Carolina Accident Lawyers

Auto Recalls and Product Liability for Car Manufacturers

Auto Recalls and Product Liability for Car Manufacturers

 

Auto Recalls and Product Liability for Car Manufacturers

Charlotte, NC Attorney

Most people ignore notices that they receive announcing a recall by an automobile maker due to a defect it discovered. These recalls have increased in frequency in the last few years. ABC News indicates that more vehicles were recalled in 2014 than in any other year before that, and a total of 550 recall notices were issued by carmakers for more than fifty million vehicles during that year. During the first eight months of 2015, carmakers conducted nearly 500 different campaigns to recall defective cars, which affected over 32.4 million vehicles. This is why car owners have to be vigilant in being on the lookout for recall notices, because the result of doing otherwise may be serious injuries or even death.

Takata Recall

One of the most significant of these recalls that occurred in 2015 involves the Takata airbags. Takata is a Japanese car parts manufacturer, which, in 2015, issued one of the largest recalls in history for making defective airbags. The company conducted a recall campaign for its airbags that affected approximately 34 million vehicles. The defect in the Takata airbags made them vulnerable to exploding upon impact, thereafter causing shrapnel to cause significant bodily injuries to drivers and passengers. Several individuals in the U.S. have died or sustained serious injuries because of these defective airbags. Multiple makes and models are affected, including cars manufactured by Toyota, Nissan, Ford, Chrysler, Honda, and others.

A South Carolina family has filed a wrongful death suit against Takata for the 2006 death of Joel Knight. Knight was driving home in his 2006 Ford Ranger when he struck a cow in the road, causing his air bag to be deployed. Autopsy reports indicated that a large metal shrapnel from the airbag struck him in the neck, severing his spinal cord and causing his death.

Products Liability

Car owners usually receive a recall notice in the mail if there is a defect in their automobiles. These notices provide instructions on what to do next, including where repairs may be made and how those repairs will be paid for. Recall information is also readily available from the National Transportation Safety Board’s SaferCar.gov site, which allows users to search for a vehicle’s VIN number to see if any recalls apply.

However, there are instances in which a vehicle defect is not discovered and no recall is issued. If this occurs, and people have no notice of the defect, then accidents may occur that could not have been foreseen. One of two things may occur: either the defect directly causes the vehicle crash, or the defect worsens injuries resulting from the crash. If a driver or passenger sustains injuries as a result, then he or she may be able to obtain compensation for those injuries from the vehicle or vehicle part manufacturer, the vehicle or vehicle part distributor, or the car dealer. You should seek the help of an experienced personal injury attorney, such as Justin Bice of the law firm of Bice Law, LLC in North or South Carolina, to help you navigate the complex process of filing suit and proving liability.

Bice Law, LLC can help you seek compensation for your injuries caused by defective products. Contact us today for a free initial consultation by calling our toll-free number at (855) 500-BICE or by submitting our online form. Consulting an attorney as early as possible in your case can make an impact as to achieving positive outcomes, so do not hesitate to contact us today.

Contact the Personal Injury Law Firm of Bice Law

The personal injury firm of Bice Law will examine your case to determine the type and amount of damages that your injury warrants, including payments for medical expenses, lost income, pain and suffering, and any permanent disability.  We’ll determine whether an out-of-court settlement or trial is the best strategy to obtain maximum benefits for you or your family. If you have suffered injury or harm because of someone else’s actions, take the first step to protect your legal rights – contact the personal injury firm of Bice Law serving both North and South Carolina. You only have a limited time after your injury to file a claim, so act quickly.  Call (855) 500-BICE today or submit an online request  to get a free consultation with a  personal injury attorney. We serve families across both North Carolina and South Carolina.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Aggressive Driving in North Carolina

Aggressive Driving in North Carolina

Charlotte, NC Attorney

Aggressive driving is often cited as the cause of many accidents on the road, and it includes a wide range of high-risk, reckless, and potentially dangerous driving behaviors. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) defines aggressive driving as something that occurs when a person commits a combination of moving traffic offenses so as to endanger other persons or property. There are various behaviors that, alone or together, are indicative of aggressive driving such as excessive and unnecessary honking, rude gestures, and yelling at other drivers, recklessly weaving in and out of lanes, cutting off other motorists, passing slow moving vehicles excessively, and running red lights or stop signs.

