July 2011 Archives

July 30, 2011

Drunk Driving Accidents in Charlotte Often Caused Habitual Offenders

The second topic of our "Most Wanted Safety Improvement" series is drunk driving accidents. So much has been done to improve awareness over the years but drunk driving accidents in Charlotte, Asheville and elsewhere continue to be a serious threat to the welfare of all motorists.

The National Transportation Safety Board recently released a most wanted list emphasizing areas of improvement that need to be addressed in order to progress the safety of all Americans.
Other topics we will be hitting on in a four-part series are motorcycle accidents, teen safe driving, and bus accidents. Our Asheville personal injury lawyers find it almost unfathomable that someone dies every 48 minutes in the United States from a drunk driving accident.

Approximately a third of highway deaths in 2009 were at the hands of a drunk driver, causing 10,839 deaths nationwide. The number of overall traffic fatalities has decreased in recent years but drunk driving crashes have continued to be the cause of approximately 30 percent or more fatalities each year in the last 10 years.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), it is estimated that an impaired driver gets behind the wheel 88 times before being arrested for driving under the influence. This equates to 88 opportunities of putting another motorist's life in danger because the impaired driver may veer left of the center line, miss a stop sign, or speed past another vehicle and cause a collision. This doesn't begin to cover the number of times an impaired driver gets behind the wheel following an arrest.

Over the years, stricter laws have been mandated statewide. Organizations such as Mothers Against Drunk Driving, Students Against Drunk Driving, and International Drunk Driving Prevention Association have continued to create awareness about the dangers of drinking and driving.

Yet motorists still continue to make poor decisions when choosing to get behind the wheel impaired. The NTSB considers the issue quite complex and thinks the answer is to treat every case individually and know that no single countermeasure will effectively work across the board.

Sobriety checkpoints and revoking an impaired driver's license are programs that can help discourage drinking and driving. The problem is habitual drunk drivers are just that; they have formed a habit of making bad choices to get behind the wheel to operate a vehicle while under the influence. Reducing the option to plea bargain, requiring a habitual offender to seek treatment, and holding an impaired driver responsible to make a behavior change are all standards to be considered in the future.

We posted previously on our North Carolina Car Accident Lawyers Blog that new technology currently in the developmental stages could be the answer to eliminating habitual drunk driving in the future.

Advocates opposed to drunk driving are optimistic that the Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety (DADSS) is an important step to saving lives and eliminating the risk of drunk drivers by having a device installed by automakers that would not allow an impaired driver to start the vehicle. Making the DADSS device standard in all vehicles will likely keep drunk drivers off the streets and keep motorists safer.

Continue reading "Drunk Driving Accidents in Charlotte Often Caused Habitual Offenders" »

July 27, 2011

Head Injuries a Serious Aftermath of Motorcycle Accidents in North Carolina

The National Transportation Safety Board recently released a most wanted list for safety improvements needed throughout the United States.

As part of a series of blogs, our Statesville injury lawyers want to place emphasis on four key areas of safety that need improvement: motorcycle safety, drunk driving, teen safe driving and bus accidents. The first topic in our series is motorcycle safety. There have been a number of motorcycle accidents in North Carolina reported in the news recently.
WFMY reports about the tragic death of a young man killed on a motorcycle when he collided with another vehicle pulling out of a parking lot. He was transported to Wake Forest Baptist Hospital from High Point Regional where he died from injuries sustained in the crash.

News & Observer reports about a Cary police officer who was on a motorcycle and was in pursuit with emergency lights on and horns blaring before being collided into by a pickup truck making a left turn as the officer went through the intersection. The officer was thrown approximately 25 feet off the motorcycle and landed hard on the other side of the truck's bed. A nurse who witnessed the accident called 911 and helped the police officer to continue breathing until first responders arrived and took over the rescue operation.

The popularity of motorcycles is growing throughout the country. Motorcycles represent 3 percent of registered vehicles on roadways but account for 13 percent of total fatalities on roadways nationwide. Motorcycle deaths more than doubled from 1997-2009, jumping from 2,116 to 4,462. During this period, there was an average of 12 motorcyclists killed each day. What can be done?

