May 10, 2013

North Carolina Traffic Safety: Uncovering Distraction Not Unusual in Accident Investigations

"I'm going to crash!" were the last words Kelsey Raffaele ever said. She was talking on a cell phone while driving when she clipped a snow bank, spin out of control and right into the path of oncoming traffic. An SUV T-boned her vehicle. She later died at the hospital, according to the Citizen-Times.
Local police simply chalked up the accident as a mistake that's commonly made by newly-licensed drivers. Later, they found out that she was on the phone when the accident happened. They credited the accident to distracted driving after finding her cell phone in the back of the car. Distracted driving is unfortunately also a common cause for novice driver accidents.

Our Asheville car accident lawyers understand that the paperwork was already filed when officials discovered that it was a distracted driving car accident. Because these accidents aren't oftentimes discovered in a timely manner, if they're ever discovered at all, the statistical risks are well under reported.

According to the National Safety Council (NSC), the problems associated with these kinds of accidents appear less serious because of this discrepancy. This discrepancy impedes efforts to win passage of tougher laws.

Currently, drivers under the age of 18 are prohibited from talking on a cell phone. That's not stopped most of them though.

Unfortunately, drivers don't see the risks involved in this behavior and they're not deterred by current laws. According to the NSC, close to 200 fatal accidents were reviewed from 2009 to 2011 in which a cell phone was probably the cause of the accident. Unfortunately, only about half were recorded as distracted driving accidents.

Even in many cases where drivers openly admitted to using a cell phone in the accident, officers many times don't record them as distraction related.

According to the latest statistics, there over 32,000 roadway fatalities recorded in the U.S. in 2011. Less than 400 were listed as distracted driving accidents involving cell phones. Yet other sources report that close to 4,000 people were killed in distracted driving car accidents.

It's no secret. We've all been behind the wheel on a cell phone at least once in our lives --whether we were making a phone call, answering a text message or even checking out email. But it's these dangerous behaviors that can cause a deadly accident -- in a matter of seconds.

Now is an important time of the year, with summer break approaching, to talk to our younger drivers about the importance of attentive driving. Make sure they understand the risks involved with texting or calling behind the wheel. Make sure they're pulling over and coming to a safe stop before attending to business. It's a move that could wind up saving their life.

Continue reading "North Carolina Traffic Safety: Uncovering Distraction Not Unusual in Accident Investigations " »

May 8, 2013

North Carolina Bicycle Accidents a May Focus

May is nationally recognized as Bike Month. North Carolina is getting in on the action, too. This year, Bike to Work Week will be held from May 16th to May 20th.

Bike to Work Day is Friday, May 20. In celebration, many communities across the state are going to be organizing bike rides, cycling socials and safety sessions. You can check out what's going on in your area by stopping by the North Carolina Active Transportation Alliance's website.
Whether you bike to work or school, to save money or time, to preserve your health or the environment, to explore your community or get to your destination, our Charlotte bicycle accident lawyers are asking you to get involved in Bike Month in your city -- and help get more people in your community out riding too!

But before you start riding, there are a few things we want to go over with you, as cycling on our Carolina roadways is no walk in the park. Unfortunately, many drivers fail to recognize two-wheeled travelers -- even though we have just as much right to the roadway as they do. It's time to step up, speak up and make our presence known this summer.

According to the latest statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there were close to 700 bicyclists killed in traffic accidents in the U.S. in 2011. What's even worse is that there were another 50,000 who were seriously injured.

And the problem does appear to be getting any better. Last year, we saw a near 10 percent increase in the number of bicyclist fatalities compared to 2010.

To help to get the message across to motorists, officials with the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) have created the Division of Bicycle and Pedestrian Transportation (DBPT). Everything that the Division of Bicycle and Pedestrian Transportation (DBPT) does is geared toward improving the safety of North Carolina's millions of bicyclists and pedestrians.

You want to know the rules of riding safely, and you want to make sure that you're staying clear of vehicular traffic. Unfortunately, drivers don't always see or predict our presence out there. We have to stay one step ahead of the traffic around us. Make sure you can be easily seen while pedaling around town.

Education can be a powerful tool for changing behavior and improving safety skills. Bicyclists and motorists alike can benefit from educational tools and messages that teach them the rules, rights, and responsibilities of various modes of travel.

Continue reading "North Carolina Bicycle Accidents a May Focus" »

May 6, 2013

Anderson Injury Risk With High-Powered Magnets, CPCS Warns

A group of six retailers has issued a swift recall of two high-powered magnet products by the same manufacturer, warning that the products are defective in design and fail to warn consumers of the "substantial risk of injury and death to children and teenagers."
Our Anderson personal injury lawyers understand that the Buckyballs and Buckycubes are the latest in a long list of magnet products that the Consumer Product Safety Commission has warned against.

