In this Blog category you will find articles about your rights if you are involved in an accident that results in injury and personal losses . Personal Injury suits and insurance claims may require the help of an attorney. A good lawyer can protect your rights under the law.

Firefighters Save Historic Multnomah Falls Lodge

Since an adolescent in the running for the 2017 Darwin Award ignited the Eagle Creek fire, tenacious firefighters have worked tirelessly to contain the flames that continue to destroy vast swaths of the Columbia River Gorge’s natural beauty. One landmark, in particular, was at risk of destruction and may not have survived the flames had it not been for their bravery and quick thinking.

Oregon State Fire Marshal Structural Team Saves Historic Lodge

Thanks to a resilient team of structural firefighters, the iconic Multnomah Falls Lodge was spared from the hungry flames of the Eagle Creek fire as they enveloped one of Oregon’s most scenic waterfalls. It took just two days for the fire to spread to the region from its point of origin near Punch Bowl Falls. The fire soon posed a threat to the lodge as firefighters braced for battle.

The fire ripped across the ridge atop the falls and blazed downward toward the rigid stone structure. As trees plummeted, temperatures surged. All the firefighters on duty had just one goal: save the lodge.

A team of water tenders managed to keep the lodge damp as the fire storm progressed. Fire crews used hose lines to protect the lodge from heat as large trees torched. The battle lasted overnight, but the lodge came out unscathed.

Preparing for Battle

As the stench of thick smoke filled his nostrils and burned his eyes, Rick Buck knew the lodge was in danger. The proprietor of the historic structure evacuated the lodge as fire crews arrived to fend off the flames. Lance Lighty with the Eugene Springfield Fire Battalion was called in to lead the crew. After a hectic holiday weekend, he had influenced the shutdown of I-84 while working with ODOT. He had witnessed first-hand 30-MPH gusts catalyze flames and smoke through the dense forest of the Gorge during an extremely dry summer. As the flames skirted the state’s highest waterfall, Lighty recognized the importance of the lodge and was determined to save it at all costs.

 

He and his staff knew that plenty of firefighters would be needed to have a shot at victory. They needed to find a way to moisten the area around the lodge and the roof from above, as it was too late to remove

By |September 22nd, 2017|Personal Injury, Protecting Oregonians|

What Happened at Eagle Creek?

Growing tired of a sweltering heat wave, Portland resident Liz FitzGerald was determined to cool off. She longed to be in water, so she journeyed to Punch Bowl Falls after recalling her friends’ account of splashing in the pool at the base of the falls the month before. On her way up the trail, she noticed a sign that warned a wildfire had closed the trail ahead at three miles. Retaining hope of a refreshing dip, she marched on.

That Saturday afternoon, a group of teenagers roamed the trails by Punch Bowl Falls, mindlessly playing with fireworks during the region’s annual dry spell. They passed FitzGerald on their way down the trail as one of them filmed another tossing a smoke bomb down into the ravine. FitzGerald was not going to let them get away with it.

“Do you realize how dangerous it is what you just did?” she asked. She informed them of the closed trail up ahead because of a nascent wildfire. She remarked on the dryness of the area, but the kids didn’t react more than a few giggles from the girls in the group. FitzGerald trotted onward as the teenagers left down the trail.

She spotted smoke rising from the smoke bomb and, although she still longed to reach the falls, she realized the severity of the situation and turned her thoughts to escape. A couple passed by on their way down the mountain when FitzGerald approached them by stating that she had just witnessed a teenager throwing a firecracker down into the ravine and believed it was smoking. The couple confirmed they had seen the teenagers up at Punch Bowl Falls lighting off firecrackers.

A shot of adrenaline lighted her. Liz darted down the mountain, past where she had seen the teens and looked down. Smoke and the smell of trees’ burning bark consumed her. The forest was ablaze. She dashed down the trail warning everyone in sight that the forest was on fire. She encountered the kids once more and asked if they realized they had just started a forest fire. One of them nonchalantly replied, “Well, what are we supposed to do about it now?” She yelled back to call the fire department as she rushed to the parking lot.

