December 2012

Are Our North Carolina Auto Accident Prevention Strategies Backfiring, Big Time?

December 27, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

One can make a compelling argument that our North Carolina auto accident prevention methods are working – or at least getting passable results. Decades ago, for instance, the National Highway Traffic & Safety Administration routinely recorded annually deaths on U.S. roads of 40,000 plus. Today, that stat’s down to around 30,000 deaths a year. Still not an ideal figure, obviously, but it’s a significant improvement. To what extent can we attribute the decrease in fatalities to our safety policies? To what extent can we attribute it to other factors, such as improvements in automotive technology (e.g. anti-lock brakes, ABS technology, etc)?

Our focus on seatbelt compliance clearly has had an effect, as has our campaign to reduce driving under the influence. However, new dangers have cropped up – such as cell phone use behind the wheel. Also, the population has gotten more obese and diabetic. One can at least begin to make the argument that our collective increase in metabolic problems is contributing to our bad driving.

On the positive side, some programs obviously do work. Not to be overly self-serving, but Michael A. DeMayo’s Arrive Alive program has been hugely helpful.

All that said, some conventional wisdom about how to prevent accidents – and to reduce the severity/intensity of accidents that do occur – is likely misguided.

Safety campaigns may miss the forest for the trees… or even send people in the wrong direction altogether. Consider the following. We all know that cell phone use – text messaging, in particular – increases accident risk. But this turns out to be true, whether or not you use a hands-free headset. The distraction ITSELF is the real danger, not necessarily the fact that you’re fiddling with a device.

Thus, advice to the effect of “use a hands-free headset when you chat on a phone in your car” may be counterproductive, in that it gives people a false sense of safety. We should be giving across the board recommendations to cease and desist cell phone use while behind the wheel.

If someone you care about was hurt in a car accident in North Carolina, the team here at the Law Offices of Michael A. DeMayo would love to help you understand your options and pursue justice. Connect with us today for a free case evaluation now.

Why Do So Many Efforts to Stop Auto Accidents in North Carolina and Beyond Misfire?

December 25, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

With the exception of programs like Michael A. DeMayo’s Arrive Alive program, a disturbing number of strategies to reduce auto accidents in North Carolina don’t live up to their promise.

Why?

Why are some programs successful? Why do others yield middling to lackluster results? Furthermore, what can an analysis of this phenomenon teach you about how to be a more effective, accurate plaintiff in a North Carolina auto accident case?

The Big Problem with the Received Wisdom: The Law of Unintended Consequences

Here’s a seemingly foolproof way to decrease the number of serious accidents: get more people to purchase vehicles with better safety equipment, such as anti-lock brakes, ABS, computerized collision warning systems, etc.

Sounds good on paper, right?

However, in his exhaustively researched book, Traffic, author Tom Vanderbilt shows that the advent of automatic brakes made a surprisingly meek dent in auto accident statistics. Why? Vanderbilt argues that people who bought safer cars felt entitled to take more risks behind the wheel. This extra riskiness washed out the benefits of the brakes. People followed other cars more closely, for instance, because they felt comfortable that their ABS system would save them.

The ABS debacle is a classic example of the law of unintended consequences: you create a clearheaded plan only to have it blow up in your face in an unexpected way.

Empirical Validation: The Gold Standard for Automotive Safety

To develop better safety approaches, we must rely more on data. What works? The Arrive Alive program works, for instance. Other safety initiatives also work. If we can figure out what programs work, we can then scale them up and diversify them as appropriate. If we can likewise find the courage and mindfulness to understand what doesn’t work (so we can all stop doing that stuff!), then maybe we can save time, energy, and money… all while reducing injury and fatality statistics.

Here’s the bottom line. Whether you’re a recent accident victim or someone who’s just passionate about making our roads and highway safer, our goal should be to avoid “reinventing the wheel.” if and when possible. Rather than “guess” about best practices for your case, talk to an experienced, results-proven Charlotte auto accident law firm, like the DeMayo Law Team or a similarly venerable firm. There is no reason or need for you to “rediscover” these key insights.

Find out what works. Then try that, before you go “out of the box” or “off on your own” to solve your problems.

Injustices in North Carolina Auto Accident Cases: They Happen, And with A Disturbing Frequency

December 20, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

As a recent North Carolina auto accident victim — or the friend or loved one of someone who was harmed in a calamity — you hold a fundamental belief that “the truth will prevail.”

