North Carolina and South Carolina Personal Injury Lawyer Blog

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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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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

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?

I handed the document to my client while the jury watched us. I asked my client, “Can you tell me what this document is?” He answered honestly, “It’s the property damage estimate… prepared by State Farm”.  I knew what was coming, and I slumped. Defense counsel stood up and asked the judge, “Can I take a matter up outside of the presence of the jury?” The jury was marched out of the courtroom so the lawyers could speak to the judge.

At that point, the lawyer hired by the insurance company to represent the person who rear-ended my client made a motion for mistrial.  Mistral means that the trial is so irretrievably broken that a whole new trial must be started. Bear in mind that only the truth had been spoken. The document had been prepared by State Farm, but it also had been carefully redacted by agreement of the parties to remove all reference to State Farm. There was no mention as to who State Farm Insurance Company insured in the case, and it was just as likely that State Farm insured my client and prepared the property damage estimate for him. Furthermore, state law requires that owners have car insurance. Nevertheless, the trial court granted the insurance company lawyer’s motion for mistrial. Days of preparation for that trial were wasted. We will re-try the case, but much will have to be redone.

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The loss of a loved one is one of the most traumatic and psychologically stressful events that a human being can endure. The stress and pain are only magnified when a loved one’s death is sudden, unexpected and caused by the negligent or reckless actions of another person. This can leave the surviving family members devastated. Not only must they say goodbye to their loved one and process their feelings of grief and anger, they are also left worrying about the costs associated with the funeral and carrying on without their loved one’s contributions.

While a North Carolina or South Carolina wrongful death lawsuit cannot undo a tragic and untimely death, these lawsuits can provide surviving family members with much-needed financial compensation to address the expenses and losses they must endure because of someone else’s wrongdoing.

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When turning left:

Treat this, stoplight

Like this:yield sign

 

If you are turning left, the signal light on the left is really the same as the sign on the right. I know that seems like an obvious statement. Most people don’t need a lawyer’s advice for Driver’s Education 101, but I thought this was worth talking about. In my work as a motor vehicle injury lawyer, I see more injuries from this mistake than I do from running red lights or missing stop signs.

I often talk to people who are injured because a driver turning left on a green light did not yield the right of way to oncoming traffic. The injured driver will say, “They just turned right in front of me and there was nothing I could do.” Or sometimes the passenger will say, “There was a car coming but my driver just turned right in front of it, and it was too late.” If the turning driver has a passenger, that person is in an especially bad position because the oncoming car will hit their side in a T-bone type crash. The bad driver always says, “But I had a GREEEEEEEENNN light!” The problem is the oncoming car also had a GREEEEEEEENNN light and they were going straight.

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The Takata airbag recall has been highly publicized and is considered one of the most massive vehicle recalls in recent history. It involves 34 million vehicles across multiple manufacturers and brands, but it is just the tip of the iceberg on auto product recalls. Countless recalls have been issued on all types of auto products capable of causing serious or fatal car accidents and injuries.

According to Forbes and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), auto-related recalls went up to 22 million in 2013, a 25 percent increase from the previous year, making it the industry’s highest rate since 2004. CNN Money reports 2014 recall numbers hit a new record with more than 74.2 million vehicle recalls. In total, close to 100 million vehicles have been recalled in the past year and a half alone. What makes this statistic so frightening is the majority of the cars affected by these recalls have yet to be repaired. Continue Reading


I will never forget the first time I renewed my car insurance after I finished law school. Going to law school I was a typical poor student. My approach to car insurance was to get as little and spend as little money on insurance as possible. I did not want to pay for any extra bells and whistles; I just wanted to be legal. Many people take this approach. Underinsured coverage always felt like something I didn’t need because I did not understand it. Only at the end of law school at the beginning of my legal career handling car accident cases did I come to appreciate the importance of underinsured motorist coverage. I want to address how underinsured motorist coverage applies in car accident cases. Uninsured motorist coverage is a different type of coverage and will be discussed in another blog.

Underinsured coverage only comes into play when the driver who caused the accident does not have enough insurance. For example, you could easily be involved in an accident with a driver that does not have enough insurance. In North Carolina, the mandatory minimum amount of liability insurance is $30,000 per person/$60,000 per accident. This means that in minimum coverage insurance situations, an at-fault driver has $30,000 payable to any one person, and $60,000 in coverage payable on any one accident, regardless of the number of injured claimants. In South Carolina, it’s even less: $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident. If another driver with minimum limits fails to slow down and hits you hard in the rear, you will likely have EMS expenses, emergency room bills, doctors’ bills and physical therapy. If you have an MRI or CT scan, and then consider your pain and suffering, your claim is very likely to exceed the minimum coverage available. If the at-fault driver doesn’t have enough car insurance to cover your claim, the next place you have to look is your own underinsured coverage.

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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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