August 2012

Write Down the Details of Your North Carolina Auto Accident — Now!

August 30, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

Have you been involved in a North Carolina auto accident within the past 24 hours?

If so, you’re undoubtedly totally shaken up. But understand that the actions that you take (or fail to take) during these vital hours can potentially radically influence your future. They can be the difference between obtaining a massive verdict to pay for your medical bills, lost wages, and other damages — and receiving no money — or even perhaps finding yourself liable for someone else’s damages.

Write it down — now!

Look, truth be told, you may not need a Charlotte auto accident law firm, like DeMayo Law. You may not even have a case. But now is not the time to prejudge your outcome, one way or the other. Now is the time to be as sober and strategic as possible. And that means, number one, getting good medical help as soon as possible. And number two, it means laying the ground work to protect yourself, legally, and ensure that you get a positive outcome.

Collect any and all evidence – more than you think you might need. Your legal team can always go through it later and discard what’s not useful.

Write down all critical details that you can possibly remember: the color of the car that hit you, the license plate number, the way the accident happened, what you felt immediately afterwards, what you were talking to your friends about in the minutes before the accident, what the police told you, et cetera. If you’re too shaken up or tired to type this out yourself, ask a friend or a relative to serve as your secretary. If there were any witnesses, ask them to provide accounts, as well.

Time and date stamp everything. Consider making photocopies of journal accounts.

Keep records of all information pertaining to the accident — including medical documents, police reports, information about other drivers, et cetera – in a single file, so you can reference it easily.

Lastly, be very cautious when it comes to sharing this information with other interested parties, particularly insurance adjusters calling from a potentially liable insurance company. Adjusters are masters at being able to convert innocent sounding statements into problematic evidence. For instance, say you really hurt your spine in a crash, and an insurance adjuster calls to “check on you” (really to assess how liable the company might be for your bills). Since you’re feeling slightly better today than you were immediately after the accident, you might say “I’m feeling better” – meaning that, on a pain scale of 1 to 50, you used to be a 47, and now you’re a 45. So technically, you’re feeling better, but you’re still in pretty bad shape!

But the insurance adjuster can use that “admission” that you’re “feeling better” to build a case that the accident didn’t cause you significant damage, after all.

The key takeaway is this: collect evidence now, before it disappears or before memories get erased or colored. And strongly consider talking to a Charlotte auto accident law firm as well.

Will There Ever Be a “Cure” for North Carolina Auto Accidents?

August 28, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

If you or someone you love was injured in a North Carolina truck, car, or motorcycle crash, you’re likely of two minds:

1. You want to get your life back and hold the other driver who hit you or caused the accident to justice and compel that person (or that person’s insurance company or somebody else) to pay for all of your medical bills, work time lost, et cetera.

2. You’re feeling afraid about the future, as well. It’s not uncommon for people who’ve been in car crashes in North Carolina or elsewhere to feel terrified about going back on the freeways.

To that end, after you deal with the urgent stuff in your life — like connecting with an auto accident law firm in Charlotte, like DeMayo Law — you will need to turn attention to the future.

What can you do to be a safer driver? What can auto manufacturers, road engineers, and safety planners do to prevent accidents like yours from happening again — or at least to make them less injurious if/when they do occur? Looking even deeper into the future, will there ever come a day when our society is “cured” of auto accidents? In other words, will our traffic and highway safety systems ever function to such an exquisite degree that crashed no longer happen?

That may sound like a Utopian scenario. Indeed, it is difficult to find any transportation system that humans have designed that operates fool-proofly. But just because we haven’t succeeded in the past doesn’t mean that we never will.

For instance, as on-board computer motion detectors get more advanced, cars will likely soon come equipped with mechanisms that will automatically stop cars on the verge of crashing into objects or swerving out of lane. In the more distant future, some futurists believe that robot drivers — who are not subject to the kinds of mistakes or fatigue (or mid-driving tweets) that humans are – will enter our world.

There has also been talk of creating magnetic highways that essentially turn cars into hover cars, much like Japanese bullet trains.

