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Drivers Guide to the Most Dangerous Intersections in the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill Triangle

Are you driving through some of the deadliest highways and intersections in the Triangle and don’t know it? What areas do you need to be driving defensively?

The Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill area, also known as “The Triangle,” continues to experience a population growth. Over the past 10 years, Wake County’s population has grown by 26%. Compared to other counties in the U.S. at the last census, Wake County is only second to Austin, Texas in terms of top fastest growing counties with 1,000,000+ residents. Between 2010 to 2015, Raleigh’s population grew by 14%!

Unfortunately, this rapid growth meant more people are driving on the roads, and more car accidents have occurred as a result. However, car accidents are occurring at a disproportionate rate — about a 45% increase overall, according to WRAL.

The Most Dangerous Intersections in Raleigh

Based on reports from the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT), there are dozens of intersections where crash rates are higher than those in the area. As you may suspect If you drive through them frequently, you may already suspect high-volume roads like Wake Forest Road, Capital Boulevard, and Western Boulevard are on the list.

According to the most recent reports from the NCDOT, below are the top 5 areas in Raleigh where the most accidents have occurred between 2014 to 2018:

  1. Capital Boulevard/I-440 interchange in north Raleigh
  2. Wake Forest Road/I-440 interchange
  3. Interstate 40 at South Saunders Street in south Raleigh
  4. New Bern Avenue/I-440 interchange in east Raleigh
  5. Glenwood Avenue/I-440 interchange near Crabtree Valley Mall (the intersection of Blue Ridge Road and Glenwood Avenue also take first place with the most frequent crashes occurring there)

In contrast, below are the areas in Raleigh where the crashes have been most severe between 2014 to 2018:

  1. The intersection of Corporation Parkway and New Hope Road in east Raleigh
  2. Dawson Street at South Street downtown
  3. Falls of Neuse Road at Common Oaks Drive in north Raleigh

The Most Dangerous Intersections in Durham

In Durham, the most crash-prone intersections between 2014 to 2018 are listed below:

  1. I-40/Fayetteville Road near Southpoint Mall
  2. I-40/NC 55
  3. I-85/Guess Road
  4. I-40/US 15-501
  5. I-40/NC 54
  6. Roxboro St/Durham Freeway
  7. I-85/N. Roxboro Road
  8. Wake Forest Highway/Holloway St

When traffic engineers identify where crashes are most severe, they are able to provide crash mitigation efforts like adding red light cameras, making stop lights more visible to drivers, and restricting turn lanes to help reduce crash rates. Click here for a map of where NCDOT Highway Safety Improvement Program (HSIP) projects can be found.

8 Tips on How to Drive Defensively if You Are in a High-Crash Volume Area

If you frequent these intersections and areas in the Triangle, driving defensively is key to ensuring your and others’ safety. Practice the following tips below:

  1. FOCUS! That text or call can wait. Minimize being on your phone or fiddling with the air conditioning or the radio especially when you’re at one of these dangerous areas.
  2. Expect other drivers to drive badly.
  3. Follow the speed limit.
  4. Buckle up!
  5. Yield to other drivers if you are in doubt as to who should go.
  6. Don’t try to race the yellow light. Slow down.
  7. Always use your blinkers.
  8. Do not tailgate other drivers.

North Carolina Triangle Car Crash Lawyers

The Law Offices of James Scott Farrin is ready to help you if you were injured by another driver’s negligence. We may be able to help you get compensation. We’ll evaluate your case for free, and we don’t collect an attorney’s fee unless we get compensation for you. If you’ve been in an auto accident in North Carolina, call us at 1-866-900-7078 or contact us here.

Why Don’t North Carolina Juries Know Who Is Really Being Sued in Car Accident Cases?

Did you know that in North Carolina, the deck is sometimes stacked against people who have been injured – through no fault of their own – by negligent drivers? It’s a fairly complex nuance to our state’s laws that many people wouldn’t know unless they have experience with it or are a lawyer themselves. That’s why it’s so important for people who have been injured in North Carolina to seek out an experienced personal injury lawyer if they were injured by another’s negligence.

Insurance Companies Can Play Hide and Seek Against a Jury

One example of the deck being stacked is the state’s evidentiary rule that allows liability insurance companies to essentially “hide” from juries at trial. Specifically, in North Carolina, a jury is not allowed to know that an insurance company has an applicable insurance policy that could cover the money being sought by the injured party in trial. Rule 411 of the North Carolina Rules of Evidence reads as follows:

Evidence that a person was or was not insured against liability is not admissible upon the issue whether he acted negligently or otherwise wrongfully. This rule does not require the exclusion of evidence of insurance against liability when offered for another purpose, such as proof of agency, ownership, or control, or bias or prejudice of a witness. (1983, c. 701, s. 1.)

The stated rationale for this rule is that juries could be convinced to award higher damages to the plaintiff if they know that the defendant’s insurance company is “on the hook” for it, rather than the actual defendant for causing the injury.

NC Juries May Not Know Just How Much Insurance Companies Control

The truth is that in the vast majority of cases, there is liability insurance coverage involved. This means that the insurance company is responsible for paying any awards within the policy limit, and they are also responsible for deciding whether or not to settle the case out of court or to take the case to trial. It is also the insurance company who hires the lawyer who represents the defendant in court. In other words, they call the shots on behalf of the defendant.

The fact of the matter is that the liability insurance company controls every aspect of the case from the defendant’s side — and yet an insurance company cannot be named as part of a lawsuit or referenced in a trial? That’s extremely unfair to the plaintiff and all injured parties.

Effects of Withholding Liability Insurance Information on Juries

Granted, this rule may make sense under certain situations, but it has a significantly pro-defendant effect on juries, and in my opinion, has resulted in many unfair jury awards to plaintiffs who have been seriously injured, especially when a juror is made to believe that the defendant may have to pay the award out of his or her own pocket. And while at the conclusion of the trial, the judge will give the jury an instruction to not consider the defendant’s ability or inability to pay any award reached, in reality, I believe this is always a factor that a jury will consider.

What about when the defendant is a close friend or family member of the plaintiff? The friend or family member certainly does not control whether the insurance company treats the plaintiff fairly. So when the insurance company refuses to fairly negotiate a settlement, your attorney has no other choice but to name that close friend or family member in a lawsuit.

Now who has the upper hand? The insurance company just forced the plaintiff to sue a friend or a relative in court, and that never looks good to a jury. The insurance company is very aware of this tactic, and will not be afraid to use it.

A Real-World Example

About few years ago, there was a case that received national attention when a New York woman sued her twelve-year-old nephew (who was eight at the time of the incident) over a badly fractured wrist she had sustained when he accidentally knocked her over and caused her to try to catch herself with her wrist.

The backlash she received from the public was brutal as they could not understand why she was suing her twelve-year-old nephew for $127,000. How in the world could the boy ever be able to pay that much money? The jury came back and awarded the plaintiff nothing on her claim.

The truth of the matter is that the plaintiff was never seeking any money from her own nephew. She was seeking to get her existing medical bills covered by the applicable homeowner’s insurance policy. Prior to trial, the insurance company offered a measly $1 to settle her case.

