October 24, 2014

Wright v. Carroll - Sudden Emergency Defense in Motor Vehicle Crashes


In some lawsuits stemming from motor vehicle crash-related injuries, defendants can successfully argue the "sudden emergency doctrine" to avoid liability.
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This legal principle allows that when a driver is faced with a sudden and unexpected circumstance that is not of his own creation, leaving little time for contemplation, he will not be negligent for injuries resulting so long as the actions taken were reasonable in the context of that emergency - even if, in hindsight, he made the wrong decision.

However, this is not to say that an emergency alone automatically relieves a driver of liability for his actions, as the recent case of Wright v. Carroll well illustrates.

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October 21, 2014

Schill v. Cincinnati Ins. Co. - Umbrella Insurance and Exclusions


Umbrella insurance policies are designed to provide extra coverage when other forms of insurance are exhausted, but still don't cover the cost of the claims. They can cover a host of different kinds of claims, ranging from dog bites to trip-and-fall accidents to serious crashes.
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In auto accidents, an umbrella policy can be good for an at-fault driver so he or she isn't stuck personally with a huge bill for damages, faced with the possibility of wage garnishments and asset seizures. It's also a plus for the injured parties, as there is a higher likelihood of receiving payments promptly and in full for the extent of damages.

But of course, as with any insurance policy, there are bound to be loopholes. Lots of them. This was demonstrated recently in the case of Schill v. Cincinnati Ins. Co. before the Ohio Supreme Court.

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October 18, 2014

Crocker v. Morales-Santana - Broker Liability in Truck Crash Case


In trucking accident lawsuits, there are a couple of obvious defendants: The driver and the driver's employer (usually the carrier).
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Sometimes, the case becomes more complex when the carrier denies the worker was legally an "employee," and was instead an "independent contractor," in which case our attorneys look closely at the details of the professional relationship to determine whether the facts actually bear out that claim.

But in addition that, we look to see if there are any others that might be responsible. The way the trucking company is now operated, there are multiple companies involved in getting a haul transported from A to B, and it's important to analyze what degree of control each firm had in the operation. That will be the key to determining whether that firm can be held liable.

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October 15, 2014

Driver Alleges Onboard Emergency System Failed After Car Accident


As cars become more technologically advanced, we often find ourselves becoming dependent on products that did not even exist a short time ago. Less than 10 years ago, a GPS navigation system, for example, was a luxury that not many people owned. Today, most drivers can't remember the last time they looked at a paper map or directions printed from the internet. One of the technological advances becoming more commonplace on the average car is an onboard monitoring system that allows the driver to communicate with a dispatcher in the event of an emergency.

doris-5-776816-m.jpgAccording to a recent news article from NBC 5 News, one driver is alleging that the onboard emergency system failed at a time when it was needed most. After being in a two-car crash, the driver's airbag deployed violently and knocked his cell phone out of arms reach. He was trapped and in incredible pain inside his car in the middle of a major interstate highway.

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October 10, 2014

Cheeks v. AutoZone, Inc.: On Pedestrian Injuries in Car Accident Cases


Cheeks v. AutoZone, Inc., a case from the Supreme Court of Mississippi, involved plaintiff who was hit by a car at defendant's auto parts store. According to court records, plaintiff drove to the store and parked on the side of the building where there was no sidewalk or protective bollards. A bollard is a round post made of steel or concrete to stop a moving vehicle. At this store, there were bollards at the front side of the store, and they were painted bright orange.

bollard-1271697-m.jpgAs plaintiff walked to the front of the store, he reached for the entrance door and heard a warning. He turned and saw a car about to hit him. The car was only a few feet away when he first noticed it. He tried to run behind one of the bollards, but it was too late to prevent getting hit. Plaintiff was seriously injured.

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October 5, 2014

Three Charlotte Residents Killed in South Carolina Collision


According to a recent news article in the State, three residents of Charlotte were killed in crash in York County, South Carolina. Authorities are saying that a sport utility vehicle containing six occupants crashed into the rear of a bus at high speed on I-77.

car-crash-m.jpgThree of the passengers were killed, and another passenger suffered a serious head injury. The driver and only female passenger were taken to a local hospital, where they were listed in stable condition.