The advent of this kind of technology could drastically reduce crash rates and severities — while boosting travel time and comfort, simultaneously.

There is always a danger in playing the prognostication game, however. We simply don’t know what new risks, opportunities, technologies, and needs will exist 10 to 15 years from now, much less 100 or 200 years from now. We may currently reside in what will be looked back upon as a golden era of transportation. On the other hand, we might be living in the transportation dark ages.

Dealing with the now, not with the idealized future.

There is a time to reflect and ponder the great mysteries of North Carolina accident prevention. But there is also a time to soberly deal with your practical challenges.

If you or someone you care about needs help, the team at the law offices of Michael A. DeMayo is here to discuss your concerns and provide a free case consultation.

How Far Should the Law Go to Prevent Auto Accidents in North Carolina and Elsewhere?

August 23, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

As someone who’s recently been hurt in a North Carolina car crash – or a friend or relative of a victim – you undoubtedly have auto safety on your mind every hour of every day.

While victims can leverage the law to seek compensation for injuries, lost time at work, loss of companionship and other damages – ideally by turning to a competent and experienced law firm, like the team at DeMayo law – your leverage is limited.

Besides, the damage has already been done.

In your time of grief or pain or struggle, you might be tempted to want to “do something” to make sure that what happened to you or your friend or family member “never happens again.” This sentiment is obviously understandable. But people who design policy need to be very mindful to treat road safety issues scientifically. They must let data and evidence — rather than emotions — dictate the most appropriate steps.

It’s also important to have a collective discussion about the rule of intervention. Is the state or the community responsible for imposing rules to encourage auto safety?

Obviously, there is a fine balance here. If we lacked auto safety laws altogether, people would be driving 120 mph per hour down suburban streets; chaos would reign. On other hand, too much bureaucracy – too many restrictions – would not only make transportation nearly impossible, but it would also likely cause accidents because of the confusion.

Truth be told, there are probably certain restrictions right now that could be eliminated or changed to benefit everyone who uses the roads. Likewise, there are probably certain restrictions or limitations that could be imposed that would do the same.

For instance, it might behoove the state to impose regular driver’s ed testing – maybe once every five years – to make sure that everyone stays refreshed regarding the rules of the road. After all, it doesn’t make much sense to test drivers once before giving them their licenses and then just sort of let them “wing it” for years, decades, or even longer.

So, maybe regular, universal “imposed driver’s ed” would be a good idea.

Likewise, it’d be interesting to see what might happen if we started treating people who drive while distracted — or while overly fatigued — similar to the way we treat people who drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs. We know from statistics that driving while on a cell phone or driving while really sleep deprived is hugely dangerous. But we certainly don’t punish overly tired drivers nearly the way we punish DUI drivers – and perhaps we should legally consider these behaviors more similar because of the compelling statistics.

The debate will rage on, but it’s important for both for accident victims and for policymakers to consider how and why North Carolina road safety can be improved.

Hurt in a North Carolina Truck Crash? The Defendant is Already Preparing – And He or She May Have Been Doing So Even at the Scene of the Accident…

August 21, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

If you were hurt in a truck accident in North Carolina – or a loved one was seriously injured or killed – you’re likely feeling stunned and overwhelmed. Unfortunately, it’s highly plausible that the trucker, trucking company, and possible liable insurance company are already in the midst of building a case to defend against any charges you might bring.

It sounds kind of twisted.

But, unfortunately, insurance companies and large corporations can be ruthless, especially if large sums of money might be at stake. After all, if the truck accident led to a death or led to a life altering injury, the party found liable – even glancingly – for what happened could be compelled to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars or even millions of dollars.

To that end, representatives of insurance companies have been known to race out to the sites of Charlotte truck accidents and similar accidents elsewhere to begin to compile “exonerating” evidence.

Insurance company representatives have been known to follow victims to the hospital, believe it or not.

This may sound counterintuitive – after all, you might believe that personal injury lawyers have a reputation as “ambulance chasers” – but really this stereotype has it backwards.

It makes sense why insurers might do this. Think about it. Say you’re an insurance company representative, and you just found out that your business might be liable for millions of dollars due to a recent catastrophe. It’s in your financial interest to prevent that from happening – and to prevent it quickly.