Even though plaintiff’s dispute was with the insurance company and not the nephew, New York has a similar rule to North Carolina’s, where the insurance company could not be named as a party to the suit nor could there be any mention of liability insurance.

If the jury were to have been made aware of the full details of this woman’s claim, is there any doubt that there would have been a different result?

North Carolina Personal Injury Cases Can Be Complex – Call a Personal Injury Attorney for Help

If nothing else, this blog should illustrate just one of many complexities of a personal injury lawsuit in North Carolina, as well as why it can be critically important to have an experienced personal injury attorney to guide you through the process.

And while the deck may be stacked against personal injury plaintiffs in the state, there are usually exceptions to many of the rules – depending on the facts and circumstances of your particular case. An experienced personal injury attorney can help level the playing field by identifying those exceptions that may tend to benefit your case and protect you against the insurance company’s tactics.

Please call the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin at 1-866-900-7078, chat with us, or contact us here for a free case evaluation. We don’t recoup an attorney’s fee if we don’t get you compensation.

From Injured in a Car Accident to Sitting in Court: When a Case Goes to Trial

When you’re hurt in a car accident in North Carolina, many people think hiring an attorney to represent you implies that you’ll be in a court at some point. But how often do car accident injury cases really end up in court, and what does a personal injury attorney do when that happens? Here’s how it works.

What Does a Trial for a Car Accident Lawsuit Look Like in NC?

Most of the time, your personal injury attorney won’t even need to file a lawsuit. The vast majority of claims made to insurance companies are settled. If you are looking at the prospect of having to file a lawsuit against someone in a personal injury matter, it likely means one of two things. Either the person’s insurance company has denied their insured is legally responsible for your injuries, or there is a significant disagreement as to the value of your case. Don’t fret as there is good news.

Of the cases when a lawsuit is actually filed, U.S. Government statistics show that only about 5% of personal injury cases go to trial. The other 95% tend to settle at some point between the filing of a complaint with the court and the actual jury trial.  While experienced trial lawyers enjoy the litigation process, to the average personal injury plaintiff, the process can be best described as long.

It takes, on average, between twelve (12) to eighteen (18) months for a case to reach the trial stage depending on your jurisdiction. The purpose of this blog is to introduce you to the various stages of the litigation process. These are 1) Pleadings Stage 2) Discovery Stage 3) Mediation Stage and 4) The Trial.

Pleadings – Stating a Claim

This is how a lawsuit starts. The Plaintiff’s attorney files the Complaint with the Court. Then it’s served to the Defendant. The Complaint itself is a rather formal document in language and format, setting forth the legal and factual basis for the lawsuit.

The Complaint will tell the Defendant why they are being sued through a series of allegations that the Plaintiff’s attorney believes they will be able to prove through evidence at trial. The Complaint needs to state any reasons why the Defendant is liable for your injuries so that the Defendant can respond to them.

Once the Defendant has been served with the Complaint, most commonly by the Sheriff’s office or by certified mail return receipt requested, the Defendant(s) has 30 days to respond. This is usually done via a document called an Answer. It’s not unusual for the Defendant to request, and be granted, an extension of 30 days in which to formally respond to the Complaint.

Like the Complaint, the Answer is a formal legal document both in its language and format. Within the Answer, the Defendant will usually respond to each and every allegation of the Complaint by admitting or denying each allegation made. Additionally, the Defendant will state reasons why he or she does not believe they are legally responsible for Plaintiff’s injuries. It may even assert its own claims against the Plaintiff, called counter-claims, which the Plaintiff would have to formally respond to as well.

Discovery – Making the Case

Discovery is the pre-trial stage in a lawsuit when each party investigates and tries to establish the facts of the case. This is done through the rules of civil procedure. Both sides obtain evidence from the opposing party and wherever else it can be found. This is accomplished using “discovery devices.” That’s a fancy name for “asking for things.” A few examples are requests for answers to interrogatories, requests to production of documents and things, requests for admissions as well as depositions.

Typically, each party will serve discovery requests on the opposing party with the initial pleadings referenced above. Occasionally, these requests will be sent shortly thereafter. Each party will generally have thirty (30) days to respond, but as a matter of course will request and be granted an extension of thirty (30) additional days in which to respond.

During that time, the Plaintiff and Defendant will meet with their counsel to provide answers and documents to respond to the various requests. The attorney will then finalize those answers and provide to opposing counsel in a timely manner. The terminology gets a little complicated if you’re not an attorney, but here are some terms you’re likely to hear and what they mean.

Interrogatories are open-ended, written questions to the opposing side. They’re used to gain information regarding the case. For example, one may ask the other party to identify any and all evidence they will rely upon in support of their claim or defenses. Interrogatories can become very complex with multiple sub-parts, so most jurisdictions limit the number of interrogatories either party can ask of the other.

Requests for production are arguably the most useful of the discovery tools. They allow one party to ask the other to provide documents or other tangible evidence, even electronically stored information. In addition, a request for production allows you to seek similar information from non- parties (people other than the Plaintiff and Defendant) by way of subpoena.

Requests for admissions ask another party to admit or deny certain carefully worded questions. For example, one party may ask the other to admit certain facts related to an automobile wreck that may tend to prove that party’s liability or responsibility. These questions are used to narrow down the issues of fact truly in dispute in the matter.

Once the written discovery is complete, the parties will schedule depositions. Depositions are the process of taking live testimony from witnesses and parties before a trial. The witness or party is required to appear (usually in their own attorney’s office) and testify under oath before a court reporter, who records the entire proceeding.  While the testimony and questioning are governed by the rules of evidence, there is no judge present and counsel will note any objections for the record to be dealt with at such time the testimony seeks to be introduced at trial. An experienced personal injury attorney will prepare you for your testimony ahead of time to make sure you are comfortable and prepared for any questions you may receive.

Mediation – Can We Come to Terms?

A mediation is when the parties to a lawsuit and their attorneys sit down with a neutral third party, called a mediator, and work towards resolving the case, if possible. Also present at the mediation is the insurance adjuster.

The mediation occurs after the facts of the case are largely established but prior to trial. This is really one of the last times that the Plaintiff will have an opportunity to choose how his or her case will be decided.

The mediator is almost always an attorney who typically doesn’t know anything about the case. The format is simple. The mediator will do a brief introduction of the parties and participants, explain his or her role, and establish how the mediation will proceed.

As the Plaintiff, your attorney will give a presentation to the mediator and the other side regarding the strengths of your case. The insurance company’s defense attorney will do the same from his or her clients’ perspective. Expect for the opposing side to make statements that you will strongly disagree with.  It will happen.

After each side makes its opening presentation, the parties will separate with one party moving to another room. The mediator will then meet with each party privately to learn more about each party’s case and find a way to help the parties reach some sort of compromise. The mediator will use the information he or she has learned from each party, except any information received in confidence, to help each side to see something about their own case, whether good or bad, they have not yet seen or appreciated.

