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Sharing the Road with Cars
Sharing the Road with Cars

Those who bicycle frequently enjoy the benefits of fresh air, healthy exercise, and an eco-friendly commute. As with any good thing, however, there are also drawbacks. Most of the time, bicyclists need to share the road with cars, and dangers such as distracted driving, road rage, and vehicle defects all pose a risk to bicyclists. Read up on these safety tips to ensure your cycling commute remains a safe one.

Before the Bike Ride

The number one rule of riding a bicycle is to wear a helmet. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), helmet use has been estimated to reduce the odds of head injury by 50%. Since traumatic brain injury is the most common cause of death in bicycle accidents, wearing a helmet can go a long way in protecting your health and possibly, your life.

In addition to wearing a helmet properly, bicyclists should practice the following rules before heading out to ensure their ride is a safe one:

  • Ride a bike that fits your body; the bigger the bike, the harder it is to control.

  • Wear equipment that protects you and makes you visible to others, including reflective clothing and lights on the front and rear of the bike.

  • Tuck in shoelaces and pant legs so they do not get caught in the bike’s chain.

  • Plan your route to travel on roads with less traffic, particularly during rush hour.

During the Bike Ride

While you are on the road, always remain alert to what is going on around you. Practicing the following steps can help ensure a safe ride:

  • Ride with the flow of traffic, rather than against it.

  • Obey street lights and signs, just like a car.

  • Be on the lookout for hazards to avoid, like potholes, uneven pavement, animals, etc.

  • Do not take part in distracting activities while biking, including texting, listening to music, checking your reflection, etc.

Injured in a Bike Accident? Contact Us Today

Unfortunately, even if you follow all of these safety guidelines, it is likely that some motorists will still not respect your right to share the road. With this disregard comes the potential for accidents. If you have been injured in a bike accident caused by a negligent or irresponsible driver, we are here to help.

Contact Chaikin, Sherman, Cammarata & Siegel, P.C. at (202) 644-8303 for a consultation with our Washington, D.C. personal injury attorneys today.

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Recent Posts
  • Sharing the Road with Cars

    Those who bicycle frequently enjoy the benefits of fresh air, healthy exercise, and an eco-friendly commute. As with any good thing, however, there are also drawbacks. Most of the time, bicyclists need to share the road with cars, and dangers such as distracted driving, road rage, and vehicle defects all pose a risk to bicyclists. Read up on these safety tips to ensure your cycling commute remains a safe one.

    Before the Bike Ride

    The number one rule of riding a bicycle is to wear a helmet. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), helmet use has been estimated to reduce the odds of head injury by 50%. Since traumatic brain injury is the most common cause of death in bicycle accidents, wearing a helmet can go a long way in protecting your health and possibly, your life.

    In addition to wearing a helmet properly, bicyclists should practice the following rules before heading out to ensure their ride is a safe one:

    • Ride a bike that fits your body; the bigger the bike, the harder it is to control.

    • Wear equipment that protects you and makes you visible to others, including reflective clothing and lights on the front and rear of the bike.

    • Tuck in shoelaces and pant legs so they do not get caught in the bike’s chain.

    • Plan your route to travel on roads with less traffic, particularly during rush hour.

    During the Bike Ride

    While you are on the road, always remain alert to what is going on around you. Practicing the following steps can help ensure a safe ride:

    • Ride with the flow of traffic, rather than against it.

    • Obey street lights and signs, just like a car.

    • Be on the lookout for hazards to avoid, like potholes, uneven pavement, animals, etc.

    • Do not take part in distracting activities while biking, including texting, listening to music, checking your reflection, etc.

    Injured in a Bike Accident? Contact Us Today

    Unfortunately, even if you follow all of these safety guidelines, it is likely that some motorists will still not respect your right to share the road. With this disregard comes the potential for accidents. If you have been injured in a bike accident caused by a negligent or irresponsible driver, we are here to help.

    Contact Chaikin, Sherman, Cammarata & Siegel, P.C. at (202) 644-8303 for a consultation with our Washington, D.C. personal injury attorneys today.

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  • Recent Safety Reports Paint Picture of DMV Region’s Dangerous Roads

    By: Dan Hausman

    There are some troubling trends on the roads of the Washington D.C. metropolitan area. Two reports that were recently published provide hard data about the dangerous conditions on the streets of Maryland, Virginia, and D.C.

    One report is by Allstate, an insurance company, called Allstate America's Best Drivers Report®. The other is a June report from the National Highway Safety Administration called Early Estimate of Motor Vehicle Traffic Fatalities in 2018.

    Allstate Report

    Allstate America's Best Drivers Report® is an annual report which identifies the safest of America’s 200 largest cities. The report uses insurance claims data to determine the likelihood drivers in America’s most populous cities will experience a car accident compared to the national average, and then ranks safety based on the results.

