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Are Self-Driving Features Making the Roads More Dangerous?

Driver aids have been around for a long time. Designed to make the task of driving easier, automakers have steadily introduced convenience features with various levels of success. The feature we all know as “cruise control” was invented in the 1940s, and appeared first in Chrysler automobiles in 1958.  By 1960, it was standard equipment in all Cadillacs.

Fast forward to the modern era and you’ll find more robust versions of that original speed control system. Radar-guided cruise control is available in many cars, allowing the driver to set the desired speed, and to choose a “following distance” – the distance they want the system to maintain between their car and the car ahead. Automatic braking, lane departure warnings, and all manner of computer-controlled equipment combine to make driving easier and safer.

The Rise of Semi-Autonomy: “No, We Aren’t There Yet”

It’s only natural that these exponential advances in automobile technology have led to the idea of autonomous driving. According to techopedia.com, an autonomous car is a car that can guide itself without human conduction. Here’s the issue: as of December 2019, no such cars are available for purchase. Massive amounts of money are being invested in the technology by companies like Alphabet and its Waymo unit, Apple, GM, and Tesla, but true autonomous driving is not available.

Simply put, we’re not there. Yet.

That does not keep companies from adding semi-autonomous features to road-going products. General Motors offers SuperCruise in its Cadillac products, and Tesla offers the Autopilot system in all of its cars that are ordered online. Semi-autonomy, however, comes in forms as different as its makers – with surprising results.

The Many Roads to Autonomy, and the Dangers Along the Way

The different companies offering semi-autonomous features arrive at their results in very different ways. This leads to confusion about which systems do what. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has defined its own . Emerging technology often has competing definitions as companies seek to brand their semi-autonomous driving systems, and the methods for evaluating the technologies are in development as well. This lack of clarity becomes a safety issue at times.

The easiest example to cite is that of Tesla’s “Autopilot” system, though they are not alone when it comes to safety issues, confusing terminology or accidents involving their products.

Tesla and Autopilot – Problems by Design?

Tesla is as much a technology firm as an automaker, and as such, they collect and use massive amounts of data. The company tracks their cars and releases a quarterly vehicle safety report, which contains data on accidents involving their vehicles. Specifically, it covers accidents involving their Autopilot system. In Q3 of 2019, the company registered one accident for every 4.34 million miles of driving with Autopilot engaged, versus one accident for every 2.7 million miles without it. Both numbers include the other active safety features of the cars in use.

In this case, the numbers are impressive, but may hide a problem. It starts with how the Autopilot requires driver input, how it differs from other systems on the market, and how the company markets it.

Driver Involvement

Tesla specifically instructs drivers to maintain control of their vehicles, even when autopilot is engaged. The company uses steering wheel input to monitor driver engagement, not simply contact with the steering wheel, as is widely reported. That system, however, is more simplistic than competitors who use cameras to monitor drivers’ eyes and focus.

Road-Sensing Systems

Tesla relies on radar and a camera to sense road conditions. Other makers, including Ford, Waymo and others, use something called LIDAR. The difference in sensors is significant. Tesla’s system uses radar, the camera, and computer software to detect hazards. A road sign and a guard rail require different responses than a car in the lane ahead. But radar can be fooled, as has apparently happened in crashes over the last few years in Connecticut and Florida. In these and other cases, the system has failed to react to other vehicles blocking the road. And, in the Connecticut case, the driver was not even watching the road, but had turned to attend to a dog in the back seat. Also worth noting is that Tesla uses a single forward-facing camera. Stereo cameras would have detected the difference in at least one case, and have been tested to be nearly as accurate as the more expensive LIDAR sensors by researchers at Cornell University for much lower cost.

Marketing

Tesla does seem to contradict itself in how it markets its system versus how it instructs users to behave with it. On one hand, the system is actually called “Autopilot,” which implies that the piloting of the vehicle is automatic, and Tesla claims the vehicles have all the equipment necessary for future autonomous driving. Tesla founder Elon Musk even famously misused the system in a demonstration, and people may be more apt to copy the man who owns the company than to read pages of instructions. On the other hand, the company makes a point of explaining that the system requires driver attention. Even so, there are many owners who have thought up “hacks” to defeat the monitoring method that the car uses to prompt them to pay attention.

When It All Goes Wrong

Even with millions of miles of pre-market testing, the real world with real owners is a different animal for autonomous driving systems. How a company claims a product works may not be accurate to how users employ it, and even the most tested technology is sometimes flawed.

If you or someone you love is involved in an accident with a vehicle with autonomous driving features, here are some things to note.

