November 2012

Was the Person Who Caused Your North Carolina Car Accident Driving With His/Her Hands in the “10-2” Position?

November 29, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

The difference between a serious North Carolina car accident and a scary but ultimately innocuous “near miss” can boil down to split second decisions.

Why are certain driver behaviors so dangerous – behaviors like driving DUI, driving distracted, driving while fatigued? The answer is that these behaviors erode your ability to react rapidly to conditions on the road. They thus increase the likelihood that you will fail to compensate correctly to unexpected or unanticipated situations.

For instance, when you’re tired/DUI/distracted, you might not see a strange twist in the road or a person with a dog walking across the street. Your retarded attention to this idiosyncrasy can lead you to over compensate or fail to compensate and thus cause a crash.

If you’ve been the victim of a crash, you want to know how and why the other driver made mistakes, so you can pursue the most forcible legal action possible.

Unfortunately, we can only know “so much” about what the other driver did or didn’t do behind the wheel.

Odds are, however, that the other driver made multiple careless or negligent decisions. One of the most common – seemingly very innocuous – bad habits involves holding the steering wheel lazily. As you probably remember from Driver’s Ed 101, you’re supposed to hold the steering wheel at a so called “10-2” position – with your hands positioned maximally to pivot the wheel to respond to split second changes in road dynamics.

Many people start out holding it at 10-2 only to “slack off” as they get older or as they become more comfortable behind the wheel. Some people may even suffer medical problems, like carpal tunnel syndrome, that prevent them from holding the wheel at 10-2 comfortablt.

In any event, this lazy steering almost certainly decreases reaction times — it might have been the difference in your accident. The team here at the law offices of Michael A. DeMayo can help you understand what went wrong and diligently pursue justice in your case.

Find out more about how our North Carolina car accident law firm can help you make sense of your emotionally difficult and scary crash.

Can Too Much Shopping Cause Car Accidents In Charlotte and Elsewhere?

November 26, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

Whether you recently got hurt in an auto accident in Charlotte, or you’re just someone who wants to be a safer, more clear minded driver, you’re well aware that you routinely engage in subpar driving practices.

If you’ve read this North Carolina car accident law blog – or followed any conventional media reports on auto safety – and you’re undoubtedly aware of the dangers caused by driving DUI, driving under the influence of medications, driving while fatigued, driving while distracted, etc.

But other, more subtle factors can also degrade your driving and increase your risk of getting into another injury crash.

For instance: Christmas holiday shopping fatigue.

This factor almost certainly plays a role in a non-negligible number of NC accidents. Here are some examples of how this might play out:

•    An exhausted mother of four, burned out from three hours of crawling around a mall with her screaming kids, rear ends a car in the mall parking lot, causing thousands of dollars worth of damage;
•    A beleaguered retail store clerk – fried from working time and a half shifts for weeks on end – runs a red light and clips an SUV, causing minor injuries;
•    Overburdened by hundreds of millions of gift requests and other mail, Santa Claus accidentally steers his reindeer sleigh too far north, exists the Earth’s atmosphere and winds up on the moon.

Okay, that third example is made up. But hopefully the point is clear: Shopping related agitation, distraction, and overwhelm can cause accidents outright and/or make certain accidents worse.

Most holiday car accidents in North Carolina are incredibly complex. Multiple hypotheses can be put forward to explain how and why they occurred. Driver distraction/inattention, vehicular problems, road engineering problems, bad weather, and even interference from animals or pedestrians can all play roles in certain crashes.

If you’ve been harmed – or you know someone who has suffered damages – the highly successful and meticulous team at the law offices of Michael A. DeMayo can help you get a handle on your rights and pursue the most aggressive and sensible course of action.

So Why Are You NOT Keeping a North Carolina Auto Accident and Safety Journal Yet?

November 22, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

In several previous posts, we’ve talked about why and how recent car crash victims can benefit from journaling about their driving experiences. First of all, when you journal about your “near misses,” you derive insights into the causes of your riskiest driving behaviors. Secondly, journaling can provide insights into how you “drive best,” so you can more often experience a “flow state” while driving.  For instance, say your introspection leads you to understand that you concentrate on the road better when you listen to classical music and sip a Double Tall Soy Latte from Starbucks. You can make that ritual a more regular event!

Self-knowledge, in other words, can be a key to helping you drive safer. Writ large, it may also hold the key to reducing rates of car crashes in North Carolina and beyond.

In other words, say we had a national drivers education campaign that focused on getting drivers to journal more often. Perhaps that exercise could help chip away at scary statistics, like the National Highway Traffic & Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) assertion that 30,000 to 40,000 Americans die every year on the roads.

