North Carolina Car Accident Lawyers Blog

Roadside vegetation can make travel a bit more pleasant with beautiful scenery. Unfortunately, depending on where it is an how large it is, it can also create a significant hazard to motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians. bushroad1

The responsibility for maintenance of overgrown vegetation can be two-fold: The government and the property owner. The government has a duty to make sure the roadways are safe, and that means making sure drivers can see signs, oncoming traffic and other important road features. There is also the duty of the property owner to make sure overgrown bushes, trees or grass on their property isn’t impeding the roadway or obstructing the vision of drivers or other travelers.

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Safety Administration encourages roadway agencies to develop roadside vegetation management plans that clearly define what has to be done at each location. That means making sure there is:

  • Sign visibility
  • Clear sight lines
  • Proper drainage
  • Road sign visibility
  • Making sure roadside trees don’t pose a hazard by creating a “clear zone”
  • Clearing winter snow and ice from trees that overhang the roadway

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In December, the driver of a pickup truck was allegedly speeding and distracted when he smashed his truck into the front of a Greensboro bakery. Incredibly, none of the staff or customers inside were hurt, but the driver did cause about $70,000 worth of damage.storefront

Then last month in Wilmington, a 25-year-old driver involved in a domestic dispute was shot in the face by a 36-year-old man in a grocery store parking lot. The younger driver then crashed his vehicle into a Sam’s Food Mart. Also last month, four people were injured when a vehicle slammed into the front of a Quick Mart convenience store in Wilmington.

These incidents are reported on by the media as if they are somewhat rare. In truth, they happen a lot. In fact, the Storefront Safety Council reports such incidents occur 60 times daily in the U.S., injuring more than 4,000 people a year and killing more than 500.  What’s especially troubling about this is there are no state or national standards that require bollards in front of stores, though some municipalities do have their own ordinances. Only recently, the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) set a new standard for identifying and labeling specially-tested, high-quality bollards and barriers. Continue reading

Anyone who has ever been involved in a crash with a tractor-trailer – and lives to tell about it – will point out that aside from the often arduous physical recovery, the battle of insurers can be exhausting. whitesemis1

In many cases, the tractor-trailers are owned by own firm. The cargo is owned by another company. There is sometimes a middleman who arranges these contracts. Drivers in many cases are subcontractors. All of this makes for tricky legal questions when it comes to which insurance company foots the bill when the truck driver is at-fault for the accident.

All of the companies and insurers involved are going to be looking out for their own interests first and foremost. The assistance of an experienced truck accident lawyer can be critical to ensuring that the victim’s rights are not lost in all of this.  Continue reading

A hyped college football match between two bitter rivals. A rowdy 80-member fraternity preparing to tailgate the game. A U-Haul truck full of beer kegs. A 30-year-old artist and fashion designer who was simply crossing the street. pedestrians2

All of these collided tragically in 2011. It ended with the death of that 30-year-old woman, who was struck by the U-Haul truck when one of the fraternity members, on his way to tailgating at the Yale-Harvard football game, tried to rev the engine to get pedestrians to move out of his way faster. Instead, he stepped on the gas. Several pedestrians were struck. This woman died of her injuries. The case resulted in Yale University banning kegs at athletic events and imposing restrictions on tailgate parties, including disallowing all large commercial vehicles and box trucks from university lots unless driven by a pre-approved, authorized vendor.

Now, The Guardian reports the family of the woman has settled its lawsuit against the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity. The amount of that settlement has not been disclosed. Defendants in the case included:

The national Sigma Phi Epsilon office;

  • Yale chapter of the fraternity;
  • The 80 individual fraternity members at the time of the crash;
  • U-Haul;
  • Yale University;
  • Other defendants.

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The government agencies responsible for road engineering, construction and maintenance owe a duty to drivers to ensure our streets aren’t unreasonably dangerous. That means designing and constructing roads and highways according to accepted industry standards and using good judgment in road maintenance necessary to keep these surfaces safe. highway11

One roadway design hazard that has been identified as cropping up in a number of fatal auto accidents in recent years is pavement drop-off, also known as shoulder edge drop-off. This is a road condition whereby there is uneven pavement or significant elevation change either from one travel lane to another or between a travel lane and an adjacent shoulder.

