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Falling off Cliff signAs fall approaches and the leaves begin to turn from lush green to vibrant shades of yellow, orange, and red, thousands of motorists will head to the North Carolina mountains to enjoy the views. The Blue Ridge Parkway sees almost 20 million visitors each year, and is the most visited national park in the United States.

Inherently Dangerous Roadway

While taking in the magnificent views, many motorists are oblivious to the inherent dangers of the Blue Ridge Parkway. The Parkway has many paved pullouts for motorists to take in the views, but very few guardrails on the rest of the Parkway. The danger of not having guardrails is compounded by the road design itself-it has no shoulders, and is a narrow, curvy roadway. And if a fog rolls in, motorists may find themselves with only a few feet of visibility. The 26 tunnels along the Blue Ridge Parkway are not equipped with lights, and some are so curvy, that you cannot see daylight on the other side when you enter the tunnel.

Why Are Bikers Crashing?

There was a 60% increase in the number of motorcycle accidents on the Parkway from the time period of 1998 to 2002, with a disproportionate number of accidents occurring between the Great Smoky Mountains and Grandfather Mountain. These alarming statistics lead to a study to look at the reasons behind the increase in motorcycle accidents.

Contrary to one may think, speed was not a factor in the majority of accidents, rather, inattention was the cause of most accidents. Too many bikers were taking in too much scenery and too little roadway. In fact, one four-mile section close to Grandfather Mountain was the site of so many accidents that parkway rangers nicknamed that stretch “The Killing Fields

Safety Efforts

To combat the high incidence of motorcycle accidents on the Blue Ridge Parkway, some unconventional signage has been placed. For example, signs are made up of 2 distinct warning signs. The top sign is bigger than a normal sign and is intended to get a driver’s attention, and uses unusual language, such as “High Collision Area” and “Spiral Curve.” The second sign shows the shape of the specific upcoming curve. In some particularly high crash areas, there are signs that depict a motorcyclist falling from his bike.

In 2002, the first year the signs were placed, there was an 11% decrease in the motorcycle accident rate. Crash rates continued to decline in 2003 and 2004 by 11% and 16% respectively.

Tips For Safe Riding

Driving on flat, straight local roads will not prepare you for the curves, hills, and limited visibility found in the mountains, and may test your riding skills. We offer the following tips for safe riding:

-Stay on the road. On the curvy, hilly roads in the mountains, it will be difficult to maintain control of your bike if you hit the shoulder.
-Remain in your lane. Many turns have limited visibility and veering into oncoming traffic to see around the curve can lead to a head-on collision.
-Know your bikes limits. Cruisers do not handle as well as performance bikes when navigating winding turns; be mindful of your speed.
-Know your limits. Ride within your experience and comfort zone.
-Be aware of road and weather conditions. Carry rain gear and warmer clothes.
-Keep your eyes on the road. If you want to take in the views, pull over to one of the many lookouts.
-Stay on the lookout for wildlife in the roadway.

Drunk Old Man

Alcohol was involved in two very serious car crashes last week. One critically injured Davidson College baseball coach, Dick Cooke, and the other resulted in a fatality near the Myrtle Beach Air Force Base. It is always sad to hear news reports like this but our North Carolina personal injury lawyers have witnessed the dangers of drinking and driving through their practice.

On September 18, 2012, Coach Dick Cooke was returning home from visiting a recruit on Interstate 77 in Charlotte when his car was struck from behind, according to the North Carolina Highway Patrol. The investigators alleged that the accident was caused by Brittany Alana Fitch, 27, from Clover, South Carolina, who it was claimed was driving recklessly and impaired, with a revoked license. The impact of the collision caused both vehicles to leave the roadway and end up in a wooded area.

MEDIC reportedly took both people involved to the Carolinas Medical Center-Main for treatment. According to the coach’s wife, her husband had bleeding on the brain, fractured ribs, lung injuries requiring a chest tube and multiple fractures of his leg. Dick Cooke has coached the Davidson Wildcats for 22 years and served as an auxiliary coach for Team USA at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, Australia when they won a gold medal.