By |September 16th, 2017|Personal Injury|

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|

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|

Portland No Longer Feels Safe on TriMet

In a span of just 4 weeks, those who rely on TriMet’s transportation services have endured considerable uneasiness while using Portland’s public transportation system. An incident in which three men stood up to a white supremacist bullying two teenagers on a Northeast Portland MAX train made national headlines after two of the men were tragically killed and one fatally injured. The story of the TriMet Heros has been featured on dozens of news sites, yet it is not the only incident that has passengers concerned for their safety.

A Recent Timeline of TriMet Threats

Several dangerous scenarios have played out on TriMet transportation trains in the span of just a few weeks. These are the top 4 scenarios that have travelers fearing for their safety as of late:

Woman Stabbed at Lloyd Center

On May 19th, just a week prior to the MAX stabbings, a woman was stabbed on the Lloyd Center MAX platform in front of dozens of witnesses by an unknown assailant. The woman, in her early 20s, was with a pair of friends when the assault took place around 4 pm. She engaged in a brief conversation with her assailant before the assailant stabbed her. The woman fell onto the tracks while the train operator left the doors wide open, yet the assailant allegedly did not mount the train. The victim was eventually transported to a local hospital by ambulance to treat traumatic injuries. The suspect was taken into custody shortly afterward. According to an update by the Oregonian, the victim is expected to survive. The suspect, a man in his early forties, was arrested on suspicion of second-degree assault and menacing. He is being held on $252,500 bail.

TriMet Stabbings

May 26th marked the fateful day in which three brave Portland men stood up to a transient white supremacist and risked their lives to protect a teenage girl and her Muslim friend from harassment on a MAX train that departed from the Hollywood Transit Center. The man was yelling insults at the girls, ranting and raving about religion and shouting anti-Muslim hate speech when two men tried to get him to calm down. Sadly, these men were the target of a vicious stabbing. A third young man intervened

By |June 18th, 2017|Personal Injury|

Portland Has a Dog Bite Problem

It is no secret that the Pearl District beams dog fever; it is not uncommon to see packs of dogs and their owners enjoying brunch at a local café any day of the week, or to see dog owners pacing up and down the aisles of health food grocery stores with their unlicensed “therapy dogs.”  While Portlanders enjoy their pooches, the city has a serious dog bite problem. Portland ranks twelfth in the country for the number of dog attacks on letter carriers. Perhaps unsurprisingly, it is also ranked fourth in the country for pet ownership.

Dogtopia

Many hail Portland as an ideal model for the modern lifestyle. The city draws tens of thousands of new residents a year; from July 2014 through July 2015, the city grew by 111 people each day. Oregon was ranked as the most popular state to move to three years in a row from 2013 to 2015, and many are moving to Portland from other states. It is the top destination for young, college educated people — the very people who like to own dogs before starting a family. Portland is so dog-friendly, many businesses leave water bowls outside so they can cool down. There are bakeries that make treats exclusively for animal consumption, and tons of dog parks everywhere. It’s no wonder that people with pets are drawn to Portland.

The city has invested millions in infrastructure to facilitate an active urban life, and a big part of that is accommodating its thousands of residents who are pet owners. There are 5.7 dog parks per 100,000 residents, which is more per capita than any other city, according to USA Today. While Portland welcomes dogs of all sizes, not everyone in Portland is thrilled about the seemingly lax culture surrounding pet ownership.

