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Cyclist Dies in SE Portland Accident

A female cyclists tragically lost her life in a bicycle-related accident in early August 2016.

According to witness statements and other evidence collected at the scene, the cyclist was traveling at 30 to 35 mph northbound on Mount Scott Boulevard when she made a westbound turn at the interchange at 112th Avenue.

The driver of a Dodge Ram pickup truck was traveling eastward on Mount Scott Boulevard and making a left turn onto 112th Avenue. Westbound traffic had stopped to allow her to turn.

As the driver of the pick-up crossed over the westward lane of Mount Scott Boulevard, the cyclist crashed into the passenger side of the truck.

The cyclist passed away due to her injuries.

The Second Fatal Cyclist-Related Crash in One Week

This was the second fatal bicycle accident within a one week time span in the Southeast Portland area. On the Saturday before, a female cyclist was struck by a truck at Flavel and 82nd street.

Who Is Liable in a Bicycle-Related Accident?

In the state of Oregon, our Rules of the Road operate just as a driver’s manual for all Oregon residents. Generally speaking, bicyclists are treated like all motor vehicles. This means that cyclists are expected to obey Oregon traffic laws.

With that said, operators of cars and trucks are required to follow additional driving guidelines and to take special safety precautions which are in place to protect bicyclists. Some of these statewide precautions include:

  • Operators of motorized vehicles must yield to cyclists on a sidewalk
  • Operators of motorized vehicles must yield to cyclists in a bike lane
  • Drivers must pass cyclists on the left, at a safe distance, and return to their original lane when they are a safe distance away

What Are The Leading Reasons For Bicycle Accidents?

The leading reasons for bicycle accidents in our state include:

  • Drivers who are under the influence
  • Drivers who are distracted
  • Drivers who are driving aggressively
  • Roads which are in a poor state

Why Speak To An Attorney After A Bicycle Accident

A serious bicycle injury can result in permanent life changes which can interfere with your ability to continue to work, affect relationships with friends and loved ones, and have an impact on one’s ability to enjoy a fulfilling life.

Our team of personal injury attorneys at Dwyer Williams Cherkoss PC is committed to ensuring that justice is served to victims who are injured as the result of the negligence of another.

We offer free initial consultations and will be happy to speak with you about your case today at (541) 617-0555.

Drugged Driving May Have Caused Pickup to Crash into Motorcycle, Car, and McDonald’s

Accident Injury AttorneysEveryone has heard the phrase: friends don’t let friends drive drunk.  In recent years, thanks to the hard work of agencies like MADD, law enforcement has cracked down on people who drink and drive, and the public is much more aware of the risks.  But there is still one risk that sometimes gets overlooked by the public, which be just as deadly as drunk driving:  drugged driving.  Drugged driving is considered driving under the influence (DUI) just like drunk driving, and it is just as dangerous.

News Station KGW reports that four people were injured after a pickup in Longview crashed into a motorcycle, a car, and then a McDonald’s patio.  At least one of the injured people was standing on the patio at the time of the auto accident. The driver of the pickup allegedly ran a red light before hitting the motorcycle.  Longview police told KGW that drugged driving was suspected.  A blood sample was ordered for the driver of the pickup, who was taken to the hospital due to his own injuries.  He was also booked at the jail for vehicular assault.

Drugged Driving is a Crime in Oregon

Oregon law makes it a crime for a person to drive a vehicle while under the influence of a controlled substance or inhalant.  It’s also a crime to drive a motor vehicle under the influence of a combo of these drugs and alcohol.  Multiple convictions for this offense can eventually result in a felony conviction and prison time.

Statistics on Drugged Driving

The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD) provides statistics regarding drugged driving, its prevalence, and its effects.  They rely on NHTSA statistics which show that more than 16% of weekend, nighttime drivers tested positive for illegal, prescription, or over-the-counter drugs.  Eleven percent tested positive for illegal drugs.  In 2009, 18% of fatally injured drivers tested positive for at least one drug.  One out of twelve high school seniors reports driving after having smoked marijuana.

