North Carolina and South Carolina Personal Injury Lawyer Blog

Articles Posted in Tractor-Trailer Accident

legalA frequent question from our clients is how do contingency fees work? We do almost all of our personal injury work on a contingency fee basis. That means the fee is a percentage of the amount we recover for the client. Depending on the kind of case, contingency fees can range from 25% to 40%. Also depending on the kind of case, certain amounts recovered are not subject to the contingency fee. There is an infinite variety of ways to structure a contingency fee.

Contingency fees have significant advantage over hourly fees. If you hire a lawyer on an hourly basis, typically they are going to require an upfront payment and then bill monthly. The attorney will expect to get paid monthly. If the client stops paying, then the attorney will stop working and move to terminate the relationship. Most insurance companies pay their lawyers either on an hourly basis or sometimes on a flat fee basis. In a contingency fee case, the lawyer gets a part of the recovery. Said another way, the lawyer doesn’t get paid unless the client gets paid. Often times our cases run on for years, and most clients can’t afford to pay attorneys on an hourly basis for years. Our clients prefer contingency fees because it is financially the best way for them to hire a lawyer to protect their interest.

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first aidOne of my clients’ favorite questions is what is my case worth? We do lots of car wreck cases. During our 25 years of handling these kinds of cases, I have come up with some guidelines on how to evaluate a wreck case. First,let me say that you are welcome to a free consultation at our office to discuss case value. We are looking for cases where we can improve your case value.

It’s important to know that the evaluation is half art and half science. There is no formula that will tell you what the case is worth. It is never as easy as multiply your bills by three to arrive at a value. The real test of the value of the case is what your local jury would do with the case. However, I think people look for the same kinds of information when they’re evaluating what cases are worth. Even when I am discussing settlement with an insurance adjuster, the touchstone for value is what a jury would think. You need an experienced trial lawyer to help you with your evaluation. Continue Reading

Broken carYear-end federal statistics show a decline in motor vehicle accident fatalities from 2012 to 2013, including an 11 percent drop in South Carolina. Even so, more than 1,000 S.C. drivers were involved in fatal accidents in 2013 and more than 600 drivers, passengers, pedestrians, or cyclists died in those accidents.

In its latest safety report, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) says that fatalities on U.S. roadways were lower in 2013 than in 2012. The nation lost 32,719 people in crashes on roadways during 2013, down 3 percent from 33,782 in 2012. Traffic fatalities have been trending downward since 2006, except for a slight rise in 2012.

According to the NHTSA report, South Carolina had 767 fatal crashes in 2013. Those crashes resulted in the deaths of 488 people in passenger cars, 100 pedestrians, and 15 bicyclists or other cyclists. Those wrecks included 335 that involved alcohol impaired driving, down 3.8 percent from 2012 and 306 speeding related fatalities, down 4.9 percent from 2012.

The 2013 report showed a small increase in motorcycle accident fatalities in South Carolina in 2013, rising from 146 in 2012 to 149. The report also recorded a similar increase in motorcyclists dying while not wearing helmets, with those numbers rising from 102 to 106. Fourteen of those motorcycle accident deaths (seven each) were in Anderson and Spartanburg counties.

Sixty-five traffic fatalities in S.C. in 2013 involved large commercial trucks, the NHTSA says.

Anderson and Spartanburg counties each had 33 motor vehicle fatalities in 2013, which put them at No. 7 among the state’s top 10 counties for fatalities (Greenville County was No. 1 with 71 traffic deaths). The Anderson and Spartanburg figures for 2013 represent 31 and 34 percent declines, respectively, from 2012.

Over the five-year span from 2009 to 2013, Anderson County averaged 39.4 motor vehicle fatalities a year, and Spartanburg saw an average of 41 each year. That’s more than three highway deaths in each county every month.

Thirteen traffic accident deaths in Anderson County in 2013 and 11 in Spartanburg were alcohol related. Ten fatal crashes in each county involved a driver who was speeding.

The NHTSA reports only provide the type of hard numbers we’ve highlighted here. They don’t go into depth about the cause of fatal car accidents, other than noting alcohol and speeding involvement. But in our experience at Grimes Teich investigating accidents, we know that most car accidents are caused by driver error brought on by carelessness or recklessness.