This back and forth by the mediator continues while the parties negotiate and feed, through the mediator, information, arguments and offers to the opposing side until the matter is settled or until an impasse is reached. Occasionally, a case may require the parties to reconvene for a second session. If a settlement is reached, the parties will sign a binding document advising the court that the case has been resolved and what the terms are. If an impasse is reached, the mediator will notify the court and the parties will make final preparations for the trial.

The Trial – Your Day in Court

The trial is the culmination of all of the work done on your case. The very first thing that happens on the first day of trial are pre-trial motions, or motions in limine. These are motions by either side seeking to either exclude certain testimony or to limit the issues for the jury to decide. A common motion by the insurance defense attorney would to exclude any references to liability insurance in the presence of the jury.

After the motions in limine, there may be any number of housekeeping matters the judge may want to discuss with the attorneys, including checking once more to see if the parties can reach an amicable settlement prior to trial.

The next order of business is picking a jury. This is also called the voir dire (pronounced vwar DEER).  Voir dire is where both attorneys, as well as the judge, will question members of the jury pool to determine whether they are suitable to serve as jurors on this particular case. Each side has a certain number of potential jurors they can remove for various reasons. For example, an experienced trial attorney would likely not want a jury member who is an insurance adjuster. Conversely, the insurance defense attorney would likely not want someone on the jury who had been injured by a negligent driver and had to resort to filing a lawsuit. Once the jury (usually 12 people and an alternate) is chosen, the judge will give instructions regarding how to govern themselves throughout the course of the trial.

Next come the opening statements. The opening statements are when the attorneys outline for the jurors what the case is about and forecast what they believe the evidence will be. Typically, the Plaintiff’s attorney goes first, as he or she has the burden of proving his or her case to the jury.

Once both sides give opening statements, the Plaintiff’s side will call its witnesses. During this phase of the trial, the Plaintiff’s attorney will question each witness to solicit testimonial evidence used to support the case that is being made. The testimonial evidence is also used as the foundation to introduce documents and other exhibits to the jury as well. This is called the direct examination of a witness.

After the Plaintiff’s attorney completes his or her examination of each witness, the Defense attorney will get to cross-examine each witness. An example of a list of witnesses that may be offered by the Plaintiff would be: the Plaintiff, police officer, any witnesses to the collision, Plaintiff’s doctor(s) and maybe a friend or family member of the Plaintiff who may testify about the Plaintiff’s injuries and how they may have impacted him or her.

Once the Plaintiff has finished questioning witnesses and introducing evidence, the Defense has an opportunity to examine witnesses and introduce evidence if they choose to do so, and counsel for the Plaintiff will have an opportunity for cross-examination. Throughout the questioning of witnesses and introduction of evidence, the lawyers may occasionally object to a question or a response or a particular document and the judge will need to rule on whether the material objected to can be considered by the jury. Under some circumstances, certain objections to evidence (testimonial or otherwise) will need to be argued outside of the presence of the jury.

Once both sides have concluded examinations of all witnesses, the jury will usually take a break and return to the jury room while the judge and attorneys conference to determine what jury instructions are appropriate based on the admitted evidence received during the course of the trial. Once completed, the jury is returned to the courtroom and closing arguments begin.

The closing arguments are speeches made at trial after all the evidence has been presented. Each side reviews and summarizes the evidence presented at trial in the light most favorable to the side making the argument. This is the last time the attorneys will be able to speak to the jury prior to a verdict, so they are a pretty big deal. During the closing arguments, an experienced personal injury lawyer will passionately and persuasively explain why the verdict should be in favor of the Plaintiff.

Following the closing arguments, the judge will instruct the jurors on the questions that need to be answered as well as the applicable law that will govern their deliberations. Once complete, the jurors will return to the jury room, choose a foreperson and begin deliberations. Deliberation times vary. They can be as short as maybe 30 minutes or as long as several days depending on the magnitude and the complexities of the case, as well as the level of disagreements between the various jurors. The verdict must be unanimous.

When a verdict is reached, the foreperson informs the Bailiff, who informs the judge, who will then notify the parties. Once the parties are seated in the courtroom along with the judge, the jury members will return to their seats. The judge confirms that a verdict has been reached, and the clerk will publish the verdict by reading aloud. With the verdict published, the jurors are thanked and dismissed. The verdict essentially ends the lawsuit, except in the rare case where the losing party wishes to, and has legal grounds for, an appeal.

An Experienced North Carolina Personal Injury Attorney Willing to Go the Distance

When you’ve been injured in accident, you have to understand that the insurance company wants to give you as little as possible – that’s how they make a profit. It’s not personal to them. For you, who could be in a lot of pain, with mounting worry and medical bills, it IS personal.

You want an attorney who is ready and willing to fight for you, including going to trial. If you’ve been injured, our attorneys are willing to go the distance.  Contact the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin at 1-866-900-7078, or click here. We’ll listen to you, evaluate your case, and explain your options free of charge. Tell them you mean business!

Weather and Auto Accidents – Frequently Asked Questions (and Answers)

So, what happens if you’re injured in an accident during, or caused by, severe weather conditions? For a skilled analysis, we’ve asked James Scott Farrin shareholder and litigation attorney Hoyt Tessener for his perspective. His answers may surprise you.

The Weather, the Road and Personal Injury

  • Let’s get this one out of the way first. Can the weather be at fault for an accident while I’m driving?

Yes. The weather can be at fault for a wreck but only under unusual circumstances. For example, the road could be poorly constructed. The weather can also be a contributing factor if for example the vehicle goes into a defective guard rail. 

  • If another driver is involved, how important is it to determine fault, and how is it determined?

It is very important to determine fault. Initially, fault is determined from the crash report that is prepared by the investigating law enforcement officer. It is always important to call the police whenever there is a wreck. However, the law enforcement officers may make a mistake or enter the wrong codes. Fault is ultimately determined in a negligence case by what a jury of twelve people decide.

  • Can’t it even be the weather’s fault?

If the weather is at fault, it is an accident.

  • Does it matter if there are severe weather warnings? Does that make me more responsible for my choice to drive in that weather or does it matter?

If you are driving during severe weather, you may be contributory negligent. If the weather comes upon you suddenly or upon somebody else suddenly, then it can be what is described as a sudden emergency. A sudden emergency is a heightened standard of care. Basically we all have an obligation to drive and operate a vehicle as a reasonable person would in the same or similar circumstances. If you are hit with sudden adverse weather, the standard becomes  driving as a reasonable person would in those same or similar circumstances – the adverse weather.

  • Let’s say a storm knocks out power to an intersection and the traffic signals are out. What happens if I get hit and injured while going through that intersection?

The rules of the road always apply. If traffic signals are out, then you have to follow the rules of the road as if there is an intersection with no traffic lights and all roads have stop signs.  Everyone is expected to come to a complete stop at the intersection. The vehicle that arrives first goes first and then you circle around counterclockwise. A vehicle turning yields to a vehicle going straight.

  • What happens if my child is on a school bus during severe weather and is injured in an accident?

A child on a school bus is injured due to severe weather, it is an accident. However, if the bus driver and/or another person is at fault, for example for running a stop light, and your child was injured as a result of the collision, then your child would have a claim. 

