Archive for the ‘Negligence’ Category

Vancouver: Have You Seen This White Toyota Tundra

January 20, 2014

vancouver pedestrian fatal 011914_1390198478183_5309412_ver1.0_640_480Who: The driver of a white older model Toyota Tundra and the driver of a separate black truck that hit three pedestrians.

What: Front end damage caused by hitting three pedestrians.

Where: The corner of NE 72nd Ave. and Vancouver Mall Driver.

When: January 19, 2014, at about 8:00 p.m.

Why: Because, after hitting at least three pedestrians, the drivers of both trucks fled the scene.

Last night the Vancouver Police Department issued the following Press Release:

VANCOUVER POLICE INVESTIGATING FATALITY HIT AND RUN COLLISION

News Release from Vancouver Police Dept.
Posted on FlashAlert: January 19th, 2014 9:41 PM
On January 19, 2014 at approximately 8:00 p.m. Vancouver Police responded to a hit and run collision at NE 72nd Avenue/NE Vancouver Mall Drive. According to witnesses, four pedestrians were walking northbound on NE 72nd in the crosswalk when a pickup heading southbound on NE 72nd Avenue turned eastbound at a high rate of speed onto NE Vancouver Mall Drive and hit three of the pedestrians in the crosswalk. One of the pedestrians is deceased and two others were transported to an area hospital, one with life-threatening injuries and the other with less serious injuries. The fourth pedestrian, a child, was not hit or injured.

The suspect vehicle is a white older Toyota, possibly a Tundra, with front end damage that will have some missing grill features. Police are also actively looking for black pickup that also left the scene and may have struck one or more of the victims as well.

The Vancouver Police Department Traffic Unit is investigating and anyone with information on this collision, or that was a witness to the collision, is asked to call 911 or the Vancouver Police Tip Line at (360) 487-7399.

This literally occurred within miles of my house, within blocks of my children’s school, and within feet of many of my closest friends homes.  As I read the Press Release, it hit me too close to home. This could have happened to my family, or my friends. Thankfully it was not, but it did happen to someone’s family. It did happen to someone’s friends. You probably have not seen either truck, but maybe your friends or family have. Take a moment to share this post. Let’s find this guy (or girl) and see that he (or she) gets the justice deserving of such horrible acts.
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Please, Please, Please Don’t Drink and Drive

October 1, 2013

Dont-Drink-DriveEach month I author a safety column in the Vancouver Family Magazine. Vancouver Family Magazine is a locally produced publication who’s mission is “to strengthen a sense of community by providing Clark County families with comprehensive and locally based resources and information regarding parenting, education, news, community events and personalities, recreation, and more.” A couple of weeks ago, I submitted my contribution to the October issue, entitled “One Drunk Driver“.

In the column I shared recent statistics about those killed as a result of drunk driving. I won’t reiterate those numbers here, (read the article in Vancouver Family Magazine if you’re interested) but will repeat only that in 2011, drunk drivers killed 1,612 friends and family members–passengers inside the drunk’s own car.

That was two weeks ago. This last weekend, there was a single car crash that seems directly related to drunk driving. Sunday evening, around 8:30 p.m., Kenneth Jones was driving east from Vancouver toward Camas when his “vehicle left the roadway about a mile west of the 164th Avenue exit…went down an embankment, hit several large rocks and overturned, landing on its top.” The passenger in his car, Daniel Alexander of Vancouver, was pronounced dead at the scene.

How tragic.

How unfortunate.

How senseless.

Having lost a loved one in a motor vehicle crash myself, the loss is agonizing and forever. I feel for Mr. Alexander’s family and understand the grief and pain they are surely trying to deal with right now.  Whatever struggles and demons Mr. Jones may have endured before Sunday night, he must now add the guilt associated with choosing to drive while intoxicated and thereby taking the life of his friend or family member. I do not have the imagination necessary to calculate the weight of that burden.

As I stated in an earlier post, these crashes are not accidents. They are the final and permanent result of an irrational choice to break rules designed to keep everybody safe.  Please, please, please don’t drink and drive.

Caden Wondered What Labor Day Was “All About”

August 30, 2013

983641_890851624323_920012580_nEarlier this week, my eight year old son, Caden, asked what “Labor Day was all about”. Digging deep, from somewhere, I remembered it had, logically, something to do with workers, and probably had something to do with labor unions. Unsatisfied with my superficial answer, he pressed further. Ultimately, “I don’t know Caden” was my only response to several of his inquisitive questions. I resorted to Wikipedia.com for answers.

