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You want to see the country, but you also want to save money. What better answer than a summer road trip? Driving yourself instead of relying on a pilot in an airplane allows you more freedom in seeing what you want and staying for as long as you desire.

While road trips are certainly a great way to spend some time off work relaxing, they can also be dangerous. Failing to plan accordingly can set you up for hazardous situations. This is especially true when you are driving out of state and through areas you aren’t familiar with. Here’s what you should plan for before you hit the open road.

Map Your Route

Sure, it can be fun to just hop in the car and go, but it’s rarely a good idea. Mapping your route is a way to start off on the right foot, so to speak. When you know the areas you will be traveling through, you can arm yourself with all of the information you need to avoid hassles.

Traffic Laws

While some laws are relatively uniform throughout the states, like traveling at excess speeds and running through intersections, some states have unique laws. For example, in many areas, it is permissible to turn right on a red light. This is forbidden in New York City. Take a bit of time and research the traffic laws of the states you will be driving through to be sure you don’t run afoul of local officers.

At a minimum, you should look up seat belt laws, move over laws, passing laws and road rage laws. You should also be aware of hands-free and texting laws in the areas you will be in.

Mechanical Issues

Don’t make the mistake of starting out on a road trip before you have your vehicle looked at. An experienced mechanic can give your car the once-over and alert you to any issues, minor or major, that should be repaired before you drive hundreds or thousands of miles.

Aside from surprise repairs, your vehicle should be up-to-date on routine maintenance. Make sure that your oil has been changed, your tires inflated and all wheels rotates. Ensure that your fluid levels have been topped off as well.

Weather Reports

The weather can change in the blink of an eye to be certain, but you can be prepared if you have at least some idea of what to expect. Keep an eye on weather reports for the states in which you will be traveling for a week or two before you leave. Know what the forecasters are calling for and be prepared for inclement weather.

If you are involved in an accident in North Carolina during your road trip or at any other time, you may be entitled to compensation for injury and property damage. Reach out to our experienced team of car accident attorneys today for assistance in determining your legal rights.

Headlights are very useful. They not only allow you to see what’s in front of you in low-light situations, but they allow other drivers to see your vehicle more clearly. It’s fair to say that headlights are an essential part of your vehicle. Not only are they useful at night, but during the day as well. Unfortunately, your headlights might not be serving you as well as they could be.

Headlight Quality

Just over a year ago, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) released a report outlining their research on automobile headlights. The organization put 31 different vehicles through a series of tests, concentrating on headlights. The result of the study was that most headlights do not perform as well as vehicle owners believe they do.

The group looked at the configurations available on multiple 2016-model vehicles. There were a total of 82 ratings featuring headlights. The types of lights in the study included halogen, high-intensity discharge and LEDs. Adaptive headlights were studied as well as automatic and high-beam assist headlights.

The Outcome

A single vehicle, the Toyota Prius V, earned a rating of good. The vehicle is equipped with LED lights. It also has high-beam assist. The researchers found that the vehicle could travel at 70 mph and still have enough time to stop when an obstacle was seen. The Prius V with halogen lights only had enough time to stop at 50 mph.

Despite the one good rating, 44 configurations received a poor rating. The worst? The BMW 3 series that had halogen lights installed. A driver would have to be moving at speeds of 35 mph to have enough time to come to a complete stop once an obstacle became visible in its headlights.

What Was Learned

There were several valuable lessons for consumers discovered in this study. One is that paying the price for a luxury vehicle doesn’t mean that you are getting better headlights. In fact, some of the worst headlights were found on these vehicles. In other cases, the vehicle provided glare that made it dangerous for other vehicles on the road. Lastly, new technology isn’t necessarily better than old. The Honda Accord with halogen headlights fared better than the model with LED lights, for example.

There are no laws or regulations that dictate the quality of headlights. Manufacturers must take it upon themselves to improve headlights on their own. As a consumer, taking a test drive after the sun goes down may be the best way to determine if the headlights on your soon-to-be vehicle are up to par.