The reason drugged driving is so dangerous is because of what drugs do: they affect the very aspects of the human body that are necessary for safe driving.  Different drugs and different doses can have different effects.  NCADD provides the following examples of the necessary driving skills that can be impaired by drugs:

  • Coordination:  Drugs decrease coordination, which is necessary for steering, braking, shifting, and accelerating.
  • Reaction time:  Drugs diminish reaction time, which hurts a driver’s ability to react to traffic signals, other cars, pedestrians, animals in the road, and other unexpected obstacles.
  • Judgment:  Drugs have cognitive effects that can change how the brain processes risky behavior, like speeding.  A drugged driver can also have a decreased ability to pay attention.
  • Tracking:  Drug use can affect a driver’s ability to stay in his lane or maintain a proper distance between her vehicle and other vehicles.
  • Attention:  A drugged person’s attention can be divided.  This is even truer for drivers who actively use drugs while driving, such as those who smoke marijuana while driving.
  • Perception:  90% of information processed by our brain while driving is visual.  Glare resistance and recovery, dark and light adaptation, and dynamic visual acuity can all be negatively impacted by drug use.

Drugged driving can hurt or even kill those who do it, those in their cars, and innocent bystanders on the road.  Those people who use drugs need to be aware of the risks and make other arrangements for transportation.

Driving under the influence can lead to serious accidents with devastating consequences. Contact an Oregon attorney today if you have been injured in a wreck.

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Bicycle Accidents Caused By Street Car Tracks

portland-streetcarBoth locals and visitors in Portland are very fortunate to have a wide variety of ways to get around without a car.  Not only is Portland one of the most bike and pedestrian friendly cities in the country, but it also offers buses, light rail train, and even streetcars.  But sometimes, having so many options for transit can lead to accidents, including bicycle accidents.

Usually when people think of bicycle accidents, they think of accidents involving cars or trucks or even DUI.  But a sometimes overlooked type of bicycle accident involves streetcar tracks.  The Portland Tribune reports that local bicyclists are concerned that their tires are getting trapped in streetcar tracks, causing injuries.  In the past, Portland’s government has responded by putting up a few signs near the tracks that depict a cyclist getting a tire caught in tracks and tumbling head (and helmet) first off of the bike.  But now the city is doing more to acknowledge and perhaps someday combat the problem.

Ordinance to Combat Bike Accidents

The Tribune’s report states that a new city ordinance says, “Analysis of crash history and community feedback indicate there is a safety issue associated with people riding bicycles on or across streetcar tracks in Portland’s central city.”  In response to this analysis, the City Council is considering requesting a grant for $150,000 to study ways this sort of accident could be reduced.  The ordinance states that Portland State University would also commit $30,000 to the project and that there would be a match of funds from the Transportation Research Board.  Even if the City does receive such a grant, the City Council would have to vote again to accept the funds.

Toronto Cyclists Faced Similar Safety Issues

Portland is not the first city to face this issue.  A news release from St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto, Canada, details a similar problem.  According to the 2012 release, one-third of Toronto bike accidents at that time involved tracks.   The release cites a study published in the American Journal of Public Health.  The study, which looked at bicycle accidents resulting in emergency department visits, found that 31.5 percent of such accidents in Toronto directly involved streetcar or train tracks.  Of the accidents involving tracks, 19.8% of the cyclists said their tires slipped on the tracks and 80.2% made the same complaint Portland cyclists are currently making: their tires got caught in the tracks.

How to Stay Safe While Biking Around Tracks

While the city tries to decide how to address this serious issue, there are certain steps bicyclists can take to try to stay safe in the meantime.  Operation Lifesaver provides a few tips for safely biking at railroad crossings, which can be applied to the streetcar track problem.  The safest, albeit most time consuming, solution for situations where you are crossing any sort of track is to dismount and walk your bike across.  This is particularly important if it is raining, as tracks can become slippery.  However, if you are going to ride across the tracks, be sure to cross them at a 90 degree angle—this makes it less likely that your tire will get stuck.

