North Carolina and South Carolina Personal Injury Lawyer Blog

There are ways to test for alcohol-impaired driving, but it is much more difficult to determine whether a driver has broken the law by texting behind the wheel. That may change soon.

Breathalyzers are used by police officers when alcohol impairment is suspected, either when a driver is operating their vehicle erratically, or at the scene of an accident, for example. The use of breathalyzers is widely accepted and allows police officers to crack down on drinking and driving – a deadly behavior.

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Self-driving cars are coming, and in the future, they may be a common way for people to get to and from where they need to go. But a new study reveals that most people are scared to ride in autonomous vehicles.

However, the dangers of being on the road may be the same, regardless of whether you are the one driving, or the computer is in charge.  Negligent drivers are all around us, and cause thousands of car accidents per year.  Citing safety concerns, the Association of Global Automakers recently urged the National Transportation Safety Administration to “slow down” its production of guidelines for the vehicles.

Drivers Trust Their Own Skills – But Should They?

According to a recent study conducted by AAA, and summarized in an article published on AutoBlog.com, three out of every four Americans are fearful about riding in self-driving automobiles. The report found that 84 percent of drivers said that they trusted their own driving skills more than those of a car computer.

Up until late February 2016, all of the accidents in which a self-driving car had been involved had been caused by another driver, not by the self-driving car. That changed when a Google vehicle recently collided with a bus in Mountain View, Calif. The accident happened when the self-driving car traveled into the center lane to make a right turn around some sandbags, wrongfully assuming that the approaching bus would slow and let the car pass.

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Even if you do not know much about the Social Security disability benefits program, you probably know this: getting a claim approved can take a long time – even more than a year in some cases.

However, the Social Security Administration realizes that in some cases, an applicant’s medical condition is so severe that the standard claim-processing time is unacceptable. The applicant is obviously disabled and is in need of benefits. To meet this need, the Social Security Administration has implemented the Compassionate Allowances Initiative.

What Is the Compassionate Allowance Initiative?

The Compassionate Allowance (CAL) Initiative was designed to help those with serious and readily diagnosable medical conditions avoid the lengthy and tedious disability benefits application process. Rather than multiple months’ wait, an application may be processed in as little as a few weeks. It is important to note that a person who has a CAL condition will not receive more money than will a person with a non-CAL disability. Instead, their application will simply be processed more quickly.

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If you drive to work every day or regularly transport your children to school and extracurricular activities in Western North Carolina or Upstate South Carolina, you have noticed that gas prices have dropped significantly. This undoubtedly has had a positive effect on your bank account.

But are low gas prices a good thing when it comes to car accidents? According to a recent article in the Huffington Post, lower gas prices can result in more auto accident-related deaths.

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Although self-driving cars could someday reduce injuries from car accidents and ease traffic jams, recent reports show that the technology still has a long way to go, and error-prone humans are still needed to take over in situations that the computer can’t handle.

Google, one of the leaders in the autonomous vehicle field, recently revealed that its self-driving prototypes experienced 272 failures with their autonomous technology that required human drivers to take the wheel between September 2014 and November 2015, according to an article on AutoBlog. There were an additional 69 instances in which the driver felt the need to take control, Google reported. Continue Reading

Companies in the North Carolina are facing stiff penalties if they fail to purchase required workers’ compensation insurance to pay for their employees’ workplace injuries and occupational illnesses, according to a recent report by the Raleigh News & Observer.

In the past year, more than 100 employers across the state have been charged with crimes for failing to carry the legally required workers’ compensation insurance, and more than $1 million in fines have been levied against uninsured employers, according to the article. Continue Reading

It is the holiday season, and many people in Western North Carolina and Upstate South Carolina may forego driving themselves from party to party and gathering to gathering and instead leave the driving to someone else. Uber – a popular ridesharing service – and traditional taxi services are alternatives for those who do not wish to get behind the wheel themselves.

But being a passenger in a taxi or riding with another driver using Uber is no protection against car accidents. Accidents involving Uber vehicles and taxi accidents happen in both North Carolina and South Carolina. Injured passengers of both taxis and ridesharing vehicles often have the same question following a taxi accident or Uber accident: “Who pays”?

Who Pays If I Get Hurt While Riding in an Uber or Other Ridesharing Vehicle?

In the event of claimed military sexual trauma (“MST”), the VA rater cannot treat the fact that the assaults were not recorded in either a veteran’s service personnel record or a veteran’s medical records as pertinent evidence against a veteran’s claim that a sexual assault occurred. In other words, a lack of official documentation does not equate to negative evidence.

Veteran, AZ, served from 1973 to 1974, and was pregnant when she was honorably discharged. In 2004, she was diagnosed with PTSD, which she stated was due to a senior non-commissioned officer (“NCO”) sexually assaulting her while in service, resulting in her pregnancy and the birth of her daughter. AZ filed a claim for service connection for PTSD and was denied due to the fact that there was no record of the sexual assault in her service records. AZ submitted lay statements from her siblings, whom all stated that she told them, at the time of her pregnancy, that she was sexually assaulted by her NCO and that she did not report him to any military authorities out of fear. She was denied again and she appealed to the Board of Veterans Appeals (“BVA”), which held that her service records must support and not contradict the veteran’s testimony. The BVA stated:

Here, the evidence of record does not corroborate the Veteran’s account . . . . [T]here is no documentation in the service records to indicate that the Veteran reported having been personally assaulted, or that she instigated proceedings against her alleged attacker. Moreover, the Veteran’s service treatment records contain no evidence that the Veteran sought treatment for the alleged sexual or physical assault itself. . . .

A VA disability rater cannot consider the positive effects of current medication when rating a disability if the applicable diagnostic code is silent with respect to medication. However, this can be reversed by the VA amending the Federal Code.

During the rating decision, the VA looks at the current level of disability claimed and applies the rating schedule, found in 38 C.F.R. Book C. Quite often, the rater looks at the current level of disability as the veteran presents at that moment, as described in the veteran’s application, as described by a medical doctor, and as presented in the veteran’s medical charts. The veteran’s current condition is usually rated including the positive effects of any medication. Continue Reading

When you have been injured in an accident, you may instinctively know that you need legal representation to file a personal injury claim. But amid a sea of attorneys in North Carolina and South Carolina all clamoring for your business, how do you decide which law firm is best suited to handle your case?

Selecting the Right Law Firm for Your Claim

If your car breaks down, you want to know that the mechanic fixing your car has worked on your make and model before. In a similar way, it is important to seek out an attorney who has experience handling personal injury cases if you have suffered a personal injury.

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