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Providence Personal Injury and Social Security Disability Law Blog

What does the term distracted driving mean?

Distracted driving is an epidemic on American roadways, including in Rhode Island. According to the American Bar Association, distracted driving accidents resulted in 421,000 injuries and 3300 deaths in 2012. However, what does the term "distracted driving" really mean?

When most people use the term "distracted driving," they typically refer to using a cellphone while behind the wheel of a car. However, cellphone use is not the only kind of driving distraction. Any activity performed while driving that takes your mind off what you are doing, removes your hands from the wheel of the car or draws your eyes away from the road is distracting. These distractions include cognitive, manual and visual distractions, respectively. Therefore, eating a sandwich is a manual distraction because it removes one of your hands from the steering wheel. Leaning over to adjust the radio volume is potentially both a manual and visual distraction because it may be necessary to look down at the control panel to see what you are doing. Applying make-up while looking into the rearview mirror is not only a visual and manual distraction but a cognitive distraction as well.

What does 'unseaworthiness' mean in maritime accidents?

As a seaman, you probably already know that if you suffer injuries while performing your duties, you may seek compensation for them under the Jones Act. As part of that process, you will need to prove either that your employer was negligent in some small matter or the "unseaworthiness" of the vessel.

If you are like others here in Rhode Island, you may think that unseaworthiness refers to the ability of the vessel to remain afloat, so you may not consider this as part of your claim since the vessel was, in fact, not sinking at the time you suffered your injury. However, when it comes to claims under the Jones Act, unseaworthiness means something quite different.

Living with traumatic brain injury - the victim and the caregiver

Traumatic brain injury is intimidating. That it involves a wide range of severity only increases the fear that goes along with it. Even mild concussions from a seemingly innocent bump on the head carry the TBI label, and Rhode Islanders suffering with symptoms should take them seriously. 

According to the Mayo Clinic, signs of a brain injury can include - among others - headaches, nausea and vomiting or disruptions in sleep, balance and concentration. More severe cases also may involve "profound confusion" and "disorders of consciousness," including the victim falling into a coma. 

Secrets of Social Security Disability - Limitations and Averages

If everyone in Rhode Island completed a survey about Social Security disability, it is likely that none of the respondents would say they hope to be on SSD some day. The reality, however, is disability benefits exist for good reason. 

Accidents happen. Workers get hurt on the job and are unable to continue in their roles. Other unforeseeable circumstances cause employees to become unable to perform routine tasks they could once do with their eyes closed. When these things happen, SSD may be able to help.

Shatter the statistics - stay safe on skis

The first day of summer promises a full season ahead, and long days at the Rhode Island coast mean fun in the sun and on the water. Those who love getting out on boats, jet skis and other watercraft need to be especially careful this time of year when lakes and seaside resorts are more full than usual. Remember to prioritize safety at all times. 

Last year, the U.S. Coast Guard released statistics detailing the factors that contributed most to boating accidents. The top three were inattention by operators, inexperience and failure to look out properly. Other factors rounding out the top 10 were dangerous weather and water, the use of alcohol, excessive speed and equipment failure. 

Alcohol a common factor in boating accidents

Spending time out on the water is a way of life for many Rhode Island residents, and doing so can be a great way to kick back, relax and escape from your day-to-day responsibilities. A laid-back excursion with friends and family can quickly turn deadly, however, if others out on the waterways fail to behave responsibly. At Karns Law Group, we understand that alcohol is frequently a factor in today’s boating accidents, and we have helped many people who suffered injury on the water because of someone else’s actions pursue appropriate recourse.

According to the American Boating Association, alcohol is a factor in more than 30 percent of today’s boating accidents, and the number of alcohol-involved boat accidents occurring in the nation each year is on the rise. However, despite playing a role in so many accidents, injuries and fatalities, the problem persists. Some believe that this may be due in part to the longstanding – and highly dangerous – notion that drinking and boating go together, a view sometimes glamorized by depictions of the “yachting” lifestyles of society’s upper echelon on TV and in the movies.

How seriously do drivers take safety?

Whether you routinely drive Rhode Island's busy streets during morning rush hour or on the weekends, the chances are high that you will witness a car accident - and maybe more than one - during a lifetime of travel. 

In 2017, AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety conducted a survey to learn more about drivers' attitudes toward safety. What they found may surprise you: 

New law aims at curtailing distracted driving

Rhode Island readers know distracted driving is a significant problem in the state and across the country. More drivers than ever before have smartphones, and many of them use their phones to text, call and use social media while driving. In order to curtail the problem of distracted driving, state lawmakers have passed a new measure to reduce distracted driving.

With this new law, drivers can face consequences for simply having their phones in their hands. Law enforcement can pull a driver over for holding their phones up to their ears or in front of their faces. The purpose of this new law is to hopefully reduce the number of distracted driving accidents and the number of people injured by this reckless behavior.

The invisible danger in marinas and around your boat

The weather is perfect for a weekend trip to the lake, and you and your family are anxious to load up the boat and head out to the cabin. At the Karns Law Group, we want our fellow Rhode Island residents to have a fun and safe summer, and we realize that water safety is a serious issue during the warmer months.

You may have safety covered when it comes to teaching your kids to swim and never to get in a boat without a life jacket. However, you might not know about one hazard that the Electric Shock Drowning Prevention Association calls the invisible drowning risk. Water in marinas, lakes and near your boat can become electrified when current is leaking from a power source, which can pose a deadly hazard to you and your family members.

When domestic violence turns deadly - hidden risks for women

Domestic violence is a fairly common term, and Rhode Island news broadcasters often mention the dangers of abusive homes for spouses and children. Sometimes simple disagreements can escalate into violence quickly when those involved are especially tired, stressed or frustrated with life. 

The Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence is doing its part to prevent abuse in homes, and one aspect of the strategy is publishing statistics. In 2016, the coalition provided numbers, stating that every year in Rhode Island, authorities in the state make more than 5,000 arrests related to domestic violence. 

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