A bicycle accident can be a traumatic experience. Contact an Oregon accident attorney for help filing a claim to recover damages.

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Photo Credit: Ian Sane cc

Official Push for Roundabouts Instead of Traffic Signals at Deadly Intersection

In the wake of Portland’s news channel, KGW’s report that two young women, both Pacific University students, were killed in an auto accident at the intersection of Oregon 47 and Verboort Road near Forest Grove, community members called for traffic signals.  These two women were not the first to die at this location.  A 16-year-old high school student was killed in a similar crash at the intersection in 2007 and the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) reports that between January 2008 and July 2013 there were 27car crashes at the intersection.  Community members had also called for traffic signals after the 2007 death, but none were ever installed.

Now, rather than acting on the public call for traffic signals, officials are pushing for a different solution: roundabouts.  The Oregonian reports that installing a roundabout is ODOT’s plan, and that it’s supported by Forest Grove Fire Marshal David Nemeyer.  The Oregonian cites astudy that says that while the public usually prefers traffic signals, support for roundabouts over signals will increase once the roundabouts are installed and people become used to them.

How to Drive a Roundabout Safely

Roundabouts can be very confusing if one has not used them regularly, but the rules for driving roundabouts are fairly simple.  The Washington State Department of Transportation has created a website that explains how to use roundabouts safely.  The website lists four key things to remember about driving roundabouts:

  •     Yield to drivers who are already in the roundabout;
  •     Stay in your lane and do not change lanes;
  •     Do not stop while you are in the roundabout; and
  •     Avoid driving next to oversize vehicles in the roundabout.

The website also offers a five-part video series on roundabouts including specific information for pedestrians andcyclists.  This information can be particularly important for both young and elderly people who are more likely to be killed or seriously injured in pedestrian or cycling accidents.

Signaling and Roundabouts

One thing not covered on Washington’s website is Oregon’s law concerning using turn signals in a roundabout.  Oregon law states:

A driver commits the offense of failure to use an appropriate signal for a turn, lane change, stop, or exit from a roundabout if: (1) the person does not make the appropriate signal under the various provisions of ORS 811.395.  This situation takes place in circumstances where a driver is:

(a) Turning, changing lanes, stopping, or suddenly decelerating, or

(b) Exiting from any position within a roundabout [ORS 811.400].

NOTE: This section does not authorize the use of hand signals when the use of lights is required under the provisions of ORS 811.405 (Failure to signal without lights).

Whether a roundabout is the right solution for this deadly intersection will only be determined with time.  What is known is that something has to be done, as too many people have already been injured or lost their lives.  Hopefully ODOT will take action to prevent more senseless deaths.

If you have been injured in an accident in Oregon, contact a personal injury attorney today for information on how you can begin filing a claim.

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A New Tool: Portland Bicycle Accidents Mapped by MIT

Bicycle InjuryOregon Public Broadcasting reports that MIT is mapping all of Portland’s bicycle accidents as a part of a project called “You Are Here.”  The project is being worked on by MIT Media Lab’s Social Computing Group.  Portland is one of five cities included in the project so far, but there are hopes that eventually 100 cities will be mapped.  The other mapped cities include Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Cambridge, Mass.

The You Are Here project has made the map of Portland bicycle accidents available here.  It depicts 1085 bike crashes in Portland from 2010-2013.  MIT gathered the data for the map from Portland Police Department Bicycle Crash Reports and Google Maps.  The map can be explored by city, street, or location.  The stated reason for the map is “to show where crashes tend to happen—like Broadway, Division Street and Hawthorne Boulevard—in the hope that those streets might be made safer for riders.”  While not part of the intent of the project, these maps could be an excellent tool for bicycle accident victims and attorneys to determine patterns and possibly causes of accidents.

How common are bicycle accidents?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that while only 1% of trips in the United States are taken on a bicycle, bicyclists are more at risk for crash related injury or death than those who take their trips in cars.  In 2010 almost 800 bicyclists were killed in U.S. accidents.  Fatal or non-fatal, the accidents can be extremely costly.  In 2005 the lifetime medical and productivity loss costs from such accidents were approximately $5 billion.