The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found by analyzing NHTSA data that as much as 56% of all accidents that occurred between 2003 and 2007 involved some form of aggressive driving. Additionally, as much as two-thirds of all traffic deaths could be linked to aggressive driving. The AAA found through a national telephone survey found nearly eight out of every 10 people surveyed rated aggressive drivers as a serious or extremely serious traffic safety problem. If you have been injured in a car accident because of the aggressive or reckless driving of another in North or South Carolina, you should consult with a seasoned personal injury attorney such as Justin Bice of the law firm of Bice Law, LLC.

North Carolina Reckless Driving Law

North Carolina is one of 15 states that have enacted legislation aimed at curbing aggressive driving. 11 of these states have adopted definitions of aggressive or reckless, including North Carolina. Under this statute, reckless driving is speeding and driving carelessly and heedlessly in willful or wanton disregard of the rights or safety of others or driving without due caution and at a speed or in a manner so as to endanger or be likely to endanger any person or property.

Aggressive Driving Instances in North Carolina

The North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) tracks data on contributing circumstances in car accidents across the state and publishes it in a report. This data provides a picture for the most common indicators of aggressive driving in North Carolina.

Speed was a factor in various circumstances, such as failure to reduce speed, exceeding safe speed for conditions, or exceeding the authorized speed limit. Speed was cited in 72,110 car accidents in North Carolina in 2014, including 428 fatal crashes and 40,816 injuries. The following are additional circumstances that may be counted as aggressive/reckless driving:

  • Failing to yield right of way or disregarding a yield sign was a contributing factor in 35,851 accidents that resulted in 135 fatal crashes and 13,712 injuries;
  • Following too closely was a factor in 5,101 accidents that resulted in one fatal crash and 1,559 injuries; and
  • Disregarding a stop sign was a factor in 3,337 accidents that resulted in 29 fatal crashes and 1,638 injuries.

Bice Law, LLC can help you seek compensation for your injuries caused by a car accident with an aggressive driver. Contact us today for a free initial consultation by calling our toll-free number at (855) 500-BICE or by submitting our online form. Consulting an attorney as early as possible may make an impact in the successful resolution of your case, so do not hesitate to contact us today.

Contact the Personal Injury Law Firm of Bice Law

The personal injury firm of Bice Law will examine your case to determine the type and amount of damages that your injury warrants, including payments for medical expenses, lost income, pain and suffering, and any permanent disability.  We’ll determine whether an out-of-court settlement or trial is the best strategy to obtain maximum benefits for you or your family. If you have suffered injury or harm because of someone else’s actions, take the first step to protect your legal rights – contact the personal injury firm of Bice Law serving both North and South Carolina. You only have a limited time after your injury to file a claim, so act quickly.  Call (855) 500-BICE today or submit an online request  to get a free consultation with a  personal injury attorney. We serve families across both North Carolina and South Carolina.

 

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Wrongful Death Suit Filed in Scaffolding Collapse

Wrongful Death Suit Filed in Scaffolding Collapse

Charlotte, NC Attorney

Last January, the families of three workers killed in a North Carolina scaffolding accident that occurred in March 2015 filed a wrongful death suit against four companies that were either involved in the project or supplied the scaffolding that failed in the accident. The three deceased workers men worked for a subcontractor that was helping to erect a $54 million office building adjacent to the Raleigh Convention Center and the Duke Energy Performing Arts Center. The families are unable to sue the subcontractor because, under North Carolina’s Workers’ Compensation statute, employers who provide for workers’ compensation coverage are insulated from lawsuits if they have not committed any intentional wrongdoing against their employees.

Alleged Negligence and Wrongful Death

Section 28A-18-2 of North Carolina Statutes defines wrongful death as death “caused by a wrongful act, neglect, or default of another.” The statute states that a wrongful death claim is appropriate if, had the injured person lived, he or she would have been entitled to damages for their personal injuries. A wrongful death suit is similar to a personal injury suit but the injured person is no longer alive to seek civil remedies in court.

According to the wrongful death suit in this case, the general contractor on the worksite acted negligently in forcing the subcontractor to dismantle the scaffold quickly, so sections of it were being loaded onto the platform where the workers were standing. That platform had a maximum weight limit of 2,500 pounds. However, with the scaffolding equipment present on the platform, it was bearing 4,200 pounds at the time of the accident. Additionally, the scaffolding mast climber that goes up and down the side of a building to take workers to different floors was not properly anchored to the building. The lawsuit alleges that these two factors together caused the scaffolding to fall.

