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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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 distraction.gov, 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.

Continue reading "Carolina DUI Accidents & The BAC Debate" »

April 6, 2013

Buckling Up a Lot Less Trouble Than Coping with Injury

When you get into your car, it takes a split second to buckle your seat belt. Unfortunately, it also takes just a split second to get involved in a car accident. If you've taken the time to buckle up, you're likely to fare a lot better if your vehicle is involved in a crash.

Yet, despite how easy it is to take the steps to save your own life, there are a surprising number of drivers who make the choice not to buckle up. 602535_seatbelt.jpg

In fact, according to Health Canal, around 15 percent of drivers and passengers who sit in the front seat of a car do not regularly buckle their seatbelts. Our Greenville accident attorneys know that drivers tend to buckle up more for longer trips than they do for shorter ones. Unfortunately, this isn't good enough and drivers need to buckle up every single time they get into a car if they want to keep themselves safe.

Drivers on Shorter Trips Often Neglect to Buckle
Health Canal reported on a recent study conducted by researchers at the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute. The study was focused on the factors that affect a driver's decision about whether to buckle up. Buckling a seat belt can decrease the risk of becoming involved in a fatal car accident by 45 percent, so it is surprising that there are so many drivers who refrain from putting their seat belt on every time. Researchers wanted to learn more.

The study attempted to identify why occasional seat-belt wearers didn't buckle up every time. A total of 100 cars were studied, with 108 primary and 299 secondary drivers. The driving of those in the study was monitored over the course of a year and data was collected from 150,000 driving trips.

The results shouldn't come as that big of a surprise. For example, the study revealed that drivers tend to buckle up for longer trips and/or trips on high speed roads at greater frequency than they do on shorter trips on local roads. When the trip had an average speed of 30 miles per hour, for example, 72.7 percent of occasional bucklers (someone who buckles up sometimes but not all the time) would have their seat belt on. However, when the trip had an average speed of 50 miles per hour, a much higher percentage- 89 percent of occasional bucklers- would have their seat belts on.

Researchers believe road type was the primary factor in this difference, not speed limits. Data from a GPS sensor was used to confirm that theory and the GPS Information did show that occasional belt users buckle up more on interstates, regardless of speed, when compared with secondary roads.

Unfortunately, many crashes happen not on long trips on highways but on the local roads that are traveled most frequently. Drivers, therefore, should be sure to buckle up for any trip even if they are just going up the street. While it may seem inconvenient at first to have to buckle every time, the inconvenience is nothing compared to the hardship that can occur in situations where you get into a crash and get seriously hurt because you have no seat belt on.

Continue reading "Buckling Up a Lot Less Trouble Than Coping with Injury" »

April 3, 2013

Car Safety Tips Every Parent Should Know to Avoid Accident Injuries

Our Rock Hill accident attorneys know that car accidents are a leading cause of death for children. While teen drivers often put themselves in bad situations when they get behind the wheel, younger children are at risk of dying or being seriously injured in a car accident when traveling with parents or other adults in the car. 1155335_giraffe_in_baby_seat_.jpg

While kids are supposed to be in car seats and booster seats to ensure they are safe, the CDC indicates that as many as 72 percent of car seats may be misused in a manner that makes kids more likely to get hurt. Some parents aren't even aware of the requirement for car seat use nor of other important safety rules intended to avoid injuring children in auto accidents.

To help parents become better informed about how to keep their children safe in cars, Safer Car.gov provides many resources including informative tips on child safety seat use. The information is available in the Parent's Guide to Playing it Safe with Kids and Cars.

