NC Boating Education Down; 2014 Stats Show Boating Deaths Up

Now that spring is here, each Charlotte personal injury lawyer at our firm wants to remind new and experienced boaters alike that boating education is an important step toward preparing to spend time on North Carolina waterways. Statistics continue to show that the time spent in instructor-led courses or even online training can make a difference to boater safety and enjoyment.

The Connection Between Training and Safety Is Clear

According to the most recent report from the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission, NC waters saw 23 fatal accidents in 2014, marking an approximate 35 percent increase over 2013. During that same year, there were only 6,262 boating education students — significantly less than half of boating students in 2013. Even worse, the Charlotte Observer reported that three people died in boating accidents over the July 4th holiday in 2015. By that time, 21 boating-related deaths had already occurred in NC, just under the death toll for the entire 2014 year.

Although NC only requires training for boaters born after 1988, these courses provide information that helps keep everyone safe, such as the following:

  • Information about vessels and how to make sure they are properly prepared for safe trips
  • Boat operator responsibility and how to handle common conditions on the water
  • Navigation and the handling of changing conditions in the water
  • NC laws for all water vessels
  • Handling emergencies
  • Special considerations of water sports

Boating may be a recreational activity, but it carries as many potential complications as driving a car. In fact, considering that boats do not benefit from roads and well-marked lanes, they are often more prone to accidents. After spending winter months away from their vessels, the chances are that most boaters have forgotten more than they remember about how the boats operate — and how the water and other boaters can affect the sudden decisions they must make. One wrong choice during a fun day on the water can become a major disaster.

Full Compliance With Safety Rules Does Not Always Prevent Injuries

Training courses can go a long way toward helping boaters prevent accidents caused by other vessels, but even extreme attention to safety cannot always protect against boating accidents caused by others on the water. With so many things happening when an accident happens, it can be challenging to identify the precise causes that help determine liability.

Based in Charlotte, North Carolina, Brown, Moore & Associates, PLLC, represents personal injury and medical malpractice victims throughout North and South Carolina. An attorney who has experience with these accidents is essential in helping accident victims sort out the details, possibly enlisting the aid of investigative resources to develop evidence-based cases. For skilled legal support of a boating accident claim, call us at 800-948-0577 or use our convenient online contact form.

The Five Things You Must Do When You Are Hurt at Work

When you are seriously injured on the job, your health and your workers’ comp claim depend on your actions.  You may need medical treatment.  You may need compensation to make up for your lost wages.  Don’t endanger these two essential needs:  follow through with these five steps to give yourself the best chance of a good recovery.

  • Report your injury immediately:  You should tell your employer what happened at once.  Give details, including how the injury was an unusual event.  Most injuries are only covered by workers’ comp if there was an accident. An accident is when something unusual caused the injury.
  • Go to the doctor:  Your employer is responsible for getting you medical care.  If your claim is denied, you may go see your own doctor.  But if the employer has accepted your claim or if they are providing medical treatment, you could endanger your claim if you go to your own doctor.  Tell the doctor how the accident happened. Your medical providers will be recording your history in their records.  Make sure they know you are there because of your accident at work.
  • Fill out a Form 18 to start your claim.  You can find it at the North Carolina Industrial Commission website.  Send a copy to the Industrial Commission or file it online. Send a copy to your employer, and keep a copy for your files.
  • Get witnesses: Write down the names of anyone who knows about your accident.  If you can get their contact information, it will help later if you have questions or need their help.
  • Don’t sign anything: Don’t sign anything without fully understanding it.  Never sign a blank form.  If your employer presents you with a document, tell them you want to consult with an attorney before you sign.

If you have been seriously injured in an accident, consult the board-certified workers’ compensation attorneys at Copeley Johnson & Groninger PLLC.  Valerie Johnson and Leto Copeley are here to help you. Copeley Johnson & Groninger PLLC is a law firm focused on representing individuals and their family members who find themselves in circumstances that they never expected.  Their clients include those who have been injured on the job, on the road, and on the premises of businesses and public facilities.  They also help those whose employers have violated their legal rights.  For more on this firm, visit http://www.cjglawfirm.com.

