Articles Posted in Aftermath of Accidents

In December, the driver of a pickup truck was allegedly speeding and distracted when he smashed his truck into the front of a Greensboro bakery. Incredibly, none of the staff or customers inside were hurt, but the driver did cause about $70,000 worth of damage.storefront

Then last month in Wilmington, a 25-year-old driver involved in a domestic dispute was shot in the face by a 36-year-old man in a grocery store parking lot. The younger driver then crashed his vehicle into a Sam’s Food Mart. Also last month, four people were injured when a vehicle slammed into the front of a Quick Mart convenience store in Wilmington.

These incidents are reported on by the media as if they are somewhat rare. In truth, they happen a lot. In fact, the Storefront Safety Council reports such incidents occur 60 times daily in the U.S., injuring more than 4,000 people a year and killing more than 500.  What’s especially troubling about this is there are no state or national standards that require bollards in front of stores, though some municipalities do have their own ordinances. Only recently, the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) set a new standard for identifying and labeling specially-tested, high-quality bollards and barriers. Continue reading

It would seem a man involved in a relatively minor, single-car crash precipitated by his own medical emergency might not have sufficient grounds to pursue litigation against anyone.
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But in fact, he may have ample grounds for pursuing a claim against the city employer of police officers who responded to the scene and failed to immediately get him medical attention. Instead, the evidence presented in Harb v. City of Bakersfield tends to suggest officers early on determined driver was drunk, when in fact, he’d had a stroke and was suffering a continuing brain bleed while treatment was delayed. A paramedic called to the scene cleared the man medically, and left the scene without referring him for further care.

However, the driver, a pediatric intensive care doctor still in his scrubs, on his way home from a 12-hour shift, ultimately suffered serious brain damage. While he survived, is no longer able to care for himself.
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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.

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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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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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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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According to a recent report from The Piedmont News Station, a Winston-Salem car crash left one car dangling from a bridge. Police report that two cars collided with each other on Spruce Street.

Fortunately for those involved, the car did not fall onto the roadway below, and the occupants of the cars only suffered what have been described as minor injuries.

highway-clover-leaf-782572-m.jpgOne of the issues commonly faced by our Winston-Salem car accident lawyers is when a potential client has already made a recorded statement to the insurance company. There is a federal law that prohibits personal injury lawyers from contacting accident victims for three weeks following an accident, unless the lawyer already had a relationship with the person. There is not, however, any restriction on the at-fault driver’s insurance company contacting the victim immediately after the accident in order to settle any future claims for embarrassingly small amounts of money.

It is not uncommon for an insurance company to ask you to settle a potentially serious case for less than three hundred dollars. In exchange for this money, you must sign a waiver releasing the at-fault driver and his or her insurance company from any and all liability.
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Our North Carolina car accident attorneys understand that punitive damages are only appropriate in certain circumstances.

In Ekaterina V. Pouzanova v. Kuuipo T. Morton, decided by the Supreme Court of the State of Alaska, Ekaterina V. Pouzanova ran a stop sign and was hit on the side (T-bone collision) in a car driven by Kuuipo Morton. Morton went to the emergency room after the car accident and suffered from lower-back pain and a possible compression fracture.

car-crash-m.jpgPrior to trial, Morton asserted damages for pain and suffering but also damages for lost earnings and medical expenses. She also claimed punitive damages under a theory that Pouzanova was not only negligent, but also reckless.
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In the chaos after an accident, it is important to be aware of secondary dangers, including oncoming vehicles. In a tragic case, police in Charlotte shot an unarmed man who was running towards police after an accident. Reports indicated that the man was simply trying to get help after crashing his vehicle. While victims certainly should not have to defend against armed officers, the case highlights the often confusing and dangerous scenarios that arise after an accident.

In another tragic case, a 25-year-old pedestrian was killed when a light pole fell on him after a traffic collision. According to witnesses, two vehicles collided at an intersection and one of the vehicles hit a pole. The victim was walking away from the accident scene when the light pole fell and struck the pedestrian. Remember that damage to infrastructure and fire hazards could pose additional risks to accident victims as well as bystanders.

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Immediately after an accident, victims and bystanders should be aware of any hidden dangers at the accident scene. Leaking gas, damaged roadways or infrastructure, as well as high emotions and shock can create the potential for additional injuries and preventable death. Our Asheville car accident attorneys have a wide range of experience with cases involving minor fender benders, high speed highway accidents, as well as personal injury cases that may arise after an accident. We are dedicated to raising awareness to make sure that accident victims stay safe and that bystanders steer clear of potential dangers.
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Car accidents happen in seconds and knowing how to respond can be critical to your own safety and recovery, as well as in filing a successful claim. While the scene of an accident is likely to be chaotic, you should follow some basic guidelines to reduce chances of additional accidents or injury and to document important information regarding the accident.

