November 2011

North Carolina Bicycle Accident Prevention 101: Why Are You REALLY Not Wearing Your Bike Helmet?

November 18, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

If you, a family member, or a friend was recently seriously hurt in a North Carolina bicycle accident, and you or the other victim was not wearing your helmet, you likely will face contempt from would-be sympathetic family, friends, and colleagues.

No doubt, you are probably kicking yourself right now, wondering why you ever thought it would be wise or safe to bike without a safety helmet. In this blog post, we are going to bypass the typical recriminations and root out the fundamental reasons why you – or anyone – would hop on a bicycle without the proper safety gear.

Did you not understand the risks?

Perhaps you failed to understand WHY wearing a helmet is critical. Chances are, this was not the case. But if you do need a refresher on why helmet use is encouraged – and the dangers of failing to wear a bicycle helmet – please see the link at the bottom of this article.

If you knew biking without a helmet was dangerous, why did you do it?

This is the mission-critical question. Chances are, at least part of you knew that you should wear a helmet while biking. So here are some possible explanations:

• Perhaps you didn’t have a helmet.
• Perhaps you planned to go for a short bike ride – to a friend’s house in an adjoining neighborhood, for instance – and you figured that you didn’t really need one.
• Perhaps you wanted to “look cool” and impress your daredevil friends.
• Perhaps you have a medical condition that makes it very uncomfortable to wear a helmet.
• Perhaps you have a psychological fear of putting on your helmet.
• Perhaps your helmet was difficult to adjust or “figure out,” and you didn’t want to bother reading your manual or asking a friend to help you learn how to put it on.
• Perhaps you “spaced out” because you were concentrating on some other task, like delivering a paper, seeing a long lost friend, or simply “enjoying the day.”

Most North Carolina bike accident safety analysts would drill down as far as we’ve currently drilled down and then stop.

But that might be a mistake.

After all, even if the reason you didn’t wear a helmet was as simple as — “I just didn’t feel like wearing a helmet because the helmet I have is ugly and uncomfortable” — doesn’t mean you have exposed the ultimate cause of your reckless behavior. Unless you address that ultimate cause, you might put yourself at risk for future accidents and more injuries.

At the same time, you will likely need a creditable, reputable help from a North Carolina bike accident law firm to protect your rights and hold another driver or even the manufacturer of your bicycle or helmet responsible for damages.

More Web Resources:

Bike accident helmet statistics

Why don’t you wear a helmet?

The Root Cause of Your North Carolina Bike Accident: What’s the “Reason Behind the Reason” That You Failed to Wear Head Protection?

November 16, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

In Part 1 of our discussion on the root cause of North Carolina bicycle accidents, we discussed some of the superficial reasons why some bikers fail to wear proper head protection, including:

• “I didn’t know that not wearing a helmet was dangerous.”
• “My helmet is ugly/uncomfortable/weird looking/confusing to put on.”
• “I didn’t want to look like a dork in front my friends.”
• “I just plum forgot.”

And as we discussed earlier in the week, most analysts consider these explanations to be root causes. However, this kind of analysis probably fails to expose certain fundamental beliefs or bad behaviors that may put you and others at risk in the future – risk not only for other North Carolina bike accidents, but also for accidents and injuries that have nothing to do with biking.

So, let’s drill down.

Let’s take one of the “excuses” – “I didn’t want to look like a dork in front my friends” – and unpack it. Why might someone say this? Let’s ask a theoretical daredevil 14-year-old boy why he is afraid of “looking like a dork” in front of his friends.

Theoretical 14-year-old: “Because dorks don’t have friends.”

Questioner: “So, you felt embarrassed at the thought of wearing your helmet because you have a strong need for acceptance and friendship.”

Theoretical 14-year-old: “Pretty much, yeah.”

Through this exercise, you expose that the 14-year-old has a compelling need to be accepted amongst his peers. This fundamental drive – to be accepted by his peers – is not necessarily good or bad. It’s just strong. And since it is strong, it has a potential to drive the 14-year-old to do other risky things that have nothing to do with helmet use.

The solution, therefore, should focus on encouraging the teenager to meet his needs for acceptance and friendship in ways that don’t violate your need (as a parent or caregiver) to protect him from harming himself or others.

