February 2010

88-Year-Old Greensboro Resident Files North Carolina Auto Products Liability Lawsuit Against Toyota Over Acceleration Accident

February 25, 2010, by Michael A. DeMayo

William Lee Hemphill, 88, has filed a North Carolina auto products liability lawsuit against Toyota Motor Sales USA, Toyota Motor Corp, and car dealer Flow Imports Inc. for injuries he sustained when his 2004 Lexus LS43) accelerated out of control.

Hemphill’s Guilford County, North Carolina injury lawsuit claims that his Lexus went into “uncontrolled rapid acceleration” as he was driving out of a parking garage on December 11. The Greensboro driver managed to avoid striking any pedestrians, but his car struck a building pillar before driving into an electrical transformer.

The 88-year-old broke his leg and is now at a Greensboro rehabilitation center. Hemphill claims that his Lexus had accelerated involuntarily before. He says that before the North Carolina car crash happened, he took his Lexus to Flow. The dealer repaired a broken hook on the driver’s side floor mat before telling him that the vehicle was safe to drive.

According to Hemphill’s North Carolina car accident attorney, Toyota’s acceleration issues have injured or killed over 2,000 people. More than 8.5 million Toyota vehicles have been recalled.

Yesterday, in front of the US House, a woman that lost her son, daughter, son-in-law, and granddaughter when the Lexus ES 350 sedan they were riding accelerated out of control to over 100 mph before crashing and killing everyone in the car spoke about the need to make sure that another family does not suffer this kind of massive loss because of a Toyota auto defect. The August 2009 runaway Toyota car crash occurred because the gas pedal got stuck in the floor mat.

Also yesterday, Akio Toyoda, the grandson of the man who founded Toyota, went before Congress to apologize to the family and the millions of Toyota vehicle owners.

Greensboro man sues Toyota after accelerator problems, crash, News & Record, February 24, 2010

Lastrella puts tragic face on Toyota recalls, Washington Post, February 24, 2010

Related Web Resource:
Toyota Motor Corporation

Durham Pedestrian Accident Involving Allegedly Drunk Driver Claims Life of 48-Year-Old Woman

February 20, 2010, by Michael A. DeMayo

21-year-old Brendan Duan Bass has been charged with driving while impaired. Authorities say the Durham local was driving Thursday when he struck Vickie Elaine Riley, 48, also a local resident. Bass then lost control of his car and hit a Mercury Mountaineer before crashing into a pole, striking a sign on the curb, breaking a chain link fence, and ramming into a car that was parked.

Riley was pronounced dead at the Durham car accident site. Police say that Bass also faces charges over using fictitious tags, driving without insurance, and driving without a license.

North Carolina Pedestrian Accidents
Time and again, our Charlotte, North Carolina car accident lawyers speak with pedestrians who have gotten seriously hurt because a driver was careless, reckless, or negligent or because the motor vehicle involved had a defective auto part. We know how devastating it can be to have your life suddenly change in an instant.

It is important that you get medical help right away and that you document as much information as possible about the traffic accident. You should also contact a Charlotte-Mecklenburg County pedestrian accident lawyer to discuss your case.

Pedestrian accidents occur far too often. And while medical insurance can help cover some of the medical costs, if you or someone you love was seriously injured, you will likely have had to undergo costly medical procedures, lengthy rehabilitation, and taken time off from work (which can lead to lost wages).

Pedestrian killed; driver charged, News & Observer, February 20, 2010

Man charged with DWI after pedestrian killed, WRAL, February 19, 2010

Related Web Resources:
NCDOT: Division of Motor Vehicles

Pedestrian Accidents, Justia


$5 Million Wrongful Death Settlement Reached in South Carolina Cell Phone Driving Accident that Killed Bicyclist

February 16, 2010, by Michael A. DeMayo

A judge has approved the $5 million South Carolina wrongful death settlement reached between the insurance company of Sharon King and the family of Thomas Hoskins. Hoskins, 49, was one of two bicyclists killed in a 2007 traffic crash involving a Chrysler Pacifica driven by King.

King is accused of causing the South Carolina car crash while talking on a cell phone. Her defense team, however, have argued that although she was distracted, she had dogs in the car and she was getting ready to operate the radio, King was not holding the phone when the South Carolina bicycle accident happened.

However, by agreeing to settle King is acknowledging that her distracted driving contributed to causing the South Carolina traffic accident. She also pleaded guilty to reckless driving in both bicyclists’ deaths. According to court records, when the car crash happened, King could see the road clearly, the weather was good, there was hardly any traffic, and the bicyclists had the right of way and were on the right side of the road.

Last December, a $2.5 million South Carolina wrongful death settlement was reached in the death of the other bicyclist, Lee Anne Barry.

The distracted driving accident involving Barry and Hoskins is just one more example of how dangerous it is to talk on a cell phone or text message while driving. Multi-tasking is not a productive habit when you are operating a motor vehicle.

