, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC),

By |December 11th, 2017|Child Injury Accidents, Product Liability|

Snowy Sidewalk Slip and Fall Accidents: Can I be Sued?

Homeowners in Portland enjoy many things like lush green lawns in the summertime and skyrocketing property values all year long. In winter, homeowners also have the neat responsibility to keep their sidewalks clear of treacherous ice and debris. Although specific ordinances vary by city, Oregon law places the burden on home and property owners (and occupants) to keep sidewalks safe. If a person slips or falls and hurts himself on a sidewalk, the owner of the property adjacent to that sidewalk can be held personally liable for all claims resulting from the accident.

Slip and fall injuries are quite common, impacting 2.5 million older adults each year. They frequently take place in and around the home, and instances of these accidents soar in the winter months. Slippery surfaces from rain, sleet, ice, and snow almost beg pedestrians to trip and fall, which can lead to serious and even disabling injuries. When these accidents occur in residential areas, the city places takes a hands-off approach, passing all responsibility for damages onto homeowners.

Shoveling the Sidewalk May Hurt Your Back, But Not Your Wallet

Homeowners who exercise the duty of care are much less likely to face lawsuits over a poorly tended sidewalk than homeowners who let snow pile up, melt, and refreeze. Slip and fall accidents are a common occurrence in the winter months, and while they mostly occur on the properties of businesses that fail to keep their parking lots and entryways clear, homeowners are just as susceptible to costly lawsuits.

Perhaps, years of America’s Funniest Home Video reruns and slapstick has rendered us desensitized to slip and fall incidents as a nation. The consequences of these slips and falls are no joke. Injuries that slip and fall victims sustain can be similar to those suffered in other horrific accidents like tragic car accidents and ski accidents. Among the most common injuries are:

  • Fractures
  • Bruises
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Back injuries

In the worst of scenarios, a person could even die after sustaining traumatic injuries from the fall. The elderly are more susceptible to death after a slip and fall accident than any other group. As one can imagine, the costs

By |December 1st, 2017|Uncategorized|

Administration Extends Trucking Electronic Logging Device Deadline

ELD

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Federal Motor Carrier Administration’s two-year timeline for adoption of the use of Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs) by the trucking industry received a 90-day extension by the current administration to allow truckers and carriers to ease into the ruling. From December 2017 to April 2018, any truck driver caught without an ELD will be cited but allowed to continue driving, as long as the driver is in compliance with hours-of-service rules.

In December of 2015, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) announced a Final Rule requiring truckers to begin using ELDs rather than paper logs within two years. Once adopted, the automated technology would force truckers to comply with current federal safety regulations limiting them to drive no more than 70 hours a week with an 11-hour driving limit per day followed by 10 consecutive hours off-duty, limitations designed to prevent truck and bus driver fatigue. The FMCSA’s Final Rule also safeguards truck and bus drivers from being coerced by motor carriers to violate federal safety regulations.

After April 2018 Trucks Not ELD Compliant Will Be Taken Out of Service

With the extension, after April 2018 truckers without ELDs will receive out-of-service violations and be forced to stop driving. The ELD Final Rule also states that Canadian- and Mexican-domiciled drivers will also be required to use ELDs when operating on U.S. roadways. However, drivers who use paper logs no more than eight days during any 30-day period will not be required to use ELDs, and drivers of vehicles manufactured before model year 2000 will also be exempt.

ELDs Have the Potential to Save Lives

The FMCSA estimated that, on an annual average basis, the Final Rule would save 26 lives and prevent 562 injuries resulting from crashes involving large commercial motor vehicles. “This is a win for all motorists on our nation’s roadways,” said FMCSA Acting Administrator Scott Darling. “Employing technology to ensure that commercial drivers comply with federal hours-of-service rules will prevent crashes and save lives.”