If you are involved in a vehicle collision in Charlotte or the surrounding area, reach out to our team of car accident attorneys. We will review the details of the crash and advise you of the legal options you have. Call now to schedule an appointment for your free case evaluation and let us assist you in securing the compensation you may be entitled to.

Whether you have been driving for years or have had your license for only a short time, you know what tailgating is. Tailgating is when a driver follows too closely to the vehicle in front of them, not providing room enough to stop without crashing into the other vehicle’s rear bumper if the front driver stops suddenly.

How far behind the vehicle in front of you should you be? When the weather is good, you should be able to count at least three seconds between the two vehicles. You can do this by waiting for the vehicle ahead to pass a stationary object and then counting the amount of time it takes you to pass the same object. When the conditions outside are less than optimal, the distance should be greater.

Studies have shown what many people may find surprising: It is often more experienced drivers that do the tailgating. No one is quite certain why, but it may because those who have more experience behind the wheel are more confident that they can handle situations that arise. Those with less experience may drive more cautiously.

Why People Tailgate

If tailgating is so dangerous, you may wonder why people do it. There are several reasons why people follow too closely. Some drivers have a higher estimation of their driving abilities, while others tailgate in an attempt to get the driver ahead to speed up, and still others believe that they can save on gas mileage by drafting, or keeping the wind from hitting their car by sticking closely to the vehicle in front.

Tailgating is Illegal

Tailgating is not only dangerous, it is illegal. When a driver causes an accident because they were following to closely to the vehicle ahead, they can be found at-fault in that accident. They can also be held liable for any injuries or property damage that occur.

Avoiding Tailgaters

Not only do you not want to be held liable for a tailgating accident, but you don’t want to be the victim of one. If you feel that someone is following you too closely for comfort, move over if it is safe to do so and let the driver pass you. You may be irritated and want to frustrate the driver behind you by slowing down. You think that you will teach them a lesson. Chances are that you will only serve to exacerbate their aggressive driving.

If you make every move you can to get the other driver off of your bumper and just can’t shake them safely, call emergency services for assistance. Don’t take matters into your own hands.

If you are involved in an accident in Charlotte, reach out to our team of experienced team of car accident attorneys for assistance. We will review the details surrounding the incident and advise you of your legal options. Call today to schedule your free case evaluation.

Few things are as frustrating as rush hour traffic. It may seem that no matter what you do, you find yourself smack in the middle of bumper-to-bumper traffic, day in and day out. The last thing you want to do Monday is go to work, and the last thing you want to have happen on your way to work is an accident.

Planning for rush hour traffic before you hit it can go a long way in helping you avoid the hassle. While you may think that you can’t avoid rush hour every day of the week, with these tips you certainly can.

1. Know the Time

It seems like one moment you are cruising along and the next you are at a standstill. Pay close attention to your local news reports in the morning and get a feel for when rush hour is at its peak. Leaving just 15 minutes before you normally do can get you over the highway at normal speeds. Even if you don’t miss rush hour altogether, you will be closer to your destination when you hit slowed traffic.

2. Choose a New Route

If you are fortunate enough to live near an area with plenty of roadways, chances are good that you can map out another route to work and avoid the highway. The highway may be the most direct route to your destination, but if you are stuck in rush hour traffic, it could actually take more time. Here’s what you can do: Drive to work during rush hour on the highway one day and take an alternate route the next. Time both trips. You may just find that the route you thought was a bit out of the way is quicker, or at least less frustrating.

3. Get Ready Ahead of Time

Part of the headache in rush hour is feeling stuck. You feel like you are going to get to work in the nick of time without enough left over to get things done. If you do things the night before, you will feel less hurried. Pack your lunch, put out your clothes and do that paperwork you brought home. By doing these things, you won’t feel quite so harried in the morning, and getting stuck in rush hour won’t be as stressful.

4. Maintain Your Lane

Keep your cool on the road if you get stuck in traffic. Driving aggressively is never a good idea. Consider the fact that if you get pulled over for your poor driving, or get an accident because of it, you will be even later. Stay in your lane, keep off the bumper in front of you and put on some relaxing music.

