March 2012 Archives

March 29, 2012

Defective Product in South Carolina Increasing Risks of Unintentional Poisonings


Every day, there are more and more recalls affecting the very products in our own homes. Oftentimes these recalls go unnoticed and the dangers continue to lurk in our households. A lot of these recalls warn us of some serious risks for child injury in Winston-Salem and elsewhere.

It's important for parents to stay on top of the latest recall product lists to help keep everyone safe in the household. A good way to stay up to date is to visit the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission's website and sign up for email or text message updates regarding the latest recalls. Staying in the know helps to keep your family safe!
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One of the most recent recalls to make headlines across the U.S. was the recall of the Push 'N Snap Cabinet Locks that are imported by Dorel Juvenile Group (DJG) Inc. These locks don't do their jobs. While they're supposed to help keep small children out of cabinets and keep them away from dangerous and hazardous products, they're not holding up. They work by securing the handles or knobs of your cabinet to keep the doors shut and keep the items inside safely away from children, according to The Washington Post.

Our North Carolina defective product lawyers understand that parents rely on these kinds of products and locks to keep dangerous items away from children and pets. These dangerous and hazardous products include medications, household cleaners, etc. When these products get into the hands of children, results can be deadly. One of the most common results is poisonings. That's why us parents purchase these products and expect them to work!

Push 'N Snap Cabinet Locks:

-The items were sold at Bed, Bath & Beyond, online and retail stores nationwide from 2004 to 2012.

-They worked by wrapping around the knobs and the handles of cabinets to prevent children from opening them.

-The Safety 1st logo is embossed on the front of the lock.

-It's been proven that children can disengage the cabinet locks and can get into cabinets to potentially access to contents within.

-There have been 200 incidents reports filed.

-There have been nearly five reports of child poisonings.

At this time, we would like to remind parents about the dangers associated with hazardous products within the household and with accidental child poisonings. According to the National Safety Council (NSC), there are nearly 100,000 children every year who visit the emergency room because of accidental poisonings. Parents and guardians are urged to take the proper safety precautions and keep these items completely out of the reach of children. Talk to them about what each item is and how it's dangerous. Your supervision, preparation and responsibility can help to keep them safe.

Continue reading "Defective Product in South Carolina Increasing Risks of Unintentional Poisonings" »

March 27, 2012

NTSB Forum to Discuss Distraction-Related Car Accidents in South Carolina and Elsewhere


As we recently reported, teenage drivers have some of the highest risks for distraction-related car accidents in South Carolina and elsewhere. While these young drivers have some of the highest risks for these kinds of accidents, all drivers are at some serious risk for these crashes. Distracted Driving: it's a tragic behavior that needs to be addressed and needs to be fixed to help save countless lives on our roadways.
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For that reason, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) recently announced that it would be holding a one-day forum to look at specific countermeasures that can help to reduce these risks for all drivers. Right now, states are responsible for creating distracted driving-related laws to mitigate these behaviors. Currently, there are no laws on the books in place in South Carolina to stop any driver from engaging in distractions behind the wheel, according to the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA). Our state is one of the few states left that has yet to enact these laws.

Our Spartanburg injury lawyers understand how dangerous distracted driving actually is. The problem is that many drivers think that they're so experienced behind the wheel that they're able to safety take on additional tasks in addition to navigating our roadways safely. The truth of the matter is that distractions, no matter how small, take precious attention and focus off of the road and increases the risks for car accidents. Distraction-related car accidents kill far too many people every year. There were nearly 5,500 people who were killed in these kinds of accidents in the U.S. in 2009. Another 448,000 people were injured in these crashes.

During this one-day forum, the panel is going to review the findings of recent distracted driving research and studies and they will look into how to promote current and future enforcement efforts to keep drivers' eyes and minds on the road in an attempt to eliminate distracted driving-related crashes. There will be a number of specific countermeasures that will be addressed in this forum, including:

-Technology and design countermeasures.

-Effective ways to change attitudes and behaviors through education and outreach.