  • If you are driving, your behavior behind the wheel is still your responsibility. These vehicles are packed with sensors. By definition, the car is watching you. Regardless of what you see online or how much confidence the system instills, use these systems in accordance with the owners’ manual. If an accident still occurs, you want to eliminate yourself as a possible cause, and therefore, a source of liability.
  • If you are a passenger, make sure to use all of the safety features available to you. If the driver wants to show you the autonomous driving features, ask that they be employed responsibly. Preventing a dangerous situation is preferable to a lawsuit or a life-changing injury.
  • If you are struck by an autonomous vehicle, try to record the conditions that led up to the accident. It may be important later on for your potential claims, depending on how the vehicle behaved during the accident.
  • If you are injured, regardless of your role, it may be wise to seek the advice of an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as you’re able. Because of the sense of confidence these autonomous driving systems create, it is easy for drivers to become careless.

Seek Representation From an Experienced Car Accident Attorney

At the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin, we are advocates for those who are injured in North Carolina. If you or a loved one has been injured in a crash involving an autonomous vehicle, please contact us for a free case evaluation. We pride ourselves on fighting for victims, and working to try to ensure they receive the compensation they deserve. We’re not afraid to fight the big cases.

Recently-Terminated Juul Executive Alleges The Company Shipped Tainted Products

And How This Can Affect You:

While Juul has recently been under fire for shady marketing techniques, including marketing to underage users, another serious issue has emerged for those using Juul products. The possibility of contaminated pods being shipped out to users was made public by former Juul Exec Siddharth Breja. At least 1,600 cases of lung damage cases have been reported in relation to vaping, including more than 30 deaths. It is currently unknown whether contaminated pods are related to this issue but it’s safe to say the use of vaping products isn’t as safe as originally thought.

Siddharth Breja, who was originally a finance executive at the e-cigarette company Juul, was fired earlier this year. In a lawsuit filed Tuesday by lawyers that represent Breja, they claim Breja was terminated after opposing company practices such as shipping contaminated flavored pods and not listing expiration dates on Juul products. The lawsuit does not specify the contamination issue, or go into further detail on how it occurred. Lawyers for Breja have declined to speak further on the issue.

A Juul spokesperson responded to the claims stating that they were “baseless” and that Breja was terminated because he failed to “demonstrate the leadership qualities required for the job.” No further statements have been issued since then.

Breja described a “reckless” and “win at all costs” mentality at Juul, and he aims the majority of the criticism at the company’s former CEO, Kevin Burns, who was recently replaced.

According to the lawsuit, Breja states that he learned in March that some batches of nicotine solution had been contaminated, and claims that roughly one million of these contaminated pods were shipped without a recall or public health warning. Breja says he protested shipping the pods, but his supervisor continued forward because they were more concerned with stockholders’ profits.

After pulling Mango, Fruit, and other flavors under the pressure of health authorities, Mint pods were the contaminated products according to Breja. A majority of vape users used Mint pods as a substitute for the fruity flavors that were pulled off-market. According to the lawsuit, Burns stated, “You need to have an IQ of 5 to know that when customers don’t find mango they buy mint.”

Breja claims that he was wrongfully terminated after bringing health concerns related to the contaminated pods to Burns. Breja states that Burns responded to his concerns with “half of our customers are drunk and vaping like mofos, who the f--- is going to notice the quality of our pods?” The lawsuit was filed in Northern California seeking $10 million.

For safety concerns, users should consider halting any use of Juul vaping products and schedule a precautionary visit with a doctor. If users have any symptoms of EVALI, the name given to the vape related illness, they should immediately seek treatment. These symptoms include coughing, shortness of breath, and chest pains.

Contact a North Carolina Injury Attorney

Working with an experienced North Carolina injury attorney can potentially make or break your case. If you have used vape products and believe you may be suffering illness from them, let’s talk. Our mission is to help those who’ve been harmed by defective products and ensure that businesses are held accountable for producing them. For a free, confidential case evaluation, contact us or call 1-866-900-7078

North Carolina Legionnaires’ Disease Outbreak Claims Fourth Victim

A fourth person has died from the Legionnaires’ disease outbreak recently linked to the NC Mountain State Fair held at the Davis Event Center at the Western North Carolina Agricultural Center.  The fair ran from September 6–15 in Fletcher, near Asheville, NC.  There have been 141 cases of Legionnaires' disease from around the surrounding counties, with 94 hospitalizations to date.

Legionnaire’s disease is a severe form of pneumonia that people can contract when they breathe in aerosolized water (aka mist) containing the legionella bacteria.  It usually cannot be passed from one infected person to another.  Individuals typically begin to show symptoms between two to ten days after exposure to the bacteria.