    Here are a few findings from the Allstate report:

    • Baltimore, Maryland drivers were ranked the worst in the nation with those motorists being 152.5% more likely to be involved in a collision than drivers nationally;
    • Washington, D.C. drivers came in second worst with those drivers being 142.3% more likely to be involved in a collision than drivers nationally;
    • Alexandria, Virginia drivers were 9th worst; and
    • Arlington, Virginia drivers were 33rd worst.

    The report went on to identify especially dangerous roads throughout the DMV. These roads include Route 695 in Baltimore, Maryland, Route 295 in Washington, D.C., and Richmond Highway in Alexandria, Virginia.

    NHTSA Report

    The National Highway Safety Administration (NHTSA) report also found a number of concerning road safety issues, including those related to cyclist and pedestrian safety.

    • For the second consecutive year, fatal pedestrian and bicyclist accidents rose while the overall number of traffic deaths fell in the United States;
    • While there was, thankfully, a 1% decline in total traffic deaths in 2018, cyclist fatalities rose 10% and pedestrian deaths rose 4% last year.

    Many experts cite safer car design and roads built for those in vehicles as the reasons that the number of overall deaths is diminishing. The same experts point to a rise in popularity of cycling and walking that has led to more fatalities in those groups because a lot of routes become popular before streets have been properly redesigned for bicyclist and pedestrian safety. Additionally, smartphone use has been a major cause of additional deaths as people drive distracted more often. Pedestrian deaths have risen since 2009, when smartphone usage became abundant.

    CSCS: We Fight for Vehicle Accident Victims & Families

    Transportation safety advocates call for protected lanes, safer road design, stricter traffic enforcement, and lower speed limits to make roadways safer, and save cyclist and pedestrian lives. Unfortunately, there is still a lot of work to do to improve safety and reduce crash rates on roads in the DMV area.

    If you or someone you love has been injured in a vehicle collision caused by a negligent motorist, our award-winning personal injury lawyers can review your case and explain your rights and options. Call (202) 644-8303 or contact us online for a free consultation.

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  • New Study: Concussions Linked to Higher Risks for Mental Health Issues

    By: Allan M. Siegel

    While many people are aware, to some degree, that brain injuries can cause serious physical symptoms – from loss of consciousness, vomiting, nausea, and ringing in the ears to headaches, migraines, hearing and vision problems, seizures, and more – few know how they can also affect a person’s emotional well-being.

    That lack of insight isn’t just common among people who’ve never experienced TBI or been close to someone who has; it’s also been pervasive within the medical community. Even with the most amazing advancements, much of the human brain remains a mystery to modern science. Likewise, how brain injuries can affect victims’ psychological and emotional health is also something scientists have long been struggling to fully understand.

    The many mysteries of the human mind and a lack of understanding as to how traumatic injuries affect it were a large reason behind a study from researchers at UC San Diego. These researchers recently set out to determine whether mental health problems can accompany even “mild” traumatic brain injuries.

    About the Study: TBI & Higher Risks for Depression, PTSD

    According to research supported by the National Institutes of Health and the U.S Department of Defense, there is evidence to suggest that individuals who suffer even mild traumatic brain injuries (mTBI) can experience mental health issues.

    The study, published in Jama Psychiatry, focused on depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and incidence rates for those problems among patients who suffered mTBI, a classification of brain injuries that also includes concussions. Here are some key points about the study:

    • Researchers evaluated over 1,150 patients who experienced mild traumatic brain injuries and roughly 230 patients with non-head injuries, including orthopedic injuries such as broken bones, who were treated at 11 hospital trauma centers across the U.S. between 2014 and 2016.
    • Of the study’s participants, nearly 62% percent sustained their brain injuries as a result of car accidents and motor vehicle collisions, nearly a third due to slips and falls or other unintentional injuries, 6% as a result of violent assaults, and 3% due to unspecified causes.
    • All patients were evaluated shortly after being treated at the hospital, and intermittently during their recovery at two weeks after initial treatment, three months post-injury, and six and 12 months after injury. At each stage, patients’ mental health was assessed using self-reported surveys, which allowed patients to discuss any symptoms relating to depression and PTSD.

    What researchers found was that patients who did experienced an mTBI were more likely to report major depressive symptoms and signs of PTSD three and six months after injury than those who did not suffer a head injury.

    • 20% of the mTBI patients reported PTSD / depression symptoms at 3 and 6 months after their injuries, as compared to just 8% of patients with non-head injuries who reported such symptoms.
    • While 1 in 5 patients with brain injuries reported mental health issues at the three-month assessment, that number rose to a little more than 21% at the six-month mark.
    • Researchers noted pre-existing mental health issues were an exceptionally strong risk factor for experiencing issues of PTSD and depression after a brain injury. Other risk factors included lower education levels, head injuries resulting from violent assaults, and certain race-based factors.