Once you have this frame of mind, you can devise the appropriate strategies. These strategies would not necessarily work for a biker who said, “I don’t want to use my helmet because my helmet was too tight.” In that case, some very different fundamental feelings, needs, and root causes would have to be addressed.

For powerful insights into your case, connect with a competent North Carolina bike accident law firm.

More Web Resources:

Drilling down to find the root cause of an accident.

Building strategies around feelings and needs instead of around blame and punishment.

How Much Does Chronic Stress Contribute to North Carolina Car Accidents?

November 11, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

Modern life is tough. Stresses abound, even for the relatively affluent here in North Carolina, due to the tumultuous economy. Do these stresses contribute to North Carolina car accidents? If so, how much do they contribute, and what can we do about the problem?

First, let’s dissect the issue before we embark on the more complicated task of “fixing” things.

When most safety analysts examine the “etiology” of North Carolina car accidents, they focus on relatively proximate factors. For instance, you might focus on whether the driver had been drinking alcohol, whether the car was well maintained, whether the roads were correctly engineered and the signage up-to-date, etc.

But rarely do analysts examine the more global, chronic factors that might be at play, at least in part, in many accidents. Chronic stress might be one of these. Here is the thinking. When drivers experience chronic stress, they fail to respond quickly to new situations. Reaction time is slow. One’s ability to “see other drivers as human,” the theme that traffic expert Tom Vanderbilt often comes back to in his work, diminishes.

Chronic stress may also lead people to embark on destructive behaviors or activities that further impair their ability to drive. For instance, drivers may smoke, consume alcohol, take antidepressant medications, drive while angry, drive while distracted on a cell phone, etc. Obviously, this thinking is somewhat speculative. To really establish a causal link between chronic stress and North Carolina car accidents, you would have to do some serious investigation. However, it is grist for the mill.

If we can assume that chronic stress does cause or at least contribute to crashes, then accident prevention experts should immediately ask themselves: How could we collectively better manage stress?

Stress management is an enormously broad topic. However, researchers like Jon Kabat Zinn (who is famous for his “mindfulness-based stress reduction program”) suggest that the attenuation of our attention can be fixed through the use of meditation, introspection, rest, and better nutrition. Reducing our chronic stress can, in turn, lower accident rates.

Call a North Carolina car accident law firm if you have questions or concerns about a matter.

More Web Resources:

John Kabat Zinn and mindfulness-based stress reduction.

Chronic stress dangers.

Are You Reading Too Much Into Your North Carolina Car Accident?

November 9, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

If you or a family member has recently been victimized in a North Carolina car, motorcycle, or truck accident, you are likely committed to “seeing justice done” and getting fair compensation. These are laudable goals.

However, in our rush to hold others accountable for what happened, we can make errors of attribution (blaming the wrong person, company, or other factor), which can not only lead to unfair results (e.g. an innocent person being forced to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars for your injuries) but can also destroy a potentially good case against the truly negligent/careless party.

That’s all a little heady. So let’s break it down.

Think about a theoretical North Carolina truck accident. Say, as you were merging onto I-95, a trucker drifted into your lane and forced you off the road. Although you managed to stabilize your vehicle and prevent catastrophe, you and your family were shaken up, and you suffered severe whiplash, which may ultimately cost you tens of thousands of dollars in chiropractic bills and other medical care.

Your instinct might be to sue the trucker, the trucking company, or some other entity that might be responsible (e.g. an insurance company). You might be right. However, a more detailed investigation – conducted by an experienced North Carolina truck accident law firm, for instance – might reveal that the trucker behaved appropriately for the situation. The real cause of the crash had nothing to do with bad driving. It had to do with bad road design.

The highway was engineered in such a way that accidents like yours were relatively likely, given visibility conditions, signage posted, etc. In this case, the culpable party would be the authority that designed that section of the freeway.

It’s important to get these things right both to minimize unfairness and to minimize the chances that your case will be diminished or destroyed by new revelations.

To build a smart defense, connect with a North Carolina truck accident law firm today.

More Web Resources:

The danger of jumping to conclusions.

How to avoid rushing to judgment.