The Takeaways: While storms can contribute to an accident, injury caused directly from weather conditions is an act of God. And you can’t sure God. If your actions or reactions cause an accident, you are likely to be at fault just as in normal weather. If someone else’s action or reactions cause you injury, you may have a claim. And, in certain cases, a weather-related accident may be worsened by a defect, such as a bad road or a faulty guardrail. In those case, you may have a claim.

BREAKOUT: Contributory Negligence Defined
contributory negligence: n. a doctrine of common law that if a person was injured in part due to his/her own negligence (his/her negligence "contributed" to the accident), the injured party would not be entitled to collect any damages (money) from another party who supposedly caused the accident. Under this rule, a badly injured person who was only slightly negligent could not win in court against a very negligent defendant. NOTE: Some exceptions or exclusions can apply, which is why it is always advisable to speak with an experienced personal injury attorney.

Storms, Wind and Who Pays if You Get Hurt

  • I’ll get a bit more specific. What if I’m hurt by an actual tornado while driving? They’re freak storms, after all.

If you are driving during a tornado and injured as a result, you would not be entitled to any recovery.

  • What if a tree from a yard along the street gets blown over and hits my car, injuring me. Does that homeowner have to pay for my injuries?

A tree that is blown over by a storm would only create liability if the tree owner knew the tree was weak or damaged and should have been removed or replaced.

  • What if that tree is already in the road when I hit it and get injured?

If you hit a tree in the road and are injured, you have no recovery unless someone was chopping down the tree expecting it to fall in a different direction and instead it fell on you as you were driving by.

  • Let’s say I’m driving on the highway and high winds blow a tractor trailer over, causing me to crash. That’s not my fault, right?

Right. 

BREAKOUT: When a Storm Blows Over… a Truck
The University of Kansas Department of Engineering performed a study in 2009 to determine the effects of wind on motorists. Full tractor trailers were found vulnerable to being blown off the road in winds of 60mph or more. Empty tractor trailers, on the other hand, were adversely affected in crosswinds of just 15-20mph.

The Takeaways: Storms that have high winds pose numerous risks, but the vast majority of their effects are acts of God. There is little chance that someone is going to be at fault – other than you. The lesson here is not to drive during wind storms. Got off the road!

Water Hazards, From Above and Below

  • Water is dangerous as well, especially over the road. Let’s say I drive into water that’s covering the road and get hurt. Does it make any difference if there’s a flash flood watch?

If water pools on the road due to a defective road design or maintenance, you may have a claim. If you just drive into standing water, you are responsible for your own actions and would not have a claim. If you have decided to drive during a flash flood watch and you are in an area that is known to flood, you would have no claim.

  • What if I hit someone trying to avoid the water? Or they hit me trying to avoid it?

If you hit someone while driving, regardless of the reason, it is likely that you are going to be at fault. The same applies for them.

BREAKOUT: Half a Million Injuries a Year Occur on Wet Roads
According to the U.S Department of Transportation, the seemingly innocuous wet road is one of the most dangerous places to drive. Each year, about 75% of weather-related vehicle crashes occur on wet roads, and nearly half occur while it’s raining. Wet road crashes account for more than 5,000 fatalities and more than 540,000 injuries. Roadway flooding was said to be the greatest source of fatalities.

The Takeaways: Water on the road is a tricky issue. If you choose to drive during heavy rain when there are flood watches and warnings, you could be seen as contributing to the accident – contributory negligence. If the flooding happens due to poor road design, you may have a claim. As always, you are responsible for your choices and actions. A court and a jury will hold you to the standard of what a reasonable person would do in your specific circumstance. And reasonable people do not often drive during flood warnings!

How Do Various Types of Insurance Coverages Work Together After an Automobile Collision in NC?

Most people don’t think much about their auto insurance until they need it. There’s a reason that personal injury attorneys exist. Sometimes, even with all the insurance, you have to file a personal injury lawsuit in order to receive fair compensation. Where does that compensation come from?

If you’re injured in an accident in North Carolina, there are generally four (4) types of automobile insurance coverages that may come into play. These four coverages are liability coverage, uninsured motorist coverage (UM), underinsured motorist coverage (UIM) and medical payments coverage. Both liability coverage and uninsured motorist coverage are mandatory coverages for all drivers under the North Carolina Motor Vehicle Safety and Financial Responsibility Act. The others are optional.

What Is Liability Insurance and What Does It Do?

Liability Insurance covers your liability, or fault, in an automobile wreck as it relates to other parties’ bodily injury or property damage. Conversely, if you are the victim of a negligent driver, then their liability coverage covers any damages you may have which may include, but are not limited to medical bills, lost wages, pain, and suffering, as well as damage to your automobile.

In North Carolina, the law requires that the owner of a registered and operated motor vehicle must carry the following minimum amounts of insurance coverage: a minimum of $30,000 for bodily injury per person, $60,000 bodily injury per accident and $25,000 property damage.

In certain situations, when the injuries are serious, an injured party can collect liability coverage from multiple policies. The most common way this occurs is when the at-fault driver is driving someone else’s vehicle yet owns an insured vehicle himself. Under this scenario, the injured party can collect from the liability policy covering the at-fault vehicle actually involved in the wreck, and also from the liability policy of the at-fault driver’s own vehicle that was not involved assuming the total damages exceeded the coverage of the at-fault vehicle.

If We All Have Uninsured Motorist Coverage, There Are No Uninsured Motorists, Right?

Not quite. Uninsured Motorist Coverage (UM), as defined by North Carolina’s Department of Insurance, is coverage that “will provide protection when an uninsured driver, who is at-fault, injures you or another covered individual.” It also provides property damage coverage.

Sadly, not all vehicles are insured. An uninsured vehicle may be a vehicle where the owner has failed to carry insurance on the vehicle in violation of State law. It can also be a stolen vehicle being driven by the perpetrator or any other person without expressed or implied consent by the owner to be operating the vehicle. An uninsured vehicle can also be a vehicle whereby the owner has purchased the requisite insurance policy, but for one of various reasons the insurance company has denied coverage for a particular loss.

An example of such a situation would be if there were a material misrepresentation made on an insurance application that the insurance company later finds out about, like the applicant representing the car being used by an accident-free 50 year old to go to and from work when the vehicle is really being used by his 16 year old son. That may cause the insurance carrier to deny coverage for a particular loss.

Finally, uninsured coverage may be necessary if you are the victim of a hit and run are not able to ascertain the identity of the perpetrator or whether the at-fault vehicle is insured. Please note, however, because of North Carolina’s “No Contact Rule” for uninsured accident claims, if the hit-and-run vehicle (phantom vehicle) does not make contact with your vehicle, uninsured motorist coverage will not apply. An example of this may be a phantom vehicle running a motorcycle or another vehicle off the road yet the vehicles never made contact.

When Enough Is Not Enough: Underinsured Motorist Coverage

Underinsured Motorist Coverage (UIM) is coverage, as defined by the North Carolina Department of insurance as coverage that “will provide protection when an underinsured driver, who is at-fault, injures you or another covered individual. An underinsured driver is one whose limits of liability are less than your UIM limits, and not enough to cover the losses of the people the underinsured driver injured.” Unlike liability and uninsured motorist coverage, underinsured motorist coverage is optional. Therefore, you must inform your agent that you wish to purchase this additional coverage.

