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A recent study shows that a driver’s response time and eye contact with the road is significantly decreased if they are texting while driving, regardless of whether the texting is done manually or by voice. The greatest concern derived from the study is that drivers perceived the voice-to-text method as safer, even though it wasn’t. The study also revealed it actually took twice as long to use voice-to-text as opposed to manual texting because of the time required to correct errors.

April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month, and North Carolina’s Department of Transportation highlighted this point by producing two public service announcements videos that illustrate a driver’s diminished mental capacity when using a cell phone while driving. North Carolina currently bans all drivers from texting while operating a motor vehicle on the road. Drivers under 18 and school bus drivers are banned from all cell phone use while driving. The lone exception is for dialing 911 for an emergency. The North Carolina Legislature has previously considered banning cell phone use, including hands free devices, but has yet to pass a more comprehensive law that would outlaw general cell phone use by all drivers on the road.

Old Cell PhoneLast year in North Carolina, 904 accidents were reported where an electronic device was a contributing factor. The World Health Organization has summarized the effects of mobile phone use, stating that cell phone use can cause drivers to take their eyes off the road, their hands off the steering wheel, and their minds off the roads and surrounding locations. Not thinking about the road while driving is called a cognitive distraction that leads to slower reaction times, shorter following distances, and inability to stay in the correct lane. Another study from the University of Utah compared drunk driving to driving while using a cell phone and concluded that while the impaired driving manifested itself in different ways, the effects of cell phone use impairment were just as profound as those while driving under the influence.

Car accident injuries are life changing, regardless of whether they occurred because of a drunk driver or a driver distracted by his or her cell phone. Insurance claims must be made and damages proven in order to receive the compensation that is needed. To succeed in a civil action, the injured party must show that his or her injuries were caused by the other’s negligent driving, provide documentation of the medical bills incurred, and produce evidence of any need for future medical care.

The experienced North Carolina car accident attorneys at Auger & Auger have handled numerous personal injury claims and will aggressively fight for the compensation an injured person needs to cover the lost wages, medical bills, and other expenses incurred because of a car accident. They know your distracted driver case is unique and that the other party needs to be held accountable for their negligent driving. If you have been injured in a car accident and would like to speak to one of our attorneys, call (888) 487-0835 today.

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Impaired Driver Hits North Carolina Couple in Head-on Collision in Raleigh, North Carolina Car Accident Attorney Blog, March 19, 2013

Freedom, Safety, and Liability: Legislator Joins the Cause to Repeal North Carolina’s Motorcycle Helmet Requirement, North Carolina Car Accident Attorney Blog, March 13, 2013

A North Carolina worker who injured his back while working for a tire company sought a final settlement with a demand of $315,000 for Medicare plus $65,000 for Medicare Set-Aside (MSA), or future medical expenses not covered by Medicare. Negotiations occurred between the tire company’s insurance agency and the injured worker, with an understanding that the MSA proposed by the plaintiff would need to be approved by the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS). The defendant submitted the MSA amount of $65,000 to the CMS, which was refused. CMS ultimately determined that the plaintiff should be awarded $266,207.00 and no MSA. The defendant withdrew their offer to the injured worker, which led the injured worker to file paperwork with the North Carolina Industrial Commission and the Full Commission alleging an agreement had been reached with the defendant’s insurance agency. Both concluded there was no agreement, and the injured worker filed an appeal with the Court of Appeals.

The North Carolina Court of Appeals agreed with the Industrial Commission and the Full Commission’s assessment that no formal agreement had been reached between the injured worker and the defendant’s insurance company. The communication between the worker and the insurance company revealed a discussion of $65,000 for MSA and a settlement around $300,000 for the injured worker’s Medicare. However, the defendant’s agreement to pay for the $65,000 hinged on the approval of the CMS. Because the CMS refused the amount and left the medical payment issue open, the Court of Appeals found that there was no meeting of the minds and upheld the Commissions’ Ruling.

This case demonstrates the ways in which workers’ compensation law stretches beyond proof an injury occurred while on the job and the costs incurred because of the employment-related injury. Most of the time cases are settled between the parties and are not tried in front of a jury or fact finder. Settlements are memorialized by a Settlement Agreement which is essentially a contract between the parties. This document typically shows how much the injured party will be paid to be made whole and releases the defendant employer from future liability.

Contracts are supposed to reflect a “meeting of the minds”, or that the parties agree on terms; thus, they are usually written in one formal document. However, one party may state (as the injured worker did in the case described above) that an agreement was reached and reflected by multiple pieces of informal communication instead of one formal document. A judge or fact-finder may determine that the communication reflects a meeting of the minds and that a binding agreement exists between the parties.

The North Carolina workers’ compensation attorneys of Auger and Auger have extensive workers’ compensation experience and understand the art of negotiating a settlement that best serves the client’s needs. If you have been injured at your workplace and need assistance with your workers’ compensation claim, call our office at (888) 487-0835.

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Allegations Of Patient Abuse At A North Carolina Skilled Nursing Facility Prompt Lawsuit, North Carolina Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, March 31, 2013

Mistreated Victims of Sexual Assault at North Carolina College Raise Questions of Accountability and Liability, North Carolina Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, March 11, 2013

North Carolina’s Court of Appeals recently held that an injured plaintiff can proceed with his medical malpractice action against a thoracic surgeon in Durham County. The defendant hospital and surgeon moved for directed verdict after the injured plaintiff presented their case. The judge awarded a directed verdict to the defendants based on the testimony of the plaintiff’s witness who compared the standard of care at the hospital where the injury occurred to similar hospitals across the nation.

