North Carolina Personal Injury Lawyers Blog

Articles Posted in Car Accidents

Government agencies – local, state and federal – have a duty to maintain roadway systems in a condition that is reasonably safe for public travel by drivers who are exercising ordinary care.

But does that extend to the edge of the road? The Ohio Supreme Court in Baker v. Wayne County ruled: No. road7

Of course, this doesn’t have any direct bearing on the courts in North and South Carolina, but it’s worth exploring how the court reached this conclusion, as state supreme courts often look to their sister courts for guidance on similar legal issues.

According to court records in this case, a 17-year-old student was driving down a two-lane country road. It was raining and the sun wasn’t yet up, as it was just before 6:30 a.m. As she was driving, one of her tires slipped off the road to her right. In her panic and inexperience, she over-corrected to the left. When the car got back onto the road, she over-corrected again to the right. As a result, her vehicle careened off the road, struck a statute of a deer and then a tree. After striking the tree, her car burst into flames. Engulfed in the fire, the girl died at the scene.  Continue reading

You may know that the majority of personal injury lawsuits never make it to trial. A big reason for that is that many are settled out-of-court before they ever reach that stage.

But there is another reason too: Summary judgments and motions to dismiss. caraccident7

All civil lawsuits have to meet the basic merit requirements before proceeding. Motions to dismiss and for summary judgment can be filed by the defendant prior to trial. Both are essentially requests to the judge to toss the plaintiff’s case. In order to succeed in a summary judgment motion, defendant has to convince the judge:

  • There is no dispute as to the material facts of the case;
  • Plaintiff failed to meet his or proof burden;
  • Defendant should prevail as a matter of law.

Courts are not supposed to hand down a summary judgment if there continue to be disputes of material facts in the case. However, it’s not uncommon for a defense lawyer to file a summary judgment fairly early in the proceedings and set a hearing prematurely on the issue. The strategy is to get the issue before the judge before there is ample evidence to show a dispute of material fact.  Continue reading

Parking lot accidents are unfortunately quite common, including those that involve pedestrians. An estimated 1 in 5 motor vehicle accidents take place in a parking lot, according to AAA research.parkinglot

Much of this has to do with a false sense of security. Both pedestrians and drivers anticipate that traffic is going to move more slowly in a parking lot, and therefore, they don’t take as many safety precautions. They don’t pay careful attention.

The AAA study pointed to poor lighting and blind spots as two main contributing factors to parking lot crashes. Some southern cities have reported a rise in parking lot accidents in recent years. Officials have cited cars moving too fast and people walking alongside moving cars. Plus, because law enforcement officers don’t routinely patrol parking lots, drivers take advantage of that freedom to take shortcuts or speed.  Continue reading

Could a gas station be liable for injuries suffered by two patrons struck by an out-of-control vehicle? It could if the injured patrons can show the risk of such injury was reasonably foreseeable and the property owners failed to take basic measures to prevent it. gasstation

This issue was raised in the recent case of Stanley v. Scott Petroleum Corp., where a vehicle plowed into two women who were standing at a walk-up pay window, buying fuel.

The case was recently before the Mississippi Supreme Court, which reversed an earlier grant of summary judgment in favor of defendants. Justices ruled the trial court should have allowed plaintiff their requested continuance to conduct more discovery before deciding whether defense was entitled to summary judgment. The case has been remanded for further consideration. Continue reading

A decline in gas prices is often viewed by the American public as something positive: Some extra money in their pocket to take a road trip or the chance to forego public transportation to work and instead take their own car. But there is a downside: More traffic deaths. traffic10

That’s the conclusion reached so far by researchers at Texas A&M Health Science Center School of Public Health. The trouble is that millions of other drivers are also taking advantage of these lower gas prices, and this ultimately means more vehicles on the road which increases the chances of a traffic-related injury or death.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) pegs the number of annual traffic deaths in recent years at about 30,000. A study currently underway at the school that focuses on the recession, the recent drop in gas prices and the effect these have had on traffic deaths. Preliminary results indicate that when gasoline prices drop by $1 annually, there is a more than 11 percent uptick in roadway fatalities.  Continue reading

When making a claim of strict product liability, the industry custom and practice may be admissible, depending on the type of evidence and the purpose for which the proponent seeks to introduce that evidence. steering

That was the recent holding of the California Court of Appeals for the Second Appellate District, Division Seven, in the product liability lawsuit of Kim v. Toyota Motor Corp.

The ruling was bad news for the plaintiff, who sought to exclude evidence of the industry practice and custom as it pertained to the manufacture of pickup trucks during a certain period of time.  Continue reading

A 12-year-old girl is recovering in Greenville after being struck by a vehicle at her school bus stop as she was attempting to board. The driver of the sport utility vehicle that struck her is a 53-year-old man who lacks a driving license, authorities say. He was later located and arrested and charged with unlawfully passing a stopped school bus, driving without a license and leaving the scene of an accident with injuries.schoolbus4

According to news reports, the bus was stopped on Highway 150, and it was shortly before 7 a.m. The 12-year-old walked across a private drive in order to board the bus. Meanwhile, the offending driver, in his 1996 Chevrolet sport utility vehicle, drove off the right side of the road in order to pass the bus. That’s when he struck the girl.

Although her injuries were deemed minor in comparison to what they could have been in the situation, she may well have cause for legal action against at least three parties here. Continue reading

There is a pervasive belief that hands-free cell phones are safer than handheld cell phones when driving. smallheadphones.jpg

It’s an erroneous assertion, but it’s underscored in the many state statutes across the country that allow exceptions for cell phone conversations by a driver who is using a wireless headset, dashboard system or speakerphone instead of a handheld device.

Now, the MythBusters has debunked this myth.
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The case of Purscell v. Tico Ins. Co. is at once sad and strange.
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The legal questions it asks are intriguing.

It involves the excess liability incurred by a driver who was apparently trying to be a friend to a co-worker, a young woman who was impaired and clearly troubled. The problem is that their actions collectively resulted in the death of that young woman, as well as serious and permanent injuries to another man and other injuries to that man’s wife.

Sorting through the question of who should pay became complicated.
Continue reading

In many personal injury cases, there is the potential for action against numerous defendants. speedometer1.jpg

Car accident cases are no different, and it’s important for an experienced injury lawyer to carefully examine the facts and evidence in your case to identify all potential defendants.

In the case of Navarrette v. Meyer, plaintiffs sued not only the driver of the vehicle, but also the passenger of the vehicle, who had encouraged the driver to speed down a dark, hilly road with the intention of “getting air.”

Instead, what happened was the driver lost control of the vehicle at 70 miles-per-hour and slammed into a father loading his young child into a car seat. The father was killed instantly.
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