I wasn’t as uneducated as I suspected. I was right. Two points for “fake it ’till you make it” fathers everywhere. I learned Labor Day originally was a celebration of the “economic and social contributions of workers.” We as a nation have celebrated Labor Day since the end of the Pullman Strike in 1894 when President Grover Cleveland officially made it a federal law. The celebration was originally marked by a street parade to show “the strength and spirit de corps of the trade and labor organizations.”  After the parade, a festival was thrown for workers and their families. Speeches by prominent men and women were introduced later, as more emphasis was placed upon the civil significance of the holiday. Still later, by a resolution of the American Federation of Labor convention of 1909, the Sunday preceding Labor Day was adopted as Labor Sunday and dedicated to the spiritual and educational aspects of the Selector movement.

Despite it’s historic beginnings, the Labor Day of today is nothing compared to the Labor Day of our grandparents.  To most Americans, the Labor Day of today marks only the end of the summer season, the beginning of the football season, and a darn good day to shop for a good sale.  Like its annual cousin, Memorial Day, the occasion is most often celebrated in campgrounds, beaches, backyards or swimming pools.  With those festivities, many of us choose to consume alcoholic beverages, some of us in excess.  As mentioned in my pre-Memorial Day post, I don’t care if you drink, I don’t care if you drink until you pass out and pee your pants.  That’s your business.  But please, please do so responsibly and safely.  Nominate a designated driver.  Don’t drink and drive.  Don’t risk injury or death to you, or to your friends, or to innocent victims of your stupidity.  If you find yourself in an intoxicated state, with no safe way to get home, know that there are options.  Take a bus, call a friend or family member, or call a professional service.l Pubfly, a local designated driving company offers a safe, convenient, and responsible way to get you and your car home safely.  Check them out.  Call them at 360-313-7645.  Or, if you find yourself in another state (it must have been a good night) check out this national database of designated driving companies.

Be safe. Be responsible. Be alive.

Drinking and Driv…ahem Walking

August 6, 2013

25873414Two weeks ago I took my wife out on a date.  It was date night for the first time in what seemed like months.  Come to think of it, it was months.  We actually talked about the fact that we hadn’t been on a date, a real date with no kids, since our anniversary in May.  Depressing, I know, but such is life.  After way too much online “research” we decided to try this Thai place in Portland  called Red Onion. It was amazing, you should go there if you’re ever in the area.  After dinner, we went to the riverfront in downtown Portland and saw all that Portland has to offer. It was a great evening. As we walked back to our car, we couldn’t help but notice a small group of pedestrians who were standing, or rather strutting, in the middle of the street.  One guy in particular caught our attention.  He was slurring vulgarities to passing motorists as he played with the construction cones and danced merrily in the roadway.  He was clearly intoxicated and endangering not only himself, but other pedestrians and motorists who swerved  to avoid his totally random shuffle.  After steering clear of him and with his expletive-laden ramblings miles behind us, he became nothing but a somewhat comical ending to an otherwise perfect evening.

I forgot about that man.  I couldn’t tell you what he looked like. I couldn’t tell you what color his hair was. I couldn’t tell you what he was wearing. In fact, if you lined him up with four other people, I couldn’t pick him out. I forgot about him entirely. Until today.  Today I read an article discussing the sheer numbers of pedestrians that are killed each year in America. Did you know that in 2011, 4,432 pedestrians were killed and 69,000 were injured in car crashes. This means that, on average, a pedestrian is killed in a motor vehicle crash every two hours, and one is injured every eight minutes. Staggering, even for me who deals with this stuff every day.

Amazingly, of the 4,432 pedestrians killed in automobile crashes, more than a third (37%) were intoxicated. In real numbers, this means that over 1600 pedestrians had blood alcohol content levels of .08 or higher when they were killed in a car crash.

We as a community are all well aware of the dangers of drinking and driving. We hear about it nearly every day. We know (most of us anyway) not to get behind the wheel of a car after consuming alcoholic beverages.  But with these types of numbers, perhaps we need to talk about the dangers of drinking and walking.

As an attorney, I could not in good conscience argue that just because a pedestrian was intoxicated he or she must have been responsible for their death. That being said, common sense dictates that a good part of those killed would still be alive if they were not intoxicated when they walked into oncoming traffic because they drank too much.