In fact, the CPSC issued a release two years ago, warning of severe consequences for children of all ages who had ingested high-powered magnets. The problem is not only the potential choking risk, but the fact that when one or more of these magnets are swallowed, they can attract one another internally. That can cause serious injuries or even death due to small holes in the intestines and stomach, or by causing intestinal blockage or blood poisoning.

Such incidents have been on the rise since 2009, according to the CPSC. There was one incident that year. There were seven the year after and they had doubled to 14 the following year. They have continued to rise, with 54 total reports of children ingesting the product - 53 of those requiring intensive medical intervention.

Unlike many ingestion warnings, the danger is posed not just to babies and toddlers, but also to older children and even teenagers. The oldest person affected was 15 years-old. From 2009 through 2011, there were 11 surgeries required to remove the magnets. In a lot of the cases where doctors ordered surgery to remove the magnets, additional procedures were required to repair the child's intestines and stomach.

So far, there haven't been any reports of death, but the risk is very real, particularly if multiple magnets are consumed or if treatment is delayed.

Part of the problem is a lot of these sets - including the Buckyballs and Buckycubes, come in sets of about 200 or so magnets, so it's tough for parents to identify when a few might go missing. Very young children have found stray magnets on the table, in the refrigerator, on the floor or between sofa cushions.

With teenagers, a number of the ingestion incidents were unintentional, but a few were intentional.

Buckyballs' manufacturer was quoted back in 2011 as saying that the products were only intended for adult use or in homes where children were over the age of 14.

But in some cases prior to 2008, children's toys actually contain a number of high-powered magnets and there have been reports of those magnets falling out of the toys. There is now a mandatory standard in place that prohibits magnets or magnet components in toys made for children under the age of 14.

The most recent recall stems from a July 2012 administrative complaint that the CPSC filed against the company's manufacturer, after they failed to institute a voluntary recall. (The agency has only submitted four such complaints in the last dozen years, so it truly speaks to the negligence of this firm.)

The agency said it is still receiving injury reports relating to these magnets, which is why the retailers themselves chose to act.

Retailers include:

  • Barnes & Noble;

  • Bed Bath & Beyond

  • Brookstone

  • Hallmark;

  • Marbles the Brain Store

  • ThinkGeek

Continue reading "Anderson Injury Risk With High-Powered Magnets, CPCS Warns" »

May 4, 2013

Diagnostic Errors Most Common Cause of Carolina Medical Malpractice Claims

When it comes to medical malpractice claims, our Spartanburg personal injury lawyers know there are many possible triggers.
It could be a surgical mistake, an obstetric error, even an overdose.

But if you thought any of those were the most common reason for filing a medical malpractice claim, you'd be wrong.

In fact, nearly 30 percent of medical malpractice settlement payouts stem from diagnostic errors. That's according to the National Practitioner Data Bank, which keeps track of action by state licensing officials against health care providers.

Behind diagnostic mistakes, errors made in treatment and surgery were the second and third most frequent claims. All other types of errors, including anesthesia, medication, monitoring and obstetric, accounted for about one-fifth of medical malpractice payouts.

These figures were recently published by BMJ Quality and Safety, which had discovered that between 1986 and 2010, there were approximately 100,000 medical malpractice payments made just for diagnostic errors. These incidents accounted for nearly 34 percent of disabilities and 40 percent of the deaths that eventually resulted in a medical malpractice payout.

The authors of the study note that this is a huge health problem, and that hospitals, physicians, nurses and insurers all have a responsibility to help address it. The problem is, few singular entities view it as their problem.

A diagnostic error would be one in which your true diagnosis was somehow delayed or missed.

Part of the reason these types of errors don't get nearly enough attention is that they are so difficult to track and measure. Individuals who may be victims may not even realize it, at least not on the same scale as someone with a surgical error. The latter would be very obvious, very definitive. A diagnostic error, meanwhile, might not be as evident.

Researchers believe that in the last 25 years, somewhere between 100,000 and 160,000 people have been negatively affected by diagnostic errors. They may have suffered anything from minor injuries to death as a result.

The cost of this over the course of 25 years, adjusted for inflation, was nearly $40 billion, with a mean per-claim payout of about $390,000 each. Per-claim payouts were higher depending on the severity of the injury. For example, someone who suffered something like brain damage or anything that resulted in a lifelong care requirement on average won settlements of about $810,000, while those whose injuries were deemed significant received about $270,000 each.

