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

Uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage in North Carolina is designed to protect people injured on the road from financially irresponsible motorists.carwithkeys

In other words, if another driver causes a serious car accident in which you are injured but that driver doesn’t have insurance or only carries the bare minimum insurance, one of the only ways you might be able to recover damages is through UM/ UIM coverage, which you purchase separately.

But collecting on those benefits can sometimes mean you’re in for a fight with the insurance company.

That’s when you want to have an experienced car accident lawyer on your side. Continue reading

The definition of an “auto accident” is more fluid than one might imagine. It’s not always the crashing of one vehicle into another or object or person. It could in some cases involve injuries or death stemming from the use of that motor vehicle.guncloseup

In the case of Kroeber v. Geico Ins. Co., the questions certified to the Washington Supreme Court were whether injury to an insured pedestrian “arose out of” an intentional firing of a gun from an uninsured pickup truck, and secondly whether it’s material that the shooter intended to harm anyone when he fired the gun.

So plaintiff was shot by a firearm while standing outside of a bar. The man who fired the gun was in an uninsured vehicle, owned by a friend. The shooter would later say he did not intend to shoot anyone and he didn’t think he was firing his weapon in a place where people were standing. There were questions of fact as to whether the vehicle was stopped or moving at the time of the incident and also whether the shooter quickly accelerated away from the scene after firing the shots. Continue reading

In most car accident lawsuits, the issue of jurisdiction is a straightforward one.snowhighway

Jurisdiction is the power of a court to hear and decide a particular case. Parameters are set by federal and state laws, and require the court to have both personal jurisdiction and subject matter jurisdiction. Personal jurisdiction is the power to preside over an individual, while subject matter jurisdiction is the power to preside over a particular kind of case.

When it comes to crash cases, typically the case will be filed in the state where the accident occurred, though there are sometimes exceptions. Establishing jurisdiction early on is critical because it can affect the amount of time in which one has to file a lawsuit (statute of limitations) and also applicable proof burdens, both of which can vary from state-to-state and jurisdiction-to-jurisdiction.  Continue reading

The holidays this year weren’t merry and bright for everyone. highwayrescue

Mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers and beloved children were killed on roads in North Carolina and South Carolina these last several weeks, many in high-profile incidents, leaving pockets of their communities in disbelief and mourning.

The North Carolina Department of Transportation reports the most recent crash data shows there are an estimated 214,000 reported crashes in the state each year, resulting in more than 110,000 injuries and nearly 1,300 deaths. As it pertains to holidays, Christmas and New Year’s are among the worst, with collectively 3,440 crashes 1,580 injuries and 23 deaths.  Continue reading

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