July 6, 2013

Shifting Trends Puts NC Bicycle Safety in Focus

For decades, bike culture has dominated Europe, creating public incentive for bike lanes and other initiatives to promote cycling. The Tour de France and other international events shed light on the public benefits of biking. Throughout the U.S., cities are investing in shared bike programs and many have urban planners who accommodate cyclists. This means changes in law, creation of bike lanes, and other incentive programs that favor bike culture.

Biking has a significant number of public health benefits. In addition to being a healthy alternative to commutes sitting in a vehicle, cyclists are reducing traffic and cutting down on air pollution. Despite the positive benefits of cycling, many motorists find cyclists reckless, menacing, and have difficulty sharing the road. This summer, both cyclists and motorists have to be aware and follow the law to prevent accidents and injuries. Our Carolina injury attorneys are dedicated to promoting road safety for pedestrians, cyclists and motorists.


Many drivers see cyclists as a threat to road safety. Where drivers are forced to follow the law, some cyclists believe they are above it--running stop lights, red lights, speeding, or cutting through traffic. In some accidents, reckless cyclists have caused death to other pedestrians and cyclists sharing the road.

Nationwide, cities are changing infrastructure to accommodate an increasing number of cyclists. For many, this is a positive change, shifting the way that commuters get to work, students get to school, and how Carolina residents spend their weekends. You should not be surprised to see an increasing number of bike shops and other commercial endeavors tailored to meet the needs of a growing population of bike enthusiasts. Both public and private entities are working to promote bike use as well as keep drivers and cyclists mindful of road safety.

Even with public awareness initiatives and campaigns, many motorists can become frustrated or outraged by the behavior of some cyclists. There are even a growing number of opposition groups that see cyclists as rude and ignorant of local road laws. This can create additional danger for motorists as well as other cyclists and pedestrians. Bike rides "en masse" can cause severe traffic congestion and prevent motorists from using the roads.

Some bike culture advocates claim that the world is trending towards cycling and that motorists need to adjust and get used to it. A shift towards bike culture means that motorists will have to slow down, reduce distracted driving, yield to cyclists and take additional precautions when on the road. It also may mean increased traffic for motorists as cities designate "bike only" lanes on many already congested streets.

Cities have already spent millions creating shared bike programs, adjusting roadways, installing bike racks, and creating public awareness campaigns to promote shared roads. The deaths of cyclists nationwide have prompted lawmakers to ensure that motorists remain aware that they are a serious threat to bikers. Tension on both sides--cyclists and opposing motorists--means that drivers and bikers should remain attentive, mindful, and follow the law to avoid accidents.

If the United States is becoming more heavily dependent on cycling for transportation, bikers and motorists must be wary of changes in infrastructure and law to stay safe. Motorists should consider that bikers are here to stay, and cyclists should be respectful to establish a mutual trust with motorists when sharing the road.

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July 4, 2013

Boating in the Carolinas: Summer Safety Tips

Whether you are visiting North or South Carolina for a vacation or you are an avid and experienced local boater, it is important to keep safety in mind when out on the waters. Water skiing, wakeboarding and tubing are all part of summer fun on the water. But participants should take necessary precautions and be safe to avoid accidents and collisions.

Whether on the rivers, lakes, or on the ocean, residents and tourists will flock to the water this summer. Fisherman should also be wary of large boats to prevent accidents and injury. Our boating accident attorneys are experienced in representing the victims of boating and accidents on the water. We are dedicated to helping tourists and residents of North and South Carolina stay safe this summer boating season.


All boaters, swimmers and fishermen should be wary of their surroundings. You want to know what lies ahead and where you may come into contact with other boaters. Here are some additional tips to avoid accidents or injuries:

Obey the rules. You should know state laws, including speed limits, wake laws, and other regulations to ensure safety for your passengers and others out on the water. Remember to only travel in areas open to your size and type of boat.

Carry proper equipment. Make sure that you carry Coast Guard approved life vests for each of your passengers. Life vests should fit properly and be the right size for your smallest and largest passengers.

Be responsible. While being on the water may make you feel carefree, remember to keep safety in mind. Carefree does not mean negligent or reckless boating. Speeding, drinking and driving, and other acts of negligence could result in serious accidents, resulting in injury or fatality.

Make sure drivers are trained and licensed to drive. Boat operators should be well-trained and new drivers should be supervised by someone who is sufficiently capable and experienced.

Be aware of dangerous weather conditions and low-visibility. If you are in a storm, reduce speeds to arrive at a dock safety and avoid the potential for collision.

