May 2009

North Carolina Motor Vehicle Crashes: State Highway Patrol Reports 9 Traffic Deaths Over Memorial Day Weekend

May 28, 2009, by Michael A. DeMayo

According to preliminary statistics from the N.C. Highway Patrol, nine people were killed in North Carolina motor vehicle accidents over the Memorial Day weekend. That is the same amount of people that died over last year’s 3-day holiday period when 534 motor vehicle riders were injured.

Also killed over this holiday weekend, but on Friday morning—which is not included in the NC Highway Patrol’s holiday weekend injury and death report, which covers the period beginning 6pm on Friday through Monday at midnight—was a family of four. Wayne Pride Hicks, his wife Natalie, and their five children were taking advantage of the long weekend to meet with Wayne’s biological father, who had never met his daughter-in-law and grandchildren before.

However, on Friday morning, on Interstate 77 close to Elkin, the minivan they were riding in drove across a 60-foot wide median, hitting oncoming traffic and crashing at full speed into two other vehicles. Wayne, 44, Natalie, 35, Wayne Jr., 10, and Natalie, 3 all died in the tragic North Carolina car accident. The three surviving children, Elijah, 8, John, 7, and Josiah, 5, were treated at a hospital for their injuries. Police think Wayne may have fallen asleep while driving.

Also killed in the deadly North Carolina traffic accident was Hickory resident Bryan Mowry, who was riding the pickup truck that was struck by the minivan Wayne was driving. The other person riding in the car with the 59-year-old car accident victim was Sandra Mowry, 57, who was seriously injured. 50-year-old Bonnie Casstevents Weddle, whose car was also struck head-on by the minivan, was treated at a hospital for her injuries before being released.

With summer fast approaching and more people expected to travel on state roads, North Carolina troopers are taking more steps to prevent traffic crashes. The state’s Highway Patrol has been part of the nationwide “Click-It or Ticket” seatbelt campaign meant to remind people that there are consequences to not wearing a safety belt.

9 die in NC wrecks over Memorial Day weekend, Citizen-Times, May 26, 2009

Van crash in North Carolina kills four from Queens family on way to a first-time reunion, Daily News, May 23, 2009

Fifth Person In I-77 Crash Dies, Fox 8, May 23, 2009

Related Web Resources:
Click It or Ticket, North Carolina Department of Transportation


After Decrease in North Carolina Motorcycle Deaths in 2008, State Transportation Officials Hope to Continue Rider Fatality Decline in 2009 with Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month

May 24, 2009, by Michael A. DeMayo

North Carolina Governor Perdue is calling the month of May Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month. His proclamation is part of a nationwide campaign to remind motorists and other drivers that they share the roads with each other and they must do so safely. This awareness will prove especially important in the coming months, as the warmer weather kicks into gear along with the many riders getting on their bikes.

The North Carolina Department of Transportation is reporting 142 motorcycle fatalities in 2008—a decline from the 192 rider deaths in 2007. However, AAA Carolinas says North Carolina still has the number eight highest motorcycle death rate in the US. While motorcycles make up just almost 2% of all registered vehicles in the state, they represent almost 12% of all North Carolina traffic deaths.

Just this month, a 21-year-old Onslow motorcyclist died in a single-vehicle crash. Police say that Christopher Steiner may have been traveling approximately 90 mph in a 55 mph zone when he lost control of his bike. His cause of death, according to the Onslow County Medical Examiner’s Office, was blunt force trauma. In another North Carolina motorcycle accident in Lillington, Victoria Allen was charged in the fatal traffic accident that killed Brandon Rodney Brown on US 421.

Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month seeks to make riders and other motor vehicle drivers aware that they are both responsible for preventing North Carolina motorcycle accidents from happening. AAA Carolinas Offers a Number of safety tips for motorcyclists and drivers, including:

For Motorcyclists:
• Wear a helmet. The Governor’s Highway Safety Program recommends that you use a Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard ( FMVSS ) 218 helmet. North Carolina law mandates that motorcyclists wear helmets.

• Before you get on a North Carolina highway, take a state-approved motorcycle training course.

For Other Drivers:
• Don’t share the lane with motorcyclists.
• Signal to indicate your next move.
• Give at least 3 seconds more following distance to a motorcycle than you would another motor vehicle.
• Check your blind spots for motorcycles.

Both riders and the drivers of trucks, cars, and buses are reminded to pay attention when driving.

