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Texting + Walking in NC - You Could Get Hurt (And Be Liable)


Remember this video of the woman who fell into a fountain while texting that went viral a couple of years ago?

Although humorous, in interviews after the video became popular, she later reminded viewers about the seriousness of texting and walking, asking: what if that fountain had been a bus?

But despite her warnings, texting and walking has become a real problem with devastating consequences.

Texting While Walking Accidents

A study by Ohio State University earlier this year reported that the number of pedestrians injured because they were distracted by using their phone while walking has more than doubled since 2005.

Further, they report that the researchers believe the actual number of injured pedestrians is much higher due to many not seeking treatment in an emergency room or not reporting the involvement of a cell phone in the accident.

Graph of Pedestrians Distracted by Cell Phones

Courtesy of Ohio State University

"If current trends continue, I wouldn't be surprised if the number of injuries to pedestrians caused by cell phones doubles again between 2010 and 2015," said Jack Nasar, co-author of the study and professor of city and regional planning at Ohio State University.

Efforts to Stop Texting and Walking Accidents in NC

Last year a New Jersey town actually banned texting while walking in response to several fatal pedestrian accidents and now North Carolina has decided it's also time to take action.

According to WFMY News, one of Watch for Me NC campaign's latest initiatives has been focusing on this very problem - encouraging pedestrians to keep their eyes on the road, not on their cell phone screen.

"It's something we see all the time. It's very common, see people walking with their heads down texting....not paying attention to their surroundings," said Officer Brad Smith with UNCG Police in the WFMY story.

He went on to say that the number of distracted pedestrians, combined with the number of distracted drivers, makes for many very dangerous situations.

Texting and Walking Could Be "Contributory Negligence" in NC

In North Carolina, we have what is called "contributory negligence" which basically means that if you're found to have contributed to the accident in any way, the other party (or their insurance company) may not have to pay for your injuries or property damage - even if they were "more" at fault.

In our experience, this means if you were distracted by a cell phone at the time of an accident, an insurance company may try to use that against you to avoid paying your medical bills or other damages.

However, the state of North Carolina does allow for some exceptions to the contributory negligence rule. If you may have contributed to your accident in some way, we highly recommend that you contact a pedestrian lawyer in NC.

NC Pedestrian Accident Lawyers

The injuries from a pedestrian accident can be serious and long-lasting. If you or a loved one were hit by a car, you should contact a North Carolina pedestrian accident lawyer right away.

A NC pedestrian accident lawyer may be able to help you get the medical treatments you need now and provisions for future medical needs.

The Law Offices of James Scott Farrin has helped thousands of residents in North Carolina to get the benefits they needed and we may be able to help you. Give us a call for a free case evaluation today - 1-866-900-7078.

Hit by a car in Raleigh or Charlotte? You’re not alone…

 Did you know that the Raleigh-Cary and Charlotte-Gastonia-Concord areas rank among the most dangerous pedestrian areas in the United States?

The Transportation for America organization identified the top 52 most dangerous metropolitan areas and ranked them in order by pedestrian fatality rate.

Raleigh-Cary ranked 13th.

Charlotte-Gastonia-Concord ranked 17th.

Each year more than 2,400 pedestrians and 960 bicyclists are hit by cars in North Carolina. 400 of those pedestrians and 180 of those cyclists are in the Triangle area alone.

As NC pedestrian lawyers committed to helping residents that are hit by cars in Raleigh, Charlotte and throughout the state, this troubles us deeply.

Police Line_06132014NCDOT's actions to reduce the number of pedestrian deaths

In response to the growing numbers of pedestrian and bicycling fatalities, the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) launched a campaign called "Watch for Me NC."

Watch for Me NC is a joint effort with the UNC Highway Safety Research Center, Institute for Transportation Research and Education at NCSU, area universities, and local municipalities that's dedicated to inform drivers, pedestrians and bicyclists how they can be safer on the road.

Police are also "cracking down" on violations relating to biking and pedestrian safety

Currently the campaign is being piloted in several Triangle communities: Apex, Carrboro, Cary, Chapel Hill, Durham, Fuquay-Varina, Knightdale, Morrisville, Raleigh and Wake Forest, but organizers hope to make it a statewide effort.

Tips for Safer Sidewalks

Want to stay a little safer while walking, running or bicycling? Here are a few safety tips from the www.watchformenc.org site that may help. Pass them along to your loved ones - it could save their lives.