One of the leading causes of death in motorcycle crashes are injuries to the head, so focusing on protecting the head is a focal point according to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB).

One step that can be taken to reduce injury as a passenger or rider is to wear a helmet that complies with federal standards. Federal Standard 218 provides minimum requirements for motorcycle helmets related to reducing injuries and head trauma if involved in an accident.

Helmets that meet the standard are designed with a hard shell on the outside, an impact-attenuating liner and a protective head retention system. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, helmet use has proven to save lives and prevent life-changing injuries for riders and passengers who wear them by 37 percent and 41 percent respectively.

The National Agenda for Motorcycle Safety provides suggestions for identifying the most effective programs for injury prevention and crash moderation. The safety agenda addresses human factors (attitudes, training, crash avoidance skills), social factors (awareness, enforcement of protective laws, involvement by the insurance industry), motorcycle factors (design, vehicle modifications, lane use) and environmental factors (first response, other vehicle design, roadway characteristics).

For an in depth look at the National Agenda for Motorcycle Safety click here to view.

Continue reading "Head Injuries a Serious Aftermath of Motorcycle Accidents in North Carolina" »

July 25, 2011

Long Term Recovery from Spinal Cord Injuries Often Requires Help of an Experienced Asheville Law Firm

In the news recently was the remarkable story about a woman who suffered a spinal cord injury in North Carolina a little over a year ago following a freak accident at her bachelorette party.

According to The Associated Press, she was celebrating her anticipated marriage with friends when a pool accident occurred and left her paralyzed. One year later, following physical and mental rehabilitation, she plans to wheel down the aisle and carry through her plans to get married.
Spinal cord injuries are considered catastrophic and life changing but life can go on with proper medical treatment and extensive rehabilitation. The medical costs associated with these types of injuries can often be as devastating as the injury itself so contacting an experienced Asheville personal injury lawyer immediately can help determine what rights you have and what course of action to take.

A Carolina cowgirl who was participating in the International Finals Youth Rodeo recently found out that life can change in a split second after an incident with a bucking horse. According to News OK, she was critically injured earlier this month after being thrown from her horse while practicing breakaway roping prior to her competition.

She landed on her head, injured her spinal cord and has no feeling from her chest down after breaking her vertebra in her neck and back.The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that each year approximately 15 to 40 new spinal cord injury cases per million people happen. Roughly speaking, this equates to about 12,000 to 20,000 new patients annually.

It is estimated that approximately 200,000 people are currently living in the U.S. with a spinal cord injury. In 25 percent of cases, alcohol plays a contributing factor leading to serious injury caused by the accident. Motor vehicle accidents (46 percent), fall accidents (22 percent), violence (16 percent) and sports injuries (12 percent) are the leading causes of spinal cord injuries.

Approximately 80 percent of spinal cord patients are male and 50% to 70% of patients are between the ages of 15-35.Severe spinal cord injuries can often lead to paraplegic or quadriplegic symptoms.The difference between the two is the amount of bodily function that can be regenerated after serious injury has occurred and paralysis is determined.

Paraplegics are paralyzed from the waist down but maintain control and feeling in arms, hands and fingers. Quadriplegics lose bodily function in all four limbs. The average annual cost for spinal cord-related injuries is approximately $15,000-$30,000.

Throughout a lifetime, cost associated with medical care and long-term rehabilitation can add up to anywhere between half a million to $3 million.Recovering from a spinal cord accident can have a tremendous psychological and emotional impact on victims and the members of their family.

Resources are available to help in the recovery process. For more information about spinal cord injury and paralysis resources, visit the Paralysis Resource Center website.

Continue reading "Long Term Recovery from Spinal Cord Injuries Often Requires Help of an Experienced Asheville Law Firm" »

July 23, 2011

Pedestrians in Charlotte at Risk of Being Struck by Alcohol Impaired Drivers

A recent fatal accident involving a drunk driver and a pedestrian in North Charlotte has our car accident lawyers in Charlotte reminding pedestrians to use extra caution as you cross the street to avoid being hit, especially by a driver who is too impaired to see you.

