September 4, 2015

Teens in North Carolina Accident Were Traveling 80 mph in 55 mph Zone


The five Corinth Holders High School students had departed together after their fourth day back to school. It's not clear exactly where they were going, but we know the 16-year-old driver was determined to get there fast.
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According to authorities in Johnston County, the teen was driving 80 mph in a 55 mph zone on Thanksgiving Fire Department Road in Selma, N.C. When the teen entered a curve about a half mile south of a nearby highway, he was traveling too fast to properly negotiate it. He lost control of the car, which launched onto the road shoulder and then into a field, overturning at least once before striking a utility pole. This resulted in one of the backseat passengers being ejected from the car.

The ejected passenger, 16, was transported to a hospital in Raleigh in critical condition. No one in the back seat had been wearing their seat belts. The other three passengers - two age 16 and one age 15 - were also treated at the Raleigh hospital, though their injuries were not believed to be life-threatening.

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September 2, 2015

NHTSA Updates Alcohol-Impaired Driving Statistics


The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has updated its alcohol-impaired driving estimate statistics with the latest figures available, which are from 2013.
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The numbers as revealed by the Traffic Safety Facts: State Alcohol Impaired Driving Estimates are largely consistent with what we have seen in years' past, which is that alcohol-impaired driving accounts for nearly one-third of all fatal traffic accidents. The percentage of impaired drivers in fatal crashes in South Carolina was much higher than the national average, while those in North Carolina were slightly lower.

Although the NHTSA released a preliminary report on 2013 drunk driving statistics in December, this new report reflects updated state-level information that gives us a more accurate picture of what we know is a very serious problem.

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August 30, 2015

Report: South Carolina Crash Investigations Arduous, Highly Technical


This summer has been a deadly one on South Carolina roads. Officials report there have been a string of fatal hit-and-run pedestrian accidents as well as a number of multiple-vehicle crashes that turned deadly. crimescene.jpg

In each case, officials explain, they must spend weeks meticulously sifting through the evidence, using on-call response teams, the latest technology and careful scientific analysis.

The process can take weeks or even months, and law enforcement officials do know that this causes anxiety and even anxiousness over the results. People don't understand why it's taking so long, and they just want to know what happened. The process sometimes seems unnecessarily dragged out.

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August 28, 2015

Fatal North Carolina Bus Accident Results in Criminal Charges


A fatal bus accident in North Carolina on I-95 was allegedly caused by a driver falling asleep, resulting in a collision between a car.
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A 54-year-old grandmother from Florida was killed and eight others were injured, one critically, as a result of the collision, which is being investigated by the North Carolina Highway Patrol.

The bus was carrying 48 passengers who were on their way to a spiritual conference from Queens, NY to Fayetteville. Authorities were later able to ascertain that the driver drifted to the right side of the road as briefly dozed off near the I-40 interchange, about a half hour south of Raleigh. Investigators say when the driver snapped-to, he over-corrected, which resulted in the bus crossing the median, heading south in the northbound lanes and slamming into a guardrail.

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August 25, 2015

NSC Report: Traffic Deaths On The Road to Rise


For the first time since 2007, the number of traffic deaths in the U.S. could exceed more than 40,000. If this happens, it would be the highest number of motor vehicle deaths in eight years. caraccident4.jpg

That's according to a new report by the National Safety Council, which that in the first six months of the year, nearly 19,000 people had died nationally and another 2.2 million were seriously injured.

Traffic deaths were on the rise in 34 states, with some of those reporting increases of more than 20 percent from June 2015 compared to June 2014. It was up to nearly 60 percent higher in Oregon. Florida, Georgia and Minnesota saw increases of between 26 and 29 percent.

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August 23, 2015

Lawsuit Against Bar That Served Drunk Driver Who Injured Family Settled


A lawsuit against a bar that served a patron an excessive amount of booze despite his clear intoxication level has settled a lawsuit brought by the family of four that driver went on to seriously injured when he slammed 65 mph into their home as they slept.
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The impact of the crash on their one-story home left all four members of the family hospitalized, including a 1-year-old girl and a 3-year-old boy. The boy was trapped underneath the car and suffered a fractured skull. He now suffers speech and mobility delays, post-traumatic stress disorder and long-term cognitive and vision impairments.He has severe night terrors and wakes up screaming every night. He still receives extensive physical and psychological therapies.