What Drivers Need To Know About Motorcycles

Some of us see motorcycles as unsafe nuisances. In reality, most motorcyclists take their safety very seriously. They wear the proper riding gear, use their blinkers to signal turns or lane changes, and refrain from dangerous riding practices like lane-splitting.

A large portion of motorcycle accidents involve not just a bike but a passenger vehicle as well.  According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 2,316 of the motorcycle accidents that occurred in 2012 involved another kind of motor vehicle. Just under half of these, 41% to be exact, were caused because the other vehicle turned left in front of the motorcyclist while they were going straight or passing. A simple mistake like this on the part of the driver of the car or truck can easily kill or severely injury a motorcyclist.

In 2013, 3,789 motorcycle accidents occurred on North Carolina roads. Of those, 3,081 resulted in injuries and caused the loss of 146 lives. Wrongful deaths like this happen more than you’d think and, as attorneys, we hear stories like this far too often. Awareness is, perhaps, one of the best ways to prevent accidents like this in the future. So as the driver of a car or truck, what do you need to know about sharing the road with motorcycles?

Tips

If you don’t ride a motorcycle, you probably don’t know much about them, and that’s ok. The most important thing you can do is to check your blind spots and be sure a motorcycle isn’t in the immediate area. Using common sense can prevent potentially dangerous situations. It’s a good idea to keep the following tips in mind as well:

 

  1. Motorcycles are smaller than cars and may appear to be farther away than they really are. Check twice to make an accurate assessment of how far away they really are.
  2. A motorcycle’s small size makes it easy for them to hide in your blind spot or be obstructed by your surroundings (mirrors, road signs, etc.). Always look behind you before changing lanes to be sure nobody is there.
  3. Motorcycle drivers can slow their speed by shifting to a lower gear, but that doesn’t activate the brake lights. Make sure to leave extra following distance when behind a motorcycle.
  4. If you see a motorcycle changing their position inside of their lane, don’t assume they’re trying to show off. Motorcyclists change position within a lane to adjust for wind, debris, or to put themselves in a position that is more visible to other drivers.
  5. Many people like motorcycles because they offer unique maneuverability as compared to cars. However, this doesn’t mean that they can avoid a tricky situation any faster than a car can. Don’t assume that a motorcycle can dodge another vehicle or a pothole.
  6. A motorcycle stops at about the same rate as a car, given good conditions. If it’s raining, their ability to stop suffers. Leave extra distance when behind a bike, especially in bad weather.
  7. A motorcycle’s turn signals are not self-cancelling like a car’s. Sometimes a motorcyclist, especially a newer one, may forget to turn them off. Try to determine if they really mean to signal or change lanes before making your own move.
  8. Not all motorcycle riders are speed-crazed maniacs. Motorcycles are smaller than cars and may appear to be going faster than they really are.
  9. If you come upon a group of motorcycle riders on the highway, don’t merge into the middle of the group. There is safety in numbers and by breaking up the group you create a situation that’s unsafe for you and the motorcyclists.
  10. Practice attentive driving. It only takes one distraction from a text, phone call, or another passenger to change the course of someone else’s life. View a motorcyclist as a person, not a vehicle. They’re husbands and wives, sons and daughters. If you take a life because you were too distracted to drive, you may never forgive yourself.

[The warmer days of spring and summer] means more motorcycles on the road. Remember, you’re sharing the road. Be aware of your surroundings. Apply these principles and the above tips to your driving and you could help cut down on preventable motorcycle accidents. From all of us at the Law Offices of Michael A. DeMayo, we wish you a safe ride!

 

The Law Offices of Michael A. DeMayo has offices in five locations and employs over 98 attorneys and staff.  The firm has attorneys who are members of the Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum and the Million Dollar Advocates Forum, are AV rated, and two are Board Certified Workers’ Compensation Specialists.  Visit www.DeMayoLaw.com for details.