The plaintiffs also allege that the companies who provided the scaffolding equipment failed to provide proper training on how to install the equipment and how to operate the mast climber. The attorney representing the families stated that if the simple protocols involved in building, inspecting and operating the scaffold equipment were followed, this horrific construction accident would have been prevented.

Occupational Safety and Health Citations

Last September, three of the companies involved in the incident were fined for violating established safety standards. The North Carolina Occupational Safety and Health Division conducted an investigation and found that the scaffolding company committed three willful violations and one serious violation by loading more weight than the structure was designed to hold and did not have a trained person on-site to oversee operations and ensure that procedures were followed so a scaffolding collapse would be prevented. North Carolina OSH Division fined the company $152,000. Two other companies were apparently each fined $4,200 for other serious violations of the safety standards.

Bice Law, LLC, can help you seek compensation by filing a wrongful death suit on your behalf if your loved one died because of another person or company’s negligence in North or South Carolina. Contact us today for a free initial consultation by calling our toll-free number at (855) 500-BICE or by submitting our online form. Consulting an attorney as early as possible in your case can make difference, so do not hesitate to contact us today.

Contact the Personal Injury Law Firm of Bice Law

The personal injury firm of Bice Law will examine your case to determine the type and amount of damages that your injury warrants, including payments for medical expenses, lost income, pain and suffering, and any permanent disability.  We’ll determine whether an out-of-court settlement or trial is the best strategy to obtain maximum benefits for you or your family. If you have suffered injury or harm because of someone else’s actions, take the first step to protect your legal rights – contact the personal injury firm of Bice Law serving both North and South Carolina. You only have a limited time after your injury to file a claim, so act quickly.  Call (855) 500-BICE today or submit an online request  to get a free consultation with a  personal injury attorney. We serve families across both North Carolina and South Carolina.

 

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2015 a Deadly Year on South Carolina’s Highways

2015 a Deadly Year on South Carolina’s Highways

Fort Mill, SC Attorney

According to the Times and Democrat, preliminary data from the South Carolina Department of Public Safety shows that 2015 was far deadlier in terms of deaths in vehicle accidents as compared with 2014. According to the article, there were more than 950 deaths on South Carolina roads and highways in 2015, 129 more than the 823 who were killed in 2014. This presents at 15% increase from the prior year. Similarly, the total number of fatal collisions increased by 129 from 2014 to 2015, which represents as 17% increase. Although these figures are still under review since some collisions are still under investigation, it is likely that the final totals will be worse. If you were injured in a car accident in North or South Carolina, you should seek the assistance of an experienced personal injury attorney, such as Justin Bice of the law firm of Bice Law, LLC.

Breakdown of Deaths

According to the data received, these grim increases are reflected in how the data is broken down. For example, there were 88 motorcycle deaths 2014 as compared to 132 in 2015. There were 109 in 2014 compared to 117 in 2015. The number of bicycle deaths remained steady in 2015 – 14 – which is the same as the prior year. The trend seems to have slowed at the beginning of 2016. As of January 18, 30 people were killed in traffic accidents, as compared to 39 during the same period in 2015.

Contributing Factors

The article states that 320 of those killed in traffic accidents in 2015 were not wearing seat belts. This constitutes for about half of the total deaths. Research shows that nearly half of those who are killed in traffic accidents would not have passed away if they were wearing seat belts. This means there would be around 160 fewer deaths in South Carolina if they had been wearing seat belts in 2015.

With respect to any ensuing litigation after a traffic accident, even though South Carolina law requires drivers and passengers to wear a seatbelt, failure to do so will not prevent or reduce an injured plaintiff’s recovery or damages. Therefore, courts will not allow any evidence of a plaintiff’s failure to wear a seatbelt in court.

Other contributing factors identified by the Times and Democrat are drunk driving, distracted driving, such as using a mobile device while driving a car, and speeding. Another article by the Independent Mail stated that distracted driving seems to be more prevalent as the cause of many of the accidents.

In response to the rising trend of fatal collisions, South Carolina launched the Target Zero Traffic Deaths campaign to eliminate traffic fatalities. The initiative targets certain at-risk groups, such as teens, distracted drivers, drunk drivers elderly drivers, vulnerable road users such as bicyclists and pedestrians, and commercial drivers.

