Personal Injuries Lawyer

Spotting the Signs of Physical, Sexual, and Emotional Elder Abuse

Elder abuse is devastating, both for the person who has to suffer it and for the close friends and family members who all too often don’t realize it’s happening until it has gone on for a lengthy period of time.  Vulnerable family members can suffer dehumanizing neglect, physical abuse, sexual assault, financial exploitation, and severe emotional damage.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention call elder abuse a “significant public health problem.”  They estimate that over half a million adults are believed to be abused or neglected each year,  but caution that the estimate is likely an underestimate due to victims’ inability or unwillingness to report abuse.

While any amount of abuse is horrific, there fortunately are signs that loved ones can look for to detect abuse as early as possible and prevent continued suffering.  The Oregon Department of Human Services has created a list of warning signs for various types of abuse.  In upcoming posts we will detail the signs of various types of abuse.  We start with three particularly tragic types:  physical abuse, sexual abuse, and emotional abuse.

Signs of Physical Abuse

  • Cuts, lacerations, punctures, wounds.
  • Bruises, welts, discolorations, grip marks.
  • Any unexplained injury that doesn’t fit with the given explanation of the injury.
  • Any injury incompatible with the person’s history of unexplained injuries.
  • Any injury which has not been properly cared for (sometimes injuries are hidden on areas of the body normally covered by clothing).
  • Poor skin condition or poor skin hygiene.
  • Dehydration and/or malnourishment without illness-related cause.
  • Unexplained loss of weight.
  • Burns, possibly caused by cigarettes, caustics, acids or friction from ropes or chains.
  • Soiled clothing or bed linens.

Signs of Sexual Abuse

  • Unexplained vaginal or anal bleeding.
  • Torn or bloody underwear.
  • Bruised breasts.
  • Venereal diseases or vaginal infections.
  • Sudden changes in the emotional or psychological state of the person.

Signs of Verbal or Emotional Abuse

  • Being emotionally upset or agitated;
  • Being extremely withdrawn and non communicative or non responsive;
  • Unusual behavior usually attributed to dementia e.g., sucking, biting, rocking); and
  • An elder’s report of being verbally or emotionally mistreated.

Of course, all of these are just signs or indicators.  The mere absence of any or all of these signs does not mean that abuse is not occurring.  Abuse victims sometimes hide their abuse due to either shame or fear.  So do not be afraid to ask questions or investigate if you have a feeling that something is not right.  Our elderly loved ones deserve to be treated with dignity and respect no matter what their mental or physical capabilities may be.

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.

Related Blog Posts:

Elder Mistreatment and Nursing Home Abuse
Has Your Elderly Loved One Been Abused or Neglected?

Beware of Conflict When Sharing the Road

Injury Lawyer Roy DwyerOregonians enjoy lush greenery, numerous hiking trails, walkable neighborhoods, and miles of bike paths.  These livability standards extend to the state’s “share the road” philosophy.  This ethos helps ensure that pedestrians, cyclists, and vehicle drivers can at least cooperate on the road, if not necessarily live in perfect harmony.  As part of this philosophy, Oregon is also one of 14 U.S. states that bans handheld devices while driving.

Of course, drivers get distracted, pedestrians can be oblivious, and cyclists become angry. That can lead to altercations where someone ends up in the emergency room.

A recent story by The Oregonian highlights a scenario where Oregon’s progressive ethos collides with human nature… and then things gets worse.  Much worse.  During a busy lunch hour in downtown Portland, a cyclist alleges he was nearly struck by a driver who was busily texting.  He angrily yelled at her, the driver allegedly honked her horn, and then flipped him off.  The situation escalated until the cyclist alleges the driver intentionally hit him with her vehicle.  The cyclist’s injuries were not life threatening, but they included road rash and three fractures on his face.

In Oregon, personal injury law extends to accidents involving motor vehicles.  Owners of motor vehicles are required to carry minimum liability insurance coverage of $25,000, per person. The law further states that $50,000, per incident, for bodily injury to others is to be covered.  Medical, hospital, dental, surgical, ambulance, and prosthetic services are also covered, up to $15,000.

The case noted above is unique, though.  The intentionality of the crash brought assault detectives to the scene, rather than the usual traffic investigators.  The plot thickens further, because the driver was arrested and then later released.  As reported on the blog, The District Attorney’s office stated they did not have enough evidence to hold her, and an investigation would continue.  The DA’s office noted that it would contact the cyclist to see if he planned to press criminal charges.  There’s been no mention, to date, of civil charges being filed.