-Various distracted driving laws and enforcement.

The Chair of the forum will be the current NTSB Chairman Deborah A.P. Hersman and the current five NTSB Board Members will be serving as members of the Board of Inquiry.

There will be expert panelists in this forum, including experts from vehicle manufacturers, advocacy groups, government, law enforcement and research communities. It's being held late in March at the NTSB Conference Center in Washington D.C. The public is welcome to view the forum through a live webcast. If you missed the webcast, it should be available to download by the end of the following day and will be available for three months.

Continue reading "NTSB Forum to Discuss Distraction-Related Car Accidents in South Carolina and Elsewhere" »

March 25, 2012

Teen Girls Likely Involved in Distraction-Related Car Accidents in Anderson and Elsewhere


According to a recent study from AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, teenage girls are twice as likely as teenage boys to use cell phones, text messaging devices and other electronics behind the wheel. This heightened probability for distracted driving increases their risks for a car accident in Anderson and elsewhere.
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Our Anderson personal injury attorneys understand that kids these days are practically connected at the hip to their friends and whatnot through various electronic devices and through social networks. It's important for parents and mentors to remind these young drivers that driving is no time for them to be talking with friends and playing on the internet. Teenage drivers already have a higher accident rate because of their inexperience behind the wheel, adding in communication technology only increases these risks. Electronics are the most common distractions for drivers of all ages, but most commonly endanger young drivers.

The recent AAA study captured what these young drivers did behind the wheel through in-car cameras. The purpose of this study was to determine just how dangerous distracted driving was and how often these young drivers were engaging in distractions while driving.

"Cell phones, texting, personal grooming, and reaching for things in the car were among the most common distracting activities found," said Peter Kissinger, the President and CEO of AAA.

The new study showed researchers exactly how at-risk these young drivers are. In many states, teenage drivers are prohibited from using cell phones, electronic devices and other electronics behind the wheel. Unfortunately, South Carolina is one of the only states that has absolutely no bans on any driver regarding their engagements in distractions behind the wheel, according to the Governors Highway Safety Administration (GHSA).

The study concluded that electronics were the number one kind of distraction for these young drivers. Aside from electronics, about 15 percent of driver distractions included personal grooming, adjusting in-car controls and drinking or eating. Older teens were more likely to engage in electronic distractions at the wheel. This led researchers to believe that as these drivers got more and more comfortable behind the wheel, the more comfortable they got in engaging in distractions.

Study Findings:

-Teenage female drivers were 10 percent more likely to engage in distractions other than playing with electronics.

-Teenage female drivers were 50 percent more likely than males to reach for an object while driving.

-Teenage female drivers were 25 percent to eat and drink behind the wheel than males.

-Young male drivers weren't off the hook though. They were more likely to turn around in their seats and talk with people outside of the vehicle.

Continue reading "Teen Girls Likely Involved in Distraction-Related Car Accidents in Anderson and Elsewhere " »

March 23, 2012

Kids Better Protected in South Carolina Car Accidents with New NHTSA Dummy


There were roughly 1,500 kids under the age of 14-years-old who were killed in car accidents in Greenville and elsewhere in 2009. As a matter of fact, car accidents are the number one killer for this young age group. The deaths of these young ones in 2009 accounted for about 5 percent of the total number of traffic fatalities for the entire year. The prevention of these fatalities rely heavily on the car seats they're placed in and the way they're buckled it. That's all the parents' responsibility.

In addition to these young fatalities, there were nearly 200,000 who were injured in car accidents in the U.S. during 2009. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there was an average of four fatalities and nearly 500 injuries that occurred every day within this young age group because of car accidents. 1340714_wooden_house_-_playground.jpg

Our South Carolina car accident lawyers understand that many of these injuries and fatalities could have been prevented if parents had properly buckled in their children during every single car ride. To help make sure that all seats, including these new heavier-weight car seats, are doing their job, the NHTSA recently announced the addition of its new "10-year-old" crash dummy. This new kid dummy is going to better help researchers test the new wave of heavier-weight kid car seats, the seats that are designed for children between 65 and 80 pounds. It is also designed to help protect children up to 4 feet 9 inches.