Bice Law, LLC, can help you seek compensation for your injuries due to a vehicle accident in North or South Carolina. Contact us today for a free initial consultation by calling our toll-free number at (855) 500-BICE or by submitting our online form. Do not hesitate to contact us today.

Contact the Personal Injury Law Firm of Bice Law

The personal injury firm of Bice Law will examine your case to determine the type and amount of damages that your injury warrants, including payments for medical expenses, lost income, pain and suffering, and any permanent disability.  We’ll determine whether an out-of-court settlement or trial is the best strategy to obtain maximum benefits for you or your family. If you have suffered injury or harm because of someone else’s actions, take the first step to protect your legal rights – contact the personal injury firm of Bice Law serving both North and South Carolina. You only have a limited time after your injury to file a claim, so act quickly.  Call (855) 500-BICE today or submit an online request  to get a free consultation with a  personal injury attorney. We serve families across both North Carolina and South Carolina.

 

 

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Commercial Truck Companies and Driver Fatigue

Commercial Truck Companies and Driver Fatigue

Charlotte, NC Attorney

The U.S. Department of Transportation has found that truck driver fatigue has been a primary factor in the nearly 4,000 fatal large truck crashes each year. Consecutive hours of work without the requisite rest can cause commercial truck drivers to be fatigued, and when this occurs, the risk of serious accidents greatly increases, particularly because of the involvement of large trucks. The National Highway Traffic Safety Association conducted a study that revealed driver fatigue as a factor in 30 to 40% of all large truck crashes. If you have been injured in a large truck accident in North or South Carolina, you should consult with an experienced personal injury attorney such as  Justin Bice of the law firm of Bice Law, LLC.

Hours of Work Regulations

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) issues rules that determine the boundaries of how commercial truck companies can operate and the limits of how they may require their drivers to work. At present, commercial drivers are prohibited from operating a truck or bus no more than eleven consecutive hours before resting for a minimum of ten hours. Additionally, FMCSA requires drivers to take a thirty-minute rest break within the first eight hours of their shift. These rules were issued because studies showed that the risk of an accident effectively doubles from the eighth to the tenth hour of driving, and doubles again from the tenth to the eleventh hour of driving.

Commercial trucking is a very competitive industry, and the rising demand for overnight shipments and for fresh produce to be transported from one coast to the other may cause companies to overextend their employees. Most trucking companies operate on very thin margins, and they often exert undue pressure on employees to driver longer than what they can do safely.

Proposed Rule to Change Hours of Work FMCSA Regulations

The FMCSA issued a proposed regulation to limit fatigued drivers from being on the road by updating the use of the thirty-four hour rest period, known as the restart. The restart required drivers to restart once every seven days and include at least two periods of rest between 1:00 a.m. and 5:00 a.m. The restart was meant to allow drivers to rest longer and catch up on missed sleep before working another long week. Once the new restart rule takes effect, it will reduce the maximum number of hours a driver could work in a single workweek from 82 hours to 70 hours.

According to the Department of Transportation, drivers that work long hours are more vulnerable to accidents. They have slower reaction times and have more limited ability to assess situations that arise on the road quickly without enough recovery time. Additionally, truck drivers are unable assess their own fatigue levels properly and fail to adequately gauge their driving performance. However, the U.S. Congress has suspended the enforcement of these new rules until after additional studies and reports are completed.

Trucking and shipping companies are responsible for their drivers’ performance, which includes ensuring that they do not operate trucks while fatigued. If an accident occurs due to driver fatigue, and it is shown that the commercial trucking company failed to provide the driver with sufficient information, training, and supervision, the company may be held liable in a suit. Bice Law, LLC, can help you seek compensation for your injuries if you were in an accident with a large truck with a fatigued driver. Contact us today for a free initial consultation by calling our toll-free number at (855) 500-BICE or by submitting our online form. Truck accident litigation is complex, and consulting an attorney as early as possible in your case can make a difference, so do not hesitate to contact us today.

Contact the Personal Injury Law Firm of Bice Law:

The personal injury firm of Bice Law will examine your case to determine the type and amount of damages that your injury warrants, including payments for medical expenses, lost income, pain and suffering, and any permanent disability.  We’ll determine whether an out-of-court settlement or trial is the best strategy to obtain maximum benefits for you or your family. If you have suffered injury or harm because of someone else’s actions, take the first step to protect your legal rights – contact the personal injury firm of Bice Law serving both North and South Carolina. You only have a limited time after your injury to file a claim, so act quickly.  Call (855) 500-BICE today or submit an online request  to get a free consultation with a  personal injury attorney. We serve families across both North Carolina and South Carolina.