Some suggested efforts to help reduce diagnostic errors include technology-based aids and electronic alerts. One example is a program that generates a list of possible diagnoses based on the list of patient symptoms. It wouldn't mean the condition was necessarily on that list, but it would be a guide of potential options for doctors to explore.

Previous studies have suggested this sort of thing may help produce tangible results. One study conducted in the early 1990s found that when doctors used standardized form to diagnose abdominal pain, there was a 9 percent reduction in diagnostic errors with regard to appendicitis.

Continue reading "Diagnostic Errors Most Common Cause of Carolina Medical Malpractice Claims" »

May 2, 2013

Charlotte Car Crashes Top Weather-Related Fatalities

If you asked a people to guess the most dangerous aspect for Americans of being involved in severe weather, you'd probably hear answers that ranged from being swept up by tornado-force winds to being crushed by hurricane-strewn debris.

Certainly, those things tragically happen, and they get a lot of media attention when they do.
However, our Charlotte personal injury lawyers have learned that in fact the deadliest aspect of severe weather is seen on the roadways.

That's according to meteorology researchers at Plymouth State University in New Hampshire.

News stations will cover multi-car pile-ups, especially when they are serious. There have been quite a few of them so far this year - 19 on U.S. highways, and they've left 700 wrecked cars and 8 fatalities in their wake.

However, it's the everyday, bad weather wrecks that actually cause the most wrecks. In most cases, it's a single or two-car crash on wet roads.

In an average year, an estimated 7,000 people in the U.S. die in highway crashes that are caused by weather such as heavy rain, sleet, fog or snow. Most of these incidents involve one, maybe two deaths at a time, so they tend to receive very little coverage. They aren't catastrophic or sometimes even dramatic, so you won't see the kind of attention paid to deaths caused by flash floods, tornadoes, hurricanes or heat.

There is one group that is paying closer attention.

A recent gathering in Washington D.C., the American Meteorological Society's Washington Forum, was primarily focused on how to reduce or prevent this glut of weather-related crashes across the country.

The group said that until recently, even the National Weather Service didn't include weather-related vehicle crashes into its weather death tolls. The reason was that the standard was whether the weather played an active role in the person's death.

So for example, if a huge pile of snow falls from a tree and crushes a person, the NWS would consider that a weather-related death. However, if someone crashes in a snowstorm, officials would have said that the person was driving too quickly in the elements, and therefore it wasn't the snow that killed the driver but his or her own actions.

The meteorological group said the recognition of these deaths as legitimate, weather-related deaths will help them formulate informational releases to the public to help reduce these kinds of incidents.

One of the options being explored is something called a Vehicle Data Translator, which would provide motorists with real time information on atmospheric and road conditions. This technology would get information to people faster than roadside signs, and could warn of conditions such as wildfire smoke, fog, black ice, hail or blizzard whiteouts.

You can't necessarily prevent drivers from speeding or not paying attention or driving drunk. However, the idea is to cut down on the surprise element that so often contributes to weather-related crashes.

Ultimately, the goal is to make sure everyone makes it home safely.

Continue reading "Charlotte Car Crashes Top Weather-Related Fatalities " »

April 30, 2013

Carolina Traffic Safety - Stats Show Seat Belts Still Best First Line of Defense

We all know we're supposed to wear seat belts. Not only do we know it's the best way to save our life in the event of an accident, but we also know that it's the law. According to, all drivers and passengers, in the rear seat as well as in the front seat, ages 16 and older must wear their seat belts. Children less than age 16 are covered by the NC Child Passenger Safety law.
Still, roughly 20 percent of people are not slapping on that seat belt, according to the latest statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). In 2011, close to 21,500 occupants of passenger vehicles (passenger cars, pickup trucks, vans, and SUVs) died in motor vehicle traffic crashes. Of those fatalities, only about 9,500 were restrained. Restraint use was not known for 1,634 occupants. Looking at only occupants where the restraint status was known, more than 50 percent were unrestrained at the time of the crash.

Our Winston-Salem car accident attorneys understand that our young ones are some of the worst offenders when it comes to seat belt usage. In 2011, 64 percent of the passenger vehicle occupants ages 21 to 24 killed in traffic crashes were not using restraints -- the highest percentage out of all age groups.

So how serious was it in North Carolina? According to the statistics from the NHTSA, of the close to 900 occupants who were killed in traffic accidents in the state in 2011, only about half of them were belted at the time of the accident. This seems a little funny considering that officials report a seat belt usage rate of close to 90 percent.

