Attorney accused of defamation for pointing out insurance doctor’s “misstatements” at trial

When a person is in an accident they expect their insurance company to open a claim and fairly handle the claim. After all, insurance commercials tell us we’re in good hands with Allstate, and Farmers is on our side.  But it’s often a surprise that a person’s own insurance company can choose, hire and pay a doctor to perform a physical or psychological exam. The exam is conducted not only to assess the nature and severity of their injuries, but decide whether the care their own doctor has recommended is appropriate. It’s often a shock that the injured person can also be forced to go through this process by the at-fault party’s insurer as well. The purpose? These exams document the “expert’s” opinion to justify claim denial, cutting off treatment, or discontinuing benefits.

There is often only a handful of experts in each state that the insurance companies use. Most of these doctors are contracted through companies with innocent sounding names that include words like “Impartial”, “Sunrise” and “Oregon Medical”. These companies exist to provide insurance companies with doctors they can hire to examine claimants and form opinions.

Oregon, like most states, provides little actual protection from unscrupulous or even fraudulent behavior by a medical examiner.  Imagine a court system that allows a doctor hired by an insurance company to do an examination to defeat your claim, but the same court system does not allow the examination to be recorded. Nonetheless, many courts frequently do not allow the examinations to be recorded or for a witness to be present during the exam under the mistaken belief that these examinations by hired experts are not adversarial.  This sets up the potential for a hired expert to claim that the injured person “confessed” any number of statements about the facts of the incident or existence of injuries.  And, this hired expert is paid thousands of dollars by the insurance company for their opinion that typically is different than the opinion of the patient’s treating physician.

Michigan attorney Steven Gursten published an account on his blog about a frequently hired insurance psychiatrist’s testimony in trial that directly contradicted actual medical records over and over.  Mr. Gursten stated:

“As an attorney, I’ve been shocked by the injustices that occur during many of these IMEs. There are far too many medical professionals who sacrifice their professional objectivity for cash when performing them. I wanted people to know what happens when accident victims are forced to see many of these IME doctors today. So I wrote about what Dr. Griffin did to my client.

I presented her testimony about the answers she claimed my client gave. And then I showed what my client really said.”

The hired expert is not only attempting to have the blog entry removed, but she is even asking the state bar’s disciplinary board to punish Mr. Gursten for simply calling attention to these events.  It’s not an idle threat as this doctor is actually on the very same disciplinary board she is asking to punish Mr. Gursten!

This highlights the need for attorneys willing to protect clients from abusive insurance company techniques and stand up to the doctors they hire.

Some IME doctor’s lack specialized training in the area they testify about, or are no longer actively practicing medicine. Their medical license may be expired or lapsed, or even only from another state or country.  Nonetheless, they can still examine claimants and make conclusions about injuries, past treatment, and even recommend ceasing further treatment.  A doctor may have trained and focused on an unrelated area during their career in medicine.  In one instance, a trained oncologist was conducting exams for insurers and defense lawyers, and offering her expert opinion on orthopedic injuries.  It’s not uncommon to encounter doctors who gave up private practice entirely, in favor of this lucrative IME work.

D’Amore Law Group seeks information about every IME doctor’s credentials and requests a chaperone be permitted to attend the examination with our client.  When appropriate, DLG has demonstrated the need for an objective record of the examination to the court.  Exposing the tactics of insurance companies favored experts is important. It’s a fight the attorneys at D’Amore Law Group face on many cases.  We do not back down from this challenge – it’s too important for our clients and it’s too important for everyone else victimized by insurance company tactics.

2015 at D’Amore Law: a full year of unique challenges and rewards

The beginning of a new year is traditionally a time of celebration and reflection on the past year.

We are particularly proud of the work that’s been done at this law firm in 2015.

For our clients

Our first priority is protecting our client’s rights, health, safety and financial security.

 – D’Amore Law Group Values: #1

Even one jury trial can take hundreds of hours to prepare. This year, our firm prepared for multiple trials—and with great success.