If you do happen to be involved in a rush hour fender bender in North Carolina, we are here for you. Reach out to our team of experienced car accident attorneys for a free case evaluation. If the other driver is found to be at fault in the accident, you may be entitled to compensation for injuries and property damage. Call today to schedule your consultation.

There are hundreds of thousands of vehicle collisions every year. Some are minor, leaving no real damage behind, and some are tragic. Knowing that you could be involved in a car accident is frightening. Realizing that you could very well be trapped in your vehicle as the result of an accident is downright terrifying.

If you are involved in a car accident in Charlotte or anywhere else in the country, knowing how to respond to being trapped in your vehicle can make all the difference. While you will certainly be afraid and anxious, remembering these tips can get you out of your car safely.

1. Stay Calm

One of the worst things that anyone can do in a stressful situation is to panic. It is easier said than done to be sure, but remaining calm will be the best thing you can do. Once your car comes to a stop, assess yourself and the situation. Take a few deep breaths and get ready to make some decisions.

2.Take a Look Around

If you can move your head without pain, look around outside of your car. If you see people, chances are that at least one has already called 911. If you don’t see anyone looking at the scene, you may be on your own. Try to remember where you last saw your phone and get it. If you can’t reach your phone or don’t know where it is, you may want to use hands-free calling if your car is equipped and you are able to do so.

3. Unbuckle Yourself

If you are upside down and need to unbuckle your seat belt, brace yourself by placing your forearm or elbow on the roof. Protecting your head is important. If you are right-side up, unbuckle your belt to give yourself a bit more freedom of movement. If you cannot unbuckle your seat belt, look for something that you can cut it with.

4. In the Water

If you end up in water, the best thing to do is to roll your window down quickly, if possible. If you are already submerged, wait until the pressure inside the vehicle is equal to the pressure outside. This makes it easier to roll the window down. When the water is at level with your shoulder, roll down the window. If the electricity to your car has already run out, you may need to kick the window out. Don’t bother kicking the windshield. Instead, you will find it easier to kick out a passenger window.

5. Stock Up Your Emergency Kit

Before your next trip, stock up your vehicle’s emergency kit. You should have a first aid kit, a flashlight, a tool to cut your seat belt, and something that will help you shatter a window. Make sure you also have a couple of bottles of water in your car, as well as a blanket.

While no one wants to be trapped in their car, it does happen. If you can remain calm and use the tips above, you stand a better chance of getting out of your vehicle safely. If you need assistance after a car accident in North Carolina, reach out to our team of car accident attorneys for a free case evaluation.

When you purchase a vehicle, you expect that it was put together properly. You rightly assume that all of the cars working parts will operate as they were intended, allowing you to drive down the road safely and without incident. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. When a vehicle fails to operate as it should, accidents can result.

If you own a Ford, Kia or Hyundai, it is important that you be aware of recent recalls, whether or not you have received your notice in the mail. If you want to check whether or not a vehicle not listed in this article has been recalled, you can do so at www.nhtsa.gov.

Ford

There have been a variety of Ford recalls recently. The story was the same for the company last year. They spend $640 million to repair a door latch recall. The door latch recall continues into this year, affecting several vehicles:

  • 2014 Fiesta
  • 2013-2014 Fusion
  • 2013-2014 Lincoln MKZ
  • 2012-2015 Focus
  • 2013-2015 Escape
  • 2013-2015 C-Max

A second recall is the result of 29 reports to date. There have been on injuries reported as of yet. This recall involves a defect that is caused by coolant circulation failure. If this occurs, the cylinder head can crack and leak oil, leading to an engine fire. This recall involves:

  • 2014 Escape
  • 2013-2014 Fusion
  • 2013-2015 Transit Connect

The last recall for Ford vehicles is one for the 2017 F-250. There was an error in manufacturing that could cause the truck to roll when it is in park. There is no remedy for the defect currently, but plans are being sent to dealerships shortly. For now, anyone with an F-250 manufactured beginning in 2015 is being asked to use the parking brake.