Gov. Perdue Proclaims May Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month, Media Newswire

Motorcycle riders aim to spread awareness this month, WRAL, May 13, 200

Woman charged in motorcyclist’s death,, May 3, 2009

Onslow man killed in motorcycle wreck,, May 5, 2009

Related Web Resources:
AAA Carolinas

Clutch & Chrome

The Law Offices of Michael A DeMayo LLP, A North Carolina Personal Injury Law Firm, Supports the Fight Against Drunk Driving and Helps to Build Habitat for Humanity Homes

May 19, 2009, by Michael A. DeMayo

This month, The Law Offices of Michael A DeMayo participated in two community service events. The first event was Walk Like MADD, which is hosted by Mothers Against Drunk Driving. Charlotte Personal Injury Attorney Michael A DeMayo served as the honorary chair for the annual 5k walk, which took place on May 2. Proceeds from the walk will go toward helping drunk driving victims and fund programs to prevent underage drinking and drunk driving.

Over two dozen of the North Carolina injury law firm’s employees and their families took part in the event. Together, they helped raise over $2,500. Attorney DeMayo and his staff are familiar with the struggles that drunk driving accident victims and their families face. He and his law firm represent North Carolina and South Carolina clients that have been injured and those whose loved ones have died in drunk driving accidents in their pursuit to recover personal injury or wrongful death compensation from all negligent parties. Just last year, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that both states experienced the largest spike in DUI fatalities among all US states between 2006 and 2007.

This past Saturday, employees from the Charlotte branch of the Law Offices of Michael A DeMayo participated in another event, this one at a Habitat for Humanity house. They pulled up their sleeves and spent the morning hanging dry wall at the home, which is being built for a low-income family. The North Carolina personal injury law firm, which also has law offices in Monroe and Hickory, made a $15,000 donation to this worthwhile cause.

Attorney DeMayo praised Habitat for Humanity for helping so many people in the Charlotte community that are in need of affordable housing. He also touted the benefits that his employees reaped by volunteering for this “great, team building” experience.

The Law Offices of Michael A DeMayo, LLP also helps clients with injury or wrongful death cases involving medical malpractice, nursing home abuse or neglect, defective medical devices, products liability, dog bites, and workers’ compensation.

Related Web Resources:
Walk Like MADD, Charlotte, NC

Habitat for Humanity, Charlotte

NHTSA Ranks North Carolina and South Carolina as Two US States With Greatest Increase In DUI Deaths, North Carolina Injury Lawyer Blog, September 2, 2008

North Carolina Bill Would Cap Workers’ Compensation Benefits After Retirement

May 16, 2009, by Michael A. DeMayo

In North Carolina, the House is considering a bill that would cap workers’ compensation payments for senior workers. The cap would go into effect less than six years (that’s 300 weeks) after a worker turns 65 or becomes eligible to receive Social Security retirement benefits. That is, unless the worker asks a state commission to provide lifetime benefits.

The proposal seeks to only place a cap on North Carolina workers’ compensation benefits for retirees with temporary disabilities and not retired workers with permanent disabilities. The Senate Commerce Committee is looking at S 975, a companion bill.

While supporters of the bill believe that the workers’ compensation cap would allow North Carolina to become more competitive with other states that already have such caps, as well as decrease fraudulent workers’ compensation claims, opponents of the bill are worried that this could cause injured elderly workers to struggle during their retirement. The NC Advocates for Justice as well as AARP North Carolina don’t approve of the bill, and the latter group has expressed concern over the financial and medical challenges a retired, injured worker might face if he or she solely had to rely on Social Security benefits.

North Carolina Workers’ Compensation
If you are a North Carolina worker who was injured on the job, you should report the injury incident as soon as possible and no later than 30 days after it happened. Make sure that you issue your report in writing so that you’ve documented the details of the incident, as well as your notice to your employer.

As an injured North Carolina worker eligible to receive workers’ compensation benefits, you are entitled to receive coverage for medical treatments that are required to heal your injury, help you recover from your disability, or, at the very least, allow you to be as physically comfortable as possible while living with your injury or disability. You are also entitled to temporary partial disability benefits or total disability benefits if your work injury requires you to miss more than seven days of work.

If your injures warrant permanent partial disability or total disability status, you are also eligible for certain benefits. The body part that was injured and your average weekly income will be factors in calculating these benefits. In certain instances, your employer’s insurer may try to work out a settlement with you, which would prevent you from seeking additional workers’ compensation in the future.

The best way to make sure that you receive all of the North Carolina workers’ compensation benefits that your injuries warrant and that you are owed is to consult with an experienced Charlotte workers’ compensation law firm about your work injury case.

