You may need the legal services of an attorney to protect your rights in an insurance claim.

The Good, The Bad, The Ugly: Portland’s Bike-share Program

By now, you may be familiar with the ubiquitous red-orange bikes around town. They are the meat of Portland’s Nike-sponsored bike-share program, Biketown. The program officially launched nearly a year ago in June 2016 after several years of development and logistical setbacks.

Portland’s Struggle to Acquire Biketown

Portland has long held the reputation of being a bike-friendly city. In fact, it was one of the first cities in the U.S. to brainstorm of some type of bike-share program. Way back in 1994, the city launched the Yellow Bike Project in an attempt to model Amsterdam’s free community bike program. This ended up in disaster. The city teamed up with a nonprofit organization to release free bikes to whoever could use one, with only the honor system to protect them. Bikes were quickly vandalized or stolen.

In 2006, the city requested a municipal bike-share program proposal. This request was canceled two years later to dedicate more time to analyzing logistics. In 2011, activists from Bicycle Transportation Alliance encouraged the project’s revival. Further unfortunate events ensued. It took another two years for federal funds to disperse as financial obstacles struck the bike-share industry.

In 2014, Bikeshare Holdings purchased Alta Bicycle Share, the company the city had selected to operate its program. Later that year, the company’s major bike supplier filed for bankruptcy.

Alas, some light appeared at the end of the tunnel when in 2015, PBOT’s new director, who had worked on launching bike-shares in DC and Chicago, was determined to launch whether or not a sponsor was involved. By 2016, Portland struck a deal with Nike, allowing the program they were developing with Motivate, the updated Alta Bicycle Share operator, to expand it.

For all the setbacks, the program has seen a significant amount of use since it finally launched last year. Let’s take a closer look.

The Good

Biketown Portland is a relatively cost-effective bike-share program that contains more smart bikes than any other city bike-share. The technology to manage the program is less expensive than traditional systems that Motivate has employed in other cities. This is good news for taxpayers considering the program is publicly funded.

They aren’t called “smart bikes” for nothing. Each Biketown bike is equipped with GPS tracking and the

By |April 24th, 2017|Bicycle Accidents|

Can Microwaves Be Used to Diagnose Bleeding from TBI?

Stroke-detecting technology using microwaves shows promise in detecting intracranial bleeding from traumatic brain injury. 

Treatment for severe traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) characterized by bleeding in the brain (intracranial) requires opening the skull to release pressure and remove clotted blood, called a hematoma. The survival rate is only ten percent if the hematoma is not removed within four hours. Getting a patient with an intracranial hematoma to a neurosurgical center with radiology facilities for a CT scan in the shortest amount of time then becomes a matter of life and death.

“It’s not so much an issue of being able to do more for them (TBI patients) pre-hospital wise, it’s a question of triage, of transporting them to the right hospital, and that’s a huge problem,” said Mikal Elam, chair of clinical neurophysiology at the University of Gothenburg.

Stroke Detecting Device May Detect Hematoma from TBI

The goal has been to find a portable device to detect bleeding from TBI at low cost to convey diagnostic information in a fast, non-invasive, and safe manner. Researchers at Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden are now considering applying an already existing, light-weight (under 10 pounds), portable stroke-detecting device called a Strokefinder to quickly diagnose intracranial bleeding at the site of a traumatic brain injury.

Built by Medfield Diagnostics, the Strokefinder is a tool already used to differentiate between strokes without a clot blocking blood flow and those that involve bleeding. Medfield is collaborating with Chalmers’ and Gothenburg’s Sahlgrenska University Hospital on projects featuring the Strokefinder, believing doctors there would have a better idea of what they need than engineers at the company.

Here’s How It Works

The Strokefinder device a patient’s head is placed inside has eight microwave antennas on it, each one firing a small amount of microwave radiation through the brain (between 1/100th and 1/10th what you receive from a cell phone conversation), while the other antennas pick it up. The process is repeated at several different frequencies. The microwaves quietly progress through the tissue in different ways, depending on the consistency of the tissue, and are then filtered via an algorithm instead of an image, to enable the hematoma to stand out as either a stroke or a TBI. The patient can’t feel it working, and the entire process takes only 45 seconds. Once a hematoma is detected, the patient can be quickly transported to the correct hospital with a neurosurgical center.