For his crimes, the driver pleaded guilty and was sentenced to the maximum under state law in Ohio (where the crash occurred), which was 16 years. He was also ordered to pay $62,000 in restitution to the family.

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August 20, 2015

Cordova v. City of Los Angeles - Median Trees a Roadway Danger


A fiery, two-vehicle crash in California resulted in the deaths of four young people (three of them siblings) and severe injury to a fifth. One of the siblings killed, the driver, was also pregnant.
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Authorities would later determine a 19-year-old driver careened into the victims' vehicle traveling 70 mph in a 35 mph zone. It's believed the victims' vehicle was also traveling above the speed limit. The force of the impact caused the victims' vehicle to spin out-of-control and slam into a cluster of magnolia trees located in the median. All were wearing seat belts, and even still, four were ejected from the car.

There was no indication the at-fault driver was impaired by drugs or alcohol, but he was arrested and later convicted of four counts of vehicular manslaughter without gross negligence.

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August 17, 2015

Big Rig Driver Shortage Fuels Effort to Hire 18-Year-Olds


Technically, an 18-year-old driver in North Carolina could obtain a full provisional license that would allow them to drive unsupervised at any time. Still, these novice drivers are subject to a one-year driver's license suspension if they drop out of school or even just get suspended for 10 days or more.
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But a new bill would allow those same drivers to operate 40-ton trucks with 18-wheels overnight and across state lines.

The provision is written into part of a larger bill being weighed by the U.S. Senate in response to an apparent truck driver shortage. With the Baby Boom generation rounding out the end of their careers, the trucking industry is staring down a deficit of 250,000 drivers nationwide by 2017.

As it now stands, 18-year-old drivers are allowed to drive big rigs in 48 states. However, federal law prohibits anyone under the age of 21 from operating a commercial vehicle across state lines. The biggest concern, of course, is safety.

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August 15, 2015

Nat'l Am. Ins. Co. v. Artisan & Truckers Cas. Co. - Insurance Coverage in Truck Accident


Insurance coverage in tractor-trailer accidents is rarely a simple matter.
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First, there is the fact that there are usually numerous entities involved. Rarely is the trucker employed by the owner of the tractor or the trailer. There is also typically a separate company paying for the goods inside to be shipped. In some cases, there is a middle party that arranges these connections as well. The agreements for liability insurance coverage and indemnification among these varying parties.

Second, these accidents also tend to be quite serious, particularly when a tractor-trailer collides with smaller, passenger vehicles. The injuries are often severe and sometimes fatal, meaning the stakes are high.

In the recent case of Nat'l Am. Ins. Co. v. Artisan & Truckers Cas. Co., the complexities of trucking accident liability is highlighted. As the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit notes, "This case provides a warning to insurance companies who refuse to defend their insureds."

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August 12, 2015

Sleiter v. Am. Family Mut. Ins. Co. - School Bus Accident Insurance Coverage


Plaintiff in Sleiter v. Am. Family Mut. Ins. Co. was one of 19 people injured in a school bus accident.
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Another driver was at-fault for the crash. Through the school district, the bus was insured for a maximum $1 million per accident. However, divided among 19 people, this didn't leave plaintiff much for the type serious injuries he suffered. He therefore sought coverage through his parents' underinsured motorist coverage policy for the difference between what he'd collected through the school's insurance policy and what his actual damages were, under the policy limits of his parent's policy.

However, the insurer denied this claim, asserting the "coverage available" to plaintiff - $1 million - exceeded his parent's policy and thus he couldn't collect. District Court agreed, as did the appellate court. However, the Minnesota Supreme Court reversed. The court found the phrase "coverage available" in reference to "excess insurance protection" to be ambiguous, or having more than one reasonable meaning. In such cases, the outcome will be skewed in favor of the injured (as being at a disadvantage for not being the one to write the policy). Further, the court ruled that "coverage available" refers to the benefits actually paid to the insured under other polices, rather than what is actually available.