For children, a properly used child restraint device (CRD) is required if the child is less than 8-years-old and weighs less than 80 pounds. Most parents and caregivers will be able to comply by using belt-positioning booster seats for children between 40 and 80 pounds. The child must be within the weight range for the child restraint/booster seat and it must meet Federal standards in effect at time of manufacture.

Seat belts work and the proof is in the numbers. Among passenger vehicle occupants age 5 and older, seat belts saved an estimated 12,000 lives in 2011. If all passenger vehicle occupants age 5 and older had worn seat belts, close to 15,500 lives could have
been saved in 2011.

If you don't want to buckle up to save your life, you might as well do it to save some money. If you're pulled over and busted for not wearing a seat belt. For a first-time violation, you'll be slapped with a $25.50 fine. You're also going to have to dish out more than $135 in court costs. Lucky for you, no driver's license or insurance points are assessed with this violation.

If you're busted with someone in the back seat who isn't properly buckled in, you're looking at a monetary penalty.

Continue reading "Carolina Traffic Safety - Stats Show Seat Belts Still Best First Line of Defense" »

April 29, 2013

Bicyclists Falling Victim to Irresponsible Drivers

Bicyclists face serious risks out there, sharing the chaotic roadways with our Carolina drivers. Unfortunately, close to 50 Carolina bicyclists experienced the wrath of those risks firsthand in 2011. According to the latest statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), that's how many cyclists were killed in the state during 2011.
Our Charlotte bicycle accident lawyers understand that the risks for these kinds of accidents are on the rise. According to officials with the NHTSA, the number of bicyclists killed in 2011 is close to 10 percent higher than the numbers from 2010. For the entire year, there were close to 700 cyclists killed across the nation. If that isn't bad enough, there were another 50,000 cyclists seriously injured in motor vehicle traffic accidents.

Most of these bicyclist fatalities, 201 (or about 30 percent), occurred between the hours of 4:00 p.m. and 7:59 p.m. The second-highest number of fatalities, 142 (or just more than 20 percent), occurred between the hours of 8:00 p.m. and 11:59 p.m. The fewest bicyclist fatalities occurred between the hours of midnight and 3:59 a.m. It's during the evening hours that you need to be safe and have your attention on your surroundings. If you can, avoid traveling during this time. But if you have to, please do so cautiously.

We're not placing any blame on cyclists. In fact, we want to give you a high five for getting out there, getting active and helping to make our community greener. Unfortunately, not many motorists share the sentiment. Many times, bicyclists are overlooked on our roadways, if not outright disrespected. Although cyclists share the same road and adhere to the same laws as motor vehicle drivers, they're not treated the same. It's important to remember that bicyclists have rights.

It's not a kid's game either. Older bicycle riders face some serious risks. As a matter of fact, the average age of bicyclists killed in traffic accidents in 2011 was 43. During the
last 10 years, that age has been steadily increasing.

Officials with the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) have NCDOT launched a project (the Statewide Pedestrian and Bicycle Plan) to improve walking and bicycling conditions statewide and develop a vision for the future of bicycling and walking in the state. Important tasks included reviewing the current status of bicycling and walking safety, researching appropriate strategies for improvement, and identifying the most efficient avenues to apply those strategies.

Bicyclists don't have the safe places they need to bike in too many areas of the state. Whether they're doing it for their health, for exercise or for transportation, we need to make sure they have a safe, more efficient way to get around.

It's important that drivers keep a lookout for these vulnerable travelers. Look before making turns or lane changes in traffic. Your extra second could mean the different between life and death for a bicyclist who could be a neighbor, coworker or friend.

Continue reading "Bicyclists Falling Victim to Irresponsible Drivers" »

April 27, 2013

Rock Hill Injury Lawyers Lament Long History of Industrial Accident Prevention Failures

The deadly explosion at a fertilizer plant in Texas recently has raised a host of questions about the safety of our industrial facilities.
As tragic as this incident was, our Rock Hill personal injury lawyers know it should not have been a total surprise to the company, considering a 2011 risk assessment report in which the firm told the Environmental Protection Agency that, yes, it had 54,000 pounds of anhydrous ammonia on site, but there was absolutely no danger of an explosion or a fire.

Yet, here we are in the wake of an explosion involving that very chemical that killed 14 people and injured another 200 - most first-responders - and destroyed some 50 homes with a blast that could be felt an astonishing 50 miles away.

No risk? By whose standards?

What's especially troubling is that notice of the storage of another chemical at the factory, ammonium nitrate, wasn't even reported to the EPA by the company. This chemical is even more volatile than anhydrous ammonia, which is only flammable in conditions of extreme heat.