Witnesses say the bus was traveling in the outside lane when it attempted to merge to the emergency lane. At the same time, the SUV behind the bus tried to merge into the middle lane but sideswiped a sedan traveling in the middle lane. When the SUV hit the sedan, the driver lost control and the SUV crashed into the back of the bus. The driver of the sedan was the only occupant in the vehicle. That driver was also taken to a local hospital for treatment.

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October 3, 2014

Mercury Casualty v. Chu: Car Accident Liability for Resident's Injuries


Mercury Casualty v. Chu, a case from the California Court of Appeals, involved a two-vehicle accident that occurred in an intersection. According to court records, two roommates were in a car that collided with another vehicle.

gavel9.jpgThe injured passenger filed a negligence lawsuit against his roommate, who was driving the car, and the other driver involved in the crash. Passenger obtained a $333,300 verdict against his roommate in the lawsuit.

Driver's insurance company requested a judicial declaration that driver was not responsible for passenger's injury because of the resident exception to driver's insurance policy.


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October 2, 2014

Bystanders Rush to Help After Charlotte Car Crash


At one point or another, most of us have witnessed a car accident. For many, the first instinct is to grab a cell phone and call police. However, after a recent serious car crash in Charlotte, approximately a dozen bystanders jumped into action to help victims.

car-crash-163024-m.jpgAccording to a recent news report from WSOC TV Charlotte, a car was traveling at a high rate of speed in the outer loop of I-495 when the driver swerved to avoid part of a truck tire that was in the roadway. After swerving, the driver lost control of his vehicle, and it ran into the median, ended up on the inner loop, then hit a guide wire and ricocheted back into the outer loop before flipping.

At this point, with the car upside down and two occupants trapped inside, more than a dozen witnesses ran to their aid. Despite their efforts, the bystanders were not able to free the two men from the overturned vehicle. Eventually firefighters arrived and were able to complete the rescue, so the victims could be rushed to a local hospital.

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October 1, 2014

Six-Year-Old Bicycle Rider Killed in SC Car Accident


Even a minor car accident can be a shocking experience for vehicle occupants. The jarring of impact, the smell of smoke from the explosive charges that deployed the airbags, and the sound of the cars colliding. However, nothing can compare to the tragedy of losing a child.

bicycle-on-the-road-4-1396641-m.jpgAccording to a recent article from SC NOW Morning News, a six-year-old was riding his bike on a private driveway in Florence, South Carolina when he ventured into the street and was hit by a car. The accident occurred just before 8:00pm. Authorities have not released much information, likely due to the fact that the victim of this fatal car accident was a child, but have stated that the boy was not wearing a helmet, and that no charges are being filed against the driver involved in the incident.

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September 26, 2014

Using Technology to Tackle Texting and Driving in North Carolina


Last year, law enforcement officials throughout North Carolina issued 3,600 citations for texting-and-driving, which became illegal in the state for all drivers in 2009.
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People know they shouldn't text and drive. They know it's illegal. Yet, nearly a third of drivers admit doing it anyway. For those who are caught, it's a traffic citation accompanied by a $100 fine. For those who aren't caught, however, the consequences can be tragic.

Our Charlotte auto accident attorneys know drivers who text are 23 times more likely to be involved in a fatal crash, and 95 percent of motorists surveyed said they recognize the heightened danger.

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September 23, 2014

GEICO v. Rodriguez - Sanctions for False Testimony Shouldered by Insurer


The recent car accident case of GEICO v. Insurer before a Florida appellate court may not have any direct bearing on plaintiffs here in North Carolina, but the issues raised are highly relevant.
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The case involves an 83-year-old driver with minimal insurance who was legally blind when he injured two pedestrians and then later lied about it under oath prior to trial. The man's doctors had told him he shouldn't be driving, and he concealed this fact as well.

The plaintiffs later sued when, after receiving the full $20,000 policy limit, the insurance company refused to pay anything more toward mounting medical expenses. The question became whether the insurance company should have to pay sanctions imposed by the court against the driver/defendant for the falsehoods he provided under oath. Per the state's laws on civil claims administrations, the insurer only had 30 days in which to issue a reservation of rights, asserting coverage might be withheld due to defendant's misrepresentations. Instead, the company waited nearly a year to do so, by which point the insured had died (of unrelated causes) and the hearing against his estate was slated for just days later.