Emergency Room SignThe injured party was a delivery truck driver who began to experience pain and numbness in his left arm. He was diagnosed with Thoracic Outlet Syndrome, a condition where there is inadequate nerve supply due to the first rib. The injured party was referred to a surgeon who took out his second rib instead of his first rib and failed to inform the driver when it was discovered by x-rays taken after the surgery. The injured party continued to have pain since the condition was not relieved, and learned of the wrongly removed rib at a post-surgical visit for an infection. Even after a second operation by a different doctor the injured party continued to have pain, numbness, and limited mobility in his left arm.

North Carolina statute N.C. Gen. Stat. Sec. 90-21.12 (2009) requires anyone suing for a personal injury caused by medical malpractice to prove by a greater weight of the evidence that they suffered harm by a health care provider who failed to give care at the standard of practice common among members of the same health care profession with similar training and experience in the same or similar communities at the time the medical procedure that led to the injury occurred. In this case the judge determined, that a directed verdict in favor of the defendant should be given based on the expert’s testimony which compared the medical care of the defendant doctor and hospital to a national standard rather than the community standard of care the North Carolina statute requires.

In this decision, the Court of Appeals looked at a North Carolina Supreme Court decision that determined an expert standard of care testimony met the requirements of N.C. Gen. Stat. Sec. 90-21.12. In that case, the expert looked at the defendant’s peer institutions for a sense of physician skill and training and the hospital’s facilities, equipment, and funding, and did not limit his comparison to hospitals within a certain geographic region. (See Rucker v. High Point Mem’l Hosp., 285 N.C. 519, 206 S.E.2d 196 (1974). Based on this precedence, the Court of Appeals determined that the lower court erred in their assessment, and reversed the directed verdict which allows the injured party to continue his medical malpractice case against the defendant hospital and physician.

North Carolina Personal Injury attorneys Arlene Auger and Herbert Auger know the importance of fighting for their clients for the compensation they are due, even in the face of adverse court rulings. With several years of personal injury litigation and experience, they understand the intricacies of medical evidence and the value of using an excellent expert witness who can explain the complexities of your case to a jury. If you have been injured contact the attorneys at Auger & Auger today for a free, confidential consultation at (888) 487-0835.

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Allegations Of Patient Abuse At A North Carolina Skilled Nursing Facility Prompt Lawsuit, North Carolina Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, March 31, 2013

Mistreated Victims of Sexual Assault at North Carolina College Raise Questions of Accountability and Liability, North Carolina Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, March 11, 2013

Two pedestrian car accidents marked the end of March in North Carolina. One gentleman was killed by a van and another man was hit by a car while walking to work. The North Carolina Highway Patrol has investigated 497 pedestrian accidents over the last five years, 88 of which involved fatalities. Inattentiveness has been a common factor for both the pedestrian and the driver.

Look Both WaysPedestrians hit by a vehicle can sustain a variety of injuries that can leave the injured party merely scratched and bruised or dealing with a complex set of ailments requiring intensive medical care. Serious injuries come at great cost to the injured – lost wages, medical bills, and property damage expenses on top of increased stress. An injured pedestrian has several avenues of recourse to be made whole and hold the negligent driver accountable. Depending on the circumstances, the state of North Carolina may elect to press charges against the driver. Even if it does not, the injured party may file a claim with the driver’s insurance company or seek to sue the negligent driver in a personal injury action. When a pedestrian is injured in a hit-and-run car accident or the driver does not have car insurance or inadequate policy coverage, the injured pedestrian may be able to file a claim with their own auto insurance company with their Uninsured or Underinsured Motorist Coverage.

Pedestrian inattentiveness may negate the ability to collect damages from the party at fault. In North Carolina, if the injured party is also negligent, their ability to seek recovery from the party at fault is barred unless they fall into an exception established by case law. If the pedestrian placed him or herself in a perilous situation but the driver had a “last clear chance” to avoid hitting the pedestrian, then the injured pedestrian may be able to recover even though their actions contributed to the accident. Gross negligence or wanton conduct is also an exception to North Carolina’s strict contributory negligence. That exception is typically seen when a driver was driving while intoxicated, speeding, or racing. A bar from recovery may also be lifted if the pedestrian was a young child or cognitively disabled, thus unable to avoid placing themselves outside of a dangerous situation as an “ordinary person” would do.

The experienced North Carolina pedestrian accident attorneys at Auger and Auger have aggressively pursued compensation for injured clients for several years. Herbert and Arlene Auger understand that your case is unique and that compensation is greatly needed to return to normalcy. They will tirelessly pursue all avenues of redress so that you and your family can be placed on financially stable ground. If you have been injured anywhere in North Carolina as a pedestrian in a car accident, call one of our personal injury lawyers for a free, confidential consultation today.
MORE BLOG POSTS:

Impaired Driver Hits North Carolina Couple in Head-on Collision in Raleigh, North Carolina Car Accident Attorney Blog, March 19, 2013

Freedom, Safety, and Liability: Legislator Joins the Cause to Repeal North Carolina’s Motorcycle Helmet Requirement, North Carolina Car Accident Attorney Blog, March 13, 2013

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