 

 

 

 

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Four-Vehicle Crash with Multiple Fatalities in South Carolina

Four-Vehicle Crash with Multiple Fatalities in South Carolina

Fort Mill, SC Lawyer

According to a news report, four individuals were killed in a multi-vehicle crash in Lexington, South Carolina. Preliminary investigations revealed that the accidents began when a pickup truck crossed the center line and side-swiped the first vehicle, which was a Ford van. The van apparently spun out of control and collided with the second vehicle, a GMC SUV. The pickup truck continued down the road and ran into another a Ford Sport, which caught fire. The driver and two passengers of the Sport were killed, along with the driver of the pickup truck.

Multi-Vehicle Accidents

Determining who was at fault is the most pressing issue in multi-vehicle accidents. Although chain reaction may have started with a single driver’s negligence, other drivers may have also failed to exercise the requisite duty of care. There are different situations that could arise involving multiple vehicles – one car could be rear-ended and that impact could cause it to hit the car in front and therefore cause a chain reaction of several rear-ended vehicles. Another situation may be two cars colliding and, subsequently, creating a hazard that other vehicles cannot avoid. Similar to the accident described above, a car could cross over a center line and crash into a vehicle, causing that vehicle to hit oncoming traffic or vehicles in other lanes.

The existence of other risk factors makes the determination of who is liable even more complex. For example, adverse weather conditions may contribute to the risk of a crash, and makes it more likely for other vehicles to not see or not be able to stop in time. Additionally, these types of collisions are even more deadly that two-vehicle accidents. Each vehicle that becomes involved means a greater likelihood of catastrophic injury.

Comparative Liability

Because there are multiple parties involved, it can be incredibly difficult to determine exactly who was responsible for causing the accident. The stakes are often high, because the insurance payouts involve multiple vehicles. Investigators have to determine the negligent act and whether there was more than one negligent driver.

South Carolina follows the rule of comparative negligence, which attempt to compensate injured individuals for damages even if he or she were partially at fault. With this rule, injured persons are required to show that the other driver was more than 50% at fault for the accident. If so, then they will be required to compensate the injured parties for their percentage of liability. With the fact-intensive nature of this inquiry into percentage of fault, all factors come into play, including weather conditions, road hazards, other drivers, other vehicles, and the existence of any mitigating factors. Other states follow the contributory negligence rule, which bars anyone who has any fault from receiving compensation.
Multi-vehicle crashes are dangerous accidents that often cause serious injury or even death. Seeking compensation for injuries incurred in a multi-vehicle crash can be a difficult process that requires extensive investigation and analysis. If you or a loved one has been injured in a multi-vehicle accident, the attorneys at Bice Law, LLC can help you pursue your case to recover damages for your injuries. Contact us today for a free initial consultation.

Contact the Personal Injury Law Firm of Bice Law

The personal injury firm of Bice Law will examine your case to determine the type and amount of damages that your injury warrants, including payments for medical expenses, lost income, pain and suffering, and any permanent disability.  We’ll determine whether an out-of-court settlement or trial is the best strategy to obtain maximum benefits for you or your family. If you have suffered injury or harm because of someone else’s actions, take the first step to protect your legal rights – contact the personal injury firm of Bice Law serving both North and South Carolina. You only have a limited time after your injury to file a claim, so act quickly.  Call (855) 500-BICE today or submit an online request  to get a free consultation with a  personal injury attorney. We serve families across both North Carolina and South Carolina.

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Jury Award in Fayetteville Medical Malpractice Case

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Jury Award in Fayetteville Medical Malpractice Case

Charlotte, NC Lawyer

A jury in Fayetteville, North Carolina reached a verdict in a medical malpractice suit filed against the Owen Drive Surgical Clinic of Fayetteville and awarded over $7.5 million in damages. According to a report from the Fayetteville Observer, the plaintiffs were Melode Dickerson, a patient at the clinic, and her husband, Gregory Dickerson. The jury award consisted of $3.24 million in economic or compensatory damages, $4 million for pain and suffering, and $300,000 for loss of consortium. Generally, compensatory or economic damages is money that will cover costs such as past, present, and future medical bills to treat the injury caused by the medical malpractice, as well as lost wages. In North Carolina, there is no limit to the economic damages that may be recovered. Pain and suffering, on the other hand, is considered non-economic in nature and is also not limited.

