Unusual Workplace Accidents – What?

We noticed that the Moet & Chandon wine label is using some fun photos to promote their brand. They've hired Scarlett Johansson as a celebrity endorser, and their photographer and art director are having some fun. These photos are pretty much the same sort as you see in ads for luxury automobiles, perfumes, vacation destinations. More on the ads in this article in StylePantry. What caught our eye is the one where our model is up a stepladder with a brut-size bottle, surrounded with stacks of champagne glasses.

Great art directors know how to put something eye-catching into a photo. It might be a particular facial expression, some oddly out-of-place object. In this case we have the danger posed by the ladder and all the glassware. Will she fall?
An Accident Waiting To Happen?
Of course, all across America thousands of Loss Prevention Managers will be printing-out the photo and putting it up in the warehouse break room, or on the wall of the trailer at their construction job site. The photo will have a hand-written caption saying something like: "Don't Do This!"

Just as a fun thought-fantasy, try to imagine how this photo got shot. Ms. Johansson shows up an hour or two before and gets her make-up and dress. A Crew of people were working on putting-up the ladder and stacks of glasses. The account executive from the advertising agency shows up with the bottle of wine. Just as our model is about to go up the ladder, someone from the building management office shouts "WAIT A MINUTE! WHERE'S HER SAFETY RESTRAINT HARNESS?!?"

Possibly she was wearing a harness and it was clipped to a ceiling-mounted restraint system - and that got Photoshopped-out.

Another, and perhaps more telling thought-fantasy: "Do the thousands of images and videos we see each year where people are in danger, in car chases and sporting collisions - and no-one is hurt - affect our perception of risk?" Do we begin to think there is no risk?

For more ideas about how to survive your next crash, visit www.leonardmoen.com

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Seattle’s Rated 30th in “Drunkest Cities” — So?

Every year the website “The Daily Beast’ compiles a list of America’s drunkest cities. In 2010 Seattle ranked 30 out of 40 cities. The rankings take into account alcoholic beverage sales per capita, demographics (presumably 12-year-olds aren’t drinking as much as 21-year-olds) and illness stats from the federal Centers For Disease Control.

The list of cities can be found here.

The magazine “The Atlantic” has published a different take on this topic: a first-hand account by a Boston rehab hospital doctor who’s specialty is traumatic brain injury. So his Seattle equivalent would be a treating physician at Harborview Hospital. These doctors see a constant flow of people injured falling down their stairs, smashing their cars, wandering into traffic as they walk home, injuring themselves while working drunk. Many have head-injuries with all the most common symptoms:
- headaches (sometimes migraine)
- vertigo
- speech problems
- memory problems
- short tempered
- work loss
- work disability
- and on and on…

Dr. Voxs says Boston moved from 8th place in the 2010 rankings to number one in 2011. We’re not sure how. Doesn’t that seem like a huge leap? We’re also not sure if people in Boston think this is terrible, or just dandy.

Since the doctor’s experience covers scores of patients over several years, the anecdotal evidence is interesting:
1) While nationally, about 20% of auto accidents involve alcohol, Dr. Vox says 75% of traumatic brain injuries in Boston involved alcohol.
2) While many patients recover all or most of their pre-accident functionality, many aren’t able to stop drinking, so they return re-injured after their next accident.
3) Alcohol treatment programs are chock-full, and it’s sometimes difficult to get the brain-injured patient a slot in a program.
4) Intoxicated driving, and intoxicated work-related accidents are supplemented by drunken fighting and other causes of injury.

With Seattle considering extending our legal drinking hours past 2 a.m., and the State of Washington extending sales of liquor stores to mass merchandisers like Costco and Walgreens, are we due to move up in the rankings? If so, will that extend to traumatic brain injury as well?

Dr. Vox seems to think this is a “brain drain” as year-by-year more and more people disable themselves with not just alcohol comsumption, but with head-injury and its debilitating effects.