Symptoms of Legionnaires’ disease include:

  • A fever that could be 104 degrees Fahrenheit or higher
  • A cough which might produce mucus and occasionally blood
  • Shortness of breath
  • Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea
  • Chest pain
  • Muscle aches
  • Headaches
  • Confusion or other mental changes

The outbreak was announced on September 24, 2019.  State officials said that a hot tub display at the fair was the likely cause of the outbreak, although because investigations did not take place until 2-3 weeks after the fair, officials have not been able to pinpoint its source.  Most of those infected had been near the display during the last five days of the fair.

The next event at the Davis Event Center was the Asheville Quilt Show, which ran from September 27 – 29.  After one test from the women’s restroom reportedly came back positive for the legionella bacteria, the Western North Carolina Agricultural Center managers have since claimed to have disinfected and flushed the water lines in the building. However, a new Legionnaires’ case was reported in a person who attended the quilt show, but not the fair.

If you or a loved one visited the NC Mountain State Fair and contracted Legionnaires’ disease, please contact the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin for a free case evaluation right away.

Categories: Personal Injury

Taking Your Aging Mom’s Car Keys: How to Steer the Conversation

An auto accident dumps enough problems on your life. But, if you are a senior citizen, its complexity grows when an accident triggers the dreaded question: Should you even be driving at your age?

And further, what determines whether you should or should not drive and who makes that determination?

What Determines if Your Aging Loved One Should Drive

According to experts, reports U.S. News & World Report, whether or not a senior citizen should continue driving should be determined by function – not necessarily age. Nuance can creep into these decisions.

For example, a senior’s personal decision to stop driving at night may be praiseworthy, but may also be a sign for concern. Or perhaps they’re not venturing out onto I-277 near downtown Charlotte during peak times when there are events at Bank of America Stadium, NASCAR Hall of Fame, or Spectrum Center. Or perhaps you notice that they begin to avoid certain busy and dangerous intersections like the following, which are rated the most dangerous in Charlotte:

  • Reagan Drive at Tom Hunter Road
  • John Kirk Drive at University City Boulevard
  • North Tryon Street at University Pointe Boulevard
  • East W.T. Harris Boulevard at North Tryon Street

The U.S. News article noted that doctors consider three areas that impact seniors’ driving abilities: vision, mobility, and thinking or cognition. Observing driving habits can help determine whether your aging loved one should consider giving up their driver’s license. Confusing the gas pedal for the brake is serious, for example, but riding the brake is perhaps less serious.

Perhaps you notice them driving too fast or too slow, struggling to change lanes. Their reaction time may be slower and they don’t seem to follow signals as they should. Hearing loss can cause some seniors to miss hearing horns and other sounds.

NC DMV Guidelines for Aging Drivers

The DMV will also help you determine whether your loved one may need to consider curbing their driving partially or fully. Remember that the process of aging impacts everyone differently and every state has its own rules. In North Carolina, licenses issued to adults 66 and older are valid for five years, according to the NC Department of Motor Vehicles.

In addition, the North Carolina DMV might not license an individual who suffers from a mental or physical condition that could keep them from driving safely. A person with a disability might be issued a restricted license, provided the condition does not keep them from driving safely.

If a DMV evaluation is needed, it can be recommended by a family member, police officer, or emergency medical technician. An authorized DMV officer would conduct the examination, which would include an interview and perhaps vision, written, and driving tests.

How to Talk With Your Mom or Dad About Giving Up Their License

As you consider whether your aging loved one should stop driving, think of how important your own independence is. But also keep in mind the safety of your loved one and that of others. It’s a tough decision.

To help dispel any defensive reaction, begin this conversation well before issues arise. Make it a casual conversation and use empathy and tact. Perhaps use the weather to slide into such a discussion by noting that heavy rain can be a bad time for driving – for anyone, not just seniors.

Have a plan in mind that includes perhaps keeping the senior behind the wheel but in a limited capacity like driving only during the day and only to familiar places. Engage a local senior center or council on aging. These facilities are typically equipped to help with rides and to help caregivers deal with the question of whether seniors should stop driving.

Also important is for family members, friends, and caregivers to remember that a senior’s ceasing to drive could result in additional responsibilities for them, like providing rides for the senior and spending more time with them. Help set up these alternatives for them.

Click here for more ways to try to help your loved one keep their freedom and independence even without their car.

To find transportation services in your area call 1-800-677-1116 or click on the links below to visit:

NC Car Wreck Lawyers Offer Free Case Evaluation

We are lawyers, but we are also sons and daughters of aging parents too. If your aging loved one has been injured in a car crash that is not their fault, contact the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin or call 1-866-900-7078 for a free case evaluation. We’ll try to see to it that your loved one gets the maximum compensation they are potentially entitled to.