Surgical Complications

According to the suit, the plaintiff had undergone colon surgery in June 2010 with Owen Drive Surgical in order to remove part of her colon due to a potentially cancerous mass that was later ruled benign. The surgeon apparently connected the remaining portions of the plaintiff’s colon together; however, the lawsuit claims that the surgeon left a leak that later caused dangerous abdominal infections. After the surgery, the plaintiff allegedly became severely ill for many months and had low blood pressure, kidney failure, internal bleeding, and severe infections. She spent many weeks in hospitals, and had two surgeries to try to find the cause of the infection. There was initially no sign of leakage from the original colon surgery, but afterwards, doctors did locate a leak in the place where the colon had been reconnected to itself. Afterwards, a fourth surgery was conducted to repair the leak and treat other internal problems. The suit alleges that the plaintiff still experiences diarrhea and chronic abdominal pain, and that the leak was caused by the June 2010 surgery conducted by Owen Drive Surgical.

Standard of Care

In analyzing a medical malpractice case, a court has to determine whether the medical provider breached or violated the standard of care in providing treatment. Standard of care is the generally accepted practices and procedures used by medical care providers in the same geographic area for treating individuals with a specific ailment or disease. This standard will change depending on the individual’s condition, age, overall health, and other factors.

Additionally, plaintiffs have to be able to prove that the injuries suffered by the plaintiff were caused, at least in part, by the medical care provider. This often requires the use of outside medical experts. In order to recover for injuries, a medical malpractice suit must be filed either up to three years from the date of the treatment that caused injuries or within one year of when the injury was or should have been discovered. Nevertheless, a patient is barred from bringing a claim more than four years after the date of the treatment in question.

Medical malpractice is a serious claim that requires extensive research, investigation, and analysis. If you or a loved one has been injured due to the malpractice of a medical professional, the attorneys at Bice Law, LLC can help you pursue your case to recover damages for your injuries. Contact us today for a free initial consultation.

Contact the Personal Injury Law Firm of Bice Law

The personal injury firm of Bice Law will examine your case to determine the type and amount of damages that your injury warrants, including payments for medical expenses, lost income, pain and suffering, and any permanent disability.  We’ll determine whether an out-of-court settlement or trial is the best strategy to obtain maximum benefits for you or your family. If you have suffered injury or harm because of someone else’s actions, take the first step to protect your legal rights – contact the personal injury firm of Bice Law serving both North and South Carolina. You only have a limited time after your injury to file a claim, so act quickly.  Call (855) 500-BICE today or submit an online request  to get a free consultation with a  personal injury attorney. We serve families across both North Carolina and South Carolina.

 

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National Association of State Lawmakers Investigating Workers’ Comp Opt-Out Bill

National Association of State Lawmakers Investigating Workers’ Comp Opt-Out Bill

Rock Hill, SC Lawyer

According to a ProPublica report, the National Conference of Insurance Legislators, whose members serve on insurance committees of state legislatures and act as gatekeepers for related bills in their states, will investigate a growing effort to enact legislation that will allow companies to opt out of workers’ compensation insurance and write their own company plan for how they will provide care for injured employees. Texas and Oklahoma currently allow companies to opt out, and Tennessee and South Carolina are seriously considering similar legislation.

The Prevailing Scheme

Currently, most states require employers to carry workers’ compensation insurance to provide medical care and lost wages to workers if they are injured on the job. In exchange, workers are barred from suing their employers. Generally, an employee with a work-related illness or injury can get workers’ compensation benefits regardless of who was at fault. The benefits for employees may include, in addition to medical care and lost wages, rehabilitation benefits including evaluation, retraining, tuition and other expenses associated with regaining the skills and abilities necessary to return to work. With regard to lost wages, workers’ compensation provides disability benefits based on the amount an individual was earning prior to his or her injury (typically, two-thirds of wages). Employees will not have to pay income tax on disability benefits, but most states require them to wait a period of time before they can start collecting them.