For more ideas about avoiding or surviving your next crash, visit http://www.leonardmoen.com/

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Don’t Walk Home Drunk – Better To Drive?

We’ve all heard the perils of driving intoxicated. Certainly, if the moral issue doesn’t bother you, the prospect of hefty fines and losing your drivers license ought to. Chances are your insurance company might look at your driving record with glee when computing your new insurance rate. And there’s the possibility of smashing up that new Toyota and having to pick it up from Seattle Towing.

Have you ever considered the perils of walking while intoxicated? In this podcast, well-known economist Steven Dubner looks at the relative merits of driving home intoxicated from the New Years’ Eve celebration – vs. – walking. Any of you who are familiar with Dubner will know he’s going to jolt us with something odd, right? But even your skeptical writer was knocked-down by Dubner’s conclusion that mile-for-mile you’re much better off driving than walking home.

No, we’re not suggesting you test either.

Dubner finds some entertaining experts to interview – particularly an emergency-room doctor who says he much prefers working New Year’s eve to New Year’s day – because the pedestrian accidents are often not found til the next day. These include people who fell down their home’s front stairs, victims of hit-and-run drivers, and who-can-imagine what other horrible accidents?

So how much better off are you if you drive home? Dubner says it is 8-to-1. In other words you’d have to drive 8 miles to incur the same amount of risk as walking 1 mile. As odd as this sounds, if you partied in Seattle’s Pioneer Square and were staying in a room at Seattle’s Edgewater, and you chose to walk, to incur the same amount of “Risk of Death” you’d have to drive home to North Ballard.

Why is walking under the influence so dangerous? Try these possibilities:
1. When you’re driving you are surrounded by a steel-reinforced box, and protected by airbags.
2. When you’re walking you’re not as visible to drivers, freight train engineers (remember – on your way from Pioneer Square to the Edgewater you’re going to cross train tracks).
3. When you’re walking you can fall to other types of accidents, and if you are with friends you may be doing silly dangerous things.

We encourage people who wish to festivate, to keep their consumption within reason, have a designated driver or cab (Practice saying these words: “CALL ME A CAB, PLEASE.”). The best place to party is in your own neighborhood, not at a casino North of Marysville, even if Rod Stewart’s playing his greatest hits.

And if you’re walking home, consider a crash helmet!

For ideas about handling all sorts of crashes, contact http://www.leonardmoen.com

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Driver Ploughs Through Pedestrians in Seattle’s Fremont Neighborhood

We were looking at stats on Seattle’s “crime” today – things like homicides and car thefts. Some are up and some are down. This is suprising since there is a general economic downturn and… …well one assumes people have to make a living somehow. Aside from the general crime patterns there’s the carnage to pedestrians, bike riders, passengers in cars. Here’s a story that’s at least easy to visualize – a bunch of people are standing in front of a nightclub around closing and a car veeers off Seattle’s N. 36th Street and plows into them. People are tossed up over the windshield and roof of the car and their shoes and purses go flying. Pretty amazing picture forming there on that little screen on the inside of your forehead – yes?

The instruction “Look both ways before crossing.” doesn’t apply here – so much as “If you don’t like the way I drive, stay off the sidewalk!” so we will await the report on whether the driver was intoxicated, had just smoked-up some medicinal herb, or maybe over-dosed on her/his meds.

For more ideas about how to survive crashes and injuries, visit http://www.leonardmoen.com

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Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn’s Thoughtful Editorial on Traffic Safety

This guest editorial published by the Seattle Times gives Seattle drivers some reason to pause. Is it possible that traffic carnage is now the leading cause of death and injury for people in Seattle?