Those between ages 15 and 24, and those over age 45 are at the highest risk for fatal accidents, while those aged 5-24 have the highest rates of non-fatal accidents.  Most bicyclist deaths occur in urban areas, and perhaps surprisingly, not at intersections.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports a very large gender gap in what it calls “pedalcyclist” accidents, both fatal and non-fatal.  Pedalcyclists include not just bicyclists, but also unicyclists and tricyclists, so long as the vehicle is only powered by pedals.  In 2011 85% of the pedalcyclists killed and 78% of those injured were male.  The agency also reports that alcohol was involved in more than 37% of fatal pedalcyclist crashes, and that in 31% of those cases, someone involved had a BAC of over 0.08.  So while one may typically think of DUI accidents involving motor vehicles, driving while intoxicated can also lead to bicycle crashes.

Even if a bicycle accident is not fatal, it can still result in serious injuries.  Last March, Eugene’s KVAL reported on Trudy Maloney.  Ms. Maloney was riding her bike in 1986 when a car ran a red light and struck her.  According to the report she did not get back on her feet for three years, and it took an additional three years on top of that for her to recover enough to go to school.  Before her recent retirement, she worked with people who had suffered from traumatic brain injuries.  More than 155,000 traumatic brain injury survivors live in Oregon.  Some of them suffered those injuries in bicycle accidents, and unfortunately not all of them will be as successful as Ms. Maloney in recovery.  This is why new tools, like MIT’s map, are so important.  Anything that can help prevent accidents and can help hold those responsible for crashes responsible will improve the lives of potential and actual victims.

If you have been injured in a bicycle accident, contact an experienced Oregon bike accident attorney for help with your claim.

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Elder Abuse: Involuntary Seclusion, Abandonment and Neglect

Unfortunately, abandonment and neglect of elders happens all too often, including nursing home neglect.  Involuntary seclusion is another type of elder abuse that can be particularly damaging and difficult to spot, and which can often be coupled with financial exploitation.

What is abandonment?

Abandonment is precisely what it sounds like: leaving a senior who is unable to care for him or herself in some way alone, usually in a public location.

What are the signs of abandonment?

As with other types of abuse, the Oregon Department of Human Services has created a list of warning signs that your loved one may be a victim of abandonment.  Those signs include:

  • The desertion of the person at a shopping center or other public location; and
  • A person’s own report of being abandoned.

What is neglect?

Psychology Today defines elder neglect as “when a caregiver does not provide for an elder’s safety, or for his or her physical and/or psychological needs.”  This can include failing to provide medication or necessary therapy, failing to provide for hygienic needs, forcing an elder to live in unclean conditions, and leaving elders alone for long periods of time.  Psychology Today also reports that, according to Nursing Magazine, about one half of elder abuse cases involve neglect.

What are the signs of neglect?

The Oregon Department of Human Serviceslist of warning signs that your loved one may be a victim of neglect include:

  • The person being cared for is not given the opportunity to speak for themselves without the presence of the caregiver;
  • The caregiver has an attitude of indifference or anger toward the person they are caring for;
  • Family members of the caregiver blame the person being cared for (frequently related to incontinence);
  • The caregiver exhibits aggressive behavior, including threats, insults or harassment toward the person being cared for;
  • The caregiver has problems with drugs or alcohol;
  • The caregiver exhibits inappropriate displays of affection towards the person being cared for;
  • The caregiver isolates family members from the person being cared for;
  • The caregiver is unwilling to work with other care providers on a care plan for the person being cared for;
  • Dirt, fecal/urine smell or other health and safety hazards exist in the elder’s living environment;
  • The elder has been left in an unsafe or isolated place;
  • Rashes, sores or lice appear on the elder;
  • The elder experiences malnourishment or dehydration and/or sudden weight loss; or
  • An untreated medical condition appears.

What is involuntary seclusion and what are the signs?