Proposed South Carolina Opt-Out Legislation

South Carolina’s proposed opt-out bill requires employers who opt out to pay at least 75% of an injured employee’s wages, when workers’ compensation replaces a lower 66% of wages, although the opt-out bill is taxable. This means that workers eligible for temporary partial disability benefits will receive at least 75% of the difference between their pre- and post-injury average weekly wages. Additionally, these employers would not be allowed to cap medical benefits and would have to match the state maximum of 500 weeks of death benefits. Also, burial benefits are three times higher.

Other provisions include allowing employer benefit plans to provide for lump-sum payouts to satisfy all benefit obligations and settlement agreements, which the stipulation that payouts must be actuarially equivalent to expected future payments. The bill also prohibits employers from charging employees a fee for their coverage under the benefit plan. It requires the state Director of Insurance to maintain a list of all qualified employers and the status of their certification on the Department’s website, and establishes financial responsibility requirements for qualified employer benefit plans and provides that the state may require a deposit by employers to secure the payment of benefit plan liabilities.

If you believe you or a loved one has suffered a compensable work injury, you are entitled to file a claim for benefits. Until the new bill is enacted into law, the existing workers’ compensation scheme (and process) remains in effect. The attorneys at Bice Law, LLC can help you navigate the complex process of filing a workers’ compensation claim. Contact us today for a free initial consultation.

Contact the Personal Injury Law Firm of Bice Law

The personal injury firm of Bice Law will examine your case to determine the type and amount of damages that your injury warrants, including payments for medical expenses, lost income, pain and suffering, and any permanent disability.  We’ll determine whether an out-of-court settlement or trial is the best strategy to obtain maximum benefits for you or your family. If you have suffered injury or harm because of someone else’s actions, take the first step to protect your legal rights – contact the personal injury firm of Bice Law serving both North and South Carolina. You only have a limited time after your injury to file a claim, so act quickly.  Call (855) 500-BICE today or submit an online request  to get a free consultation with a  personal injury attorney. We serve families across both North Carolina and South Carolina.

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South Carolina Wrongful Death Settlements for Police Shootings Top $17 Million

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South Carolina Wrongful Death Settlements for Police Shootings Top $17 Million

Fort Mill, SC Lawyer

According to a piece from the Post and Courier, the amount of settlements in cases involving police shootings has exceeded $17 million in 2015 alone. The bulk of these settlements were paid by municipal insurers, including the state’s Insurance Reserve Fund and the Municipal Association of South Carolina. Eventually, taxpayers will foot the bills for these settlements through higher premiums, and insurers have grown increasingly concerned in recent years about the increase in law enforcement liability claims. Many of these settlements involve wrongful death claims against law enforcement, and the largest settlements involve cases in which officers fired a gun at fleeing suspects, often as they tried to drive away.

Settlement Breakdown

The total of $17 million in legal settlements so far this year include $10 million in the 2011 case of a South Carolina officer who gunned down a town’s former mayor. A jury originally ordered the town to compensate the mayor’s family $97.5 million. It also includes a $6.5 million settlement in the well-known Walter Scott <a href="http://www.bicelaw helpful site.us/wrongful-death-attorney/”>wrongful death case, where an officer shot the deceased as he ran away. That officer is awaiting trial on a criminal murder charge. There was also a $1.2 million settlement in the shooting of a 68-year old man who was shot in his car after a chase. The officer is awaiting trial on felony charges of discharging a firearm into an occupied vehicle.

According to the article, officers in South Carolina have shot 45 people so far in 2015, only one shooting away from the record in 2012. Additionally, wrongful death and excessive force lawsuits often follow these shootings.

Excessive Force and Wrongful Death Suits Against Police

Civil actions against police officers are brought under the Civil Rights Act of 1871, which alleges that the defendant, as a representative of the law, violated the plaintiff’s constitutional rights. Generally, police officers are allowed to use whatever force is necessary to make an arrest or defend themselves. The jury in these cases has to determine whether a police officer used more force than was reasonably necessary to make an arrest under the circumstances, and an arresting officer is allowed to use more force to arrest a resisting suspect or if threatened with death or great bodily harm.

The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that a police officer cannot shoot a fleeing suspect unless it is necessary to prevent an escape and he or she has reason to believe that the suspect poses a significant threat of death or serious physical injury to the officer or others. The fact that an officer has probable cause to make an arrest and therefore to use some amount of force to stop and seize the suspect is not enough by itself to allow the officer to do so by killing the suspect.