I don’t drink. Never have. Never will. It is easy for me to stand upon a soapbox and proclaim the benefits of not drinking and the risks associated with drinking. I don’t understand the urge to drink until one is impaired and unable to protect oneself from dangerous situations–or even worse, to put oneself into dangerous situations. I don’t understand why such a mental state would be “fun” . I don’t get it. I’m not so naive that I can’t recognize that most of society does not share my view. I understand people will drink and that alcohol is an acceptable part of our society. I’m fine with that. I don’t  take issue with those who consume alcohol in moderation. Drink, Socialize. Have your fun. I don’t have a problem with responsible alcohol drinkers.

My problem is with those who cannot control themselves because of alcohol.

My problem is with those who drink too much they lose all common sense.

My problem is with those who cannot protect themselves from their own stupidity.

My problem is with those who endanger me, and my wife, and my family.

I take issue with that.  You better believe I take issue with that.

I am glad I forgot about the man who was dancing with construction cones.  You see, he was lucky. If he, like the 1600 before him, would have become a statistic, I would remember him.  I would have remembered him forever. I would remember him just like I remember the woman who was killed when talking on her cell phone (see earlier post).  I’d remember his clothes. I’d remember his smell. I’d remember his name.  Just like I remember her name. Just like I remember her smell. Her clothes. One doesn’t just forget something like that.

I shudder to think about the memories of the drivers of the 1600 motor vehicles.  I shudder to think about the memories of the friends and family members of those 1600 pedestrians–especially those friends and family members who saw their loved ones be hit by a car.  I can’t imagine that pain those persons must live with, daily.

Please be safe. Whether you are driving, pedaling, or walking, please be safe. If you’re going to drink to intoxication, do so safely. Ask a trusted friend to watch out for you, not just to drive you home, but to walk with you, to protect you. Be safe, don’t be a statistic.

You’re Having Papa Murphy’s Pizza for Dinner Tomorrow Night

July 23, 2013

I bet you didn’t know you were going to eat Papa Murphy’s pizza for dinner tomorrow night.  Read below to find out why.

408818_Justin_Carey_46133_t600

If you live anywhere near Battle Ground, Washington,  you have probably heard of the nightmare that is Justin Carey’s reality.  On June 10, 2013, like so many days before, 16-year old Justin woke up, got ready, and went to catch the bus for school.  As he waited, Shaun Johnson, for reasons yet unknown, recklessly drove her Nissan Maxima directly into Justin.  The force of the collision thrust Justin over 150 through the air before coming to a rest in nearby bushes.  He laid on the ground, dying and unable to move, for over an hour and a half while officers and deputies investigated the scene and interviewed with Ms. Johnson.  He was too weak to get their attention, and he was becoming weaker by the minute as blood seeped from his body.  It was only when a tow truck operator was preparing Ms. Johnson’s vehicle to be towed from the scene that Justin’s faint pleas for help were heard and his prayers answered.

Emergency responders arrived quickly and rushed Justin to the hospital.  The impact broke both of Justin’s femur bones and severed both of his femoral arteries.  Ultimately, doctors had no choice but to remove the lower part of his right leg.  Miraculously, after more than a month in the hospital, Justin is now home and adapting to  life without his leg.   He’s acknowledged that his career goal of being in the military no longer seems possible but he hopes “something good is going to come out of it.”

As a personal injury attorney, I have a small understanding of the impact this will have on Justin’s life for years to come.  I’ve followed Justin’s story and am amazed by the tremendous show of support here in Southwest Washington.  Home Depot for example offered time and materials to build a wheelchair ramp at Justin’s house.  Local restaurant, South Pacific Cafe and Lounge hosted a fundraiser to pay for a prosthetic leg.  Community donations have poured in to help the family.  These undoubtedly will help Justin and his family deal with his mounting medical bills.  I know enough however to know that the donations will cover just the tip of the medical-bill iceberg that has accrued.  Justin’s medical bills undoubtedly total in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Papa Murphy’s CEO, Ken Calwell, has graciously offered to donate to Justin’s medical fund 20 percent of the proceeds from all pizzas sold in Clark County between 4:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. on Wednesday July 24, 2013.  We all need to eat.  It’s too hot to cook anyway.  What better way to show our support for Justin and his family (and Papa Murphy’s) by having pizza tomorrow night.  Share this opportunity with your friends, and invite them to share it with their friends.  Let’s pull together as a community and show our support for Justin and his family.

Recreate on the Water But Do it Safely!