The Oregon Department of Human Services defines involuntary seclusion as “confinement, restriction, or isolation of an adult for the convenience of a caregiver or to discipline the adult.”  The warning signs that your loved one may be a victim of involuntary seclusion include:

  • An elder’s report of not being allowed to see or talk with people he or she reasonably would see or talk to;
  • The elder being kept away from where others can go;
  • The elder not being allowed to use the telephone; and
  • The elder not being allowed to receive or send mail.

If you believe an elderly loved one is suffering or has suffered from any type of abuse, contact an Oregon-licensed elder abuse attorney.  If you believe a crime has been committed you should also call the police, and if there is a medical emergency you should dial 9-1-1.

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Man Killed in Portland Area Motorcycle Accident Involving an SUV

Oregon Motorcycle Accident News station KOIN reports that a man has been killed in a motorcycle accident near Portland.  Three vehicles were involved:  a motorcycle, an SUV, and a pickup truck.  The motorcyclist was killed.  The SUV rolled multiple times, injuring the driver.  The driver of the pickup truck was not injured.  The accident occurred on Interstate 5, just north of the Oregon-Washington border on April 7, 2014.  At the time of the report, authorities had not formed an opinion as to how the accident occurred.  It was the second reported motorcycle accident in the area that day, as a Beaverton, Ore. man was killed when he was struck by an SUV on Cedar Hills Blvd.

Motorcycle Accident Frequency

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), while fatalities involving cars and light trucks reached an all time low in 2008, motorcyclist deaths reached an all time high that year.  Motorcycle accidents more than doubled between 1999 and 2008.  A CDC study shows that between 2001 and 2008, more than 34,000 motorcyclists were killed in accidents and approximately 1,222,000 people were injured severely enough that they were treated in an emergency department for non-fatal accidents.

That study shows that people between the ages of 20 and 24 had the highest death rate, followed by those aged 25-29.  The increase is not just in fatal accidents.  Between 2001 and 2008, non fatal injuries increased from 120,000 to 175,000 per year.  Over half of the non-fatal injuries involved the motorcyclist’s leg/foot (30%) or head/neck (30%).

The Costs of Motorcycle Accidents

The CDC estimates that motorcycle related crashes cost $12 billion per year.  Additionally, a different CDC report claims that “Economic costs saved in states with universal helmet laws were, on average, nearly four times greater per registered motorcycle than in states without such a law.”

How to Stay Safe on a Motorcycle

Some motorcycle accidents are the cyclist’s fault, some are the fault of other drivers, and some are just unavoidable.  Whoever is to blame, the results of such an accident can change your life forever and can be coupled with a huge expense.  If you or your family member is involved in a motorcycle accident you should contact an Oregon licensed personal injury or wrongful death attorney.  But there are some things a motorcyclist can do to try to prevent an accident from happening.  The CDC makes the following recommendations for those who ride:

  • Always wear a DOT-approved helmet;
  • Never ride your motorcycle after drinking. Alcohol greatly impairs your ability to safely operate a motorcycle. If you have been drinking, get a ride home or call a taxi;
  • Don’t let friends ride impaired. Take their keys away;
  • Wear protective clothing that provides some level of injury protection. Upper body clothing should also include bright colors or reflective materials, so that other motorists can more easily see you;
  • Avoid tailgating; and
  • Maintain a safe speed and exercise caution when traveling over slippery surfaces or gravel.

Following these tips cannot prevent every accident from happening, but it can prevent some and can mitigate the injuries you may suffer in others.

An experienced motorcycle accident attorney can help if you have been injured while riding the roads around Portland and the surrounding areas.

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Fatal Portland Pedestrian Accident Does not Result in Criminal Charges

Pedestrian Injury AttorneyThe Oregonian reports that the Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office has decided not to criminally charge the driver in a pedestrian accident that resulted in the death of a 78-year-old woman and injury to her 80-year-old husband.  Instead police issued tickets for two relatively minor traffic citations.