By |April 21st, 2017|Brain Injury|

Oregon’s Hidden Senior Care Abuses

One of the most troubling decisions you may face in your lifetime is deciding whether or not a parent or senior relative should be placed in the care of a nursing home. In many cases, families do not have a choice as the health of their relatives depends upon a continuous cycle of care by doctors and nurses. One would hope that the caregivers and other personnel at these facilities are fully vetted, trained, morally noble and responsible individuals, eager to provide their best care and peace of mind to the families who rely on them. Unfortunately, with the number of abuse cases we see here at Rizklaw, this isn’t always the case.

Misleading Records

The number of incidents of senior care abuse is likely higher than anyone assumes, but we don’t have reliable information to draw from. There is no national database to keep track of abuse complaints, and agencies at the state level do a poor job. Most agencies dedicated to conducting investigations and filing reports are severely underfunded and understaffed.

What’s worse? In Oregon, the state’s taxpayer-funded website for consumers researching care facilities omitted nearly 8,000 substantiated abuse complaints against senior care centers. That’s 60% of all complaints filed. Complaints ranging from serious medical concerns like a fractured hip or medication mixups to complaints filed about valuables gone missing were deleted from the website, misleading consumers looking to place their relatives in the 600+ long-term care facilities throughout the state. Record of wrongful death due to negligence were also missing.

What little data remains on the website includes excruciatingly vague descriptions, such as “inadequate hygiene” or “exposed to potential harm.” In one instance, a resident of a northeast Portland facility fell in the middle of the night and started to bleed from the head. Rather than call upon a nurse to evaluate the situation more closely, the resident was placed back in bed by the caregiver on duty. The next day, the same resident complained of pain. It was discovered that the resident had suffered a fractured hip. After all this, the report online simply stated the outcome of the complaint as “unreasonable discomfort.”

If you are looking to place your parents in a facility, would “unreasonable discomfort” be enough

By |April 21st, 2017|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|

Portland Bike-Share Bars Lawsuits

Nike-sponsored Biketown is Portland’s premier bike-share program. A thousand bright red-orange bikes eagerly await commuters at one hundred stations across downtown and local neighborhoods. At $2.50/ hour or $12 for a full day, these bikes are attractive and convenient options for city transportation. The program launched in July 2016 with extremely promising results. A total of 136,000 miles were traveled over 59,000 trips in its very first month. Biketown allows locals and tourists alike to traverse our bike-friendly city easily and relatively cheaply; yet what consumers may not know is that with each Biketown agreement they sign, they waive their constitutional right to a civil jury trial in court if something goes awry.

How Forced Arbitration Impacts Consumers

Arbitration clauses were developed as an informal, expedited method of resolving common disputes among businesses. The model does not work well when a consumer is pitted against a corporation, for these two entities are not equal.

Companies that include forced arbitration clauses in their user agreements try to paint them as user-friendly alternatives to complicated and unpleasant court proceedings. Little do most people know that arbitration is heavily biased toward the corporation. It is also generally not a more cost-effective approach to dispute resolution than taking someone to court.

Portland’s Biketown yet Another Peddler of Forced Arbitration

The program boasts it is the perfect solution for one-way trips around town. Its own website states it is “fun, affordable, and convenient;” yet, in the depths of the Biketown User Agreement there is a forced arbitration clause buried in the section titled “Binding Arbitration; Class Action Waiver” that prevents users of the popular bike-share program from pursuing their claims in court or as part of a class action settlement. The only solution the contract provides is to pursue mandatory arbitration to resolve disputes.

A portion of the clause reads:

“You agree that any dispute or Claim relating in any way to Your use of the Services will be resolved by binding arbitration, rather than in court.”

Forced arbitration clauses have long stripped away the rights of consumers to stand up to corporations for wrongdoing. Over the past 30-odd years, companies have used these clauses as shields against taking responsibility for violating a myriad of consumer protections. These clauses are everywhere —

By |April 14th, 2017|Bicycle Accidents|

Claim Value- Variable #1: YOU

This is the first post in my weekly blog series: Personal Injury Claim Value: Key Variables. During the past 25 years I have quantified claims big and small–as a large loss claims analyst (1996-2000), an insurance defense attorney (1990-1996) and since 2000 as a plaintiff personal injury attorney. I dedicate the series to my past clients, adversaries and their insurers whose now resolved disputes laid a pattern of lessons learned.

