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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September 10, 2014

11th Circuit: No Coverage, Duty to Indemnify for Intentional Tort Behind the Wheel


On the surface, the facts in the case of Travelers Property Casualty Co. v. Moore, et al. are at once tragic and absurd. Still, it resolves important questions about when employees using work vehicles might be covered under their company's auto insurance policy.
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Two men working for a tow truck operation, contracted to repossess vehicles, were attacked when they tried to do their job. As they hitched a repossessed Ford Mustang to the tow truck, the enraged owner fired several shots into the air with a shotgun. When the two tow truck operators fled, the Mustang still hitched to the back, the vehicle owner jumped into his work van and gave chase, firing several shots into the tow truck.

Ultimately, one of the tow truck operators was killed and the other seriously injured. The vehicle owner was arrested, convicted and sentenced to life in prison.

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September 8, 2014

Williams v. GEICO - South Carolina Supreme Court Weighs Crash Case


When a husband and wife were both killed in a horrific crash involving a train, their families were left to pick up the pieces. Unfortunately, that meant they had to battle with the insurance company form which the couple had purchased coverage.
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The case of Williams v. GEICO, recently weighed by the South Carolina Supreme Court, involved the grieving family members of both the husband and wife, and the auto insurer, which fought hard to ensure the survivors would get only the bare minimum coverage allowable under state statutes. This was despite the fact that the couple had purchased a policy that allowed for coverage far in excess of that minimum. Thankfully, the court found the provision that allowed this - the family step-down provision - violated public policy, would be injurious to public welfare and was therefore void.

Our Rock Hill car accident lawyers know the statutory minimum amount of auto insurance coverage in this state is $25,000, though at the time this policy was rendered, it was $15,000. That amount often doesn't even begin to cover expenses for injuries and damages stemming from a serious wreck, most people pay extra for more coverage.

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September 7, 2014

North Carolina Law Bars Underage Drinking - Period.


A couple in Raleigh and their son are facing criminal charges, after authorities say an 18-year-old was served alcohol in their home and then drove drunk, leading to a fatal crash.
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Investigators would later describe the gathering as a wedding-related celebration. The arrests have struck home for many parents who may have assumed underage alcohol consumption is legally sanctioned in North Carolina in some instances. It is not.

Our Charlotte drunk driving accident attorneys recognize that in a case like this, even though it was a single-car crash and the driver was at-fault, the adults who served him the alcohol leading to his intoxication may be held liable in civil court, as well as convicted in criminal court. The law offers no exceptions for certain types of functions.

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September 5, 2014

Winston-Salem Crash Lawyers Urge Back-to-School Safety


As school children return to the classroom, the roads and sidewalks will be bustling with school buses, bicycles, pedestrians and newly-licensed teen drivers.
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As students, parents and school staffers settle into a routine, it will be important to ensure everyone's safety, and that's going to require a multi-pronged approach.

Recently, a car-versus-bicycle accident in Winston-Salem has prompted a boosted awareness campaign that strives to drive down the number of similar incidents in the future, particularly where young children are involved. The city has begun sponsoring a program to train elementary school children how to safely ride a bicycle, both on their own streets and while traveling to school. City leaders hope it will pay dividends later when those children grow up and obtain their driver's licenses. The hope is by creating awareness now, it will be deep-rooted by the time they have those keys in hand.

Our Winston-Salem car accident attorneys know that every year in North Carolina, there are approximately 2,200 pedestrians involved in police-reported crashes, with between 150 to 200 of those suffering death. Another 500 are seriously injured, according to the state department of transportation.

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September 3, 2014

Report: Rural North Carolina Has the Most Dangerous Roads


One might think serious or fatal crashes would be more likely to occur in the hustle and bustle of a larger city, where the traffic is more condensed and the population is greater.
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But that's an erroneous assumption, according to a recent report by the AAA Carolinas.

As our Greensboro crash injury lawyers understand it, the four most dangerous counties in the state are all mostly characterized as rural. They include: Pitt, New Hanover, Person and Watauga Counties. Each of those averaged more than 250 crashes per 100 million vehicle miles traveled.

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September 1, 2014

Vehicle Recall Compliance Aided By New NHTSA Technology


Defective vehicle parts cause an untold number of crashes each year, or at least serve to make the outcome worse by failing to protect drivers and passengers.
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While the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and other federal regulators seek to curb these incidents by quickly identifying problem designs and products and pressing for recalls (or in some cases, initiating them), the problem is that recalls have a notoriously low response rate.

Our Asheville car accident lawyers would point to the recently-released analysis indicating the total number of recalls this year is likely to exceed not only last year's total of 28 million vehicles, but also the record high set in 2004 of 33 million vehicles. Yet there is growing evidence to suggest millions of those will never be repaired. In fact, the NHTSA estimates, only 1 in 4 is ever repaired.

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August 29, 2014

Report: Asheville Most Dangerous NC City for Pedestrians


Asheville recently earned the dubious distinction of being, per capita, the most dangerous city in the state for people on foot. Cyclists don't fare much better, though there is evidence to suggest that element might improve the more cyclists are on the street.
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Our Asheville car accident attorneys understand that between 2008 and 2012, the average number of annual vehicle-versus-pedestrian accidents was 8.1 per 10,000 people. That is by far the highest of any of the 10 largest metro areas in the state, according to a recent report from the North Carolina Department of Transportation.

Figures aren't yet available for the 2013 calendar year, but a report from the Asheville Citizen-Times indicates we'll likely see the uptick continue, given a number of serious crashes reported by the paper last year and so far in 2014.

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August 27, 2014

Truhan v. Walston - NC Appeals Court Reverses Crash Case Dismissal


The North Carolina Court of Appeals reversed a summary judgment in favor of a plaintiff police officer who sued a woman he struck while traveling 87 mph through an intersection in response to an emergency.
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In Truhan v. Walston, the court found there were numerous issues of material fact that warranted further consideration by a jury, and the officer was not automatically protected by sovereign immunity just because he was on duty at the time of the crash.

Our Greensboro car accident lawyers know that while public servants in general are afforded a broad range of legal protections while carrying out their duties, those protections are not without limit. Crash cases involving government workers must be handled by an experienced injury lawyer.

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August 25, 2014

Crash Case Dismissal for Willful Discovery Violations


When pursuing damages for injuries sustained in a car accident, it is never a good idea to lie or even exaggerate with regard to injuries suffered. Even the slightest evidence of dishonesty can be used not only to mar your credibility, but may even result in a dismissal of your case.
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Our Spartanburg car accident lawyers believe in careful vetting of each case to determine whether there are weaknesses and how they may be legally overcome. Trial courts are given broad discretion in determining whether inconsistent discovery responses are willful violations, or simply vague answers that could be open to interpretation. Having a lawyer argue the latter on your behalf could preserve your claim.

The recent case of Ashmore v. Mississippi Authority on Educational Television reveals what can happen when plaintiffs are less-than-honest with defense attorneys, the court or even their own lawyers.

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