WBTV reports the tragedy occurred at the intersection of North Tyron Street near Guy E. Suddreth Avenue. Local police officials report the female pedestrian in her mid-50's stepped off the curb while attempting to cross the street and was hit by an impaired driver driving a Honda Accord.
The driver left the scene, stopped at a nearby parking lot and then returned to the location of the accident. The pedestrian was transported to a local hospital where she was pronounced dead within hours of the tragic event. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police placed the driver under immediate arrest after conducting a field sobriety test, which indicated the driver was impaired. The driver is being charged with involuntary manslaughter, driving while impaired, possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported 146 fatal pedestrian accidents in North Carolina in 2009. Another 363 deaths occurred in North Carolina in 2009 because of an impaired driver getting behind the wheel. North Carolina averaged 163 pedestrian fatalities and 427 alcohol-related deaths over the course of five years from 2005-2009.

Pedestrians are at considerable risk of injury because they are completely exposed and have very little time to react to a moving vehicle right before an accident takes place. Collisions can happen so quickly but result in a lifetime of medical costs and changes in lifestyle. Sharing roadways safely becomes a necessity because many people use walking as a means of transportation, as a means to become healthier or for pure enjoyment.

The University of North Carolina Highway Safety Research Center offers the following simple tips for pedestrians:

  • Make eye contact with drivers before stepping into city streets or roadways.

  • Avoid crossing multiple lanes whenever possible, especially on busier, faster paced streets and highways.

  • Never walk in the road if sidewalks are available.

  • Avoid walking in dark clothes late at night.

  • Call for a cab or a ride if you have been drinking. Walking while intoxicated is dangerous.

  • Motorists should:

  • Look for hidden pedestrians that may be stepping out from behind or inside a car.

  • If a vehicle is stopped for a pedestrian, don't be impatient by choosing to speed around them rather than wait.

  • Slow your rate of speed in neighborhoods or near schools and parks.

  • Never drive under the influence - you have so many other options available.

  • When waiting to make a left or right turn, double check there are no pedestrians in the vicinity before turning.

Continue reading "Pedestrians in Charlotte at Risk of Being Struck by Alcohol Impaired Drivers" »

July 20, 2011

Statewide Graduated Driver License Laws Could Reduce the Risk of Teen Car Accidents in North Carolina, Nationwide

Earlier this month, two former Secretaries for the U.S. Department of Transportation wrote letters in support of federal teen driving legislation in hopes of enacting the Safe Teen and Novice Driver Uniform Protection (STANDUP) Act which would standardize Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) laws statewide, according to Fox 29 WFLX.

This is the second time in as many weeks that the federal government is taking a stand on safer driving at the state level. We posted previously on our North Carolina Car Accident Lawyers Blog that legislative action is being proposed for the Safe Drivers Act 2011 which would impose distracted driving laws nationwide rather than individually by state. Similarly, the STANDUP Act would impose safer driving for teens by imposing laws nationally with regard to GDL programs and authorizing federal money to be put towards surface transportation programs.
Teens are the age group at most risk of car accidents in Greensboro, Gastonia and elsewhere so our Winston-Salem car accident lawyers consider the importance of these proposed bills validated in reducing the risk of death or injury to all motorists involved in car accidents throughout the state and nationwide.

Saferoads4teens.org reports the following key points proposed for the STANDUP Act:

  • Minimum federal requirements would be enacted for state GDL laws.

  • States would adopt GDL laws within three years to meet the federal requirements.

  • During the three years following enactment, states that comply would receive federal money in grants to help with GDL enforcement and education.

  • States that fail to comply with federal requirements made by legislation would lose federal money meant for federal highway construction programs. Each state would have three years to recuperate any funds lost or else the money would be returned to the U.S Treasury.

  • Each state would have three stages of licensing - a learner's permit, intermediate phase, and full license.

  • Age 16 would be the earliest that a teen could apply for a learner's permit.

  • Unsupervised night time driving would be limited during the first two stages of getting a license.

  • Texting and talking while driving would be prohibited until a full license is obtained.

  • A full license with no restrictions would not be obtained before age 18.

