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In 20 years, owning a regular car will be like owning a horse: cool, but an unusual mode of routine transportation. Sure, you’ll always have those who prefer driving themselves, but they will become a rarity. As technology continues to rapidly evolve, manually driving a car will soon be as unlikely as seeing a horse and carriage on a highway.

At least, that’s where innovators like Elon Musk think the world is headed, and for good reason. The interest in and production of autonomous (self-driven) vehicles has drastically increased in the past decade, and more car manufacturers are taking the plunge into self-driving technology. Musk has led the crusade with self-driving Teslas, but if the technology continues to improve, conventional manufacturers like Ford and Chevrolet and many others will soon have affordable, autonomous vehicles in their lineup as well.

In a recent TEDTalk interview, Musk covered a great many topics, including artificial intelligence and living on Mars. Part of that interview, however, was dedicated to the future of automobiles and, specifically, autonomous cars. Here’s in part what he had to say:

Autonomous Cars Doesn’t Mean Less Traffic

As it stands, public transportation is a vital necessity in big cities. Residents often don’t want to sit in traffic, and the risk of car accidents is enough to keep a lot of drivers off the road. But, when most cars are autonomous, Musk says traffic will be far worse. Why? Shared autonomous vehicles.

Think of it like Uber or Lyft, but without a driver. It’ll likely be much cheaper and more convenient to simply call an autonomous car to pick you up, rather than waiting on a bus. As such, more and more cars will be on the road at any given moment. And with more cars on the road comes more congestion.

Cars Must See Like Humans to Be Successfully Autonomous

As you can imagine, getting autonomous vehicles to actually detect obstacles like other cars, pedestrians, signs and traffic lights is quite a challenge.  Not only will they have to do those things, but they will have to do it as fast and as safely as a human driver. Musk has nearly perfected this aspect in one model of the Tesla. Rather than using laser guided technologies such as LIDAR, like Google uses in their self-driving cars, Tesla uses cameras and GPS to allow their cars to “see” similarly to how a human would.

This technology is called “passive optical.” It’s how humans see the world. RADAR is also used to assist in conditions like heavy rain or snow. Musk says that once vision is solved, autonomy is solved. He plans to prove the effectiveness of this technology by “driving” from Los Angeles to New York completely autonomously by the end of 2017.

Reliability Is the Key to the Market

Road trips are a good way to put the future of self-driving cars in perspective.  If you have had to drive a long distance, chances are you either took turns driving with a friend, stayed awake by drinking a lot of coffee or occasionally stopped for rest at some point along the way.  Being alert and well rested is definitely the safest way to drive. Staying alert and focused won’t be a problem in the future though, because you will be able to rest, relax or even work while your car does the heavy lifting and gets you safely to your destination in a timely manner.  

Musk says this reality is only a couple of years away. It’s a matter of changing the likelihood of a crash from 1 in a 1,000 to, “If you live a thousand lifetimes, there’s still a great chance you’ll never crash.” Of course, with manual cars on the road, being in a wreck that isn’t your fault is still a possibility. But when autonomous cars dominate the market, the likelihood of a wreck drops to practically zero.

So, When Will We Really Have an Autonomous Car?

The way Elon Musk sees it, is that in 10 years, all the cars produced will be autonomous. However, new vehicle production is only about 5 percent of the current fleet. Cars and trucks last about 15 to 20 years before being scrapped. So new vehicle production is only about 1/15th of all the cars on the road. Based on that figure, it will take an additional 5 to 10 years before a majority of the fleet become autonomous.  That means in 20 years there is a very real possibility that all vehicles will be fully autonomous.

Before that can become a reality, though, laws must adapt to autonomous cars. As of now, 21 states have some kind of legislation on the books regulating self-driving cars. In addition, the National Highway and Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) recently issued new guidelines for the manufacturing of self-driving cars. These guidelines include:

  • Vehicle performance guidelines
  • Model state policy
  • NHTSA’s current regulatory tools
  • Possible new regulations as the technology develops

While owning an autonomous car may still seem like a leap into the world of science fiction, the technology will become a reality.  The future of self-driving cars will change many things in our day to day lives including how we travel and where and when we go. It’s simply now a matter of creating a vehicle that the market will transition from focusing on the owner’s experience of driving to the owner’s new role as only a passenger.  

