April 26, 2015

Ward v. Carmona: Third-Party Defendants in Car Accident Cases

Ward v. Carmona, a case from the North Carolina Supreme Court, involves plaintiff whose son was driving her 1991 Mercedes. Her son was named a third-party defendant in this car accident lawsuit. He was driving east on a road in Raleigh, North Carolina while another defendant was driving his vehicle in the opposite direction, and the two cars crashed into each other at an intersection.

gavel9.jpgPlaintiff filed a lawsuit alleging negligent operation of a motor vehicle against the defendant who was driving the vehicle that collided with her son. After being served with a summons and complaint, defendant filed an answer along with a third-party complaint against plaintiff's son, alleging he was negligently responsible for the car accident at issue in this case.

During trial, plaintiff's son testified he was attempting to turn left at the intersection when the crash occurred. When he arrived at the intersection, he said the light was green so he pulled into intersection and stopped until it was safe to make a turn. Once the light had changed to red, he attempted to complete the left turn knowing the light was red. During this left turn, the other defendant's car collided with his vehicle. He testified he had an unobstructed view of oncoming traffic at time of the accident.

Continue reading "Ward v. Carmona: Third-Party Defendants in Car Accident Cases" »

April 25, 2015

U.S. Marine from Camp Lejeune Killed in Car Accident

While many soldiers risk being killed or seriously wounded in war zones far from home, the United States Department of Defense has been warning returning soldiers and sailors that motorcycle and car accidents are a major cause of injury, and they should take extra precautions to stay safe on the road.

military-truck-1060979-m.jpgAccording to a recent news article from The Marine Corps Times, a United States Marine Corps Lance Corporal was killed in a single-vehicle car accident that occurred early Friday morning.

Authorities say the victim, who was stationed at Camp Lejeune, was driving his car at two in the morning at speeds of approximately 90 mph when his vehicle ran off the road and hit a building. First responders believe he was not wearing a seat belt at the time of his fatal accident. Authorities do not, however, believe alcohol was a factor in this tragic motor vehicle accident. The intersection at which this deadly accident occurred has been the source of other serious traffic accidents on numerous occasions.

Continue reading "U.S. Marine from Camp Lejeune Killed in Car Accident" »

April 23, 2015

Mother Charged After Child Dies in Alleged Drunk Driving Accident

Many people who drink too much and then get behind the wheel of a car only worry about being arrested for driving under the influence (DUI), if they worry about anything at all. However, there are often outcomes far worse than being arrested, and it is often innocent victims who suffer the worst consequences of drunk driving.

1209277_cold_beer_glass_isolated_on_white.jpgAccording to a recent news article from Fox 8, authorities placed a 41-year-old mother under arrest in connection with a fatal car accident during which her 9-year-old daughter was killed. Authorities say defendant was driving with her 9-year-old daughter and her 7-year-old son on Highway 70 when she ran off the road. After running off the road, the vehicle hit the grassy area on the shoulder before it reentered the road, crossed the median, and collided with another car traveling in the opposite direction. Witnesses say defendant was actually thrown from the vehicle while it was still in the median before entering the opposite direction travel lanes. It is believed the daughter who was killed was not properly restrained in her seat at the time of the accident.

Continue reading "Mother Charged After Child Dies in Alleged Drunk Driving Accident" »

April 18, 2015

Cline v. Homuth - Settlement With Teen Driver's Parents Also Covered Grandmother

Many car accident lawsuits are resolved through an out-of-court settlement before the case reaches the trial phase. However, these agreements must be clear as to the exact terms, including who is released from liability, and who is not.
The recent case of Cline v. Homuth, before the California Court of Appeals for the Third Appellate District, is one such case where this became apparent.

Court records indicate the incident that started this case was one involving a teen driver and a motorcyclist. The teen had a provisional driver's license, and was operating his parent's vehicle. In the passenger seat was his grandmother, the only other person in the car.

Continue reading "Cline v. Homuth - Settlement With Teen Driver's Parents Also Covered Grandmother" »

April 15, 2015

Ludlow v. Wise - Comparative Fault in a DUI Accident

In the vast majority of DUI negligence cases, it will be the person behind the wheel who is deemed solely responsible for injuries resulting from the act of driving while impaired. There may in some instances be third-party negligence, such as by the bar where employees served alcohol to someone who was underage or clearly already drunk.
But usually, the person who suffers injury as a result of a drunk driver's actions isn't considered at-fault.

The recent case of Ludlow v. Wise, before the Wyoming Supreme Court, is an exception. Here, a jury decided the passenger, who allegedly knew the driver was impaired and asked him for a ride anyway, held some part of the blame for the injuries she sustained as a result. When a plaintiff in an injury lawsuit is deemed partially responsible for his or her own injuries, this is called comparative fault.

