October 29, 2014

As NC Senate Candidate Urges Tort Reform, A 1978 Lawsuit Resurfaces


Advocates for tort reform often argue for caps on damages and other ways to reduce recovery for victims. A North Carolina politician is under scrutiny for advocating tort reform, even though he recovered from a significant settlement after an accident left him partially disabled as a teenager. The case is a reminder that personal injury lawsuits may seem unnecessary--until you become the victim.

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According to a recent analysis in the Daily Beast, the North Carolina GOP Senate nominee has been pushing for tort reform. Now his personal history seems to conflict with his political ideology, as he sued after an auto accident that left him with 35% partial disability.

In 1978, the politician was involved in a car accident in Nashville, Tennessee with another young driver. The 17-year-old driver was struck by a 16-year-old female driver who only had her license for 2 months. She wrongly believed she had the right of way to make a left turn on a green light, turning right in front of him and causing the accident. Court documents indicated that the GOP Senate candidate had 35% permanent partial disability, requiring surgery on his hand and physical therapy to restore a full range of motion in his back. Despite the prognosis, he was able to make a full recovery.

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October 27, 2014

Teenager Killed at Dangerous Raleigh Intersection


Accidents involving pedestrian victims can be deadly, especially when a vehicle is traveling at high speeds. In a tragic case, a 17-year-old girl was killed on Capital Boulevard in Raleigh when she attempted to cross the street. According to reports, the teen was struck when she crossed Capital Boulevard around 7 p.m. She crossed the road while oncoming traffic had a green signal, according to police reports. A 49-year-old driver was headed north when she struck the victim. She pulled over and tried to help while waiting for the authorities to arrive on the scene.

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As with any accident case involving a fatality, this case is still under investigation. Authorities have not charged the driver, but do not believe that drugs or alcohol were a cause of the accident. The victim was in critical condition when she was taken to the hospital, but later died of her injuries. According to reports, this was the second accident in the past two months involving a pedestrian crossing at the same intersection. Another victim was struck on September 3rd in a hit and run, but the driver has not yet been located. The first victim suffered serious injuries, which were not life threatening.

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October 26, 2014

Defective Air Bag Recall May Be Largest Ever, Scrutiny Rises


Air bags are designed to be life-saving devices in the event of a serious auto accident. However, it appears that millions of airbags produced by one of the world's largest manufacturers of the product created a product that actually heightened the risk of major injury and death for some drivers and passengers. airbag.jpg

Auto part supplier Takata, based in Japan, has so far recalled 7.8 million of airbags from 11 auto makers after reports of the deployed bags hurling dangerous fragments of shrapnel at the heads, necks and chests of those in front seats. At least four deaths and several dozen injuries have been linked to the problem, but a New York Times investigation last month found at least 139 crash injuries in the U.S. were attributed to this issue.

This has prompted lawmakers to place pressure on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to provide a more in-depth accounting of how the recall was handled, and whether it was adequate. One letter, signed by two senators, scolded the federal regulator for allowing car manufacturers to limit the initial recall in July to those geographic areas with high humidity as that was alleged to have been the reason for the defect.

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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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