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July 4, 2014

Injury Prevention for 4th of July Weekend


Fourth of July weekend is a time for family gatherings, beach parties, backyard pool parties, camping, and all-night festivities that commemorate our U.S. independence. While preparing your family for the big holiday weekend, remember to put safety first. Every year, thousands of Americans are injured in 4th of July accidents, including those involving outdoor barbecues, swimming, alcohol, or fireworks. North Carolina families can help to prevent injures by understanding the risks and being prepared.

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Our Charlotte personal injury attorneys represent individuals and families who have been impacted by serious and life-threatening injuries. We are experienced in accident investigations and committed to raising safety awareness to prevent future injuries or wrongful death. Here are some tips to help prevent accidents or injury this 4th of July weekend.

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March 28, 2014

Tougher DUI Laws in South Carolina Closer to Passage


South Carolina has one of the highest rates of DUI deaths in the nation. In 2012, the last year for which figures are available, nearly 360 people were killed in South Carolina by drunk drivers. carcrash.jpg

To put that into perspective, there were 239 people aboard the missing Malaysian jet flight that has received so much attention of late. Meanwhile, a single alcohol-related fatality in South Carolina can cost upwards of $4.9 million.

Our personal injury attorneys in Anderson recognize it is in the spirit of reversing this trend that South Carolina lawmakers are pressing a measure called "Emma's Law," (S. 137) named after 6-year-old from Lexington County who was killed by a repeat OUI offender in January 2012. The intoxicated driver is now serving a nine-year prison sentence.

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March 6, 2014

Fighting Insurance Auto Companies Over Wrecks With "Excluded" Drivers


We all know there are drivers who take their chances behind the wheel without insurance.
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In some cases, these individuals may be "excluded" drivers, or those who have been expressly named as not being listed on a household member's policy. People or insurance companies will list individuals as excluded for a host of reasons, ranging from a spouse who has a bad driving record to a teen whose presence on the policy would cause rates to spike.

Our Charlotte car accident attorneys know that auto insurance firms love these policies because it minimizes their risk. In theory, anyone you allow to drive your vehicle is considered a "permissive user" of that vehicle and as such, will be covered under the vehicle policy. However, if a vehicle owner allows an excluded driver to operate the vehicle and he or she is subsequently involved in a crash, the insurance company may be indemnified and both the driver and the car owner may be held personally liable.

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January 6, 2014

NTSB Report Highlights Dangers of Wrong-Way Collisions


Wrong-way traffic collisions involve collisions caused by one vehicle moving in a lane direction opposing the legal flow of traffic. In many of these collisions, drivers enter an on or off ramp from a divided highway, entering into dangerously fast traffic. For drivers who make the mistake of entering the wrong way, accidents can be severe resulting in serious injury and fatality. For other drivers who collide with a wrong-way vehicle, accidents can be equally catastrophic. In an attempt to better understand the cause of these accidents, the National Transportation Safety Board has initiated a study and published a report on the findings.

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The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has published the report on wrong way driving on exit and entrance ramps, not wrong-way accidents caused by a driver who crosses over the median. Our Spartanburg personal injury attorneys are experienced in the investigation of serious car accidents and are dedicated to protecting the rights of victims and their loved ones after an accident. In addition to helping those whose lives have been impacted by an accident, we are also interested in shedding light on driving safety concerns in North and South Carolina and nationwide.

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January 4, 2014

Carolina Railroad Crossing Accidents a Forgotten Risk


Regardless of whether you live in the suburbs, a rural community or in the city, it is likely that you will cross railroad tracks with some frequency. You may not cross tracks in your every day commute, but most of us will be navigating over, under, and across railroad tracks, sometimes without even knowing it. Despite advances in technology and education to warn drivers of the potential danger of accidents, thousands of pedestrians, motorists, and cyclists are killed every year by moving trains. This New Year, residents of North and South Carolina should consider the very dangerous nature of railroad crossings and follow the law and common sense to stay safe.

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If you have grown up in the vicinity of trains, you may already have an inherent understanding of how the system works and how to stay safe. Still, we should never take for granted the possibility that we are in danger near train tracks. Our Spartanburg personal injury attorneys are experienced with representing victims of train accidents and other road collisions. In addition to helping victims recover compensation, we are committed to raising awareness to improve safety in communities throughout North and South Carolina.

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December 5, 2013

North Carolina Traffic Safety a Holiday Focus


Law enforcement significantly increases the number of DUI sobriety checkpoints during the holiday season. The increase in enforcement is linked directly to the increase in driving under the influence violations during the holiday season.