On September 22, 2012, at about 1:20 p.m., another horrible crash occurred on Highway 17 Business near the Myrtle Beach Air Force Base. According to the South Carolina Highway Patrol, the accident happened across from the Pirateland Campground, when a Jeep traveling north crossed over the median and into the pathway of a van traveling south, hitting it head-on.

Five people in the van were injured and taken to the hospital. One passenger, Wesley Samuel, 52, from Columbia, was pronounced dead at the scene.

The South Carolina Highway Patrol charged the driver of the Jeep, Jordy Wayne Calhoun, 18, from Conway, with two counts of Felony DUI. One count was for causing death and the other for causing great bodily injury. After being taken to the hospital, he was transported to the J. Reuben Long Detention Center.

Make no mistake about it, driving while impaired is serious business. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) statistics indicate that there were 33,808 traffic fatalities in 2010, including 10,839-or nearly one third-who were killed in accidents where a driver was legally intoxicated. Broken down further, 65% of the people killed in theses crashes were drivers, 28% were passengers and 7% were non-occupants. The bottom line is that someone dies in a drunk driving crash every 51 minutes.

If you, a family member or someone you know has had a loved one seriously injured or killed by a drunk driver, it is very important that you seek the advice of a North Carolina personal injury lawyer who is experienced in handling those types of cases.

Auger & Auger is a Charlotte, North Carolina firm that has almost 40 years of collective experience in handling all types of serious bodily injury cases, including those that have been caused by drunk drivers. Our firm has devoted its entire practice to helping clients throughout the state seek the maximum possible recovery for their injuries or the loss of their loved ones.

For your convenience, we have five offices. Three are located in Charlotte and we have one office each in Raleigh and Greensboro.

Contact us now to schedule your confidential, no obligation consultation. We handle cases on a contingency basis. This means that you will never have to pay our firm an attorney fee unless we make a recovery for you.

Other Resources:

S.C. Woman Charged in Crash That Injured College Baseball Coach, WBTV 3 News, September 18, 2012
Fatal Crash on 17 Business Leads to Felony DUI Charges For 18-year-old , News Channel 15, Reported by Allyson Floyd, September 22, 2012

Drunk Driving Statistics

Related Blog Posts:

Boyfriend’s Alcohol Related Accident in Cumberland County Seriously Injures Passenger Girlfriend, North Carolina car Accident Attorney Blog, June 19, 2012

North Carolina Man Convicted of Murder in DWI Case is Released After 15 Years in Prison, North Carolina Car Accident Attorney Blog, April 11, 2012

 

Bounce House with Kids

Although this tragic story comes from Alabama, our North Carolina personal injury lawyers know from experience that it is also possible for sexual abuse to happen at a daycare center where your child may be enrolled.

The Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office in Clay, Alabama reportedly arrested and charged the 17 year-old son of an employee of Momma’s Place Christian Academy, with sexual abuse of children at the daycare facility. The boy, Eric Lemont Higdon, was arrested on August 31, 2012 and charged with the sexual abuse of a child and first degree sodomy of victims under the age of 12. The accused’s mother was terminated by the facility.

According to the investigation, a report from a parent was made to the sheriff’s office on August 18, 2012 that Eric Higdon had inappropriate contact with her child at Momma’s Place. She saw her son touching another family member in an inappropriate manner and she asked what he was doing. Her son explained that “the suspect at the daycare had touched him that way.”

Later, similar reports were made by at least three other families involving children between three and five years-old. An investigation revealed that Higdon was visiting the daycare facility on a regular basis and having inappropriate sexual contact with the young children while he was there.

Officers obtained a list of children presently or previously enrolled at the daycare center. All of the families were contacted to determine if there may be additional children who were victims among those who had not stepped forward. Ultimately, it was determined that there were four children who were victimized, a couple of five year-olds, one four year-old and a three year-old.

Barry Spear with the Alabama Department of Human Resources indicated that they are continuing to work with the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office to determine if other charges might be forthcoming. A determination will also be made about whether Momma’s can continue to operate. Spear indicated that the facility was a fully licensed daycare facility and there were no plans presently to shut it down. However, they were looking into whether any violations of the Minimum Standards for Daycare Centers existed.