"It's good news that manufacturers are making more car seats and boosters than ever before designed to keep older and heavier children safer on our roadways," said U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) Secretary Ray LaHood.

As the marketplace for child car seats continues to grow and expand, it's important for safety regulators to keep up. This new child dummy is the perfect answer, for right now, for testing these products. The NHTSA is already working on advancing this new kid dummy and making the testing more rigorous to keep kids safe in the event of an accident.

Parents are urged to check out these new child car seat recommendations from the NHTSA. These car seats are only effective if parents are willing to place kids in the proper seats and buckle them in correctly. Parents are the key in keeping these young ones safe. Parents and guardians are also urged to check out a child seat inspection location in South Carolina to make sure that their kid's seat is working for their child and that they're properly using it. Statistics estimate that about 70 percent of children are improperly buckled in every day.

Continue reading "Kids Better Protected in South Carolina Car Accidents with New NHTSA Dummy" »

March 21, 2012

North Carolina Personal Injury:Negligence Decisions Differ by State, Court


It is sometimes difficult to determine what relief you are entitled to when you have been injured. Having an experienced North Carolina injury attorney who can thoroughly inform you of your rights is critical in obtaining the award you deserve in your North Carolina personal injury case.
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This case illustrates the methods employed by the judicial system in this country to determine the applicability of statute to facts of individual cases. Chatman v. Strafford County came before the Supreme Court of New Hampshire because of the plaintiff's appeal of the trial court's decision in favor of Strafford County. The question here involves the interpretation of a state statute governing bodily injury actions against government units.

Statutes are written by the legislatures, either federal or state. Because the writers cannot foresee every possible case that will arise on the prominent issue in the statute, there are times where there may seem to be ambiguity regarding the main precepts of the statute. The Court in Chatman discussed this as they explained how they intended to interpret the statute at hand in the case.

The Court explains that to interpret a statute, the court observes the plain meaning of the words within the statute. Additionally, the intent of the legislature in passing the statute is taken into account as the court determines what types of protection were intended to be available through the statute, and to whom this protection was intended. Courts look to controlling case law where the statute has been interpreted in the past, to make sure that their interpretation is consistent with the legal precedent.

Chatman v. Strafford County is a case where the Plaintiff was involved in a work program being run by the Department of Corrections under the supervision of Paul Giampa. Upon instruction from Giampa, plaintiff was instructed to load tables and chairs onto a trailer that was not yet hitched to another vehicle. Giampa directed the Plaintiff in conjunction with others there, to lift the trailer and hitch it to the pickup truck. Because of the uneven ground and a failure in the trailer jack, the trailer fell onto Plaintiff's left leg and ankle. Upon the trailer falling on the Plaintiff, she suffered irreparable injuries. Plaintiff sued Giampa for negligence and his employer Strafford County under the claim of respondeat superior.

Respondeat superior is often referred to as vicarious liability. This is an agency principal where the employer is held liable for the negligence of an employee who was acting within the scope of employment.

Defendant's argued that the statute which allowed the lawsuit was not applicable because the plaintiff's claims did not arise out of "the County's ownership, occupation, maintenance or operation of a motor vehicle." Plaintiff countered this argument by claiming that her injuries arose out of the County's operation of the truck which was a motor vehicle. Further, the plaintiff argued that if the statute did not apply to the facts of her case then the statute should be found unconstitutional.

The main issue at hand is whether the vehicle could be considered as being "operated" under the applicable state statute. As observed in prior cases surrounding this statue, the court has found that operating a motor vehicle includes all of the acts performed in the movement of a motor vehicle from one place to another. Therefore, the plaintiff was left to explain the causal connection between the "operation" of the motor vehicle and the injuries she sustained.