There are constitutional limits to the amount of force that a police officer can use against private, free individuals when effecting an arrest. Within these constitutional limits, police officers who use force unreasonably may be liable for excessive force and wrongful death claims. The attorneys at Bice Law, LLC can help you navigate the complexity of wrongful death actions in both state and federal courts in North and South Carolina. Contact us today for a free initial consultation.

Contact the Personal Injury Law Firm of Bice Law

The personal injury firm of Bice Law will examine your case to determine the type and amount of damages that your injury warrants, including payments for medical expenses, lost income, pain and suffering, and any permanent disability.  We’ll determine whether an out-of-court settlement or trial is the best strategy to obtain maximum benefits for you or your family. If you have suffered injury or harm because of someone else’s actions, take the first step to protect your legal rights – contact the personal injury firm of Bice Law serving both North and South Carolina. You only have a limited time after your injury to file a claim, so act quickly.  Call (855) 500-BICE today or submit an online request  to get a free consultation with a  personal injury attorney. We serve families across both North Carolina and South Carolina.

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NHTSA Proposes Stronger Truck Guards to Reduce Rear-impact Deaths

NHTSA Proposes Stronger Truck Guards to Reduce Rear-impact Deaths

After receiving petitions from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the Truck Safety Coalition, the National Transportation Safety Board, and from a North Carolina mother who lost two daughters in a 2013 truck crash, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) proposed that trucking companies be required to install stronger guards on their trailers to reduce deaths caused when cars rear-end tractor trailers. According to the NHTSA, the stronger guards will prevent between and three serious injuries and one fatality a year.

Rear-Impact Truck Accidents

For decades, tractor-trailers have installed underride guards that hang down from the back ends of box trailers. These guards are currently built to protect passengers in crashes of up to 30 miles per hour. According to NHTSA, increasing its rating to be able to protect passengers in crashes of up to 35 miles per hour can significantly reduce the risk of death or injury to vehicle occupants in the event of a crash into the rear of a tractor-trailer.

In the event that a car rear-ends a tractor-trailer, it can go under the truck and cause severe head damage or even decapitation. One of the advocates of the new standard, Marianne Karth from Rocky Mountain, North Carolina, was involved in a truck accident in May 2013 when she was driving in heavy rain with three of her children. A tractor-trailer rear-ended her car and hurled it under another truck. That truck’s underride guard failed so her car went right under it, instantly killing her 17-year old daughter. Her 13-year old daughter died a few days later. NHTSA estimates that there are about 400 deaths from cars colliding with the backs of trucks each year,  with about 125 of them resulting from severe injuries from objects intruding into the passenger compartments.

Most Trucks are Already Compliant

NHTSA estimates that the trucking industry would need to spend a total of $13 million to meet the new trailer standards, and that about 93% of the tractor-trailers currently sold in the U.S. are already compliant. The American Trucking Associations has stated that underride guards envisioned by NHTSA in its proposal have already been manufactured and in use in the U.S. for some time.

In 2001, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety conducted crash tests on trucks compliant with the current standards, and the underride guards in those tests buckled or broke, and trailers often broke through the windshields. The current federal standard is based on Canadian regulations and, therefore, many manufacturers are already designing stronger guards.  

Tractor-trailer crashes are dangerous accidents that often cause serious injury or even death. Seeking compensation for injuries incurred in a tractor-trailer crash, or for wrongful death, can be an onerous process that requires extensive expertise, investigation, and analysis. If you or a loved one has been injured in a multi-vehicle accident, the attorneys at Bice Law, LLC can help you pursue your case to recover damages for your injuries. Contact us today for a free initial consultation.

Contact the Personal Injury Law Firm of Bice Law

The personal injury firm of Bice Law will examine your case to determine the type and amount of damages that your injury warrants, including payments for medical expenses, lost income, pain and suffering, and any permanent disability.  We’ll determine whether an out-of-court settlement or trial is the best strategy to obtain maximum benefits for you or your family. If you have suffered injury or harm because of someone else’s actions, take the first step to protect your legal rights – contact the personal injury firm of Bice Law serving both North and South Carolina. You only have a limited time after your injury to file a claim, so act quickly.  Call (855) 500-BICE today or submit an online request  to get a free consultation with a  personal injury attorney. We serve families across both North Carolina and South Carolina.

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