Kia and Hyundai

These two vehicle manufacturers have similar recalls on the books. The recall involves over one million vehicles in South Korea, Canada and the United States. If you own a 2013-2014 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport or Sonata, or a 2011-2014 Kia Optima, your vehicle may stall without warning, increasing your risk of accident.

It is not unusual for people to ignore recall notices or wait so long to schedule the repair that they forget about the recall altogether. It is important that you heed the advice on your notice if you own one of the vehicles listed above or any other that has been recalled. Failing to have the proper repairs made increases your chance of being involved in a dangerous accident.

If you are involved in an accident in Charlotte due to a manufacturer defect, you may have the legal right to compensation for property damage and injury. Reach out to our experienced team of car accident attorneys for assistance today. We will help you schedule an appointment for a free case evaluation and advise you of your legal options. You and your family should not have to suffer financially. Call now to schedule your consultation and take the first steps to making things right.

 

A Northern x Southern Copperhead (Agkistrodon contortrix) hiding on the forest floor in Illinois, USA
Copperhead

One of the best features of North Carolina is the vast expanses of wilderness. In the spring and summer, locals and tourists alike venture onto the thousands of trails throughout the state to explore the woods and mountains. Yet there is a danger in North Carolina that has made the headlines recently: snake bites.

According to the Carolinas Poison Control Center, there were 71 calls about snake bites in April. In April of 2016, there were only 19. That’s an increase of nearly 400 percent. At the current rate, the Center expects to field more than 500 snake bite calls this year. Experts believe this increase occurred because of the relatively warm weather this winter; since snakes are cold-blooded, they are more active in warm weather.

The biggest culprit of snake bites? Copperheads.

North Carolina’s Venomous Snakes

North Carolina is home to 37 species of snakes. The majority of them are not dangerous, but six species are venomous (not poisonous, as they are frequently mislabeled). They include:

  • Copperheads
  • Eastern diamondbacks
  • Cottonmouths/water moccasins
  • Canebrake rattlesnakes
  • Pigmy rattlesnakes
  • Coral snakes
A large, impressive and potentially deadly Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake poises in strike position when encountered on a south Florida roadside
Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake

Of these, the Carolinas Poison Control Center receives about 10 times more calls for copperhead bites than any other snake. The reason is two-fold. One, copperheads are the most plentiful venomous snake in North Carolina. Second, their camouflage is so good that most victims get within striking distance without ever realizing it.

While most snake bites happen out in the wild, that is not always the case. There have been reports of snakes hiding in shoes or in homes, especially during the cold months. They have also been known to seek shelter in commercial buildings as well. In 2016, a man was bitten by a copperhead while shopping in a Denver, NC Lowe’s gardening center.

Keeping Yourself Safe from Snake Bites

Eastern Coral Snake (Micrurus fulvius)
Eastern Coral Snake

Due to snakes’ tendency to seek shelter in warm, sometimes unexpected places, Dr. Michael Beuhler, medical director of the Carolinas Poison Control Center, said people should be especially careful this spring. He advises should never put their hands where they can’t see, such as reaching into bushes or even boots. In addition, people should always carry a flashlight at night, especially if they are going into the woods.

If you come across a snake, back away slowly. Generally, snakes want to mind their own business, and only strike when they are threatened. By moving slowly, you show that you are not a threat, and the snake has nothing to worry about. Never try to capture or kill the snake, as doing so leads to about 70 to 80 percent of all bites. If you encounter a snake in your home or other building, do your best to close off the area, then call animal control.

What to Do If You’re Bitten

Though you may take every precaution possible, snake bites do happen. The good news is, more people are killed every year from bee and wasp stings than snake bites. That doesn’t means you shouldn’t take immediate action if you are bitten, however. Chances are, you won’t know if the snake is venomous or not after a bite. If you are unsure, or you know it is a venomous snake, call 911 immediately.