When it comes to personal injury claims ultimately there is really only one question: How much is my claim worth?”

The short, quick answer is a simple number. A number answer is understandable, plentiful at cocktail parties and easily generated from online injury calculators. The downside to quick injury claim quantification is huge– quick quantification is usually wrong.

In reality, claim value depends on several key variables. Notice the word “variable”. Just a tiny variable tweak can bring huge differences. Hold that thought. Now consider this. Variables constantly change and differ from place to place. Jurisdictions differ; each fact pattern has nuisance. Thus, this blog series is potentially infinite.

To make sense of this mess, each blog post focuses on one key variable only. I start with the most important variable of all—YOU. Your injury claim is all about you, or more accurately perceptions about you. You are NOT the person you are perceived as.

Perception of YOU

You are a trustworthy, hardworking person who was seriously injured by someone else’s mistake. But you won’t get a dime if the decision maker (however unreasonable) sees you as a cheater, slacker or injury faker.

In the personal injury claim context, “who you are perceived as” is more important than who you really are. Mindfulness of other lenses of perception is crucial to successful injury claim resolution.  The best you can, clear your mind of your point of view. Then ask yourself: “How might others view me, my injuries, my story my actions in the context of this injury claim?”  Your honest answers will lead toward better decisions and more effective testimony.

Decision makers spontaneously and unconsciously pre-judge based on individual life experience, attitudes and beliefs. During jury selection jurors will reveal personal experiences. Listening carefully will provide useful clues to juror paradigms.  To add a sour twist, some jurors consciously conceal true biases during jury selection. Your lawyer should ferret out potential jurors with life experiences that may cause prejudgment of you.

You will never know exactly how the decision maker perceives you. You

ACA Provides New Opportunities for Entrepreneurs

The Affordable Care Act, while creating challenges for some businesses, could benefit a particular group of business people: entrepreneurs.

Before ACA, those considering leaving a job with good health insurance to start a business faced a challenge in purchasing health insurance on the individual market. Costs were high, and those with pre-existing conditions in many cases were excluded. Without a spouse with a job providing health insurance, quitting a day job was difficult if not impossible.

“Men and women with poor family health and no access to a spouse’s health insurance were significantly less likely to give up an employer plan and start a new business than were those with access to insurance through their spouses,” said Robert Fairlie, a RAND economist. “Those with access to a spouse’s health insurance plan are much more likely to become self-employed.”

Self-employment rates also rise when Medicare becomes available to U.S. workers at age 65. There is a large and statistically significant increase in business ownership rates when U.S. workers turn 65 and qualify for universal health care coverage under Medicare.

Fewer New Businesses since Recession

New businesses are important for the economy. About 10 percent of startups take off to create hundreds of jobs. Statistics show that fast-growing businesses account for over 50 percent of all job creation in the United States.

Since the financial crisis hit five years ago, there are 5% fewer new businesses getting started than before the recession. In uncertain economic times, it’s harder for entrepreneurs and investors to take the risk; not a good trend when the country needs more jobs. The engine of job growth, young, fast-growing companies, is still sputtering along at the lowest level in 25 years.

ACA Provides Opportunities for Entrepreneurs

The ACA health exchanges provide a set of opportunities that didn’t previously exist. The ACA could actually help small firms compete for employees, because they could essentially use the exchanges as their health insurance plan. Dane Stangler, vice president of research and policy at the Kauffman Foundation, believes the ACA could help boost employment by creating somewhere around 25,000 additional new businesses each year.

By |March 26th, 2014|Insurance Law|

Life Insurance Disputes

Knowing this might happen, you or your loved were responsible. A life insurance policy was purchased. On paper you were protected against post death financial losses. You never dreamed you would inherit an insurance dispute rather than financial protection. Sadly, some life insurers......

By |November 25th, 2009|Insurance Law|

Understanding Insurance

What do cavemen, geckos, snoopy or a ditzy young girl have to do with insurance? Nothing! Insurance companies distract consumers with a barrage of entertaining yet often irrelevant information. No wonder few consumers know the truth about insurance. In this article, I hope to shed......

By |October 9th, 2008|Insurance Law|