Even worse, this was not even the worst explosion in our nation's history by any means. In fact, the West, TX explosion happened almost 66 years to the day after the most deadly industrial accident in America. That case too happened in Texas, less than 250 miles away from this one.

It was April 17, 1947 when a plant in Texas City caught fire, thanks to a boat that had docked nearby, which had caught fire. It too contained ammonium nitrate fertilizer. As firefighters began to battle the blaze, the ship - and its combustible cargo - exploded. A 15-foot tidal wave was generate that flooded a huge swath of the city. Buildings were destroyed. A barge was blasted out of the water, landing more than 100 feet inland. Earthquake seismologists in Denver, several hundred miles away, were actually able to measure the blast on the Richter scale.

By the time the wreckage was cleared, a total of 581 people were found to have died.

A few years before that, in Port Chicago near San Francisco, some 400 tons of explosives were docked in a war ship that exploded shortly after 10:15 p.m. one night. Nearly 400 were injured and 320 died - all soldiers, most of them black Navy soldiers.

Thirty years before that, about 150 people died within a matter of 20 minutes in a garment factory in New York, where the majority of workers were teen immigrants who worked in crowded spaces for stretches of 12 hours at a time with very little compensation. A fire broke out.

The list of safety oversights were almost too numerous to count. There were only two fire escapes. Exit doors were locked to prevent workers from leaving during their breaks. Others were blocked by scraps of fabric. Ladders owned by the fire departments were too short to reach the upper levels. The water pressure in the hoses was too weak to make much of a dent.

The building had been deemed fireproof, yet it burned to the ground.

When we look back in American history, it's important to see how far we've come in terms of industrial working conditions. But in examining the details of what happened recently in Texas, it appears we still have so much farther to go.

Continue reading "Rock Hill Injury Lawyers Lament Long History of Industrial Accident Prevention Failures" »

April 26, 2013

Anderson Injury Lawyers Urge Awareness of Alcohol Dangers in April

April is an appropriate month for national alcohol danger awareness, particularly for teens, on the heels of spring break and as we approach a steady stream of prom festivities and graduation parties.
Our Anderson personal injury lawyers know that a huge portion of the cases that are brought to us involve alcohol either directly or indirectly, most often involving alcohol consumption by someone operating a motor vehicle.

Teens are more at risk, especially this time of year, because they are less experienced behind the wheel, less likely to know their limits with alcohol, have more opportunities and are under a greater amount of peer pressure to drink toward the end of the school year.

Mothers Against Drunk Driving notes that when compared to classmates who don't drink, high schoolers who imbibe are more likely to die in a car crash, become pregnant, fail out of school, be a victim of sexual assault, become addicted to alcohol and to commit suicide.

Some three-quarters of teenagers say their parents are their No. 1 influence when it comes to their decision of whether or not to drink alcohol. Consider that 65 percent of eighth-graders reported alcohol was easy to obtain, with 35 percent saying they had consumed alcohol within the last 30 days.

The Centers for Disease Control reports that in 2011, nearly 1 million teens drank alcohol before driving. Car crashes have remained the top cause of death for teens between the ages of 16 and 19, and alcohol is involved in about a third of these crashes. April is one of the deadliest months of the year for teen drivers, for the reasons we stated earlier.

South Carolina is among the worst in this regard, with the CDC reporting that between 11.3 and 14.5 percent of teens 16 and older who reported having driven drunk at some point.

There are many resources that involve how to talk to your teen about alcohol use. The National Institutes of Health recommend starting with a foundation of the following:

  • Establish an open line of communication. You want to make it easy for your teenager to talk to you about anything. This involves initiating conversations, asking open-ended questions and controlling your emotions when you hear something you don't like. Try to stay away from lecturing; make it a conversation.

  • Make sure your child knows you care. Your counsel isn't going to mean much if your teen doesn't believe you care that much in the first place. Spend one-on-one time together in which you provide your loving, undivided attention.

  • Set clear and realistic expectations for behavior. Establish consistent and appropriate consequences for breaking the rules.

MADD says it's important for parents to drive home the following points:

  • Drinking is illegal for teens;

  • Drinking and driving is illegal for everyone - and there is a very good reason for that;

  • Drinking affects the brain, particularly in terms of good judgement, and a person who is intoxicated is not going to be a good judge of whether they are Ok to get behind the wheel;

  • Discuss ways to resist the intensive peer pressure that might accompany prom and graduation season.

Continue reading "Anderson Injury Lawyers Urge Awareness of Alcohol Dangers in April" »

April 24, 2013

Dog Bites a Spring Danger in the Carolinas

While we consider dog to be man's best friend, it's important to remember that dogs are not four-legged humans. Their methods of communication are different than ours -- and especially of our children's.