Deadly Cars in the Triangle: Which Car Models Should You Stay Away From?

Whether you’re buying used or brand new, purchasing a car can be an exciting time. Although, with so many makes and models to choose from, car shopping can often get overwhelming. In the midst of your confusion and stress about car buying, a car salesman swoops in and offers you an amazing deal. You don’t know much about the car, but they’ve “talked to their manager” about giving you a lower price, and now the price is right where you want it.

Convenient, right?

Before you sign on the dotted line, it is important to know which makes and models have a pattern of driver/passenger fatality in a collision, especially in the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill Research Triangle area. The car’s aesthetic and the latest electronics aren’t worth much if the car itself can’t save your and your passengers’ lives.

The Triangle’s Deadliest Vehicles

According to a study conducted by iSeeCars, an independent automotive research firm, occupant fatalities from collisions occurs at a higher rate in some vehicles than others.  In the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill Triangle, the top 5 cars with the highest occupant fatality rates are as follows:

  1. Nissan Versa
  2. Hyundai Accent
  3. Jeep Wrangler
  4. Ford Fiesta
  5. Ford Mustang

A majority of the cars that made the list are smaller cars. The CEO of iSeeCars inferred from the results that even with advancements in technology and safety, subcompact and sports cars still lack sufficient safety features. Additionally, subcompact cars perform at a below-average rate in crash safety tests. The only SUV that made the list, the Jeep Wrangler, is notorious for being an unsafe car. The Ford Mustang, a sports car, also made the list of deadliest cars.

In North Carolina, the Ford Mustang has the highest occupant fatality rate.

The Deadliest Cars in America

Across the U.S., the cars with the highest fatality rates per billion vehicle miles are:

The average fatality rate per billion vehicle miles was 2.6, and in comparing just metropolitan areas around the U.S., the Chevrolet Spark has the highest fatality rate amongst all makes and models included in the study.

Methodology Behind the Vehicle Fatality Study

According to iSeeCars, in order for them to get to the numbers behind the deadliest cars in America, they used the following method of research and analysis:

“The results above came from a study of data from the US Department of Transportation’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System as well as iSeeCars unique data. Only cars from 2013–2017 model years in crashes that resulted in occupant fatalities between 2012–2017 were included in the analysis. To adjust for exposure, the number of cars involved in a fatal crash were normalized by the total number of vehicle miles driven, which was estimated from iSeeCars’ data of over 25 million used car sales from model years 2013-2017 sold in 2013-2017. Heavy-duty trucks and vans, models not in production as of the 2019 model year or since the 2013/2014 model year, low-volume models, and models with fewer than 20 crashes with occupant fatalities were removed from further analysis.”

If you are interested in seeing the full report, please click here.

3 Quick Tips Before Buying a Car

Research:

When looking to buy a car, whether new or used, it’s imperative to thoroughly conduct research. One simple Google search will return websites and funded research, like iSeeCars, the NHTSA’s recalls page, Consumer Reports, and the Kelley Blue Book – among many, many others – which should help guide you to the best choice. Additionally, reading consumer reviews can make all the difference. Other consumers have valuable, honest information that car salesmen likely will not tell you.

Test Drive:

You should always test drive the car. Every car drives and handles differently. It is important that you purchase a car that you feel comfortable operating.  Pay special attention to things such as the car’s blind spots that may hinder your driving ability.

Second Opinion:

When buying a used car, it is important to take the car to a trusted mechanic. A mechanic will be able to look in closer detail at the car to make sure that nothing is out of place. Taking this extra precaution may save you from buying an unsafe car that could possibly result in an accident.

How the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin Can Help

A collision can change your life in the blink of an eye. If you or a loved one has been injured in a collision, we can help take the stress and weight off your shoulders. Contact us or call the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin’s 24/7 team at 1-866-900-7078.

Protecting Loved Ones from Their “Protectors”: Sexual Abuse in Nursing Homes

You did your research, you visited the places you liked best, you worked out the finances ever so carefully, and you’re well on your way to providing your mom or dad with the care they need — and achieving some peace of mind for yourself. Care facilities and nursing homes are where your loved ones are supposed to get the round-the-clock help and attention they need, and you trust these facilities to do just that.

But what happens if those same places end up violating their commitment to take care of your loved ones — even when they have the highest ratings in your town or state?

Nursing Home Sexual Abuse Case Shocks the Nation

You may remember hearing about the woman in an Arizona facility that gave birth in December 2018, even though she had been in a vegetative state for over a decade, and currently still is. The suspect was one of the male nurses in charge of the victim’s care, and was arrested. Investigations are still underway to find out how the facility did not notice the woman’s pregnancy until her medical distress while giving birth.

