Bike to School Day was May, 2013 and Bike to Work Day is May 17, 2013.  Approximately 1,500 people commute to work in Anchorage by bike, more in the summer.  http://www.adn.com/2010/03/20/1192613.  And with the advent of more cyclists, it’s important to keep a few things in mind:

Drivers - If you hit a cyclist, you’re going to get into a lot of trouble.  You could end up being cited by Anchorage Police, having a claim filed against your insurance and/or sued.  And that’s if the cyclist lives.  If the cyclist dies, the criminal charges could be serious.  The reason that you’re going to get into trouble is that your bigger and faster and can do more damage with your car.  As a driver of a vehicle, you have a duty of "due care to avoid colliding with other traffic."  AMC 09.16.140(B).

Your duty is greater if you observe a child.  You shall give warning by sounding your horn when necessary and shall exercise proper precaution when observing any child.  AMC 9.16.140(A).

This is especially true if the cyclist is a child.  When you see a child walking or biking on the road or near the road, it is a good idea to slow down and watch them because children tend to make sudden movements without forethought.  And if something bad happens and you weren’t exercising proper precaution, you will get into a lot of trouble.

The majority of vehicle vs bicycle accidents occur when the vehicle is stopped at an intersection waiting for traffic to clear so the driver can turn right.  Generally the driver is watching for on-coming traffic to the left and doesn’t think to check the sidewalk or bike trail for traffic coming from the right.  As a driver, you have the duty of due care which means looking both ways for traffic before entering an intersection.

If you are a driver and involved in an accident with a pedestrian or cyclist, report it to your insurance company.  You are obliged to stop, render assistance and provide your name and insurance information just as if you were involved in a collision with another car.

Cyclists - Watch for inattentive drivers.

There are a number of city ordinance which govern riding bicycles in Anchorage.  Amongst the ones most commonly violated are:

1. The duty to obey traffic control devices.  AMC 09.38.030.  When riding a bike, you are required to obey traffic control devices (lights and stop signs) as if you were driving a vehicle.

2. Riding on the wrong side of the road.  The law requires you to ride on the right edge of the roadway wherever practicable, if you are going to ride in the road.  AMC 09.38.060.  If the right side of the road is too narrow to ride safely, then you may ride on the left side of the road.  AMC 09.38.060(A)(3).

3. It is against the law to ride a bicycle on the sidewalk of a business district, AMC 09.38.070, begging the question: how are you to get to work?  I’ve never seen anyone pulled over by a police officer for riding on the sidewalk in a business district, but you should be aware that the rule is for your safety.  People pulling in and out of business driveways are not on the lookout for cyclists.  If you are hit by a car when you are riding on the sidewalk, you will be responsible at least in part for causing the collision.  The long view is that if you are responsible for causing the collision, then you will not obtain a settlement from the driver’s insurance for your medical bills.

4. When you are riding on a sidewalk or bike path, you are obligated to yield the right-of-way to pedestrian.  AMC 09.38.070.

5. When you are riding on a sidewalk or bike path, you shall give an audible signal by voice or by bell before overtaking and passing a pedestrian.

6. Bike helmets are mandatory for any person 15 years of age or younger riding in a public place.  AMC 09.38.200.  The child’s parents can be fined if the child is not wearing a helmet.

For a complete list of the applicable laws, see http://www.muni.org/Departments/OCPD/Planning/AMATS/Documents.  Search for the Adopted Bicycle Plan Appendices.

If you are riding your bike and are involved in a collision with a vehicle, get the driver’s name and insurance information, the license plate of the vehicle and photos of the vehicle damage.  Then call a personal injury attorney.  Contact Keenan Powell: keenan@keenanpowell.com, (907) 258-7663.

It snowed again.  A particularly nasty wet snow making for icy roads.  And we had lots and lots of  accidents yesterday: 164 by 9:30  PM according to Anchorage Daily News.

More big news:  Anchorage Police Department has a new policy.  It won't file a police report unless the officer thinks that the accident caused an injury.  So you can't rely on the police officer to take the witness' names and phone numbers, much less the name of the other drivers involved.  You need to do that yourself.