The bottom line is that most car accidents can be prevented and when negligent drivers do not take care to avoid an accident, the injured parties, or surviving family members in a fatality, deserve compensation for their loss. That’s where the attorneys of Grimes Teich Anderson can stand up for the people of the Upstate of South Carolina.

It’s widely understood that a serious car accident can instantly change your life. But very few motorists understand the true financial costs of a car wreck. In a recent report, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) put the costs at tens of thousands of dollars.Two cars crashed

On average, according to the CDC report, going to the emergency room after a car crash will cost the victim about $3,300. If a crash victim is hospitalized, the cost of the wreck rises to about $57,000 over his or her lifetime. More than 75 percent of those costs will be incurred within 18 months of the car accident.

More than 5.6 million car accidents were reported to police in 2012, according to the latest study from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. More than 33,500 people died in those crashes. Continue Reading

Thumbnail image for teendriver.jpgIf you want to do everything possible to keep your teen driver safe, perhaps it is time to put them in the seat of a BMW – or at least the company’s skills program for new drivers. The BMW Teen Driving School (BMW TDS) is a grassroots, community outreach initiative. Developed by BMW, it gives teenage drivers the important life-saving skills and experience they need behind the wheel. The program is based on the teen curriculum currently taught at the BMW Performance Center in Spartanburg. It is available at no charge to all drivers between the age of 15 and 21, so long as they have a valid learner’s permit or driver’s license.

Students are taught in a controlled environment setting. They are given the opportunity to not only drive a BMW, but to take part in driving exercises that teach them how to respond in real-life, emergency situations, including:
• Recovering from a skid or slide • Maintaining control of the vehicle and regaining control when the circumstances warrant • Accident avoidance techniques • Handling an unexpected braking or panic stop • Learning how to focus on where their vehicle needs to be, rather than fixating on what they are attempting to avoid
Classes also include airbag deployment demonstrations, trucker blind spot demonstrations and driver awareness demonstrations to show teenager drivers firsthand the dangers of texting while driving. The school travels to a variety of locations nationwide so parents in South Carolina, as well as parents in other states, can get their teenagers a seat in a BMW TDS.

How One Father Is Using His Own Tragic Loss to Help Others
Motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death for teenagers in the United States. According to statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), more than 5,000 teenagers between the ages of 16 and 21 are killed in vehicle-related accidents each year. Another 300,000 young drivers sustain injuries in these types of accidents. As the majority of accidents are preventable, these are troublesome numbers.

While parents cannot be there to protect their children every moment, there are actions parents can take to help give their children the knowledge, skill and experience they will need to be able to make responsible and safe decisions when they get behind the wheel.

After one father lost two of his sons in a tragic car accident caused by reckless driving, he decided to help others by starting his own teen driving safety school, B.R.A.K.E.S. (Be Responsible And Keep Everyone Safe). Since he began giving this free, four-hour safety class, more than 12,000 teenagers and their parents have come through his doors.

Schools like the BMW TDS, the Mercedes-Benz Driving Academy and B.R.A.K.E.S. are striving to give teenager drivers the real-life experience they need to stay safe on today’s road. If you have a teenager who is getting ready to drive, check for a teenage driving school in your area.

Sources:
• National Highway Traffic Safety Administration: http://www.nhtsa.gov/Driving+Safety/Teen+Drivers/Teen+Drivers+-+Additional+Resources
• BMW: http://www.bmwusanews.com/newsrelease.do;jsessionid=4DAE27BA72CE917F842DDD2F5BF7B690?&id=298
• OC Register: http://www.ocregister.com/articles/driver-638030-driving-teen.html

googleglasses.jpgOne of the latest and most sought-after technological advancements is Google Glass. Google Glass is a wearable technology fitted with an optical display that allows wearers to see digital information, like that from a smartphone, right in front of their eyes. With Google Glass, wearers can see as they would through ordinary glasses while using the device hands-free. They are able to receive phone calls, read emails, and engage in any other online activities. A benefit of Google Glass is that it gives people a chance to continue to stay connected, even when away from the desk, when enroute to a meeting, or during other activities. Google Glass has even been introduced into medical procedures, showing promise as a training tool.

The Impact Google Glass May Have on Your Vision

What about the drawbacks? What risks does Google Glass pose? Could the design of Google Glass be a contributing factor in car accidents?