  • Passengers would be restricted to one non-family member under the age of 21 unless a driver over the age of 21 is in the vehicle. Restriction would last until a full driver's ilcense is obtained.

Over 150 organizations at the national, state and local levels stand behind the authorization of the STANDUP Act. These endorsers include Mothers Against Drunk Driving, American Academy of Pediatrics, law enforcement officials, first responders, health and safety groups, insurance companies, parents, and teens among others.

The STANDUP Act proposes that every teen in every state be protected when learning to drive. Stricter GDL laws enforced statewide can reduce the risk of teen car crashes and could potentially save thousands of lives involved in teen car crashes every year. Passing federal legislation can force an immediate response to take state action.

For more information on North Carolina's current GDL program, visit Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

Continue reading "Statewide Graduated Driver License Laws Could Reduce the Risk of Teen Car Accidents in North Carolina, Nationwide" »

July 19, 2011

Death of Famed Bus Driver in North Carolina Bus Accident Leaves Everyone Looking for Answers

A bus crash has claimed the life of former North Carolina State University basketball star Lorenzo Charles. Law enforcement is looking for help to determine how the crash occurred, reports The News & Observer. We are in the midst of summer tourism season, but luckily no passengers were on board when the bus left the roadway.

Our Charlotte personal injury lawyers are aware of the recent closing of Sky Express after the tragic bus crash that killed 4 and sent 54 others to area hospitals. Passengers are at high risk for injury when using unreliable charter bus companies so seek legal advice if you have been injured in an accident.
Lorenzo Charles was driving a charter bus on Interstate 40 when, for reasons unknown, he left the roadway and ended up in a wooded area. The former basketball star was pronounced dead at the scene. He was 47-years-old.

Charles was employed by Elite Tours that is located in Apex. Charles had just begun his workday around 3:30 p.m. when the crash happened on I-40 near the Chapel Hill Road on-ramp. According to the police report, the tour bus was going roughly 70 mph along the highway. Investigators report the bus traveled almost 400 feet through the grass next to I-40, crossed the Chapel Hill Road on-ramp, hit several trees and went down a hill heading back toward the interstate, where it finally came to a rest.

On the 911 tape, you can hear someone doing CPR on the victim but to no avail. A recent post to our North Carolina car accident lawyers blog reported on the shutting down of Sky Express by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) for numerous safety violations.

FMCSA will not tolerate passenger bus companies that endanger public safety," said FMCSA Administrator Anne S. Ferro. "Working side-by-side with our North Carolina state law enforcement partners, we took strong action to shut down this unsafe bus company."

The next time you plan a bus trip, make an informed decision and put safety at the top of your priority list. Make sure you pick a bus company that abides by the Federal requirements enforced by the U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).

Confirm these facts before picking a bus company:

  • Check the bus company's Safety Performance History score and see how it measures up to the national average.

  • Check the bus company's FMCSA Safety Rating. A company with a satisfactory rating is an excellent choice, a conditional safety rating is a less than fair choice and a company with an unsatisfactory safety rating should not be picked.

  • Check to see if the company has insurance and operating authority from FMCSA. Bus companies that charge a fee and transport 16 or more passengers must carry at least $5 million of insurance coverage.

FMCSA wants to hear from you if you have a safety violation complaint. Call their toll free hotline 1-888-DOT-SAFT (1-888-368-7238) or visit FMCSA's consumer complaint site.

Continue reading "Death of Famed Bus Driver in North Carolina Bus Accident Leaves Everyone Looking for Answers" »

July 14, 2011

In-vehicle Gadgets, Bells and Whistles to Blame for Injuries Caused by Charlotte Car Accidents

Technological advances have made us all a bit spoiled as we make our way through the 21st century. We live in a world where bigger is always better, but is it? Communicative technology has made our roadways less safe when it comes to distractions that cause car accidents in Charlotte and throughout the country.

The Denver Post reports that consumers are now expecting communication devices to come standard in most vehicles so that laws are not broken in states that have adopted texting or cell phone bans. Greensboro car accident lawyers want to reiterate the fact that cognitive distractions are just as much to blame for a car crash as taking your eyes of the road and hands off the wheel. If you have been injured by a distracted driver, you owe it to yourself to fight for the compensation you deserve.
Today's world is all about voice activation. First, we had it brought to our cell phones. Now we have it available on the steering wheel or dashboard of certain vehicles. The following vehicles offer these tech savvy luxuries:

  • Ford's Sync offers drivers the ability to hear text messages and read them back.

