July 2011

The Power of Looking More Deeply at Your North Carolina Truck Accident

July 26, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

A North Carolina truck accident destroyed your day. Now what?

Whether an 18-wheeler skidded off a road and smashed into your Porsche, giving you a horrific case of whiplash and a few broken bones to boot; or a speeding drunk driver in a pickup truck blew through a stop sign and T-boned your car, seriously injuring you and two fellow passengers, you (and possibly your fellow defendants) may have already “come to conclusions” about what went wrong, why the trucker hurt you, and who should be to blame.

Your instincts might be right. But they might not be.

For instance, say the trucker had been yapping on a cell phone when he blew through the stop sign. Chances are, he should be held liable for the damages that you and your fellow passengers (and your vehicle) experienced.

However, if you use this kind of superficial analysis of your North Carolina truck accident, you may do yourself a serious disservice. You may artificially limit the number of possible defendants who can be called to task for your injuries, etc. And if the trucker has no assets — or insurance — you may not be able to collect the compensation you need.

So let’s revisit that example of the trucker who blew through the stop sign. And this time, let’s go more carefully. Perhaps the trucker had been working for a general contractor. And perhaps that general contractor failed to screen him effectively before hiring him. In other words, maybe the guy had a criminal record and a history of drug and alcohol abuse. Maybe he was driving on a suspended license. Now, because the general contractor neglected to do due diligence – and sent this guy out on the road or who was obviously ill-equipped to drive – the contractor himself (and his business, his insurance company, etc) could all also be held liable.

This is so important. After all, as we discussed above, perhaps the trucker himself lacked insurance and lacked significant assets to help pay for your substantial damages – which could ultimately be in the range of several hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The contractor and his insurance company, however, may have ample assets to pay for those damages and much more. Do you see? The difference between probing the case to locate this surprising defendant and just going with your superficial instinct can be the difference between collecting hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages and collecting next to nothing at all.

A North Carolina truck accident law firm can analyze your case and ensure that no stone goes unturned in the quest for possible liable parties.

The North Carolina Car Accident Memory Problem

July 24, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

North Carolina car accident victims often make an enormous mistake that can have profound consequences for their capacity to collect recovery for damages, like time off of work, surgical and rehabilitation bills, and on and on.

That mistake is simple. We believe that we will “remember” what happened to us accurately and vividly.

But the human memory is obviously and notoriously malleable. The brain can’t possibly store every single “bit” of information you take in through your eyes, ears, nose, mouth, and other sensory organs. The brain compresses all of that information and uses simple heuristics – tried and true neural pathways in the brain – to “give you the gist” and filter out unimportant stuff.

This is generally a useful strategy. But it can really hamper your North Carolina car accident case if you let it “run amuck” and don’t try to tame the process. Your memories, perceptions, points of view, and future perspective can all influence, shape, distort, and wear down your memories. And this is a problem because the less accurately – objectively speaking – you can recall what happened in your car accident, the more difficult it will be for a North Carolina car accident law firm to win your case.

You need good, quantifiable, objective information – police reports, witness statements taken right after the crash, a photo of the evidence, medical records, etc. Your “version” of events may be closest to accurate immediately after the crash — although not even necessarily do! And after that, it might easily degrade in the minutes, hours, days, and weeks after the accident happens.

In fact, when you think about what happened, you are not actually recalling the situation itself – you are recalling a memory of thinking about that situation. It’s like a hall of mirrors — a copy of a copy of a copy.

The courts recognize this problem, too. That’s why verifying witness statements is incredibly useful. When your case devolves into a “he said, she said” type argument, you are going to run into more serious problems. If, on the other hand, you can objectively point to evidence, you’ll have the legal ammunition to go much farther: “here is a picture of exactly what my car look like after the trucker defendant in question drove me off the road. See the tread marks? See my broken windshield?” That kind of more objective evidence is far more compelling – to judges, juries, and anyone – than testimony recalled days, weeks, or months after the fact.