For more ideas on avoiding your next crash visit http://www.leonardmoen.com

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Car Crosses Seattle Light Rail Tracks – Hits Oncoming Car

This is a story from 2007. A couple had just pulled out into traffic headed southbound on Martin Luther King Way in southeast Seattle. The wife, riding as passenger, was fastening her seat belt when her husband driving called “Oh No!” An oncoming driver had lost control of his car, crossed 2 lanes and 2 sets of light-rail tracks and was just feet from hitting the front of their Buick sedan. Because the seatbelt latch wasn’t quite snapped-home her head immediately smashed into the windshield, leaving a concave dent on the inside of the shattered glass. The passenger was unconscious for several minutes.

The police report states the oncoming driver said his steering locked and he couldn’t stop the car from veering left across the tracks. When asked why he didn’t use his brakes he stated he was too afraid. He received a ticket for operating a malfunctioning vehicle.

We have followed the couple through a continuing saga of lost work and medical treatment. What do you do when your job requires heavy physical labor and your doctor tells you not to lift anything that weighs more than 20 pounds? What do you do when you have a hard time breaking a complicated task into simple A-B-C-D steps? What happens when you get frustrated trying to do the simplest things, and then you get angry and stressed?

No, this accident never made it into the Seattle Times. The police report is filed in some file cabinet in city hall. The witnesses have forgotten it happened. The snapped Light Rail stanchion support cable was repaired. But pain in the driver’s knee continues every day. Pain in the passenger’s hip and shoulder continue every day.

The insurance company lawyer tries to make a case for these people being addicted to their painkillers. And maybe a jury might believe this. Afterall, we’re in a “War on Drugs” right? But all of these drugs are prescribed by a doctor who’s known our couple for more than 10 years before the accident, and only prescribes painkillers according to medical guidelines. Is managing ongoing pain not part of the responsibility when a driver loses control?

For more ideas about surviving your next crash visit http://www.leonardmoen.com

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Should I Go To Seattle’s Harborview Hospital In An Ambulance?

This may sound like a hypothetical question. You might think “Maybe someday I’ll need to think about this, but I hope not.”

The reality is, like most things about accidents,
you have to have a plan in place in advance
in order to respond well. Ten minutes after your crash, when you’re still sort of dazed and feeling a lot of emotion – that’s not a good time to be thinking about the benefits and costs of taking an ambulence to the emergency room.

So in advance, make up your mind:
1. If I think there’s even a possibility that, by hitting my head, or having the airbag explode in my face, that the shock has my mind a little scrambled – I’m going to the hospital in an ambulance.
2. If I feel a lot of strange feelings in my neck, back, hips, other joints – I probably want to have an immediate exam. I want someone to call me an ambulance.
3. I should be confident my own auto insurance policy covers necessary emergency ambulence rides in case the driver who struck me was uninsured. Since it’s paid by insurance I want someone to call me an ambulance.
4. In many cases the other driver’s insurance will pay your ambulance ride with no questions asked. I want someone to call me an ambulance.
5. The ambulance driver will create a written record of how you were responding. If they feel you need to be immobilized on a back-board or stretcher/gurney they will do that. It’s for your own benefit.
6. Recovering from an injury begins immediately. Your emergency room doctor can pick-up vital information from the conversation you have with the ambulance driver(s) at the accident, or if there are two technicians in the ambulance the second can ask you questions on the ride to the hospital Emergency Room. They can pass that along to the emergency room doctor.
7. Police may construct their notes about the accident in consultation with the ambulance driver (if they got to the scene first) plus other witnesses. This is crucial to creating an accurate Police Accident Report.

For more ideas about surviving from auto crashes visit http://www.leonardmoen.com

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Redmond, Oregon School District Sued For Bus Crash

This piece of news caught our eye, or specifically the amount that’s being asked for: $750,000. We’re used to seeing this amount of money associated with Seattle view property. How do you justify paying an 18-year-old this amount?

More specifically, how do 12 adults on a “jury of peers” feel that $750,000 is justified?