It’s no secret that distracted driving causes accidents. Even though people know they should focus their attention on the road ahead when they are behind the wheel, they tend to perform a variety of activities while driving. Anything that occurs in your car while you are driving can be a distraction. You could be the source of the distraction or it could be a passenger.

Fortunately, there are easy ways to avoid becoming distracted while you are driving. Use the tips below the next time you slide behind the wheel of your car so that you can keep your attention on the task at hand.

Ways You Can Avoid Distracted Driving

1. Get Up Earlier

You don’t have to set your alarm for an hour earlier than normal – even 15 minutes can give you the time you need to get things done. Grooming, personal hygiene and eating should all be done before you leave the house. Get up early enough to make sure you aren’t feeling forced to do any of these things behind the wheel.

2.  Put Your Phone in the Backseat

When your phone is sitting right next to you, it can be hard to not answer it or check an alert. Put your phone in the backseat and out of your reach. It will take some getting used to, but after a few days you’ll be more comfortable with it. Remind yourself that taking your eyes off the road for even a few seconds is dangerous.

3. Secure Everything

Loose items can go flying when you have to stop quickly or you take a turn a bit too fast. Secure all of your belongings so they don’t roll, spill or slide around in your vehicle. If you have a coffee spill, for example, you’ll be tempted to bed down to sop up the liquid. This could be dangerous. If your coffee cup is secure, it won’t happen.

4. Don’t Get Lost

Chances of getting lost during your commute is slim to none. Chances of getting lost while traveling to an unfamiliar destination is much higher. Make sure you have programmed your GPS before you leave and, if you do get lost, pull over to the side of the road to regain your bearings.

5. Keep the Passengers Quiet

Passengers in your car want to talk, either to you or to each other. Kindly ask your passengers to keep their voices down and, if you feel the need, ask them to stop talking altogether. It’s not rude – it’s safe.

If you are involved in an accident in Charlotte due to distracted driving, you have legal rights. You may be entitled to compensation for injuries, property damage and more. Do not assume that you have no recourse. Reach out to our experienced team of personal injury attorneys for assistance. Your first consultation will be held at no cost to you. Call today or browse our website for more information about our firm and the types of cases we handle.

Think back to the last time you were sick. Think about the last time you suffered an injury. If you are like most people, you didn’t take it quite as easy as you should have. Maybe you have children who need to be looked after. Perhaps you have a job that doesn’t allow you to take extended sick leave.

No matter the reason, you aren’t one to rest on your laurels, no matter the situation. If this sounds like you, you need to be mindful of your behaviors if you are injured in a car accident.

Post-Injury Behavior

If you have been injured in a car accident and filed a claim with insurance or a personal injury claim in court, you need to be very careful of how you behave. One misinterpreted social media post or a quick trip to the store could have an investigator accusing you of fraud.

1. Stay Home

If you have sustained an injury, stay home for as long as your doctor tells you to do so. Staying home doesn’t mean that you can take a trip to the market or even drive to the fast-food place on the corner. It means that you need to stay home.

2. Get Off Social Media

Don’t post about your injuries while you are recovering. Don’t complain or brag. Don’t post photos of your injuries. Any of these behaviors could get you in hot water.

3. Don’t Exaggerate

Don’t be tempted to exaggerate your injuries after you have been involved in a car accident. Insurance adjusters and defense attorneys have been through the investigative process hundreds of times. They know how a strain affects a person, and they know what a broken bone can do to a person. Don’t over-dramatize your injuries in hopes of receiving more compensation – you may not receive any.

Why Is It So Important to Be Honest?

The biggest reason to be honest about your injuries and to follow your doctor’s instructions is to avoid negating any claim for compensation that you follow. Additionally people that fake their injuries in a car accident may be exposing themselves to charges of insurance fraud.

You read that correctly. Not only could you lose out on your chance for adequate compensation, but you could also face criminal charges should you be accused of and found guilty of misrepresenting your injuries following a collision. Depending on the unique set of circumstances, you could be charged with a misdemeanor or a felony.