Perhaps someone carelessly rear-ended you at a stop light and gave you horrific neck soreness and possibly a concussion. Clearly, the negligent driver should be liable for your injuries and should be compelled to offer compensation. In an ideal world, if life were fair, the compensation should fit the accident.

But funny things can happen.

For instance:

•    The driver may be uninsured or underinsured – and may be penurious on top of that. So he or she may lack funds to pay for extensive medical bills and long-term damages. In that case, you may be forced to pay out of pocket for your costs, even though the accident wasn’t your fault at all;
•    Quirks in your insurance coverage or in the other person’s insurance coverage — or both! — may conspire to reduce your benefits and/or fight incredibly hard to get due compensation.
•    The other driver may put forth a competing, false narrative about the accident. This kind of trickery can not only end your quest to collect your compensation, but also unjustly put you on the line to compensate him (or her) for damages.

Unfair case resolutions happen far too often.

It’s not that our justice system is intrinsically flawed. Rather, the science of North Carolina auto accident forensics is a complicated and young science. The subtle, indirect, vitally important elements of certain car accident cases are often devilishly hard to surface… and even more challenging to prove in court.

Implications for you as a potential plaintiff

There is no one-size-fits-all recipe to ensure fair case outcomes. If only there were! But there are certain principles you can leverage to reduce the risk of unfairness.

For instance:

•    Avoid waiting too long before contacting a good car accident law firm.
•    Collect a lot of information about the accident, including verbatim witness statements, photographic evidence, police reports, et cetera.
•    Meticulously document everything associated with the accident.

Car accidents are idiosyncratic, and the success or failure of your claim will hinge on the intimate details. But car accident cases also have a lot in common with one another, so a law firm that consistently succeeds in cases similar to yours can make a difference. Let the DeMayo Law team help you maximize your chances for a fair outcome. Connect with us today.

Did Your Auto Accident in North Carolina Traumatize and Change the Very Structure of Your Brain?

December 18, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

Whether a big rig caused your injury crash in Charlotte or you witnessed a gruesome car accident aftermath, your life has changed. Friends and family members have counseled you to let go of the past and focus on the future – to avoid getting hung up on “reliving the drama.” While you appreciate the concern, you’re having a devilishly difficult time returning to your previous emotional equilibrium.

Why?

Evidence from studies of victims of traumatic events suggests that our reactions to shocking and disturbing “stuff” can literally change our brain chemistry by etching new neural pathways. Studies of soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan, for instance, who have witnessed roadside bombs or other horrors of war, suggest that the brain responds to terror by releasing a flood of hormones, which disassociate the conscious experience from the emotional experience.

This may be why PTSD victims often have no problem reciting details about their trauma but fail to be able to access the emotions associated with said events. Some scientists have hypothesized that the flood of neurotransmitters released may actually alter certain neurochemical signaling in the prefrontal cortex and other areas of the brain responsible for integrating our personality and calibrating our emotions.

There is no quick fix, but proper a diagnosis can help

Posttraumatic stresses caused by a North Carolina car accident or other traumatic event can be complex and challenging to treat, even when the condition gets properly diagnosed. However, you may find it somewhat comforting just to read that your inability to let the accident “go” may have less to do with your lack of willpower or self-control and more to do with biochemical issues that potentially can be repaired with effective treatment.

Of course, this isn’t a medical blog, so we can’t help you understand or treat the potential PTSD associated with your accident. However, you likely also have legal concerns, in which case, please give the team here at the Law Offices of Michael A. DeMayo a call for a free consultation about your Charlotte car accident.

Terrifying and Bizarre North Carolina Truck Accident Leaves One Dead and Two Injured: Middle of the Night Horror on I-95

December 13, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

52-year-old Mitchell Blankenship died last week in a terrifying, middle of the night accident on I-95 that literally killed the trucker in his sleep.

This freakish North Carolina truck accident is currently under investigation. Here’s what happened, according to news sources. Blankenship had been sleeping in his cab in a rest area, when suddenly, a 2009 Toyota Corolla, driven by 25-year-old Kevin Rojas, entered the rest area, presumably at high speed, flipped over, vaulted into the air and smashed into Blankenship’s cab.