We’re not going to go into the details of this particular accident. Let’s just take a look at some basic statistics from the U.S.
1) Every person born in the U.S. will generate over $7 million in economic activity in their lifetime – from the delivery room cost to the funeral.
2) Insurance companies regularly pay very high amounts, sometimes in the $$ millions, for people who are, through no fault of their own, seriously injured early in their life – because their economic earning potential may be severely hampered.
3) Hypothetically, your lawyer may be able to prove that your injured child, through being a straight-A student already admitted to a top college – that the loss could be very high. School grade records, especially a 4.0 grade average can be persuasive.
4. Hypothetically, your lawyer may be able to have your injured child receive a battery of tests to measure cognitive ability – and if the scores are below average after the accident it’s a piece of evidence that juries understand. So if your son tested 130 in IQ before the accident and now tests 100 (average) it can be persuasive.
5. Hypothetically, a brain trauma will show-up in an MRI scan, that a neurologist can testify-to in a jury trial. The brain scan can be projected and shown to the jury, and the neurologist can point to the specific place in the brain’s white matter where bleeding or scarring produces a dark area. If that leision is on the side that was struck in the accident – indicated by bruising or lacerations on one side of the head – a jury will find this very persuasive.
6. You can build a very persuasive case for lasting chronic disability with treating doctors’ and physical therapists’ testimony. Physical therapists can assign numbers to “range-of-motion” and to other quantifiable measures. It’s convincing when your injured student was the captain of the school lacrosse team and now her physical coordination is sub-normal.
7. People who are brain-injured get frustrated and stressed-out when their severe headaches and speech problems don’t go away. The stress can actually increase the experience of pain. Stress can also depress the body’s immune system – so people who are stressed-and-depressed experience more colds, flu, other problems.
8. The need for pain relief sometimes produces a difficult-to-lose addiction to painkillers.
9. People in this situation get depressed – which is another whole medical/psychological problem to treat.
10. Another type of expert witness, a vocational counselor/economist can take a look at the loss in ability and testify about how that loss generally affects lifetime earning ability. This is basically the difference between becoming a highly-compensated school administrator vs. becoming a school bus driver.
10. A lawyer may be able to bring friends, teachers, a minister into the courtroom to testify about how the person has changed since the accident.
…and that’s just the short list.
The point of this exercise: When you have a friend or family member who’s experienced a severe strike to the head – in a sports injury, auto injury, workplace injury, it’s useful to get them the right help with diagnosis and treatment in the days following the accident. When they way “I’m hoping it will just get better.” it’s sometimes an indicator they aren’t thinking clearly and need some gentle nudging to get them moving forward with treatment.
For more ideas on how to survive a crash, visit Leonard Moen & Assoc. website: http://www.leonardmoen.com

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You – On The Bicycle – Obey The Law!

We know when you come up to that stop sign it’s tempting to just look both ways and if there’s no car coming just coast through. OK, we know it’s satisfying to put the foot-to-the-pedal and power on through. Especially if you’re in a hurry to get home and it’s starting to rain.

Let’s be honest: Seattle’s a dangerous place for bicyclists. And yes, sometimes it’s the bicyclist’s own fault.

But consider the laws of Washington State. Consider how auto drivers and truck drivers consider your actions when they see you just cruising through that stop sign. “Oh, look! Another #!XX&$#!! bicycle dork!”

Perception is everything. If we bicyclists want to earn the respect of the powered-vehicle driver, don’t we have to obey the law? If you’re wondering if the lowly bicycle rider doesn’t have some slack, some leeway, just take the following test, and then consult the Washington State Dept. of Motor Vehicles page on bicycles and the law.
Question: Do I have to wear a bicycle helmet?
Question: Can I ignore stop signs and traffic lights?
Question: Do drivers have to give me right-of-way?
Question: Can’t I bicycle on all the same roads cars drive on?
Question: When a bike path crosses a road, do I have the right-of-way?
Question: Do the police write tickets for bicyclists who exceed the speed limit?
Question: If two bicyclists get in a collision with one another, what happens?
Question: If there’s a road hazard like a pothole or slippery railroad track, and I fall, can I sue?