Injury_trial_verdict_Headline_Vancouver_Washington_news

Attorneys Tom D’Amore and Doug Oh-Keith, with paralegal Dan Doede, led the case to trial in Clark County, Washington.

A welder who was traumatically injured on an oil rig finally got his day in court. A Clark County, Washington trial jury heard his case: our client got justice after years of needless delay by defendants.

We represented a woman abused by an anesthesiologist at Mid-Columbia Medical Center in The Dalles, Oregon.

After an intense 4-week trial, a jury awarded $950,000 in damages. OregonLive_Headline_MillionDollar_Trial_Verdict

Attorneys Tom D’Amore and Nick Kahl presented the case at trial, assisted by paralegal Amber Rysavy.

For our community

We believe that a healthy and safe community benefits all of us and all of our clients, and we are committed to strengthening and educating our extended community.

 – D’Amore Law Group Values: #3

This year, one of our community service projects was taking on the dinner shift at the Ronald McDonald East House in Portland, Oregon.

D'Amore Law Group Attorneys and Staff, Portland Oregon Ronald McDonald House

We purchased and prepared dinner for families with children receiving medical care for a serious illness or injury at Portland’s Legacy Emmanuel hospital.D'Amore Law Group Attorney Nick Kahl, Attorney S. Michael Rose, Paralegal Dan Doede, cooking at Ronald McDonald House

DLG_Christmas_Donation_Attorney_TomDamore

The firm donated toys and clothes to the Ronald McDonald House holiday gift store

The Ronald McDonald House is a wonderful, cheerful place that supports families during incredibly difficult times.

We were proud to volunteer there as part of the national Injury Board Day of Action.

And we were so impressed with the Ronald McDonald House that we selected them for our annual holiday donation.

For our firm

We value the development, retention, experiences, and mutual respect and trust of our team, and understand that the sustainability of this firm is in our collective interest.

 – D’Amore Law Group Values: #6

The attorneys and staff at this firm work long, difficult hours on behalf of our clients.

We do our best for our clients—and for our team.

Sometimes, that means having a little fun.

Portland_Law_Firm_Scavenger_Hunt

A scavenger hunt had the firm searching for different objects and landmarks in downtown Portland, Oregon. See more on our firm Facebook page.

As 2016 begins, we look to the mission and values of this law firm to guide us in the new year.

Our Mission

We are committed to securing justice for people and their families when they have been injured.

We believe that wrongdoers should be held accountable, that everyone has a right to pursue justice, and no one should be denied that right for financial reasons.

Our primary goal is to help our clients recover their health, well-being and security.

As our mission guides us, we hope your mission guides you.

From all of us at D’Amore Law Group, best wishes for peace and happiness in 2016. 

facebookWe would love to hear from you—stop by our Facebook page

Lawsuit Filed Against Oregon Dealer That Transferred Gun Used in Murder Through Straw Purchase

Lawsuit also names online dealer and shooter’s mother as defendants

NORTH BEND, Ore. — The family of Kirsten Englund is filing a lawsuit against World Pawn Exchange for transferring multiple firearms to a straw purchaser, Diane Boyce, which were then used by her mentally ill son, 30-year old Jeffrey Boyce.  Mr. Boyce used the weapons to murder Kirsten Englund and carjack and kidnap another victim during a crime spree stretching from Oregon to California.  The suit also seeks to hold Diane Boyce and J&G Sales, the company which originally sold the guns online, accountable.

The complaint alleges that J&G Sales shipped firearms to World Pawn Exchange, which provided the firearms to Diane Boyce despite numerous indications that she was acting as a straw purchaser. The suit was filed in the Multnomah County Circuit Court by Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll, PLLC, the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence’s Legal Action Project, and the D’Amore Law Group, P.C.

Comments from co-counsel for the Englund family are below:

Brady Center Legal Action Project Director Jon Lowy said: “Most gun dealers care deeply about their responsibility to use reasonable care to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people, but we need to hold those accountable who choose to profit off of gun sales that they should know are headed for criminal hands, and could lead to dangerous and tragic shootings like Kirsten Englund’s senseless murder.”