With over 600 complaints about animals in food stores received by the food safety division of the Oregon Agriculture Department, some may take pet ownership too far. Dogs have been observed shopping alongside their owners in popular grocery chains despite store efforts to disallow animals that are not trained to help the disabled. Dogs present a health and safety threat when they urinate or defecate in stores, yet many able-bodied owners insist on taking them

By |June 10th, 2017|Personal Injury|

“Loss of Chance” Becomes a Cause of Action for an Oregon Medical Malpractice Claim

hospital waiting roomIf you have ever suffered at the hands of doctors who denied you better treatment options, you may now have a valid medical malpractice case. The Oregon Supreme Court ruled this month that patients can bring medical malpractice cases in situations when the negligent care denied them a treatment or procedure that could have had a better outcome than the treatment that was given. This takes medical malpractice beyond cases of simple negligence-induced injury.

Naturally, physician groups protested. The Oregon Medical Association and the American Medical Association filed a brief asserting that allowing loss of chance cases would drive up the number of malpractice lawsuits, medical malpractice insurance premiums, and push doctors to practice what is called “defensive medicine.” Are these concerns genuine?

Defensive Medicine and the Rise of Healthcare Costs

I will prescribe regimen for the good of my patients according to my ability and my judgment and never do harm to anyone.”

Defensive medicine is a natural enemy of dedicated physicians who uphold the Hippocratic Oath. This approach to medicine is one in which physicians and other healthcare providers consider the possibilities of litigation in their methods. The purpose of defensive medicine is to avoid litigation; when treatments and procedures are done with the consideration of a possible lawsuit rather than the patient’s best interests, we have a problem. Actually, defensive medicine gives rise to three big problems:

  • Increased health risks to patients
  • Increased price of healthcare
  • Degradation of trust between healthcare professionals and their patients

When patients are subject to defensive medicine, there is the potential for unnecessary treatments and procedures. Doctors may run unneeded tests, prescribe medications when they are not necessary, and perform invasive procedures without an absolute need. They also may be prone to needlessly hospitalize patients to give the impression that they are doing their jobs. All this unnecessary medical attention could easily drive up the costs of healthcare for individuals.

At the same time, defensive medicine can swing the other way and deny patients options that could really benefit in the long run, as in the case of Joseph Smith, whose medical malpractice case is the one on which the state Supreme Court’s new ruling

By |May 12th, 2017|Personal Injury|

Medical Malpractice is the 3rd Cause of Death in America

gavel and stethoscopeIf medical error were considered a disease by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention it would be the third leading cause of death in America, falling behind only cancer and heart disease. The two doctors who published the article in the British Medical Journal conservatively estimated an alarming 251,000 people die each year as the result of medical errors or improper medical care. Of all the errors that pave the way for medical malpractice lawsuits, perhaps the most common lies in the medical practitioner’s failure to properly diagnose a condition.

Roughly 12 million Americans are misdiagnosed each year, according to a study published in the BMJ Quality & Safety Journal. This means that 1 out of 20 adult patients are misdiagnosed, or 5% of the total outpatient . Of these misdiagnoses, nearly half (47%) lead to serious disability. It is estimated that nearly every individual will have a medical condition misdiagnosed at least once in her lifetime. Misdiagnosis alone may be the cause of 40,000-80,000 of the deaths that medical error brings annually.

Misdiagnosis Spurs Malpractice Claims

Patients may be misdiagnosed in a variety of settings. Recent research shows that in addition to being misdiagnosed in a hospital, more patients are being misdiagnosed in outpatient clinics and doctor’s offices. There are several reasons for misdiagnosis, the most common of which are:

  • Issues arising when ordering diagnostic tests
  • Patients failing to disclose an accurate medical history
  • Doctors misinterpreting test results

Diagnostic errors are the most common mistakes made by the medical community that lead to malpractice suits. Such errors are the most likely to result in disability or death. Between 1986 and 2010, these errors cost $38.8 billion in malpractice claim payouts. These errors are also largely preventable.

Those in the medical community have a number of challenges to reducing the rate of diagnostic errors, yet medical professionals suggest there are a number of things patients can do.

What Should Patients Do?