Safety Tips For Pedestrians

  1. Look for cars in all directions-including those turning left or right-before crossing the street; never assume a driver will stop.
  2. Be careful crossing multiple lanes of traffic. Make sure each lane of traffic is clear before you cross.
  3. Enhance your visibility at night. Walk in well-lit areas, carry a flashlight or wear something reflective, such as stickers or armbands, to be more visible.
  4. Avoid distraction. More and more we see people texting or talking on cell phones when crossing streets; this diminishes the ability of your two key senses-hearing and seeing-that are used to detect and avoid cars. So particularly when crossing streets, put down the phone for a few seconds.
  5. Be predictable to drivers and follow the rules of the road-obey signs and signals.
  6. Obey all pedestrian traffic signals.
  7. Watch for cars backing up in parking lots; brake lights can mean that a car is about to back up.
  8. Cross the street where you have the best view of traffic. At bus stops, cross behind the bus or at the nearest crosswalk.
  9. Always walk on the sidewalk; if there is no sidewalk, walk facing traffic and as far from the roadway as you can.

Safety Tips for Bicyclists

  1. Wear a helmet. It could save your life.
  2. Use a light and reflectors when bicycling at night, and be as visible as possible.
  3. Ride in the direction of traffic. Drivers may not be looking for you if you are riding the wrong way.
  4. Obey all signs and signals. This includes stopping at stop signs and red lights.
  5. Use all of your senses - watch and listen for cars, particularly at intersections and drive ways.
  6. Avoid distractions such as listening to headphones or answering phones when riding.

Hit by a car and need a lawyer?

Because pedestrians and cyclists are so unprotected, they often have the most to lose in an accident. And North Carolina's contributory negligence law may not be on your side.

If you, or a loved one have been hit by a car while walking or biking, we may be able to help. Give us a call for a free case evaluation at 1-866-900-7078.

How Insurance Coverages Can Work: The Front Street Church Bus Accident Examined

BusAccident_06082014A recent church bus accident in Tennessee left 8 families without loved ones - all because one tire blew out.

Many more members of Front Street Baptist Church in Salisbury, NC, were left in critical condition and many suffered devastating injuries.

Our hearts go out to the victims of this terrible tragedy.

No amount of money can ever replace what they've lost, but the fact is that we pay hundreds (maybe even thousands) of dollars in insurance costs every year so that when accidents do happen, we aren't financially ruined as well.

In this post, we'll attempt to illustrate how insurance coverage can work in NC by examining the accident.

Summary of the Front Street Baptist Church Bus Accident

According to news reports, members of Front Street's "Young at Heart" senior group were traveling on I-40 East in the church's bus from a jubilee in Gatlinburg, TN, when one of the bus's tires blew out - causing the bus to veer across the median and into oncoming traffic.

The church-owned bus then hit an SUV with two passengers in it and a tractor-trailer, carrying paper towels, which immediately caught fire.

5 passengers on the bus and the driver were killed, as well as the driver of the tractor-trailer and one passenger in the SUV. 14 others were injured.

The accident is still being investigated, but according to Tennessee Highway Patrol in an interview with WBTV, it appears the bus driver lost control after the tire malfunctioned. They further added that it would be extremely hard to maintain control in those circumstances.

Our Analysis

We've looked at how insurance coverages could play out in this scenario, but before we begin, please note that:

DISCLAIMER 1) - This accident will require a great deal of additional investigating and these are just our assumptions and generalizations, based on the information made available through news reports. This information should not be used as a substitute for advice from a qualified attorney.

DISCLAIMER 2) - Although victims listed could receive the same "coverages" that does not necessarily mean they will. Each victim's case is unique and will likely be evaluated and handled based on their individual circumstances.

DISCLAIMER 3) - In our experience, in a complex accident, insurance companies may be apt to deny coverage, but that does not mean they're not responsible. A NC personal injury attorney may be able to help.

Let's begin:

  1. The bus passengersSince the passengers were likely not at fault for the accident, they should receive payment for their medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and possibly other losses.For the passengers that died, their families may be awarded a wrongful death claim to cover funeral costs and other losses.The liability insurance company the church used to insure the bus (assuming the church had a policy in place - most do) could pay many of these bills. However, the investigation is unclear over whether or not the driver was properly licensed to operate the vehicle. If that's found to be the case, the liability insurance company covering the bus could try to refuse to pay for the damages.

    The driver, someone in charge of maintaining the vehicle and overseeing its use or even the tire manufacturer/seller may all be investigated and their insurance companies may also be held responsible, depending on the facts.

    Bills after an accident can add up quickly and the passengers may be able to use Medical Payments Coverage and Underinsured Motorist Coverage on their own policies as well.

    If any of the passengers live with a blood relative that also has insurance, those policies may be additional coverage also.