An underinsured motorist claimant can be a driver or passenger in the faultless vehicle. Both are considered insureds under that vehicle’s underinsured motorist coverage, so long as the UIM coverage in the faultless vehicle exceeds the available liability coverage(s) applicable to their at-fault vehicle(s). In other words, the coverage kicks in if there’s not enough insurance on the vehicle at-fault.

A common rule when analyzing insurance coverages is that “the insurance follows the vehicle.” In the context of underinsured motorist coverage (UIM), one can also present a UIM claim if that person is injured and has damages that exceed the liability coverage(s) available to the at-fault driver(s) and either owns a vehicle or resides with a family member (also known as “resident relative”) who owns a vehicle that carries UIM coverage that is greater than the available liability coverage(s). Sounds complicated, but it just means that, if you’re injured and the at-fault driver’s coverage isn’t enough, you may have a claim if you have UIM on your car or live with a family member who does.

A family member has been interpreted by our courts as “a person related to the [named insured] by blood, marriage or adoption who is a resident of the [named insured’s] household.” Resident has been interpreted by our courts to mean anything from “a place of abode for more than a temporary period of time” to “a permanent and established home.” Obviously, a child of a named insured would certainly be deemed as a relative resident.

What about a situation where the person seeking UIM coverage lives primarily with his mother who does not have UIM coverage on her car, but his father, who he lives with every other weekend or during the summer, does have this coverage on his vehicle? Or what about a college student who is off at college, yet she still comes home for breaks and during the summer? Is she deemed a “resident” of her parents’ home while away at college so as to fall under her parents’ UIM coverage?

Our courts have said yes to both of those scenarios, but there are often many other facts and circumstances that require an experienced personal injury lawyer. You also may be able to collect UIM coverage under multiple policies (referred to as “stacking”). An experienced personal injury attorney can also advise if this is applicable to your situation.

Bodily Injury: Medical Payments Coverage and How It Works

The final insurance coverage to be discussed in the context of an automobile wreck is Medical Payments Coverage or Med Pay. Med Pay coverage is an optional, first party coverage that can be purchased to cover your own vehicle. It reimburses you or a covered insured for reasonable and necessary medical expenses and funeral expenses resulting from a motor vehicle collision. It pays for any other injury on or about the vehicle covered under the policy, regardless of fault.

Determining whether someone is covered under the Med Pay coverage of a policy uses a very similar analysis to the UIM coverage discussed above in terms of 1) being in a covered vehicle, 2) whether you own a covered vehicle, or 3) whether you are a resident relative to someone who owns a covered vehicle. The limit to the coverage is determined by the amount of coverage purchased by the named insured.

The normal increments you will find for purchase are generally $1,000/$2000/$5,000/$10,000. Med Pay coverage can also be “stacked” under certain situations. That can be determined by speaking with an experienced personal injury lawyer. As Med Pay is not a fault-based coverage, you are entitled to coverage even if you were at fault.

Conversely, if you are the victim in an automobile wreck, you are entitled to have all of your damages covered by the at-fault driver’s liability coverage and you are also entitled to coverage under your Med Pay coverage, subject to certain limitations that can be explained to you by an experienced personal injury attorney.

If You’ve Been Injured in an Accident, Don’t Hesitate to Contact an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney

Just because someone has a lot of insurance doesn’t mean the insurance company is simply going to pay the maximum benefit. They’re likely going to work to reduce what they pay, and that may not be enough to cover your injuries, medical bills, lost wages, pain, and suffering. Call the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin at 1-866-900-7078 or contact us online for a free case evaluation.

The Rules of the Road: How Failing to Maintain or Repair a Vehicle Can Spell Negligence in Court

We’ve all seen them. Those cars on the road that we look at and wonder, how is that thing still moving? How did it pass inspection? Who would drive a vehicle that’s in that condition? They’re idle thoughts, but there is a very real threat. A poorly maintained or malfunctioning vehicle is more prone to failure. Crashes follow.

Notice, I do not say accident. Any crash caused by a driver’s failure to maintain a vehicle or affect repairs to critical systems is not an accident – it’s a choice. And, if the court sees it that way, a negligent driver may be on the hook for thousands in damages or more.

The Basics: What North Carolina Law Requires in Regards to Vehicle Condition

As every driver in North Carolina knows, a vehicle has to pass a yearly safety inspection in order to have its registration renewed and be legal to operate. There are a few exceptions to this rule, but let’s focus on the vast majority of cars on the road that must pass inspection.

The North Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles requires the annual safety inspection to be completed no more than 90 days prior to the renewal of the vehicle’s registration. It’s a simple but thorough inspection by a licensed mechanic, who uses a checklist established by the state to ensure the vehicle is safe to operate. In addition to safety, 22 counties also require an emissions inspection at the same time.

The safety inspection covers:
* Lights and signals
* Braking systems
* Steering systems
* Tires
* Horn
* Mirrors
* Windshield wipers
* Exhaust system
* Window tint

If something does not pass the safety inspection, the driver will be notified and the vehicle will require repair or maintenance in order to pass the inspection and be registerable to drive.

Consequences on the Road – and in the Courtroom

People who drive vehicles with critical components in poor condition are asking for trouble, on the road and beyond. Operating a vehicle in such a way is negligent, and if that can be proven, insurance may not cover the damages incurred in an accident.

Bear in mind, an accident with property damage is bad enough. What if someone is injured or worse? These consequences rarely come to mind at the time, but they’re very real.

The case law is cautionary.

Lights Lights Lights

You have to have sufficient light on your vehicle for driving conditions. It’s not just so you can see the road – other drivers have to see you. Whether we’re talking headlights, tail lights, brake lights, or turn signals, make sure they’re all working.

The precedential case law comes from the 60s here. In White v. Mote, a town was sued because its employees failed to have lights on their work vehicle. Perhaps the court in Scarborough v. Ingram said it best: “The statutes prescribing lighting devices to be used by motor vehicles operating at night (G.S. §§ 20-129 and 129.1) were enacted in the interest of public safety. A violation of these statutes constitutes negligence as a matter of law.”

In other words, if you operate a vehicle without proper lighting equipment, you’re acting negligently. And in case you’re wondering, according to Bigelow v. Johnson, strapping a flashlight to a vehicle does not meet legal requirements.

Bad Tires Are a Bad Decision

Take for example the case of Scott v Clark. In this case, two pickup trucks were approaching each other on a highway. One of the trucks suffered a blowout of the front left tire, causing the driver to lose control, swerve into the oncoming lane, and strike the other truck killing its driver.

It was found that the driver of the truck that suffered the blowout was driving on a used mobile home tire on the left front corner of the vehicle. The tire was specifically labeled as such. Furthermore, it had only 15-20% of its tread remaining, and numerous holes. The tube inside the tire was satisfactory, but the tire was entirely unsafe. (This was in the 60s, and some automotive tires still used tubes at the time.)