Parent Safety Tips for Children in Cars
Safer Car provides four basic pieces of advice that every single parent should be sure to follow. This advice includes:

  • Always using a car seat for every trip even for short ones when you are just going down the street. Most car accidents happen not on long trips but instead when you are close to home. An unrestrained child could be seriously hurt in an accident that occurs anywhere, including when you are running routine errands very close to where you live. In general, kids should be in car or booster seats until around age eight but this will vary depending upon the requirements of your state as well as the height and weight of your child.
  • Selecting a car seat appropriately sized to your child. You will need to take both age and size into account when shopping for the right car seat. Directions provided by the manufacturer should also be followed carefully both in terms of size/weight limits as well as in terms of use.
  • Ensuring the car seat is compatible with the car that you drive. The manufacturer of the car seat should be able to provide this information to you and the information is often found in the instructions for the carseat.
  • Ensuring that children sit in the back until they are age 12 or older. A front air bag is designed for an adult-sized person, not for a child. If an accident were to happen with a child in the front seat, then the child could be seriously hurt by the airbag, which inflates at a rate of around 200 miles-per-hour.

Safer Car also provides links to additional resources that parents can use to learn more and to provide even better protection for their kids. For example, there is a link that offers guidance in what to look for when buying a vehicle. Information on child car seat installation (including a video) is also available. This information can be invaluable in arming parents with the tools they need to ensure that the car is a safe place for their young passengers.

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March 31, 2013

Dog Bite Injuries in Carolinas a Spring Risk

Dogs may be mans best friend, but unfortunately they aren't always so friendly. The American Humane Association estimates that around 4.7 million dog bites occur each year in the United States, approximately 800,000 of which are serious enough that the bite victim needs medical care. These dog bites cause more than $1 billion in insurance claims to be paid out. 1267447_muzzled.jpg

Our Charlotte dog bite lawyers know that the spring and summer season may be the times when people are most at risk of dog bites. Kids and adults tend to spend more time outside during the warm seasons where they may encounter dogs who bite, and dogs may also be more likely to be outdoors once the weather is warm. More interaction with dogs outdoors can potentially up the chances of bite incidents occurring.

Dog bites can cause lasting disfigurement, serious harm and sometimes death, especially when a child is bitten. Avoiding a dog attack and preventing a dog bite from occurring are very important and dog owners and individuals should all be aware of how to stay safe to minimize the risk of dog attacks from occurring.

Safety Tips for Dog Owners
Dog owners are ultimately responsible for the behavior of their dogs and can be held liable if a dog bite or a dog attack occurs. As such, dog owners should do everything possible to ensure their dogs don't bite. Some tips include:

  • Keeping dogs on a leash at all times. Most areas throughout North Carolina have leash laws or ordinances requiring dogs to be leashed.
  • Ensuring your yard is dog-proof or that your dogs are kept in a secured area when let outdoors. You should never let your dog roam free since your dog could get hurt or hurt someone else.
  • Socializing puppies to new experiences. The best way to prevent a dog bite is to make sure your dog is not aggressive. A great deal of aggression is caused by fear, and you can help to make your dog more comfortable and less prone to fear by providing proper socialization as a puppy.
  • Keeping aggressive dogs contained. A dog that seems to present a bite risk should be kept away from areas where the dog might hurt someone. If the dog has to be in a public area, the use of a muzzle is appropriate.
  • Seeking behavioral training for bad behaviors. If your dog shows aggression or fails to be obedient to you, then you may wish to find a trainer who can help you to solve your problems before something bad happens.

By following these basic safety tips, you can help to ensure that your dog doesn't hurt anyone.

Safety Tips for Individuals

Even the best trained dog could bite when provoked. As such, everyone has the responsibility to try to keep himself or herself safe from becoming the victim of a dog attack. Tips to do this include:

  • Refraining from approaching dogs you do not know. If you wish to pet or interact with a dog, ask the dog's owner first.

  • Greeting dogs in a calm manner by holding out your hand to let the dog sniff it first. Avoid approaching dogs you don't know head-on or overly aggressively as this can be seen as a threat.

  • Supervising your kids when they are interacting with dogs.

  • Leaving animals alone when they are eating and not taking things from dogs such as toys or food.

  • Remaining calm and still. If you shout or try to run away when confronted by a stray dog or a potentially dangerous dog, you can increase the chances of getting hurt since the dog may see you as prey.

While an individual who is bit by a dog can generally hold the dog's owner accountable depending upon the circumstances, you cannot make a claim against a dog's owner if you were bit after provoking the dog. Treat dogs with respect and you should hopefully be able to avoid a bite or attack.