Senate Hearing on Nursing Home Sexual Assaults

Sadly, sexual abuse at care facilities is rampant across the nation, and yet little has been done to put the discussion at the forefront of people’s minds.

Thus far, nursing home and care facilities who have been cited for some form of abuse have been able to fly under the radar because so little has been done to keep them accountable. Not to mention, there is a high standard for proving sexual assault, so cases often go unreported.

On March 6, 2019, similar stories emerged during a senate hearing convened for the sole purpose of investigating the nursing home abuse crisis. Witnesses recounted their stories to lawmakers of how their loved ones experienced sexual abuse at the hands of their caretakers. Notably, one witness had placed her mother in a facility that was ranked at the highest possible level for quality of resident care by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). However, it had also been fined for verbal and physical abuse.

Reforms to Long-Term Healthcare Facility Reporting

As lawmakers await reports from watchdog reporting agencies, it would seem reforms are on the horizon regarding how nursing homes and care facilities are run. CMS announced that it was updating their online Nursing Home Compare and the Five-Star Quality Rating System, which helps families find and compare facilities for their loved ones. It also announced that it was updating its guidelines that identify red flags in those situations.

Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect – Red Flags

The National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care released the following checklist that may signal sexual abuse and neglect:

  • Bruises around inner thighs, the genital area, or breasts
  • Unexplained genital infections or STD’s
  • Unexplained vaginal or anal bleeding, pain, or irritation
  • New difficulty sitting or walking
  • Torn, stained, or bloodied underclothing
  • Extreme agitation
  • Withdrawal from social interactions
  • Panic attacks or emerging PTSD symptoms
  • Suicide attempts
  • Sudden or unexplained changes in behavior including:
    • Fear or avoidance of a person or place
    • Fear of being left alone or the dark
    • Increased nightmares and/or disturbed sleep
  • Victims of dementia will exhibit anxiety or excessive fear around the person providing or tending to their care. They may also engage in more aggressive behaviors.

Click here for common signs of general abuse and neglect at care facilities.

North Carolina Nursing Home and Elder Abuse Investigations Underway

If someone you know in a nursing home, rest home, assisted living, or senior care facility has complained about any mistreatment, we urge you to take them seriously. Ask questions. Get the facts. Talk to management. View their medical records. Place a hidden camera in the room like this Raleigh woman did.

And contact us immediately if you suspect abuse. You may be eligible for compensation for:

  • Medical expenses
  • Pain and suffering
  • Mental anguish
  • Loss of care and family duties
  • Loss of the victim’s earnings
  • Wrongful death
  • Funeral expenses for the victim

The statute of limitations for reporting is a short window. We are available 24/7 to offer you a free case evaluation. You can use our live chat feature or send a message through our secure and confidential form on this page.

Contact us or call the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin at 1-866-900-7078 to find out if one of our North Carolina lawyers may be able to help you try to protect your loved one from elder abuse.

How Good Are You at Eating & Talking on the Phone While Driving? Take Our Test.

Sixteen states and the District of Columbia have passed laws making it illegal to talk on the phone while driving. North Carolina may be next. If some NC lawmakers have their way, by 2020 it will be against the law to talk on the phone while driving.

As personal injury lawyers, we think this is a good thing.

Think You’re Good at Multitasking While Driving?

We are not wired to get behind the wheel and text, talk on the phone, or even eat fries. (Eating behind the wheel, incidentally, has been shown to be more distracting than using a cell phone to text or talk.) Face it. Wielding a two-ton vehicle at 60 mph on an eight-lane highway surrounded by 18-wheelers and your garden variety of inattentive drivers is no place for multitasking distractions of any kind.

Yet why can’t we stop? We know the statistics and understand the devastating consequences of one split second gone wrong. But what makes us continue to check that text or voicemail. Spoiler alert: your own brain’s dopamine production. Click here for your chemistry lesson explaining why it is so hard not to check that text message while driving.

Everyone Multitasks Behind the Wheel

It seems as though everyone is a drive-by multitasker. It’s something we’ve done since the early days of auto travel. Today, not only is it hard to stop multitasking while driving, but we tend to think we are better at it than we really are. (Oh yes you do, admit it.)

But are you as good at multitasking as you think? Click here for a fun and quick exercise that can help you find out.

What Do You Think About People Who Multitask While Driving?

Are you a “hang up and drive” person? Or are you the one applying mascara at a stoplight on Trade and Tryon in Uptown Charlotte? Tell us on the social media links below what you thought of this exercise. Better yet, share this exercise with your teen drivers!

 

Wheel Runoff Accidents – Will Insurance Try to Blame You?