What’s more, insurance companies also have a tremendous amount of experience dealing with these kinds of defensive responses, since that’s what they do, day-in, day-out, for years.

They have well-oiled processes and techniques for responding to emergencies in which they might be liable. So they’re very good about anticipating what you or your family might say that could potentially get them off the hook for any damages.

For instance, a few days after the crash, an insurance company representative might call you up and ask you how you’re feeling. If you respond, innocently enough, “a lot better, thanks,” that kind of admission can come back to haunt you and prevent you from getting damages – even if you just intended to say “on a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being the worst pain of my life and 1 being normal, I felt like a 10 after the accident, and I feel like an 8 now.”

For those and many other reasons, you might find it hugely useful to connect with a Charlotte auto accident law firm in short order. Whether you choose the team at the DeMayo law or not, by retaining counsel quickly, you can help to thwart unfair insurance company tactics and set yourself up for possible success – or at the very least keep your options open and regain a modicum of control, after all the unfortunate and complicated events of the past few hours or days.

Could Outlawing Distracted Driving Help Prevent North Carolina Auto Accidents?

August 16, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

We’ve talked a lot recently about North Carolina auto accident prevention on this blog.

This topic seems to be a lot more fecund and useful for auto accident victims than the standard reportage about crashes and fatalities and problems on the road. After all, even if you were recently hurt, your goal is to figure out what to do next – not necessarily to figure out what you should have done differently but can no longer do.

In other words, we need to focus on the future – not just for the general welfare but also for our own safety and wellbeing.

In that context, consider a recent bold move by the City Council of Bowling Green, Ohio, which proposed a law to outlaw distracted driving of any type. The consequences for violating the law would be relatively light: A $25 fine without any points against the license.

Even still, given that the vast majority of drivers engage in some form of distraction on a daily basis – be it listening to the radio or really anything that makes the mind wonder – some critics believe that the law is too draconian. Is it really fair to get a $25 fine for holding your cell phone while behind the wheel, even if you’re not reading a text or dialing somebody?

Although the distracted driving ban has not yet become law, it certainly has provoked heated debate both among Bowling Green Ohio residents and among national commenters and policy makers.

If you recall, this North Carolina auto accident blog has long talked about the subtle dangers of “minor league” distracted driving – e.g. chatting with friends in the car, flipping radio channels, day dreaming, etc. Almost all safety experts would agree that you should not text while drive or drive while DUI. But how dangerous are those “little things” that many of us do on a regular basis — “stuff” that makes our driving performance slightly degraded?

Obviously there are far fewer drivers who drive DUI than there are drivers who drive while slightly distracted by the radio or a conversation. So perhaps the damage done by this “minor league distraction” stuff is as great as the damage done by DUIs.

Counterintuitive speculation? Definitely. But look at the math:

For instance, let’s say that two out of a hundred drivers engages in DUI behavior every month. And let’s say that that behavior increases the likelihood of an accident by 5% for that time period. For comparison, consider that 95 out of 100 drivers engages in “less than ideal attention practices” behind the wheel (e.g. changes the radio, momentarily “forgets” about driving, etc.) And let’s say that those minor changes increase the risk for a crash by 0.5%.

Obviously, those numbers are just made up. But even in this hypothetical case, the “minor league distractions” are far more dangerous than the DUI distractions.

Speculation side, if you or someone you love needs help with a Charlotte auto accident case, connect with the team here at the Law Offices of Michael A. DeMayo now for help.

Could Small Policy Shifts Lead to a Radical Decrease in Teenage Auto Accidents in North Carolina and Beyond?

August 14, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

A new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — published in the scarily named journal Morbidity and Mortality Weekly — has found that young drivers, between the ages of 15 and 24, account for nearly a quarter of all motor vehicle deaths on US roads every year.

Why are young drivers inherently more at risk for fatal North Carolina car crashes?

Young drivers lack experience, and they are inherently more prone to taking risks. This combines to create the deadly cocktail.

There is a bright side, however, to the research.