The state requires tires to be in good condition. Check your tires every so often – not just yearly at the inspection!

Steering Away From Danger

It seems pretty simple to most people that if your vehicle has a steering issue, you should have it towed – not drive it. The law basically says the vehicle must be equipped so that a driver can safely operate it.

This should not be confused with a failure of the steering parts while in operation. The law does not expect us all to be mechanics. However, when we are aware of a problem with our steering mechanisms, we’re expected to cease operation of the vehicle and have the issue remedied.

So, if a state inspection finds that there are steering parts in need of replacement and you continue to operate the vehicle without doing so, you risk an accident and may be held liable for negligence!

Stopping Power

Brakes may be the most ignored part of vehicle safety systems. It’s not usually easy to tell when the brake pads, drums or rotors are worn. With lights and tires, a visual inspection is simple. Modern brakes will make noise when they’re at the end of their life, and changes in braking performance should alert drivers to the need for inspection.

If you knowingly operate, or allow to be operated, a vehicle with faulty brakes as in Wilcox v. Motors Co, the law will hold you negligent. Unexpected failures, such as the one in Mann v. Knight, are not negligent.

In Other Words…

Much of the case law that informs the idea of operator negligence in vehicles depends on what someone knowingly did. If you did not know or could not reasonably know of a defect, you cannot be held negligent. A vehicle inspection is a record of information.

Insurers and Negligently Poor Vehicle Condition

Let’s start with this: Because the other driver can always argue that they were not on notice of the poor condition of the vehicle, insurers usually have a basis to fight negligence in these cases.

Of course, every North Carolina driver is required to have some form of car insurance. The driver at fault usually bears the brunt of the claims – through the insurance company that’s covering them. If a driver is proven to be negligent by operating an unsafe vehicle, the insurance company is going to fight hard to avoid paying claims.

This is because most of the insurance policies, if you bother to read them, are agreements on both sides. The insurance company agrees to cover the driver, but the driver agrees to be responsible for how they conduct the task of driving, and that includes the condition of the vehicle.

For example, let’s say a driver knows his car has a problem that reduces its safety on the road – in this example, let’s say his vehicle inspection revealed a leak in his brake lines. He chooses to drive the car in that condition for the next few weeks, never quite finding the time to have it repaired. Then, he rear-ends someone during a commute, totaling both vehicles and injuring the other driver. His insurance company could very well fight any payout because he was driving the car knowing the brakes were bad, and surmising that the rear-end collision was the result of ineffective braking equipment.

This could cost the driver tens of thousands of dollars. First, the other driver’s insurance company isn’t going to want to pay for their insured’s medical bills or car. The faulted driver’s insurance isn’t either. He could be left holding the bag. He’ll surely be sued for those damages. The uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage on the victim’s policy may engage, but it may be well short of the amount necessary to make the victim whole. The rest is coming from the faulted driver’s pocket.

Makes a few hundred dollars’ worth of repairs seem like a real deal, doesn’t it?

If You’ve Been Hurt in a Crash That Was Not Your Fault, We’re Here to Help

Being injured in accident means you’re in pain, adds stress, and may make it difficult to work and earn a living. At the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin, we understand. Let us handle your case so you can focus on getting better. For a free case evaluation, call us at 1-866-900-7078 or click here.

Vaping Illnesses Strike Teens as Number of Lawsuits Grow

The Latest From the CDC

The Centers for Disease Control have been researching vaping-related illnesses throughout the country. Progress is finally being made on what they term EVALI (E-cigarette/Vaping Associated Lung Illness). More can be expected.

It has been determined that vaping products containing THC, specifically those from unofficial sources like friends, family, or in-person/online dealers, are linked to most EVALI cases and play a major role in the outbreak. THC vaping oils contains an additive called Vitamin E acetate. Vitamin E acetate is strongly linked to the EVALI outbreak and, in 82% of EVALI cases, victims vaped THC-containing liquids.

Alarming Risks to Teens

Daniel Ament never dreamed he would have a double-lung transplant at the age of 17, but it was necessary in order to save his life. Like many of his friends, Daniel vaped e-cigarettes and occasionally THC. Unlike his peers, Daniel ended up in the hospital with a severe, life-threatening illness due to vaping. The transplant saved his life, but he will forever feel the effects. After graduating high school, he planned to enlist in the military, but that option is no longer possible. With these horrifying events behind him, Daniel now advocates to stop teen vaping.

Christy D'Ambrosio has taken on a similar quest to stop teen vaping. Her son, Ricky, was 21 when he was admitted to the hospital for respiratory failure and eventually a medically induced coma. She went to the media with pleas for prayers and support to save her young son’s life. Christy, like many other parents, was unaware of the extent of her son’s vaping – that it had been going on for five years and had gotten to the point of an addiction. Doctors struggled to find explanations for Ricky’s symptoms. It wasn’t until they learned he’d been vaping that they determined the cause and were able to save his life. When Christy went to Facebook with a picture of her son in the hospital, she captioned the post with a plea for everyone to stop vaping, tell others to stop, tell everyone to stop. Her post was shared more than four thousand times.

At the end of 2019, the youngest patient to die from EVALI was reported – a teenager only 15 years old. Before that, the youngest was a 17-year-old from New York. The teen was hospitalized twice previously for symptoms related to vaping. His death was the first in the state of New York. Governor Andrew Cuomo made a public announcement regarding the boy’s death and made a plea to both parents and teenagers to recognize the risk: “You are playing with your life when you play with this stuff,” said Cuomo.

Everyone should be fully aware of the risks and effects of vaping. No substance is worth altering someone’s entire life. Just because something is easily obtained doesn’t make it safe. Parents should be aware of their children’s possible e-cigarette use and warn them of the risks.

COVID-19 Reduces Traffic, Increases Speeding – and Risk

Even though fewer drivers are on the roads during the COVID-19 pandemic, law enforcement agencies in some areas are seeing an alarming trend. Minnesota and Louisiana have recorded more traffic deaths during the coronavirus outbreak than for the same period in past years despite the reduced amount of traffic.

What’s driving the increase in traffic fatalities, even though the roads are clearer? In a word: speed.

Speeding: The Epidemic Within a Pandemic

When drivers see clear sailing, they seem to be putting the pedal down all across the country. Reports of increased speeding, higher average speed on roads, and increased rate of fatalities in accidents are not hard to come by.