Although rescue workers managed to extract Blankenship from his vehicle, he died on the way to St. Vincent’s Medical Center. Rojas, meanwhile, along with his passenger, 25-year-old Esther Gonzales, both survived relatively unscathed. Rojas got a cut on his head, while Gonzales apparently did not even suffer cuts and bruises. The Toyota, meanwhile, was demolished. According to reports, both Rojas and Gonzales were wearing their seatbelts. Due to the extent of the damage, two different fire engines and two different ladder companies had to be called into deal with the disaster.

Normally, North Carolina truck accidents prove more destructive to cars than to trucks.

Why? Because trucks are more massive and thus capable of exerting more concentrated force during collisions. When you hit a tennis ball with a racket, the tennis ball appears to “feel it more” than the racket, because of how forces are concentrated. Likewise, in collisions between trucks and cars, the cars tend to “feel it more” for similar reasons.

If you’re looking to figure out what to do following your truck accident in North Carolina, the law offices of Michael A. DeMayo can help. Our team can help you thoroughly investigate the scene, construct an intelligent, strategically insightful approach, and answer all your questions, so that you can regain a sense of stability and peace of mind.

Curious and Curious-er! After a North Carolina Truck Accident, Over $40,000 Missing from Armored Car…

December 11, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

This North Carolina truck accident sounds, on the surface, like something out of a spy movie.

According to the North Carolina Highway Patrol, last week, a Brinks armored vehicle flipped over on Highway 52 out in Lexington, after the driver of a Kia made an improper lane change, forcing the truck to suddenly swerve. Fortunately, no one died in the crash, although the truck driver, 32-year-old Michael Gerringer, was reported to be in serious condition. Gerringer’s passenger, 23-year-old John Baldwin, also a Brinks employee, was reported to be in good condition. Meanwhile, 47-year-old Myada Brotons, the driver of the Kia, got hit with a spate of charges, including insurance and registration violations, for her role in the crash.

But here’s the really intriguing part…

After the truck ran off the road, hit the embankment, and flipped over, some of the cash (totaling ~$40,000) “got away.” But how? Who took it? Did the money simply blow away from the scene?

Interestingly, the damage to the Brinks truck was estimated to be around $300,000 – nearly 10 times as much as the amount of cash that mysteriously went missing!

This last fact is particularly salient. Most North Carolina car and truck accident victims focus on the big, emotionally riveting details — a la the $40,000 worth of cash gone missing. But you may gain massive leverage by focusing on the mundane “legal stuff” that’s truly important/valuable — paying attention to the metaphorical “$300,000 worth of damage” even though that aspect of the case may be less exciting/provocative.

How can you focus and avoid getting “carried away” by inappropriate emotions?

It’s difficult to react strategically to life’s opportunities and challenges, even when you have all the information you need and plenty of time to think. It’s even harder to be strategic when you have much on the line, and when you’re desperate for answers and justice.

The team here at the law offices of Michael A. DeMayo can help you make better decisions, consistently, with respect to your case and beyond. Even though your situation may feel very chaotic, there’s actually a science to fighting and winning car accident cases in North Carolina.

Our team knows that science inside out. We have been able to demonstrate powerful results in diverse circumstances. Get in touch with us today to go over your rights and potential remedies.

Crushed by Colossus: Part IV – How Auto Accident Victims in North Carolina Can Shield Themselves from Being Low-Balled By Insurance Companies

December 6, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

In this final piece on our in-depth analysis of the recent exposé about Allstate’s Colossus program, we’ll provide practical advice for Charlotte auto accident victims about how to guard against shady insurance practices and maximize your chances for certainty and peace of mind with respect to your claim.

Tip #1. Be very, very, very careful about what you say to an insurance adjuster, even if the person sounds friendly and reassuring.

It’s really a shame. Back in the day, insurance adjusters, by and large, could be trusted to help people regain balance after disasters. That’s why many adjusters entered the insurance industry: to help the needy and unfortunate. There are certainly still plenty of good people in the field – people who genuinely want to help and who often go out of their way to do so. However, given the new realities of the insurance industry, victims simply cannot blindly trust.

Tip #2. Understand that even trifling comments can be thrown back at you, weeks or months later, and used to deny your North Carolina auto accident claim.