Cottonmouth snake with tongue out
Cottonmouth/Water Moccasin

While you are waiting on emergency personnel to arrive, there are a few things you can do to help yourself. First, remain as calm as possible and move away slowly from the snake. Do your best to remember what the snake looks like, as this will help the hospital administer the right antivenom.

If you are wearing any tight clothing or jewelry, remove it before swelling occurs. If possible, position yourself so the snake bite location is at or below your heart to make it more difficult for the venom to spread. Avoid flushing out the area with water, but instead clean it gently and wrap it in a dry, clean dressing.

Never apply a tourniquet or ice to the wound. And despite what the movies say, you should never try to bleed the venom from the wound or attempt to “suck out” the venom. Because venom moves so quickly through the body, it’s all but impossible to remove it this way. In fact, doing so can cause even greater damage to the surrounding skin. Finally, avoid any caffeine or alcohol, as these cause the body to absorb venom more quickly.

Though snake bites are on the rise in North Carolina, the good news is, the majority of these bites are non-fatal. For one, modern medical treatments can prevent death or even permanent injury when administered quickly. And second, many snake bites are “dry,” meaning no venom is actually injected. By following the tips above, you can avoid most run-ins with snakes, and ensure your own safety should you ever be bitten.

Roadway construction is dangerous work. Not only do these men and women deal with heavy equipment and inclement weather, but they must also be on the lookout for reckless drivers. Road crews are placed in hazardous conditions on a daily basis, and it is up to every driver on the road to ensure that they are not the cause of injury or death to one of these workers.

Spring time is the official kickoff to orange barrel season. Most drivers across the country will notice that road construction carries on well into the summer. As you drive this season, stay aware of what is going on around you. Here are some tips that will help you avoid an accident while driving through a construction zone.

The Types of Accidents That Occur

Most of the accidents that occur in construction zones are the side-swiping of equipment, rear-end collisions and hitting workers. Many are caused when a driver is either speeding through the zone or paying attention to something else. Distracted driving is the cause of a great number of accidents, both in and out of construction zones.

Causes of Crashes

As we have said, distracted driving is a top cause of accidents inside of construction zones. A vehicle driver may be talking on their cell phone, texting, or doing any number of things behind the wheel that take their attention away from the road ahead.

Another cause of accidents that is relatively common in construction zones is merging. Drivers may ignore signs that a lane is closed ahead until the last minute, speeding up to cut in front of another driver. If you see a lane-closure sign or a sign alerting you to construction ahead, move where instructed sooner rather than later.

How to Avoid Accidents

Avoiding accidents in construction zones is not difficult. When you see a sign telling you that a lane is closed ahead, merge into the open lane when it is safe to do so. Do not speed up and try to merge at the last possible moment in an attempt to get to the head of the line.

Leave enough space between you and the vehicle in front of you. You need room to stop should that driver slam on their brakes or slow down faster than you anticipate. If someone is tailgating you and you can do so, pull to the other lane and let them pass.

Stick to the posted speed limit when traveling through a construction zone. In many cases, the speed limit will be lowered from its normal limit to 10 or more miles-per-hour slower. This is for your safety and that of the construction workers. If you decide to speed and are pulled over, the fines will be greater than had you been caught speeding on a typical stretch of roadway.

No one expects to go to work and be injured or, worse, killed. This is as true of construction workers as it is of anyone. Use the tips above to ensure that you make it through a construction zone safely.

If you are involved in an accident in North Carolina, reach out to our team. We will review the details of your collision and advise you of your options. You may be legally entitled to compensation for your injuries and property damage. Call today to schedule a free consultation.

Being bitten by a dog can be terrifying. While most dog owners hold tight to the belief that their dog would never bite anyone, the truth is that, given the right circumstances, any dog will bite. Those who make the laws understand this, and they have put rules and restrictions in place to protect those who are bitten. Here is a brief overview of the current dog bite laws in North Carolina.