Keep boat and equipment maintained. Boat owners should perform regular maintenance checks and upkeep. Inspections are necessary to make sure that boats are safe for use.

Boating accidents can result in serious accidents and injuries. Victims of boating accidents may suffer lacerations, broken bones, head and neck injuries, paralysis, or drowning and accident death.

Never drink and drive. Boating and alcohol-related accidents continue to result in injury and accidental death. Remember that a drinking and driving accident could result in DUI and additional criminal penalties. Even a small amount of alcohol can reduce reaction times and result in a catastrophic accident.

Every year, drivers and passengers are subjected to serious injury and death in the event of collision, capsize, or other accident. Taking precautions throughout the season can help you to avoid accidents, injuries, and wrongful death. If you or someone you love was involved in a boating accident, you should consult with an experienced attorney as soon as possible who can review your case, initiate an investigation, and protect your rights.

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July 1, 2013

Fireworks Sparking Carolina Injuries Through the Fourth of July

With the Fourth of July, we look forward to time off work and celebrations with our friends and family members. Unfortunately, this summer holiday can get a little risky.
As a general rule, North Carolina does have fairly restrictive laws on fireworks. Our neighbor to the south, South Carolina, has much more inclusive laws. In fact, most fireworks are legal in South Carolina. Remember, many fireworks you can purchase across the border are not legal here.

Our Charlotte personal injury attorneys understand that many residents and visitors may not be aware of what kind of fireworks arein fact legal here in the state. Thankfully, officials with the US Fireworks have compiled a list of legal requirements for the state of North Carolina.

Legal or not, the truth of the matter is that fireworks of all kinds can be dangerous. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), there were four people who were killed in firework-related accidents in 2011. In addition to these fatalities, there were close to 10,000 injuries treated in U.S. hospitals because of fireworks in 2011. Close to 70 percent of these injuries happened during the month surrounding the Fourth of July.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that, on average, 200 people go the emergency room every day with fireworks-related injuries in the month around the July 4th holiday.

So let's make this the safest of all Fourth of July celebrations:

-Never let kids play with or ignite fireworks.

-Don't purchase any fireworks that come in a brown paper bag. This can mean that they're illegal for you and were made for professionals.

-Make sure that a competent adult is supervising all firework activities.

-Remain cautious when children are playing with sparklers. These devices can heat up to nearly 2,000 degrees and can cause some serious injuries if mishandled.

-Make sure you keep a fire extinguisher, a bucket of water or a hose nearby in the event of an emergency.

-If a firework is a "dud," don't attempt to relight it. Simply discard it in a bucket of water or with a hose.

-Make sure fireworks are legal in your area before buying or using them.

-Make sure that when fireworks are done burning, you put them in water to be sure that they're out and done.

-Whenever you light a firework, be sure to move away from the area completely. Never light a firework over a body part.

-Always have a designated lighter. Alcohol and fireworks don't mix.

-Make sure that you're always lighting fireworks on a hard, flat and level surface to insure the stability of the products. You don't want to ever light them on grass, but if you decide to do that then lay down a flat wooden board for a shooting surface.

-Make sure you always clean up after yourself.

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June 29, 2013

Local Residents Put at Risk by Poor Records of Dangerous Chemicals

According to the Associated Press, the recent explosion in the West Texas fertilizer plant was the first time that nearby residents became aware of the ticking time bomb in their midst. Many of the 2,800 residents of the West Texas town were unaware of the fact that they lived close to a fertilizer plant with such dangerous chemicals inside, and even first responders did not know what they were dealing with when the plant exploded. 1304491_bush_fire.jpg

Our Anderson injury attorneys know that there are other dangerous businesses located throughout the United States, including more than 60 other facilities that reported to state regulators that they have as much or more than the 540,000 pounds of ammonium nitrate that the West Texas Fertilizer Co. had stored in their facility. Unfortunately, the majority of people living near to these dangerous businesses are unaware of the fact that they are living within the "blast zone."

Is Your Home Within a Blast Zone?
According to the Associated Press, there are hundreds of buildings throughout the United States that store dangerous chemicals within them. Unfortunately, fears of terrorism have made it very difficult or even impossible for nearby residents to be aware of the chemicals that are nearby their homes. Buildings nearby to these buildings housing dangerous chemicals can include not just homes but also schools, daycare centers and hospitals as well.

In fact, the AP indicated that a review of data from 28-states showed more than 120 facilities with dangerous chemicals had a potentially devastating blast zone that would encompass school children, the elderly and the infirm.