You can be accused of faking the severity of your injuries even if you aren’t. It’s in your best interest to avoid the assumption that your injuries aren’t what you have perpetrated them to be. Stay mindful of your behaviors following your car accident.

If you have been involved in a car accident in Charlotte, you have legal rights. Call our experienced car accident attorneys today to discover what those rights are. We will discuss your case with you at no cost and help you determine which steps to take.

If you have been involved in a car accident, either on your own or with one or more other vehicles, your biggest hurdles will come after the crash. Recovery can be a long process, especially if you have been seriously injured. In many instances, people have to deal with not only physical recovery, but mental recovery as well. The emotional trauma some sustain as the result of a car accident is very real and must be taken as seriously as physical injury.

Emotional Healing Tips

If you are experiencing mental anguish or anxiety after a car accident, it’s important to understand that what you’re feeling is real. You aren’t making it up. Your mental health is just as important as your physical health, and you need to look after yourself. Here are a few ways to do that:

  1. Take all the time you need. Don’t be in a rush to feel the same way you did before the accident. Be patient and give voice to your feelings. The stress and anxiety you are feeling is not unusual, and it will take time to get your emotions in check.
  2. Talk it out with someone you trust. Don’t try to keep your anxiety bottled inside – it will only make it worse. Talk to a family member or friend that you trust. Putting words to your feelings will do more for you than you may think.
  3. Take care of you. It is not unusual for people who are feeling anxiety about anything to begin neglecting themselves. Make sure you are eating and sleeping and try to get some exercise. Do not self-medicate with alcohol or drugs.
  4. Get out and try to enjoy life. Pick up a new hobby or visit with old friends. Do not get so mired down in your mental turmoil that you lose your zest for life.

When Professional Help May Be Necessary

Not everyone can deal with their anxiety on their own. There may come a time when you need professional help. If your thoughts are worrying you, if your anxiety is preventing you from taking care of yourself, or your anxiety has persisted despite having tried to cope on your own, it is time to reach out for help.

When your anxiety and stress lasts for an extended period of time, you may have a more serious condition. Post-traumatic stress disorder is a very real possibility following a car accident and is typically handled differently than “everyday” anxiety.

No matter how you choose to help yourself, make sure that you do. Your feelings are valid and experienced by many after a collision. Do not be embarrassed about how you feel and know that there is help available.

If you have been involved in a car accident in Charlotte, reach out to our experienced team of attorneys for assistance today. We will review your case at no cost to you and advise you of your legal options. Call today to schedule your case evaluation.

teens driving a car on a sunny dayIt’s a call that no parent wants: their child has just been involved in a car accident. The last thing a parent is worried about is liability. The first thing on their mind is making sure their child is uninjured or, if they do experience an injury, that they are given the appropriate medical attention.

Once the dust settles and the facts come out, the thought of liability will come to mind. If your child was involved in a car accident, you may be held responsible. Then again, you may not. The unique circumstances of the accident will dictate who is held at fault and who will be paying for injuries and property damage.

Parental Liability

Every state across the nation has laws in place that dictate a parent’s responsibility for their children. Many states have something called the family car doctrine, which means that the owner of the car is responsible for damage that a family member causes while driving that vehicle.

As a parent, this law means that you can be held liable for your child’s accident. If your child is a legal dependent, you could be held accountable for their actions. This includes children over the age of 18 in some situations. If you consented to the use of your car and your child causes an accident, you can expect that you will be on the hook for making payments to the victim.

If, on the other hand, your child sneaks out of the house and takes your car without your permission, you can claim that you did not give consent. In these cases, you may not be held liable. Realistically, however, chances are that your child will not have the financial means on their own to pay damages to any victims.

Vicarious Liability

Even in states that do not have the family car doctrine, you could still be held responsible. Vicarious liability means that you can be held to task if your child takes the family car and has an accident simply due to your relationship with the child. You may also be found liable due to negligent entrustment if you knew that your child was a poor driver or that they weren’t licensed.

We all hope that our children are going to drive safely, but accidents happen. If your child is involved in an accident, it will typically be in your best interest to at least consult with an attorney to discover the extent to which you may be held liable.