Thomas D’Amore, another lawyer for the family, said: “While it is too late for Kirsten Englund’s family to be spared the tragic consequences of irresponsible gun selling, they are bringing this lawsuit to hold irresponsible gun sellers accountable and to encourage all dealers to exercise their duties as licensed firearms dealers responsibly. We hope that justice will be served for the family and friends of Ms. Englund, and that other families will be spared the tragic loss they have suffered.”

Ms. Englund, a retired Certified Public Accountant and longtime resident of the Castro Valley in California was a loving mother to two sons, and caring sister to her six siblings.  It was during a drive from her home in California to visit her son in Oregon that Kirsten was killed after stopping her car at the same spot as Jeffrey Boyce.

The Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence is dedicated to reducing gun injuries and deaths in America by stemming the causes of gun violence. Through its Legal Action Project, the Brady Center works in the courts to reform dangerous and reckless gun industry practices that give criminals and dangerous people access to guns. For 25 years, the Legal Action Project has brought lawsuits across the country against irresponsible gun companies on behalf of victims of gun violence, and has won numerous victories, including court decisions and settlements in Indiana, Kansas, New York, Ohio, Utah, Washington, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.

Counsel for Vivian Englund, Andrew Wiegardt and Nicholas Wiegardt are Linda Singer, Anthony Juzaitis, Casey Preston and Raymond Sarola of Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll, PLLC; Jonathan E. Lowy and Alla Lefkowitz of the Brady Center’s Legal Action Project in Washington, D.C.; and Thomas D’Amore and Nicholas Kahl of D’Amore Law Group, P.C. in Lake Oswego, Oregon.

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The mission of the Brady organization and its Million Mom March is to create a safer America by cutting gun deaths in half by 2025. For more insight on gun violence prevention, follow us on Facebook and Twitter @BradyBuzz.

About Us: The Brady Campaign and Center, united with the Million Mom March, is a national network of over 90 grassroots chapter affiliates mobilized to prevent gun violence at the community level. The network has played a vital role in expanding Brady background checks in the six states that have passed legislation since the shooting in Newtown, Connecticut and produced the largest national protest of gun violence in U.S. history – The Million Mom March, Mother’s Day 2000.

Walk safely: How to be a good pedestrian

Walking to work. Jogging down a busy street. Even just walking through a parking lot.

At one time or another, we are all pedestrians.Pedestrian_Walk_sign_crash_prevention

Unfortunately, it seems like we hear about a pedestrian being hit by a vehicle on an increasingly regular basis. It begs the question: how many of these crashes could have been avoided?

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates 66,000 pedestrians were injured—and 4,735 killed— in traffic crashes in 2013 … just in the United States. Sadly, that’s a 2% increase in pedestrian fatalities from the year before.

So what can be done to help decrease this number?

Pedestrians can’t control what drivers do, but they can take steps to protect their own health and safety.

Pedestrian_Crossing_Street_Accident_Prevention

Never assume that a driver sees you, or will follow the law and stop for pedestrians.

NHTSA Pedestrian Safety Tips

Walk on sidewalks whenever they are available.

If there is no sidewalk, walk facing traffic and as far from traffic as possible.

Stay alert at all times: don’t be distracted by electronic devices that take your eyes (and ears) off the road.

Use the crosswalk.

If a crosswalk or intersection is not available, cross in a well-lit area where you have the best view of traffic.

Never assume a driver sees you. Make eye contact with drivers as they approach you to make sure you are seen.

Be visible at all times. If you walk at night, wear bright clothing or reflective material at night—or even use your phone as a flashlight.

There are many resources offered by the NHTSA and other organizations that help raise awareness to children, adults and seniors. Educate yourself and your loved ones to be a safe, smart pedestrian!

 

This post was originally published on Jan. 31, 2014, and has since been updated.

Massive flooding in Oregon: This is what hydroplaning looks like

It’s shaping up to be a dangerous week on Portland-area roads.