This Court held that it is insufficient to only consider whether the trailer was hitched to a moving vehicle but that the entire range of activities for which the plaintiff was engaged must be considered in determining the application of the statute. Plaintiff was injured while the pickup truck was being operated because operations includes loading the trailer and the pickup were operated as a unit. The attempt to hitch the trailer to the truck is considered as enough evidence of the "operation" element. Therefore, this Court reversed the prior decision on behalf of Stafford County and remanded the case for further proceedings.

This decision explains how this Court adopted an opposite conclusion from that which the California courts reached. Because every state has different judges, statutes, and cases; the decisions are different.

Continue reading "North Carolina Personal Injury:Negligence Decisions Differ by State, Court" »

March 15, 2012

Premise Liability in the Carolinas Discussed in Simpson v. Colonial Parking, Inc.


When we go through our daily lives the law has designated liability standard in every realm to protect us in cases of negligence. If you have suffered an injury in the Carolina's because of the negligence of someone else, know your rights.

Our experienced North Carolina injury attorneys know what it takes to get you the award you are entitled to.
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This case arose when Plaintiff was riding his bicycle in Delaware. He saw a short cut through a parking lot that was un-gated and went through the defendant's parking lot. Upon doing this he rode his bike through a large pothole causing him to sustain minor personal injuries. Plaintiff says he did not notice the traffic cone which marked this pothole.

Plaintiff then sued the owners of parking ("Colonial") lot claiming that he was a licensee and Colonial breached their duty by failing to maintain the premises.

The law is very specific in the realm of premise liability. It provides for three distinct classifications for entrants onto property. There are licensee, invitee and trespassers. Depending on the category, the law assigns property owners a duty of care to those individuals. Each state has different law surrounding this issue, although the definitions are very similar.

A licensee was invited onto the property by the defendant or given implied consent for a non-commercial purpose. An invitee is usually an entrant that is invited onto the premises for commercial purposes because the commercial nature of the land. And a trespasser is an entrant that is not invited onto the land by the landowner and is also not performing any services related to the premises or the landowner.

In Simpson v. Colonial Parking, Inc., the court deciphers between licensees or trespassers and the duties owed to each. The plaintiff contends that he is a licensee as he was given implied consent to enter the land because the parking lot was not gated. Because of this contention, plaintiff claims that the landowner should be held liable to plaintiff because defendant knew of the dangerous condition that could cause harm to the plaintiff, defendant failed to make the condition safe or warn plaintiff of the risk involved.

Defendant argues that the plaintiff was a trespasser because not allowed to be in the parking lot, as he was not given any permission to enter. Because of this classification as a trespasser, the only duty defendants would have had was to refrain from willful and wonton conduct.

The plaintiff in this case has the burden of proving his entrant status. In order for the plaintiff to prove that he was a licensee he had to prove that Colonial gave plaintiff their implied consent or privilege to enter and use the parking lot.

Because the plaintiff in Simpson did not prove that he was given any privilege to enter the parking lot, the court found that he was a trespasser. Plaintiff was a trespasser thus the only duty owed to him by the defendants was to refrain from willful or wonton conduct. The plaintiff then had to prove that the defendants did act in this regard, which he was unable to do.

Therefore, the court in this case granted Colonial summary judgment because plaintiff could not prove his contentions. There was no duty fund to be owed by this landowner to this trespasser. Because of this, the court here held that because the plaintiff was trespassing and was then injured on the land of another he was not entitled to recovery.

If you have been injured because of the negligent maintenance of the land of another, know your rights.

Continue reading "Premise Liability in the Carolinas Discussed in Simpson v. Colonial Parking, Inc." »

March 12, 2012

North Carolina Spinal Cord Injury Patients Concerned About Funding Cuts


Proposed statewide cuts to Medicaid have those who have suffered permanent disability from spinal cord injuries in North Carolina fearing a substandard level of care.

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Our Asheville spinal cord injury attorneys are anxiously awaiting the decision by legislators, which could have a substantial impact in the long-term care of some clients.