More Web Resources:

Memory is porous

are witness statements reliable?

Fatal North Carolina Car Accident Rocks Murphy

July 19, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

Last Friday, a tragic and fatal North Carolina automobile accident shook Cherokee County. Thomas Martin Stiles, a 63-year-old former welder with Industrial Piping, Inc., died after being struck by a car that lost control on Hiwassee Dam Access Road.

The driver, 22-year-old Amanda Rose Davis, allegedly had been driving with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% – enough to qualify her as officially DUI in North Carolina – when her vehicle flew over a curve and smashed into Mr. Stiles’ riding mower. According to a report from Citizen Times, “the accident shattered Stiles’ legs and severed a blood vessel in his abdomen. He died in the hospital a day after the July 6 crash.”

The neighbor who saw the North Carolina car accident firsthand said the car “knocked him several feet and knocked his shoes off.” That curve had a reputation as being dangerous – the neighbor who saw the fatal crash admitted that “a few accidents [have occurred there] before.” But this was the first fatal accident. Police charged Davis with “felony death by vehicle, driving while impaired, misdemeanor and possession of controlled substance and possession of drug paraphernalia.”

Victims and family members of victims in horrific crashes often are stunned, overwhelmed, and devastated by events. They fail to get adequate information about their rights until far too late in the process. The most valuable evidence from the scene of an accident – direct eyewitness testimony, pictures of the accident scene, police reports, etc – becomes much more difficult to collect (and much less valuable) the longer that you wait to gather this information.

An experienced North Carolina car accident law firm can help you organize the most appropriate way to start to advocate for yourself and ensure that you preserve your potential for taking legal action, if you ultimately opt to seek remuneration to the court system.

More Web Resources:

Stiles obituary

Fatal crash on Hiwassee Dam Access Road

Mysterious (and Perhaps Fatal?) North Carolina Car Accident Spurs Wild Web Conspiracy Theories

July 17, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

Did a somewhat standard hit and run North Carolina car accident spur a murder?

Some commentators in the blogosphere believe so.

According to Cramerton police, the body of Joseph Lee Hoffman, a 47-year-old man, was found underneath the I-85 Bridge in McAdenville on the banks of the Catawba River last Saturday evening. WCNC.com reports that Hoffman’s vehicle had been involved in a hit and run accident on I-85 not far from where his remains were found. According to WCNC: “reportedly, Hoffman was last seen running away from the car accident.”

Cramerton Police Chief released a statement to the press suggesting that the cause of Mr. Hoffman’s death remains unknown. But some pundits and internet speculators have suggested that the man might have been murdered by an enraged victim of the hit and run crash.

As with most serious North Carolina motor vehicle accidents, the details – precisely what happened, who caused it, and how the disaster played out in real time – are surprisingly hard to parse. Even the police who investigated the accident do not have enough information to arrive at a definitive conclusion. Yet commentators and armchair speculators are already weighing in with theories. And this illustrates a potential trap. Human beings love good stories. When we read a news items like this, our brains immediately start speculating and imagining the emotionally charged circumstances of the hit and run and its follow-up.

Speculation definitely has its place in any investigation. But if you have been the victim in an auto crash, you want to deal in facts and realities as opposed to flights of fancy.

An experienced and compassionate North Carolina car accident law firm can help ground your thinking, focus you, and protect you against making statements or taking other actions that could accidentally compromise the integrity and solidity of your injury case.

More Web Resources:

Joseph Lee Hoffman accident

Hoffman was last seen running away from the car accident

Only You Can Prevent North Carolina Car Accidents… and Here is a Novel Way You Can Do So!

July 14, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

Policy discussions about how to tamp down on the rates of North Carolina car, truck, motorcycle accidents inevitably return to tired themes, including:

• Always wear seatbelts, motorcycle safety helmets, etc
• Keep your car tuned up and in good working condition
• Avoid driving under the influence of drugs, alcohol, medications, while fatigued, etc
• Obey the speed limit and other posted signs
• Pay attention to other drivers out there
• Avoid talking on the cell phone, text messaging, getting distracted by rubbernecking, etc

As Dr. Phil might ask, “how are these working out for you?”