July 8, 2013

andy-mapple-600x399

So between vacations and a busy work schedule I dropped the ball on my weekly blog post. I’m sorry. I spent the past week with friends and family in Salt Lake City, Utah and Bear Lake, Idaho. Where we had the opportunity to do something I haven’t done in several years—go boating with my family. It was great to get the old slalom ski out and cut the wake—even if not as aggressively as I was once able (just to be clear, that’s not me in the photo–that’s professional water skier Andy Mapple).

I was amazed at something I didn’t recall in years past. Namely, the other boats, wave runners, and Jet Ski’s that were following closely behind us in order to jump over the wake behind us. I noticed the same thing when my kids were being pulled behind the boat on a large inner tube. I couldn’t help but wonder what could happen if one of us fell into the water and the wave runner or Jet Ski couldn’t see or react in time. As if reading my mind, my father-in-law commented about how many people are ran over ever year in Utah by such carelessness.

This of course happens elsewhere too—not just in Utah. It happens in Washington. In fact, just a few years ago DK Ross was ran over by a motor boater while he kayaker on American Lake. He suffered serious brain damage, multiple broken bones, and an unimaginable skull fracture. His life and the life of his family will never be the same.

Tragedies such as these can be prevented by taking just a few simple precautions and paying extra attention while enjoying recreational water activities. Washington law prevents “operating a vessel in disregard of careful and prudent operation, or in disregard of careful and prudent rates of speed that are no greater than is reasonable and proper under the conditions existing at the point of operation, taking into account the amount and character of traffic, size of the lake or body of water, freedom from obstruction to view ahead, effects of vessel wake, and so as not to unduly or unreasonably endanger life, limb, property or other rights of any person entitled to the use of such waters.”  RCW 79A.60.030. What does this mean?  Don’t drive your boat like a moron.

Washington law also has specific laws targeted at various water activities:

Specific to water skiing, Washington law requires:

  • There be at least two persons on the boat (an “operator” and an “observer”);
  • The water skier wear a personal floatation device;
  • That water skiing take place only between one hour prior to sunrise and one hour after sunset; or
  • No person to conduct himself or herself in a reckless manner that willfully or wantonly endangers, or is likely to endanger, any person or property.

RCW 79A.60.170.

Specific to the operation of “personal watercraft”, Washington law requires:

  • All persons aboard wear a personal floatation device;
  • The operator attach a “lanyard-type engine cutoff switch” to his or her person, clothing, or personal floatation device;
  • That the personal watercraft shall not be operated during “darkness”;
  • Operators be at least 14 years of age;
  • “A person shall not operate a personal watercraft in a reckless manner, including recklessly weaving through congested vessel traffic, recklessly jumping the wake of another vessel unreasonably or unnecessarily close to the vessel or when visibility around the vessel is obstructed, or recklessly swerving at the last possible moment to avoid collision.”

RCW 79A.60.190.

In the end, if we can all follow a few common sense rules and watch out for other people on the lakes and rivers where we recreate, we can all have a more safe and enjoyable summer with many more to enjoy in the future.

Last Day of School Means More Kids Outside “Playing”

June 18, 2013

260562_511552342225126_250326176_nRock legend “Alice Cooper” may have coined the lyrics, but today kids all over Vancouver are singing them:

No more pencils;
No more books;
No more teachers dirty looks!

If you live in the Vancouver School District, today marks the long-awaited first day of summer. No longer will our children spend hours in the classroom and at the kitchen table working on homework or studies. Gone are the days of writing and arithmetic.  With this newly rediscovered freedom comes balls, and bikes, and games.  Unfortunately, this time also represents the most dangerous period for our children.

It goes without mentioning that kids don’t pay attention. Despite our constant and recurrent pleas that our little ones not run into the road before looking both ways, they will.  They do. Despite our many reminders, they will ride their bikes into the street before looking for cars. These types of occurrences happen much more often  than we care to admit and they create a dangerous, even life-threatening situation for our children.

With this in mind, we drivers must slow down.  We must pay attention.  We must be the driver we would want on the roadway if it was our children playing where they ought not to be playing in a way that they ought not to play.  SLOW DOWN!  and PAY ATTENTION!

As a father of three (almost four), I understand firsthand the fear I experience every time my kids play in the front yard. I know, despite my constant vigilance and admonishing, “kids will be kids” and they will dart, dash, run, ride into the roadway.  That’s what kids do. In their minds, they are invincible and don’t know what death is much less that it is them that could run into the road one minute and not wake up the next.