Continue reading "Ludlow v. Wise - Comparative Fault in a DUI Accident" »

April 12, 2015

Safety of 15-Passenger Vans Questioned After Two Recent Deadly Crashes

Just as federal transportation officials had launched an investigation into a single-vehicle crash of a 15-passenger vehicle that killed 8 and injured 10 in Florida, another accident involving this same type of vehicle - this time in Georgia - resulted in three deaths and nine injuries. Three of those injured were listed in critical condition.
The Florida crash happened on a rural highway shortly after midnight as a group of 18 church-goers were on their way home from a religious revival. Among the 10 injured was a 4-year-old child, who was not harnessed in a proper child safety seat.

In the Georgia case, which occurred about 65 miles northeast of Atlanta, the crash occurred around 7 a.m. when the driver of a van carrying band members from several heavy metal bands fell asleep at the wheel, careened off the road and struck a tree.

Continue reading "Safety of 15-Passenger Vans Questioned After Two Recent Deadly Crashes" »

April 9, 2015

North Carolina Train Collides With Trooper-Escorted Truck, 62 Injured

As investigators continue to piece together the events leading to a North Carolina collision between a tractor-trailer and a passenger train, one question stands out: Why didn't the trooper escorting the over-sized truck contact dispatchers to notify them the truck was essentially stuck on the railroad tracks?
Reports are the truck was on the tracks for somewhere between 5 minutes and 20 minutes before the passenger train approached. Once impact occurred, it was so forceful, it knocked the Amtrack train off its wheels. Thankfully, no one was killed, but one of the passengers, aged 85, was seriously injured.

Every year, North Carolina State Troopers escort between 400 and 500 oversize trucks across the state. In this case, the truck was hauling electronic gear from a suburb of Raleigh to New Jersey. The full weight of the 165-foot vehicle was estimated at nearly 130 tons. The total length was longer than half a football field. In fact, this truck was so large it was actually twice the length of the train engine. While the front end of the truck was blocking a highway intersection, the back end of it was blocking the nearby tracks.

Continue reading "North Carolina Train Collides With Trooper-Escorted Truck, 62 Injured" »

April 6, 2015

Report: Teen Drivers More Often Distracted Than Previously Reported

New research reveals distraction among teen drivers is a bigger issue than previously reported. cardashboard.jpg

The study analyzed in-car videos of more than 1,600 crashes involving Midwest teen drivers between August 2007 and July 2013. The results indicated that distraction was a primary factor in 60 percent of crashes in which a teenager was behind the wheel. Additionally, distraction was to blame in 90 percent of the cases in which a teen motorist careened off the road. It was also indicated in three-fourths of the cases in which a teen rear-ended another vehicle.

On average, young drivers tore their eyes from the road an average of 4 seconds prior to each accident. In most cases, it was a cell phone that had captured their attention. In fact, in 50 percent of cases where there was a rear-end collision, the teen driver didn't even attempt to brake or swerve to avoid the car in front.

Continue reading "Report: Teen Drivers More Often Distracted Than Previously Reported" »

April 3, 2015

Skaperdas v. Country Cas. Ins. Co - Car Insurance Agents' Duty of Care

Auto insurance agents in North Carolina have a duty to exercise reasonable care, skill and diligence in procuring insurance for clients, and the agent will be liable for any proximate loss resulting in the agent's negligent failure to do so. (See Kaperonis v. Underwriters at Lloyd's, London, et. al., N.C. App., 1975).
This does not mean insurers have to sell or direct you the "best" plan, but they do have to inform you of your options, the applicable costs and then secure the coverage you request.

The same degree of duty is recognized in many states across the country, Illinois being one of them. There, in the recent case of Skaperdas v. Country Cas. Ins. Co., the Illinois Supreme Court held an auto insurance agent (and by proxy his employer) could be liable for negligence in failing to procure the proper insurance for a client, who later reported a claim that should have been covered but was not.

Continue reading "Skaperdas v. Country Cas. Ins. Co - Car Insurance Agents' Duty of Care" »

March 29, 2015

Lemley v. Wilson - Liability in Roadside Work Crew Death Case

Roadside work crews undoubtedly have a dangerous job. They suffer not only the risk of injury faced by all construction workers (which is high in comparison to other occupations), they also risk working near fast-moving traffic.
In fact, the danger was the basis for North Carolina's recent expansion of the "Move Over" law to include roadside work crews, in addition to emergency workers, tow trucks and incident management workers.

When a roadside crew member is injured or killed as a result of a motor vehicle collision, there may be more than one remedy available. First and foremost, there is workers' compensation. That is considered the "exclusive remedy" under state workers' compensation law, but that is only as it pertains to the employer. There may also be opportunity for civil litigation against other contractors, individuals, the at-fault driver, insurance company and other relevant third parties.