The fact that our governmental economic stability both at the state and federal level is tenuous, this is all the more reason why someone who has suffered a spinal cord injury must immediately contact an experienced attorney. Often, people who are coping with such a devastating injury are going to require long-term care or at least rehabilitation that is likely to be costly and all-consuming. If you can't count on the government to help subsidize some of that cost, it is in your best interest to have an attorney who will fight to earn you the best compensation available.

According to the Greenville News, the proposed cuts would directly impact state and county disability centers. For example, an executive at the Greenville County Disabilities and Special Needs board said the changes would mean slashing staff by almost 60 percent. That would mean the case workers who remain - those who provide services to both youth and adults who suffer from a myriad of disabilities, including spinal cord injuries - would have more than double the workload.

It's a case manager's job to assess the person's need and work out a care plan. This helps make sure that the person is able to get the appropriate care.

Legislators, however, are trying to reduce fraud and abuse of the system. The rate that people must pay for services varies a great deal. This has led to people being reimbursed for services they weren't eligible for or of certain agencies receiving perhaps more than they should have been.

The government says the cost for case management is highly inflated, and that has meant taxpayers have to foot the bill.

However, the agencies that provide services dispute this, and say that if the government intends to slash their funding, it's going to mean serious consequences for those at the ground level.

A spokeswoman with the state's Department of Disabilities and Special Needs said that the average salary of a case management worker is about $32,000 annually, and that the cost to provide that service per individual is about $1,500. The accountability is there, the spokeswoman says, because all of the income rates and service fees are reported back to the government each year. What's more, case managers work hands-on with people who have complex needs.

"These are difficult cases," she said. "...It takes a lot of time. One size doesn't fit all."

And with these changes, a number of private providers who contract with the government say they either won't be able to continue doing what they do, or they'll have to cut way back on the services provided. Families and patients worry this could mean they'll hardly ever see their caseworker.

Almost nobody anticipates a spinal cord injury. It's an unexpected event, and not one that you might spend your whole life saving for. The government assistance provided does help. The fact that it is now on the chopping block is all the more reason to make sure you have an attorney who will fight to ensure you have been properly compensated by the responsible party that may have caused your injury in the first place. Even if federal and state assistance isn't cut now, there is nothing to say it couldn't happen in the next several years.

Continue reading "North Carolina Spinal Cord Injury Patients Concerned About Funding Cuts" »

March 10, 2012

Rippy v. Shepard Clears Up Confusion Over What Classifies as a Motor Vehicle


This case is very important not only to those who live in rural and farming communities, but people in all different kinds of communities. Rippy v. Shepard is a case that defines motor vehicles and discusses liability distribution in personal injury claims.
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Knowing North Carolina personal injury law is not only the responsibility of a North Carolina injury attorney, it is also the responsibility of all vehicle owners. Knowing how your state imposes liability for negligence can help you act more cautiously in order to prevent these common North Carolina injury claims.

Rippy v. Shepard is a case that legally defines the commonly used term of motor vehicle. The court does this because the plaintiff in this case sued the defendant for injuries he sustained as a result of the defendant lending his farm tractor to another person who drove it negligently. We see this often with car accidents, but so many people do not know how their court imposes liability for these damages.

Vicarious liability is a doctrine created under the agency principles where there is liability or responsibility for actions of a subordinate imputed on the superior. This is commonly seen in cases where the employer is held liable for the acts of an employee while the acts were done within the scope of the employee's employment. This is a common law principal that has been adjusted and codified by states differently.

In this Florida case, the doctrine applying this form of liability in reference to motor vehicles is called the dangerous instrumentality doctrine. This doctrine applies to motor vehicles and automobiles that have the ability to cause serious injury.

The question then rested with the court as to whether a farm tractor was considered a motor vehicle. The first point of analysis was to determine whether the Florida courts and the Florida Legislature have considered farm tractors to be motor vehicles. The court cited Florida Statute § 316.003(12) where farm tractor is defined as "any motor vehicle designed and used primarily as a farm implement for drawing plows, mowing machines and other implements of husbandry." Additionally, Florida Statute § 322.01(19) also refers to farm tractors as a motor vehicle.

