November 9, 2014

Walters v. Holiday Motor Corp. - Jury Awards $20M to Paralyzed Crash Victim

A jury in Virginia has awarded $20 million to a woman who was paralyzed in a 2006 single-car crash in which she alleged her vehicle did not provide proper roll-over protection.toycar.jpg

The case, Walters v. Holiday Motor Corp., was decided in the U.S. District Court in the Western District of Virginia. Plaintiff alleged the vehicle's manufacturer and distributors were liable for negligence and breach of express and implied warranty under Virginia state law. She sought $25 million in damages.

Although the lawsuit stemmed from a crash, at its heart, it was a product liability claim. The now-35-year-old victim testified that she was traveling on a country road when she swerved to avoid a small, plastic swimming pool that fell off the back of a truck in front of her. At the time, she was driving a Mazda Miata sports car.

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November 7, 2014

Highway Guardrail Safety Doubted Amid Crash Lawsuits

Despite the Federal Highway Administration's insistence that highway guardrails are safe, many states are halting new purchases, while crash victims file lawsuits alleging the rail heads malfunction and act as spears when cars collide, causing injury rather than softening the impact.
Pending lawsuits assert the rails are to blame for at least five deaths and dozens of injuries in at least 14 accidents across the country. The actual number is undoubtedly far higher.

So far, traffic authorities in Missouri, Nevada, Massachusetts and most recently Virginia have announced in the last year they will no longer purchase more of the devices. In Texas, Trinity Industries, one of the top manufacturers of guardrails in the U.S., was found by a jury to have defrauded the federal government after the firm made changes to the rail head in 2005 without informing the government. The lawsuit was brought under the False Claims Act after being initiated by a competitor/whistleblower. The $175 million award will be tripled under federal law to $525 million.

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November 5, 2014

Travelers v. Harrington - Fighting Insurance Exclusions

Few loopholes in auto insurance law have been as troublesome as the so-called "family exclusion" or "household exclusion."
The primary idea behind the family exclusion or household exclusion was to prevent fraudulent claims. Insurers wanted to decrease the chances that family members or co-residents would collude to purposely cause a crash and receive an insurance pay-out.

However, the risk of this scenario to insurers is very small, particularly in light of the price that is paid by the public as a result of the stringent policy guidelines set forth in "family exclusion" or "household exclusion" provisions.

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November 3, 2014

SC Property v. Brock - Insolvent Auto Insurers and State Insurance Guaranty Association

Consumers would be less apt to buy auto insurance if there was a chance the company would suddenly go belly-up and they could be suddenly stuck with no protection after having diligently paid their bills. loggingtruck.jpg

To provide consumers with greater security, the non-profit South Carolina Property and Casualty Insurance Guaranty Association steps in when insurers become insolvent. It won't cover every company or type of claim, but it was established by the legislature to offer coverage in cases providers of auto, workers' compensation, homeowners' or other property and casualty lines become insolvent.

So if you are injured and the other driver's insurance company is insolvent, the SCPCIGA will cover up to $300,000 for bodily injury and property damage under a covered claim. (Plus, injured parties can also seek recompense through their own underinsured motorist plan.)

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November 1, 2014

Bolding v. Kindel Concrete - Proving Causation is Critical to Case

In any personal injury lawsuit, success is not simply proving defendant committed some act of negligence. It's not just proving you suffered injury. It's about linking the two in a way that shows causation.gavel2.jpg

In law, this is known as proximate cause. It's when an event is sufficiently related to a legally recognizable injury to be held as the cause. Attorneys may also examine the "cause-in-fact" element, which is weighed by the "but for" test. That is, "but for" the alleged negligence, the injury would not have occurred.

Even in cases where the facts seem relatively straightforward, it's important to have an experienced legal team that can help you present all the evidence in a way that meets the proximate cause criteria.

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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.


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.


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.
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.
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).
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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