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Our North Carolina personal injury lawyers know holidays are the most dangerous time of the year for drunk driving accidents. Responsible hosts and responsible celebrations can go a long way toward mitigating the risks.

The only holiday with more drunk driving deaths than Thanksgiving is New Year's Day/Eve when there is a 62 percent increase in violations. The reported increase in drunk-driving incidents is consistent with data from other organizations.

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October 25, 2013

Rubbernecking on Carolina Roads Causes Additional Traffic Accidents


According to a research at the University of Virginia traffic incidents cause delays in incident direction and also in the opposite direction. Traffic incidents and increased volume make the roadway more dangerous for all drivers.

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Our Spartanburg personal injury attorneys understand secondary accidents are a common threat, as motorists slow to make their way through an accident scene. In too many cases, distractions lead to additional injuries.

A lot of research has been conducted regarding the influence of a traffic incident on the flow of traffic in the incident direction. However, very little research has been conducted regarding the well-known phenomenon of rubbernecking and its effect on traffic traveling in the opposite direction.

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September 26, 2013

New Technology Liberates Disabled in the Great Outdoors


Throughout the Appalachians, and the North and South Carolina coasts, avid nature lovers know that there is much to be appreciated. Unfortunately, those who have suffered serious injury or disability are often left on the sidelines. A recent advancement in technology allows people with disabilities to enjoy outdoor activities including skiing, biking, and even white water rafting.

Suffering a permanent injury is devastating for victims as well as their families. Our Spartanburg injury attorneyss are dedicated to protecting the rights of victims and helping them move forward after an accident. We take a proactive approach to ensure financial security and also stay abreast of new technologies and advancements that can improve the quality of life for victims.

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According to a recent NPR report, innovators are exploring new technologies and the creative ways that invention can help victims of disability enjoy the great outdoors. The equipment started with a simple idea, using plywood board with lawn chairs to build a replica of a seat for a passenger in a wheelchair. Though the contraption is simple, it allows individuals who have suffered spinal cord injuries or those who cannot sit upright the ability to go whitewater rafting. The company also offers skis that run for $3,000 a set.

The equipment is high-performance and will be used in the Paralympics. The equipment is also delicately constructed to offer lightweight shock absorbers and suspension systems that have changed the way that spinal cord injury victims can mountain bike. In many cases, these are able-bodied individuals who just need the right equipment to perform the activities they once enjoyed.

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September 25, 2013

Harvest Season and Farm Equipment Collisions in the Carolinas


Farming is a notoriously dangerous industry with significant risks for workers who handle heavy machinery and equipment. Through the busy harvest season, workers will be at even greater risk for accidents and injuries related to farm equipment. In addition, motorists sharing the road with farm equipment could face severe accidents and injuries. According to target="_blank"> recent publications, there are a number of characteristics of crashes involving farm equipment that increase the potential for injury and accidental death.

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Nationwide, farmers will be gearing up for the harvest season and using heavy equipment for cultivating the land and transporting goods. Drivers, especially in rural farming communities, should be wary of farming equipment to prevent accidents and injuries. Our Spartanburg accident attorneys are dedicated to working to keep the communities throughout North and South Carolina safe.

A recent report published by the Department of Occupational and Environmental Health at the University of Iowa, indicates that crash fatality and injury rates are much higher on rural roadways than other roadway types. We have discussed this phenomenon in other posts, attributing the dangers of rural driving to high speeds, reduced vision, and lack of signage. New reports indicate that these accidents could also be related to slow-moving traffic, including collisions involving slow-moving farm vehicles and equipment. The study focuses on understanding the characteristics of accidents involving farm vehicles and equipment.

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June 23, 2013

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


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

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

Doctors Shouldn't Wait to Discuss Senior Driving

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

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

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

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

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

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June 16, 2013

Defective Vehicle Watch: Automakers in for Some Major Recalls


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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June 6, 2013

Carolina Bridge Safety a Serious Concern Among Officials


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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June 2, 2013

Slick Roadways Send Two to Carolina Hospital


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

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

But there are ways that you can prevent hydroplaning:

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

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

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

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

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May 30, 2013

Traffic Fatality Rates High in Appalachia


The rolling mountain hills and winding highways through the Appalachian region pose a greater risk to motorists than in other parts of the country. Even though the area provides residence to less than 10 percent of the population, the traffic fatality rate is 45 percent higher than in other areas throughout the country. A recent study conducted by the West Virginia University School of Public Health has assessed the accident fatality rates throughout the Appalachian region, which is comprised of 13 states, including North Carolina.