Option to Cancel? Maybe Not…

“Do I have a right to cancel this contract?”  I get this question quite often from potential clients and far too often I have to answer with a resounding “no.”  Recently, however, I was made aware of a local vehicle dealership which apparently is providing a 3-day money back guarantee on certain pre-owned vehicles.  It sounds like a good deal but I would suggest folks still be careful and protect themselves by taking the following three steps:

Get it in writing:  At the time you make your purchase (or preferably, before deciding to purchase) make sure you have this money back guarantee and all terms and conditions in writing.  Review them and ask any questions before making a decision to buy.

Have the vehicle checked by a mechanic:  During this 3-day period in addition to driving the vehicle you should be sure to have it inspected thoroughly by an experienced mechanic.  Have the mechanic provide you with a written report of any issues or potential issues with the vehicle.

Think:  If you have taken the above two steps you should have the information needed to decide if you want to keep the vehicle.  Note that most dealerships do not provide any money back guarantee so this is your opportunity to back out if it makes sense to do so. If you do decide to rescind the deal and seek your money back be sure to provide the notice required in the Flow policy.

For more resources in protecting yourself when purchasing a used vehicle visit the O’Neal Law Office Free Information Center.  Best wishes in finding a vehicle that fits your budget and meets your needs.

John T. O’Neal is a practicing attorney in Greensboro, NC who focuses his practice in Personal Injury/Wrongful Death, Consumer Law (includes Auto Dealer Fraud/Vehicle Issues, Lemon Law, and Debt Collection Defense), and various types of Civil Litigation. A long-time NCAJ member and a two-time Ebbie Award winner, he is a former Chair of the Consumer Areas of Practice Section and the Hispanic/Latino Issues Division.

How Waiting Too Long to See a Doctor Can Be Used Against You

When you have an accident, whether it involves a car crash, falling off a ladder, tripping and falling on sidewalk debris or any other incident, unless bones are obviously broken or you are bleeding, the common human tendency is to respond, “I’m okay.” Additionally, your body responds to stress by releasing adrenaline and endorphins giving you a rush which masks your pain and your awareness that you have been injured. Even if you have a couple of bruises or abrasions, you may avoid getting medical treatment because you either have no insurance or have high deductibles. You worry about paying for treatment and just go home. You assume you will be fine.

A few days after the accident, you may feel dizzy or have aches and pains. You hope they will go away, but they do not. Finally, days or weeks later, you go to a doctor and discover you have serious injuries, such as a concussion, nerve or spinal cord damage. You begin accumulating medical bills and lose time off of work. You consult an accident attorney in Charlotte, NC who asks you to submit your medical records for review. Your attorney discovers that you waited a long time to seek medical care. This may complicate your claim for damages and how much compensation you will eventually receive.

Waiting to Seek Medical Attention May be Used Against You

Waiting longer than 72 hours to seek medical treatment may be used against you for two main reasons:

  1. Insurance companies now use software programs in determining how much they think your claim for damages is worth. The program considers your failure to receive medical treatment within 72 hours of your accident as a sign that you were not seriously hurt. If you have received treatment within that time frame, a value is added to your claim.
  2. The law requires you to do your part to mitigate your damages. A failure to get prompt medical attention that results in your injury getting worse than it would if you got prompt treatment may result in a reduction of the amount of damage to which you will be entitled.

You should seek treatment for your own health. Medical professionals are trained to look for injuries that may not present immediate symptoms and will tell you what symptoms to watch for. For example, dizziness and headaches are indications of a concussion. Pain in the neck and extremities are symptoms of nerve damage or whiplash.

If you delayed seeking medical treatment after your accident, an experienced Charlotte personal injury attorney at Campbell & Associates will work to overcome this obstacle and work to see you receive all the compensation to which you are legally entitled.