Lawmakers back workers’ compensation limit, Citizen-Times, May 13, 2009

North Carolina Considers Cap on Workers’ Compensation for Retirees, Claims Journal, May 12, 2009

Related Web Resources:
North Carolina Industrial Commission

Occupational Safety and Health Administration

Man that Caused North Carolina Car Crash that Killed Siblings May Have Been Having Psychiatric Breakdown

May 12, 2009, by Michael A. DeMayo

In Wake County, visiting Durham Superior Court Judge Ronald Stephens has decided to continue the hearing in the criminal case of driver Victoriano T. Layon. The 38-year-old Selma man is ready to plead guilty to two counts of involuntary manslaughter in the 2008 North Carolina car accident deaths of siblings Wanda Gail Altman, 53, and Daris Wayne Hancock, 49.

Layon struck the Ford Taurus that the siblings were riding in at the intersection of White Oak Road and US 70 on January 11, 2008. Layon, who had been operating a Ford F-150 at a high speed, rear-ended their vehicle, crushing it and killing Hancock and Altman.

Pleading guilty to the involuntary manslaughter charges would have set Layon free on probation. The defendant was at first charged with second-degree murder and has been behind bars for 16 months. Stephens, however, has requested that the defendant now be given a psychiatric evaluation. He says he doesn’t feel comfortable releasing Layon just yet.

Layon’s psychiatric state at the time of the crash has long been an issue. His wife Jennifer, who was in the car with him and their two sons when he struck the other vehicle, reportedly told police that prior to the deadly auto incident, her husband started behaving strangely. He read specific portions of the Bible, experienced painful headaches, slammed the family cat into the ground, commented that Satan lived inside the pet, and told his wife that God was inside him. She also said he stepped on the gas pedal right before hitting the car that Altman and Hancock were riding in.

Following the deadly North Carolina car accident, he managed to throw off the people who were holding him down and ran off. Clayton police found him the next day. They say that he told them that God told him to hit the other car.

Wake County Car Accidents
If you were involved in a Wake County, North Carolina car accident that was caused by another party’s reckless, negligent, or careless behavior and you sustained serious injuries, you may be entitled to North Carolina personal injury compensation. If your loved one was killed in a Wake County traffic accident, you may have grounds for filing a North Carolina wrongful death lawsuit.

Did man’s crisis cause crash?, News Observer, May 12, 2009

Bond Denied for Suspect in Fatal Hit-and-Run,, January 14, 2008

Related Web Resources:
Car Accidents Overview, Justia

The Tragedy of Fatal Hit and Run Accidents on America’s Deadly Roads, Deadly Roads

North Carolina Products Liability: Tougher Roof Strength Standards Will Provide Better Rollover Crash Protection, Says US Department of Transportation

May 6, 2009, by Michael A. DeMayo

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is doubling its roof strength requirement for light vehicles weighing up to 6,000 pounds and introducing an actual requirement for vehicles weighting 6,000 to 10,000 pounds. According to US Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, these tougher standards will offer passengers greater protection during rollover accidents.

The current light vehicle requirement is the ability to withstand 1.5 times the force of the vehicle’s weight. The new standard would require that a light vehicle’s roof withstand 3 times the motor vehicle’s weight. Heavier vehicles will now have to meet a roof strength requirement of 1.5 times the vehicle’s weight.

September 2012 marks the beginning of the phase in schedule of these new requirements that must be completed for all vehicles that fall under the applicable weight categories by the 2017 model year. Some 10,000 people are killed in rollover accident each year.

Kinds of Rollover Accidents:
Tripped Rollovers: When a vehicle trips over an object, like a guardrail, a curb, or a steep slope.

Un-Tripped Rollovers: Can occur when the driver is driving at a high speed and tries to avoid getting involved in an auto collision.

While driver negligence can lead to rollover accidents, auto manufacturers must make sure that they make sport utility vehicles and other autos that are designed in such a way that they prevent rollover accidents from happening. In the event of a rollover collision, then the motor vehicle must offer vehicle occupants the proper safety protections needed to minimize injuries and prevent deaths.

Other safety precautions that auto makers can include in their motor vehicles:

Electronic Stability Control: Helps drivers stay in control of the auto so that it doesn’t go off road or skid out of control.

Rollover Air Bags: Side-impact head air bags can prevent occupants from getting ejected during a rollover accident.

Seat Belts: Use of seat belts improves survival chances in a rollover crash by 75%.

Auto makers must make sure that their vehicles are free from defects and come with the proper safety precautions. When a rollover accident occurs and a person gets hurt of dies because a vehicle part was defective or the vehicle malfunctioned, the car manufacturer can be held liable for North Carolina products liability or wrongful death.

U.S. DOT Doubles Roof Strength Standard for Light Vehicles, NHTSA, April 30, 2009


Related Web Resource:
Read the NHTSA Final Rule (PDF)


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