Licensing processes gradually allow teenage drivers to acclimate to their responsibilities — these processes may be able to reduce car crash risk by 16% or more, according to some data. In other words, when you put new teenage drivers through a process — like forcing them to drive with a permit or drive with an adult before “graduating” to greater driving independence — this somehow prevents drivers from getting into as many car crashes.

Looking for success stories, and then combining them.

Let just say that the research turns out to be correct – that, when you train teen drivers correctly, you reduce their risk of accidents.

One then might ask some questions:

•    What other accident prevention methods seem to work in the real world?
•    For instance, does positive peer pressure (e.g. social pressure designed to that nudges peers towards safer behavior) lead to lower accident rates?
•    What about town wide curfews?
•    What about cell phone bans?
•    What about other laws, restrictions, and sentences and rewards?

If we cast a wide net, we might find that a variety of programs seem to have some success at reducing accident rates in different contexts. It would be interesting if we could gather the most seemingly effective of these policies and bundle them into one kind of “uber policy” designed to maximize safety among teen drivers.

In other words, say that positive peer pressure, having a curfew, and using a gradual driver’s ed system all reduce teen fatalities a little bit. What if you bundled these activities into one process? Would we be able to limit accidents by an even larger margin? If so, that kind of creative thinking could seriously save lives and reduce injuries.

If you’ve already been hurt in an accident – or someone you love has been hurt – the team at the Law Offices of Michael A. DeMayo would be happy to talk to you about your potential legal options for getting justice done and obtaining compensation.

Do Not Trust Technology Alone to Protect You From North Carolina Car Accidents

August 9, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

Whether you’ve just been in a car accident in North Carolina – or you’re obsessed with how to protect yourself and your family from future crashes – you likely spend a fair amount of time researching and comparing automotive technologies. If safety is a concern, you want a car with a great grading – ideally a vehicle with airbags, ABS, great lines of sight, great crash test records, etc. You may even scour tech blogs or read Wired magazine for insights into the latest and greatest automotive safety technologies.

There is certainly a place for powerful new technology in Charlotte auto accident prevention.

But relying too much on technology to save us/protect us can be a profound mistake.

It’s a mistake not just because of our fears that the technology might go wrong – like something out of “2010 Space Odyssey”. Defective automotive components or technologies can and do cause crashes, and the team here at the Law Offices of Michael DeMayo can help.

But great technology presents a subtler and perhaps even more important danger.

The danger is that “great safety tech” indirectly encourages us to let up on our focus.

When we believe that automatic brakes will save us when we drive in the rain, we tend to be a little less careful during a thunderstorm. Maybe we only “let up” on our driving vigilance by 5% or something. But when you extrapolate that diminution in vigilance over tens of years and thousands of hours behind the wheel, it can really add up. The odds of your getting into a crash on any given day due to your overreliance on technology are minimal: difficult to measure, in fact.

But your attitudinal change – your overreliance on technology – likely has a substantial negative effect over the longer-term. So if you are looking to make progress in terms of auto safety – in terms of eliminating your risks and maximizing your opportunities for safety – you need to avoid this natural tendency towards increased complacency.

What if the “other guy” was distracted or made lazy by his technology?

What if the person who hit you did so because he or she had been overly reliant on automotive safety technology… and as result he drove in a negligent or careless fashion?

The answer is complicated and situation-dependent.

Fortunately, you do not have to get into the nitty-gritty of investigating your accident by yourself. The experienced Charlotte auto accident team at DeMayo Law would be more than happy to talk to you about your case and provide a free and confidential consultation.

Charlotte Auto Accident Prevention – One New Skill at a Time

August 7, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

Reducing your risk for a Charlotte auto accident can be a formidable task, in that your current “driving game” may have many issues and constraints.

For instance, maybe you are constantly driving while fatigued. Or maybe you have a tendency to get angry at other drivers who cut you off. Or maybe you simply have failed to get your car inspected and “tweaked” for optimum road performance.

Given all of the other “stuff” in your life, it’s easy enough to let your bad driving slide.