After a near-record rainfall in recent days, parts of Oregon and southwest Washington are under a flood watch.

The torrential rain has already resulted in a landslide, multiple road closures, and flooded streets. Standing water in streets is dangerous: not only does it conceal potholes, it creates a barrier between your tires and the street.

Hydroplaning occurs when your car’s tires aren’t connecting with the road surface because of standing water, resulting in the loss of traction and driver control.

This is what hydroplaning looks like:

Hydroplaning_car_crash_danger_video

ABC NEWS: What to do when your car hydroplanes

The Portland Bureau of Transportation suggests to avoid hydroplaning, you should check your tire pressure, drive slowly, avoid puddles, and drive in the tracks of cars ahead of you.

Realistically, even if you do all of these things—and “avoiding puddles” may not be possible on Oregon roads—you may still need a refresher course on controlling a hydroplaning car or truck.

Signs Your Car is Starting to Hydroplane

Hydroplaning can happen quickly, especially in very wet weather.

  • Loud sound of water rising up in front of tires
  • Steering wheel twitches under your hands
  • Traction control light may appear on dashboard
  • Car starts to swerve side-to-side as tires lose traction

Recovering from a hydroplane

If you notice one or more of the signs of hydroplaning, do not brake.

The water is a barrier between the tires and the road surface: there is no traction, and your vehicle will spin. Most hydroplaning car accidents are caused by a driver quickly applying the brakes.

Remove your foot from the gas pedal. Don’t try to correct your vehicle’s path, but instead, gently steer in the direction of the swerve.

Hydroplaning usually only lasts a few seconds. When you feel the traction of the tires hitting pavement, you can begin to brake slowly.

Damore_Law_Hydroplane_Crash_Prevention

More rain is predicted for Oregon and Washington in the next few days. Fearing your commute this week? Take a minute to review Safe Driving in the Rain.

 

What happened to the white monuments to Portland traffic victims

For a couple of days in November,  you may have seen one of these white silhouettes along the Portland roadsides.

DLG_OR_WA_Families_Safe_Streets_Corner_

Photo: Oregon and SW Washington Families for Safe Streets

The silhouettes—about 130 of in the Portland metro area—represented victims of motor vehicle crashes. They were created by Oregon and SW Washington Families for Safe Streets.

Families and friends of the crash victims marked the locations of traffic fatalities two weeks ago, in honor of World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims.

The fate of Portland’s traffic death markers

Within a couple of days, the group was told that the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) had started to remove the human-sized markers.

The group had notified ODOT about the monuments to traffic crash victims, but didn’t get permission from the state agency.

ODOT spokesperson Don Hamilton told a reporter for the Bike Portland blog that the memorials were too distracting.

“Things that are causing distraction for people on the road or are obscuring important safety information or creating some kind of safety hazard.”

The first four were removed after an ODOT staffer drove by one of the white silhouettes placed in a median.

“He was driving home, and it started him. It was alarming.”

It IS alarming.

It is alarming that so many drivers are surprised by pedestrians on streets.

That is not to say that ODOT’s position is inherently wrong.

There’s a strong argument to be made for eliminating roadside distractions. And, although Oregon does make roadside advertising space available, it is regulated and controlled.

“State highways are not a bulletin board.”

ODOT spokesperson Don Hamilton, in 2011 interview

DLG_ODOT_Safe_Driving_Distractions_billboard.jpg

Actually, Oregon state highways are often used as bulletin boards.

But it is hard to believe that ODOT, which states it’s mission as providing a “safe, efficient transportation system that supports economic opportunity and livable communities for Oregonians” doesn’t see the value of drawing public attention to the horrifying number of preventable traffic deaths.

Other states have found value in marking traffic fatality locations.

South Dakota’s Department of Transportation installs Fatal Accident Markers where fatal crashes have occurred since January 1, 1979.

DLG_Fatal_Crash_Signs_SD

South Dakota’s Department of Transportation installs “Fatal Accident Markers” on state roads, and supplies them to cities and counties.