It’s a condition that is known to be dangerous to all vehicles, but to motorcycles especially, as well as compact vehicles and those pulling trailers.  Continue reading

In South Carolina, all drivers are forbidden from operating a motor vehicle under the influence. That of course includes alcohol and 0.08 BAC is the point at which a person is deemed legally impaired by alcohol. But the statute also includes drugs – even those that are over-the-counter or prescribed by a doctor. If it impairs a person’s ability to drive safely, that person can be charged with a criminal offense. heroin

Now, in an interesting legal case out of Minnesota, the families of two men killed by a driver under the influence of methadone have successfully sued the clinic and doctor that prescribed the drug to the allegedly impaired driver. The two sides agreed to an $8.5 million settlement, according to Northland News Center Now’s KBJR-TV.

Methadone is a type of synthetic drug that acts similar to morphine, but it lasts longer. It’s often used as a substitute to help treat heroin and morphine addiction. It can also be used to treat severe pain. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report a 63 percent spike in heroin use among all income levels, genders and ages between 2002 and 2013. This has been driven largely by the prescription opioid epidemic and the fact that heroin is a cheaper, more available alternative. Lawsuits like this are going to continue to crop up in the future, in South Carolina and elsewhere. Continue reading

General Motor Co’s colossal ignition switch recall, involving millions of vehicles with the potential for mid-operation engine shut-off, resulted in a slew of personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits. keyignition

Now, the first of those cases has been dismissed voluntarily by the plaintiff amid claims the claimant gave misleading testimony. However, legal analysts say it is unlikely that outcome will affect the many other pending cases waiting to go to trial.

Plaintiff agreed to voluntarily dismiss his claim with prejudice, meaning he can’t refile the claim again. It’s being looked at as a temporary setback, and there is a second bellwether trial slated to be begin in two months.

The U.S. District judge, overseeing the federal trial in Manhattan, had commended plaintiff for doing what he said was “the right and sensible thing” in choosing to close the door on his case and walk away without receiving any compensation.  Continue reading

Preliminary reports from the South Carolina Department of Public Safety indicate there were more than 950 deaths on our state’s highways in 2015.caraccident6

Those numbers show an increase of 15 percent in the number of deaths from 2014 to 2015. That’s 129 more people who were killed. We went from 823 lives lost on our roads in 2014 to 952 in 2015.

The figures are classified as “preliminary” because there are still some cases that are under investigation, plus there are individuals who may have been critically injured in a crash last year that may ultimately die of their injuries this year. Those would be counted in the final 2015 figures. What that means is, if anything, we’ll only see it get higher.  Continue reading

A man who allegedly killed a pedestrian while driving drunk and speeding on South Boulevard in Charlotte recently is facing a charge of aggravated felony death by vehicle. crosswalk3

Prosecutors say the 30-year-old driver was operating his 2014 vehicle with five passengers after leaving a bar in Plaza Midwood. Initially, another friend was driving his car, but he insisted on taking back the wheel when the group stopped to use a gas station restroom. Minutes later, he was reportedly traveling 60 mph in a 35 mph zone.

Meanwhile, a 28-year-old woman and her longtime boyfriend were leaving a Panthers game. She stepped off the sidewalk and onto the street to cross. She only made it a few steps when she was reportedly struck by the 30-year-old’s vehicle. She did not survive.  Continue reading

It’s not often that a car accident case makes it to the U.S. Supreme Court. But that’s what happened recently in Montanile v. Board of Trustees of the National Elevator Industry Health Benefit Plan, an appeal from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit.caraccident2

This case stemmed from a 2008 drunk driving accident. Here, the victim had health insurance coverage provided by defendants, who paid more than $121,000 for his care. Later, victim sued the at-fault drunk driver in the case and, prior to trial, settled the case for $500,000. Half of that went to attorney’s fees and then the health care insurer asserted it too was entitled to collect reimbursement under the Employee Retirement Income security Act (ERISA).

A federal court judge granted the health care company summary judgment in the amount of $121,000. The 11th Circuit affirmed, finding the health plan had first prior to settlement proceeds from that third-party deal. The U.S. Supreme Court: ReversedContinue reading

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