Before we begin, it is important to understand that there are laws that pertain to the state, but there are also local ordinances that may come into play in a dog bite case. If you have been bitten by a dog in Charlotte, it is best to consult an attorney to determine your specific rights.

When You Are Bitten

The first thing you want to do if you are bitten by a dog is to determine its owner. This will be helpful information should you decide to seek medical attention and in the event you file a lawsuit.

When a dog bites a person in the state of North Carolina, the law says that the dog must be quarantined for 10 days. The public health officer is permitted to determine whether the dog may be quarantined in its home or if it must be confined at the local kennel. It is illegal for the dog’s owner to not comply with the quarantine.

One Bite Law

North Carolina, and many other states across the country, follow what is known as the one-bite-law. This means that if you are bitten by a dog who has no history of biting a human, you may be unable to sue the dog’s owner. The exception to this rule is if the dog was permitted to run at large at night and older than six months of age.

If you are bitten by a dog that has a bite history or by one that has been labeled as being “potentially dangerous,” you are more likely to recover costs for your medical bills from the dog’s owner. A dog may be labeled as “potentially dangerous” if:

  • It has terrorized or harassed someone while off its property
  • It has killed or injured an animal while on its property
  • It has caused injury to a person in such a way that broken bones or disfigurement occurred or the injuries required hospitalization or plastic surgery

What You May Recover

In the event of a dog bite, you may qualify for compensation in the state of North Carolina. You may recover:

  • Medical bills
  • Lost income
  • Pain and suffering
  • Property damage
  • Loss of consortium

If you have been bitten by a dog in Charlotte, reach out to our team of experienced dog bite attorneys. We will review the details of your case and advise you of your legal options. Call today to schedule your appointment for a free case evaluation and let us help you recover what you are owed.

Do you feel aggravated when you drive? Irritated? Maybe you even feel as though the next person who cuts you off is going to get a piece of your mind. It’s not unusual for people to feel stressed out while they are driving, but that stress could be the reason you get into an accident. Here are a few stressful situations you may encounter and what you can do to keep yourself calm the next time you slip behind the wheel.

1. Construction

No one likes running into construction. Let’s face it: it slows things down. Unfortunately, spring is known as orange barrel season throughout the country, and that construction often carries long into the summer.

The easiest way to avoid this stress is to avoid the construction. Keep an eye on the local traffic reports before you leave for work, and know where the construction is taking place. If you know that there is construction on your way to work, map an alternate route or leave early if it can’t be avoided.

2. Rush Hour Merging

Merging onto a congested highway is enough to cause anyone’s blood pressure to rise. If you aren’t entirely experienced with highway driving, experts suggest practicing merging when traffic isn’t so congested. This way, you will be confident in your abilities and feel less stressed when bumpers are riding more closely together.

3. You Get Lost

Getting lost while driving brings about a feeling of helplessness. At times, it may even be a bit frightening. Instead of driving on and on until you finally figure out where you are going, pull over and take a breath. Calm your nerves, pull out your GPS and re-calculate your route.

4. Stuck at a Train Crossing

Some trains virtually fly by. Others seem like they may stretch all the way to the neighboring state. If you are stuck at a train crossing watching railroad cars that seem like they are never going to end, don’t get frustrated. If you can turn around safely, you have that option. If you choose to stay put, work out your plan for the day in your head. Take a moment for a few deep, calming breaths. Instead of getting angry, enjoy the few minutes extra that you have to yourself.

5. Backseat Drivers

A backseat driver may be behind you, or they may be sitting right beside you. If the passenger in your car insists on telling you how to drive, the most appropriate response is no response at all. Engaging the person in an argument will only heighten your stress and encourage a fight. Instead, stay silent and hope that they will get the hint.

Stress behind the wheel can quickly turn ugly if you let it. Use the tips above to keep your blood pressure from rising. If you follow the tips, you could very well avoid an accident brought on by careless driving.

If you happen to be involved in a car accident in North Carolina, reach out to our team of experienced accident attorneys. We will review your case for free and advise you of your legal options. Call today to schedule your appointment.

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