 

Fatal crash markers can provide a valuable public service.

Startled by a "ghost" pedestrian? Maybe you shouldn't be ...

Startled by a “ghost” pedestrian? Maybe you shouldn’t be …

They show us where people are dying—too often, on the same streets—and force us to consider the deadly serious ramifications of dangerous driving.

Portland has committed reducing traffic deaths by identifying High Crash Corridors—the 3% of the road network where 51% of pedestrian deaths and 36% of all traffic fatalities occur—via the Vision Zero project.

After speaking with ODOT representatives, Oregon and SW Washington Families for Safe Streets removed a number of the monuments themselves.

We applaud the efforts of the group (who received national media attention for their project). Even though their white silhouettes were only in place for a few days, they contributed to an important public conversation about preventing traffic violence.

facebook

Support Oregon and SW Washington Families for Safe Streets on Facebook

 

 

Have you seen these white silhouettes on Portland streets?

Have you seen one of these white profiles at an intersection, or along the side of the road?

Did you know what it was, or understand what it signified?

DLG_Safe_Streets_Crash_Death_Marker

These white silhouettes represent cyclists, pedestrians, passengers and drivers* killed in motor vehicle crashes.DLG_OR_WA_FamiliesforSafeStreets

Families and friends of the victims marked the locations on Sunday—World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims. The project was led by Oregon and SW Washington Families for Safe Streets.

The group says they placed 130 silhouettes on streets in and around Portland, Oregon.

The white, human-size markers are shocking reminders to drivers to slow down and share the road.

Kristi Finney Dunn was among the dozens of families who placed a white silhouette marked with the date of loss. Her son Dustin was riding in the bike lane on a SE Portland street when he was struck and killed.

“Before my son was killed by a drunk driver, I thought ‘Accidents happen.’ But what happened to Dustin was no accident. I learned that most crashes are preventable, often caused by behavior easily within a person’s control to change.”Safe_Streets-PDX.jpg

“I hope people will learn from our tragedies and change their risky driving, so they don’t cause the kind of devastation our families have suffered.”

 – See the full press release

The group is calling for cultural changes to the way we drive, and for improved safety infrastructure.

Many of the white memorials appear to be located along Portland’s High Crash Corridors. These streets account for only 3% of Portland’s roads,  but 51% of pedestrian deaths, and 36% of all traffic fatalities.

DLG_Portland_Car_Crash_Map

“As families who have experienced the tragic loss of a loved one to reckless traffic in OR and WA, we demand rapid implementation of Vision Zero.”

Mission of Oregon and SW Washington Families for Safe Streets

Vision Zero is a traffic safety project with the goal of completely eliminating traffic fatalities.

Portland adopted the worldwide program earlier this year, with a focus on these High Crash Corridors.

However, Portland’s Vision Zero plan barely mentions the most obvious way to eliminate most of the city’s traffic deaths: reducing the speed limit.

Far too many lives are lost to traffic violence.  These sudden deaths are so hard on the victim’s family. It is heartbreaking to see grieving family members grapple with feelings of powerlessness and futility.

We at D’Amore Law Group commend the members of Oregon and SW Washington Families for Safe Streets for channeling their grief into an effective, powerful message of change.

And we hope that the silhouette memorials not only remind motorists to slow down, and watch for cyclists and pedestrians, but also help push forward Portland’s implementation of Vision Zero.

Have you seen one of these silhouettes? See #safestreetspdx on Twitter.

* Update: a spokesperson for the group Oregon and SW Washington Families for Safe Streets says these silhouettes represent not just pedestrian and cycling deaths, but also include motor vehicle passenger deaths.

One of the best ways to honor veterans? Fix VA hospital’s staffing problems.

Since 2001, about 2.5 million members of the U.S. military—Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, Coast Guard, and respective Reserve and National Guard units—have served in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Many served multiple deployments.

Many survived serious injuries that would have resulted in death in past wars.