Not only that, APD probably won't take photos at the scene.  Take photos on your cell phone.  Be sure to get the license plate number of the other car.  Be sure to get photos of damage to the other vehicle as well as the  scene of the accident.  Why do you ask?  Because the other driver could claim that you caused the accident or his damage was minor and to prove your case, you will need  photos of his car to prove how his car impacted yours and how severe the impact was.

After an accident, the law requires you to stop, contact the other drivers or pedestrians involved, exchange name and insurance information, and render assistance to injured persons.  For your own protection, get the names and phone numbers of all witnesses, photograph the scene and the vehicles involved in the accident.

Go to the hospital if you need medical attention.

Then, call you insurance company and report the accident.  And then call the other driver's insurance company to report it as well.  You can google the insurance company and obtain a number to call.

The next day, follow up with any medical providers to whom you were referred by the emergency room.  Or if you didn't go to the hospital, but you're starting to hurt, go to your doctor or to a minor emergency clinic.

Don't expect the other driver's insurance company to pay your medical bills.  Even if the insurance company accepts  liability, it will wait until the end of the case and sometimes it will send the medical records to its own doctor to evaluate them, to see if they have a reason not to pay those bills.

One common defense  the insurance  company will raise is to claim that chiropractic care was excessive and that in a simple whiplash case, the injured person would recover in 6-12 weeks even without chiropractic treatment.  It's called the Quebec defense.   If you have been seeing a chiropractor for 3 months or more and  you aren't better, you should check in with a medical doctor to get his opinion as to whether your chiropractic  care is appropriate and also to find out if your injury is more severe than chiropractic care can treat.

How do you pay for the medical bills  before your case is settled?  Your medical payments benefits which you purchased with your automobile liability insurance should be billed first.  For more information regarding automobile  liability insurance, look at "Car Accidents and P.I." page.

If you don't have medical payment benefits, bill your group health insurance provided by your employer.

If you don't have  group health insurance, you'll need to pay your bills directly, find a sliding fee scale clinic or  enter into an agreement with the provider to pay him when the case is settled.

For more information, contact Keenan Powell:  keenan@keenanpowell.com.  Phone: 907 258 7668 or 888 368 5678.

 

 

 

Snow: Pretty in a snowglobe.  Not so pretty when you’re trying to drive somewhere.

 

Because of Alaska’s unique climate, and all the snow, quite a bit of law has evolved since Statehood regarding who is responsible for clearing the snow, who is responsible for making the streets, sidewalks and parking lots safe to drive and walk on and when that person is liable if someone is injured because of snow or ice.

 

Snow and ice issues are found in landlord-tenant law, negligence claims against landowners, claims against drivers, claims against the State of Alaska for negligent highway maintenance as well as common in Workers Compensation claims.

 

A residential landlord is responsible for clearing snow and ice and for making the premises safe for his tenants.  Simply leaving a bucket of ice melt near the sidewalk is not good enough.  If someone slips and falls on his property, a tenant or a tenant’s guest, he will be liable for that person’s medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

 

Drivers must be more careful in snowy and icy conditions.  Even if they are driving the speed limit, the speed limit may be too high for the conditions.  Drivers need to slow down and be particularly careful in intersections.  If a driver causes an accident because he is driving too fast for the conditions and loses control of his car, slides into another lane, rear ends someone, he will be liable.

 

Business owners are responsible for maintaining their parking lots and sidewalks so that it is safe for their patrons to drive and walk on.  The first case in Alaska establishing this rule was a lawsuit against Carr’s.

 

The City is responsible for snow removal in Anchorage and would be liable if conditions were so bad that no one could drive safely or if the City left a berm which blocked line of sight at an intersection and the City’s actions were unreasonable.

 

So too is the State responsible for snow and ice removal on the highways.  Juries have held the State accountable when an accident was caused by the conditions regardless of how careful the drivers were.

 

In Workers Compensation, if you are injured for any reason at work, the Employer’s insurance company is liable for you benefits.  Generally the “coming and going” rule says that if you are hurt on your way to work or on the way home, then you are not entitled to Workers Compensation benefits but if you are required to park in the Employer’s parking lot and must walk in a designated area owned by the Employer to reach your work place and you slip and fall on an accumulation of ice and snow, then you will be entitled to Workers Compensation benefits.