Continue reading "Dog Bite Injuries in Carolinas a Spring Risk" »

March 29, 2013

Swimming Pool Safety Tips for the Spring Season

In July of 2012, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services sent out an alert urging people to use caution around water. The alert was sent out after six accidental drowning deaths had occurred in the state since Memorial Day, two of which involved kids under the age of 18. 1340372_infinity_pool_4.jpg

Our Charlotte swimming pool accident lawyers know that swimming pools are an attractive place to be on a summer afternoon and that kids and adults alike are drawn to pools to cool off. Unfortunately, swimming pools and other bodies of water are dangerous places where people of any age could drown within just a matter of minutes. As the weather gets warmer, it is important to keep the risks associated with swimming pools in mind and to ensure you are doing everything possible to be safe.

Safety Tips for Swimming Pool Owners
Pool owners are the first line of defense when it comes to swimming pool safety. If you have a pool in your home, it is very important to ensure that the pool area is securely fenced and that children are not able to get into the pool unsupervised.

If you leave the gate open or your pool is accessible to kids, you create a dangerous situation where a child could be hurt or killed and you could become liable. This is tragic for everyone involved, with the child losing his or her life and the pool owner potentially subject to a lawsuit.

Pool owners also need to be careful of their own kids, family members and friends. No one should use the pool without supervision or a buddy there with them, and safety equipment should be accessible from the pool. Refraining from alcohol (and making sure other swimmers do too) and avoiding swimming when overtired are also both helpful tips to avoid swimming pool accidents.

Safety Tips for Swimmers and for Parents
Pool owners can control access to the pool and make sure that the swimming pool area is safe. However, the behavior of swimmers and the behavior of parents supervising their kids will also have a major impact on whether a pool is a fun place to be or a dangerous one.

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services recommends that kids be taught to swim as early as possible. If a child- and especially a young child-knows how to swim, the child will be less at risk of drowning if he or she accidentally falls into a swimming pool.

Parents also need to supervise their kids at all times and no one should ever swim alone. If you start to drown, you can usually make a full recovery if you are rescued after a minute or less. Once a longer period of time passes, however, the chances of permanent brain damage or death increase. By having someone there with you and watching you when you swim, or by keeping a close eye on your kids, you can make sure that when trouble starts there is someone there to help right away.

Continue reading "Swimming Pool Safety Tips for the Spring Season" »

March 27, 2013

Back Injuries Common After Car Accidents - NASCAR's Denny Hamlin Suffers Compression Fraction

According to Washington Post Sports, Denny Hamlin flew home to North Carolina on Monday March 25th to be evaluated by a specialist at Carolina Neurosurgery & Spine Associates. 467188_draft.jpg

Hamlin had been eagerly awaiting his return from a Southern California hospital where he was airlifted after an accident at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana sent him careening into the inside wall on the last lap of Sunday's event. In fact, the Post reports that he tweeted his desire to just go home several days ago. The Nascar driver was in the hospital awaiting his return to the Carolinas because he had suffered a serious back injury after a car accident while racing. Our Carolina car accident attorneys know that Hamlin, like many other accident victims, may have a lengthy recovery period as a result of the damage to his back.

Hamlin Suffers Back Injury
Hamlin is the driver of the No. 11 Toyota and was participating in Sunday's Auto Club 400 at the Auto Club Speedway. His car came into contact with Joey Logano as both were exiting the fourth turn of the two mile raceway. Unfortunately, Hamlin's vehicle then struck the inside wall and Hamlin was injured.

Hamlin's injuries consisted of a compression factor of his L1 vertebrae. This is one of the vertebrae (bones) along the spinal cord. A compression fracture is a collapse of the vertebrae caused by trauma. There was concern that the back injury would necessitate surgery. However, after the Nascar driver was evaluated in North Carolina, it was determined that no operation would be necessary.

While he does not need surgery, Hamlin will still have a lengthy recovery period. According to the Nascar website, he may be out for as long as six weeks and could miss at least five races as a result of the injuries.