  • Toyota's Entune offers a multimedia system in limited models which links drivers to their cell phone.

  • 2012 Chevy Volt and Equinox offers hands-free integration of Pandora and Stitcher Smart Radio via Chevy MyLink.

  • 2011 Kia Optima Hybrid and 2012 Kia Sorento offer Uvo which is a hands-free entertainment system offering Bluetooth technology activated by your voice.

Roadway safety advocates and vehicle manufacturers remain at opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to in-vehicle technology. Safety advocates stand strong that any kind of distraction is damaging to roadway safety. The automobile industry is only concerned about selling cars and according to the consumers, technology is what sells cars.

"We talk to a variety of customers in a variety of demographics, and the general message we get from almost every demographic is usability," said Henry Bzeih, head of Infotainment and Telematics for Kia Motors America. "That means Kia cars can't simply offer navigational aids. They must be voice-controlled and simplified to just a few, brief steps."

The Government Computer News recently reported that David Strickland, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Administrator, spoke to a crowd of people at the Telematics Detroit 2011 conference stating he will continue to advocate against unsafe vehicle technologies.

Entertainment centers are meant for the comfort and safety of your home, not your vehicle where it can cause danger to you and other drivers sharing the same roadways.

"I'm just putting everyone on notice," Strickland said, choosing his words carefully and ironically, "A car is not a mobile device."

Technologies such as GPS navigation systems, automated alert systems, and internal diagnostics have been helpful in promoting driver safety but helping people to tweet while they drive is not likely to save lives. Studies by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety indicate that drivers don't have the mental capacity to perform multiple tasks while we drive.

Focusing only on the road is the only way to ensure motorists safety on U.S. roadways. As social media begins to take over our vehicles in the near future, do yourself a favor, keep your eyes and mind on the road rather than the gadget to reduce the risk of a car accident in North Carolina.

Continue reading "In-vehicle Gadgets, Bells and Whistles to Blame for Injuries Caused by Charlotte Car Accidents" »

July 13, 2011

Drawstrings and Cords Lead to High Risk of North Carolina Strangulation Incidents Involving Small Children

A tragedy in South Carolina resulted in a parent losing a child in a strangulation accident in which the 6-month old boy strangled on an electrical cord of a baby monitor camera produced by a child product manufacturing company. According to Safe Kids USA, this incident, along with another child's death, prompted the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) to recall over 1.7 million video baby monitors with electrical cords made by Summer Infant Inc.

Defective products causing injuries to children is something all parents should be concerned about. Our Asheville personal injury lawyers know that defective child products are a common cause of injury and death to children injured in North or South Carolina.
The CPSC often recalls products for strangulation hazards, especially for infants or small children who may not know that pulling a cord can cause them to choke. Last month, the CPSC announced a voluntary recall of approximately 48,000 Wm. Wright Co. Roman Shade Kits and another 45,000 Roman shades manufactured by The Shade Store in New York.

In both cases, the manufacturers were asked to recall their products because a child's neck could become entangled with the exposed inner cord or the fabric on the backside of the blind when the cord is pulled and wraps around the neck, which leads to strangulation.

The CPSC offers illustrations for The Shade Store cord hazards. To view pictures, click here for strangulation hazards.

This month, the CPSC has issued a new safety rule for drawstring safety for children's outerwear. A unanimous 5-0 vote warrants a final rule that upper outwear that has drawstrings in the hood or neck in sizes 2T through 12 is hazardous and may lead to incidents of strangulation. This also applies to upper outwear with certain waist or bottom drawstrings in sizes 2T through 16.

There have been 26 child fatalities caused by a drawstring in the child's garment being entangled in school bus doors, playground slides and other objects. U.S. Customs and Border Protection has the authority to stop a shipment from entering the U.S. which contains hazardous drawstring products in children's outerwear. The CPSC has issued 115 recalls related to drawstring products from 2006-2010.

