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Olympia Personal Injury & Workers' Compensation Law Blog

Are drivers distracted by hands free technology in the car?

In most vehicles, when a driver gets behind the wheel their phone connects automatically to their car. Using technology, drivers can switch channels on the radio, answer phones and even dictate text messages. Many motorists consider this safer than having the actual phone in their hand, as their eyes rarely have to leave the road while performing these functions. They figure they are less distracted while driving as a result.

However, Washington state residents may not be aware that distracted driving is not about keeping one's eyes on the road-it is also about keeping one's mind on the road. Even if someone is not looking away from the road, if they are not able to process and cognitively assess what is happening on the road, they are distracted. This is why drowsy driving or driving while daydreaming are equally dangerous forms of distracted driving.

Basic, repetitive acts can cause injuries in the workplace

While it may sound like working at a craft brewery is fun, the reality is that, like other workplaces, there are significant risks involved. One case of bottled beer can weigh a maximum of 42 pounds, an empty keg 30 pounds, whereas a full keg can weigh an astonishing 160 pounds. Brewery workers are constantly moving around the product. Lifting, pushing and pulling it can place significant stress on the body.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, stock and material movers incur musculoskeletal injuries more commonly than people in other occupations. Pulling and pushing heavy items and machinery significantly increases the risk of developing an MSD. Olympia residents may not know that back injuries, strains and sprains are all forms of MSDs. Employers should be focusing on training their employees to reduce workplace injuries.

Crash kills motorcyclist, injures another

It is an unfortunate reality that motorcyclists are often overlooked on the roads. Though drivers should expect to see more of them during the summer months, motorists do take turns or overtake while keeping an eye out for motorcyclists.

In a crash between a motorcycle and a car, the one riding the motorcycle is the one least protected and most likely to suffer life threatening if not life ending injuries. Often, drivers of cars or trucks fail to notice a motorcycle sharing the road with them and violate the motorcyclist's right of way, with disastrous results.

It's not unusual for first responders to suffer from PTSD

If you are a first responder, you have a difficult job. Each workday, you see people at their worst. You may be able to consciously shrug off some events, but others may haunt you. Nearly every first responder has at least one story of a call that they still remember and still affects them even if it was years ago.

You also put your life at risk every time you put on your uniform. The particular job hazards you face depend on whether you are a fire fighter, police officer, paramedic or some other first responder, but the end result is often the same. Once again, you find yourself battling with memories that you may not be able to shake.

Workers' compensation claim can ease hardship after injury

Many Olympia residents spend most of their waking hours in their workplaces, which is why it might seem more of a home to them than their own residences. Colleagues seem like family members and bosses may seem like elderly relatives, which is why their changed demeanor after a workplace accident may seem confounding to an injured worker. It might also explain why injured employees may hesitate filing a workers' compensation claim, as is their right.

When someone is injured while performing duties related to their employment, it could turn their whole life upside down. When a primary breadwinner is no longer able to work because of a workplace injury and medical bills are piling up, it could overwhelm an entire family. If injured workers do not exercise their right to file a workers' compensation claim, then they may not be able to make ends meet.

New crane operator regulations may improve workplace safety

Recent months have seen a surge in crane accidents at construction sites, including a crane collapse in Washington State a couple months ago that killed four and injured three others. The state's Labor and Industries Department is investigating a number of people believed to be involved in the incident, including the general contractor, the crane's owner, and three crane subcontractors.

Cranes are common at construction sites, which is why it is disconcerting that most crane accidents are caused by human error attributable to a lack of training and knowledge. The industry is recognizing this lapse, and new regulations implemented by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration attempt to rectify the situation. As per the new rules, operator training is revised, along with the way they are evaluated and certified. The burden of ensuring an operator is ready is placed on the employer. These individuals must also receive training to operate new equipment.

Do teen car accidents increase in the summer?

Last week's post discussed the hazards of distracted driving and focused specifically on how drivers taking pictures of other accidents on the road pose a risk to paramedics on the scene. Washington State troopers claim that distracted driving of any kind remains a problem on the road and that most of the time the people they pull over are searching for their favorite songs, operating a navigation system, holding their phones, or texting. However, even talking to a passenger or changing the radio can become a distraction if the driver takes his or her eyes and mind off the road for a short period of time.

Already this year, troopers estimate they have pulled over more than 3,000 drivers who have not been paying attention to the road as they have been driving. This problem is exacerbated in the summer months, between Memorial Day and Labor Day. These 100 days are known as the deadliest days, especially for teen drivers. During this period, fatal accidents involving teenagers increase by around 14%.

Distracted drivers taking pictures of crashes cause crashes

Much has been said about the dangers of distracted driving and how texting and driving is emerging as the most common cause of distracted driving accidents. However, new research is pointing to another cause of distracted driving accidents-documenting a car accident as driving by it.

According to the National Safety Council, 71% of drivers confessed to taking a picture of a car accident as they drove by it and texting it to friends. That is almost three times the 24% of drivers who reported texting and driving under normal conditions. While 60% of people are posting about crashes on social media, two-thirds have also admitted to emailing about it. As Olympia residents can imagine, the results of this distraction is deadly, as there are more vehicles on the road at the time and more chances of causing a tragic scenario.

Are you aware of the hazards you face as a paramedic?

In Washington state, people typically look up to nurses, law enforcement, teachers and first responders because individuals in these professions usually care more about the needs of others than about their own. Paramedics, who face potential danger with every response to a call, also fall into that category.

As a paramedic, you will risk exposure to blood-borne pathogens and bodily fluids that could cause infectious diseases, and your diverse workplace environments will pose further dangers. Hazardous chemicals, psychological stresses and excessive noise levels that can damage your hearing are but some of the risks with which you must deal. If you do not take precautions to mitigate the hazards, the physical and psychological toll of your job could force you to miss work.

Personal injury law: what is negligence?

Most personal injury lawsuits revolve around negligence claims. Though negligence is the crux of a personal injury lawsuit, it can often be difficult to prove because it involves applying the elements of the claim to the facts of a case.

For a Washington State resident to succeed on a personal injury lawsuit, he or she must prove all the elements of negligence. The first step then is to prove that the defendant owed a duty to the plaintiff. A duty exists when there is a relationship between the two parties requiring one party to act in a certain manner towards the other. The second element that must be proven is that the duty that was owed was breached. This means the defendant failed to exercise reasonable care while fulfilling his or her duty. A jury would be tasked with determining if the duty was breached.

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