The reality is: we need novel, more powerful solutions.

Here’s a potentially revolutionary strategy that, if successfully deployed and followed, might drive down the rate of North Carolina accidents, injuries, and fatalities.

It involves one simple directive: Pay attention. A lot of attention.

Here is the thinking. Statistics confirm that when drivers are tired, distracted by text messages, blasting the radio, and rubbernecking, etc., their performance behind the wheel suffers. They delay hitting the brakes. They have a slower time anticipating surprising events on the road. Their judgment is weakened. Hence, authorities instruct us to follow the rules described in the first paragraph. But if that’s all true – if distraction makes us worse drivers – why not go to the opposite extreme and pay extreme amounts of attention to your driving?
In other words:
• turn off the radio
• never listen to the radio or CDs
• don’t have conversations with passengers
• don’t even allow your mind to wander, thinking about conversations, emails you have to write, fights you just had, etc.
• Instead, treat the driving experience like you might treat your first time flying solo on a Cessna aircraft. Give it your total and complete attention.
Imagine if every single driver on the roads got into a habit of doing all this. The price would be small: You couldn’t chat or think about other stuff behind the wheel: kind of inconvenient. But imagine the benefits! The principle that “the less distracted you are, the better driver you are” could yield phenomenal improvements, even if only a small percentage of drivers did this. Imagine if only 10% of drivers were “totally aware.” It would radically reshape our driving habits in a very positive way.

Of course, we all live in a real world, and we have real world considerations. If you have been hurt in an accident – or someone you care about was hurt or killed – you may need smart legal assistance to navigate a strategic course of action. Discuss your concerns with a North Carolina car accident law firm today to regain control over your life, finances, and circumstances.

More Web Resource:

distracted driving

less distraction = far, far safer driving

Grisly North Carolina Car Accident Collision Leads to Two Fatalities

July 11, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

A tragic North Carolina car accident has shaken residents of Nash County. Last Tuesday night, on US Highway 64 near Frazier Road, a 1989 Honda collided head first with a 2000 Chevrolet, killing the driver of the Honda (a 34-year-old man whose name has not been released) and as well as a 17-year-old girl who had been riding in the backseat of the Chevrolet.

Both drivers had been drinking, according to Highway Patrol sources. The 34-year-old man was driving the wrong way, and “beer cans could be seen on the floor of his car, along with a malt beverage behind the steering wheel.” The 17-year-old passenger who died, Brianna McLaughlin, was not wearing a seatbelt. The other two passengers had been wearing seatbelts and survived.

As of this report, the driver, Paige Toelke, was listed in critical condition in the hospital; the other passenger, Leigh Bulluck, was listed in fair condition. This horrific disaster highlights multiple lessons. First, it reinforces the idea that driving DUI is a potentially fatal act. Second, it reinforces the point that while accidents can randomly strike, certain times are more dangerous than others to drive. The 4th of July weekend, for instance, is always a notorious time for DUI driving.

Finally, the accident suggests that our current system for dissuading people from taking crazy risks (like driving DUI and driving the wrong way on roads like I-64) may not be working. Policymakers may need to go back to the drawing board and pen more immediate, testable, and successful strategies for preventing similar accidents from taking yet more lives.

If someone you care about has been hurt or killed in a car, truck, motorcycle, or bus crash, connect with a North Carolina motor vehicle accident law firm.

More Web Resources:

US Highway 64 near Frazier Road accident

beer cans could be seen on the floor of his car

North Carolina Motorcycle Accident Aftermath – Don’t Make a Bad Situation Worse!