 

Campbell & Associates is one of Charlotte’s premier trial practice law firms representing victims seeking compensation due to the negligence of another. The firm also has offices in Hickory, Gastonia, Monroe, and Rock Hill, South Carolina. The firm concentrates its practice on Plaintiff’s personal injury, representing people and their families damaged by injury and wrongful death cases arising from serious motor vehicle collisions, medical negligence, construction accidents and work place environments. For more information visit http://www.campbellandassociateslaw.com/

Types of Defective Product Liability Claims

If you’ve been injured from a defective product, you may be eligible to file a defective product liability claim. The claim you file may fall into one of three categories of product liability, and understanding these categories can help determine the validity of your claim. In this blog, our North Carolina personal injury attorney explains the three types of product liability claims:

Defectively Manufactured Products
A defectively manufactured product is perhaps the most obvious type of claim. If you’ve sustained an injury from a product that was flawed as a result of how it was made, your claim falls under the category of a defectively manufactured product. In these cases, you must prove that your injury was caused directly from the manufacturing defect, and not from user error. Examples of a defectively manufactured product include a swing set with a cracked chain pads or a tainted batch of cough syrup.

Defectively Designed Products
Claims filed in the category of defectively designed products include products where the design is inherently dangerous. When there is a defect in the design of a product, it makes the entire line of products dangerous, even if the product met the manufacturer’s requirements and standards. A design defect claim can include a type of sunglasses that fail to protect individuals from UV rays or a line of electric blankets that can electrocute the user when turned on.

Failure to Warn
Failure-to-warn liability claims cover products that fail to provide the user with warnings or instructions on how to use the product properly. These claims involve products that are dangerous in a way that is not obvious to the user such as a paint-removing chemical that’s sold without adequate instructions for use. Warnings are typically required if the product presents a danger, the manufacturer is aware of the danger or if users are at risk of injury even if they use the product in its intended manner.

Twiggs, Strickland & Rabenau has been successful in pursuing products liability cases throughout North Carolina. If you’ve suffered injuries from a defective product, call their North Carolina personal injury attorney at (919) 701-8132 to learn more about your case.

 

Social Security Disability and Unemployment

When we speak with new clients my office goes through a list of questions that, at first glance, seem unrelated to a disability claim. Have you received unemployment? What is your education level? What do you do on a typical day? We don’t do this boring version of the “20 Questions Game” to be nosy or waste a client’s time. Instead, the answers to these questions can sometimes make or break a claim.

Let’s be clear: A Social Security Disability (SSD) case cannot be won without strong medical evidence. But a good representative knows that it is important to show that the claimant is a person, not just a stack of medical records. In this mini-series, we’ll look at a few of the non-medical factors that can impact a claim.

Unemployment:

Receiving unemployment benefits after the date you say you became disabled (“alleged onset date”) can be big issue. There is a conflict between saying “I am disabled” while certifying for unemployment. In order to receive Unemployment benefits the worker has to be *able* to work and *actively seek new employment.* Certifying that those statements are true for Unemployment while alleging, at the same time, that a person is disabled and *unable to work* doesn’t always add up.

There are long delays associated with disability applications and appeals; how are claimants supposed to survive when they cannot work? This is a tough question the Social Security Administration does not clearly address. In 2006 the SSA’s Chief Administrative Law Judge, Honorable Frank Cristaudo, issued a memorandum that stated that receiving Unemployment benefits did not make a claimant ineligible for SSD benefits. However, in 2011, a federal court case, Roberts v. Astrue, affirmed that a Judge was correct in using an application for Unemployment against the claimant.

Social Security judges are not consistent with how they approach unemployment. Some do not focus on the issue and leave it up to the State of North Carolina. Others will not award benefits for the time period when a claimant received unemployment; an amended onset date may be required.  Changing the onset date may impact the amount of retroactive benefits (“back-pay”) and the date of Medicare eligibility.

In short, when it comes to Unemployment, honesty is the best policy. If you decide to apply for Unemployment be truthful about your Disability application status. Also be sure your SSA Disability representative knows if you received unemployment benefits.

Oxner + Permar, PLLC is a leader in North Carolina injury law concentrating on workers’ compensation, personal injury and social security disability.  The firm has offices in both North and South Carolina. For more information, visit www.oxnerpermarlaw.com.

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