September 2012

Relearning How to Drive after an Auto Accident In Charlotte

September 27, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

After a relatively minor injury accident in Charlotte, you’ve developed a kind of fear of getting back out onto the road. What’s going on? Why are you hesitant to turn the keys in the ignition? What will happen to you if you cannot somehow transcend this anxiety?

You might think these are trivial concerns, but they afflict all too many North Carolina auto accident victims – people seriously injured/paralyzed and people simply startled by fender benders alike.

The psychology of phobias is a complicated topic, one which we obviously cannot cover in great detail here. However, you can use the following rules of thumb to organize your thinking and potentially make more resourceful decisions:

1. Delve down to the root of the phobia.

Start with a simple observation such as: “When I get into my car and turn the ignition, I feel hot and flustered and my heart starts racing.” Be as objective as possible – as if you are recording something into a camera or a microphone. Next, ask yourself questions in your private journal about that sensation or series of thoughts. What’s causing the agitation? Then ask: what’s causing that? Then ask: what’s causing that? In other words, keep drilling down until you get to the deeper, more root cause of this stress. Do this exercise quickly, without thinking, and you’ll likely discover some curious – perhaps fascinating – insights into yourself.

2. Get outside help.

The team at the law offices of Michael A. DeMayo can help you resolve the stresses and uncertainties of your accident case; and a professional psychologist or a therapist can help you work through your phobia and other psychological issues related to the accident/event. But avoid the trap of trying to “solve everything yourself.” Now is the time to reach out and get good help.

3. Appreciate what you’re trying to do for yourself.

You’ve been through a seriously traumatic event, and you’ve already exerted yourself tremendously just even researching the nature of your new phobia. Give yourself a break. If you’re not ready for this kind of exertion, don’t push it. Make temporary arrangements until you’re ready to understand what’s driving you (so to speak) to have these feelings. Only go back out onto the road if/when you feel safe and confident to do so. You obviously don’t want to put your own life – and other people’s lives – in jeopardy.

4. Consider the “baby steps” approach.

Rather than hop in the car for an eight hour trip up to New York City, consider taking it slow and easy — just drive around the neighborhood a few times until you get your “driving legs” back.

What Schools of Fish Can Teach Us about North Carolina Auto Accidents

September 25, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

As a recent Charlotte auto accident victim, you likely need immediate and thorough help to handle an upcoming conversation with an insurance adjuster or other crisis/situation. To that end, it’s probably a good idea for you to get in touch with DeMayo Law or another competent and results-proven North Carolina auto accident law firm.

That being said, you also likely harbor deeper concerns about why your accident occurred… and what you can do to prevent accidents in the future.

To get good answers to those deep questions, we need to stretch our thinking a bit. To that end, here’s a good thought experiment. Why don’t schools of fish get into debilitating accidents more?

Watching swarms of fish (or swarms of birds or bugs, for that matter) navigate their turbulent environments is awe-inspiring. Our oceans and streams don’t have highway dividers or dotted white lines, last time anyone looked. So how do these fish navigate so well, without smacking into each other all the time? Schools of fish can also pivot at a moment’s notice at the sight of a predator or a turbulent current… it’s almost as if the school can exhibit a kind of mind of its own.

Highway traffic seems to exhibit similar elements – there is a kind of intelligence to traffic, especially when you look at the so called rubbernecking effect – how an accident creates a kind of ripples through lanes of traffic, much like a rock thrown into a school of fish creates a rippling effect among the fish.

But there is a big difference between North Carolina drivers and fish: Fish are designed to swim in schools; whereas people are NOT designed to drive in traffic.

That might seem like a trite, overly obvious point to make. But understand that human beings did not evolve to drive at speeds of 60 to 80 miles per hour in 2-ton (or 18-ton) vehicles. As a result, we cannot trust our evolutionary intuition when we navigate in and out of traffic. Although our traffic systems mimic how schools of fish (and flocks of birds, etc) react to stimuli, it’s an imperfect mimicry.

This metaphor doesn’t necessarily suggest a solution to traffic accidents, but it does help to put them into context – i.e. help us understand why they might occur.

Your Charlotte car accident isn’t over… even though most of the damage has been done

September 20, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

This blog post is going to aim to change your perspective on what a Charlotte car accident really is.