Unfortunately, records on many of the dangerous facilities in the United States are limited. The records often don't exist or are "so shoddy" that rescuers would be unable to rely on them to save lives.

The absence of comprehensive records has made it a mystery exactly how many dangerous buildings there are throughout the United States. However, in states that did provide verifiable data, an analysis by AP reporters revealed that there are more than 600,000 people living within a quarter-mile of a potential blast zone if as little as 190 tons of ammonium nitrate are detonated. Since many facilities have much more ammonium nitrate than this, there are likely many more people at serious risk of being hurt if something goes wrong.

Many of the danger zones are described as being either poor or middle class neighborhoods. Residents living within them are unaware of the risks, especially as some of the buildings that house dangerous chemicals don't even look like factories or industrial buildings.

Protecting Residents and First Responders

Clearly, the West Texas explosion shows that the current situation is an untenable one. First responders were badly harmed in West Texas because they were not aware of the chemicals in the plant that they were responding to, and residents who had their property destroyed were shocked to find out that they lived so close to a danger zone.

Facilities that house dangerous chemicals need to be carefully regulated and first responders need to be told where these facilities are so they know what they are dealing with if a fire occurs. Not only that, but people deserve to know if their home is in a blast zone that puts their families at risk. Businesses need to take responsibility for keeping records, making their plants safe and keeping the public informed as these businesses harboring dangerous chemicals could be liable for injuries they cause.

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June 26, 2013

Asheville Accident Reminds Parents of the Risks of Summer Camp Injuries

According to the Asheville Citizen Times, eight campers and two instructors were recently involved in a dangerous auto accident when their summer camp van plunged over the side of a mountain in the Pisgah National Forest. The instructors and campers were in a 16-passenger van, which went over an embankment and got stuck against a large tree approximately 30-feet down along the steep slope. 1030865_untitled.jpg

Our Asheville accident lawyers know that traffic accidents in camp vans are just one of the many risks faced by kids at summer camps throughout the Carolinas over the summer. While camp can be a great experience, kids who spend their days doing activities outdoors and under the care of counselors can be in great danger of suffering serious injuries if the camp doesn't take proper precautions.

This is why it is so important for parents to research summer camps they are considering for their kids so they can make informed choices about whether the camp will do a good job caring for their children.

Summer Camp Car Accident Emergency
The recent Asheville camp accident took place at a camp serving children with learning disabilities and attention deficit disorder. The accident happened on a gravel forest road at around 10:30 a.m. when the 21-year-old driver of the vehicle got too close to the edge of the embankment. The driver met a car and was trying to pass it on the right side when the shoulder of the road gave way.

The accident was described as being caused by the narrow road and by the shoulder giving way. The Asheville Citizen Times reported that no charges were being filed and the crash was described as not the fault of the driver. The accident was also described as not having caused serious injuries, although not all injuries are symptomatic immediately after accidents occur.

The kids who were on the van could potentially have faced much more serious harm or even death if the van had not been stopped by the tree as it careened down the embankment. A highway patrol trooper discussing the accident indicated that hitting the tree showed the "hand of God" by preventing more serious harm to the kids.

Protecting Kids at Summer Camps
Unfortunately, this accident shows that injuries at summer camp are a very real possibility. Not only is there a chance of accidents happening, especially if kids are being transported in large vans by young and inexperienced drivers, but there are also other risks as well including the dangers of burn injuries from bonfires; drowning accidents; heat-stroke injuries; sports accidents; and hiking injuries.

To make sure that kids have the very best chance of staying safe as they enjoy their camp experience, it is a good idea to do some research to determine if a camp is a safe one for your child.

The American Academy of Pediatrics, for example, recommends that you look both at the activities that the camp will be offering as well as taking a look at camp policies on issues such as heat stroke and other health and safety issues. The American Academy of Pediatrics indicates that camps should have written health policies in place; should require that campers have had a recent physical; and should have a policy mandating that all campers have had their required vaccinations.

It is also advisable to check whether the camp you are considering has been accredited by the American Camp Association.

Continue reading "Asheville Accident Reminds Parents of the Risks of Summer Camp Injuries " »

June 23, 2013

Doctors are Waiting Too Long to Talk to Elderly Patients about Driving Dangers

Our Spartanburg injury lawyers know that senior citizens generally outlive their ability to drive safely by at least six years according to most studies. This means that at some point in the lives of most senior citizens, there comes a time when the keys need to be put down and the senior needs to stop driving. 673558_sign_1.jpg

Unfortunately, many seniors are unaware of exactly when they should give up on getting behind the wheel. Seniors may depend upon family members or upon doctors to have a discussion about driving safety but a recent study shows that clinicians are waiting too long to discuss senior driving risks.