WISTV recently reported that one of the primary concerns with Google Glass is the impact it may have on a driver’s vision. According to the report, the device has proven to limit peripheral vision. The product may also create blind spots, which could potentially lead to accidents under the right conditions.

The study did not find fault with the technology itself. It was simply the design of the glasses which seemed to present a problem with drivers’ peripheral vision. Even drivers who turned off the glasses before getting behind the wheel of a vehicle found that the right side of the glasses created a substantial loss of sight in the upper right portion (where the main component of the device is located) of their peripheral vision.
As peripheral vision is fundamental to maintaining safety, drivers, bicyclists, motorcyclists and pedestrians wearing Google Glass could be at risk. They may be unable to perceive a hazard present in the blind spot created by the design of the device.

Car Accident Statistics in South Carolina
Of course, there is also the issue of distracted driving. Drivers who are distracted by a phone call or a text message may be more prone to a distracted driving accident.

About 10 percent of all fatal injury accidents are the result of distracted driving. The South Carolina Department of Public Safety reports there have been 614 fatal car accidents so far this year, resulting in 659 deaths. This number is only 23 less than the previous year, and the holiday season — one of the most dangerous times of the year for drivers — is still to come.

The sad fact is that a large percentage of these fatal accidents were preventable, including those caused by the use of smartphones and other electronic devices. Before you get behind the wheel, remove all visible obstructions and eliminate any potential distractions. A few small steps could end up saving your life or the life of someone you love.

From fender-benders to major catastrophes, car accidents are a fact of life on South Carolina roads. Nearly everyone knows somebody who has been in an accident, and we all know the basic rules for protecting ourselves: drive defensively, put down the cell phone, and always wear a seat belt.

carwreck.jpgBut there are plenty of things that South Carolina residents don’t know about car accidents in our state – or the state of our roads and highways. You probably knew that rollover accidents were dangerous – but did you know that half of all car crash deaths occur when a vehicle leaves the roadway?

Here are five more things you probably didn’t know about South Carolina car accidents:

1. One in every five fatal crashes in South Carolina involves hitting a tree. That’s right: according to the South Carolina Department of Transportation (SCDOT), 20 percent of car accident deaths in South Carolina occur when a vehicle hits a tree. This is more than twice the national average for tree-car fatalities; nationwide, only 8 percent of accidents claim lives this way.

2. Ten percent of the state-owned bridges in South Carolina have been declared “structurally deficient.” South Carolina owns a total of 8,416 bridges, and 849 have been found “structurally deficient.” By “structurally deficient,” SCDOT means that the bridges’ decks, superstructure, or substructure has been rated “in poor condition.” Ten bridges are currently closed.

3. South Carolina set a record in 2013 for fewest traffic deaths…but the car accident death rate is still 50 percent higher than the national average. According to the SCDOT, 2013 saw the lowest recorded death rate since 1982, with 764 car accident deaths. Edgefield County didn’t have a single traffic death last year, totaling 445 consecutive days without a fatal crash until early 2014.

4. The interstate highway system is over 50 years old. South Carolina contains only 857 miles of interstate highway, but almost one-third of all vehicle miles traveled in the state use the interstates, according to SCDOT. Although our venerable freeways carry over 70,000 vehicles each day, 90 percent of them are still in “good” or “fair” condition.

5. SCDOT patched 570,000 potholes in 2013. Road workers also mowed 345,000 acres to improve roadside visibility, removed 42,000 fallen trees, repaired 312,000 road signs, and threw away 5,000,000 pounds of litter and debris.

The state of the roadway can play a major role in a serious car accident. The risk of an accident is higher during bad weather, when slippery pavement, poor visibility, roadway debris, and other factors can cause a crash. Broken pavement, blind curves, and improperly-marked intersections can also lead to disaster.

You can help protect yourself and your passengers by staying alert for roadway problems. Check the weather before you leave, and plan extra time for your trip if it looks like you’re driving into bad weather. And you know the number-one rule: always buckle up!

If you or a loved one has suffered a car accident, don’t wait: contact the attorneys at Grimes Teich Anderson LLP. The initial case evaluation for your injury case is free. Call 1.800.533.6845 to learn more.