Tragic North Carolina Car Accident Claims Life of a Child on Go-Kart

November 6, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

Last Tuesday, 6-year-old boy from Duplin County was killed in a horrific North Carolina car accident on NC-111 in Chinquapin. The AP reports that the fatal North Carolina car accident occurred around 4 PM. According to the news report: “authorities’ said the boy was riding beside his older brother, who was driving a four-wheeler…the boy apparently didn’t see the oncoming vehicle and pulled out into the road.”

According to a local station, WITN, the 6-year-old, who attended Chinquapin Elementary School, was hit by the secretary of his school.

This horrendous tragedy strikes an emotional chord in anyone who has cared for young children. In many ways, this is every parent’s worst fear come true, and we can only hope that the family of the boy receives compassion, empathetic attention, and good healing.

Can the North Carolina car accident prevention community draw any lessons from this sad case?

Without probing into the details of what happened, it’s difficult to extrapolate. However, the report does highlight, once again, how tragedies can happen even under close adult scrutiny. Young children are constantly testing the limits of their physical environment, and they may not be fully aware of the risks inherent in their activities until too late.

While caretakers can (and probably should) do more to monitor children’s behavior and erect safe, protective areas for kids to play (without serious consequences), there are only so many strategies and tactics you can deploy to protect yourself against the chaos of life.

All that said, if you or someone your care about has been hurt in a North Carolina car accident, you may be able to avail yourself of powerful resources to get compensation for injuries, medical care, and more. A respectable and experienced North Carolina car crash law firm can help you understand your rights and what to do next.

More Web Resources:

6-year-old boy dies in a go-kart crash

Go-kart tragedy in Chinquapin

Fatal North Carolina Motorcycle Crash Takes Life of Father and Son – DWI Driver Suspected

November 3, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

Last Tuesday evening, a horrific North Carolina motorcycle crash left a father and son dead in Burke County.

According to the North Carolina Highway Patrol, 39-year-old Amie Jo Skeen has been arrested for DWI and felony hit-and-run in conjunction with the accident. Patrol officers said that a vehicle (presumably Skeen’s) driving on Airport Rhodhiss Road “sideswiped the motorcycle and kept going. Moments later, according to investigators, the car smashed head-on into a second motorcycle.” The people on the first motorcycle, fortunately, did not die, but they did apparently suffer injuries. Steven and Kevin Moody of Connelly Springs were driving second motorcycle, when the vehicle hit and killed them. Reports do not say whether any factors may have complicated the accident. For instance, were the Moody’s wearing helmets or not? What blood alcohol concentration (BAC) did the DWI driver allegedly have? Etc.

The North Carolina Highway Patrol said that the minivan driver “kept going for about half mile before pulling into a wooded area, possibly to hide the vehicle. But a witness had followed the vehicle after the crash and led troopers to the driver.”

Skeen’s reaction to the arrest was probably legally problematic, if the reports are correct. The troopers arrest her in a wooded area near the road shortly after the fatal crash. Skeen allegedly kicked a WSOC TV reporter who tried to ask her questions. Skeen also allegedly told the TV reporter that she was high on drugs and thus could not have been driving her car: “I couldn’t have been driving. I was too high.”

Skeen is no stranger to the criminal courts. According to records, she has multiple convictions for driving with a revoked or suspended license. In the late 90s, she was arrested and convicted of robbery with a dangerous weapon. In 2007, she got convicted of a charge of a felony cocaine possession.

While it’s important not to rush to judgment, especially simply reading about a North Carolina motorcycle accident case online or watching a TV report, elements of the report definitely suggest that Skeen will likely have her hands full, legally speaking.

However, no matter how “convincing” the details of your case might seem to an outsider – or how many compelling facts you have or arguments you have in your side – you nevertheless still must often fight and win a case using effective legal methods, excellent research, methodical argumentation, etc. So if you or someone you care about has been hurt in a North Carolina motorcycle accident, it may behoove you to connect immediately with an efficient, highly rated and respected North Carolina motorcycle accident law firm.

More Web Resources

Fatal DWI hit and run motorcycle accident in North Carolina

WSOC TV reporter kicked by DWI suspect in fatal accident