So why aren’t you journaling?

Assuming that you buy the argument laid you, why are you not cracking open your moleskin journal right now to tally your latest adventure on the road?

Odds are, you lack a well-framed reason. Perhaps you do, but if you did, you’d be in the minority. Likely, you are justifying the decision not to journal by subconsciously telling yourself “this would take too long; I don’t have time for it; journaling sounds annoying; I doubt it’ll work, anyway, etc.”

Those objections would all be understandable. At best, we’re probably talking about just a slight incremental improvement in safety over the short-term. But when you consider the potential long-term benefits of getting to know yourself as a driver better, balking at this experiment makes less and less sense. At worse, you waste a little time and feel a little silly. At best, you gain powerful insights into your own driving behavior and thus substantially reduce your lifetime risk of an accident.

So it may be worth your while to reconsider your resistance not only to journaling but also to finding legal help with respect to your accident.

The team here at the Law Offices of Michael A. DeMayo is standing by to help you if/when you have questions about your potential case.

Using Metrics and Systems to Reduce (Permanently) the Number of Auto Accidents in North Carolina and Beyond

November 20, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

Earlier in the week, we surfaced a disturbing phenomenon. Auto accidents in North Carolina and elsewhere lead to more fatalities than almost any other disaster. Yet our politicians tend to focus on other ‘stuff’ — they fail to approach the problem of auto safety and accident prevention with the zealousness that the statistics suggest that we should be using.

So we have a problem: we’re not paying enough attention to this big important policy problem.

In an ideal world, what might be done?

Here are some thoughts:

1. Let’s get better metrics and make the public aware of said metrics.

Yes, the National Highway Traffic & Safety Administration and other government agencies and non-government bodies calculate and report on auto safety stats. But the metrics used — more particularly, the way these metrics get communicated — could use some work!

Our focus is diverse and diffuse, at best. Imagine, instead, if we all focused on one or two ‘big numbers’ to reduce or improve. What if we built all our public policies and research and safety technologies around those numbers? We’d have to pick important numbers – such as total number of fatalities or number of serious injuries total. Perhaps a good statistician could develop better numbers. But we need something to get people to rally around – we don’t need dozens of competing ‘expert voices’ giving us hundreds of different figures. That gives everyone ADHD and prevents the positive focus we need to generate innovation and results.

2. Let’s get all hands on deck.

The people who work at the NHTSA and other transportation agencies on both the federal and state level should play a role, obviously, in determining engineering priorities and public policy. But we should also tap expertise from diverse sources, including auto accident victims, Charlotte car accident law firms, insurance companies, reporters, etc.

3. The approach to improving our auto accident safety should be systematic.

We’re not going to solve our traffic crisis with one big push or one amazingly innovative initiative. We need to be more business-like in how we approach traffic safety. Let’s find out what works. Let’s figure out how we can scale up what works. Let’s use business process management and system improvement and systems thinking. In general, let’s think more ‘corporate’ when it comes to auto accident safety.

Why Weren’t Auto Accidents in North Carolina (and Elsewhere) More of an Issue in This Year’s Election?

November 15, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

2012’s election season has come and gone, for better or for worse, but the problem of auto accidents in North Carolina (and elsewhere in the U.S.) remains potent, unchecked, and terrifying, especially when you consider the stats.

For instance, as a New York Times piece reported a few months ago, the number of people who died in traffic accidents on U.S. roads in just the first three months of 2012 outnumbered the number of armed service people killed in both Iraq and Afghanistan over the past 11 years. The National Highway Traffic & Safety Administration (NHTSA) is busy calculating fatality and serious injury rates for the second, third, and fourth quarters of 2012. Hopefully, the news was somewhat more sanguine. But imagine if we had seen similar numbers of war fatalities in either Afghanistan or Iraq. You can be sure that the spike in bloodiness would have been front page news and would have sparked a political firestorm about ‘what should be done.’

A human life is a human life. Whether someone dies in combat or in a truck accidentÖ the situation is a tragedy, and we should strive to prevent similar awfulness from striking other people.

So what’s behind the political impotence, for lack of a better term? How come politicians are not more aggressively striving to get accident fatality rates down?

Consider these questions in the context of the following powerful truth: most of America’s most powerful politicians of the past two or three decades have been touched deeply by auto accidents.

•    As we pointed out in a previous post, before Bill Clinton was even born, he lost his father in a car accident.
•    Mitt Romney was in a serious car accident when he was a young adult in France — one passenger in that car died in that crash.
•    Before she even became first lady – back when she was in high school – Laura Bush ran through a stop sign and killed a classmate.
•    Joe Biden lost his wife and child in a car crash several decades ago.
•    Barack Obama lost his father in a car crash.
•    It goes on and on and on like this.