Dogs speak mainly through body language, which can be oftentimes overlooked or misunderstood by our youngest family members. It's important that we talk with our youngsters and make sure they understand these movements and what they mean. Misunderstandings can lead to accidents, injuries and even fatalities.
Our Greensboro dog bite injury attorneys understand it's important that our children understand how a pups thinks, how they're provoked and how to stay safe around them. One of the best ways you can do this is to set a good example. Many times, children with mimic how their parents act with dogs, just as they mimic everything around them.

He are some simple safety tips for your child:

-Never leave your child alone with a dog. Always make sure they're properly supervised. Supervision means being watched, not just standing in the same room.

-Make sure children know never to approach a dog that they do not know.

-Make sure there is somewhere your dog can go to get away from your child. This can help to relieve tension.

-Make sure children don't play with dogs while they're sleeping, eating or nursing.

-Before playing with a dog, make sure that you allow them to sniff you. This is how dogs get acquainted with who you are.

-Don't expect children under the age of 6 to be responsible for a pet or to have a full understanding of the risks involved in handling a dog.

According to the American Humane Association, there are more than 4.5 million dog bites that happen every year in the U.S. Close to 1 million of those bites require medical care. More than 90 percent of fatal dog bite accidents involve male dogs, close to 95 percent of them which weren't neutered. About 25 percent of all fatal dog bite attacks involve dogs that were chained at the time of the attack. More than 70 percent of these bites happen to a victim's extremities, like the hands, feet, legs and arms. In a good majority of all recorded dog bite accidents, the victim was bitten on their own property and even knew the dog that bit them.

These aren't cheap accidents either. According to the most recent statistics, the insurance industry dishes our more than $1 billion in these kinds of claims each and every year.

What's worse is that about half of all of the recorded accidents occurred to those who were under the age of 12. More than 80 percent of the dog bites that were treated in the emergency room were for children under the age of 15. Of all the reported fatalities from these incidents, about 70 percent were children under the age of 10.

Make sure you're keeping the conversation going about dog safety with your children. Make sure they understand how dogs act and what their movements mean. Understanding is the key factor in helping to prevent these attacks.

Continue reading "Dog Bites a Spring Danger in the Carolinas" »

April 22, 2013

Preventing Underride in Carolina Trucking Accidents

For the most part, the underride guards of large, commercial trucks are doing a good job in helping to protect passenger vehicle occupants.

The standards for the strength of these guards have improved in recent years -- and we're all safer for it. On the other hand these guards are primarily helping to prevent injury in straight-on rear-end accidents, and not when passenger vehicles make contact with side portions of the rear of these trucks.
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), most semi-trucks are required to have these underride guards. Officials with IIHS are pushing to get these guards on even more vehicles though -- including dump trucks. These guards are steel bars that hang from the back of a large trailer or truck to help to keep passenger vehicles from sliding underneath in the event of a collision. Back in 2011, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) enacted tougher standards for these guards following a number of studies that proved they initial standards weren't strong enough. Unfortunately, Canada still has better standards.

Our Asheville trucking accident lawyers understand that our passenger vehicles don't stand much of a chance against large, commercial vehicles. We should rely on our safe driving habits to keep us out of accidents with these trucks, but we should also be able to rely on their underride guards to help to protect us in the event of an unavoidable accident.

The IIHS is working for tougher standards, but still haven't heard back from the NHTSA. According to recent IIHS studies, these guards generally work well to prevent underride, except in crashes occurring at the outer edges of trailers. It's time to make them work under all conditions.

The good news is that many underride guards do meet the current standards. As a matter of fact, many of them exceed the current standards. Officials believe that this is because the trucks are keeping up with the Canadian standards. Still, all of this is virtually worthless if you're slamming into only a portion of the rear end of a truck.

In 2011, less than 300 of the estimated 2,240 passenger vehicle occupants who were killed in accidents with a large truck were killed when the front of their vehicle slammed into the back of a truck. While that's still an alarmingly high number, that's a number that was nearly cut in half since 2004. Although many would like to credit the tougher standards for this decrease, officials also place a large part of the credit to the fact that both trucks and passenger car drivers have been spending less time on the road with our struggling economy.

In the meantime, we're asking drivers to be on their best behavior out there while sharing the road with these large trucks. You never want to travel too closely. They take a lot longer than we do to stop, and your risks for a rear-end accidents jump when you don't allow any ample amount of following space. Back off and stay safe.