As parents, one of the most important decisions that we can make is choosing what daycare facility to use. Your child’s care and their safety are of utmost importance. Be sure to visit the facility prior to enrolling them to:

See if the facility is clean, organized and the children are happy
Observe the staff and see how they interact with the children
Make sure the children are divided into age groups
Determine the procedures for notifying of an emergency or illness; and
Determine if there are safety procedures in place to release your child only to you, or to someone you have authorized to pick he or she up,.

If either your child, or children of someone you know was injured, mistreated, molested or died while in the care of a daycare facility, you need to seek the advice of an experienced North Carolina daycare injury lawyer.

At Auger & Auger, we have devoted 100% of our practice to helping the citizens of North Carolina whose families have suffered serious personal injuries. Our attorneys have almost 40 years of collective experience and are well respected by the judiciary and other attorneys.

We have five offices for your convenience. There are three in Charlotte and one each in Raleigh and Greensboro.

Contact us at 704-364-3361 or toll free at (800) 559-5741 to schedule you confidential, no obligation consultation. Our cases are handled on a contingency basis, which means that you will never owe us a fee unless we make a recovery for you.

Other Resources:

Teen Charged With Sexually Abusing Children At Clay Daycare, MyFoxAL.com, September 4, 2012

Teen Arrested for Sexual Abuse at Clay Daycare
, Alabamas13.com, Article by Amber Roberson, September 4, 2012

Related Blog Posts:

The Harsh Reality of Care At Daycare Facilities, North Carolina Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, August 24, 2012

Dangers Lurk in North Carolina Day Care Centers
, North Carolina personal Injury Blog, April 11, 2012

Senior couple holding hands

Over the last month, accidents involving elderly drivers have made headlines, raising the ongoing debate about when people are too old to drive. Our North Carolina car accident attorneys know that accidents can happen regardless of the ages of the drivers involved, but they are also aware of the statistics revealing diminished driving abilities as we age.

On August 30, 2012, it was reported that a 100 year old man in Los Angeles, California lost control while backing out of his driveway and reversed his car into a crowd of elementary school children and their parents. The accident occurred around 2:30 p.m. after classes at a nearby school had been dismissed. The Los Angeles Police investigation revealed that the driver, Preston Carter, will turn 101 in September 2012. When questioned by authorities about why he backed over the curb,down the sidewalk, and into the crowd, Mr. Carter said his car experienced some type of mechanical failure.

Although there were screams from the crowd, the driver said he never heard anything as he backed down the sidewalk. Nine children and two adults sustained injuries and were taken to a nearby hospital. Police did not initially file any charges, but were considering Mr. Carter’s competency to continue having a driver’s license.

On September 3, 2012, an elderly driver in Hubert, North Carolina pulled out of a Dollar General parking lot in front of a motorcycle, seriously injuring the husband and wife who were riding it. Michael Carter, 45, and his wife, Dorothy, 50, from Clinton, North Carolina were taken to New Hanover Regional Medical Center and Onslow Memorial. She suffered various injuries including a broken arm. He remained hospitalized in serious condition, according to the North Carolina Highway Patrol.

An investigation revealed that Pearl Robinson, 90, from Hubert, pulled her 2004 Cadillac out into the pathway of the Carters’ Harley Davidson motorcycle, causing it to strike the car. Trooper Merritt said that the car’s driver was cited for failing to yield right-of-way to the motorcycle.

Accidents such as these raise the question: “How old is too old to drive?” Unfortunately, there is no clear cut answer to this question because each person is different, both mentally and physically, as they age. Everyone either already has, or will face, telling their parents that they can no longer drive and taking their keys away. This, in turn, causes aging parents to feel as though they have lost yet another marker of independence. The old expression may hold true that “you will know when it is time,” not only for the safety of your loved ones but the safety of others.

According to the AAA Motor Club, elderly drivers most consistently exhibit difficulties driving safely due to vision loss, hearing loss, physical limitations, dementia, diabetes, seizures, sleep disorders, and slowed reaction times. Any of these temporary or permanent medical problems can alter an individual’s ability to drive safely, especially when combined with prescription or over-the-counter medications.

If you or someone you know has been injured because of the negligence of an elderly driver, you should contact an experienced North Carolina car accident attorney to discuss your options.