In Oregon, 8,579 adverse actions were taken against healthcare providers between 2005 and 2015 as the result of

By |May 8th, 2017|Personal Injury|

How Forced Arbitration Can Ruin your PI Claim

It wasn’t very long ago that General Mills — manufacturer of dozens of familiar food brands such as Cheerios, Betty Crocker and Pillsbury — raised hell when it changed the legal terms on its website requiring all disputes related to the purchase or use of any of its products to go through mandatory arbitration for resolutions. Consumers were outraged that engaging with the company online– whether by using their website, joining their online community, subscribing to email newsletters, or even downloading a coupon– could make them lose their right to sue General Mills for any future wrongdoing.

After copious pressure, General Mills caved. They reversed their position, but still hundreds of large corporations are subjecting consumers to forced arbitration in their terms and conditions. Clauses are even present in employment contracts.

What is Forced Arbitration?

Arbitration is an alternative method of resolving legal disputes in which two or more parties present their sides of a complaint to a “neutral third party” or “neutral panel” outside of a courtroom. There is no judge or jury; it is this “neutral” party who then decides, after hearing both sides, what the proper course of action should be. There is also no way to appeal the decision reached.

Many cases of arbitration involve parties that all mutually agreed to the arbitration. It is increasingly common for personal injury complaints to be resolved this way; it is just one of several avenues you can take to resolve your case, provided you are given the option.

Forced arbitration clauses are present in the fine print of contracts for everything from car loans and student loans to leases, credit cards, checking accounts, insurance contracts, and even nursing home agreements. If you have ever purchased on Amazon, Groupon, paid a Netflix subscription or obtained cell phone service through any of the big providers, you have signed an arbitration clause and may not even know it.

Effects on Consumers

Proponents of arbitration always try to spin it as a low-cost, informal alternative to lawsuits. They purposely mislead consumers by emphasizing there is no requirement for their representation by an attorney. Surely, a company like General Mills could afford to and would bring their own attorneys to arbitration had they

By |April 28th, 2017|Elder Abuse, Personal Injury, Protecting Oregonians|

Nursing Home Sexual Abuse in the United States

Imagine that you are helpless in bed, relying on another’s care for survival. One day, as you are being fed or bathed or changed, your caregiver turns against you and forces you to perform sex acts on him or takes advantage of you while you are sleeping. Now, imagine that you are elderly and that the likelihood of anyone believing what you have experienced is slim simply due to your age or other disability. These are the experiences of thousands of senior citizens and mentally or physically incapacitated patients throughout the country who reside in residential care facilities, assisted living centers, and other long-term care facilities.

Elder care sex abuse is not an issue most people are familiar with or have ever even conceived. It is not an issue that should ever have been conceived, yet the thought has crossed the minds of dozens of unfit caregivers, and many have acted upon them. As horrifying as it sounds, elder care abuse is barely on the radar. It is not even a priority for most law enforcement agencies and officials. But it is a serious issue that is gaining more awareness, as instances of abuse are on the rise.

A Hidden Problem

Throughout the United States, incidents of sex abuse toward those who are in long-term care facilities such as nursing homes have increased. Residents are assaulted by caretakers, facility personnel, other residents, and sometimes, even the owner himself. Sadly, there are currently no reliable national data due to a lack of organized data collection regarding these statistics. Just one organization — the Administration for Community Living based in Washington D.C. — has compiled any kind of data: approximately 20,000 complaints in a span of 20 years. This works out to about 3 complaints per day; this statistic excludes incidents of resident-on-resident sex abuse. Realistically, the numbers are likely much higher.

The issue is rampant and yet plagued by unawareness, apathy, and sheer neglect. No one really “believes” that elderly or incapacitated persons could be the victims of rape or other forms of sexual abuse. Victims may be too embarrassed to speak up, or they don’t think anyone will believe them. Families and friends who visit may suspect abuse but don’t wish to believe it or don’t want to get involved,

By |April 16th, 2017|Personal Injury|