Doctors Shouldn't Wait to Discuss Senior Driving

According to a small study recently published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, clinicians and not elderly patients were often the first ones to start the conversation about safe senior driving. However, Nurse.com reported that healthcare providers tended to wait for "red flags" before bringing up the subject of senior driving dangers.

When doctors and healthcare providers did bring up the issue, they also reported that the conversations with the senior were usually unpleasant. For many seniors, driving is seen as a link to independence and freedom. A discussion about giving up that freedom is not well received, which may be why doctors tend to wait.

Despite the fact that seniors often do not like to discuss the risks of driving, however, researchers stress that it is very important for doctors to begin the discussion before red flags arise. Waiting for red flags, which can include an accident or serious health problems, could mean that the senior is driving for months or even years before the doctor notices a problem even though it really is no longer safe to drive. If a doctor waits for an accident to happen, then people could get hurt simply because someone drove for too long after his mental or physical health was impaired.

Instead of waiting until the doctor thinks the problem has become a serious one, researchers advise that clinicians and healthcare providers begin having conversations with seniors as soon as they turn 65. The same study showed that seniors don't mind regular questioning about driving, and these questions can give doctors some insight on when a senior might be beginning to struggle. Furthermore, asking questions of the senior and establishing a line of communication about driving dangers can make it easier to have the inevitable conversation when the time arises that driving no longer is safe.

This issue of talking to seniors about the dangers of driving beyond their prime has become a very urgent one. In the United States, there are 10,000 baby boomers turning 65 every single day. The aging of the driving population could significantly increase the risk of accidents unless seniors stop driving before it becomes dangerous for them to do so. Doctors and other healthcare providers have an important role to play in making that happen.

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June 20, 2013

Kayaking Accident Risks - Summer Fun in the Carolinas

A 22-year-old man from North Carolina recent died in a kayaking accident. According to the News & Record, it happened when the man's kayak overturned. It was then that he hit his head and lost consciousness.
According to the accident reports, the man was upside down in his kayak and had been there for a number of minutes before his friends were able to get him on shore. He was pronounced dead at the scene of the accident.

Our Charlotte personal injury attorneys understand such injuries are a very real threat here in the Carolinas this summer. Avoiding trouble on the water is always our goal. Proper trip planning can help us there - and having the right gear for conditions can save the day; keeping us paddling and comfortable when things go right and keeping us safe should things get tricky!

We're here with some safety tips. Share them with your kayaking pals to make sure everyone's a little bit safer out there.

Kayak Safety Tips:

-Avoid wearing cotton clothing. This material only absorbs water and holds cold water close to your skin, increasing the risks for hypothermia. Synthetic clothing is your best answer.

-Never kayak alone. Always bring someone along with you. Use the buddy system.

- Pick an activity level that matches your ability, and progress to more demanding challenges.

-Make sure that life jackets are available for everyone in your kayak.

-Take an on-water Course - whether it's a safety or skill development course, an ACA on-water instruction course provides the information you need for canoeing, kayaking, stand up paddleboarding, rafting or safety and rescue.

-Never exceed the weight capacity of your boat and always check your equipment for wear and tear before you paddle.

-For longer excursions, leave a more detailed plan with a responsible person. If you plan to make stops, list the different places in the order in which they will be visited. Leave a second copy on your car seat ... and call when you're back on shore.

-Make sure everyone in your kayak knows how to swim.

-Have a safety plan. Understand your responsibility to help your partner and other members in your group.

-If your kayak tips over, try to hang on to it and avoid rocks. Most importantly, you should stay calm.

-Get to shore. It is tricky to get back in your kayak once it has been flipped over and you are still in the water. Swim to shore while holding onto your kayak. This is best done by holding the kayak and kicking with the legs. If people are around, signal to them for help.

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June 18, 2013

Carolina Charter Bus Accident Involves 28 Students, Kills Driver

A recent school charter bus accident in South Carolina left 28 students quite shaken. Luckily, no students were seriously injured, but we can't say the same about the driver. According to FOX 28, the students were heading from South Carolina back to Ohio after their marching band performance. The accident happened at roughly 4:00 a.m. along Interstate 95 in Hendersonville.
According to accident reports, the bus left the roadway and slammed into a tree. The 63-year-old driver was killed in the accident. Two chaperones of the trip were injured in the crash. The driver reportedly suffered from cardiac arrest, but it has not been determined if the accident was a result.

Now, officials with the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) are investigating.

