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Seattle Personal Injury Law Blog

What is the Driving Under the Influence of Electronics Act?

Legislators in Washington have been working to make the roads safer, and you may be aware that a new distracted driving law is on the books now. According to the Seattle Times, this law is the Driving Under the Influence of Electronics Act, and it makes holding an electronic device while driving illegal.

If a law enforcement officer sees you holding a device, he or she can pull you over without any other reason. Devices include the following:

  • Smartphones
  • Tablets
  • Laptops
  • Gaming devices

Never event reporting may reduce facility incidents

Seeking medical care in Washington should result in an improved health condition. However, as The Joint Commission points out, it has been a long-acknowledged fact that sometimes, medical mistakes happen, and patients get worse instead of better. These adverse events are preventable, and should never happen. Over two decades ago, the organization developed a policy with the intent of assisting hospitals to overcome safety hazards that led to serious "never" events. 

When the mistake causes a health issue severe enough to require immediate intervention to prevent death, or permanent harm or death resulting from the error, the JC notes that the hospital should initiate an investigation right away. Support and collaboration are offered from that organization, but the facility where the incident took place must report the issue to take advantage of these. Reporting, while recommended, is not mandatory.

What you need to know about the use of forceps during delivery

Doctors in Washington have to be prepared for every eventuality in the delivery room, and you should be able to trust that yours will make the right decision if something out of the ordinary arises. One of the tools that may be needed during delivery is the forceps, and when used correctly and in the right circumstances, it can prevent serious medical issues. At Elk & Elk, we understand that medical devices such as these have the potential for harm, as well as benefit.

Your doctor may recommend forceps for a number of reasons. The Mayo Clinic explains that if your labor has stalled, you may need the assistance to move your baby through the birth canal. This is particularly true if you have a heart condition or other medical issue that could be affected by prolonged pushing. A forceps delivery could also be critical if your baby’s heartbeat changes, and your doctor worries that continued labor could delay the care needed to address the problem. Forceps are often used when an infant is facing up in the birth canal instead of down, too.

Can you encourage your elderly loved ones to drive safely?

If you are one of the many Washington folks who have elderly loved ones that still drive, you may have experienced some apprehension at the thought of them on the road. Often, the focus on safe driving is geared towards younger generations with less experience. However, it is just as important to encourage safe driving practices in regards to your senior family members for their own protection and that of other drivers on the road.

According to the Huffington Post, there are friendly and positive ways in which you can talk to your elderly family members about how to drive safely. These include the following:

  • Share conversations: One of the easiest things you can do is to sit down and have a conversation with your loved one. Begin by acknowledging his or her desire to remain independent. Ask him or her if there are any concerns about driving or any physical or mental limitations that could potentially cause danger.
  • Do some research: You may be surprised at the amount of resources designed just for encouraging driver safety among senior residents. With some simple research, you can find programs designed to test a person’s ability to operate a vehicle safely. You may also talk to your loved one about taking a test to assess how comfortably he or she fits into his or her vehicle.
  • Provide assistance: If you catch wind that maybe your loved one is not comfortable driving long distances, driving in the dark, driving on certain roads or even driving altogether, provide assistance. This may come in the form of offering rides or arranging other means of transportation.

Can you take steps to prevent car accidents in inclement weather?

As one of the thousands of Washington drivers that commute each day, you may be familiar with driving in the rain. However, inclement weather can catch anyone off-guard and create momentary panic when conditions challenge control, visibility and experience. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to heighten your safety and prevent car accidents when Mother Nature is not on your side.