First and foremost, you should consider the safety of yourself and those around you. If someone has been injured, you should dial 911 and contact authorities immediately. Our Charleston car accident attorneys are dedicated to helping accident victims and their loved ones get appropriate medical assistance and compensation after an accident. If you have not been injured, here are additional steps you can take to protect your rights and claims:

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Stay calm and try to remain level-headed. Regardless of who was at fault for the accident, you should try to remain calm after an accident. It is scary and can be overwhelming, but it is best not to overreact or get angry. Just wait for emergency responders.

Get out of the way. If your car has been significantly damaged, you should get out of the vehicle and away from the road to avoid additional injuries. Air-bags have been known to blow after the accident and multiple-car pileups have occurred after a single accident blocks the road. Keep yourself and your loved ones safe by moving away from the vehicle and out of the line of traffic.

Provide your own information to other drivers. After an accident, you should locate your insurance records and provide them to another driver if police are not involved in the accident. You do not have to provide any more information other than your name and insurance information. Providing addresses, place of work, phone numbers and other personal information is unnecessary.

Take pictures and get names. If you have not been injured, take your own pictures of the accident scene. You should also get the names of any potential witnesses who saw the accident. It can be difficult to collect this evidence after you leave the scene.

Be careful what you say. Whether talking to police or other drivers involved in the accident, be careful what you say or how you describe the accident. You do not want to admit fault without first consulting with an attorney. Remember that you may be entitled to significant compensation for vehicle damage, personal injury, medical expenses and other costs associated with the accident.

Get your car towed to a trusted mechanic or dealer. After an accident, you can have your car towed to your mechanic or another trusted repair shop. Be wary of solicitous storage yards that offer to tow your car for free. They could store your car in a lot and charge an excessive fee for pick up. You can often call your mechanic directly for a tow at a lower fee.

Contact your insurance carrier. You will likely have to file a claim with your insurance company. Always be wary about what kind of information you provide to adjusters who will be seeking ways to limit your claim. You could waive your rights to recovery and future claims. Do not settle with an insurance company without consulting with an attorney who can provide a correct assessment and value your claims.
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Car accidents raise many questions about medical care, property damage, lost wages, pain and suffering and even attorney fees. Because you have so many concerns after a Carolina car accident, it is important to have the advice and guidance of an experienced Carolina injury attorney.
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Recently, an Idaho court made a very telling decision regarding requests for attorney’s fees in personal injury cases. Bennett v. Patrick is a case that arose from a car accident. Matthew Bennett was driving a vehicle with Benjamin Walton (collectively “plaintiffs”) in the passenger seat. Nancy Patrick (defendant) was driving negligently and struck the Bennett vehicle. Plaintiffs suffered minor injuries and property damage. The defendant admitted to liability for the accident. She was insured with Allstate Insurance Company (Allstate).

Plaintiff’s hired counsel and after obtaining all of the relevant supporting documents, plaintiff’s counsel sent Allstate a demand letter for damages. This initial demand letter asked for damages to be paid to Bennett in the amount of $20,000 and to Walton in the amount of $23,000. Allstate did not respond favorably to this demand letter, and counter-offered for $2,300 and $4,600 respectively. Plaintiff’s would not accept this offer and entered this claim for damages.

When the case came to the court, a jury was charged with hearing the facts of the case and determining how much the plaintiffs were entitled to in damages. The defendant admitted to liability for the injury and asked the jury to compensate the plaintiffs reasonably. Once the evidence of medical costs and property damage were presented, the jury awarded Patrick $5,000 and Walton $10,000.

Because this award was lower than the plaintiff’s expected, they petitioned the court to award attorney’s fees to cover the amount they would have to pay their attorney. The plaintiffs relied on this specific state’s statute that allows for the prevailing party in a personal injury lawsuit to be awarded attorney fees where the lawsuit was for less than $25,000.

This question of whether the plaintiffs were entitled to attorney’s fees was first heard by the district court. This district court found that in cases where the plaintiff’s request for damages in their complaint is more than $25,000, plaintiffs waive their right to seek attorney’s fees where the actual award is less than $25,000. The plaintiff’s appealed this court decision leading them to the state Supreme Court on the question of attorney’s fees.

The state Supreme Court found that the district court had erred in its interpretation of the relevant state statute. Because the district court had added the amount each of the plaintiff’s had asked for in their complaint, the amount being considered by the court was in excess of the statutorily designated $25,000. However, this Supreme Court found that the law applies to the plaintiffs because each of the plaintiffs claim for damages in the complaint should be considered separately, and the sums should not be added for procedural statutory application.

Therefore, this court found that because each of the plaintiffs asked for less than $25,000, they each were entitled to the application of this statute to their personal injury case; thus, allowing for them each to collect the costs of attorney’s fees.
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