A recent tractor-trailer crash quite literally created a fowl mess on I-20 in Louisiana when the 64-year-old driver, hailing from a North Carolina trucking company, overturned his rig, spilling some 30,000 pounds of frozen chicken meat all over the highway.
truckrunningontheroad.jpg
The scene took hours to clear, but our Asheville trucking accident lawyers are thankful that no one was killed or seriously injured. The driver was later cited for careless operation.

We can’t say whether driver fatigue contributed to this particular crash, but the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration attributes drowsiness as the primary cause of 13 percent of commercial trucking accidents nationwide. In an effort to combat this problem, the agency has introduced a new set of mandatory rules regarding hours of service for truckers and other commercial drivers, set to go into effect July 1.

The rules have been met with fierce backlash from the trucking industry, which has filed lawsuits, testified before Congress and made extensive complaints to national media outlets. It’s been nearly five years since the FMCSA first introduced the rules, and after a fair amount of tweaking in response to the opposition, the rules are slated to be enacted without further delay.

The American Trucking Associations, which represents some 2,000 member companies, say the current rules have been sufficient in reducing the number of commercial trucking crashes. However, we continue to see these crashes every day, so more clearly needs to be done.

Some estimate implementation of the new rules will cost the industry about $320 million. However, the FMCSA estimates the implementation costs will be about $200 per trucker, and that there will be a $270 annual loss of income per trucker in terms of lost hours.

What we all gain are safer roadways.

Consider that in 2010, more than 500,000 large trucks and commercial vehicles were involved in wrecks. In those instances, more than 100,000 people sustained serious injuries and more than 5,000 died. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, that was a significant increase compared to 2009, when 3,200 deaths were reported in large trucking accidents.

To us, the new rules make sense. Among them:

  • Truck drivers will be limited to 11 hours of drive time, following 10 hours of consecutive off-duty time, provided they take a 30-minute break every 8 hours.
  • Drivers may not drive after 60/70 hours on duty in 7/8 consecutive days. A driver will be allowed to restart a 7/8 consecutive day period at any point during the week, provided he or she take at least a 34 straight hours off duty.
  • Drivers using the sleeper berth to catch up on their sleep on the road have to remain in that cabin for at least 8 consecutive hours.

If you or a loved one is involved in an accident, contact Grimes Teich Anderson LLP. Call 1.800.533.6845. No Attorney Fees Until You’ve Been Paid, exclusive of case costs.

Additional Resources:
Truck with 30,000 pounds of chicken overturns on I-20, June 11, 2013, By Sarah Eddington, The News-Star
More Blog Entries:
Greenville Car Accident Lawyers: Nighttime Driving Hazards Abound, April 22, 2013, Asheville Tractor-Trailer Accident Lawyer Blog

A recent tractor-trailer crash on I-77 in South Carolina left two people dead.
trucksontheroad.jpg
Investigators report it was about 6 a.m. when the commercial tractor-trailer ran off the right side of the highway, slid down an embankment and slammed into several trees. The two people who were inside the truck, including the driver, were killed.

The aftermath of this kind of tragic event is one that our Greenville trucking accident lawyers are sadly seeing more and more of these days, with the National Highway Traffic Safety Association reporting a 5.3 percent uptick in traffic fatalities nationally over the last year.

Although that percentage is based on preliminary reports, officials don’t expect it will fluctuate dramatically.

The number of traffic-related deaths went from about 32,300 in 2011 to more than 34,000 last year. If when the final results are in we still see a reflected increase, it will be the first time traffic deaths have gone up since 2004-2005. In the interim between then and 2011, traffic fatalities fell by about 26 percent.

The NHTSA is hesitant to provide speculation concerning what might be behind the uptick, at least until the final numbers are counted. What we do know is that the number of vehicle miles traveled is up slightly. We’re up to about 9.1 billion vehicle miles traveled in this country, which reflected a 0.3 percent increase last year over the previous year.

When we factor in the number of vehicle miles traveled, the fatality rate per 100 million miles traveled was 1.16 last year. That’s up from 1.10 the year before, or about 5.5 percent.

This aspect of the increase was anticipated. With the economy recovering, we have more people working and commuting to work, more people who are filling up their gas tanks, more people taking vacations and road trips and more people who can afford to allow their teens to drive vehicles. So, in some ways, we expected the number of deaths to rise at least somewhat.