 

The bottom line is:  if you are hurt because of the conditions, you will need to prove it.  Take pictures as soon as possible. Then contact an attorney.

 

For more information, see the FAQ page:  http://keenanpowell.com/faq-mva.html

 

To contact Keenan Powell, e-mail:  keenan@keeenanpowell.com.

 

 

 

There were 7,136 automobile collisions in Anchorage in 2011.   http://www.muni.org/Departments/works/traffic/engineering.  Not surprisingly, the majority of those collisions occurred from Monday through Friday and during the winter months.   Of those 7,136 collisions, .25% resulted in fatalities and 29.92% were reported as injury accidents.  However, experience has shown us that many people do not realize that they are injured in a motor vehicle accidents until a few hours later and many of these latent injuries are often times serious.

In 2011, there were 192,733 passenger vehicles registered in Anchorage.  http://doa.alaska.gov/dmv/research/curreg11.htm.    Assuming that there was an average of two cars in each of the 7,136 collisions, that means that 14,272 vehicles were involved in accidents in 2011.  In other words, seven per cent (7%) of cars registered in Anchorage were in accidents.  With odds like that, it is only a matter of time until everyone in Anchorage is involved in an accident and those odds increase if you drive to work Monday through Friday during the winter.

Thirty-one per cent (31%) of those collisions were rear end accidents.   It happens all of the time.  One driver stops at a stop sign or a stop light and the driver behind him is driving too fast or not paying attention and slams into him.  The innocent driver’s injuries can run the gamut from sprains and strains to herniated discs, rotator cuff injuries, wrist injuries and knee injuries.

Injuries from accidents can cause not only physical discomfort but the need for medical treatment, possibly surgery and time lost from work, all of which is unfair when all the injured driver was doing was driving to work in the winter, like most of us, and stopped at an intersection.  The problem is that thirteen per cent (13%) of Alaskan drivers are uninsured despite the fact that driving without insurance carries stiff penalties.  Not surprisingly, drivers who don’t obey the law and buy insurance also frequently don’t obey traffic laws. If that were not bad enough, there is a significant amount of hit and run accidents in Alaska as the result of drivers attempting to escape responsibility for their bad driving.  Many of them are unlicensed and uninsured as well.

The bottom line is that it’s important for your own protection to purchase uninsured/underinsured motorists coverage.  The minimum coverage available is $50,000/$100,000 but that is rarely enough to cover lost wages and medical costs in the event of any kind of surgery, much less in the event of a serious disabling injury.

Fore more information regarding insurance, visit my website:  http://www.keenanpowell.com/faq-mva.html.

 

The Anchorage Police Department no longer provides witness contact information to people involved in motor vehicle accidents.  So those people have no way of finding you if you give your name and contact information to the police.  If you want to do your civic duty and are willing to say what you saw, give your contact information to all of the drivers involved.  They will greatly appreciate it.

The majority of car accidents that I see occur when my client is minding his or her own business, stopped at a red light or stop sign, and then slammed into by someone who wasn't paying attention.  Because the negligent driver has a duty to keep a proper lookout and to refrain from crashing into people, these cases are very strong whether the injuries are minor or serious.  If you are injured in a motor vehicle accident, you should report the accident to the police, your insurance company and the negligent driver's insurance company.  Be sure to seek appropriate medical treatment and talk to an experienced personal injury attorney to find out what your rights are.

What's the point of $420K judgment? The point is that when the woman is released from jail and tries to get a drivers license, she won't be able to get one until she pays it off. She won't pay it off. She won't get a drivers license. And as soon as the police catch her driving, they can stop her and she'll end up going back to jail before she hurts someone else.

KTUU News: Woman Ordered to Pay $420k in Boy's Death

High speed chases risk serious injuries to innocent bystanders. APD has a problem on its hands if its policy allows a high speed chase merely to apprehend a thief. I doubt that the policy permitted this chase and that is why APD is refusing to release it.

KTUU News Story:Three Critically Injured After Collision with Pursued Stolen Car