Continue reading "Preventing Underride in Carolina Trucking Accidents" »

April 18, 2013

Keeping Young Ones Safe in Carolina Swimming Pools

It's that time of year again -- when we get to open up our swimming pools and enjoy some fun in the sun. Whether you're swimming in the pool at your home, the pool in your community, at a public pool or at a friend's pool, you're reminded to keep safety as a number one priority.
According to federal statistics, fatal drowning accidents continue to be the second-leading cause of unintentional injury-related death for residents under the age of 14. For children who are under the age of 4, the risks is much higher.

Our Charlotte swimming pool accident attorneys understand that for every child who is killed in a swimming pool accident, another four are sent to the emergency room for care for serious injuries. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are close to 400 fatalities and more than 2,500 emergency room visits each year among children under the age of 5. Most of these accidents happen in home pools, too.

Who is most at risk for these swimming pool accidents?

-About 80 percent of the victims of these accidents are male.

-Children under the age of 14 are most commonly the victims of swimming pool accident.

-Minorities (African Americans) see a significantly higher rate of drowning fatalities than whites.

There are quite a few factors present in these drowning accidents. One of the most common is the lack of swimming ability. It's important that we're making sure our young ones are provided with the proper swimming skills at an early age.

It's also important to make sure that we're properly protecting our young ones from the pool. This means to make sure that you've got the proper barriers surrounding your pool. Make sure that they are equipped with a lock that cannot be accessed by our young ones. When a fence of a barrier is in place, we can reduce our child's risk by close to 85 percent.

Lack of proper supervision is also a common factor in these accidents. Supervision is more than just being in the same area as your pool and your young swimmers. You want to make sure that you're always watching them.

Location is going to tell you a lot about your risks, too. If you've got a swimming pool in your home, your risks are up there. If you live near lakes or rivers, your risks are pretty high, too. Don't forget that there are ways to help to prevent these risks though, regardless of where you live. You have to make sure that these areas can't be accessed by your little ones.

It's important that we're keeping the conversation active about water safety with our young ones. Awareness and education is one of the best ways to help to prevent these accidents. Make sure you provide them with the tools and supervision they need to stay safe out there, whether swimming in water or playing around it.

Continue reading "Keeping Young Ones Safe in Carolina Swimming Pools" »

April 15, 2013

Drivers Blatantly Disregarding Safety on NC Roadways

We've been talking a lot about the risks associated with distracted driving -- and rightfully so considering how big of a problem this actually is. According to officials with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), drivers aren't hanging up the phone despite the large number of injuries, fatalities and warnings. Now, officials are giving it another shot by releasing new information during National Distracted Driving Awareness Month.
Our Anderson car accident lawyers understand that these distracted driving car accidents take the lives of thousands of people each year. In 2011, there were more than 3,000 people killed because drivers weren't paying attention behind the wheel. According to, there were another 415,000 people injured in these accidents, too. Even with repeat of these statistics and all of the warnings from safe driving advocates, drivers continue to take their eyes off the road and place them onto needless and dangerous distractions.

To help to get the message across, officials with the NHTSA rounded up statistics from a number of federal sources and released them in the premier issue of "SAFETY 1N NUM3ERS" online monthly auto safety newsletter.

According to the 2011 National Occupant Protection Use Survey (NOPUS), at any given daylight moment across the nation, there are about 660,000 drivers who are using a cell phone or manipulating an electronic device while driving. That's a number that has stayed put for the last several years. And officials believe that more drivers are talking and texting now than ever. With the increase in the popularity of mobile devices, they're more easily accessed by drivers. But with the convenience comes danger!

The truth of the matter is that there is no way to text message and drive at the same time safely. Many drivers think that their brains can multitask efficiently and they'll be okay. However, multitasking is a myth. What our brain actually does is switch back and forth to and from each activity, never fully focusing on both.

Although a large majority of drivers say that they support legislation to keep drivers off their phones, not everyone is listening. Drivers are even reporting, in the 2012 National Survey on Distracted Driving Attitudes and Behaviors survey, that the fines for breaking these kinds of laws should be at least $200.

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), only drivers under the age of 18 are prohibited from using a cell phone in the driver's seat. All drivers are banned from text messaging. We're asking you to follow these regulations, not only because it's the law but we're asking you to do it to stay alive.

North Carolina's text messaging and cell phone laws are considered "primary" laws. A primary law means that an officer can pull you over for the offense without having to witness some other violation. That is, the officer sees you texting and issues a citation.