The auto accident happened on Valentine’s Day morning at the intersection of Southeast 84th Avenue and Division Street in Portland.  The driver was making an eastbound turn from 84th onto Division when he struck the elderly couple, who were crossing southbound on Division.  The driver struck them near the center turn lane.  The woman died at the scene of the accident, and her husband was taken to the hospital.

Thousands of Fatal Pedestrian Accidents a Year

Unfortunately this Portland couple is not alone.  According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) 4,280 pedestrians were killed in traffic accidents in 2010 and an estimated 70,000 pedestrians were injured.  NHTSA reports that on average a pedestrian was killed every two hours and one was injured every eight minutes.  Almost three-quarters of the fatalities happened in urban settings like Portland and Eugene.  Eighty percent of them occurred during regular weather conditions.  About two-thirds of the accidents happened at night.  Pedestrians aged 65 or older accounted for almost 1/5 of the fatalities.  More than two-thirds of the pedestrians killed were males, and alcohol was involved in almost half of the fatalities.

Even in a state like Oregon where some drivers are more aware of pedestrian rights and safety, pedestrians are still killed.  NHTSA reports there were 56 pedestrian fatalities in Oregon in 2010, which accounted for 17.7 percent of the traffic accidents in the state that year.

Elderly Victims of Traffic Accidents

In 2009, NHTSA reports that 62 people aged 65 or older were killed in Oregon traffic accidents.  That is out of a total 377 traffic accidents in the state that year.  Forty-five of the victims were age 70 or older, and ten of them were age 85 or older.  These numbers show that senior citizens and those who love them need to be particularly careful.

Ways to Prevent being Injured in a Pedestrian Accident

Drivers have an absolute duty to pay attention to the road and to respect the rights and safety of pedestrians.  Unfortunately, some drivers do not uphold that duty and pedestrians wind up hurt or killed.  If that happens to you or a loved one, you should contact an Oregon licensed attorney.  However, there are some steps you can take to try to prevent being a victim.  NHTSA recommends pedestrians take these steps:

  • Cross the street at marked crosswalks if possible;
  • Stop and look left, right, and then left again before crossing;
  • If a parked vehicle blocks your view, stop at the edge of the vehicle and look around it before crossing;
  • If walking at night, carry a flashlight;
  • If walking at night, wear retro-reflective clothing which highlights body movements;
  • Walk on sidewalks if at all possible; and
  • If you are forced to walk in the street, walk facing traffic.

If you have been injured in a pedestrian accident in Portland or the rest of Oregon, do not hesitate to contact a skilled personal injury attorney immediately to discuss your options.

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Dog Bite Injuries: More than Just a Scratch

Dog Bite InjuryDogs are man’s best friend. But when that friendship takes a turn that result can be a devastating dog bite.  The recent attack of a Portland girl by a large dog in Gresham last week is only one example.  Television station KATU reports that the four-year-old child arrived at Mount Hood Medical Center covered in blood and bruises.  Doctors had to stitch up both sides of the girl’s face, as well as her shoulder.  Her back was covered in both bite and scratch marks.  Family member witnesses say the dog came out of nowhere, chased the girl, and pinned her to the ground.  They saw a large piece of skin was ripped off of her face on both sides.

Prevalence and Severity of Dog  Bite Injuries

This girl’s story is not an isolated incident.  A five year review, available on PubMed, of the severity and management of dog bites showed alarming results.  Researchers reviewed the charts of all children under age sixteen sought dog bite treatment in two hospitals between 1998 and 2002.  Of the 287 cases reviewed, almost sixty percent of the children were bitten in the face.  The mean age of the children was seven years old.  Over half of the bites required sutures, and over a quarter of them were considered “severe,” which means they required more than ten sutures.  The children suffering the more severe bites tended to be the younger children in the study sample. One child even died.

The numbers from other research are not any more reassuring.  The Centers for Disease Control report that nearly 4.5 million Americans are bitten by dogs each year and half of those victims are children.  One-fifth of those bites is so severe it requires medical attention.  In 2012, more than 27,000 people underwent reconstructive surgery because of dog bite injuries.  In addition to being disfiguring or even deadly, these injuries can also be extremely expensive.  According to KTVZ, in 2012 State Farm spend $1.2 million on dog bite claims in Oregon alone.