If you are involved in a car accident in Charlotte, you have legal rights. If the other driver is found to have been at fault for causing the accident, you may be entitled to damages for injuries and loss of property. Call our office today to schedule an appointment for a free case evaluation and learn more about your rights. We are here for you and your family and will help you take the appropriate next steps.

man holding his neck after a car wreckPeople who consider traumatic brain injuries often picture people lying in hospital beds being supported by tubes and machines. While this may be the case in some injuries, it is not true for all. Traumatic brain injury does not have to be severe to have an impact on a person’s life.

Mild traumatic brain injury can occur in a number of instances, none of which have to be overly dramatic. Here are the people most at risk for a mild TBI:

  • Persons who have been involved in a car collision or rollover.
  • Those who have sustained a blow to the head while playing sports, during a fall, in a workplace incident or via any other cause.
  • Someone who has been exposed to some type of blast.

What You Need to Know About Mild TBI

Many people who sustain a severe blow to the head understand that they require medical intervention. When people don’t sustain a hard blow or do not experience symptoms immediately, they may negate seeking medical diagnosis and treatment. It’s important to understand that any jolt to the head indicates the need for a proper diagnosis.

Even when a person seeks medical treatment, they may have normal brain imaging. Those who have mild TBI may experience a loss of consciousness lasting no more than 30 minutes, post-traumatic amnesia, or an alteration of consciousness for the first 24 hours following the injury.

When people are diagnosed with a mild traumatic brain injury, they are typically diagnosed with the more commonly known “concussion.”

Do’s and Don’ts

When you are diagnosed with mild traumatic brain injury, it is important that you take it easy for a while. Don’t exert yourself while you are in recovery. This includes both mental and physical exertion. Make sure that you are getting enough sleep at night, and stick to a routine. This means sleeping, waking and eating at the same times each day.

Avoid using any downtime you have to play sports or exercise. Do not consume caffeine if you can help it. If you simply can’t make it through your day without your morning cup of coffee, make that the only one you have during the day. Don’t stay up late, and try to rest your brain. In other words, avoid reading, studying or even playing video games.

People sustain mild traumatic brain injury every day and one of the most common causes is vehicle collisions. If you have been involved in a car accident, it’s important to seek medical attention, even if you feel fine.

Any person who has been involved in a car accident in Charlotte may have the right to compensation for property damage and injury. Reach out to our knowledgeable team of car accident attorneys today to schedule a case evaluation. We will review the details of your accident and advise you of your legal options. There is help available for you and your family.

You may have a plan for your money. You could be saving for major life events like a home, marriage or even children. What many people don’t save for are tragic events like car accidents. The medical expenses incurred following a car accident can be debilitating. For example, a three-day hospital stay can cost tens of thousands of dollars or more depending on the severity of the injuries.

The initial medical costs following a car accident vary as every accident is different.  Remember those initial costs for an ER visit or hospital stay don’t include follow-up care costs which could involve additional treatments to other doctors for diagnostic testing, treatment, therapy or even additional surgeries. You could also have to pay for extensive medical visits, prescription medications and medical equipment. The costs associated with a car accident add up quickly and that is one of the reasons that accident victims hire attorneys to help them with their injury claims or even with have to file a personal injury lawsuit following a collision.

Medical Costs

Following a car accident, you may be presented with a variety of medical costs. You may have to pay for emergency medical services provided by EMS responders (ambulance, life flight, etc.) radiology, physicians, nurses, therapists and medication. You may have to pay for medical equipment, physical therapy, chiropractic care or inpatient or outpatient rehabilitation.

Once these medical costs begin to add up, people often become anxious. People with health insurance are often concerned with how they will be able to afford their deductibles, co-pays or out of pocket costs.  Uninsured accident victims face serious bills as well, however they can find themselves in a difficult position to find medical providers that can treat them without having insurance.  Accidents affect a victim’s physical and financial health.  Accidents often result in people being unable to work.  That can be a long or short term problem.  An inability to pay for medical costs is not unusual, and it can impact a person’s credit dramatically.