Before packing up your family and driving through the Appalachian mountains, you might want to consider the potential risks of traffic accidents. Between 2008 and 2010, there were 15.8 traffic deaths per 100,000 people. This rate is significantly higher than the average 10.9 fatalities per 100,000 people living in other parts of the United States. The researchers analyzed traffic fatalities involving passenger-vehicle motor vehicles, motorcycles, and ATV's. The fatality rates were higher for motorists, but lower for pedestrians and bicyclists in Appalachia, compared to non-Appalachian parts of the states. Our Charlotte personal injury attorneys are dedicated to helping the victims of highway accidents recover compensation after an injury or fatality.

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According to researchers, the elevated traffic fatality rate can be attributed to several factors. Statistically, people who live in rural areas have a higher rate of accidents. There are approximately 25 million people in the Appalachian region with a high proportion of rural residents. Researchers also suggest that the accidents could be caused by road issues and the mountainous terrain. Analysts are also considering the possibility that fatalities could be higher in the Appalachian region because of the difficulties medical teams have in reaching accident victims.

Appalachian highways are also used by semi-trucks that can pose a risk to other passengers on the road. Tractor-trailers carrying large loads and traveling at high speeds through the mountains will have a more difficult time slowing down and can cause serious accidents and highway fatalities. Many truck accidents are also caused by fatigued drivers who will pass through the Appalachian highways at night or when they haven't had proper rest. In the event of a trucking accident, victims should act quickly to preserve trucking company records. Driver logs and black box evidence could indicate that a driver was in violation of state or federal trucking regulations.

Highways through the Appalachian mountains may also be in disrepair or be too narrow to accommodate two lanes of traffic. In some cases involving road disrepair, a public entity or contractor may be held liable. In the event of an accident an investigation can determine the cause of the collision and identify any individuals or entities that are responsible. Investigations at the outset are also critical to preserve evidence on behalf of victims and their families. Police reports, witness statements, photographs, surveillance, and other evidence can be critical to proving that an individual or entity was responsible for an accident.

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May 27, 2013

$6 Million Awarded After NC Intersection Accident


Two North Carolina families succeeded in bringing lawsuits against a Charlotte development company that failed to properly install a traffic light at an intersection. As a result of this failure, a fatal accident caused three deaths. According to the Claims Journal, the fatal collision occurred when two cars, racing through the intersection, collided with another vehicle.

In any accident case, it is important to consider all relevant circumstances, including the parties involved, maintenance or road issues, and automobile defects. These circumstances could lead to additional claims and liability for other individuals and entities other than the drivers.

Personal injury claims are available to victims and their families in the event of an accident or wrongful death caused by recklessness, negligence, or intent. In this case, the families were successful in proving that the fatal accident was caused by the development company's negligence. Our Charlotte accident attorneys are experienced with similar claims and in aggressively pursuing compensation for our clients.

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Personal injury claims will usually initiate with legal action on behalf of the victims to collect a settlement. When an insurance company or defendant fails to meet these demands and to satisfy the financial recovery for a victim or their family, an attorney will file a lawsuit to successfully collect those damages. Financial compensation can often be significantly higher when a case is taken to court rather than settled between the parties.

In this case a unanimous jury reached a verdict after four days of deliberations. The jury found that the failure of the company to install the promised traffic light at the intersection on N.C. 49 played a role in the April 4, 2009 crash. Though monetary compensation cannot repair damage that has been done, it can help victims recover from past losses and regain security to move forward after such a significant loss.

Similar claims require an intensive investigation, often involving accident reconstructionists, witnesses, police reports, surveillance cameras, contracts, and other documentation. When involved in an accident, victims and their loved ones should involve an independent advocate and investigator to preserve necessary evidence to prove a negligence claim.

Victims who have suffered from a personal injury often do not realize the full value of their claim. It is important not to settle with an insurance company immediately after an accident because you could be settling for far less than your claim is worth. Insurance companies as well as defendants may offer settlements significantly lower than the value of your claim. This will also prevent you from bringing a claim in the future.

In addition to the claim brought against the development company, there were criminal charges brought against the other parties involved. The accident occurred because two additional parties were street racing at the time of the accident. One of those parties entered into a plea bargain for three counts of manslaughter. The other driver was convicted of involuntary manslaughter in 2011. Of the three victims who died in the crash, one was a professor at Winthrop University.

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