Safe Kids USA reports the following facts about choking and suffocation for children:

-On average, almost 900 children ages 14 and under die each year from injuries related to airway obstruction, another 18,000 suffer from injuries.
-In 2005, over 19,000 children went to the hospital emergency room for a choke-related incident.
-In 2004, almost 90 percent of the unintentional strangulation deaths were children ages 3 and under.
-Cribs and playpens cause half of all nursery product-related deaths in children ages 5 and under each year.-Clothing drawstrings, blind and drapery cords, pacifier strings, ribbons and necklaces are the most common items that strangle young children.
-Each year, $1.5 billion is spent on airway obstruction injuries for children ages 14 and under.

Parents who have had a bad experience with a child product are encouraged to report the incident by calling the CPSC Recall Hotline at 1-800-638-2772 or report the unsafe product online at the saferproducts.gov website.

Continue reading "Drawstrings and Cords Lead to High Risk of North Carolina Strangulation Incidents Involving Small Children" »

July 9, 2011

Recurring Incidents in Beaufort Inlet Present a High Risk of Diving Accidents for North Carolina Divers

Our Charlotte personal injury lawyers know that diving can be a dangerous sport, so tourists and experienced enthusiasts are reminded to use a little extra caution before you take your next plunge.

There have been several reported scuba diving accidents in North Carolina, the last few months but CBS News reports about the most recent fatal accident that occurred off of the Carolina coast, approximately 29 miles southeast of Beaufort Inlet.
A crew member on board the dive ship Olympus reported that a 60-year-old diver went down for a 120-foot dive. Shortly after, the diver came up and was found unresponsive and not breathing so CPR was administered by Olympus crew members. The U.S. Coast Guard sent a 47-foot Motor Lifeboat out to rescue.

An EMT from Coast Guard was transferred onto Olympus and both boats returned to Fort Macon where emergency medical service personnel were awaiting. The 60-year-old diver was taken to Carteret General Hospital where he was pronounced dead.

"This is the fourth diving accident in eastern North Carolina in the last two months," said Lt. Kevin Sullivan, of Sector North Carolina. "Cases like this are a reminder that diving is an inherently dangerous sport. Those participating are encouraged to exercise all due caution."

We posted previously on our North Carolina Personal Injury Lawyers Blog that a 56-year-old man was rescued by Coast Guard in a similar location off of Beaufort Inlet. The diver had complained about shortness of breath and other symptoms after resurfacing from a 110-foot plunge into the water.

The Scuba site reports a number of causes for scuba diving accidents. The three leading causes of death according to a Diving Fatality Report, using statistics gathered from 1992-2003, are drowning (33 percent), arterial gas embolism (29 percent) and cardiac incidents (26 percent) like heart attack or stroke. Arterial gas embolism is most likely caused by divers holding their breath or by the expansion of respiratory gases when coming up from a dive.

Scuba Diving Safety Tips:

  • Diving takes an extreme amount of health and fitness so make sure you are in the best cardiac shape and mental health as possible.
  • Use a dive guide when exploring new areas.
  • Make sure equipment is safe and reliable and you are fully equipped from head to toe before each dive.
  • Obey local dive laws and follow the instructions of a dive guide.
  • When breathing compressed air, never skip-breath or breath-hold.
  • SAFED or Slowly Ascend From Every Dive.
  • Take a training course before your first dive and know your limits. When you are ready to expand your diving experiences take an advanced or specialty dive course.
  • Always dive with a buddy or in a group.

Scuba diving can be a breath-taking experience for most divers who want to explore the natural beauty of underwater life or the historic shipwrecks of the Graveyard in the Atlantic. Reduce the risk of a diving accident by getting trained and being a responsible diver.

Continue reading "Recurring Incidents in Beaufort Inlet Present a High Risk of Diving Accidents for North Carolina Divers " »

July 7, 2011

Children at Risk of Severe Injuries in Charlotte Car Accidents

We have previously reported on our North Carolina Personal Injury Lawyers Blog about the importance of child safety car seats and the effect they have in reducing the severity of injuries caused by a Charlotte car accident.