At Auger & Auger, we know that accidents can happen to drivers of all ages. Simply because a driver is older is no indication that he or she was at fault. Our attorneys have nearly 40 years of experience in handling all types of serious injury cases and we can help determine who is legally responsible for your injuries.

We have five conveniently located offices. Three are in Charlotte and we have offices in Greensboro and Raleigh, as well.

Contact us
for your free confidential consultation. We handle cases on a contingency basis, so you will never have to worry about paying us a fee unless we make a monetary recovery for you.

Other Resources:

100-Year-Old Motorist Backs Into Children Outside Los Angeles School, Reuters, August 30, 2012

Couple Injured In Motorcycle Wreck, Jacksonville Daily News, September 5, 2012

AAA Motor Club/Senior Driving

Related Blog Posts:

AAA Carolinas Study Reveals Safest and Most Dangerous Counties For Accidents, North Carolina Car Accident Attorney Blog, August 16, 2012

Eleven People Die From Car Accidents in One Week
, North Carolina Car Accident Attorney Blog, July 18, 2012

Crashed Car

Our North Carolina car accident attorneys were saddened to hear the news that two sophomores at West Rowan High School in Mount Ulla, North Carolina were killed in a car accident shortly after leaving from their first day of classes. The two young men were Cody Rives, 16, and Tyrelle Johnson, 15. School ended at 2:30 p.m. and the scene of the accident was only a couple of miles away at the Second Creek Bridge.

According to North Carolina Highway Patrol Trooper C.F. Rogers, the accident happened at roughly 2:37 p.m. when Rives was driving a red 1990 Mazda Miata convertible, with Johnson after leaving school. The investigation revealed that Rives was speeding and lost control, leaving him unable to negotiate a curve as he entered the Second Creek Bridge. His car crossed over into oncoming traffic, and into the pathway of a 2008 Chevrolet Trailblazer being driven by Kara Graham, 42, of Salisbury. Rives hit Graham’s SUV head-on and flipped over. In trying to avoid the accident, Graham’s vehicle overturned. The boys died instantly and Graham was taken to the hospital with a possible broken arm.

Cody Rives’ grandmother, Diane Kirkpatrick, remembered him giving her a hug that first day of school and saying, “I love you. See you later.” She said that Cody was artistic and very involved at church. He had told the youth minister that he wanted to initiate a program to help feed children who did not have enough to eat.

Lt. Col. Herman Peterson of the JROTC, said that Tyrelle Johnson was very smart and a rising star who was scheduled to become a battalion commander, after having become a sergeant in his first year. He was intending to make a career in the U.S. Army.

Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that the risk of a car accident for drivers ages 16 to 19 is higher than any other age group and four times higher than older drivers. Other data indicates that:

• The accident risk is particularly high during the first year a teen is licensed

• The presence of teen passengers increases the risk of accidents for teen drivers

• Teen drivers are more likely to speed, follow too closely and perform other risky
maneuvers than older drivers

• Teens have the lowest rate of seat belt usage

If you or someone you know has been faced with a parent’s worst nightmare, the loss of a child, you should seek the advice of an experienced North Carolina car accident attorney to determine your options.

Auger & Auger
is a Charlotte, North Carolina law firm that has represented families throughout the state in a wide variety of cases involving serious personal injuries, including fatalities. Its attorneys have nearly 40 years of experience collectively and are held in high esteem by the judiciary and their peers.

For your convenience, we have five offices. Three are located in Charlotte and we have offices in Greensboro and Raleigh, as well.

Contact us
for your own no obligation, confidential consultation. Our firm handles its cases on a contingency basis, which means that you will not owe us any attorney fees unless we make a monetary recovery for you.

Other Resources:

Update: Two West Students Die in Crash; Grieving Begins, Salisbury Post, August 28, 2012

Teen Drivers Fact Sheet, Centers For Disease Control and Prevention

Related Blog Posts:

New Law Aims To Reduce North Carolina Car Accidents Involving Teen Drivers, North Carolina Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, January 11, 2012

Driving Simulator Helps Young Drivers Realize Real Life Consequences of Their Decisions While Operating Vehicles
, North Carolina Car Accident Attorney Blog, June 26, 2012

AAA Carolinas Study Reveals Safest and Most Dangerous Counties For Accidents, North Carolina Car Accident Attorney Blog, August 16, 2012

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