According to the AAA Exchange, taking a few responsible precautions can be the difference between spiraling out of control on a wet road or maintaining control and staying safe. Here are some of the things you should do while driving when the weather is bad:

  • Reduce your speed: Perhaps the most obvious precaution you can take is to slow down. What may appear as a little water on the roadway, can actually be extremely dangerous if you are speeding. When the roads are wet, it is imperative that you slow down and leave extra room between you and other cars on the road. Rough maneuvers like harsh braking or sudden turns can cause you to hydroplane and lose control.
  • Turn your cruise settings off: While cruise control has major benefits for helping you to maintain a safe and consistent speed, it can cause problems in inclement weather. Because bad weather will often require you to manipulate the accelerator carefully, you should avoid using your cruise control settings which can delay your ability to safely slow down.
  • Remain calm: If you ever experience the momentary terror of skidding, do your best to remain calm and in control. Your best chance at safely avoiding a collision is to keep your vision focused on the direction you wish to go. From here, try to cautiously navigate your course and avoid slamming on your breaks which can create additional problems with your vehicle’s balance.

Finding ways to cope when your baby is born premature

Whether you are welcoming your first child or your third, witnessing the birth of your baby is often filled with many emotions. If your baby has been born prematurely and is being cared for in the NICU, you may experience exceptionally intense feelings and concerns. At Elk & Elk, we have assisted many Washington parents as they cope with complications related to the birth of a child.

The Huffington Post has recently shared an article with several helpful suggestions as you find ways to cope with a child in the NICU. These include the following:

  • Be accepting of help: There will undoubtedly be people close to you who reach out with offers to help you. Take advantage of their willingness to serve. Accepting the assistance of others can help you focus your energy and efforts on dealing with your emotions and stress in a healthy way.
  • Do not compare: While you may be tempted to compare the progress of your baby with that of other NICU patients, do not fall into the trap of comparison. Remember that each child, their condition, their health and their treatment is different from others.
  • Find a support system: Having a NICU baby presents a unique list of challenges, however, you are certainly not alone. Seek out other parents who have undergone similar situations and rely on them for support, encouragement and advice.
  • Maintain relationships: Once your baby is healthy enough to go home, you may wish to maintain the relationships you have created with doctors and nurses in the NICU. Not only can it be healing for you, but health care professionals enjoy seeing the progress and growth of their patients.

5 Tips for sharing the road with motorcyclists


There are more than 227,000 motorcycle registrations in the state of Washington. Despite this high number, many motorists know little about ways to safely share the road with motorcyclists.

According to the Washington Traffic Safety Commission, motorcycles make up four percent of all registered vehicles in the state, but account for 17 percent of traffic fatalities.

What you should know about falls in hospitals

There are many circumstances that may cause a patient in a Washington hospital to fall, and the result is often serious injuries. In fact, according to the Joint Commission Center for Transforming Healthcare, 30 to 35 percent of the hundreds of thousands of people who fall in hospitals each year sustain serious injuries, including brain injuries and broken bones. The average cost for the extended hospital stay after a fall is over $14,000.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services notes that falls are never events, meaning that they can be prevented. Experts have developed resources that are proven to reduce the likelihood of falls. In institutions where fall prevention practices are applied, 35 percent fewer patients fell, and those who did fall were much less likely to be injured.

Car crashes into guardrail critically injuring Washington man

While there are many cautious and rule-abiding drivers in Washington, everyone is still at risk of injury when others’ actions are negligent or careless. Debilitating consequences, injury and even death can cause heartache and pain for every person involved including the family members of the victims.

This is exactly what happened to one Washington man when he was the passenger in a vehicle that was involved in a serious car crash. It was discovered that the female driver of the car was intoxicated when she careened into a guardrail on state Route 18 near Black Diamond Road. The man sustained serious injuries and another passenger, a 17-year-old male, was also injured. His condition is still unknown.

Who is liable when a borrowed car is in an accident?

You may have no problem loaning your vehicle to a friend or family member. You may trust him or her to drive safely and have no concerns. However, accidents happen every day even to people who are good drivers in Washington. What happens, then, if you loan your vehicle to someone and that person causes an accident? Who is responsible for paying for the damages? The reality, according to Insure.com, is that you will likely be the one paying the costs.

There are only a couple of situations where you could get out of being liable for an accident involving your vehicle. First, if you didn’t give the person permission to drive your car, then you are not usually going to be liable. The second situation is if your friend or family member was not the one who caused the accident. In any other situation, you will usually be liable and your car insurance will be stuck paying the bills.

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