Unpaid Medical Bills

Close to 43 million Americans have some sort of medical debt. Hospitals and medical providers don’t wait long for payment. It’s not unusual for accounts to be sent to collection agencies before the injured person has settled their personal injury claim. If you are unable to pay your medical bills, you may find that your credit impacted and a problem with being able to make ends meet.

Additionally, credit problems caused by unpaid medical bills can cause issues when trying to rent or buy housing, purchase a vehicle, secure employment or even negotiate an insurance premium. It is important for people to do everything within their power to ensure that their medical bills are paid in a timely manner, and this may include filing  a personal injury lawsuit. When another person is found to be at fault in a vehicle collision, the victim should not be forced to suffer with physical, emotional or financial difficulties.

If you have been involved in a car accident in Charlotte, Raleigh, Asheville, Greensboro or elsewhere in North Carolina, our team is here to assist you. Call our office today to schedule an appointment for a case evaluation. We will discuss your accident with you, advise you of your legal options and help you take the next steps appropriate for your unique situation. Do not assume that you have no recourse. Our team is ready to help you get the compensation you deserve so that your financial health is impacted in the least way possible. Call today or browse our website for more information about our firm.

two cars on the road after an accidentWhen you are involved in a car accident, you immediately experience feelings of fear and even anxiety. You may believe that these feelings will subside during the days and weeks following the accident, and you could be right. For many people, however, the emotional toll of a car accident is long lasting and can impact their daily lives.

Risk Factors of PTSD

There are several risk factors that have been found to contribute to whether or not a person experiences PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) following a car accident. These include having experienced a traumatic event in the past, the difficulties one experienced in dealing with that past traumatic event and a family history of emotional problems.

Other risk factors include whether or not the traumatic event was life-threatening, how much support a person received following the trauma and the immediate emotional response following the trauma.

Signs of PTSD Following a Car Accident

After a car accident, a person may wonder if they are experiencing symptoms of PTSD. While some feelings of distress and even anger are normal after a collision, lasting feelings may indicate that something more is going on. Here are symptoms that are typically associated with PTSD.

  • Reminders of the event trigger anxiety and an increased heart rate. You may hear a horn or even screeching tires and feel panicked.
  • You are more on edge than typical when driving. You frequently check your mirrors and look over your shoulder to be sure nothing is coming at you.
  • You may attempt to avoid driving on the highway or on specific roads. You may go out of your way to not drive on certain roads, despite adding time to your commute.

You may experience one or all of these symptoms of PTSD following a car accident. While every person is different, these feelings should subside over time. When they don’t, a person may be experiencing PTSD.

Getting Help

There are many different treatments for those suffering with PTSD.  If you or a loved one is experiencing a problem with dealing with emotional issues, fear, anxiety, depression or other mental health matter, please speak to a doctor about it as soon as possible.  If you have a primary care physician speak to them about your treatment options.  If you have health insurance, your health insurance company may be able to provide you with a list of providers that handle matters related to PTSD or its accompanying symptoms.  If it is an emergency, please call 911.  You don’t have to suffer in silence.

No matter how someone chooses to help themselves, the important thing to know is that there is a way to overcome emotional distress and the way that you are or someone you love is feeling today does not have to be permanent.

If you have been involved in a car accident in Charlotte or elsewhere in North Carolina,  you may be entitled to compensation for physical and emotional injuries. Reach out to our experienced team of car accident attorneys to discover more about your legal options. A consultation with our office to see if we can help won’t cost you a dime. Call now to speak to someone about how we may be able to help.

screw puncturing a tireIt’s something some people have experienced and many hope to never experience again: a flat tire. Whether you hear the sudden “click click” of a screw in your tire or feel that tremendous jolt that occurs due to a blown tire, your thoughts immediately turn to the expense of being forced to purchase a replacement or, worse, several new tires.

It is never a good idea to drive on a tire that is damaged or losing pressure.  In some cases, a damaged tire may be able to be repaired.  Here is some info:  (Please note that it is a best safety practice to always replace a damage tired with a spare tire or have your car towed to a repair shop instead of driving on a damaged tire.) 