Cell phone driving, texting, fiddling with the stereo or an MP3 player, putting on makeup, watching TV, surfing the Web, eating hot foods, playing games on your cell phone, or painting your nails are activities that can kill you and other people when you do them while driving. At this time, it is still legal to talk on a handheld device or text message while operating a car in South Carolina.

$5 million payment settles lawsuit, The State, February 5, 2010

Five million reasons to stay off phone while driving, Palmetto Scoop, February 6, 2010

Related Web Resources:
Distracted Driving

Cell Phone Laws, Insurance Institute for Highway Safety

North Carolina Wrongful Death Lawsuit Against City of Winston-Salem Over 7-Year-Old’s Fatal Bicycle Accident Can Proceed, Says Appeals Court

February 5, 2010, by Michael A. DeMayo

The NC Court of Appeals says a mother’s wrongful death lawsuit against the city of Winston-Salem over her 7-year-old son’s tragic bicycle accident can proceed. Joshua Palomares-Beckles died on May 20, 2006 when he was fatally struck by a car driven by Michael Andrew Logan Jr.

Logan, who pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter, driving while impaired, and felony death by motor vehicle, had been driving on the wrong side of the street to avoid vehicles that were parked on the other side when he hit Joshua at the Wells and Freeman intersection. The bicyclist was dragged under the SUV.

In 2007, Hayluri Beckles-Palomares, Joshua’s mother, sued Flow Cos, homeowner Norman Moore, and the city of Winston-Salem for North Carolina wrongful death. She claims that the street conditions, including vegetation that blocked the view and the vehicles that were parked there, contributed to her son’s wrongful death.

Beckles-Palomares accused a flow dealership of illegally parking vehicles on the street, limiting sight lines. She said that Moore was responsible for blocking the view because he didn’t trim the bushes located next to his property.

Flow and Moore settled with Beckles-Palomares in 2008. The terms of their North Carolina wrongful death settlements are confidential.

Beckles-Palomares is accusing the city of Winston-Salem of obstructing traffic and human vision, failing to regulate maintenance on its streets, and parking regulation violations. The North Carolina city sought governmental immunity, citing protection under the public-duty doctrine. In December 2008, the city asked a judge to rule in its favor without a trial. Forsyth Superior Court judge Martin denied the request, the city appealed, and an appellate court panel agreed with the judge’s ruling.

In 2008, pedalcyclists, ages 15 and under, made up 13% of all pedalcyclist deaths in the US. Losing a child is one of the toughest defeats a parent has to face. It is especially tragic to know your child would have lived were it not for the negligence of others. As the grieving parent, you may have grounds for filing a North Carolina bicycle accident complaint or a wrongful death lawsuit.

Suit can proceed, WInston-Salem Journal, February 3, 2010

Bicyclists and Other Cyclists, 2008 Traffic Safety Facts, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (PDF)

Related Web Resources:
City of Winston-Salem, North Carolina

League of American Bicyclists

North Carolina Department of Transportation

Toyota Announces Fix for Gas Pedal Defect that Prompted Recall of 2.3 Million Cars in the US

February 1, 2010, by Michael A. DeMayo

Toyota says it has developed a remedy for the gas pedal problem that led to the recall of 2.3 million vehicles in the US last month. Another 1.9 vehicles have been recalled in China and Europe over this particular auto defect.

The sticky gas pedal issue is causing huge safety concerns and further damaging the automaker’s reputation as a manufacturer of reliable, safe cars. It doesn’t help that Toyota just expanded its recall of 4.2 million vehicles last November for an unrelated accelerator defect—this one involving the gas pedal and the floor mat on the driver’s side—with with another 1.1 million autos.

Four family members died last August when the gas pedal got trapped under the floor mat, which prevented the driver from being able to stop the Lexus they were riding. Instead, the vehicle accelerated to excessively high speeds before going off the road and crashing. The driver, his wife, child, and brother-in-law died from their injuries.

In December, another four people died in what could be another runaway Toyota car crash. A floor mat was not involved in this deadly collision. More than 60 runaway Toyota car incidents are said to have occurred in the past few months. Toyota has asked motorists to stop using the ill-fitting floor mats and it is replacing the gas pedals.

With this latest gas pedal defect, Toyota says it will fix the problem by reinforcing pedal assembly so that excess friction doesn’t cause the part to stick. A precision-cut steel reinforcement bar will be installed to reduce tension.

Motor vehicle and pedestrian accidents can happen when a driver loses control of his/her auto. A gas pedal defect is a serious problem and auto manufacturers should make sure this kind of issue doesn’t exist or has been fixed before distributing them for sale.

Our Charlotte, North Carolina auto products liability lawyers represent North Carolina car accident victims and their families throughout the state. With law offices conveniently located in Hickory, Monroe, and Charlotte, we are committed to helping North Carolina and South Carolina injury victims recoup their losses.

Toyota announces gas pedal fix, CNN Money, February 1, 2010

Toyota recalls 2.3 million autos, MSNBC, January 22, 2010

Related Web Resources:
Toyota Motor Corporation