So what’s the takeaway for people supposed to peaceably share the road?  Keep your eyes open whether you’re a driver, cyclist, or pedestrian.  If you do have a conflict, it’s important for cooler heads to prevail when our collective ideals conflict with the practicality of our commutes.  And, finally, know your legal rights.


Hiring An Oregon Personal Injury Lawyer

Attorneys at Dwyer Williams Dretke Potter

The search for a lawyer should not start and stop with the phone book, a television ad, the internet or a billboard.  Fantastic lawyers and bad lawyers alike use those methods to find clients, but it can be difficult to distinguish one lawyer from another.  No matter how you find a prospective lawyer, here are some questions to ask:

  • Experience:  In Abraham Lincoln’s time it was not uncommon for a lawyer to be a jack of all trades.  Today, however, you should steer away from general practitioners.  If you need a personal injury lawyer, you want a lawyer who focuses on personal injury.  If you need a lawyer to help you form a business, you should find a lawyer who handles commercial law every day.  Each practice area has become very intricate, and a lawyer with a general practice cannot possibly keep up with the changing law.
  • Education:  In Oregon, lawyers are required to have 45 hours of continuing legal education (CLE) every three years, including 5 hours in ethics.  This is the minimum.  Some lawyers will take any course to help them meet their hours.  Your lawyer should be well versed in CLEs devoted to the practice area that you are interested in.
  • Giving Back and Leadership:  Particularly for personal injury law, your lawyers should devote themselves to helping prospective victims.  One way is to volunteer time with local and national trial lawyer associations, like the Oregon Trial Lawyers Association and the American Association for Justice. Lawyers who work with these groups are not paid for their time, but do so to help educate other lawyers, and to advocate on behalf of victims. Several of our lawyers have had leadership positions on these organizations.

One more thing: if you call a lawyer up for a personal injury case and they require you to pay for an initial consultation, move on to the next one.  There are too many good lawyers out there who will talk with you for free, whether on the phone or in person, to help you find out if they are the lawyers for you.

Contact Us

Of course, we hope that you’ll contact us with any of your legal questions.  Whether we can help you with cases regarding automobile accidents, workers’ compensationwrongful death or elder abuse; or whether we can help you to find a lawyer for any other type of case, please contact us at 1-541-617-0555, or fill out our internet Contact form on the right side of the page.     

Failure To Yield to “Right of Way”

failure to yield right of way

According to the Oregon DMV, the “failure to yield right-of-way” represents the most common driving error for drivers, pedestrians, and bicyclists.  Along with the failure to yield right-of-way is the common error of drivers, pedestrians, and bicyclists to disregard traffic signals.  Statistics show that the common denominator behind the most serious accidents for drivers, pedestrians, and bicyclists is both: (1) failure to yield right-of-way and, (2) disregarding traffic signals.

When we view the number of fatal crashes and non-fatal injuries, the statistics are staggering.  The DMV’s statistics for the year 2012 show that there were a total of 305 fatal crashes and 24,457 non-fatal injury crashes.  The total number of persons killed was 336 and the total number of persons injured was 36,085.

Behind these statistics, we find that the various examples of the failure to yield right-of-way play a significant role.  There are six important situations which serve to illustrate the various dimensions of the failure to yield right-of-way.  These situations are as follows:

Failure to yield right-of-way within Roundabout

When you approach a roundabout, yield to vehicles traveling within the circulating road.  Within a roundabout, yield to vehicles turning in front of you from the inside lane (if any) to exit the roundabout.

Example:  According to Oregon law on the subject of roundabouts, a person commits the offense of failure to yield the right-of-way if the driver operates a motor vehicle upon a multi-lane circulatory road and: (a) overtakes or passes a commercial motor vehicle; (b) does not yield the right-of-way to a second vehicle that is in the process of lawfully exiting the roundabout from a position ahead and to the left of the driver’s vehicle [ORS 811.292].

Failure to yield right of way at Uncontrolled Intersection

A person must yield the right-of-way at an uncontrolled intersection to the driver on their right hand side.  This is true regardless of which driver either reaches or enters the intersection first.  That is because the right-of-way law does not give anyone the right-of-way.  It only says who must yield.

At busy intersections you will usually find stop signs, yield signs and traffic signals—that is because they tell drivers who may go without stopping.  They may also tell drivers who must stop and yield the right-of-way to other drivers, bicyclists, or pedestrians (see the examples below).  However, be aware that at an intersection where there are no signs or signals, you must look and yield the right-of-way to any vehicle in the intersection—or that is approaching the intersection for your right side at the same time.