Repairable Issues

Traveling at highway speeds and even slower residential speeds makes it impossible to see every small object in the road. Running over a pothole is avoidable in many cases, avoiding a nail or screw is not.

When you run over a nail or screw and it sticks into the tread of your tire, you may hear a clicking noise. This is the tire or screw head striking the pavement as your tire rotates. The noise can be frightening, but closer inspection will reveal a minor problem.

A puncture from a nail or screw that is smaller than a quarter-inch in diameter can be plugged. There are kits you can purchase that will allow you to make the repair at home. Even though a do it yourself repair may be a cheaper solution, taking your vehicle to a local mechanic or tire-repair shop for professional tire diagnostics may be a your best bet.  They are trained to know whether or not the tire can be repaired.  It should be noted that repair shops are only permitted to plug small punctures in the tread. If the nail or screw has entered the shoulder or sidewall of your tire, you will need to replace the tire.

Replaceable Issues

A gash, split or tear in your tire is not repairable. When these things occur, your tire will have to be replaced. If your tire has bulged due to some defect and split, it will need to be replaced. While it can be costly, it is far safer and cheaper in the long run.  Driving on bad tires is unsafe and against the law.

Reacting to a Flat

If you have a tire that is losing air pressure or has suddenly gone flat, do not drive on it.  A malfunctioning tire may not be your only problem. If the tire blows you could potentially find yourself in a very bad accident. Also it can cause damage to your brakes, suspension or other working components of your vehicle. Driving on a flat can also damage the wheel itself, resulting in even more expensive repairs.  When you see that you have a damaged tire, replace it with a spare or call a tow truck so you can have the damaged tire evaluated and repaired or replaced.  Tires can be replaced, you can’t!

If you are involved in a car accident in Charlotte, you have legal rights. Reach out to our team of experienced car accident attorneys today to discover more about your options and next steps. We will review the details of your accident at no cost to you and help you make the best decisions for your unique situation. Call today to schedule your free case evaluation.

woman wearing a neck brace after a car accidentMost people have read or been given the advice that it is important to seek medical care after a car accident. It is an obvious need if you know that you have been injured, but it is an ignored need when injuries are not so apparent. Even if the accident wasn’t that serious, you may experience pain that is delayed. Seeking medical treatment even if you don’t feel injured should be a priority.

When a person is involved in an accident, they may experience immediate pain upon impact, signalling an injury. In other cases, a person may not feel any discomfort for days or weeks following an accident. Here are the most commonly delayed injury-induced symptoms following a collision.

1. Headache

We all have headaches now and again. A headache following a car accident may not be a garden-variety type of pain. A headache that occurs after an accident could by a symptom of whiplash, a concussion or even a more serious brain injury.

2. Shoulder and Neck Pain

This type of pain may not appear for days after an accident. Neck and shoulder pain may indicate that you have suffered whiplash, or it may signify something more serious like a herniated disc or injury to the spine.

3. Back Pain

Back pain following an accident should not be chalked up to “normal.” When you experience back pain following a car accident, it could be as simple as a pulled muscle or as serious as a problem with the spine or spinal cord.

4. Tingling or Numbness

If you experience tingling or numbness in your extremities or any part of your body, it could be indicative of a serious medical condition. In many cases, this type of sensation is due to a pinched nerve.

5. Pain in the Abdomen

If you have pain in your abdomen, either a sharp pain or tenderness, seek medical care immediately. Abdominal pain can mean that you have internal, soft-tissue injuries. These can be very serious and, in some cases, prove fatal if not treated.

6. Emotional Disturbances

It is not unusual for a person who has been in an auto accident to experience emotional disturbances. If you are experiencing stress, anxiety or depression following your accident, it may be emotional, but it may also be physical. Damage to the brain can manifest in changes in mood and behavior.

If you have been involved in a car accident, medical attention is important, even if you don’t experience immediate symptoms. You could have injuries that won’t make themselves known for several days. A medical professional understands the ways your body could respond to a collision and will know what to look for.

When a person is involved in a car accident in Charlotte that is due to someone’s error or negligence, they have legal rights. Reach out to our experienced team of personal injury attorneys to discover more about your options following a vehicle collision.

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