  2. The SUV passengers
    The SUV passengers will likely have all the same coverages available to them as the bus passengers - since they were also victims.However, the SUV passengers may also be able to draw coverage from the SUV driver's liability insurance policy, since his/her policy is designed to protect the passengers in his/her vehicle.
  3. The SUV driver
    Although it may seem strange, the SUV driver's coverages will likely be very similar to that of the bus passengers - with all the liability insurance relating to the bus possibly covering his losses and his own insurance company possibly supplementing where needed with MedPay and Underinsured Motorist Coverage.Also, assuming the SUV driver was the owner of the vehicle he/she was driving, he/she may also be paid for the property damage to the SUV.
  4. The tractor-trailer driver
    Since the tractor-trailer driver was likely working, his family may receive death benefits from his company's workers' compensation insurance.Workers' Compensation in North Carolina allows for the families of workers who have died on the job to receive up to 500 weeks of benefits (typically two-thirds of the deceased's average weekly earnings), up to $10,000 in funeral expenses, and reimbursement for medical expenses incurred prior to death. A minor child or disabled spouse may be entitled to receive benefits beyond the 500 weeks.However, news reports say that the truck driver was from New Orleans and, assuming his company is located there, his workers' compensation benefits will likely be different from those in North Carolina.Workers' compensation is a "no fault" type of coverage - meaning it typically doesn't matter who is at fault for the accident. But since this accident does not appear to be the trucker's fault, his family may also be able to file what is known as a "third-party claim" for liability insurances that cover the actions of the bus.
  5. The  bus driver
    Many times, in situations like these, the bus driver is a volunteer and therefore workers' compensation insurance, would not apply.Since his injuries were fatal, as were his wife's, his next-of-kin would likely receive whatever coverage is determined for him.There are many factors involved in this particular case and a NC bus accident attorney would have to thoroughly investigate this case.As a whole, this accident is extremely complex, in terms of legal fault. Troopers have told the media that, although they're investigating now, the official report may take up to six months to be released.

    In our experience, that means victims could be waiting a long time for money they may need to cover necessary medical costs, etc. An experienced attorney may be able to help.

NC Car Accident and Workers' Comp Lawyers

Our hearts go out to the victims of this horrific accident. We see the devastating results of car accidents every day, but it never gets easier to hear about the loved ones our clients lose.

If you need a car accident or workers compensation lawyer in NC, or you just have questions about legal process and insurance, please give us a call at 1-866-900-7078.

We're happy to help - even if you decide to seek legal representation somewhere else.

How do I know if my employer has workers' compensation benefits?

We receive many calls every year from North Carolinians who lost out on workers' compensation benefits, simply because they didn't realize they could apply for them.

It's a little heartbreaking because those are benefits that could have paid for important medical procedures or helped them pay their rent.

So, if you've been hurt at work, how can you know if your employer has workers' compensation benefits?

Well, of course there are some exceptions, but in short if you meet the following criteria, your employer is probably legally required to carry workers' compensation insurance:

  1. Your place of employment has three or more employees (or if your work involves radiation)
  2. You are a "regular employee"

WorkersComp52_07022014What does a "regular employee" mean in workers' compensation?

We're often asked this and it's an excellent question. The problem is that "regular employee" can be somewhat open to interpretation - especially in positions such as:

  • Agents
  • Commission-based employees
  • Independent contractors
  • Part-time workers
  • Subcontractors

However, all of these positions can qualify for workers' compensation, depending on the circumstances, which usually includes how much control the employer has over their job.

In fact, the North Carolina Industrial Commission (NCIC - the legal body in charge of enforcing workers' compensation laws) specifically addresses the problem of businesses trying to skirt around paying workers' compensation for employees by calling them "independent contractors:"

"An employer is not relieved of its liability under the [Workers' Compensation] Act by calling its employees 'independent contractors.' Even if the employer refers to its workers as independent contractors and issues a Form 1099 for tax purposes, the Industrial Commission may still find that the workers were in fact employees, based upon its analysis of several factors, including but not limited to the degree of control exercised by the employer over the details of the work."

So if your boss tells you what to do, how to do it, when to do it and where to do it, you're probably an employee.

Who are the exceptions in workers' compensation?

Although they're not excluded from workers' compensation, the following are the main categories of employment that the rules for workers' compensation eligibility are a little different. They are:

  • Agricultural/Farm workers
  • Domestic servants (Nannies, Maids, etc.)
  • Government employees
  • Railroad employees

If you've been hurt while working and fall into one of these categories, we highly recommend that you contact a workers' compensation lawyer in NC.

Fight for all the workers' comp benefits you may need

Workers' compensation laws in North Carolina are complicated. And even if you receive some benefits, it might not be everything you're entitled to.

In our experience, insurance companies may be accommodating up front, but as your claim drags on, they may be more likely to deny treatments you may need or try to send you back to a job that's not comparable to the one you had before.

We may be able to help.

NC Workers' Compensation Attorneys

At the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin, we've put together a workers' compensation team that we're proud of.

From a former NC state senator, to former NCIC members, to Board Certified Specialists in NC Workers' Compensation Law to former defense attorneys for insurance companies - we've put together a well-rounded team to serve our clients.*

Give us a call for a free case evaluation at 1-866-900-7078. We'll let you know if we think we can help and there's no obligation to hire us afterwards.

*please note some attorneys may hold multiple designations

Does workers' compensation cover care for health conditions developed over time?

So what if you're not hurt at work by a package of shingles falling on you?

What if, instead, you develop carpel tunnel syndrome from hammering those shingles in day after day? Can you still file for workers' compensation in NC?

Absolutely.

If you've developed a condition over time from working, you may be able to file for workers' compensation under the "occupational disease" category. However, the process may be a little trickier. If this sounds like you, you may want to consult with a NC workers' compensation attorney.

Occupational Disease Claims in NC Workers' Compensation

In North Carolina, there are two main ways you can qualify for workers' compensation: an "injury by accident," where your injuries are the result of a sudden accident (like shingles falling on you in the example above) or an occupational disease, which can basically be defined as a health issue that developed as a direct cause of your job.

WorkersComp46_07022014Occupational diseases can be actual illnesses that you're exposed to at your job. Such as:

  • A construction worker who develops mesothelioma from exposure to asbestos insulation.
  • A hairdresser who develops a skin or respiratory disease from the harsh chemicals she's exposed to every day.

 

Or they can be conditions that develop over time. Such as:

  • A plumber who develops bursitis from constant pressure on his knees.
  • A manufacturing employee who develops tenosynovitis from a repetitive action.

 

Either way, an occupational disease is one that develops over time, each day making you just a little bit sicker or straining your body just a little bit more until it finally breaks.

But since it's not like a sudden accident where all of your coworkers see you fall off a ladder or get hit by a forklift, an occupational disease claim may be much harder to prove - even though occupational diseases can be every bit as debilitating (maybe even more so) and may keep you out of work for just as long.

NC Workers' Compensation Lawyers

In our experience, workers' compensation claims for occupational diseases can be especially hard to prove in North Carolina.

If you are sick or injured because of your job, please contact us for a free case evaluation at 1-866-900-7078. We'll let you know if we think we can help and there's no obligation to hire us afterwards.

Click here to learn more about our NC workers' compensation lawyers.

Contact Information

Raleigh Law Office

5848-100 Faringdon Place
Raleigh, NC 27609
Phone: 919-834-1184
Toll Free: 1-866-900-7078

Durham Law Office

280 South Mangum Street, Suite 400
Durham, NC 27701
Phone: 919-688-4991
Fax: 800-716-7881

Fayetteville Law Office

517 Owen Drive
Fayetteville, NC 28304
Phone: 910-488-0611
Toll Free: 1-866-900-7078

Charlotte Law Office

201 McCullough Drive, Suite 220
Charlotte, NC 28262
Phone: 704-599-1078
Toll Free: 1-866-900-7078

New Bern Law Office

1505 South Glenburnie Rd, Unit P
New Bern, NC 28562
Phone: 252-634-9010
Toll Free: 1-866-780-3422

Greenville Law Office

702 G Cromwell Dr.
Greenville, NC 27858
Phone: 252-355-5205
Toll Free: 1-866-780-3227

Greensboro Law Office

300 N. Greene Street, Suite 850
Greensboro, North Carolina 27401
Phone: 336-665-7072
Toll Free: 1-866-900-7078

Goldsboro Law Office

214 South William Street, Suite 3
Goldsboro, NC 27530
Phone: (919)-731-2581
Toll Free: 1-866-900-7078

Henderson Law Office

514 Dabney Drive, Suite 200
Henderson, NC 27536
Phone: 252-492-4600
Toll Free: 1-866-900-7078

Roanoke Rapids Law Office

709 Julian R. Allsbrook Highway
Roanoke Rapids, NC 27870
Phone: 252-537-9670
Toll Free: 1-866-900-7078

Rocky Mount Law Office

3202 Sunset Avenue, Suite B
Rocky Mount, NC 27804
Phone: 252-937-4730
Toll Free: 1-866-900-7078

Sanford Law Office

703-B South Horner Boulevard
Sanford, NC 27330
Phone: 919-775-1564
Toll Free: 1-866-900-7078

Wilson Law Office

2315 Airport Blvd Suite A
Wilson, North Carolina 27896
Phone: 252-246-9090
Toll Free: 1-866-900-7078

Winston-Salem Law Office

301 N. Main Street, Suite 2409-C
Winston-Salem, NC 27101
Toll Free: 1-866-900-7078