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April 12, 2013

Pedestrian Accidents on the Rise in North Carolina

A fatal pedestrian accident killed a man in High Point. Just two days later, a car hit a man who was walking to work in Kernsville. According to News & Record, that pedestrian was injured but turned away medical attention because he had to get to work.
Our Greensboro pedestrian accident lawyers understand that the number of pedestrian fatalities from motor vehicle accidents has been on the rise in the state of North Carolina. Officials can't seem to find a trend though as these numbers have jumped up and down from year to year. Statistics show that vehicles have struck and killed three people this year in High Point. Just three months in 2013, that's the same number of pedestrians that were killed in any of the last 5 years.

According to traffic Lt. Barry Roberts, these kinds of accidents are difficult to prevent. He says they're happening on all kinds of roads all over the city.

In just 2011, there were more than 500 collisions between pedestrians and vehicles in the unincorporated portion of North Carolina. In 2012, there were about 560. That shows a more than 10 percent increase. During this same time, the number of fatalities resulting from these kinds of accidents jumped from about 84 to close to 100, which serves as a more than 15 percent increase.

If you average it out, we've seen roughly 400 pedestrian accidents each year over the last five years. Of these accidents, there were about 90 fatalities.

Officials haven't targeted a cause for the increase, but say that it likely has to do with the fact that there are a lot more vehicles out there on our roadways. The economy is leveling out and drivers are feeling more comfortable dishing it out at the pump. On the flip side, officials say that it's impossible to determine the real cause for the pedestrian accidents.

Many times, inattentiveness is to blame. Both drivers are pedestrians are engaging in distractions while navigating our roadways and both are increasing their risks for accident.

Officials aren't able to credit inattentiveness is the recent Greensboro collision that killed two pedestrians back in July. Now, a local driver is facing a number of charges in that hit-and-run accident of the couple that was trying to get across Randleman Road on foot during that early-morning accident.

Those two pedestrians were the third and the fourth of nine pedestrians to be killed on the roadways of Greensboro in 2012.

There has only been one pedestrian fatality reported in Greensboro so far this year.

Greensboro Crash Reconstruction Team's Sgt. T.A. Long is urging residents to be safe and to watch out for drivers. Make sure you're wearing bright colors, using crosswalks and waiting for traffic lights. He's also urging drivers to pay attention to these vulnerable travelers -- especially near crosswalks, residential areas and school zones. Their safety largely relies on your habits behind the wheel.

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April 9, 2013

Carolina DUI Accidents & The BAC Debate

In the United States, everyone knows that a blood-alcohol content of .08 or higher means you are above the legal limit. However, few stop to question how or why the government came up with the .08 number or whether this is really a reasonable way to determine when someone is intoxicated. 806619_tequila_and_flower.jpg

Our Spartanburg accident lawyers know that other countries and locations throughout the world have different ideas when it comes to drunk driving. For example, according to the International Business Times, one Irish town that recently relaxed its drunk driving laws still has tougher laws than those that exist throughout the United States.

Drunk Driving Limits
According to the International Business Times, the local government in Ireland voted in January to permit people in certain isolated areas to drive after they had consumed a couple of drinks of alcohol.

Politicians in favor of loosening the drunk driving laws expressed the belief that rural residents might want to head out to the pub occasionally and, in fact, that doing so could help to prevent mental illnesses. The politicians argue that these rural drivers were not likely to become involved in crashes on deserted country roads and thus advocated loosening the BAC rules for when they would be considered too drunk to drive back home.

This may sound shocking and dangerous, until you consider the fact that their looser laws are still more stringent than the "strict" laws we have in the United States. Under the new laws in Ireland, for example, drivers are now permitted to drive on rural roads if they have a BAC of up to .07. This gives more leeway than the normal rule that indicates a driver is drunk if he has a BAC of .05. Of course, .07 is still below the legal limit of .08 in the United States.

The BAC requirements have changed over time in the U.S., and for decades the limit was between .10 and .15. However, in 1995, a report was published by National Highway Traffic Safety Administrators indicated that the increase in accidents once a driver has a BAC of .08 or higher is significant. In general, the accident risk directly correlates with drunk driving, going up as the BAC level of the driver rises. However, the increase in crashes rises rapidly after the driver has a BAC above .08.

This study, other scientific studies like it and pressure from groups such as Mothers Against Drunk Driving, already brought the BAC limit down from where it was in the past to the current .08 level. When the BAC legislation went into effect and set the bar at .08 to determine illegality, driver deaths in alcohol-related dropped significantly. The exact decline in the number of drunk driving deaths varies from location to location, with a 4 percent reduction in alcohol-related fatality crashes in California as compared with a 40 percent drop in Vermont.

So despite what Ireland is doing with its DUI laws (or may not be doing since the proposition passed by the legal council may actually have no legal status), you can rest assured that the laws in the U.S. have made a difference in keeping people safe. However, a tougher BAC law might do more.

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