The court acknowledges that motor vehicles are not peculiarly dangerous in their ordinary use. But they do cause damage and injury when they are operated without the proper amount of care. The court clarifies that this doctrine is not limited to motor vehicles that are being operated on public streets, but it also applies to motor vehicles being used on private property.

This court goes on to cite significant case law where the Florida courts have extended this doctrine to include, "golf carts, trucks, buses, airplanes, tow-motors and other motorized vehicles."

The premise of this dangerous instrumentality doctrine is that it seeks to put a financial responsibility on owners of vehicles who entrust these vehicles to others who then negligently operate them. See Kraemer v. General Motors Acceptance Corp., 572 So. 2d 1363, 1365 (Fla. 1990).

Although this common law doctrine may be unique to Florida, other states have similar legal standards of imposing vicarious liability on owners where there instrumentalities are negligently operated by another person with the permission of the owner.

Continue reading "Rippy v. Shepard Clears Up Confusion Over What Classifies as a Motor Vehicle" »

March 9, 2012

North Carolina Dog Bites Baby, Caution Urged


A baby in Henderson County is recovering after he suffered a vicious North Carolina dog bite while visiting with relatives.

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Our Asheville dog bite attorneys understand that the incident happened at the home of the infant's great-grandmother. According to ABC News 13, the 10-month-old was mauled by the great-grandmother's pit bull.

The older woman called 911, telling the dispatcher that the child had suffered injuries to his entire body.

The baby was rushed to Mission Hospital, where he underwent emergency surgery. Although the injuries at first appeared to be grave, it seems the child is thankfully faring better than expected.

Authorities say the dog will be killed and sent to a state laboratory for testing.

While this case may have a happy ending, so many others do not. Researchers from the American Academy of Family Physicians report that more than 4 million people are bitten by dogs each year. Of these, approximately 800,000 (or about 45 percent) are under the age of 14. Dozens die as a result of these injuries.

Nearly 35 million American households own canines, many more than one, meaning there are more than 55 million dogs in the country. Most of them are never going to be a threat. However, just about any dog has the potential to hurt someone if the circumstances are just right. About half of all reported dog bite cases involve a pet that is owned by either the family of the victim or neighbors.

Often, these involve an animal that is not provoked. Sadly, a large number of deaths involving babies and dogs occur when the baby is simply sleeping.

Even if a bite isn't fatal or cause severe injury, there is a possibility you could be at great risk for an infection. About 20 percent of people bitten suffer some degree of infection. People with the following conditions are at particular risk:

  • Chronic edema (or insufficient blood flow) to the arms or legs;
  • Diabetes;
  • Immune deficiencies;
  • Liver disease;
  • Mastectomy;
  • Those with prosthetic joints or valves;
  • Lupus.

While any dog has the potential to inflict harm, some breeds are known to have a history of greater aggression than others. These include: Cocker Spaniel, Chow Chow, German Shepherd, Grate Dane, Pit Bull, Rottweiler, Siberian Husky, Doberman Pinscher, Collie, Bull Terrier.

By contrast, the least aggressive dogs - those considered to be "family dogs," are: Boxer, Golden Retriever, Dalmatian, Irish Setter, English Setter, Labrador Retriever, English Springer, Spaniel.

Of course, there are Gold Retrievers that have been known to bite, and Rottweilers that are gentle to a fault. It depends on a myriad of factors, but the point is, every dog should be approached as if it has the potential to inflict injury to either you or your child.

Continue reading "North Carolina Dog Bites Baby, Caution Urged " »

March 7, 2012

Roache v. Charney Teaches Us of the Importance of Skilled Representation in Your North Carolina Car Accident Claim


Car accidents leave us stunned and physically drained. The results can be injuries that last a lifetime. It is important to get the right help from your experienced North Carolina Personal Injury attorney.
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Roache v. Charney is a personal injury case that came out of the Delaware Supreme Court. I am drawing your attention to it because it illustrates not only how important a decision it is to hire the right lawyers to represent you, but also the toll a North Carolina car accident can have on your mind and body.