Our Hendersonville personal injury attorneys understand that many residents and visitors to the area rely on charter buses to help to get them around safely. Unfortunately, these kinds of vehicles can serve up some serious risks for accidents. These commercial vehicles are driven on the streets like passenger buses. They're large, heavy and lumbering, and have multiple blind spots. In fact, it even requires a specially licensed and trained driver just to lve egally operated.

According to a 2009 study from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), 221 fatal bus accidents occur in a year as opposed to 18,315 fatal crashes involving cars; public transport is considered a safe alternative to driving. Even so, accidents involving buses are a growing concern which the Federal Motor Carrier Administration.

The most common causes of busing accidents:

-Defective of faulty equipment (like tires or brakes).

-Fatigued drivers.

-Improperly trained or licensed drivers.

-Bus maintenance neglect. These buses should be run through safety checks frequently, especially with all of the miles they're logging out there.

-Alcohol and/or drug abuse by the driver.

-Hours of service violations (meaning that drivers are spending too much time behind the wheel to safely operate the bus).

-Poor weather conditions.

-Breaking road laws, like improper lane changes or speeding.

Of these accidents, smaller and newer companies are more likely to be involved in an accident. When regulation resources are scarce, accidents are likely as well.

It's important that you do your research before choosing a bus company. Lower cost tickets don't always ensure safety. Make sure you look at the ratings of companies before choosing one for travel. Check the FMCSA's SAFER System. You can check registration, safety updates, safety profiles, violation records and more. All of this is going to help to ensure a safer trip for you and your family.

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June 16, 2013

Defective Vehicle Watch: Automakers in for Some Major Recalls

Officials with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) have called for a recall of all 1993 to 2004 Jeep Grand Cherokees and the 2002 to 2007 Jeep Libertys for a fault gas tank design. The Administration says that these vehicles are a danger to consumers, according to CNN.
Officials with the Chrysler Group, however, are refusing to issue a recall, leaving more than 2.5 million of these questionable vehicles on our roadways.

Our Asheville personal injury attorneys understand that this is the first time since 1996 that an automaker has so challenged the safety agency. They say that they've been working with the NHTSA on various safety concerns since 2010. Chrysler's defense is that the gas tank design is the same that's used in a number of other SUVs out there and will make no difference in the event of an accident -- unless it is a high-speed accident, in which case all bets are off, regardless of make or model.

Ford has also been forced to recall close to 500,000 vehicles for fuel leak issues. The recall involves the Lincoln MKS, MKT and MKZ as well as the 2013 Ford Fusion, Flex, Taurus and the Explorer.

The company says that it's not aware of any incidents in which a fuel leak in its vehicles caused any fires, accidents or injuries. They do admit to having more than 600 complaints about this leak though.

In July of last year, the Ford motor company recalled close to 12,000 of its 2013 Escapes because of a defect in the fuel line that could have caused a fire. Back then, the company took the unusual step of telling drivers not to even get behind the wheel until the problem was fixed. Drivers were not offered this same advice in the latest recall.

In the MKZ recalls, the insulation on the engine block heater is prone to crack in low temps. In the Fusion recalls, there is a risk for steering problems because of the lack of an internal retaining clip.

It's problems like these that remind us why it's so important that we're up to date with the latest recall information. You're urged to check the SaferCar.gov website frequently for the latest recalls. On this site, you can check safety materials regarding vehicle defects, child restraint problems, tire issues and problems with other vehicle-related equipment. Make sure you're keeping an eye on all of the vehicles within your family to help to avoid any problems or accidents.

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June 13, 2013

Carolina Boating Accidents Too Often Fueled by Alcohol

Despite the known dangers of drinking and driving, boaters in North Carolina and nationwide continue to struggle with giving up their beers and drinks, whether on the road or on the water.

According to the U.S. Coast Guard, alcohol is the leading contributing factor in fatal boating accidents. This summer, be aware of the risks and dangers of alcohol and boating, whether you are an avid boater yourself, spending an afternoon with friends, or sending your child out with another family.

Boating accidents and collisions can have grave consequences including severe injury, paralysis, and drowning. An afternoon of partying on a boat can turn deadly when a driver is under the influence. In 2012, alcohol was the main factor in 17% of the 651 deaths that involved recreational vehicles. Our boating accident attorneys are experienced with the investigation of boating accidents and will help to protect the rights of victims and their families.