Most people think of car accidents as discrete events in space and time.

For instance, your life is going along fine, then some airheaded pickup truck driver rear ends you at a stop sign and gives you whiplash and sends your life in a new and annoying direction. And indeed, that all might have happened. In this paradigm, the car accident itself may have only lasted a few seconds, at most.

But there’s another way to think about the event that might be more useful.

In this context, the North Carolina car accident actually extends in both temporal directions – before the actual event and after the collision itself. In this paradigm, all of the “lead up” to the crash can potentially be relevant. For instance, the truck driver’s habits of texting on the phone and his failure to get his brakes tuned ultimately set the stage for your stop sign crash. Likewise, your decision, perhaps, to forego wearing your seatbelt or to purchase a car with such and such safety rating could have also impacted events going forward. Weather events, road conditions, road engineering, and other indirect factors could have also played a role.

Then, consider what happens after the crash.

Perhaps you have a sore neck and back from the collision, so you need medical therapy of some kind. Well, the kind of therapy you get — and the quality of your recovery — can hugely influence the costs and pain of the crash. If you recover quickly from the whiplash, then maybe the accident does not play a huge role in your life. But if, for whatever reason, the neck and shoulder pain dogs you for weeks or months or years, the total amount of lost work time and therapy could be the equivalent of hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars.

In other words, it’s useful, conceptually, to think of an “accident” as an ongoing process with roots in the past and tendrils into the future.

This framing invites the possibility that actions that you can take now can influence the effects of the accident on your health, future, wellbeing, and pocketbook. For instance, picking a solid Charlotte auto accident law firm, like DeMayo Law, might help you collect appropriate damages to cover your medical bills and other costs.

The moral is that you might still have power over what the accident will mean for your future, and you still control aspects of your care and your legal path.

So do good research and make proactive, smart decisions. It ain’t over yet! You can still course-correct.

The Smog Factor: Does Pollution Play Any Role in North Carolina Auto Accidents?

September 18, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

When we look at all the potential causes of car crashes in Charlotte and elsewhere in North Carolina and the United States, we automatically make assumptions. We assume, for instance, that driver error often plays a role (statistically this is usually true). Factors such as road engineering, car design, car maintenance, weather, and visibility can also influence the equation.

But auto accident models often fail to examine peripheral or indirect effects that could be consequential, especially when you aggregate those affects.

For instance, consider pollution.

We all know that it’s far more pleasant to drive on a rural West Carolina mountain road than it is to navigate the hellaciously toxic and notorious Southern California freeway interchange between route 405 and route 10 in Los Angeles. It’s obviously less fun to drive on a road where there’s tons of pollution in the air. But is pollution a causal factor in auto accidents? If so, could reducing pollution on North Carolina highways – and highways in other cities and states where pollution is even worse – leads to a reduction in auto accidents and fatalities?

This is obviously an open question. But consider that studies suggest that highway pollution increases the likelihood of certain cardiovascular events in drivers and passengers, and people who live very near freeways or other highly polluted areas tend to suffer respiratory problems, cognitive problems, and cardiac problems at a rate greater than the general population’s.

It’s not unreasonable, therefore, to hypothesize that high pollution levels can increase the likelihood of driver fatigue and error – and also increase the likelihood that someone injured in a crash will suffer more. For instance, if you are hurt in a crash on the 405 — and you are exposed to all sorts of toxins and chemicals while in a hyper-injured state — that exposure almost certainly will have a non-zero impact on your likelihood of survival. The problem is, we don’t have good science to tell us how, precisely, pollution exposure contributes to auto accidents, so we are left to speculate and worry ourselves silly.

This all leads to a key point, which is that we need to be practical when it comes to auto safety and strategic when it comes to trying to get compensated after a North Carolina auto accident.

The team here at DeMayo Law has intelligent, robust methods that can help you and your family deal with what happened and make sounder decisions to protect your health, well-being, and chances of getting fairly remunerated for the pain and other damages.

A Crazy Experiment to Reduce Your Likelihood of a North Carolina Car Accident (Don’t Try This At Home!)

September 13, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

Perhaps you or a relative recently got hurt in an auto accident in Charlotte; or maybe you had a close call recently on I-95. In either case, you want to improve your driving skills and general sense of the road.