In this case, the victim was in her car with her two children when she was rear ended twice by the defendant. Roache suffered injuries to her neck, back and leg which resulted in months of physical therapy and even disc replacement surgery. This led to permanent neck and back injuries to the victim in this case, which she will suffer with for the rest of her life.

These injuries are very common in automobile accident cases. We are knowledgeable about these injuries and what we need to prove to ensure adequate resources are available for your medical care and to reimburse you for lost wages, pain and suffering and other damages.

Roache is important because it reaffirms the laws you need to know when you are involved in a car accident. The laws applicable are different depending on the state you are in, but the law centers on some very basic principles. The Court in Roach said that in personal injury claims, the plaintiff has to prove to the court that the injuries she sustained were the result of the defendant's breach of their duty of care. Basically, plaintiff has to identify their injuries and show that it is more likely than not that they were sustained because the defendant was negligent in their driving.

The most critical part of any case is proving the link between the negligent actions and the injuries. This is referred to as causation. This court held that when there is a bodily injury the plaintiff must identify a medical expert that is competent who can directly testify as to the causal connection between the negligent actions of the defendant and the injuries sustained by the plaintiff. So there needs to be an experienced doctor who can medically explain how the plaintiffs injuries are a result of the accident that was caused by the defendant.

In this case there was significant confusion over whether the expert testimony, the report of the doctor, created a link between the motor vehicle accident and the plaintiff's injury. Our attorneys will help you navigate the medical jargon and decipher what these medical reports actually say and how it can affect you.

This case also shows that procedurally, an attorney has to be timely when filing motions in the court. In Roache, the attorney's needed one of the doctors to amend his report to clearly state whether the plaintiff was suffering injuries because of the car accident. This was the appropriate action, but the attorney requested a continuance only eight days before the actual hearing began. Because of this tardy action, the judge rejected the continuance and there was never clear evidence provided to show this causal link that the plaintiff had the burden of proving.

Continue reading "Roache v. Charney Teaches Us of the Importance of Skilled Representation in Your North Carolina Car Accident Claim" »

March 4, 2012

North Carolina Nursing Home Abuse A Problem


North Carolina nursing home abuse is of grave concern not only for those who are reaching an age where they might require assisted living, but also for their loved ones who may sometimes feel powerless to protect them.

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Our Asheville nursing home abuse attorneys know that when you place your loved one in a facility to receive quality, around-the-clock care, you want to trust that is what they will get. Unfortunately, North Carolina is gaining an unsettling reputation as having nursing homes that perform poorly in terms of protecting residents from infection, abuse and neglect.

A recent investigation conducted by Reporter Jonathan Carlson of NBC17 uncovered some disturbing trends. Of the 125 Raleigh-area nursing homes the reporter reviewed, more than 30 of them had inspection ratings that fared far below average. A number of these noted violations were so extreme that elder family members were put in positions of danger.

In one case, an adult assisted living facility in Wake Forest was downgraded to provisional status after authorities launched an investigation into the death of a resident and several cases of alleged assault. Provisional status requires intense scrutiny and government oversight of a facility, which must meet certain requirements in order to maintain its license and receive federal money.

In another case in Mount Olive, a nursing home was fined more than $15,000 following the deaths of six patients who contracted hepatitis at the center.

Other violations included patients who were either over-medicated or not given enough medication. In some cases, family members weren't told when their loved ones were injured or had fallen ill. And even more alarming, a vast majority of facilities had at least one employee who had a criminal conviction, some of those for neglecting, mistreating or abusing residents in the past.

Sadly, that is somewhat in line with the national average. In fact, a report issued by the Inspector General following an FBI probe found that more than 90 percent of nursing homes across the country employ at least one person who has been convicted of a crime.