Carriers Who Comply with ELD Mandate See Positive Benefits

Reducing paperwork, ELDs are a good management tool, making it easier, simpler, and quicker to correctly record location and accurate information to easily track duty status. By October 2017, four in 10 (39 percent) of carriers and owner-operators said they planned to comply with the mandate before the deadline, and another 9 percent already had. Others were

By |November 26th, 2017|Truck Crashes|

Textalyzer Would Help Officers Bust Distracted Drivers

Driver with Phone

Even though most states, including Oregon, ban texting and other kinds of cell phone use while driving, cell phone laws are sometimes difficult to enforce. With a device called a Textalyzer, police officers at the scene of an accident could tell if phone use was involved in the crash.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than eight people are killed every day in the United States and 1,161 injured in crashes that are reported to involve a distracted driver. Including those not reported, the numbers are probably much higher.

Proving cell phone use during a crash can be difficult. Although it is standard procedure for both sides in a disputed vehicle crash to subpoena cell phone call records from the other side, securing cell phone records often takes time.

Textalyzer Would Determine Cell Phone Use at the Scene of an Accident

Modeled after the Breathalyzer, a device called a Textalyzer is currently being developed by Israel-based company Cellebrite. Tailored to laws in the jurisdiction in which it is used, it would determine at the scene of a crash, or afterward, if a driver had been using his or her phone illegally while driving.

A police officer at the scene of an accident would go to the driver and, with the driver still able to hold the phone, attach a cord to connect the Textalyzer to the phone. The officer would tap one button and, in about 90 seconds, the device would show the last activities, with a time stamp. Without downloading any content, the device would only display a summary of what apps were open and in use, and show screen taps and swipes to determine if there was an outgoing call or incoming call.

Privacy Advocates and Civil Libertarians Express Concerns

Controversies surrounding interception of cell phone data by law enforcement have delayed development and approval of the Textalyzer. Following leaks of secret documents in 2013 that revealed its controversial covert surveillance methods, the National Security Agency’s (NSA) spying tactics have been intensely scrutinized by privacy advocates and civil libertarians. Interference with communications signals is supposed to be prohibited under the Federal Communications Act, making the use of these devices by law enforcement in a legal gray zone.

The Stingray II, used by the FBI to track suspects, is one of many spy tools called cell site simulators

By |November 26th, 2017|Auto Accidents, Distracted Driving|

Eugene Social Worker Seeks Help for Mentally Unstable Son, is Met with Violence

All across the country people are waking up to the issue of excessive use of force by police. Several instances of overt police violence have made headlines, with many encounters ending in preventable deaths. Although excessive use of force may violate the Fourth Amendment, victims of excessive police force may only pursue civil charges against arresting officers and possibly the municipality that employs them. Though the officers may have done wrong, they generally do not face criminal charges for using excessive force when placing a person under arrest. A victim’s only hope for justice is to seek damages in the form of a civil lawsuit.

Locally, police have been accused of using excessive force right here in Oregon. Two years ago in south Eugene, a mother panicked and called a non-emergency hotline in the hopes of receiving help from a crisis intervention team when her son experienced a psychotic break. What happened next led to a civil battle between Eugene law enforcement officers and the family they failed after an encounter with a mentally ill teenager went horribly wrong.

Insufficient Support for Mentally Ill Prompts Police Use of Force

Unable to control her son, Ayisha Elliott called a non-emergency crisis intervention hotline to receive support. Quinton Richardson-Brown was in the grip of a psychiatric episode. Expecting a group of personnel to help her access the appropriate services, four police officers arrived at her door. To say they were of little help is an understatement.

“Instead, the police came and beat the hell out of both of them.” Attorney Brian Michael described the scene to the jury in U.S. District Court when making his opening statement. When police walked in, he said, Elliott’s son, a 19-year-old university student when the episode took place, was handcuffed when officer Matthew Stropko used a stun gun to subdue him. When the gun failed to take effect, the officer used his fist to strike him in the face.

Ms. Elliott also claimed to be a victim of excessive use of force. She had sustained injuries after being thrown to the ground on her deck by Eugene police Sgt. Bill Solesbee, who jumped on her back and shoved her head into the floor. Elliott, a caseworker for the Department of Human Services, was later arrested

By |November 22nd, 2017|Protecting Oregonians|