When people think about increasing their safety, they tend to dwell on one thought: “how can I make my vehicle more accident proof?” For instance, say you’re driving an old clunker. You might think about upgrading to a car with automatic brakes, airbags, stability control, and other bells and whistles. From a statistical point of view, it makes sense that upgrading your vehicle like this would increase your safety.

But many people don’t realize that increasing your vehicle’s safety rating won’t necessarily decrease your likelihood of injury/accidents!

Why?

Because when you drive safer vehicles, you will likely compensate by engaging in riskier behavior. Subconsciously, if you know that you’ve got an antilock brake system, you might drive just a wee little bit faster during a rainstorm. As a result, you essentially negate your safety advantage – or even negate it and then some!

It would be interesting to do a study that flips this phenomenon on its head.

For instance, how might someone’s driving change if you stripped away certain auto safety features? Obviously, no one at home should try this! But there is at least some logic to the hypothesis that eliminating certain safety features might motivate drivers to behave far more cautiously… and thus possibly to reduce their likelihood of getting into injury crashes.

For instance, imagine purposefully NOT wearing your seatbelt.

Obviously, that isn’t legal. But imagine how you might feel if you did that. You’d probably feel somewhat naked and exposed, but you’d likely be extra careful driving.

When we feel more exposed to risk, we behave in more conservative ways.

The problem is that this adaptation might not last forever. If you stopped wearing your seatbelt, you might feel spooked for the next few days or weeks. But eventually you might “get used to it” and possibly go back to your old driving ways, spiking your overall risk of getting hurt.

The real question is: how can we instill that “spooked feeling” in drivers – to encourage them to behave as if they were driving riskier cars – without having to eliminate actual safety features?

In other words, wouldn’t it be great if we all drove hyperconsciously? How can we get the best of both worlds?

The answer should be found somewhere in the Venn diagram intersection between behavioral psychology and automotive technology. Hopefully someone with experience in both of these topics will take this idea one day and run with it. Until then, if you have a question about a North Carolina car accident, get in touch with the capable, highly reputable team at DeMayo Law for a free evaluation of your case.

Reconstructing Your North Carolina Car Accident

September 11, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

How exactly did your North Carolina car accident happen?

Whether it occurred hours ago or days ago, you may have sense memories of the experience. You certainly probably were emotionally and physically rocked by what happened. To recover damages from the driver who hit you (or from a liable insurance company), you likely need to begin to build a case. That means you likely want to document what happened and assemble/collect/preserve potential evidence.

Meaningful documents might include:

•    the hospital report/physician’s analysis;
•    the police report from the scene of the accident;
•    witness statements;
•    contact info and phone numbers;
•    journal entries of your own personal experience.

Understand that the human memory has a profound tendency to color and change. When an event is emotionally or physically charged – such as a Charlotte auto accident – you are particularly susceptible to subconscious rewrite history.

This is true not just for you, but for anyone who witnessed the accident, including the police officer/officers who investigated!

To deal with this problem, collect multiple angles. Different perspectives help. Here’s an analogy to help you understand why. Imagine you’re trying to illuminate a large, strange, dark object using just flashlights. A single flashlight beam might not show the whole “thing” that you are looking at, but multiple flashlight beams pointed at the same object will give you a far better ability to resolve the “truth” about what it is. Likewise, your accident was likely multifaceted and complicated, even if it just involved your car and another vehicle. Thus, the more diverse perspectives you can get, the more compelling your case will be.

That may all sound a little abstract. Fortunately, you don’t have to deal with the investigation on your own. But don’t wait too much longer. Witness accounts, like milk, can spoil over time; and evidence from the scene might be lost. Get in touch with the team at the Law Offices of Michael A. DeMayo today to make needed progress.

Reports on Car Accidents in North Carolina: Is Anyone Really Paying Attention Anymore?

September 6, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

This blog reports on auto accidents in North Carolina and beyond; it discusses relevant issues, such as accident prevention, safety, legal issues, and so forth. But this is not the only Charlotte car accident blog on the web; nor is it the only media source that tries to “dive beneath the headlines” to bring readers a more nuanced, useful look at the news.