Examples involving seeped, control, and lookout:  This is situation is a good example of what we discussed in another section of our website about the “trinity,” which involves the three elements of: (1) speed; (2) control, and; (3) lookout.  It is for this reason that a person who is speeding forfeits the right-of-way at an uncontrolled intersection [ORS 811.275(3)].  In the case of an uncontrolled intersection—as in many other situations on the road—the importance of the trinity” of speed, control, and lookout need to be observed.

Examples involving pedestrians:  This situation also serves as a good example of what drivers need to know about protecting the safety of pedestrians.  If an intersection does not have signs or signals and pedestrians are crossing in the same lane or in the lane next to your vehicle, then you must stop and remain stopped before entering a marked or unmarked crosswalk—until they have passed out of your lane and the lane next to you.  Oregon pedestrian right-of-way laws are not actually that complex.

Remember, that everyone is a pedestrian at some point each day!  The first rule is that: Every intersection constitutes a pedestrian crosswalk, whether it is marked or not or controlled by a traffic control deviceOver the period of two years, nearly 75-percent of accidents between motor vehicles and pedestrians were caused because the driver failed (or refused) to yield the right of way to the pedestrian.  Even more staggering is the fact that 50-percent of all accidents between vehicles and pedestrians in Oregon occur because the pedestrian is in the crosswalk!

In collisions with cars, pedestrians are always the losers.  Studies show that a pedestrian hit at 40-mph has an 85-percent chance of dying.  The statistics show that pedestrian account for 10 to 15-percent of traffic fatalities each year.  Over 550 pedestrians were injured and 45 were killed in motor vehicle accidents in Oregon in 2004.

Failure to yield right of way at uncontrolled “T” Intersection

If you are the driver on a road that ends at a “T” intersection with no signs or signals, you must yield to the driver on the through road.  If a driver is approaching an uncontrolled highway intersection and that driver fails to lookout for—and give the right-of-way—to a driver on the right (who is simultaneously approaching the same point), then they are probably in violation of ORS 811.275, as well as ORS 811.277.

Failure of Merging Driver to yield right-of-way

When you use an acceleration lane or merging lane to enter a freeway or other highway, you must give the right of way to vehicles already on the freeway or road [ORS 811.285].

Failure to yield right-of-way to Transit Bus

A person commits the offense of failure to yield the right-of-way to a transit bus entering traffic if the person does not yield the right of way to a transit bus when: (a) a yield sign is displayed on the back of the transit bus; (b) the person operating a vehicle that is overtaking the transit bus from the rear of the transit bus and; (c) the transit bus, after stopping to either receive or discharge passengers, is signaling an intention to enter the traffic lane occupied by the person [ORS 811.167].

Failure of Driver entering Roadway to yield right-of-way:

The general rule is that: A person commits the offense of the failure to yield the right-of-way (when entering roadway) if the person: (a) is operating a vehicle that is about to enter or cross a roadway from any private road, driveway, alley or place other than another roadway; and (b) does not yield the right-of-way to any vehicle approaching on the roadway to be entered or crossed.  By failing to yield the right-of-way, under such circumstances, creates an immediate hazard [ORS 811.280].

Photo Credit: Scott Ingram Photography cc


Find Out About the Dog After a Dog Bite or Attack

Many people in Oregon own dogs, and while dogs can be a source of playful exercise and a loyal, trusted friend, they can also bite people and cause serious injuries. Oregon laws regarding dog attacks and dog bite cases have two important aspects: the dog’s history, and the presence or absence of insurance for the dog’s owner.

To recover damages for pain and suffering and scarring, the first thing a victim must do is to prove that the dog has bitten before, or that the dog has “dangerous propensities” (has the dog indicated that he would bite someone). While Oregon law does provide for medical expenses in dog bite cases, you will have to prove these points to recover more

The best routes to go about obtaining the dog’s history would be to the local police, a private investigator, or a lawyer. Trying to obtain this kind of information from the dog’s owner is usually futile.

The second factor to consider is whether the dog owner has insurance. If they own the home where the accident occurred, their Homeowner’s policy may provide a way to pay, but it’s a whole different story if you’re dealing with a renter. If they have Renter’s Insurance, you’re in luck – but many renters have no insurance. In that case, recovery may be very difficult.

If you, or someone you know, has been injured in a dog attack or been bitten by a dog, consider calling the attorneys at Dwyer Williams Dretke PC at 541-617-0555.