All these are concerns of bicyclists, and they should be of interest to auto drivers. Afterall, we all share the road. It’s no fun to see a bicyclist get crunched in the intersection ahead of you – no matter who’s to blame.

Also, technically, although Washington State law doesn’t require some things – helmets for instance – some cities do – Seattle for instance. Will the police write your daughter a ticket if she’s biking along Lake Washington Boulevard on a bicycle Sunday without her helmet?

We’ll leave that for a future post.

In the meantime, consider this bit of philosophy: Assume that no-one can see you. You are invisible. Assume they will drive as if you’re not there, and act accordingly. Then, when some driver acts as if you’re not there, you won’t be surprised, and you won’t get hit.

If you don’t get hit your head won’t go “SPLAT” on the pavement, and you won’t wake up hours later in the hospital. You won’t have all the problems that brain-injured people have: headaches, difficulty speaking, crankiness, memory loss, wild emotional swings, numbness, blurry eyesight, vertigo… The list is very long.

For more ideas about how to survive your next crash, of whatever kind, visit http://www.leonardmoen.com We have a lot of experience helping Seattle bicyclists who’ve been through a crash someone else was responsible for.

Posted in Bicycle Accident, Brain Injury, Car Accident | 1 Comment

How To Tell That Used Car Was In A Crash

Times are tough and when your trusted transport is getting close to giving up the ghost you get to decide – New replacement? Used replacement?

We’re not here to give you advice on that, but we are here to help you interpret the Vehicle History Report on a used car.

Was it in a wreck? The most obvious telltale isn’t in a Vehicle History Report – it’s on the title – when the vehicle is salvage. We’re impressed when we see someone selling a Prius on EBay for $5,000 under the new-car price. The vehicle only has only 629 miles on it and it is perfect. And it’s a salvage vehicle. Meaning someone has carefully repaired the bumper, side panels, door, tail-light assembly. prius with cosmetic damage
Yes, there are deals like that on EBay Motors all the time. With enough Priuses on the road, or any other make, some get into “totaled” accidents with very low mileage. There are repair shops that specialize in that trade, and they might represent a very good resource for you if you’re willing to travel from Seattle to Los Angeles to pick up your Prius. If the seller has 100% satisfaction score from 129 previous EBay deals you might decide to be number 130.

Back to the Vehicle History Report:
Some reports will spotlight damage as “problem” red flags. Experian, for instance, states:
“The reported damage this vehicle has sustained has been noted with red exclamation points and is also highlighted in yellow. Included in these incidents is a record of the vehicle’s salvage title.” This is great.

Be advised, however, that some crash damage may have been repaired and it’s not on the report. How could that be? Maybe the accident wasn’t so severe that there’s a police report. The owner decided to pay for the repairs without reporting it to their insurance company. If you don’t inspect the vehicle very carefully, looking for every tiny imperfection in the paint job or how body parts match-up you will think the vehicle is pristine.

Other Things To Look For In The Vehicle History Report:
1. Check to be sure the VIN number on the car matches the title and vehicle history report.
2. Look at how many previous owners the vehicle has had. Maybe lots of owners increases the likelihood that one of the owners didn’t take very good care of it.
3. Look at the locations of ownership. Was it owned in an area with very cold winters where a lot of salt is used on roadways? Was it in an area that experienced a flood and then sold immediately afterward in another part of the country?
Yes, friends, there are lots of people moving a lot of vehicles around the land and trying to sell crashed, flooded, re-built lemons to someone not checking their facts carefully.

And once you buy that lemon, chances are even a good lawyer isn’t going to help you.

For more ideas on how to survive your next crash, or someone elses, visit http://www.leonardmoen.com

Posted in Car Accident, Insurance, Seattle, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment