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Be Safer on NC’s Rural Roads. Here’s How.

By Jennie R. Glish

Driving on rural roads in North Carolina can be a spectacular experience, especially during autumn. But these roads can also be challenging particularly in poor conditions such as at night and during rain and fog.

Unfortunately North Carolina has the dubious distinction of having the third most rural road fatalities in the country, behind California and Texas. The 855 rural road deaths in NC account for 62% of the 1,379 overall traffic deaths recorded statewide.

NC Ranks #3 in Rural Road Fatalities

Rural Road Fatalities, top 3 statesWhether maneuvering the Great Smokey Mountain’s circuitous path to the summit, or taking in the salty air along NC 12 on the Outer Banks, traveling safely is a priority. The Tar Heel state boasts some truly amazing landmarks, but the path to get us there often finds us on two-lane rural roads. While inviting, these rural roads can often put travelers in harm’s way if they don’t follow some basic safety and travel guidelines.

We offer some insight here on what to expect while driving on rural roadways and guidance about how to arrive at your destination safely.

Expect the Unexpected on Rural Roads

Being aware of your surroundings and paying attention are keys to staying safe. Here are some routine hazards you can sometimes expect when driving along North Carolina’s rural roads.

  • Sharp twists and turns, blind turns, steep hills, and dips
  • Poor visibility of road signs, faded roads signs, signs hidden by trees or bushes and even knocked down
  • Narrower roads which can be harder to maneuver or to pass other vehicles
  • No or low shoulders and sometimes no guard rails
  • Crossing wildlife and farm animals
  • Slow-moving vehicles, including farm vehicle crossings (some 50,000 farmers use North Carolina’s rural roads)
  • Rough pavement, potholes, and uneven surfaces
  • Rocks and other debris
  • Poor lighting making for harder visibility at night and in poor weather

Top 3 Causes of North Carolina Crashes

The top three causes of all traffic accidents in North Carolina in 2015 were due to speed, lane departure, and distracted driving*, according to North Carolina 2015 Traffic Crash Facts. These infractions can be particularly dangerous on rural roads because of the potential hazards above.

3 Tips For Driving on NC’s Rural Roads

Stay Alert and Watch For

  • Speed limit and other roadway signs that indicate upcoming road conditions or sharp turns
  • Animals, deer, and small critters can run across roads with little warning. Click here to learn how to try to avoid hitting a deer, and if you cannot, what you should do.
  • Other drivers who may be swerving or driving unsafely

Stay Prepared and Check For

  • Sufficient gas and cell phone charge. You don’t want to end up stranded, especially at night or on a road with no shoulders.
  • Proper tire traction
  • Roadside tool kit. Always carry a spare tire, a jack and lug wrench, flashlight (and extra batteries) and roadside flares or beacons, jumper cables, duct tape, a multi-purpose tool, an escape tool, and water at the minimum. Depending on weather conditions where you live, you might also want to include something to keep warm, a rain poncho, a candle and lighter. And if you travel with your family, include items they may need – diapers and wipes if you have a baby, non-perishable food, medications, etc.

Share the Road and Prepare For

  • Enough space between cars
  • Anything you might suddenly happen upon in the road, such as an animal, fallen rock, limb or tree, huge pothole, or standing water

Get a FREE Case Evaluation From NC Accident Lawyers

If you sustained a car accident injury due to another driver’s negligence on any kind of road in North Carolina, contact us right away or call 1-866-900-7078 for a free evaluation of your case. We work on a contingency basis, so you pay no attorney’s fee unless we recover for you.

*P.S. Click here to read a fascinating blog on why our brain’s chemical makeup compels us to look at incoming texts.

N.C. Police Target Aggressive Drivers in Ghost Cruisers

Car Accident Lawyer North CarolinaBy LaDonna Williams

Most drivers view aggressive driving as a serious or extremely serious risk that puts everyone’s safety in jeopardy. They are right, of course, but that doesn’t stop many from doing it, according to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.

Recently, authorities in North Carolina committed to cracking down on this issue by investing in “ghost cars.” CBS North Carolina reports that these cars don’t look like your typical marked cruisers, as you can see from this WBTV NC photo.

The cruisers do have markings, but their graphics and decals are barely visible during daylight hours, allowing law enforcement officers to blend in with the rest of traffic. People are on their best behavior when they spot a police cruiser, the logic goes. The goal with ghost cars is to address aggressive driving habits, like speeding, tailgating, and unsafe lane changes by putting motorists on notice that police may be in the midst.

North Carolina law defines aggressive driving as careless or heedless operation of a vehicle in a manner that willfully or wantonly disregards the rights and safety of other drivers. To prove a violation, officers need to show an offender committed two or more of the following:

  • Running a red light
  • Running a stop sign
  • Passing illegally
  • Failing to yield right-of-way
  • Following too closely

A violation is considered a Class 1 misdemeanor – a charge that may betray the severity of impact these actions can have on innocent passengers and other drivers, pedestrians, and cyclists.

One study published in the journal Accident Analysis & Prevention revealed that aggressive driving tends to increase the severity of traffic crashes.

Recovering Damages After an Aggressive Driving Accident

In some cases after an aggressive driving accident the involved parties may find themselves tempted to argue with the other driver. On the other hand, others may sometimes feel compelled to apologize. However, our North Carolina accident attorneys would urge drivers involved in any crash to neither blame nor apologize after any kind of car crash. Instead, a polite exchange of insurance and driver’s license information as well as contact information of potential witnesses is in order. Also, if you are injured, seek immediate medical attention. Click here for steps to take after you’ve been involved in a car crash.

A person who is injured and plans to file a North Carolina car accident lawsuit for damages will have to prove negligence. Your attorney will need to show:

  • Defendant owed a duty of care (in this case, to safely operate a motor vehicle)
  • Defendant breached that duty (by failing to safely operate a motor vehicle)
  • Defendant driver’s actions were the actual and proximate cause of plaintiff’s injuries
  • Plaintiff suffered actual damages as a result of the crash

N.C. Car Wreck Lawyers Offer FREE Case Evaluation

Aggressive driving behaviors are undoubtedly a breach of a motorist’s duty. However, proving it sometimes can be challenging, and this is why we encourage injured parties to seek legal counsel from an experienced North Carolina personal injury attorney.

If aggressive driving has led to a serious accident resulting in personal injury, we can help you explore your legal options.

Studies have shown that, on average, car accident victims who hired a personal injury lawyer to represent them received 3.5X more compensation for their loss than they would have on their own*.

Contact us for a free case evaluation to see if we can help or call us at 1-866-900-7078.

* Insurance Research Council 1999

Kids Can Suffer Heat Stroke in a Hot Car in 10 Minutes. Here’s What to Know.

All of us know what it’s like to experience a hot car. The leather exterior of the steering can sometimes be too hot to touch and the stifling hot air makes it difficult to breathe. After just a few minutes, your heart rate begins to rise as your body tries to cool itself down.

Most of us wouldn’t sit in a hot car for more than a few minutes before turning the air conditioning on. But what if you were stuck in your car on a 90-degree day and you weren’t able to turn on the air conditioning? What if you were a child strapped into a car seat? Helpless.

Nationwide approximately 37 children die by overheating in cars every year. North Carolina ranks number 6 in the country since 1991 for hot car deaths, according to data from kidsandcars.org, an organization that advocates for stronger car safety measures for children.

I am a mom of a young child, and these statistics break my heart. Children cannot defend themselves against high temperatures like adults – their body temperature climbs three to five times faster. Even cool days can pose a threat. Every 10-20 minutes, the internal temperature of a car can rise 20 degrees.

Children have died in cars when the outside temperature was as low as 60 degrees.

Cracking the Windows Doesn’t Help

Some people believe that opening the windows will keep their child from overheating, but Kidsandcars.org asserts that lowering the windows does not help.

It is extremely important to make sure you always take your child out of the car with you, no matter how quick your errand may be.

As a busy single working mom, I certainly understand how some parents might think, “I’ll just run in and run out of the drugstore and it will only take a few minutes.” We’re busy and in a rush, and taking a child out of a car seat and putting him back in again can take time. Especially if the child is unwilling or sleeping.

Call 911 if a Child is Unattended in a Car

If you see a child left unattended in a car, take action right away by calling 911. If you notice signs of heat stroke, let the 911 operator know you plan to break the window to help the child cool down.

Signs of Heat Stroke

If you notice any of these signs, prompt action is in order.

  • Dizziness
  • Disorientation
  • Agitation
  • Confusion
  • Sluggishness
  • Seizure
  • Hot dry skin that is flushed but not sweaty
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Rapid heart beat
  • Hallucinations

How to Rescue a Child From a Hot Car

Check out this video from the Today Show that shows exactly how to rescue a child (or a pet for that matter) out of a hot car. It’s good info to know.

Half of Child Deaths in Overheated Cars Occur Because Someone Forgot

Most child deaths occur when parents unintentionally leave their infant in the car. Many parents are quick to assume that they would never “forget” their child in the backseat. But parents do forget. Parents of every background have forgotten their child in their car – it has happened to social workers, doctors, lawyers, police officers, soldiers.

52% of heatstroke deaths in cars occur because someone forgot a child was in the car.

As a parent, you’re probably used to a fast-paced and strict schedule. Some days, it may feel like you’re on autopilot – you’re so used to a particular routine that you don’t even consciously think about it. Any sudden new tasks can be difficult to remember to incorporate into your day. For instance, if you’re used to waking up and driving straight to work every morning, it may be easy to forget to drop off your child at daycare. These tragedies often happen during busy times – especially around holidays or schedule changes when parents are stressed and fatigued and forget more easily.

4 Ways to Remember Your Child Is in the Car

While it’s difficult to prevent stress and fatigue, there are several ways to help remember your child in the backseat:

  1. Put something you need (like your purse, employee ID, or cell phone) in the backseat next to your child, so that you’ll have to open the back door in order to grab it.
  2. Use drive thru services when available.
  3. Always keep your vehicles locked – even when they are sitting in your garage – so that your child can’t sneak inside and accidentally lock themselves in.
  4. A free app called Kars4Kids Safety is designed to act as an alert system for parents. A customizable alarm rings on your phone when you exit the car to remind you that your child is still inside!

Let’s spread awareness along with these helpful tips in order to try to ensure our children’s safety.

P.S. Your furry friends are at risk, too. Leaving your pet in a hot car can be extremely dangerous and have deadly consequences – animals may suffer heat stroke in as little as 15 minutes. Dogs are only able to cool themselves by panting and sweating through their paw pads, making them especially vulnerable in hot weather. If you’re running errands, it may be best to leave your pets at home.  

 

Things Aging Drivers Can Do to Keep Going

There is a group of drivers on our roadways whose hazardous habits are projected to worsen as they increase a by whopping 73% by 2030, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

They’re out of control. Driving while distracted. Driving while impaired. Driving in conditions they shouldn’t be. Not obeying speed limits. And many admit to having taken drugs before getting behind the wheel!

These senior citizens today!

Elderly Drivers Cause More Deadly Crashes Than Teens

The reality is that deaths from senior drivers (85 and older) are four times higher than that of teen drivers, according to a Carnegie Mellon University and AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety study.

Based on data obtained from 1999–2004, fatality rates for drivers begin to climb after age 65. From ages 75 to 84, the death rate equals that of teen drivers. After age 85 is where we see fatality rates accelerate. For drivers 85 and older, the fatality rate increases to nearly four times that for teens.

Why Do Seniors Pose Such a Roadway Threat?

As they age, senior drivers may experience many conditions that may cause them to drive at a slow pace. They may suffer from arthritis and stiff joints and weakening muscles, making it harder to turn their heads and reducing the amount of pressure they can apply to the gas pedal. You might think that driving at a slow pace would be safer. That’s not necessarily the case.

According to Essurance.com people who drive slower than normal, in the left lane for example, may cause you to have to pass on the right. This could lead to confusion and disorganization which can potentially cause an accident.

Catching up to a slow driver creates dangers even in residential areas, if you have to suddenly stop. This could start a chain reaction of braking that could lead to accidents or road rage.

Vision Decline

A natural age-related decline in vision may make it harder to see people, objects, and areas in the peripheral vision. For some it can take longer to read street or traffic signs and recognize places, even familiar ones. Decline in night vision is particularly common among the elderly and headlight glare or street lights can pose a challenge. For some, the sun might become especially blinding at certain times of day. Medicines can also cause vision problems as can the onset of glaucoma, cataracts, and macular degeneration.

Hearing Decline

As you get older it can become harder to hear horns and sirens and even noises coming from your car potentially alerting you that something is wrong and you may need to pull over.

Slower Reflexes

As people age reflexes might become slower and you may have a shorter attention span. This might make it harder to multitask. Stiff joints or weak muscles also can make it harder to move quickly.

Eventually all of us age – unless, well the alternative happens. I’ll take aging thank you. Especially as today, there are a number of ways to try to overcome some of the problems many seniors experience on the road.

Here are some things from the National Institute on Aging to keep in mind as we age to try to keep yourself and others safer around you.

Safe Driving Tips for Seniors

  1. Did you know that there are driving rehabilitation specialists available that will check your driving skills? Occupational therapists can do the same. Who knows, you may get an all clear.
  2. Some car insurance companies may lower your bill if you take and pass a driver improvement course. Here are two resources to find driver courses near you through AAA and AARP. You can also check with your car insurance company.
  3. Remember when in doubt, don’t go out. Never try to drive in inclement weather that makes you feel uncomfortable like rain or snow. Wait it out or use public transportation or a driver service, such as Uber, Lyft, or even a taxi.
  4. Avoid highways or other high-speed roadways if you don’t feel confident using them.
  5. If you take medications, ask your health care provider if it is safe to drive while taking them.

How to Stay Mobile and Keep Your Freedom

Rightfully, many seniors worry that once they stop driving, they’re homebound. But communities across the nation are offering more of a variety of ways to get around without having to drive. Here are just a few ideas:

  • Free or inexpensive bus or taxi services for seniors
  • Carpool services for doctor’s visits, grocery shopping, the mall, hair appointments
  • Many religious and community service groups have volunteers on call who can drive you where you need to go
  • Car or driver services. (Remember, when you’re not paying for car insurance, maintenance, gas and other auto incidentals, this could end up being even cheaper than owning a car.)
  • Pay friends or family members to take you places. It could be the beginning of more meaningful relationships.

To find transportation services in your area call 1-800-677-1116, or
visit www.eldercare.gov to find your nearest Area Agency on Aging.

10 Safety Tips for Driving Near Big-Rigs (Some May Surprise You)

A colleague was having dinner with a truck driver recently who shared an alarming story. He recounted the time he had driven more than 18 hours in order to make a deadline. He was so tired that he began to hallucinate while driving on the highway! The truck driver thought that was funny. My colleague did not.

It’s clear the truck driver has never been in a North Carolina courtroom representing an extended family whose lives changed in an instant when some of the family members were killed as a fatigued big-rig driver slammed into their vehicle.

I have a great deal of respect for most truck drivers. Having handled my share of big-rig cases, I can tell you from experience that fatigued drivers are almost always an issue. A big one.

Fatigued Truckers a Major Factor in Accidents

A U.S. Department of Transportation study states that 41% of serious tractor-trailer crashes in the country were caused by fatigued truck drivers, as reported by WNCN.com.

You might remember the two 18-wheeler crashes near the Triangle almost back to back last fall. A tractor-trailer flipped over on I-85 near Hillsboro spewing a load of bananas across the highway. Driver fatigue was the cause. A bridge on I-95 near Smithfield was closed for two weeks when a tractor-trailer rammed into the bridge’s support columns ripping the truck apart and throwing frozen chickens all over the highway. Fatigue, again a factor.

To compound the issue, a U.S. Department of Transportation article suggests that among the most dangerous elemHow ents of fatigue is its ability to sneak up on any driver, not just truck drivers. They evaluated research that showed that truck drivers (like any driver) often can’t assess their own fatigue levels accurately and are unaware of their failing performance behind the wheel, such as drifting between lanes. A driver who drifts off to sleep for just three seconds traveling 65 miles an hour will travel the length of a football field.

Many truckers, themselves, are frustrated by the fatigue issue, blaming it on an industry where 60- to 80-hour workweeks are the norm and even expected. One trucker cited rules written by “a pencil pushing college graduate [who has] never even been in a truck” and trucking industry lobbyists for refusing to adequately address the issues of driver fatigue.

I encourage you to read the USDOT blog Why We Care About Truck Driver Fatigue. Judging from some of the truckers’ comments in response to that blog, it seems they are fed up too.

So what can we do to help ourselves try to stay safe around big rigs?

“One of the hardest parts of being a professional driver, is trying to guess what the guy in the car is going to do next,” offers truck driver and author of a safety article on smart-trucking.com. Here, excerpted from that article, is some simple common sense safety advice on how to share the road more safely with tractor-trailers.

How to Drive Near 18-Wheelers

  1. Do not travel close to a big rig if at all possible. They require a lot of time and distance to stop safely simply due to their size and weight.
  2. Stay out of blind spots. Truckers have a lot of them. Directly in front of the truck (because of the long hood). Directly behind the truck. And especially on the right side of the truck. Truck drivers can see you best when you’re on the driver’s side of the truck.
  3. Do not pass a truck on the right side if possible. The driver is not expecting this. And try not to drive along the right side of the truck because of the large blind spot.
  4. Don’t travel too closely behind a truck. The driver cannot see cars that are directly behind them. You’ve probably seen cars “drafting” behind trucks. Never do this. Ever. If the truck stops, you’re probably going right underneath that truck in what is known as an underride. Underrides often lead to decapitation.
  5. Do not pass a truck, pull directly in front of it, and then immediately slow down. It is difficult for the trucker to see cars over its long hood. This could result in what is known as an override. An override occurs when the truck is unable to slow down fast enough and it is forced on top of the car in front.
  6. Stay away from trucks when they are turning, especially when they are making a right turn. As the trailer follows the truck around a corner, the trailer closes in and will crush anything that gets in the way. There’s a great deal of weight and momentum, which could cause the trailer to track over anything in its path.
  7. If it’s necessary to pass a tractor trailer, pass on the left. Pass the rig quickly, maintaining a consistent speed, and move away from it. The closer you are to the truck, the more potential there is for risk.
  8. In general, try to avoid driving close to large tractor trailers period.
  9. Avoid making sudden moves in the vicinity of trucks. Move slowly and be predictable with your actions. If you need to change lanes or turn, signal well in advance. Change lanes or make your turn when you are away from the truck, where the driver can see you, and clearly see what your intentions are. Signal well in advance of a move, so the truck driver isn’t trying to guess what your next move is.
  10. I would add to this writer/trucker’s list to be courteous. Having represented many individuals involved in trucking accidents, I have met many truck drivers who are diligent and hard-working people working in an industry that can be very hard on you physically and mentally. These are service industry workers who ship fresh produce from farm to table. They are the mail carriers and gas carriers and carriers of merchandise. They work long hours and are away from their families, sometimes for long periods.

NC Truck Accident Lawyers Offer Free Case Evaluation

Studies have shown that, on average, accident victims who hired
a personal injury lawyer received 3.5 times more* compensation for their loss than they would have on their own.

If you were injured in a big-rig accident or know someone who was, contact us immediately or call 1-866-900-7078 for a free case evaluation by an experienced trucking accident lawyer.

 

* Insurance Research Council 1999

How to Stay Safe on NC’s Roads Memorial Day Weekend

 

 

 

Here at James Scott Farrin we are proud to have among us many U.S. military veterans who have bravely fought for our freedoms. We are honored they chose our firm as a career step after serving in the U.S. armed forces.

—James S. Farrin, Founder and President, the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin

 

 

Memorial Day is the unofficial beginning of summer. Pools open. Neighborhood barbecues.  Parades that honor our nation’s military veterans. And it’s a welcomed long weekend.

Last year, spurred largely by cheaper gas prices, AAA estimated that more than 38 million hit the highways Memorial Day weekend – the highest number since 2005.  The downside?

Memorial Day is considered one of the most dangerous weekends to be on the
roads* and marks the beginning of what AAA has coined the “100 deadliest days for teens.

44% of Memorial Day Traffic Fatalities Involve Booze

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) says 13% more people die during a typical Memorial Day weekend than on a non-holiday weekend. You can probably guess what they report is a contributing factor.

Booze contributes to 44% of Memorial Day traffic fatalities.

That’s a substantial factor you want to keep out of your travel equation. Even if you are driving stone cold sober, obviously many others are not.

Here are some safety tips from the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) to help you travel NC’s roads more safely over Memorial Day weekend:

  • Leave early to get a head start on your drive. Travel at non-peak hours when possible.
  • Stay alert, especially in construction zones. Even if work is suspended, you may encounter narrowed lanes and traffic shifts in work zones.
  • Be patient and obey the posted speed limit.
  • Use alternative routes when possible to avoid traffic congestion.
  • Stay informed. Real-time travel information is available online and over the phone by dialing 511.
  • Don’t drive if you are drowsy. Travel at times when you are normally awake, and take frequent breaks.
  • Avoid distracted driving. When drivers stop focusing on the road ahead, they react more slowly to traffic conditions and are more likely to be involved in an accident.
  • Give yourself a buffer by not following other cars too closely.

If you do enjoy an adult beverage or two, there are many driving services today
across North Carolina that take you and your car home.
Click here for contact information.

“100 Deadliest Days” Begins Memorial Day

According to AAA, the 100 days between Memorial Day through Labor Day are the “100 deadliest days” for teens. That’s partly because teens are out of school and more of them are behind the wheel. The other reason is that many are driving distracted. Texting, talking, or generally not paying attention. And they’re inexperienced.

Jurek Grabowski, Research Director for the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety explains, “Every day during the summer driving season, an average of 10 people die as a result of injuries from a crash involving a teen driver.” Research shows that distraction continues to be one of the leading causes of crashes for teen drivers.

You Can Help Curb Distracted Driving

Cars.com reports that half of all teen drivers will be involved in a crash before graduating from high school.

Distracted driving among teens is your problem. It’s my problem. It’s everyone’s problem. Here are some things each of us can do to help try to encourage teens to break this deadly habit.

  • Practice what you preach. Don't drive distracted yourself.
  • Start discussions early on, well before teens reach driving age.
  • Take advantage of some of the latest apps (some are free) and tech gadgets that can help make it easier for teens (and all of us) to avoid using phones while behind the wheel.
  • Visit the org (End Distracted Driving), a non-profit organization started by the father of a 21-year-old daughter who was killed by a distracted driver. And print and display their YES! I WILL family pledge and safe driving agreement.
  • Visit aaa.com/NCfor safety resources for your teen drivers.

Get a FREE Evaluation From NC Car Wreck Attorneys

If you or someone you care about was injured in a car wreck during Memorial Day or any other day, contact an experienced car wreck lawyer.

Studies have shown that, on average, car accident victims who hired a personal
injury lawyer to represent them received 3.5X more compensation for their loss
than they would have on their own**.

Contact us now for a free case evaluation to see if we can help or call us at 1-866-900-7078.

 

* According to Yahoo, other deadly days to drive are Black Friday, NFL game days, the beginning of Daylight Savings Time, New Year’s Day, July 4th, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and St. Patrick’s Day.

** Insurance Research Council 1999

 

Cinco de Mayo – 5 Ways to Stay Safe on the Roads

True or false.

Cinco de Mayo is:

  • The date of Mexico’s independence from Spain’s 300-year rule
  • The date of a famous battle fought against the French in the state of Puebla
  • Celebrated widely in Mexico with Coronas, Margaritas, and churros
  • A relatively uncelebrated holiday in Mexico except for one state in Mexico

If you’re like some Americans, you would have assumed that the first choice was true – that Cinco de Mayo is Mexico’s Independence Day. You would be wrong. That day is celebrated on September 16th.

Cinco de Mayo is the date a famous battle was fought against the French in the Mexican state of Puebla. It is not widely celebrated in Mexico except for in the state of Puebla in which the battle was fought. So the answers are false, true, false, true.

Before we highlight the trouble you can potentially get into on North Carolina’s roadways during Cinco de Mayo here’s a quick history lesson of why that day is celebrated mostly in the Mexican state of Pueblo rather than throughout the entire country of Mexico and why it seems to be a more wide-spread celebration in the U.S.

Why is Cinco de Mayo Celebrated?

During the Franco-Mexican War in the late 1800s, a ragtag group of fighters in the Mexican state of Puebla successfully stood their ground against a larger force of well-armed French soldiers. Surprisingly, the motley crew of Mexican fighters (many reportedly armed only with machetes) experienced an unexpectedly small number of casualties (1 in 5) and forced the French to retreat. The outcome was unexpected. The day was May 5th and is celebrated today as the Cinco de Mayo holiday. While the schoolchildren have the day off throughout Mexico, the holiday is optional and not widely celebrated except for in the Mexican state of Puebla where the band of soldiers held off the French army.

In the United States, however, Cinco de Mayo has evolved into a popular celebration of Mexican (and Hispanic/Latino) culture and heritage, particularly in areas with above average Hispanic populations. In North Carolina the larger cities with above-average Hispanic populations (the average Hispanic population in NC is 8.9%) are Winston-Salem, Charlotte, Durham, and Raleigh. And roughly 60% of those 890,000 Hispanics in North Carolina are of Mexican descent.

Festival Fanta Charlotte Celebrates Hispanic/Latino Culture

Cinco de Mayo traditions throughout the state generally include family-friendly parades, mariachi music performances, and street festivals. The Festival Fanta, for example, is a major celebration of Hispanic/Latino culture held at McAlpine Creek Park in Southeast Charlotte.

Cinco de Mayo and North Carolina Highway Safety

Yet along with all the family-friendly fun involving any celebration where alcohol is present, Cinco de Mayo has evolved into one of the most dangerous times to be on the road across the U.S. and North Carolina.

In the U.S. this holiday has generally been celebrated with margaritas, tequila, and Mexican beer among other types of cocktails. Any time alcohol is involved in a celebration, there’s potential for alcohol-related traffic accidents and deaths.

Alcoholalert.com reports that one-third of all traffic fatalities on North Carolina’s roads involve alcohol.

Drunk Driving Penalties

In North Carolina, the penalties for driving while intoxicated can be steep. If blood alcohol content (BAC) is above 0.08% for a driver over 21, it can lead to fines, a suspension of your license, an increase in car insurance rates, and even jail time in more serious cases. (Drivers under 21 who have been drinking face an automatic penalty, no matter what their BAC is.)

However these penalties pale in comparison to the lifelong guilt many offenders have shared that they have to endure as a result of their reckless actions toward innocent victims.

Damages from accidents attributed to drunk driving can be devastating for victims and the person at fault. Truth be told, it can be devastating for those of us who legally represent these victims and their loved ones. Injuries can range from broken bones to serious traumatic brain injury, spinal cord injury and in some cases, death. We see this all too often and sometimes these cases are difficult to put behind you.

5 EASY WAYS to Prevent Alcohol-Related Accidents

Here are some tips to try to help keep yourself and others safe during Cinco de Mayo (and any other party, event, or holiday that involves alcohol. These are very easy and convenient to do.

  1. Designate a driver. Driving sober is driving safer. Have someone sober willing to hold the keys and get you home as safely as possible, or use a ride share service like Uber or Lyft or other sober ride home service like the ones listed here.
  2. Take away the keys of intoxicated friends. Don’t argue with them about this. You cannot reason with a drunk person. Offer to call cabs or utilize public transport for them to get home. Putting drunk drivers on the road can potentially endanger them and others.
  3. Drive defensively. Even if you are driving sober, there are most likely others on the road who may not be. Be observant, observe speed limits, and always report any unsafe driving to the authorities.
  4. If you’re hosting a Cinco de Mayo party make sure you designate a sober driver to take intoxicated guests home safely. Or contact other sober ride services. You could be liable if a guest injures someone after leaving your house impaired.
  5. Download our sober ride page. It offers information on alternative transportation that will take you and your car home after one too many.

NC Car Wreck Lawyers Evaluate Your Claim FREE

If you or a loved one has been the victim of a drunk driver who prioritized recklessness over the safety of themselves and others on the roads, contact us today or call 1-866-900-7078, and we’ll evaluate your case free.

Enjoy celebrating Mexican and Hispanic/Latino culture and all it has to offer. Just make sure you try to stay safe out there from those who have enjoyed it a little too much.

 

Have You Relaxed Car Seat Rules Now That Your Baby is Older? Don’t! Here’s Why.

While driving in to the Durham office, I saw something that irritates me even more than texting while driving. A woman (I assumed she was a mom) had her little girl, who could not have been more than 5 or 6, in the front seat of her Beamer traveling down a very busy four-lane road.  Without a car seat. Seriously? I wanted to shout out:

“HEY MOM! DID YOU KNOW YOUR CHILD IS 24X MORE LIKELY TO DIE IN A CAR ACCIDENT IF NOT PROPERLY RESTRAINED?

(Sorry for shouting in all caps. But I get worked up every time I think about it.)

If she had my job as a personal injury lawyer she’d think twice about her irresponsible, reckless, and potentially life-threatening decision.

We have represented far too many forever broken families whose children have died or been paralyzed or brain damaged as the result of car accidents. It can happen in a split second. And often it can be preventable.

“Just going down the street…”

Too often, parents might tend to loosen the rules a bit if they’re just going down the street. What some may not realize is that more kids get hurt when parents are running routine errands like going to daycare or the grocery store – or carpooling to school – than are injured on longer road trips. Safekids.org reports that 75% of car crashes affecting children happen within 25 miles of home. And 60% of crashes occur on roads with posted speed limits of 40 mph or less.

Many accidents and some child deaths happen at speeds of less than 25 MPH.

Children are not fully developed physically and are less able to withstand the impact of a car crash, compared with an adult. According to research conducted by the Children’s Hospital of Pennsylvania, because air bags (and seat belts) were designed to protect average-sized adult males and NOT children, they can be extremely dangerous to infants or young children seated in front of them. Moreover, they report that children exposed to air bags during a crash are twice as likely to suffer a serious injury. Many people may be surprised to learn that a crash of less than 30 MPH can cause severe harm or death to a child as a result of airbag deployment. Why?

The technology used to deploy airbags is similar to the technology in some rocket boosters!

Keeping North Carolina’s Young Children Safer in the Car

Because of the position of airbags, children under 13 are safest when placed in the back seat, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

Never place an infant in a rear-facing child safety seat in the front seat with an air bag. In a crash, the air bag comes out of the dashboard with its force directed at the back of the infant's head if riding in the front passenger seat.

Kids need to be in a rear-facing car seat until they’re 2 years old. A 2007 study in the journal Injury Prevention showed that children under age 2 are 75% less likely to die or be severely injured in a crash if they are riding rear-facing in the back seat. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) advises parents to keep their toddlers in rear-facing car seats until age 2, or until they reach the maximum height and weight for their seat.

Keep most kids in a belt-positioning booster seat until they are 4 feet 9 inches tall and are between 8 and 12 years old, says the AAP. Only 20% of parents put children ages four to eight in booster seats, even though safety experts recommend it. The result of this is that kids between the ages of four and eight actually face a bigger risk of dying in a car accident than a child under the age of three, according to an article in parents.com.

If you don’t have enough room in the back of your car to safely transport the number of children who need to travel safely, visit a car seat check station in your area (typically the local police or fire station) where a trained expert will help evaluate your situation. Click here for Safekids.org safety check stations in North Carolina from Dare County in the Outer Banks to Cherokee County to the west.

5 Car Safety Tips for Kids 13 and Up

(That includes your college-aged “kids” and even you.)

  1. Move the front seat as far back as possible from the dashboard.
  2. Passengers 13 and up need to wear a lap and shoulder belt when riding in the front seat. Air bags are designed to work with the lap and shoulder belt to protect the occupant.
  3. Teach your child not to lean forward to change the radio station, insert CDs, or plug in their phones.
  4. Insist your child sit upright against the seatback, with the seat belt snug at all times.
  5. Find out what you need to know about air bags when buying a used car. Some, such as Takata have been recalled on thousands of vehicles.

We’re lawyers, but we’re parents too. It is beyond heartbreaking when we have to represent a mom and dad who has lost a child in a car crash, no matter what age or circumstances. I am adamant about safety rules in the car (especially teens texting and driving). Maybe it’s because of the brokenness I have seen as a lawyer – brokenness that didn’t have to happen. And it can happen just like that.

Get a FREE Case Evaluation from NC Car Crash Lawyers

We have represented far too many clients with children injured in car crashes. Their stories are heartbreaking. If your child or anyone in your family was injured in a car wreck, please have them contact us immediately or call 1-866-900-7078. We are available 24/7 and will evaluate the situation for FREE.

A Must-Read If You Want to Avoid Insurance Mistakes After an Accident

Who wouldn’t trust khaki-wearing Jake-from-State-Farm to be there for us, even at 3 in the morning? And good ol’ Flo from Progressive. You can trust her too – she’s like your quirky bestie. You can tell her anything.  AllState deep-voice guy? He’s not going to let anyone or anything mess with you. You’re in good hands.

Or are you?

Based on our experience? Not necessarily. There’s a reason why insurance companies spend so much money every year on “trust us” advertising.

Free Book on Avoiding Common Insurance Company Pitfalls

When you’re in an accident and you make a claim, why wouldn’t you think twice about giving one of these or any insurance company a recorded statement over the phone?

Why wouldn’t they believe you when you explain that you swerved into oncoming traffic because of a deer, and the car wreck was unavoidable and not your fault. And why wouldn’t they want to pay for all your medical bills caused by the accident, and time off work, or give you what your totaled car may really be worth?

Why would your insurance company try to low-ball you?

Because most insurance companies operate for profit. Theirs. And based on our years of experience of recovering more than $700 million in total* for over 30,000 clients they can’t be trusted to put your financial interests ahead of theirs.

Why do you think their ads emphasize the trust factor?

While many insurance company ads are admittedly enjoyable, dealing with insurance companies when you’ve been injured in a car crash – not so much.

That is why we developed a FREE 40-page Personal Injury Guide (How to take control of your personal injury claim, before it controls you). It’s a booklet we believe will help you try to avoid common pitfalls the insurance companies don’t want you to know about.

“No one should go through the personal injury process alone. If we can’t help, maybe this booklet will.”— Attorney and Shareholder, Michael Jordan

How to Deal With Your Insurance Company After a Car Wreck

Our book outlines some of the most common traps people fall into when trying to handle claims on their own, such as giving a recorded statement over the phone, not getting proper medical care for injuries, not pursuing all available coverage, even signing the wrong documents, and many other little-known traps the unwary can fall into.

The information highlighting common pitfalls, however, is just the beginning, covering just one chapter in our comprehensive guide. We know that when some people are injured in an accident, they may prefer to deal with the insurance company themselves instead of hiring a lawyer. We get it. Not every situation warrants legal help.

How to Understand Your Rights and Potential Barriers

That is why we created this easy-to-read guide. We wanted to help you try to understand your rights, the legal process, and potential barriers you may face after an injury in North Carolina. In the words of the guide’s author, attorney and shareholder Michael Jordan, “No one should go through the personal injury process alone. If we can’t help, maybe this booklet will.”

From the basics of the first things you should do after an injury, to dealing with specific injury types, to DWI victims’ rights, and even premises liability, we’ve tried to make this guide a key go-to resource for many different types of situations general and specific.

We’re Just As Available As Jake – (And We Won’t Raise Your Rates)

There’s a reason you’re reading this. If you have been injured, and if you find yourself falling into some of these common pitfalls the guide warns you about, contact us or call 1-866-900-7078.

We’re available at 3 in the morning too, just like Jake-from-State-Farm.

* Each case is unique and must be evaluated on its own merits. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome.

 

St. Pat’s Day Parades, Plus Sober Ride Services

If you live near Charlotte or Pinehurst, here are links to the info you need on for St. Patrick's Day Parades in those areas.

North Carolina St. Patrick's Day Parades

Uptown Charlotte
Saturday, March 18 at 10 a.m.

The Village of Pinehurst
Saturday, March 18 at 11 a.m.

St. Patrick's Day Among Deadliest for Alcohol-Related Crashes

While St. Patrick's Day parades have offered fun and entertainment for all ages in year's past, it's a day of binge drinking for many. According to Wallethub, 75% of fatal drunk driving car crashes on St. Patrick's Day involve a driver who has consumed more than 2X the legal alcohol limit. The legal limit in NC is 0.08.

St. Patrick's Day is among the deadliest for alcohol-related crashes.

A National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) study found that alcohol-related crashes claimed a life every 51 minutes on St. Patrick's Day in 2010, accounting for 32% of all fatalities that occurred that day.

NC Sober Ride Services Take You and Your Car Home

We don't want to rain on anyone's St. Patrick's Day parade. We just want you to be safe getting to and from them (or any other event).

If you plan to drink, don't drive. If you plan to drive, don't drink. Designate a driver.

There are many services across North Carolina that offer designated rides home, and their rates are comparable to taxis, even cheaper in some cases. Whatever the cost, it's cheaper than a DWI or worse - hospital bills and a lawsuit.

Click here for a list of North Carolina's sober ride services in Charlotte, Raleigh, Greensboro, Winston-Salem, High Point, and Fayetteville and their surrounding communities and towns.

These services take you and your car home.

There's also Uber and Lyft in addition to local taxi services. Not only can they take you home, but you could take them to the parade and avoid any parking issues - or having to deal with other drivers who may have had one too many Guinness.

Get FREE Advice From NC Car Wreck Attorneys

Whatever you do and no matter where you are in North Carolina during St. Patrick's Day, we hope this information is helpful in your efforts to safely celebrate it. If you or someone you love was injured in a car wreck, whether or not it involved a drunk driver, contact an experienced car wreck lawyer.

Studies have shown that, on average, car accident victims who hired a personal injury lawyer to represent them received 3.5X more compensation for their loss than they would have on their own*.

Contact us now for a free case evaluation to see if we can help or call us at 1-866-900-7078.

* Insurance Research Council 1999

Contact Information

Raleigh Law Office

4325 Lake Boone Trail, Suite 100
Raleigh, NC 27607
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

1001 Morehead Square Drive, Suite 350
Charlotte, NC 28203
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