No one is prepared for a wheel to come off their car while they are careening down the I-85 near Greensboro or the I-77 near Charlotte. Nor are they usually prepared to encounter a runaway tire as they are headed down the I-40 to the Crystal Coast. Yet it happens more often than you might realize.

Crashes involving a detached wheel are known as wheel runoff or detached wheel accidents.

A Wheel Runoff Crash Is a Road Debris Crash

A wheel runoff accident is often referred to as a road debris crash. Approximately two-thirds of road debris-related crashes involved debris that became detached from a vehicle, including wheels, tires, driveshafts, etc. These items can either strike another vehicle as they detach or remain on the roadway and contribute to a crash.

Our firm has represented thousands of car wreck cases, some of them wheel runoff accidents. Here is how these types of accidents happen – and who can potentially be at fault when they do happen. (Spoiler alert – you could potentially be blamed even if you are the victim.)

Wheel Runoff Accident Causes

Many things can cause a car wheel to fall off while in route. Some of the more common can include:

  • Over-torqueing the lug nut: Overtightening the bolts that are used to secure the wheel to the car. This is the most common cause of wheel runoff accidents.
  • Under-torqueing the lug nut: When the bolts securing the wheel to the car aren’t secured tightly enough.
  • Wheel paint thickness: When the paint on a wheel is too thick, causing parts to become defective.
  • Hub failure: Like the lug nut, the hub of the wheel can become defective if it the axle nut is too tight or too loose. Additionally, the hub can lack necessary lubrication or be overloaded.

Some Reasons Why Wheels Detach

Experience has taught us that typically the causes mentioned above are usually a result of an error during the wheel maintenance or installation process. Here are some specific examples:

  • Incorrect use of tools: Over-torqueing the lug nut occurs because of the widespread use of impact wrenches. These tools make it fast and easy to add a lot of torque. But sometimes this results in dangerous outcomes when used incorrectly.
  • Use of defective tools: Under-torqueing can be caused by using cheap or worn out wrenches.
  • Hasty remanufacturing: Paint thickness defects can potentially occur when tire dealers and traders try to quickly repaint wheels to make them look new for resale.
  • Not following procedure: Correct axle installation involves following detailed steps to adjust and preload bearings.
  • Improper maintenance: Hub failures are usually progressive and often come with warning signs. These include leaking hub seals, tire tread wear anomalies, strange sounds and smells coming from the car, and smoke.

Who Is at Fault for Wheel Runoff Crashes and Injuries?

Wheel runoff accidents can be complex and must be investigated thoroughly to try to determine who was at fault. Negligence can sometimes be found in:

The driver or owner of the car. Did the driver or owner know about the defect? Was the owner a private party or was the vehicle a company vehicle? Maintenance records must be thoroughly examined and, in some cases, mechanics may need to be interviewed.

The mechanic or repair shop. While there are many exceptional mechanics throughout North Carolina, as in every profession, some can be less than exceptional. Of course, no mechanic wants to admit fault, and in many cases, they may not have been aware that they potentially contributed to the wheel runoff situation. It takes an experienced car accident attorney who is skilled at interviewing potentially negligent parties to try to uncover the truth as to who was at fault.

The manufacturer of the wheel or wheel part. While many of these errors are caused by those performing car maintenance and upgrades, wheel runoff accidents can also be caused by manufacturer defects. In late 2018, Toyota recalled the 700 2019 C-HR Crossovers because of axle issues that could cause the rear tires to come off. It seems that tire recalls are almost as common as new tires, themselves. Michelin, Firestone, Goodyear, Bridgestone – all have had recalls for one reason or another. When an accident occurs because a tire failed to function properly, the manufacturer or distributor could potentially be found negligent.

Contributory Negligence – Are You Partially at Fault?

There’s one more entity that the insurance company could try to pin the blame on. You.

North Carolina is one of the few states known as a contributory negligence state. In insurance terms, that means that, barring a few exceptions, if you are at found to be fault for an accident or injury – even partially, just 1%, for example – the insurance company may not have to compensate you for your injuries or damages. Worse, you may even have to pay for some of the damages caused from the accident or injury.

NC Personal Injury Lawyers Offer Free Case Evaluation

If you have been injured in a wheel runoff accident we urge you not to try to settle with the insurance company on your own.

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 or call 1-866-900-7078 for a free case evaluation.

 

*Insurance Research Council, 1999.

Don’t Let Insurance Take Advantage of You With a Swoop and Settle Offer

Imagine you’ve been in a car accident – nothing serious, but your injuries are enough to send you to the hospital to get checked out. You have head, neck, and back pain. The doctors note some whiplash and send you home with pain medication and a caveat that you may feel worse the next few days. A few days later the at-fault driver’s insurance company calls and offers you a settlement for your hospital bills and an additional $500 to settle your case. You think, cool…an extra $500. And they want to settle so quickly. You’re busy and you’d just as soon put this all behind you. So you accept the offer and cash the $500 check.