These politicians’ stories are not all that exceptional – almost everyone has been touched deeply by auto accidents in Charlotte and beyond. Yet we spend our time worrying about other problems – not nearly paying enough attention to this ‘elephant in the room.’

In our next post, we’re going to dive into this idea deeper – imagine what would happen if politicians treated the car accident prevention problem more seriously and used, perhaps, advanced types of business thinking (metrics, systems, business process analysis, etc.) to make our roads safer.

If you or someone you love has been hurt or has suffered damages in a car accident in Charlotte, get in touch with the DeMayo Law team today for a free, fair, and comprehensive consultation.

“The Ghosts of Christmas Future” and Your Charlotte Auto Accident Case

November 13, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

In our last post, “The Ghosts of Halloween Past,” we used a seasonal metaphor to examine how our perceptive errors in the passage of time can lead us to underestimate the risks of not taking action on a North Carolina auto accident case. For instance: waiting an extra day or two to collect a witness statement or go to the doctor can lead to a profound decrease in the likelihood that you’ll win your case.

It’s likewise useful to learn lessons from how we perceive future events. Christmas is around the corner, and so our collective attention turns to anticipate the future. But how, exactly, DO we think about the future? What commons errors do we make when we anticipate?

Research reveals that our ability to predict the future is surprisingly bad, in many was.

Imagine how you’d feel if you lost your Charlotte auto accident case. You’d probably feel pretty bad, right? Actually, research suggests that you wouldn’t over the long term! Likewise, you might think that winning a case would make you feel happy and good. It probably would in the short-term. But over the longer term, your happiness will remain surprisingly static at its current level.

This phenomenon explains why materialistic improvements — buying a new Porsche, for instance — don’t meaningfully impact our happiness. It also explains, conversely, why materialistic setbacks – such as temporary debt – also don’t make us depressed, long term.

This isn’t to say that you should not pursue your case. Quite to the contrary! However, our incapacity to predict our emotional futures creates challenges and opportunities.

Here’s another big mistake that many people make. If you’re ever called to the witness stand to talk about your car accident, you might imagine that you’d behave in a certain way. Perhaps, you imagine that you’d give an emotionally trenchant speech, or you’d get nervous and tongue tied. Again, odds are that your assumptions about your behavior are inaccurate.

The moral is: you need to be careful to avoid presuming too much about your performance.

The team here at the Law Offices of Michael A. DeMayo can give you an advantage, since we’ve gone through auto accident litigation so many times in so many diverse circumstances. We know what to expect, and we can use our experience to guide you towards a solid outcome. More importantly, we can also set your expectations more effectively, so you’ll feel more in control and more emotionally balanced as you deal with challenging circumstances.

Did an Animal Cause Your Charlotte North Carolina Car Accident?

November 8, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

You and your family suffered injuries in a serious North Carolina car accident.

You’re confused about why it happened. Who was responsible? What you can possibly do to get compensated and move on and rebuild your life?

Given your powerful emotions — and still very present memories about the crash — there is a high likelihood that you’re going to want to blame a human being – or multiple human beings – for the events. Indeed, the majority of car accidents in North Carolina stem from driver error and negligence. For instance, maybe an older gentleman hit the gas when he thought he was hitting the brakes, and he careered into your car. Or maybe a teenage driver sped by your SUV and forced you to drive into a ditch.

Unfortunately, when we focus only on blaming other people — due to our powerful emotions, need for justice, and desire to order a complex, chaotic events — we may fail to pay attention to other factors that might have mattered more. For instance, perhaps an animal caused the crash or made it worse.

Animals can be involved in auto accidents in many subtle ways. For instance:

•    A deer running on the highway can cause cars to swerve out of its way and crash;
•    A cat or dog in someone’s seat can break loose from a restraint and distract the driver;
•    While swerving to get out of the way of someone walking his dog, a car can precipitate traffic problems, including accidents “downstream” – that is, far from the swerve itself;
•    Etc

How can you tell if an animal was to blame – or even partially to blame?

Without an external, objective way to assess the situation, you can’t!

To truly understand what happened (or what might have happened), you need to do a thorough, objective, “360 degree” review of the evidence and examine subtle factors that may not have been apparent to you, if you were in the crash itself.

For instance, say a truck driver hit you on I-95. After examining records, photographs, and documents, investigators might find out that the trucker had a large dog with him riding in the cab. The dog jumped up on his lap at an inopportune moment, distracting him, and causing him to veer into your lane and precipitate the accident.