Our Greensboro car accident lawyers want to reiterate the importance of child safety after hearing about the recent car crash that could have taken the lives of 3 young children.

ABC News reports that three children ages 2, 3 and 4 years-old were not strapped into a car seat prior to a crash recently. The crash occurred at the intersection of WT Harris Boulevard and North Tryon Street.

A Mercedes pulled out in front of the car carrying the three children. The mother swerved to avoid hitting the Mercedes and rolled off the side of the road. Police pulled the three young children who were only wearing a seat belt out of the crashed vehicle. Police cited the mother of the three children for driving with a revoked license and driving with children not placed in car seats.

North Carolina law requires that children ages 7 or under and 80 pounds or less be placed in a child safety seat according to the Governors Highway Safety Association. Children may be placed in a seat belt that fits properly at age 8 or at 80 pounds, whichever comes first.

Buckle up NC indicates that children 15 and under sitting in the front or back seat are covered under the NC Child Passenger Safety Law. NC Seat Belt Law covers anyone ages 16 or older that is either driving or a passenger in the car.

For parents who are new at traveling with an infant or small child in the car, Car-Safety.org offers answers to these frequently asked questions:

  • Why is in important to place my child in a restraint while riding in the car?
  • What car seat is considered the safest?
  • When can children be placed in a regular seatbelt with no booster seat?
  • What car seats are compatible with my vehicle?
  • Is a child safe in a built-in car seat?
  • What features are important on a car safety seat?
  • Where do I take my car seat to have it inspected for federal regulations?
  • How do I know if my car seat has been recalled?
  • Can a car seat be used after a car crash?
  • How long can a car seat be used or is it important to buy a brand new seat?
  • Can I install the car seat near an airbag?

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration offers recommendations on how to buy a car seat, what the guidelines and requirements are, information about the latest child safety car seat recalls, and where you can find a safety seat inspection location near you.

Continue reading "Children at Risk of Severe Injuries in Charlotte Car Accidents" »

July 4, 2011

Severe Injuries to Eyes, Ears, Face and Hands a Result of Hickory Fireworks Accidents

On the brink of Fourth of July weekend, our Hickory injury lawyers want to remind everyone to celebrate responsibly and leave the array of colors in the sky to the professionals this holiday weekend.

The threat of a North Carolina fireworks accident can be dangerous not only to those performing the exhibition but to those who sit and watch the spectacular flooding of lights falling from the sky. If injured by a defective product this weekend or at any time throughout the summer, contact North Carolina Personal Injury Lawyers.
The Charlotte Observer reminds us of the tragedy that happened one year ago on Ocracoke Island that killed four people when a truckload of fireworks exploded. In light of last year's horrifying event, North Carolina is placing new restrictions on pyrotechnic operators this year.

A new law as of February 1, 2011, requires all pyrotechnic operators to be 21 years-old, complete a training course, pass a written exam, and pay $200 to earn a three-year operating license. Legislators have made an exception for those not able to complete the course by July 4th to acquire a temporary 30-day license by paying the fire marshal's office $25 and providing they have performed six North Carolina fireworks displays in the last 10 years.

"We want communities to have fireworks displays and pay tribute to the holiday," said North Carolina Fire Marshal Kerry Hall. "Prior to this law, it was up to local jurisdictions to decide what a pyrotechnics expert is. Now we have a minimum benchmark for everyone in the state."

South Carolina has been practicing fireworks safety since 1991 when a similar fireworks operator licensing law was put into place. South Carolina offers several different options for pyrotechnic licenses which include inside shooting, outside shooting, motion picture companies, or trainees.

The licensing fees range from $100 for trainee licenses to $300 for an unrestricted license. All firework technicians must be 21 years or older in South Carolina unless they are a trainee in which the minimum age requirement is 18. Licensed operators are required to take training and a written exam every two years by the South Carolina Fire Marshal's office.