Many states are cracking down on drinking and driving. Often, those efforts are extending to the water. National Safe Boating Week occurs in June and many states are making efforts to reverse the trend of deadly boating accidents. Georgia has lowered its blood-alcohol content limit for boaters from .10% to .08%. The state has also imposed harsher penalties for those convicted. Where a boater used to get a slap on the wrist for drinking and driving, they may face severe criminal penalties, including fines and jail time. A driver could also lose their driver's license if charged with drinking and driving. Illinois has recently passed a bill that authorizes the state to suspend a driver's license if caught drinking and driving a boat. Washington State recently passed a law that extends penalties to boaters who are under the influence of marijuana, not just alcohol.

For legislators, drinking and driving a boat is considered reckless and has been the cause of a significant number of deaths and injuries. With harsher laws and penalties, many of these boating accidents could be prevented. Whether out on a lake or boating off the coast, drinking and boating is a serious risk and potential threat to passengers and other boaters.

Nationwide, horror stories have emerged about children and other innocent victims who have lost their lives to drinking and boating. Last year in Georgia, two boys were killed after their family pontoon boat was struck by a drunk driver. In Illinois a 10-year-old was killed on a lake when his father ran over him with a 29-foot powerboat. He was charged with operating a boat under the influence of cocaine and alcohol.

Another danger of drinking and boating is that many of these drivers will also be responsible for getting the boat to shore. They may also get behind the wheel of a vehicle after a long day of drinking and sun. This puts all passengers and other motorists at risk.

While Americans will always enjoy the relaxation and pleasure of being out on the water, they should try to do so without combining it with drinking activities. Drinking culture has long been associated with boating, but legislators hope that bringing awareness can help prevent future tragedies on the water.

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June 11, 2013

Carolina Pool Safety: Signs of Drowning May Not Be What You Think

Whether out on the lake, in the ocean, or at a pool, swimmers and observers should be aware of the signs of drowning. Taking immediate action can make the difference between permanent injury, or life and death. A recent article published by Slate highlights the reality that it is often difficult to identify a drowning victim. While some may assume that drowning victims will be screaming or thrashing, this is not often the case.

According to experts, drowning is not usually identifiable by thrashing in the water, violet yelling or a call for help. Drowning can be "deceptively quiet" according to a former Coast Guard rescue swimmer who has often seen victims of drowning overlooked, even by close bystanders. Our Charlotte swimming accident attorneys want to keep our clients and the community safe by promoting swimming safety and to provide information on how to spot a drowning victim.


When watching movies, drowning victims wave, yell and call for help. In fact, drowning victims may not splash or show any sign of struggle. Medical experts in the field have reported that The Instinctive Drowning Response, is what victims actually do to avoid suffocating underwater. Essentially, a drowning victim may go into shock and the reaction is not very dramatic to bystanders.

Drowning is the number two cause of accidental death to children under the age of 5. Surprisingly, nearly half of deaths will be within 25 yards of a parent or other adult. Parents may even be watching their children without knowing that they are drowning.

In reality, victims are unable to call out for help. A respiratory system, designed for breathing, makes speech secondary. Victims may become paralyzed as the body focuses exclusively on taking in air. A drowning victim's mouth may sink under water then reappear. Mouths of victims are usually not above the water long enough to inhale and call for help so they breath in quickly before their mouth sinks below the surface.

The same way that a victim is unable to call for help, a victim cannot wave. Instinctively, victims will extend their arms and press down on the surface of the water to leverage for air. In this position, victims cannot control arm movements. A victim will usually remain upright in the water with no evidence of kicking. The terrifying thing about drowning, is that the physiological response to drowning makes victims unable to call out for help; and, a victim can usually only struggle between 20 and 60 seconds before they are fully submerged.

If you and your family will be out swimming this summer, remember to keep small children away from the water when unattended. You should also remain aware of the signs of drowning including a head low in the water, tilted back, glassy or empty eyes, closed eyes, hair over forehead or eyes, the inability to use legs, or gasping. By identifying the signs of a drowning victim, you can also take appropriate action when a victim needs help.

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June 8, 2013

Preventing Ladder Falls: June is National Safety Month

Slip and fall accidents can result in very serious, even catastrophic injuries. In the most severe cases, a slip and fall cause permanent brain damage, paralysis, or death. This month the National Safety Council is raising public awareness to prevent slips, trips and falls in North Carolina and nationwide. In addition to preventing falls from ladders or rooftops, the agency is promoting general awareness related to slip or trip and fall injuries.

On June 2, the National Safety Council launched its campaign to promote wellness and to prevent slips, trips and falls as part of National Safety Month. Every year, the month of June is used to educate citizens and to provide information to prevent injuries and death. This week, advocates are using resources to raise public awareness and to help individuals, families and businesses avoid the dangers of slip and falls. Our North Carolina slip and fall attorneys are committed to raising public awareness to prevent these accidents.