We drivers have to make up for their youthful shortcomings. We do this not only by slowing down, but by paying attention to the things outside of our car and not things inside of our car (cell phones, radio, makeup, lunch, etc.). We need to be ever cautious in neighborhoods, especially where children are present. We even don our Sherlock Holmes’ hat and use our deductive reasoning skills. Where we see one child, we can bet that he or she is playing with someone. Where we see a ball in the street, it is safe to assume a kid put it there and will soon be out to get it. Where we see a bicycle lying on the sidewalk, we can suppose that its rider is somewhere close by. Watch out for these kids. Let them enjoy their summer how summers were supposed to be enjoyed.

I shudder at the thought of something tragic happening to my children. Probably more concerning however, is the thought that my carelessness could forever take the life of someone’s Johnny or Sally. I just don’t know if I could cope with that guilt and remorse. Neither could you. Make safe our roads. Be safe out there and watch out for children.

 

 

Drink Responsibly this Memorial Day Weekend

May 20, 2013

Memorial Day is the national holiday where we as Americans join together to remember and honor those killed while protecting our freedoms. It also marks the beginning of summer and the longed for end of the rainy season. While the weather here in the great Northwest is often not as sunny or warm as we might hope, Memorial Day is still often celebrated in campgrounds, backyards, and local parks.  Along with barbecues and picnics, many Memorial Day celebrations include the consumption of alcoholic beverages.

In Washington, drinking and driving is a major cause of injury and death.  Far too often the injury is to innocent victims who’s only fault was to drive on the roads.  Interestingly, “drinking and driving” is not illegal in Washington unless the drinking leads to a level of intoxication that impairs one’s ability to safely operate their vehicle. According to Washington statutes, the “legal limit” of blood alcohol concentration (BAC) in  an adult (21 years and older) is .08. This means that if an adult’s BAC is greater than .08, they are by law, under the influence.  Importantly, even if one’s BAC is less than .08, they can still be driving under the influence if their ability to drive is impaired.

In addition to the obvious criminal sanctions a drunk driver could face, he or she may also be civilly liable for all  injuries they cause to a member of the public. To carry last week’s post a step further, drinking and driving is no accident; it is a choice. Given the risk of significant injury and death it can hardly be justified and can no longer be tolerated. Make safe our roads–Don’t drink and drive

Legally, subject to a few limited exceptions, social hosts and other party-goers have no legal responsibility to protect the public from persons drinking at a party. However, as a father and husband, I like to think we all have a moral responsibility  to make sure our friends and family don’t drink and drive. There are many things that can be done to prevent injury by drunk drivers. This weekend, if a friend, or a loved one, or even a complete stranger with whom you are hanging out has been drinking, don’t let them drive. Make the choice to take their keys or call them a cab. Make safe our roads–Don’t let them drink and drive.

There are No “Accidents”

May 14, 2013
Someone Screwed Up

UPDATE: I came across this picture on a desk calendar and it seemed appropriate to incorporate into this post.

SPOILER ALERT: This post may be a little jaded to the “plaintiff’s attorney” side of me. But, if you hear me out, I believe you (even you defense attorneys out there) will get my point, and maybe even agree with it.

Too often the public refers to car crashes as “accidents.” Feel free to disagree with me, but to me an accident is an unexpected incident over which one has absolutely no control. An accident is something that happens to a three year old that pees on grandma’s new carpet. Contrast that innocent occurrence with the conscious choices made by drivers on our roads every day.

When a person gets behind the wheel of a car, he or she agrees to follow certain laws. I won’t talk specifically about those laws here–we know them well enough. I want to talk generally though about the commonly understood rules that we all understand and would, hopefully, agree to be true.  For example:

  • A driver is not allowed to needlessly endanger the public.
  • A driver must pay attention at all times or he needlessly endangers the public.
  • A driver must obey the speed limit at all times or he needlessly endangers the public.
  • A driver must not drive if he is distracted (cell phone, radio, etc.) or he needlessly endangers the public.
  • A driver must not drive while intoxicated or he needlessly endangers the public.

If a person consciously chooses to violate one of these (or other) safety rules, and causes a crash, how can we as a society call that an “accident?” I can think of no situation (excepting maybe an act of God or an unforeseen emergency) where a car crash occurs absent somebody’s violation of a safety rule–someone didn’t pay attention, someone was speeding, someone didn’t look, someone was drunk, whatever.  A deliberate conscious decision by a driver that needlessly endanger the public is not an accident. It is a dangerous choice that all too often results in serious injuries to the public.

If we are ever going to see a reduction in the astronomically high number of car crashes, we are going to have to demand more accountability from ourselves and from other drivers. We need to make the decision to follow the laws, follow the rules, and pay attention to other drivers.


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