For instance, an adjuster may ask you how you’re feeling. You may, unthinkingly, blurt out “I’m feeling better, thanks.” In your mind, perhaps you were a 9/10 on a pain scale a few days ago. Now, you’re a 7/10 on that same pain scale. So you have improved. You are, technically, “feeling better.” But you’re still incredibly hurt!

But if you tell the adjuster that you feel “better,” those words could be twisted to suggest that you recovered completely and suffered no long term effects. That sounds like a stretch, but stuff like that actually happens.

Tip #3. Insurers have stockpiled an arsenal of battle-tested psychological and logistical tactics to lower your claim.

As the article on Colossus makes abundantly clear, insurance companies have invested dozens of years and millions of dollars’ worth of research to understand claimant behavior and minimize payouts. The insurer may give you a low-ball offer and warn that, if you don’t take it, then you’ll get nothing. Alternatively, the company might stall and delay to get you to capitulate.

Tip #4. Your most powerful ally in the fight for fairness is a thorough, prepared, and ethical North Carolina law firm.

We here at DeMayo Law are fired up to protect the interests and needs of claimants like you. We know you loathe even the idea of getting involved in “legal drama” or “insurance drama.” You just want your situation to resolve simply and rapidly, so you can focus on your family, on healing, and on picking up the pieces of your life.

We can help you. Get in touch with us now for a free and fair consultation.

Crushed by Colossus: Part I – Horrendous Insurance Industry Tactics Cost Claimants Millions: What North Carolina Auto Accident Victims Need to Know.

December 4, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

If you’re a recent North Carolina auto accident victim – or a friend or family member of someone who has been hurt – immediately stop what you’ve been doing. Take 15 minutes to read this blockbuster article about the insurance industry. It may be the most important 15 minutes of your life.

To call this expose “eye-opening” would be a gross understatement. It showcases the inner workings of Allstate’s Colossus project, a giant computer algorithm that’s helped insurance companies shave costs from claims, ruthlessly. Currently, over 20% of the 30 most powerful insurance companies in United States operate Colossus.

Many people are likely willing to entertain the notion that insurance companies can be somewhat two-faced. They publicly tell us one thing but do another. The expose offers powerful concrete evidence to that point. Allstate advertised to clients that they’d be “in Good Hands.” Meanwhile, behind the scenes, the company methodically, deliberately and vigorously plotted ways to confuse customers and reduce claims payouts.

In four posts on the DeMayo Law car accident and mass tort blogs this week, we will be discussing the diverse and urgent ramifications of this expose. Our goal is to protect you from falling prey to the insurance industry’s unethical and insidious tactics.

A Shift in Mindset: How and Why the Insurance Industry Lost Its Way

One of the architects of Allstate’s Colossus Program, Mark Romano, reveals why he entered the insurance business. Romano’s parents had been passionate consumer advocates. He grew up with a strong moral compass and felt a desire to help other people. By redistributing risk as an insurance agent, Romano believed he could make a positive difference in people’s lives.

In his initial years in the industry, he felt satisfied. He recalled with pride how he helped a family who lost a child in an auto accident set up a scholarship fund in that child’s name.

However, the industry underwent a cascade of changes that depersonalized Romano’s work and transformed his job from that of a compassionate helper to that of a faceless bureaucrat whose purpose seemed to be to execute the will of a machine dedicated to undercutting claim payouts.

A transformation like that doesn’t happen overnight.

One of the key turning points came during the late 80′s/early 90′s, when Hurricane Hugo and Hurricane Andrew ravaged the Eastern Seaboard. These storms caused damage that far exceeded the estimates of actuaries. The number crunchers underestimated the damage by around $10 billion! This miscalculation devastated the industry — bankrupted 11 big companies and pushed many others out of markets in Florida and elsewhere.

This metaphorical “punch in the eye” hardened the industry as a whole. To ward off a repeat disaster, companies began developing techniques to guard against the mistakes of the all-too-human actuaries. Allstate turned to Colossus, a computer project built in Australia, to play the Power Saw to the actuaries’ Paul Bunyan.

For more on what happened next, please check out Part II of our series on our mass tort blog.

If you or someone you love wants a compassionate, insightful, thorough assistance with a Charlotte auto accident claim, get in touch with the DeMayo Law team immediately for a free case evaluation.

 
 

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