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August 10, 2015

McClue v. Safeco Ins. Co. - ALS Triggered by Car Accident Trauma


In the recent case of McClue v. Safeco Ins. Co. of Ill., plaintiff seeks recovery of underinsured motorist coverage years after a crash, when his wife died of ALS. handscompassion1.jpg

Amytrophic lateral sclerosis, often referred to as "Lou Gherig's Disease," is a progressive neurodegenerative disorder affecting nerve cells in teh brain and spinal cord. This degeneration will ultimately lead to the sufferer becoming totally paralyzed and finally, death.

The cause of the condition is not totally known, but there is some evidence to suggest ALS could be associated with head trauma. The fact that many former athletes suffer from the condition (it's even named after one of the most beloved baseball players of all time, whose career was ended by the disease) calls attention to the fact that perhaps physical trauma is a trigger. Based on this theory, there has been growing evidence to suggest those who suffer physical trauma in other ways - i.e., a car accident - could have a valid case to pursue further damages if they are later develop the disease and can establish causation.

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August 7, 2015

DUI Death of Teen in North Carolina Leads to Criminal Trial


It was supposed to be a night of celebration.
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A young couple was getting married, and the reception was being held at the home of the bride's parents. Some last-minute invitations were extended to attend the reception. One of those was an 18-year-old from Raleigh, slated to attend college in the fall.

He and several of his underage friends consumed alcohol at the Raleigh-area party. The plan was for them to either stay overnight or to call a parent for a ride. But the 18-year-old, despite calling his mother for a ride, despite his father on the way and despite protestations from the host to stay, got into his car and drove away.

Investigators say he was driving 89 miles-per-hour when he careened off the road just seven miles from the reception. He slammed into a tree, and did not survive the single-vehicle crash. His blood-alcohol level, they would later learn, was 2.5 times the legal limit of 0.08. His parents, who were out looking for him when they couldn't find him at the reception, came across a mass of flashing blue and red lights and yellow crime scene tape. He was gone.

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August 4, 2015

Fiat Chrysler Recalls 1.4 Million Vehicles Affected by Hackers


We're used to hearing that our computers can be hacked. Less commonly known is that our vehicles, too, can also apparently be hacked, thanks to the ever-expanding technology that aims to connect drivers to the outside world. Those dashboard computers and other software systems, unfortunately, also let the outside world in - and it may not always be with good intent.steering.jpg

The bug was uncovered by two security researchers and a reporter for Wired.com, who agreed to be a test subject in a series of tests in which the hackers were able to access central vehicle functions such as steering, transmission and brakes while the vehicle was in motion.

Now, Fiat Chrysler has issued a 1.4 million product recall to install updated USB drive with a software update to close the hacking loophole.

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August 1, 2015

Report: High-Speed Police Pursuits Perilous to Innocents


On a recent early morning in the small North Carolina city of Welsh, a man raced onto U.S. 90, as law enforcement tailed him in hot pursuit. The chase reached speeds of up to 80 mph after sheriff's deputies had tried to pull him over on I-10 and he fled.
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The 25-year-old suspect lost control of the vehicle as he turned onto a private road and was rear-ended by a city police unit. No injuries were reported. Officials later learned the car was stolen, and the young man had a laundry list of warrant.

Our communities give police a great deal of power and discretion in these situations because we don't want those who break the law to get away with it. This time, it all worked out - the suspect was apprehended and no one was hurt.

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July 31, 2015

Tougher North Carolina DUI Laws Weighed by Legislators


North Carolina lawmakers are weighing a proposal to mandate all DUI offenders - including first-timers - install ignition interlocks on their vehicles before driving privileges will be restored.beers1.jpg

Currently, the in-vehicle alcohol breath tests are only required of those who:


  • Are repeat offenders

  • Refuse to take a blood-alcohol test

  • Or blow a 0.015 on a breath test (nearly double the 0.08 threshold for DUI)


Judges do have discretion to choose whether to impose the devices for those convicted just once of the offense of drinking and driving, but it's not required. These devices require offenders to blow into an alcohol-sensing tube to ensure they haven't been drinking before the vehicle will even start.

Opponents of SB 619 and HB 877 argue those who are "social drinkers" will unduly suffer if North Carolina enacts these tougher measures. There are also concerns drivers won't be able to afford the interlock ignition fee, which is expected to increase from $75 monthly to approximately $90 a month.

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