    What the Study Tells Us

    Medical experts have long associated increased risks for mental health issues with traumatic brain injuries, but many of those studies have been limited to victims who suffered severe or even moderate traumatic brain injuries. This particular study, which does note limitations in the form of subjective feedback and an inability to generalize findings across all victims, ultimately supports the notion that even mild TBI, including concussions, can be linked to greater risks of mental health problems.

    While the study may not necessarily be earth shattering, it does help highlight the common misconception that only victims of the most severe forms of TBI suffer from various long-term and far-reaching consequences of their injuries. That misconception is based largely on the misbelief “severe” or “mild” classification terms speak to the symptoms and effects of brain injuries.

    In reality, those classifications describe only the severity of initial trauma victims sustain. Just because a person experienced a mild traumatic brain injury, for example, does not mean they’re exempt from the many physical, behavioral, and psychological repercussions which can accompany these injuries. In some cases, victims with TBI classified as “mild” can experience far more adverse effects than those with “moderate” or even “severe” TBI. Additionally, victims who don’t actually suffer blunt force trauma to the head can still suffer brain injuries and its many effects. It’s why some victims who experience “whiplash” in auto accidents are sometimes diagnosed with concussions.

    Ultimately, the study serves to remind us all of a few important things:

    1. Brain injuries are unpredictable, and they can affect victims in many different ways.
    2. There are in fact risks of depression, PTSD, and other mental health issues among those who suffer concussions or mild TBI.
    3. Health care providers can provide better and more comprehensive care by addressing all the potential ramifications of brain injuries among their patients, including their psychological symptoms.
    4. Victims who suffer any head injury, be it a concussion, mild TBI, or severe brain injury, should always seek medical treatment so as to address all of the problems they experience.

    As a personal injury firm which has focused a large part of our practice to representing victims following traumatic brain injuries, Chaikin, Sherman, Cammarata & Siegel, P.C. is well aware of the profound and sometimes permanent repercussions of TBI. Aside from assessing the physical symptoms victims may experience, we make sure to closely evaluate how brain injuries affect their emotional and psychological health, as well as their ability to live and maintain a quality of life they once enjoyed prior to their injuries. By addressing these far-reaching consequences, we’re able to show how substantially brain injuries affect our clients, and are better able to position them for the full financial recoveries they need.

    If you have questions about any form of traumatic brain injury, including a concussion, and what rights you may have when seeking justice and compensation for your losses in a civil personal injury lawsuit, our firm is readily available to help. Call { F:P:Site:Phone} or contact us online to request a free review of your case.

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  • Bike Laws in Washington, D.C.

    According to the District Department of Transportation (DDOT), there has been an average of 334 crashes involving bicyclists each year in Washington, D.C. Review the following bike laws to stay safe when sharing the road with cars in the D.C. area.

    D.C. Bike Laws

    The following regulations have been put in place by DDOT in an effort to keep motorists and bicyclists safe on shared roads:

    • Bicyclists traveling on roadways have all the rights and duties of vehicle drivers.

    • Helmet use is mandatory for cyclists under the age of 16, and strongly recommended for all other riders.

    • Cycling on sidewalks is permitted outside of the D.C. Central Business District. When riding on the sidewalk, all cyclists must yield to pedestrians.

    • A white headlight that is visible at 500 feet and a red reflector or taillight that is visible from 300 feet are required when biking at night.

    D.C. Bike Safety Tips

    DDOT recommends the following safety guidelines for bicyclists to remain safe on the road:

    • Obey all traffic lights and signs.

    • Never ride against traffic.

    • Use hand signals to tell motorists what you intend to do.

    • Ride in a straight line to the right of traffic and about a car door width away from parked cars.

    • Always wear a helmet.

    • Use lights at night and when visibility is poor.

    Injured in a Bike Accident? Let Us Help You

    Even when following all of these laws and guidelines, accidents can still happen. Unfortunately, many motorists still do not respect bicyclists’ right of way or right to share the road.

    If you were involved in a bike accident with a car, our team of experienced personal injury attorneys are ready to represent you.

    Contact Chaikin, Sherman, Cammarata & Siegel, P.C. at (202) 644-8303 for a consultation with our Washington, D.C. personal injury attorneys today.

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  • Road Design & Safety: Reducing Auto Accident Risks

    By: Dan Hausman

    Urban planners and politicians are shifting how streets are designed to increase safety for motorists and pedestrians. The Vision Zero Initiatives of Washington D.C., Montgomery County, and the City of Alexandria and resulting programs to improve safety show that the DMV area is committed to improving safety on the roads.

    This commitment is much needed; the grim reality of the unsafe nature of automobile travel, especially as it relates to pedestrians, is shown by the tragic numbers. In 2017, traffic deaths hit a 25-year high in the United States. 40,000 people were killed in total and 6,000 were pedestrians. It is interesting and important to know how we got to where we are in order to best remedy the safety issues related to automobiles in the future.