Back Injuries from Car Accidents
Hamlin's back injury occurred under unique circumstances as part of a NASCAR race. Unfortunately, the sad fact is that even people who don't drive for a living are at risk of getting into car accidents and could suffer serious back injuries as a result.

Car accidents typically result in pressure and impact traveling from the car into your body. You may be abruptly thrust forward or backward in the crash and, in many cases, your back absorbs the force of the impact and/or is bent out of position.

Some of the common car accident back injuries that occur include lumbar sprains and strains; fractures of the lumbar or thoracic vertebrae, and herniated discs. Soft tissue and spinal cord injuries are also common results of auto accidents that can necessitate expensive recovery and impose significant limitations on your mobility.

The accident involving Denny Hamlin underscores how long the recovery process can be when a back injury happens. Unfortunately, ongoing medical care and treatment over a six week period can be very expensive. Those who aren't NASCAR stars and who are hurt in auto accidents during a regular drive will need to ensure they can cover their costs during recovery. A lawsuit against the driver who caused the crash can be the best way to ensure the bills get paid.

Continue reading "Back Injuries Common After Car Accidents - NASCAR's Denny Hamlin Suffers Compression Fraction" »

March 24, 2013

Distracted Driving Awareness Month Aims to Prevent Car Accidents

The National Safety Council (NSC) launches many education initiatives and efforts to try to keep drivers safe in the Carolinas and throughout the U.S. Many agencies are promoting Distracted Driving Month, to remind motorists of the danger throughout the month of Apirl. 993854_cell_phone_4.jpg

Distracted Driving Month begins on the 1st of April, but unlike April Fools Day pranks, distracted driving is a deadly serious problem. Our Charlotte accident lawyers know that almost 33,000 people were killed in crashes in the U.S. in 2010 and NSC indicates that approximately 24 percent of all crashes occur due to drivers using cell phones. Other distractions can also make roads dangerous, but NSC calls out cell phone use as worthy of special concern, so the use of phones is a major focus during distracted driving awareness month.

NSC Efforts to Educate the Public on Distracted Driving
National Safety Council has many different types of educational and informational material available on its website to help people to learn of the dangers of distracted driving during the April awareness month. For example, posters are available and there is a white paper that helps to explain the distracted brain.

One of the most important tools on the website, however, is the pledge to drive cell free . Every driver should take this pledge and make up the decision to give up using their cell phones when they are driving. NSC's reasons for focusing on cell phone use include:

  • Risk: NSC points out that the dangers of cell phone use are just as bad whether you're using a cell phone or a hands free device. Either way, you're four times as likely to crash.

  • Frequency: NSC says that around 9 percent of all drivers on the road at any one time are on a cell phone. More drivers are on their phones than doing any other type of distracting behavior.

  • Prevalence: Greater than two out of every three drivers reported in a survey that they'd talked on their cell phone while driving in the past month.

NSC believes the combined risk of a crash coupled with the frequency of cell phone use in cars makes this behavior especially deadly. Yet, as the Governor's Highway Safety Association reports, only 10 states have imposed a statewide ban on all handheld cell phone use by all drivers. This means lots of people are likely going to continue to drive and talk as long as it is legal- even though it is still really dangerous.

With efforts like April's Distracted Driving Awareness Month, however, hopefully fewer people will decide to talk on their phones once they have been made aware of how risky it is. However, NSC cautions that education alone can only go so far and encourages both tougher laws as well as visible enforcement efforts of distracted driving laws.

Past public service campaigns have made a difference on action but people are far more likely to make the safe and smart choice when forced to do so by laws. As NSC points out, for example, only about 14 percent of people regularly wore their seatbelts in 1981 (and this was after 15 years of effort). In the last two decades, though, enforcement and stronger laws have resulted in about 84 percent of people wearing seat belts today.

Hopefully states will toughen up their distracted driving laws and the laws as well as public education efforts will make a difference in the number of people on cell phones. In the meantime, you can sign the pledge and vow not to be one of the people making the roads more risky for everyone.

Continue reading "Distracted Driving Awareness Month Aims to Prevent Car Accidents" »