July 7, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

Whether a racing teenager knocked your bike off the road and gave you a head injury and serious lacerations and road rash; or a careless pedestrian wandered in front of your bike, causing you to veer off into oncoming traffic and get seriously hurt, you want a smart way to figure out how to pick up the pieces from your North Carolina motorcycle accident.

Unfortunately, many victims make profound mistakes in the minutes, hours, days, and weeks following their crashes which prevent them from collecting due compensation, healing properly, and returning their lives to normal. Here are a few:

1. Failing to collect information from the scene of accident

Obviously, in the wake of your North Carolina motorcycle accident, you should immediately seek medical attention – as well as help other injured victims get attention as well. But in terms of your case, you should also be mindful of collecting info that you can use later to build a potential lawsuit – info such as the names, numbers, and contact information of all drivers involved; witness reports; photographs of the accident and property damage and injuries; police reports; or any other relevant information. Failure to collect info quickly can result in its degradation – or, in the case of witness statements, it being forgotten or misremembered later on.

2. Taking too long to find good help

A North Carolina motorcycle accident law firm can help you strategize immediately about who might be liable, how potentially to hold that person or company or insurance company to account, and how to deal with other problems or potential opportunities that arise along the way. Again, the longer you wait to acquire representation, the greater the possibility that critical information will get lost, misremembered, or otherwise warped and degraded.

3. Undercutting your case by saying things you shouldn’t

If you make an admission of guilt in a crash – saying things like “I am sorry; I should have signaled” or something along those lines — you can potentially wind up as a target in a case where you’re really the victim. Likewise, if you admit certain facts to the other driver’s insurance company’s representatives, for instance, you can waylay your chances for an optimal settlement or trial verdict. This isn’t to say you shouldn’t tell the truth – but be sure to talk to an attorney before you start discussing your case widely, so you don’t potentially impede your chances of an optimal settlement or verdict in your favor.

More Web Resources:

Better decision making

parkinson’s law

North Carolina Car Accident – Uncovering “Hidden” Defendants

July 5, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

If you have been recently a victim in a North Carolina car accident, and you suffered an injury such as whiplash, broken bones, lacerations, head injuries, or worse, you and your family likely want to hold the negligent or careless party accountable to the law and potentially bring a lawsuit against him, her, or a company or an insurer. The money that you win in a North Carolina car accident settlement or verdict can prove crucial to pay for things like your surgical bills, rehabilitation, medical care, lost wages, therapy, job training, legal fees, and much more.

But many defendants make the mistake of thinking that their version of the accident is “right” and that all their North Carolina car accident law firm must do is “prove” their position. In fact, your law firm will deeply investigate the cause of the accident and potentially uncover evidence that you simply were not aware of. This evidence could highlight other responsible parties — a huge boon for plaintiffs, especially if the person who hit you lacked insurance to pay for your extensive damages and medical bills.

Here are two examples to illustrate the point:

1. A trucker high on methamphetamine drives too fast and knocks your car off I-95 into a ditch.

You suffer sprains, broken bones, and a contusion. After you recover, you want to sue the truck driver. The negligent methamphetamine addled driver likely should be liable. But a hidden defendant might be the trucker’s company – maybe the company failed to do an adequate background check before they hired the driver? In this case, not only might the driver be liable but the company who hired him might also be liable for your cost.

2. You’re driving in a rural area near Ashton when a teenager yapping on a cell phone rear-ends you and gives you a massive case of whiplash, which forces you to undergo months and months of soft tissue therapy, physical therapy, and possibly even surgery.

The teenage driver might be liable, of course, but a hidden defendant might be the manufacturer of the brakes in the teen’s car. In other words, perhaps the teenager actually tried to slam on her brakes, but the car did not respond effectively; and ultimately the reason for this failure had to do with an engineering flaw in her car’s braking system. This fact may not exonerate her from having to pay for your medical bills, etc, but it might rope in another party – the manufacturer/designer of the braking system – and pave the way for you to recover significant damages.

More Web Resources:

Hidden complexity

looking deeper into problems