The Hickory Daily Record reports that last year there were roughly 1,900 people treated for fireworks injuries at hospitals nationwide in the 30 days surrounding July 4th. There were an approximate total of 8,600 fireworks injuries for the entire year in 2010. Firecrackers, bottle rockets and sparklers often cause eye and ear damage or burns to the face, hands or head. Firecrackers and sparklers are legal in North Carolina so Hickory Fire Department is conducting surprise inspections to local or retail outlets selling fireworks. Making sure fireworks retailers are not selling anything illegal and following all safety protocols is a priority.

For a safe Independence Day, Hickory Fire Department offers the following safety tips:

  • Follow and read all manufacturers' instructions on the fireworks.
  • Never light fireworks inside your home.
  • Stop, drop and roll if your clothing is on fire.
  • Never light fireworks near buildings or dry grass areas.
  • Never place fireworks in metal or glass containers before lighting.
  • If a firework malfunctions, throw it away. Trying to re-light could cause an unexpected explosion.
  • Only buy fireworks from a reliable dealer.
  • Always have water handy in case someone gets burned or something catches on fire.
  • Children should never be left alone around fireworks. They are not toys and should not be shot at someone.

Continue reading "Severe Injuries to Eyes, Ears, Face and Hands a Result of Hickory Fireworks Accidents" »

July 3, 2011

Lee Law Offices Wish You and Your Family a Safe and Fun Fourth of July

The lawyers at Lee Law Offices, P.A. wish everyone a fun and enjoyable Fourth of July holiday weekend.

And in order to have fun, you must stay safe. We hope that all North Carolinians will heed to safety tips and go out of their way to make sure this Independence Day weekend is free from preventable injuries and deaths. Avoid reckless behavior that results in injuries in Winston-Salem.
As previously documented on the North Carolina Car Accident Lawyers Blog, there will be an estimated 39 million Americans driving this holiday weekend, which leaves open the possibility of accidents, so stay safe on the roads. And as discussed on the North Carolina Personal Injury Lawyers Blog, fireworks are a major cause of injuries to children, especially during holidays such as the Fourth of July. Let the professionals handle the fireworks.

Many people believe Memorial Day is the official start of boating season because the weather gets warmer and it's the first holiday weekend of the spring and summer months. So now that we're officially in the summer months, boaters will likely be active this weekend. If you are planning a trip out on the water, take extra precautions to be free from boating accidents in Winston-Salem and elsewhere throughout the state.

According to the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission, there were 368,004 registered boats statewide in 2009, the most recent data available. And in that year, there were 154 boating accidents and 21 fatal accidents. The latter number represents the third-highest number of deaths on the waters in the last decade.

And according to the commission, July is the month during which the most accidents occur and is the deadliest month. In 2009, 32 accidents occurred in July and six people died that year in July.
The commission points out that operator inattention and operator inexperience are the top two causes of accidents, followed by being careless or reckless and congested waters. The majority of accidents occur on open motorboats, followed by personal watercraft accidents.

So, avoid catastrophic injuries in Asheville by following these boating safety tips:

  • Always have enough safety jackets
  • Make sure you have working boat lights
  • Always notify someone when you are leaving and when you plan to be back
  • Be well-rested so you can pay attention
  • Never boat and drive

Among fatal accidents, alcohol use was the number three leading cause. In non-fatal accidents, alcohol use ranked 11th. This shows how much alcohol can affect a boating accident, so please designate a captain.

But if you plan a relaxing time at home this weekend free of travel, please heed to safety tips to avoid swimming pool accidents in Charlotte.

According to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, an average of 26 children died of drowning between 2005 and 2009. There were 28 in 2009 and 30 in 2008.

Swimming pools may be fun and refreshing, but they can also be dangerous. Running along the edge of a pool and slipping can cause injury, as can pool drains that suck in and injure children. And keep in mind that near-drowning incidents can cause lifelong injuries as well.

The American Academy of Pediatrics offers these tips for swimming pool safety:

  • Never leave your children alone near or in the pool
  • Be within an arm's length of a child younger than 5 in the pool
  • Install a fence or lock the area to the pool when it's not in use
  • Keep rescue equipment and a phone nearby the pool
  • Remove toys from the pool so children aren't tempted to reach for them

Continue reading "Lee Law Offices Wish You and Your Family a Safe and Fun Fourth of July" »