None of this is to say that all dog bites are particularly vicious.  Like any injury, some are more serious than others.  That most dog bites do not result in serious injury does not mean that no dog bites result in serious injury.  The CDC provides some tips to teach children in hopes of preventing such a tragedy.

Tips For Children to Prevent a Dog Bite

  • Do not approach an unfamiliar dog.
  • Do not run from a dog or scream.
  • Remain motionless (e.g., “be still like a tree”) when approached by an unfamiliar dog.
  • If knocked over by a dog, roll into a ball and be still.
  • Do not play with a dog unless supervised by an adult.
  • Immediately report stray dogs or dogs displaying unusual behavior to an adult.
  • Avoid direct eye contact with a dog.
  • Do not disturb a dog that is sleeping, eating, or caring for puppies.
  • Do not pet a dog without allowing it to see and sniff you first.
  • If bitten, immediately report the bite to an adult.

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Elder Abuse: Financial Exploitation and Spotting the Signs

We previously addressed the signs of physical, sexual, and emotional elder abuse.  While those types of abuse account for horrific cases of abuse of loved ones, they are not the only type of abuse.  In fact, experts suggest that the single most common type of abuse affecting seniors is financial exploitation.

What is Financial Exploitation?

The Adult Abuse Prevention and Investigations Oregon Administrative Rules define financial exploitation.  Basically it is wrongfully taking a senior’s money, assets, property, or medication.  This wrongful taking can be through lies, tricks, force, harassment, or undue influence.  It also includes the misuse or misappropriation of money from a senior’s bank accounts, or failing to use the elder person’s resources for the benefit, support, and maintenance of that person.

How Common is Financial Exploitation?

Unfortunately, financial exploitation of the elderly is all too common.  The National Adult Protective Services Association provides statistics on the prevalence of elder abuse.  According to their research, 1 in 20 older adults indicate some form of recent perceived financial mistreatment.  However, on one out of every forty-four cases of financial abuse is ever reported.  One out of ten financial abuse victims will have to resort to care provided by Medicaid due to their abuse.  Those who suffer from cognitive impairment and who need assistant with daily activities are most at risk for this sort of abuse.

What are the Effects of Financial Exploitation?

Financial abuse is not simply a matter of money.  Just as physical or sexual abuse can affect victims in more than immediate ways, so can financial abuse.  It can result in depression and a loss of an ability to trust.  Victims may feel shame, fear, anger, or many other negative emotions.  Due to the advanced age and often deteriorating health of victims they often will not be able to replace their assets through employment.  This can result in an inability to care for oneself or even a loss of residence.  This is why it is so important for concerned family members to help the abuse victim to get in touch with an elder abuse attorney who can help them recover their assets through the legal system.

What are the Signs of Financial Exploitation

As with other types of abuse, the Oregon Department of Human Services has created a list of warning signs that your loved one may be a victim of financial exploitation.  Those signs include:

  • Unusual or inappropriate activity surrounding investment properties or in bank accounts, including the use of ATM cards, to make large or repeated withdrawals.
  • Signatures on checks, etc. that do not resemble the person’s signature, or signatures when the person cannot write.
  • Power of attorney given, or recent changes in or creation of a will or trust, when the person is incapable of making such decisions.
  • Unpaid bills, overdue rent, utility shut-off notices.
  • Excessive spending by a caregiver on himself for new clothing, jewelry, automobiles.
  • Lack of spending on the care of the person, including personal grooming items.
  • Missing personal belongings, such as art, silverware or jewelry.
  • Recent sale of assets and properties.

If you believe an elderly loved one is suffering or has suffered from any type of abuse, contact an Oregon elder abuse attorney.  If you believe a crime has been committed you should also call the police, and if there is a medical emergency you should dial 9-1-1.

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Has Your Elderly Loved One Been Abused or Neglected?

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