Life is good. Or so you thought.

A month later you begin to get consistent migraines and you have tingling down your left leg that has gotten progressively worse. You go back to the doctor and learn that you have a concussion and a slipped disk, which will require an operation and weeks of rehab and treatment. The doc notes that these secondary issues likely stemmed from your car accident.

What do you do? You might as well cry. When you cashed that $500 insurance check, you settled with the insurance company whether you were aware of it or not.

The insurance company duped you into falling for what is known as the  “swoop and settle.”

By cashing that check, you absolved them of any further liability. And now you’re on the hook for your own medical bills. We’ve seen this rush to settle to be a favorite ploy among some insurance companies to try to trick injury victims into settling prematurely in an effort to pay them as little as possible.

The “Swoop and Settle” Insurance Tactic

Here is how swoop and settle typically works. An insurance company representative contacts you very soon after a wreck and makes you a lowball settlement offer. They know you have a lot going on, you’re probably in pain, have no car to drive, and could be missing work. And the insurance company may try to settle before any “secondary” injuries manifest.

This is a confusing time for victims, and the insurance company may try to take advantage of your confusion to get you to settle for way less than your case is worth, and to give up your rights before you know how badly you are hurt or before you have had time to talk to a lawyer to learn about the many rights you have to fight for more money. The idea is to get you to quickly settle for a miniscule amount before you even know the full extent of your injuries. To many people, this quick cash seems too good to be true. But you know what they say about that – too good to be true usually is.

Sadly, we’ve seen a lot of our non-English-speaking clients (especially Hispanic clients) become victims of “swoop and settle.” When one of our paralegals had called to make initial contact with a new client, he said his insurance company sent him a check and that he cashed it that morning. It was money in the mail and he didn’t think twice – so he took it to the bank. The insurance company didn’t give him a chance, but what’s worse is the check was only for $500.

We also represented a client who had an adjuster come into the client’s house, make an offer and sit on the couch, refusing to leave until someone accepted his offer. The client didn’t know what to do.

These are just two of dozens of examples of insurance company tactics we feature in our free downloadable booklet Insurance Companies (and others) Behaving Badly. Read it if you dare. It’s a real shocker.

Beware the Recorded Statement

As part of any accident protocol, the insurance company will likely call you as soon as possible for a “recorded statement.” What you say to the insurance representative and the words you choose on this recorded statement are extremely important to your settlement. (Click here for five things not to say on a recorded statement.)

The recorded statement is so important, I advise my clients not to give one unless they have consulted with me first, or I am on the phone with them during that statement.

We’ve seen it time and time again. The representative may likely ask you leading questions that may get you to admit partial fault, or answer in such a way that your own words may be used against you in court, if it comes to that. Even something as simple as “How are you doing today,” needs to be dealt with carefully. If you respond, “Oh, I’m fine, thank you,” some insurance companies may try to interpret that to mean you are indeed fine from a medical perspective. When all the while, you were speaking rhetorically.

Other Insurance Tactics to Try to Pay You Less

Most insurance companies are for-profit companies. Their profit, not yours. And many of them have a variety of methods to try to keep as much of their money as possible. Click here to learn some surprising ways some insurance companies have devised to keep money you potentially deserve out of your hands.

Why Insurance Companies Don’t Want You to Get a Lawyer

The real reason insurance companies don’t want you to get a lawyer? Insurance industry studies show that, on average, car accident victims who handled claims on their own received 3.5X LESS* compensation for their loss than they would have if they hired a personal injury lawyer.

What Can an Accident Lawyer Do for You?

We will deal with the insurance company and your medical bills for you. All you have to do is follow your doctor’s orders and heal up as quickly as possible. While you’re healing, we’ll do all the heavy lifting to try to:

  • Prove damages
  • Determine fault
  • Prevent and deflect insurance stalling tactics
  • Investigate claims
  • Secure evidence
  • Negotiate a fair settlement

You may have a right to maximum compensation for:

  • Medical and rehabilitation bills
  • Lost time from work
  • Cost of vehicle repairs
  • Diminished earning capacity for permanent injuries

Not only do we offer a free case evaluation, but you pay us nothing upfront and no attorney’s fee if we don’t recover for you.

NC Car Wreck Lawyers Offer Free Case Evaluation

If you see a check in the mail or are offered a settlement too soon, that is a red flag. If you cash that check, you just may be cashing in your financial future. Take your time and talk to an experienced car accident attorney before settling your case

Contact us or call 1-866-900-7078 for a free case evaluation.