  • In Pasco, Washington, police are noting speeders going 15 – 30 mph over the limit. The department even posted a warning on its social media page against street racing.
  • The Colorado State Patrol issued more citations for 20+ mph over and 40+ mph over the speed limit through March 2020 than it did in March 2019, despite reduced traffic volume.
  • For the one-month period starting on March 19 when California’s stay-at-home order was put in place, the California Highway Patrol reports it has issued 87% more citations for drivers exceeding 100mph than it did for the same period a year ago -2,493 statewide versus 1,335 a year ago – despite a 35% reduction in traffic volume (or perhaps because of it).
  • Police in Fairfax County, Virginia have cited drivers going 125mph and faster, and report that speed-related traffic fatalities have risen 47% since March 13, 2020.
  • In Connecticut, the number of drivers traveling 80 mph or greater has doubled overall – and in areas increased as much as eightfold. Meanwhile overall traffic volume has declined by half over the previous two-year average on certain major roads. The number of drivers traveling at 80 mph or more on those same roads has increased 94% over the previous two year average.
  • In response to a 30% increase in average speed for its drivers, Los Angeles modified its traffic signal programming to slow them down.
  • In Washington, D.C., a longtime traffic reporter saw two separate crashes requiring Medevac on the same stretch of I-270 within six hours of each other, with one car vaulting the median and landing in a tree. He said it was the first time in his decade of reporting that two such serious accidents happened on the same day, much less the same stretch of road.
  • In New York, automated speed cameras issued 24,765 speeding tickets on March 27, almost twice as many as the daily average a month before despite there being fewer cars on the road.

There are similar reports from nearly every tier of law enforcement nationwide. People are taking advantage of reduced congestion to increase their speed, sometimes to a ridiculous extent. A driver in Michigan was cited for doing 180 mph – a record for the state.

The Higher the Speed, the Bigger the Hurt

When most people speed their biggest worry, if there is one, is getting a speeding ticket. The fine and the possible effect on their insurance rates are the only things they seem concerned about, and those can be significant financial penalties. However, speed has another effect. It increases the likelihood of serious injuries or fatalities. Consider:

  • According to the World Health Organization (WHO), an increase in average speed of just 1 kph – not even a single mile per hour – typically results in a 3% greater likelihood of a crash involving injury, and a 4-5% increase in the chance of a fatality.
  • The Institute for Road Safety Research has calculated that, if the average speed on a road decreased from 120 kph (74.5 mph) to 119 kph (73.9 mph), car accident fatalities could be reduced by 3.8% and serious road injuries could fall by 2.9%.
  • A University of Adelaide (Australia) study showed that the risk of an accident with serious injury doubled with every 5 kph a car was traveling above 60 kph. That’s every 3 mph over 37 mph for us here in the United States.

Where the Laws of Traffic and Physics Collide

If I told you that you were twice as likely to lose a limb for every 3 mph over 37 mph you traveled, would you slow down? I understand that’s a grisly and drastic example. Posted speed limits are there because the government considers those speeds reasonably safe to maintain, so let’s substitute the posted speed limit for 37 mph. So, if your risk of losing an arm or a leg doubled for every 3mph you were traveling over the speed limit, would you still be speeding?

Obviously not every car wreck results in a serious injury such as the loss of a limb, but the potential is there and the risk increases exponentially the faster you travel. Why? That’s simple: physics.

I won’t post a bunch of formulas here, but understand that you and your car, traveling at a certain speed, carry with you a certain amount of kinetic energy – the energy of motion. If your car were to suddenly stop traveling at that rate of speed, in an accident for example, that energy doesn’t just disappear. You can read up on the Law of Conservation of Energy here if you like. The point is, that kinetic energy doesn’t disappear; it has to be converted into some other form of energy.

Kinetic energy in a car accident is exerted/dissipated/dispersed in two ways. Because every action has an equal and opposite reaction, some of that kinetic injury doesn’t convert, it just goes the opposite direction. The car may be stopping in a hurry but you’re not part of the car so you keep traveling until you hit something -- hopefully a seat belt or an airbag. Those safety devices are designed to take on the “equal and opposite reaction” that would force you to absorb all of that kinetic energy from the crash.

The other way kinetic energy is dispersed is into potential energy. Energy can be stored in matter. Think of a spring. If you compress it, you’re turning your force on it into potential energy that’s released when it rebounds. This is basically what crumple zones in cars are. They’re kinetic energy sinks that transform the force of a crash into potential energy. They work extraordinarily well but they have a limit, and once that limit is reached you and other people become those crumple zones. Our bodies aren’t designed to do that, and that’s why serious injuries or deaths occur.

Slow Down, Stay Safe, and if Someone Causes an Accident and You’re Injured, Call Us

The temptation to floor it on the newly-clear roads is a trap. Not just a speed trap, it could be a death trap. Stick with the posted limits. Put away your distractions, and concentrate on getting where you’re going safely.

We can’t protect you on the road, but if some reckless soul does cause a wreck and you or someone you love is injured, contact an experienced personal injury attorney to protect your rights. Contact the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin online or by calling 1-866-900-7078 for a free case evaluation. And drive safely!

Delivery Drivers and Insurance: Who Takes the Hit in an Accident During a Delivery?

Someone taps to order some food from their favorite delivery service app. The driver gets the order and heads to pick up the meal and to deliver it. Somewhere along the way, that driver is in an accident. What happens next?

The question seems simple enough, but due to the nature of these delivery apps, it’s more complex than you think, and depends greatly on your perspective. Let’s dig in.

Car Insurance Complications for Food App Delivery Drivers

Rideshare services like Uber and Lyft require their drivers to have car insurance, and then cover them further with a liability policy. Many states have adopted rules and insurers have created new products to cover the rapidly evolving share economy. What many do not know is that ordinary car insurance does not cover a driver working as a rideshare service.

If you read your insurance policy, for example, you’re likely to find a section that deals with “livery” or “commercial use” of your vehicle. Specifically, the policy excludes such uses from its umbrella of coverage. Drivers may be delivering food instead of people, but the underlying principle is the same.

These types of uses involve different risks to vehicle drivers and owners, and as such, their coverages will differ. This matters when a driver is not carrying the correct type of insurance for the work they’re performing. As a whole, a study by the Insurance Information Institute found that 13% of all drivers were underinsured. Given the confusion about policies and terms of service, one can safely assume that drivers working for delivery services could have a higher rate of underinsurance.

None of this matters until the driver is at fault in an accident. If you’re injured by that driver’s error, it certainly matters to you.

The Order of Insurance

When an accident happens and insurance coverage is triggered, it is triggered in a certain order. The insurance on the vehicle comes first, even if it’s not driven by the owner. So, if you’re driving your mother’s car for example, the insurance she has on her car would be primary. Your insurance, as the driver, would be secondary. Any other insurance would only come into play after those policies. If you are driving your own car, then your insurance as the driver and the vehicle’s insurance are one and the same. In the examples to follow, “driver’s insurance” assumes the driver owns the vehicle being driven.

If Delivery Driver Is at Fault in an Accident, How Are They Covered?

In this scenario, someone who is hit and/or injured in an accident when the delivery driver is at fault has a few options. The quest for compensation begins with the vehicle’s insurance. As previously noted, this may not be much help if the driver was underinsured or did not carry the correct type of coverage for the activity in which he or she was engaged.

However, most of the different services and apps seem to offer additional coverage for their drivers, though they are not created equal. And in some states, such as New York, the rules are entirely different. Generally speaking, though, here is what you can expect.

DoorDash

DoorDash provides its drivers with a $1m contingent liability policy. However, the policy only covers drivers “in possession of goods to be delivered.” In other words, they’re covered when they’ve picked up an order to deliver it – not when they are on their way to a restaurant or leaving a delivery. Additionally, the policy only kicks in after the driver’s personal policy is exhausted.