Our Greensboro car accident attorneys understand the injured plaintiffs were granted leave to seek punitive damages (reserved for cases in which the at-fault party displayed reckless disregard for the safety and well-being of others). The court also imposed a $27,000 fine for costs and attorneys' fees. The insurer argued it shouldn't have to pay because the insured lied under oath about his condition, which was a violation of the terms of his policy.

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September 20, 2014

Inman v. City of Whiteville - Public Duty Doctrine Bars Crash Injury Claim


The North Carolina Court of Appeals recently affirmed a trial court's dismissal of a personal injury action brought against a municipality by a woman who alleged the city police department failed to properly investigate a crash, thereby depriving her of the ability to seek redress from the at-fault driver.
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The primary reason the court was compelled to affirm dismissal was because of North Carolina's Public Duty Doctrine. Our Asheville car accident attorneys know this principle holds that when a governmental entity owes a duty to the general public, individuals can't enforce that duty in a tort.

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September 18, 2014

Johnston-Forbes v. Matsunaga: Exclusion of Expert Testimony in Car Accident Lawsuits


Johnston-Forbes v. Matsunaga, an appeal heard before the Supreme Court of Washington, involved a plaintiff ("Plaintiff") who was a professional golfer. Plaintiff played in a golf tournament and was headed back to her hotel room, along with her family. Plaintiff was sitting in the middle of the backseat with her two young children in car seats sitting on either side of her.

1390432_traffic_light.jpgThe car was stopped at a traffic light when it was rear-ended by a car driven by Defendant. That evening, Plaintiff said she was experiencing pain in her neck and back. Eventually, the pain in her back ceased, but the pain in her neck continued.

Plaintiff had an MRI performed four years after the accident that revealed that she had a herniated disc in her neck. She was never able to return to the LPGA pro golf tour.

At trial, Plaintiff sued Defendant, seeking both general and special damages. Special damages are those for which an exact amount can be established, like medical bills, physical therapy, and occupational therapy. Defendant did not deny liability for hitting Plaintiff but denied that Defendant's negligent driving caused her injuries.

As our Winston-Salem attorneys who represent car accident victims understand, in some cases, a Defendant will admit that they engaged in negligent conduct that caused the accident. When a Defendant submits to the court on the issue of liability, there will be a trial just on the issue of damages. In other words, the defendant admits that the accident was his or her fault but disagrees about the amount of money, if any, that should be awarded to the plaintiff.

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September 16, 2014

Pregnant Woman and Unborn Child Killed in North Carolina Car Accident


According to a recent article from My News 2, a pregnant woman and her unborn child died in a car accident in North Carolina. Another person involved in the accident is hospitalized with life-threatening injuries.

light3.jpgThis tragic accident occurred when the victim's vehicle went off the road and crashed into an exit sign. The sign was made of metal and concrete. The passenger, who was seven months pregnant, was taken to a local hospital where she later died from her injuries.

In addition to the passenger, the driver of the vehicle is reported to be in critical condition, there were also two young children that were seated in the back of the vehicle. One of these toddlers suffered a broken wrist during the accident. Both children were properly secured in child car seats at the time the crash occurred.

Our Anderson, South Carolina injury attorneys, who regularly represent people injured in car accidents, know that a single vehicle accident can present complicated situations where the injured passenger, or his or estate if the victim has died, may be required to file a lawsuit against the driver of the vehicle. This may be an uncomfortable situation where the driver is a friend or relative, as is often the case.

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September 14, 2014

UM/UIM Coverage in Multi-Vehicle Accidents


According to a story from WYFF4 News, DUI charges have been filed after a deadly five-car accident in South Carolina.

crashcar.jpgIt has been reported that a pickup truck being driven by the defendant ("Defendant") hit a sedan that then crashed into three other vehicles. Both the driver and the passenger (husband and wife) of the sedan died from what is being described as blunt force trauma. The husband was not wearing a seatbelt, according to the South Carolina Highway Patrol. He was ejected from the vehicle and died at the scene. His wife was taken to a hospital, where she was later pronounced dead.

A total of seven people sustained injuries as a result of this tragic accident, including one man who was airlifted to a hospital in Greenville. The driver of the pickup was arrested and charged with two counts of felony DUI with death and is currently in a South Carolina jail.

Our Greenville car accident attorneys understand that, while liability is likely easy to establish in a drunk driving car crash, it is unlikely that the defendant will have enough insurance or assets to fully compensate victims for the total extent of their losses in an accident of this scale.

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