Many returned to find that their local health care facilities run by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) were already operating at full capacity serving veterans from Korea, Vietnam and the Persian Gulf conflicts.
US_Department_of_Veterans_Affairs_logo.svg

  • The most common physical injuries: missing limbs, burns, spinal cord injuries, and brain injuries.
  • About 70% of vets experience some form of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or other mental health issues after deployment, according to The Wounded Warrior Project.

Last year, multiple VA hospitals and clinics were found to have systemic problems—including severe under-staffing that left vets waiting months just to get an appointment.

The VA is still trying to fill catch up. The government agency reportedly has 41,500 open jobs for doctors, nurses and medical staff

Oregon lawmakers’ plan to staff the VA hospitals

Long wait times put our veterans’ health in jeopardy and are simply unacceptable.

– U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley, Oregon

On November 10—the day before Veterans Day—members of the U.S. Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee introduced a bill to help solve the problem of under-staffing in VA hospitals.

The Veterans Health Care Staffing Improvement Act is designed to make it easier for VA hospitals to hire staff—improving care and cutting wait time for patients.

  • Recent veterans who served in medical roles could easily transfer from the military health care system to the VA system. Returning veterans will be considered in the same as job applicants from within the VA, allowing for a much faster hiring process … and a staff that’s well-trained in military injuries and illnesses.
  • Nurse Practitioners and Physicians Assistants could provide full treatment to patients.  Most states allow full medical practice authority to nurses with post-graduate education and advanced training. The VA facilities have not … contributing to clinic staffing shortages, especially in rural areas.
  • Doctors could transfer from one VA hospital to another without “significant red tape.” The current process can take several months, which means it’s hard to put doctors where they are most needed.

Our military medical professionals are some of the best-trained, most experienced folks around when it comes to providing care … This bill will help the VA tap that resource, cutting red tape, hiring the trained medical professionals it desperately needs, and reducing wait times for our veterans at home.

– Senator Ron Wyden, Oregon

Oregon lawmakers were well-represented in the introduction of this potential new law.

Senators Wyden and Merkley are both sponsors of the bipartisan bill.

Oregon Representative Peter DeFazio plans to introduce the companion bill in the House next week.

So far, The Veterans Health Care Staffing Improvement Act is supported by more than 40 veterans and health care organizations,  including Vietnam Veterans of America, Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), the Military Officers Association of America (MOAA), and the American Nurses Association.

 

GEICO’s $9.6 million-dollar lesson in “bad faith”

In August 2006, James Harvey was behind the wheel of his Hummer, approaching a flashing red light to turn onto a Florida highway.

Harvey didn’t stop at that red light. When he pulled onto the highway, his Hummer t-boned a motorcycle.

The motorcycle’s driver, John Potts, was killed.

Wrongful death lawsuit

The at-fault driver, James Harvey, had a GEICO auto insurance policy—but his policy only covered $100,000 in damages.

GEICO paid the Potts’ family the policy limits within days of the crash.

But when GEICO was asked for information on any additional insurance or assets Harvey might have, GEICO refused to provide the information.

Tracey Potts, the wife of the crash victim, filed a wrongful death lawsuit.

  • Plaintiff: Tracey Potts, and the Estate of John Potts
  • Defendants: James Harvey

In December 2010, the case was presented to a judge and jury. The jury deliberated for less than an hour before awarding $8.48 million to the Potts’ family.

GEICO lawyers appealed the verdict, but it was upheld. The Plaintiffs have still not been compensated.

Bad faith lawsuit against GEICO

Insurance_attribute_www.stockmonkeys.comAn auto insurance policy is just a contract with the insurance company.

You pay the insurance company, and in return, they agree to protect you and your property from loss or damage. This includes:

  • Fully, promptly investigating your claim;
  • Considering all of the circumstances supporting your claim; and,
  • Respond to all requests for information or communication in a timely matter.

When an insurance company is acting in “bad faith”, it is failing to meet at least one of these commitments. They are breaking the contract, and not protecting their policyholder. See: What is Bad Faith?