GrubHub

Drivers for GrubHub receive no additional insurance whatsoever.

Amazon Flex

Drivers for Amazon Flex have $1m in primary liability coverage including contingent comprehensive and collision coverage, and $1m in underinsured/uninsured motorist coverage. This policy covers drivers as they “deliver packages, pick up packages and return undelivered packages back to a designated location.” Some of this coverage requires a driver to have certain personal insurance in order to qualify for the benefit.

Postmates

Similar to DoorDash, Postmates offers its drivers $1m in contingent liability coverage. Again, this is only used once the driver’s own auto insurance coverage is exhausted. They also include a similar policy for deliverers who work on foot or ride bicycles.

Uber Eats

Uber Eats is a subsidiary of Uber, which is run through a company called Portier LLC. They have a commercial liability policy that covers drivers “from the moment a driver accepts the request to deliver meals or goods to the time the delivery is complete.” They also provide contingent comprehensive and collision coverage, and liability coverage for drivers who are between trips.

Why Does This Matter to You?

Well, if you’re injured in an accident and the delivery driver is at fault, you need to know how you could be compensated for the damage done to your property and your medical bills. The primary case would be with the vehicle’s insurance. The company’s policies would possibly kick in if the vehicle and driver’s insurance were insufficient.

Now, in the case that there was some sort of corporate negligence, that would enable you to go after their corporate policy without relying on that of the driver. For example, if the company was negligent in its screening of drivers, or allowed drivers to work more than a certain number of hours, that could be considered negligent.

The bottom line for you, if you’re injured by one of these drivers, is that there might be more insurance available than the delivery driver’s policy, but it can be a confusing process to try and figure out what might be available. Be aware that there is data available on the driver’s app that might show how long the driver has been driving (in case fatigue was the cause of the wreck), GPS, speed, along with other pertinent data. An experienced personal injury attorney will know how to obtain and preserve such evidence.

What if I am a Delivery Driver?

You’re in a risky business. In fact, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, delivery and other sales jobs involving driving were the 5th most dangerous job in 2018. When you go to work for these delivery services, you’ll be handed a contract, and if you read it carefully, you’ll find out you’re probably not an employee. You’re in independent contractor.

As an independent contractor, you’re on your own in a great many ways. Foremost is that you’re using your vehicle for the purposes of the delivery service. As stated above, most personal auto insurance policies specifically exclude such uses for purposes of coverage. You should contact your insurer and ask them what would be required to obtain coverage for the use you intend. The delivery service you’re working for will deny liability, because you are not an employee unless they specifically provide coverage.

If you’re in an accident and you’re relying on your regular auto insurance coverage, your claims are going to be denied. Do not expect the company to validate that you have the right kind of insurance, either. That’s entirely up to you.

And if you try to hide what you were doing, an insurance investigator is going to dig up the truth – which means you’re then on the hook for the damages AND insurance fraud. It’s not worth it. Get the right insurance!

What if I’m Driving for a Delivery Service and I’m Injured by Someone Else?

Then you’re going to go after that person’s insurance. It likely will not matter to your insurer at that point, depending on the insurance rules of your state. In North Carolina, the at-fault driver’s insurance will be the one who pays, with additional liability for uninsured and underinsured drivers kicking in as necessary.

If I’m Delivering and I Get Injured, Can I Apply for Workers’ Compensation?

The answer is probably no if you’re an independent contractor. As an independent contractor and not an employee, you’re not covered by workers’ compensation benefits in the state of North Carolina. The independent contractor agreement you sign with all of these services means you’re, essentially, self-employed.

If You’re Injured in an Accident Through No Fault of Your Own, Contact an Experienced Attorney

Let someone with the right tools and experience navigate through the maze of insurance on your behalf. Focus on getting better, and let us fight for you. The Law Offices of James Scott Farrin work hard for clients just like you. If you or someone you know needs our help, call the HurtLine 24/7 at 1-866-900-7078 or contact us online for a free case evaluation.

Vaping-related illness and death increasing, answers are not

As reported in February 2020, the number of vaping-related illnesses in the United States have topped 2,800 with deaths reaching nearly 70.

The Centers for Disease Control is working around the clock to identify the cause of this seemingly sudden outbreak in vaping-related illnesses. The ongoing investigation provides regular updates on the CDC website regarding those affected and what they know:

  • Investigation spans almost all states, more than 2,000 patients, and a wide variety of brands, substances, and e-cigarette/vaping products
  • 2,290 cases of E-cigarette/Vaping product use Associated Lung Injury (EVALI) have been reported to the CDC from 49 states
  • 47 deaths have been confirmed in 25 states and the District of Columbia
    • Median age of deceased patients is 53, ranges from 17 to 75
  • Of the studied illnesses:
    • 68% were male
    • 77% were under 35 years old, the youngest being 13

Symptoms of Vaping-Related Illness

Reports continue to fill the news regarding individuals getting sick from vaping. What exactly is happening? And should you be concerned? In short, yes. Among the growing list of health problems attributed to vaping, some symptoms include:

  • Coughing, shortness of breath, and/or chest pain
  • Nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea
  • Fatigue, fever, or weight loss

Contact a medical professional immediately if you regularly use e-cigarettes or vaping devices and experience any of the above symptoms.

The damage being done to lungs is extensive. Some individuals are admitted to the hospital with minor symptoms and are released. They continue to use e-cigarettes and are later readmitted. Some of the known cases of vaping-related illnesses have found the following damage to their lungs:

  • Inflammation
  • Damage that resembled exposure to inhaled toxic substances, like from a chemical spill
  • Acute respiratory distress syndrome (fluid in the lungs that impedes oxygen getting to the body)
  • Pneumonia-like symptoms and illness

Possible Causes

The numbers of deaths and illnesses related to vaping continue to rise. So do the questions, but not the answers. The common factor in these illnesses is vaping. Beyond that, there is only speculation about what else could be the cause.

The CDC found one common denominator in vaping illnesses – the additive vitamin E acetate. The vaping-related illnesses are seen in individuals vaping THC, tobacco, or a combination of the two, but most illnesses (83%) come from vaping products containing THC. Vitamin E acetate is an additive specific to THC vaping and has been found in the diseased lungs of those studied by the CDC.

There are also concerns regarding those looking to save money by purchasing “off-brands” and buying products online from unverified sources. Some of these online products are acquired illegally and have not been verified by the FDA. The CDC has stated: “The latest national and state findings suggest products containing THC, particularly those obtained off the street or from other informal sources (e.g. friends, family members, illicit dealers), are linked to most of the cases and play a major role in the outbreak.”

The severity of illnesses related to vaping has driven the American Medical Association (AMA) to call for a ban on all e-cigarette and vaping products that have not been approved by the FDA for use supporting those attempting to quit smoking traditional tobacco products.

The dangers of e-cigarette use are very real. Many, as we are seeing, are still alarmingly unknown. Individuals continue to become ill and even die due to a product previously deemed “safe.”

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

301 S McDowell St, Suite 900
Charlotte, NC 28204
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