According to the NSC, falls are the second-leading cause of unintentional death. Falls may involve rooftops or balconies, home improvement, staircases, or the workplace. During the summer months, slip and fall accidents are on the rise because more homeowners are using ladders in and outside of the home. Here are some tips to prevent slip and falls when you are at home:

Ensure you have the right ladder and equipment. Choosing the right ladder is important to staying safe. You should make sure you know how to properly use and lock a ladder and ensure that the ladder is in good working condition.

Check your work area. Many falls are the result of hazards surrounding your work area. You should check for cords or other objects in the walkway. Be sure that you are not working with small children around and that your ladder is secured before you start working.

Weather makes a difference. Working in the rain or when it is windy can create additional risks of falls. You could slip on a wet ladder or a ladder could lose its grip. If the weather changes suddenly while you are working, you should head indoors and suspend work on your project.

Position yourself correctly. Proper balance is key to reducing the chance of falling or slipping off a ladder. You should always have three points of contact with the ladder. For example, you should have two hands and one foot or two feet and one hand. Don't overreach, just move the ladder if you are too far away.

A slip and fall may be related to negligence, defective equipment, or unsafe premises. If you or someone you love has suffered from a fall, an investigator can identify those individuals and entities responsible. You may be entitled to significant compensation for medical expenses, pain and suffering, wages, and other personal losses related to the accident.

Nationwide, the National Safety Council is requesting that agencies, community leaders and the general public join in the campaign to prevent accidental falls. Encouraging safe behavior and knowing how to properly use ladders and other equipment can reduce the chances of an accidental fall, injury, or death.

Continue reading "Preventing Ladder Falls: June is National Safety Month" »

June 6, 2013

Carolina Bridge Safety a Serious Concern Among Officials

We're sure you've heard of the recent bridge collapse in Washington. According to USA TODAY, "The 58-year-old bridge had a 'fracture critical' design, meaning loss of a single structural support could undermine the crossing.
In light of that incident, officials with the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) are working to educate residents and visitors about ways to help keep our state's bridges safe and maintained.

"We have comprehensive inspection, rehabilitation, and maintenance programs in place because our bridges play a vital role in connecting people to work, school and popular vacation destinations," said Transportation Secretary Tony Tata.

Our Asheville personal injury lawyers understand that close to $500 million in state funds have been thrown into our area's bridges to help to repair, preserve and replace these critical structures. Thankfully, the Transportation Department has been able to improve roughly 1,000 bridges. But is that enough? According to the current proposed state budgets, officials are looking to spend roughly $300 million to keep the program going for the next two years.

Under federal law, each of our areas bridges are required to undergo an inspection every two years. If a bridge has been found to be unsafe, the department is required to close the bridge, stop travel and repair it accordingly.

In an inspection, officials take a look at the substructure, the superstructure, the expansion joints, the decks and the railings. When these bridges are inspected, they're given a condition rating and a list of what repairs need to be made.

In the state of North Carolina, we have close to 14,000 bridges. Of these bridges, close to 3,000 of them have been deemed "Structurally Deficient." This means that it's okay to drive on, but there are things that need to be done to get it up to current safety standards.

A bridge can also get a "Functionally Obsolete" rating, which means that the bridge is safe, but needs to be replaces to keep up with traffic demands. Currently, there are close to 4,500 bridges in the state with this rating.

Currently, we have close to 40 bridges that are the same kind of bridge that was involved in the recent Washington accident. We're not trying to scare drivers, we're just trying to raise awareness about the risk that are involved when driving over a bridge.

With these conditions, we're asking drivers to be cautious out there. Sometimes, there's no getting around a bridge. When this is the case, make sure you approach every one of them with extreme caution and safety. When driving over a bridge, please try to eliminate all distractions while driving. When there is the possibility of a car traveling in the opposite direction only inches from your car, being mindful of your surroundings and paying attention to the road can potentially save you from an accident and injuries. Avoid changing lanes on bridges or making any sudden movements. On wrong move could wind up taking lives.

Continue reading "Carolina Bridge Safety a Serious Concern Among Officials" »

June 4, 2013

Officials Looking for Two Missing Carolina Boaters

it was a deadly weekend out there on our South Carolina coast. According to Independent Mail, authorities have found the body of a missing fisherman, but are still on the hunt for two more people after separate boating accidents in South Carolina Lowcountry.
The state of South Carolina has an abundance of water resources with 8,000 miles of river, 460,000 acres of lakes, and 3,000 miles of coastline.