The team here at the Law Offices of Michael A. DeMayo has resources to help injured victims and their families not only get compensation and justice, but also achieve clarity about what caused the event.

The “Ghosts of Halloweens Past” and Your North Carolina Auto Accident Case

November 6, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

With Halloween now behind us, the vast stretch of the time before Christmas arrives in North Carolina. In two posts, we’re going to look backwards and forwards in time – using our current temporal location to gain interesting insights into possible points of leverage for you as a recent victim of an auto accident in Charlotte or elsewhere in North Carolina.

The “Ghosts of Halloween Past”

Whether your auto accident disrupted your Halloween, or whether you got hurt before or after the spookiest day of the year, the past is past. The accident is receding in time and in memory faster than you may realize.

Many accident victims wrongly believe that they can approach their legal situation somewhat leisurely. After all, what’s happened has happened. You can’t turn back the clock. Certainly, if you got hurt or your property got destroyed, you can’t undo the damage. It will take time to heal. It’s almost better not to rush your recovery than it is to speed things up and make poor decisions.

For instance, say you’re weighing whether to get a certain surgery for your injuries. You may want to visit two or three experts for second opinions to make sure that you’ve got the right diagnosis and procedure lined up.

Legally speaking, though, things are different. As the past “rushes away from us,” your challenges may grow at a surprisingly exponential rate.

For instance, consider the ability of a witness to recall the event. Obviously, if someone hit and hurt you, you may find it legally useful to collect favorable witness statements, verbatim, as soon as possible after the accident. Such statements should be accurate and comprehensive, pinning liability on the negligent or careless driver.

Every day that passes — in which you don’t collect verbatim witness accounts — your chances of winning your case diminish because of the diminished accuracy and usefulness of the testimony.

Interestingly, the usefulness of testimony probably does not drop off “bit by bit” and erode smoothly over time. More likely than not, it erodes in a more exponential fashion. For instance, testimony taken a few minutes after the crash, recorded verbatim via a recorder or on a police report, should carry substantial heft. That same testimony given a few hours later or few days later may still be powerful — but certainly not as powerful.

If you waited a few weeks, the odds that the witness will misremembering events skyrockets and his/her testimony will lose heft in proportion. In other words, the reduction in the utility of a witness statement may not happen slowly and linearly – it probably happens quickly and exponentially.

To make the most timely, appropriate, strategic decisions for your case, get in touch with the powerful team at the Law Offices of Michael DeMayo for a complementary evaluation of your rights and resources.

Powerful Piece in New York Times Highlights Why It’s Vital to Reduce North Carolina Car Crashes

November 1, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

Whether you’ve recently been injured in an auto accident in Charlotte or elsewhere in North Carolina; or you know or care for someone who has been hurt or killed, you are not alone.

According to rough estimates, over 7,630 people died in the United States in the first quarter of 2012 due to motor vehicle accidents. Compare that number to the number of military servicemembers killed in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq since 2001 – 6,591 is the official total. In other words, more people died in car accidents in North Carolina and the other 49 states in just the first three months of this year than died in all of our military action in Afghanistan and Iraq since we began prosecuting those wars.

An Astonishing Comparison — And Historical Revelations

As New York Times writer, Cynthia Wachtell points out in a compelling new article in the New York Times, almost all of our recent high profile politicians have been touched significantly by auto accidents:

•    Mitt Romney nearly died in France when he was 21-years old, when he was involved in a head-on collision. He suffered a concussion, while one of his passengers died.
•    John McCain, meanwhile, returned from Vietnam only to find that this wife had been horribly disfigured in auto accident.
•    Bill Clinton lost his father in a car accident in May 1946 – three month before the future president was even born.
•    Likewise, Barack Obama lost his father in a car accident in 1982.
•    Laura Bush, wife of ex-president George Bush, killed a fellow high school student in 1963, when she ran a stop sign.
•    Vice President Biden lost his wife and daughter in a car crash four decades ago.
•    Al Gore nearly lost his six-year old son in 1989 in a horrific crash.
•    Both former Vice President, Dick Cheney, and ex-president, George W. Bush, collected DUIs.

In other words, car accidents in North Carolina and beyond have powerfully defined the lives of our nation’s most powerful politicians.

Ms. Wachtell goes on to ask a pointed question: why haven’t these leaders more actively demanded improved auto accident safety?

Perhaps they have. But clearly, we need to do more to reduce our road fatality and injury rates.

On a more practical and personal note, you may find it hugely useful to discuss your situation with the team here at Law Offices of Michael A. DeMayo. Get in touch with us today to understand what legal rights and options you might have to collect compensation and to ensure that the responsible driver, insurance company, or other party will remunerate you fairly.