    Ralph Nader, in 1965, wrote a scathing book on the automobile industry called Unsafe at Any Speed, which accused automobile manufacturers of prioritizing profit over human lives. The book was a best seller that led to senate hearings and eventually the National Highway Safety Administration, which created regulations to improve automobile safety.

    Those safety regulations were based on the most dangerous car accidents that were occurring at the time. Vehicles were running off the road and colliding with trees or other objects. To combat these types of accidents, not only did the government require automobile manufacturers to make safer cars equipped with airbags and gas tanks that were less likely to explode, but the government also required urban planners to create roads that were wider and left room for vehicles to stop when they ran off the road. The prevailing idea at the time was that drivers were going to make mistakes so it was necessary to make the roads and vehicles as forgiving as possible when those mistakes occurred.

    Recently, studies have shown that the forgiving design of roads is actually more dangerous than other types of road design. People’s brains perceive the forgiving roads as safe and their speed on the roads inevitably creeps up. Speed kills:

    • 9 out of 10 times a pedestrian survives being hit by a car at 20 miles per hour.
    • 5 out of 10 times they survive being hit by a car at 30 miles per hour.
    • The survival rate for a pedestrian being hit by a car at 40 miles per hour is down to 1 in 10.

    Urban planners and politicians are attempting to get drivers to slow down and one of the ways they are doing so is by designing roads that are safe for pedestrians and subconsciously promoting drivers to go slowly.

    Hopefully, you will never be involved in an automobile collision. The efforts of our local politicians in their Vision Zero Initiatives and of advocates in our communities can help make that a reality. However, if you are involved in a collision involving an automobile, the attorneys here at Chaikin, Sherman, Cammarata & Siegel, P.C. would love to help you as you pursue justice and fair compensation. Please contact us to speak with a lawyer.

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  • Workers’ Comp vs. Third-Party Liability

    By: Dan Hausman

    When a person is injured while they are at work, they are often able to turn to workers’ compensation to receive payment from their employer.

    Depending on circumstances surrounding the injury, there may be companies other than the injured person’s employer and people who are not co-workers who are additionally responsible for compensating the injured person for the damages they sustained. It is a good idea to call an experienced attorney to help understand what legal action can be taken when harmed during the course of one’s employment.

    Our team at Chaikin, Sherman, Cammarata & Siegel, P.C. can examine the facts surrounding a workplace injury to determine what remedies are available and can explain the difference between workers’ compensation claims and third-party liability claims.

    Workers’ Compensation Claims

    Workers who suffer injuries while performing job-related duties may be able to file workers’ compensation claims even if the injury occurred at no fault of any person or entity. Workers’ comp insurance is paid for by employers and is part of a statutory scheme in each of D.C., Maryland, and Virginia that ensures people injured at work receive benefits.

    Workers’ compensation exists to help injured workers no matter the causes of an injury. Benefits provided through the no-fault insurance coverage can pay for necessary medical treatment and provide benefits for salary supplementation and disability.

    In exchange for benefits, employees are barred from collecting compensation from their employer through a lawsuit that claims personal injuries due to the fault of the employer. Workers’ comp is essentially a safety network for those injured on the job. No matter who is at fault, one can collect worker’s comp in almost every circumstance if one is harmed while working.

    Third-Party Liability Claims

    Many think workers’ compensation is the only option for compensation after a workplace injury. However, in cases where negligence is involved, third-party claims can also be brought in addition to workers’ compensation claims. Third-party claims allow an injured employee to seek compensation from a person or entity who caused the accident who is not their employer or one employed by their employer. Some examples of potential third-party claims include:

    • Negligent driver of another vehicle – People involved in car accidents while in a company vehicle can file a third-party claim against an at fault driver who caused the crash.
    • Equipment defect – Workplaces use a variety of equipment; from handheld tools to heavy machinery. When work tools or equipment are defectively designed or manufactured and harm someone, manufacturers can be held accountable for the injury through a third-party product liability claim.
    • Failure to warn or instruct – There are worksites where many employers have their own employees working on the same project. Some of these employers and their employees engage in work that can be dangerous or create hazards to others. Because these employers and employees often have a duty to warn others on the site about hazards and instruct people about how to handle them safely, thy can be held liable for injuries which result from failing to properly instruct others or warn others sufficiently, they can be liable through a third-party claim for any resulting injures.
    • Premises liability – Third-party claims against property owners may be warranted under premises liability laws when injuries occur on someone else’s property as a result of a hazard that is known or should be known.

    If you are in the Washington D.C. metropolitan area and sustain a workplace injury, it is important to understand your rights. You can contact our firm for a free consultation about your potential case.

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