One problem that faces any media source, in this attention-overloaded era, is the problem of the banality of evil.

Go to Google and search Google News for stories about car accidents or DUIs or other problems just in the Charlotte area alone. You will come up with dozens of search results just in the past week or so. One might think that all of this “media oxygen” would be a good thing – that it would make auto accident safety more salient in the minds of readers. And for some people, it might do that. But for other people, the inundation of information can numb.

As former Soviet Leader, Joseph Stalin, famously once said, “one death is a tragedy; a million deaths is a statistic.”

According to the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration, around 50,000 traffic fatalities occur in the United States every year, give or take, and millions more injuries happen. Car accidents are sadly commonplace — so much so that even the most eagle-eyed of us often loses sight of just how tragic they are.

If you’ve recently been injured – or a family member has been injured – auto dangers are probably pretty salient in your mind right now. But most people, most of the time, are caught up ruminating about the latest celebrity fads, reality TV shows, office gossip, etc. The commonplaceness of accidents renders them banal and creates a messaging problem for anybody interested in promoting accident safety.

After all, if you’re not emotionally invested in safety prevention, it’s hard to draw people’s attention away from Facebook drama or from some crazy twist on a reality TV show. Thus, messages fall flat, and drivers don’t learn lessons that they could that could help them, and the vicious cycle perpetuates.

How can people who are interested in auto safety and accident prevention break through this noise? There is no obvious way. The few public interest groups concerned about auto safety don’t exactly have deep pockets compared to, say, the guys who manufacture Pringles, Twinkies and 7UP.

So it may be impossible, or at least virtually impossible, to “change the world.”

But we can start at home.

Start with yourself – you do at least have some control over your own thoughts and behaviors. Spend some time – maybe 5 or 10 minutes – right now reading about auto accident safety “best practices.” There are many posts on this blog that discuss those issues, but you can Google search for tips that might be relevant to your situation. But just get started with the educational process! Change yourself – your own thoughts, your own behaviors – in a miniscule way to positively change our road safety environment.

Should Really Rude or Aggressive Drivers Who Cause Charlotte Car Crashes be Punished More?

September 4, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

Whether you were recently injured in a Charlotte car crash involving a rude driver (e.g. someone blathering on a cell phone who mindlessly zipped through a stop sign in a sports car) or not, you want fair compensation. You also want justice. Truth be told, there are lot of bad drivers out there. Some of these drivers cause car crashes in North Carolina; others just behave obnoxiously and leave a trail of epithets wherever they zoom.

What should be done about these obnoxious drivers? This is a general question. If a specific obnoxious driver hurt you or damaged your property, the North Carolina car accident team at DeMayo Law can help you assess your situation and plot out a strategy.

In a general sense, however, should these lane weavers, drivers who fail to use signals, and speed racers be subjected to ultra harsh punishments? For instance:

•    Should an obviously obnoxious driver be stripped of his license for 10 years?
•    Should someone who has gotten convicted multiple times for DUI have his car impounded just as punishment?
•    Should we bring back public shaming to punish obnoxious drivers? For instance, say someone’s caught doing crazy zigzags on the freeway, while belching fulminating exhaust from his tail pipe? Should that driver’s behavior and picture be posted on Facebook and other social network sites for the world to see and mock?

These questions are only speculative. But studies into motivational psychology hint that the occasional “ultra harsh” punishment for obnoxious driving could be a useful deterrent.

Think about it as a “reverse lottery.” Say one out of a thousand drivers caught doing crazy zigzags on the freeway would lose his license for 10 years – just arbitrarily. Forget about the legalities of that or the chance that such a law could be easily abused – because it could. But just think about it in terms of motivation. If you’re someone who likes to drive obnoxiously, and you know that there was a non zero chance that you could lose your license for 10 full years, don’t you think that threat might deter you from behaving as aggressively?

It’s an interesting thought experiment. Not something to base policy around, of course! But it’s useful to speculate on how to motivate drivers better.

If you want justice after an accident in Charlotte or elsewhere, it’s okay to indulge in this kind of speculative thinking. After all, you are likely very angry about what happened. But it’s important to behave ethically, legally, and strategically. The team here at DeMayo Law can help you understand your rights and begin to craft a sound case to obtain fair compensation.

 
 

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