 

*Insurance Research Council, 1999.

 

Who Pays for E-scooter Injuries?

If you’re in the Triangle area, you’ve undoubtedly seen at least one brand of electric scooter (most likely Byrd or Lime). These e-scooters, as they are more commonly known, have become a popular method of transportation. They have their good qualities, a handful of bad injury repercussions, and some downright ugly outcomes of the ramifications of these injuries.

The Good. On one hand, their arrival has created jobs, reduced pollution, helped to decrease traffic in some areas, and given riders a chance to get from point A to point B in a novel new way.

The Bad. Unfortunately, however, e-scooter injuries have increased exponentially.

The Ugly. When it comes to paying for these injuries, don’t look to the scooter companies. Or to insurance.

Common E-scooter Injuries

WRAL cited a Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) study, which stated that head injuries are among the most common e-scooter mishaps (40%). Although this study was conducted in California, Triangle physicians also reported seeing broken bones (more than 31% of injuries), and arm, wrist, or hand fractures. Many are serious enough to require permanent plates and pins.

Injuries span all ages. From younger people under the age of 18, who are sometimes seen as risk seekers, to those over the ages of 50.

The JAMA study noted that nearly 5% of those injured, were intoxicated during the accident. Drinking and operating an e-scooter can lead to more serious injuries that have required some people to receive intensive care for bleeding on the brain or intracranial hemorrhages.

If that is not bad enough, even worse accidents have been reported. In recent months, there have been at least three deaths across the country related to e-scooters. One young woman riding a scooter in Ft. Lauderdale was so severely injured, it left her in a vegetative state. The woman’s mother is suing Lime based on the argument that Lime’s app includes language that specifically instructs people not to operate scooters on local sidewalks, pushing them onto city streets instead. The conundrum here is that operating a motorized scooter on the street is against the law in Fort Lauderdale, though the city does permit e-scooters to be ridden on sidewalks.

There have been so many accidents nationwide that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has entered the picture. The agency is studying the health risks associated with e-scooters by analyzing injuries to riders and pedestrians.

Safety Rules for E-scooters

As that story illustrates, the rules governing e-scooters are confusing. They vary from state to state and seem to change. In North Carolina, riders are not allowed to ride on sidewalks and they must wear helmets. Yet, these rules are routinely broken.

Who Pays for E-scooter Injuries?

Are riders completely held liable, or do the scooter companies provide insurance for its riders? According to Bird’s and Lime’s rental agreements, the rider assumes all responsibility.

When an at-fault driver of a car is involved in an e-scooter collision, that driver’s car insurance coverage may potentially apply. That might lead someone to believe that if they are a scooter rider and become injured as the result of a vehicle driver’s negligence, the driver’s auto insurance might pay for the scooter rider’s injuries. Not necessarily so.

Don’t think that the negligent driver’s insurance company is simply going to hand you over a fat check for all your medical bills and other expenses to fully compensate you for the injuries you suffered. Insurance companies are for-profit businesses – some of the world’s most profitable. They are so profitable, in fact, that in 2016, the insurance industry’s assets ($5.8 trillion) totaled more than the GDPs of all but two countries – the United States and China.

Insurance companies understand how to try to avoid paying you what you may potentially deserve. Click here for stories of individuals who have had to deal with insurance companies’ tactics.

Did You Contribute to an E-scooter Crash?

One more thing. North Carolina is a contributory negligence state. What that means is if the insurance company can prove you were partially at fault – even just 1%, – you will most likely not get compensation.

Electric scooter accidents have been proliferating in NC cities and towns and across the nation. If you decide to ride an e-scooter, make sure you obey the rules and remain extra cautious to try to avoid injury to yourself or others.

Contact Information

Asheville Law Office

300 Ridgefield Court Suite 309
Asheville, NC 28806
Phone: 828-552-8215
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

Durham Law Office

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

Fayetteville Law Office

2915 Raeford Road, Suite 204
Fayetteville, NC 28303
Phone: 910-488-0611
Toll Free: 1-866-900-7078

Goldsboro Law Office

1308 Wayne Memorial Drive, Suite B
Goldsboro, NC 27534
Phone: 919-731-2581
Toll Free: 1-866-900-7078

Greensboro Law Office

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

Greenville Law Office

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

Henderson Law Office

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

Morganton Law Office

216 N. Sterling Street, Suite B
Morganton, NC 28655
Phone: 828-219-3080
Toll Free: 1-844-520-2894

New Bern Law Office

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

Raleigh Law Office

4325 Lake Boone Trail, Suite 100
Raleigh, NC 27607
Phone: 919-834-1184
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

144 Woodridge Court
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