However, we had hoped that distracted driving education campaigns, drunk driving checkpoints and other safety efforts would have had a greater impact.

What’s even more troubling is that in South Carolina, we are well on our way to surpassing even last year’s total crash fatalities. According to the South Carolina Department of Public Safety, there were 362 fatal crashes in the state in all of 2012. So far this year, as of June 18, there have been 289. Last year, there were a total of 390 people killed on South Carolina’s roadways. So far this year, there have been 310 deaths – and we’re only halfway through the year.

The number of traffic fatalities did vary somewhat by region, with South Carolina’s Region 4 faring better than most with a traffic fatality increase of 2 percent. Other areas of the country saw increases as high as 9 and 10 percent.

Still, when we’re talking about the loss of precious lives, any increase is unacceptable, and we have a responsibility to do everything in our power to prevent it.

If you are involved in a traffic accident, contact Grimes Teich Anderson LLP. Call 1.800.533.6845. No Attorney Fees Until You’ve Been Paid, exclusive of case costs.

Additional Resources:
Early Estimate of Motor Vehicle Traffic Fatalities in 2012, May 2013, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
More Blog Entries:
Defective Vehicles in North Carolina — Chrysler Refuses to Recall SUVs Amid Fire Concerns, June 17, 2013, Greenville Trucking Accident lawyer Blog

When we think of business-related driving accidents in North Carolina, we often think of crashes involving semi-trucks or passenger buses. But the truth of the matter is that motor vehicle accidents are the number one cause of all fatal injuries on the job, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The government reported transportation accidents accounted for 910 of the 4,206 fatal work accidents in 2010. North Carolina personal injury lawyers know that accidents involving commercial vehicles are complex cases. Legal claims often involve a driver’s employer and the company’s various insurance policies. And, while a vehicle may be insured for $100,000, companies often carry umbrella liability policies in the amount of $2 million. So successfully making a claim against a commercial vehicle’s owner or operator can help ensure adequate compensation will be available. 1340780_yield_sign.jpg

Cases in which a victim is injured while on the job may also result in a workers’ compensation claim.

The fact is that on any given weekday a significant percentage of traffic is on the road for work — postal carriers and private couriers, salesmen, and delivery trucks are just a few examples.

In Barclay v. Briscoe, a recent case decided by the Court of Appeals of Maryland, Michael Barclay was injured in a car accident with a vehicle driven by longshoreman Christopher Richardson who fell asleep at the wheel while driving home after working a 22-hour shift. Barclay and his wife sued several parties, including Richardson’s employer, Ports America Baltimore Inc.

The suit alleged Ports America Baltimore Inc. was liable for Barclay’s injuries under the legal theories of respondeat superior and primary negligence.

The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of Ports. The court found Richardson was not injured while in the scope of his employment and thus respondeat superior was not applicable. And that Ports could not be held primarily liable because it owed no duty to the public to make sure an employee was fit to drive home in his personal vehicle.

The Appeals Court affirmed, finding Richardson’s employer could not be held vicariously liable for Richardson’s motor-vehicle tort and that his employer had no duty to Barclay based only on the fact that employee fatigue was a foreseeable consequence of employment.

While the victim did not prevail in this case, it’s one court and one opinion. The fact remains, having a personal injury law firm with the knowledge and experience to pursue all avenues of your claim is critical when seeking a recovery for pain and suffering, lost wages, medical bills and other damages.

In this case, knowing that drowsy driving was a determining factor, and that the at-fault driver just finished a 22-hour shift, is crucial information in the hands of a victim’s attorney.

According to the National Sleep Foundation, 60 percent of adult drivers say they have been on the road driving in the past year, even though they were tired. Other common causes of accidents are speeding, distracted driving and alcohol or drug use. Uncovering such negligence as being the root cause of an accident frequently leads to a faster and more favorable settlement.

If you or a loved one is involved in an accident, contact the North Carolina injury attorneys at Grimes Teich Anderson LLP. Call 1.800.533.6845. *You never pay attorney fees until you’ve been paid.

*Exclusive of case costs.

Additional Resources
Hale v. Office of Ins. Comm’r Discusses Psychiatric Injuries in North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Claims, North Carolina Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, April 18, 2012

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