Our Charleston boating accident lawyers understand that many residents and visitors look forward to hitting the open water and escaping the worries of life. Unfortunately, there are only more worried to be had on the water. According to the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, there were close to 100 recreational boating accidents recorded in the state of South Carolina in 2011. Among these accidents, there were close to 20 fatalities.

It's important that boaters are up to speed with their boating safety before heading out on the water. Making a list, and check it twice, to help to prevent any boating mishaps.

On the Water:

-Check the weather before you head out.

-Make sure you've freshened up on your boating skills. Consider enrolling in a boater's safety course. You can never be too good of a captain. Operator errors account for 70 percent of boating accidents -- take a course.

-Make sure you understand how to navigate the waterways. It's critical for you to understand the buoy system.

-Never operate a vessel under the influence of drugs of alcohol.

-Check the fire extinguisher on your vehicle. Make sure it's working correctly before every time you venture out.

-Be on the lookout for overhead wires and power lines. This is especially important while traveling through canals and smaller bodies of water.

-Make sure that there are enough floatation devices in your vessel for every passenger on board.

-Make sure that all young children are wearing a life vest at all times.

-Before heading out, make sure that all of the lights on your vessel are working properly. You want to make sure you're seen out there at all times.

-Make sure you always carry a cell phone with you when hitting the water.

-Remember that state law says that vessels may not be operated in excess of idle speed within 50 feet of an anchored vessel, wharf, pier, dock, or a person in the water. Vessels may not operate in excess of idle speed within 100 yards of the Atlantic coastline.

-Make sure you designate a skipper. You don't want to be the only one on the boat who knows what they're doing. Every captain can use a little help.

-If you're going to be in and around the water, proper boating safety means knowing how to swim. Local organizations such as the American Red Cross and others offer training for all ages and abilities- check to see what classes are offered in your area.

-Get your boat checked. The United States Power Squadrons offer a free Vessel Safety Check (VSC). These boating safety equipment checks are meant to be educational and helpful, and are a good follow-up to any water safety course.

Continue reading "Officials Looking for Two Missing Carolina Boaters" »

June 2, 2013

Slick Roadways Send Two to Carolina Hospital

A North Carolina woman and her 19-month-old daughter are currently in the hospital fighting for their lives after a serious accident. According to the Citizen-Times, the two are at Mission Hospital after their vehicle collided with a pickup truck just before 6:00 p.m. Accident reports indicate that there was heavy rain in the area when the crash happened. The driver of the truck involved was not reported injured in the accident.
Sgt. Craig Harris of the Highway Patrol says that the couple's car was heading west when the mother lost control, crossed over the center line and drove into the path of the pickup. Officials are still investigating the accident.

Our Asheville car accident lawyers understand that our weather can be tricky -- especially when we're behind the wheel of a motor vehicle. Driving through rain, snow and other dangerous conditions can return unfavorable outcomes if we're not careful. When it rains, our roadways become slick and slippery and we can lose control of our vehicles rather quickly if we're not careful. This is when a vehicle hydroplanes. According to The Weather Channel, hydroplaning happens when the water in front of your tires builds up faster than your car's weight can push it out of the way. When this happens, the water pressure can cause your vehicle to rise up and slide on a thin layer of water beneath your tires.

But there are ways that you can prevent hydroplaning:

-Be sure that you're driving slowly and carefully when it's wet out. This is especially important when you're turning or taking curves in the road. You want to make sure that you're steering and braking smoothly. When your maneuvers are too quick, your vehicle can quickly slide out of control.

-If you find yourself behind the wheel in a skidding vehicle, keep it calm. Your best bet is to ease your foot off of the gas and steer into the direction you want the front of the vehicle to go. If you don't have anti-lock brakes on your vehicle, avoid hitting your brake at all. If you have these kinds of brakes, brake firmly as you steer into the direction of the skid.

-To help to avoid these incidents altogether, make sure that you have enough air in your tires. Air pressure helps you to grasp the road better and more efficiently. It's also a good idea to make sure that there's adequate tread on your tires. When they're old and worn, your risks for an accident increase significantly.

-Always drive defensively -- but especially when there's inclement weather. You want to reduce your speeds and be even more cautious during these times to help to avoid a potentially serious accident. It's extremely important to leave more space between you and other vehicles during poor weather conditions. Drivers of all kinds need more time to react and need to keep safety as a number one priority.

Continue reading "Slick Roadways Send Two to Carolina Hospital" »