You know you probably need to do something about it. But you are not sure what you should do or how you should do it. Furthermore, how should you prioritize the “something you need to do” against all the other stuff that seems urgent and important in your life?

If you have recently been in a car accident in North Carolina, the experience was likely something of a wake-up call. Even if the accident was someone else’s fault – and you get good help from the team here at DeMayo Law or some other firm to obtain compensation and justice and closure with respect to the crash – you still need to manage your personal driving issues.

Think of improving your driving as like improving your golf swing.

As any professional golfer will tell you, the simple act of swinging a club is actually not so simple at all. Indeed, it can be a terribly complicated act, even for the pros. Fixing your golf swing cannot be done overnight. You need to focus on one kind of improvement at a time. For instance, your teacher might tell you to keep your head down when you swing. And then you practice that skill again and again and again, until it becomes “grooved in” and automatic and intuitive. Then you move on to the next skill, and then the next one, and so forth.

But if you try to tackle everything at once, you get overloaded and you get better at nothing.

Likewise, if you’re trying to improve your driving skills, pick one current constraint that’s holding you back from being a better driver and work on that. For instance, maybe you’re constantly slightly fatigued when you get behind the wheel. If that’s true, think about what you can do to improve your level of general alertness. Can you get more sleep? Can you ask your boss if you can come in half an hour later? Can you drink a little more coffee? Can you improve your diet or exercise routine a little bit?

Focus on one thing – for instance, making sure that you’re more alert when you drive – and then “groove in” that habit and then focus on the next habit down the line and so forth.

This might seem like a tedious, seemingly inconsequential exercise. But think about the profound impact this exercise might have on your chances of lifetime safety behind the wheel. It suddenly becomes far less trivial. Doesn’t it?

DeMayo Truck Accident Hypothetical: The Carnage of a Truck versus Motorcycle Crash

August 2, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

You don’t need to be told that North Carolina truck accidents can be dangerous – even devastating.

If you’ve been seriously injured in a truck crash – or you someone who needs help after an accident – you can personally attest to the fundamentally “unfair” advantage trucks have over other vehicles on the road. As we’ve talked about before, this advantage is due to the fact that trucks are more massive. They are thus able to bully lighter vehicles on the road, since they can impart far more force. If a 20-ton truck crashes head-on into a 2-ton car, and both vehicles are going the same speed (in opposite directions), the truck will be able to exert 10 times as much force on the car as the car will be able to exert on the truck.

This isn’t to say that the trucker can’t get hurt — or that the truck is somehow impervious to damage. But understand that this difference is like tossing a pebble into a pond versus tossing a large rock. Which act makes the bigger splash?

We can take this metaphor further.

Imagine if a 20-ton truck crashes into a 200-pound motorcycle. Same situation. This gives the truck a roughly 200 to 1 advantage, force wise, over the motorcycle. It would be kind of like what happens when your car smashes into a bee on the freeway. The bee doesn’t stand a chance.

Here is a good analogy to help really clarify this mental picture. Imagine that 20-ton truck slamming into a brick wall at 20 miles per hour. There obviously would be a crash – presumably a lot of damage. But how would the truck’s impact against the wall compare to the force generated if you drove your 200-pound motorcycle into the same wall and took just as long to stop?

To make the motorcycle exert as much force as the truck, you would have to pile drive it into the wall at 4,000 miles an hour! That’s faster than any non-military jet plane (and probably most military planes) in existence. At 4,000 miles per hour, you could fly practically from Charlotte to Hawaii in an hour.

That’s a lot of force – that’s a huge velocity – many times the speed of sound.

And that’s just for a truck traveling at 20 miles per hour crashing into a brick wall.

Imagine a truck traveling 60 miles, crashing into that same brick wall. A motorcycle 1/200th of its mass would need to travel at 200 times that speed to exert the same amount of force, assuming that both vehicles take identical times to stop. That means the bike would have to travel at 12,000 miles per hour.

That’s basically rocket speed!

If you or someone you care has been hurt in a motorcycle or trucking accident in Charlotte or elsewhere in North Carolina, the DeMayo Law team would love to provide a free and confidential case evaluation for you.