In this case, GEICO was legally obligated to protect Harvey.  

GEICO wasn’t protecting Harvey by refusing to turn over his basic insurance and asset information: they were putting him at risk.

If the insurance company adjusters had followed the law, GEICO would have paid out the $100,000 policy limits, and the case would have be over. Instead, the insurance company exposed Harvey to a multi-million dollar jury verdict.

“Bad faith is just insurance company malpractice” 

Fred Cunningham, Harvey’s lawyer in bad faith claim

Defendant Harvey had to file a lawsuit against his own insurance company.

  • Plaintiff: James Harvey
  • Defendant: GEICO Insurance Company

Last week, a Florida jury heard Harvey’s case against GEICO.

The jury found that GEICO acted in bad faith, and failed to protect their policyholder.

They awarded a $9.6 million verdict—the original $8.4 million jury verdict, with interest.

It’s good news for Harvey, who is now off hook for the original verdict. It’s good news for the Potts’ family, who may actually be compensated now.

It’s bad news for GEICO. The company is likely to appeal the jury verdict.

 

 

 

Image: stockmonkeys.com

 

Everyone needs to be a little more careful on Halloween: this is why

People behave strangely (and too often, dangerously) on Halloween.

Adults wear costumes that conceal their identities. Children walk the streets at night, asking for candy.

It’s probably not surprising that your car is almost twice as likely to be vandalized on Halloween than on any other day of the year. Or that emergency rooms report a spike in patients, especially with hand injuries and broken bones.

But the odds are that Halloween 2015 will be even more strange—and even more dangerous—than it has been in years past.

Here’s why.

This year, Halloween is on a Saturday.

NHTSA ad drinking and driving Halloween

Drinking and driving is particularly deadly on Halloween…and on Saturday night

On the average Halloween night, between 40-50% of fatal crashes involve a drunk driver.

When Halloween is on a Friday or Saturday, more people go to parties or to bars.

Saturday is already the most dangerous day of the week on U.S. roads, with more car crash deaths than any other day.

In 2009, the last year Halloween fell on a Saturday, Oregon State troopers arrested twice as many drivers for DUII than the year before.

A deadly night for pedestrians

  • Kids have a 30% narrower field of vision than adults.
  • They don’t know how to judge the speed or distance of moving vehicles.
  • Small children are harder to see than adults, especially after dark … and in costume.
Kids_Halloween_Costumes

*Some costumes make it harder for kids to see oncoming traffic, especially in the dark

The grim reality: the fatality rate for child pedestrians is two to four times higher on Halloween than on any other day of the year.

And it’s not just children at risk.

Overall, Halloween ranks as the third-deadliest day of the year for pedestrians, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

An early sunset …

The sun will set around 6 p.m. in the Pacific Northwest on Saturday, October 31.

Most trick-or-treating happens between 5 and 9 p.m. Since it’s not a school night, children and teenagers may be out later than usual.

… And an extra hour

Daylight Saving Time ends on Sunday, November 1, at 2 a.m.

That’s an extra hour of sleep for some people … and an extra hour of Halloween partying for others.

Saturday  + More people drinking and driving  + Millions of pedestrians + Dark night + Extra hour

= A Scary Halloween 2015 .

Be a little more careful this Halloween.

If you’re taking kids trick-or-treating:

  • Give each kid a small flashlight or glow stick.
  • Put reflective tape on costumes, shoes and/or candy bags.
  • Before you go out, remind children to cross the street only at intersections, and look both ways.
  • See more from Safe Kids USA

If you’re going out or driving anywhere:

  • Stay off side streets or neighborhood streets.
  • Be particularly careful at intersections, especially before turning.
  • Turn off your phone, and reduce any distractions in your car.
  • If you are drinking, don’t drive. Park your car somewhere safe, and call a cab.
  • If you suspect a driver is drunk or impaired, call 9-1-1, or in Oregon: 1-800-24DRUNK.

Whatever you do, please be safe this Halloween.

 

 

 

 

  • Photo credit: ToyahAnette B (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

 

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