Continue reading "Lemley v. Wilson - Liability in Roadside Work Crew Death Case" »

March 27, 2015

Bean v. Pacific Coast Elevator Corp. - Non-Economic Damage Award Valid

When someone is injured in an auto accident, it often will cost them more than the expenses totaled on medical bills. There is the time they lose at work (if they are even able to return), and the repairs that must be made to the vehicle.
But beyond that, a car accident can leave a person with lasting physical and emotional damage that adversely impacts almost every corner of their life - from their physical activities to their personal relationships to their overall daily mood. If someone is suffering from chronic pain, they aren't apt to engage in activities they once loved.

Collectively, these are referred to in civil law as "non-economic damages." That is, they are those losses that can't be tabulated in exact terms on an itemized billing spreadsheet. Nonetheless, injured persons deserve to be compensated for them.

Continue reading "Bean v. Pacific Coast Elevator Corp. - Non-Economic Damage Award Valid" »

March 25, 2015

Rental Car Safety Urged Ahead of Vacation Season Travel

It's been a rough winter in North Carolina, with snowstorms causing major power outages, frigid temperatures, icy roads, school cancellations and halted flights. Now that we are beginning to thaw, many are thinking about a spring or early summer getaway.
Not wanting to pay the money for a plane ticket or put the wear-and-tear on their own vehicle, many will choose to rent a car.

Travelers taking this route need to keep in mind a number of important points regarding the safety and liability. A few of these were recently outlined in an editorial penned by AARP Driver Safety National Director Julie Lee for The Huffington Post.

Most people consider things like whether a vehicle has enough leg room for the number of passengers being accommodated, the fuel mileage and penalty fees for fuel overages or late return times. However, not enough people consider factors, such as insurance, safety, weather, and if a vehicle actually fits the driver.

Continue reading "Rental Car Safety Urged Ahead of Vacation Season Travel" »

March 23, 2015

Midwestern Indem. Co. v. Brooks - Stacking of UIM Coverage Benefits

When a person is involved in an auto accident with another driver who lacks insurance - or lacks enough insurance to cover all damages - the injured party can pursue uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage through their own insurer.
The term "stacking" in reference to UM/UIM claims refers to the practice of combining the UM/UIM limit applicable to any one vehicle on the policy with the limit on other applicable vehicles. However, N.C. Gen. Stat. 20-279.21(b)(3) limits this practice. Within that same statute is a stipulation barring intrapolicy stacking for UM/UIM claims.

However, there may be instances in which interpolicy stacking (under two or more insurance policies) is permissible for both UM and UIM claims where non-fleet, private passenger vehicles are involved.

Continue reading "Midwestern Indem. Co. v. Brooks - Stacking of UIM Coverage Benefits" »

March 21, 2015

Cedillo v. Farmers Insurance Co. - Motorcycle Accident Case by Arbitrator Challenged

Under some auto insurance policies, it is required of plaintiffs to handle any claims against the insurance company through arbitration. Although the proceedings differ from those that take place in a courtroom, it is no less a necessity for accident victims to secure experienced legal representation. The total amount of damages one receives could highly depend on it.
Arbitration is a type of alternative dispute resolution process in which a neutral third party (arbitrator) hears the evidence and makes a decision - much the same way a judge would. However, there are no technical rules of evidence, which can either help or hurt your case, depending on your situation. Either way, you can bet the insurance company is going to fight aggressively to whittle down your overall compensation.

The recent case of Cedillo v. Farmers Insurance Co., weighed by the Idaho Supreme Court, was an appeal stemming from an arbitration decision regarding damages in a motorcycle accident.

Continue reading "Cedillo v. Farmers Insurance Co. - Motorcycle Accident Case by Arbitrator Challenged" »

March 19, 2015

State ex rel. CHP v. Superior Court - State Could be Liable for Negligence of Contracted Tow Firm

While government agencies can be and frequently are held accountable for the negligence of their employees, the lines become a bit blurred when it comes to the negligence of independent contractors for government agencies.
A recent ruling by the California Supreme Court indicates there is at least the possibility the government could be liable for injury cause by an independent contractor, so long as it could be shown the government was a "special employer" of the contractor. The court noted it could find no prior case in the state where the employee of a private contractor qualified as a special public employee for purposes of vicarious liability, but ruled it was not outside the realm of possibility in certain circumstances.

The case is State ex rel. Dep't of Cal. Highway Patrol v. Superior Court, and it started with a traffic crash on a California highway.

Continue reading "State ex rel. CHP v. Superior Court - State Could be Liable for Negligence of Contracted Tow Firm" »