Articles Posted in Car Accidents

A spate of amusement park injuries has been reported in recent weeks as summer comes to a close.rollercoaster2

Most recently, it was reported that a 3-year-old boy in Pennsylvania was seriously injured after being thrown from a roller coaster that was not equipped with seat belts. According to local news affiliate WPXI, the child was at Idlewild & Soak Zone with his family. The ride is reportedly 27-feet high at its maximum height, but was built in 1938 without seat belts or other restraints. Young children who were at least 36-inches tall were allowed to ride, but only with an adult present. Riders 48 inches or taller could ride solo. The boy was reportedly riding with his 5-year-old brother. It is not clear why the rules of the ride were not being followed, or even if they had, what that might have done to have prevented the incident. The child was being treated at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC.

The ride was shuttered immediately and will remain closed for the duration of the investigation. Officials did say the ride passed a private inspection a week before the accident, though that doesn’t necessarily mean the ride wasn’t defective or the operator wasn’t at-fault.  Continue reading

South Carolina senators voted 7-4 to reject medical marijuana legislation that would have made the drug available for those with debilitating or chronic illnesses. Calling it a “pathway to recreational use,” senators say the negatives outweigh the positives. marijuana1

However, this is unlikely to be the last we will hear of this issue in the Carolinas. And while the drug is still technically illegal, it’s still one of the most widely-used substances in the U.S. Further, even proponents of legalization for medical/ recreational purposes concede the drug is an intoxicating substance that can serve to impair drivers.

So what does this mean for those who share the road with marijuana users? In many ways, marijuana use is treated the same as alcohol use. That is, it is illegal to operate a vehicle while impaired. Specifically, S.C. Code Ann. 56-5-2930(A) prohibits driving under the influence of alcohol or any drugs that would impair a person’s normal faculties to the point it is unsafe to drive a vehicle.  Continue reading

It is expected by those who own or drive motor vehicles that they will occasionally require maintenance and service. But if a vehicle is not serviced or repaired correctly, it could result in serious safety hazards. mechanic1

Unfortunately, not every repair shop or mechanic exercise the care they should. A seemingly small oversight in vehicle repair or service can have devastating consequences. Some examples include:

  • Leaking fluids;
  • Brake failure;
  • Loss of control.

Those affected by negligent auto repair and maintenance may have grounds to proceed with claims for compensation against the repair shop.  Continue reading

Accidents and injuries occur all the time. In many cases, someone else is to blame. Our laws recognize the injustice of this and allows injured persons to seek remedy through the civil court system. driving8

There, plaintiffs have a chance to be compensated for their losses and their pain. But sometimes, even plaintiffs who prevail in their personal injury lawsuits may end up collecting less than what they are awarded. This often has to do with plaintiff’s health plan claiming all or some of it for reimbursement for money it spent on medical expenses.

There is nothing illegal about this, and the reasoning behind it is sound: If a person keeps the money intended for reimbursement of health care expenses, he or she is essentially being paid twice – once by having the health care expenses covered and then again by the defendant in the injury lawsuit.

The problem is sometimes there isn’t enough money to go around. The total compensation after legal expenses may not be enough to cover one’s loss of wages, pain and suffering, etc. – in addition to medical bills.  Continue reading

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

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