Some industry insiders said turnover of supervisory staff is often at issue in these cases. Positions within nursing homes are sometimes seen as stepping stones to a higher run in the career ladder. Still, that is no excuse for any form of abuse, neglect or mistreatment.

Federal money has been set aside to help streamline the process of checking the backgrounds of nursing home employees. For those employees that don't require a license to do their job, it is hoped they will all be fingerprinted, their files kept in a statewide database. But that could take several years.

In the meantime, families will have to be proactive and vigilant concerning their loved ones' care. According to the Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect Resource Center, there are a few steps you can take if you suspect abuse or neglect is occurring:

1. Make frequent visits. Don't always go at the same time or on the same day. This will give you a chance to see what is happening on weekends, nights and holidays.

2. Discuss your concerns with nurses or aides.

3. Talk to the doctor.

4. Contact the ombudsman.

5. Call the state's Department of Health to find out what kind of oversight or complaints your facility has received.

Finally, it is critical to contact an attorney who is experienced in nursing home abuse and neglect - someone who will fight for you and your loved one.

Continue reading "North Carolina Nursing Home Abuse A Problem" »

March 1, 2012

North Carolina Animal Bites Curbed with Seizure of Snakes


A man in Henderson County has been forced to surrender his $50,000 collection of exotic reptiles - including poisonous snakes - in a move authorities hope will reduce the risk of animal bites in North Carolina.

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Our Asheville animal bite attorneys applaud the actions of authorities, as this was clearly a serious injury waiting to happen.

The 51-year-old man was reported to have kept several dozen poisonous snakes and lizards in his mobile home.

It's unclear how long the man had the snakes stashed, but law enforcement didn't find out about it until the man was bitten by one of his own snakes and rushed to the hospital. That prompted an investigation by police, who found the reptiles packed into plastic containers throughout the man's residence.

His attorney told The Associated Press that the animals - which included Gila monsters and vipers - weren't a threat because they were stored safely inside his dwelling.

Law enforcement disagreed, and the animals were confiscated.

This case is especially troublesome when considering that North Carolina residents are more likely than anyone else in the country to be bitten by snakes. In fact, snake bites in this state are ranked at five times the national average, according to WBTV. One of the main reasons for this is that the lethal copperhead snake is native to every county in the state. In 2009, there were nearly 230 copperhead bites reported in the state. These can make a hand swell to the size of a softball, and could even be deadly if left untreated - especially for a child or elderly person.

Another deadly local snake is the cottonmouth, which is native to both North and South Carolina.

Mostly, though, these reported bite cases involve wild snakes. While we understand that some individuals may have an affinity for these slithering serpents, they can be extremely dangerous when not properly maintained.

Unfortunately, North Carolina has some of the most relaxed laws in the country when it comes to possession of exotic animals. A number of local media outlets explored the issue following the case out of Ohio, in which a man operating an animal park released dozens of bears, lions and other exotic creatures before killing himself. In that case, nearly 50 exotic animals had to be fatally shot.

North Carolina is one of 10 states in the country that doesn't track or regulate dangerous animals that people harbor as pets. If you own a tiger, for example, you can't cross into South Carolina to sell it, but if you want to sell it to your neighbor, you can easily do so. You could even keep that tiger in your backyard without penalty, unless you live in one of the few cities or counties that ban it.

Following a tiger attack in Wilkes County that resulted in the death of a 10-year-old boy in 2003, legislators tried to pass a statewide law, but the measure failed.

However, in 2009 legislators did manage to pass state statute Chapter 14, Article 55, which clearly governs the possession of venomous reptiles, like the one owned by the Henderson County man. In his case, he was convicted of charges including possession of dangerous animals and failure to properly label containers of venomous snakes - both misdemeanors.

The snakes were sent to the state's museum of natural sciences in Raleigh.

If you or a loved one has been bitten or attacked by an exotic reptile or other animal in Asheville or anywhere in North Carolina, it's critical that you immediately contact an experienced attorney.

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