August 2009

Raleigh Pedestrian Accident Claims the Life of 6-Year-Old North Carolina Girl

August 25, 2009, by Michael A. DeMayo

Ashley E. Ramos-Hernandez, 6, died last Wednesday after she was struck by a sport utility vehicle during a Raleigh pedestrian accident. The deadly North Carolina traffic incident occurred during the afternoon close to the intersection of Hillock Drive and North Hills as the young girl was crossing the street. The driver that struck Ashley, 83-year-old Geraldine Baron Deitz, has been charged with passing a stopped school bus and misdemeanor by motor vehicle death.

According to Raleigh police, Dietz says she saw a stopped school bus ahead of her and that all of the bus’s markers and signals were not activated. She says she initially stopped for the bus but when it did not turn she kept driving until she heard a “thud.”

Witnesses, however, dispute her account. They say that the 83-year-old driver ignored the fact that the bus’s markers and signals were activated as Ashley and other kids were crossing the street. The fact that Deitz is an elderly senior driver is once again raising the issue of whether older drivers should be allowed to continue to drive without being tested again.

Since 1999, Ashley is the eighth student to die in a North Carolina pedestrian accident because of drivers who passed stopped school buses. Derek Graham of the state’s Department of Public Instruction was quick to point out, however, that all of the drivers did not fall under one specific age range. He also said that in North Carolina, drivers ignore school bus stop-arms about 2,000 times a day.

According to AAA:
• Almost 1/5th of child traffic deaths involving kids under age 15 are pedestrians.
• Most school pedestrian fatalities occur between 3 and 4 pm.

A driver who strikes any pedestrian due to negligence or carelessness can be held liable for North Carolina personal injury or wrongful death.

Child, 6, dies after being struck by car, The News & Observer, August 19, 2009

Back to School Driving Tips, KTVN News, August 24, 2009

Related Web Resources:
Walk this Way, Safe Kids

Walking Info

North Carolina Wrongful Death Filed in Murder of Ashe County Man

August 20, 2009, by Michael A. DeMayo

The estate of Jimmy Blevins is suing his confessed murderer for North Carolina wrongful death. Blevins went missing in February 2007. When he disappeared, he left chicken cooking and his TV on. His grandmother would later say that she saw him ride away with Freddie Hammer.

Hammer is serving five life sentences for the murder of three men he killed during a 2008 robbery. He confessed to Blevins’s murder.

According to the North Carolina wrongful death lawsuit, Blevins, 41, was shot in the back of his head and his body was tossed in a pit where Hammer had worked as a handyman. Although Hammer confessed to the murder, he refused to tell Blevins’s parents where the body was unless he was given the $15,000 reward money for information leading to their son.

The family had to borrow the funds, which they hope to recover. They did not want to pay Hammer, but they needed to find their boy.

Hammer reportedly confessed that he took Blevins to the pit and suggested that he look in the hole. That is when he says he shot him. Hammer owed Blevins, who is his nephew by marriage, $1,600 in back wages. He says that Blevins kept pressuring him to pay and that he “snapped.” Jimmy was considering taking Hammer to court over the wage dispute.

The Ashe County, North Carolina wrongful death complaint is seeking punitive and compensatory damages over $10,000. His family wants compensation not just for the loss of Blevins, but for the physical, mental, and emotional pain he experienced right before he was shot to death. The lawsuit accuses Hammer of recklessly and intentionally disregarding Blevins’s rights.

Murder as Wrongful Death
If someone murdered the person you love, you should speak with a North Carolina personal injury law firm to find out if you can file a wrongful death lawsuit against him or her. While obtaining financial recovery won’t decrease the grief and shock from losing your family member, it is a way for you to take action against the killer and the person liable for the horrible act that was committed.

Suit filed in Blevins death, Jefferson Post, August 17, 2009
Remains Positively Identified as Jimmy Blevins, Mountain Times, August 07, 2009

Related Web Resources:
Wrongful Death, Justia

Wrongful Death, Nolo

Fayetteville, North Carolina Wrongful Death Lawsuit for Teen’s Drowning Accident in Drainage Ditch Can Continue, Says Judge

August 18, 2009, by Michael A. DeMayo

An appellate court judge in Fayetteville says that the North Carolina wrongful death lawsuit filed by the family of 17-year-old Jesse Marquil King can go forward. King drowned in August 2005 after he fell into a flooded ditch during a rainstorm. The ditch’s pipe dragged the teenager under the water. His family is suing the city of Fayetteville for his drowning death and is accusing the city of negligent maintenance of the drain system.

In a unanimous decision, the three-judge panel agreed that North Carolina law doesn’t provide immunity against the state when it comes to operating storm drains. This ruling upholds a trial judge’s decision and allows the Fayetteville wrongful death lawsuit to move forward.

Premises Liability Lawsuits
Property owners and managers are supposed to make sure that there is no condition on the premise that could lead to personal injury or wrongful death. Inadequate maintenance, when a landowner neglects to maintain a premise or something on the property that could cause injury, is one reason for filing a North Carolina premises liability civil complaint for damages if someone gets hurt.

Storm drains are supposed to help drain water or melting snow off the streets so that the streets don’t flood. Unfortunately, storm drain accidents are not uncommon, especially if the grate has some defect that allows a person or a bicycle to fall into it. Fall accidents can lead to broken bones, dislocated body parts, neck injuries, back injuries, spinal cord injuries, and neck injuries. In King’s case, falling into a storm drain caused him to drown.

Government and safety officials can be held liable if there is an unsafe condition on a road that causes an injury or death to happen.

Ruling allows wrongful death suit against Fayetteville to proceed, FayObserver.com, August 5, 2009

Related Web Resources:
Read the Court’s Opinion (PDF)

Premises Liability Overview, Justia

North Carolina Truck Accidents are 23 Times More Likely to Happen When a Trucker is Texting

August 11, 2009, by Michael A. DeMayo

Although texting while driving will be banned in North Carolina beginning December 2009, that doesn’t mean that car drivers and truckers shouldn’t give up this dangerous form of distracted driving as soon as possible. As a matter of fact, a new Virginia Tech Transportation Institute study is reporting that truck drivers increase their crash risk by 23 times whenever they text. Can you imagine how many lives are endangered every time a trucker decides to take his or her eyes off the road and at least one hand off the steering wheel of an 18-wheeler truck or a tractor-trailer just to read or compose a text message?

According to the study, which involved 203 truckers who collectively traveled at least 3 million miles, texting is dangerous because truck drivers appeared to be spending at least 4.6 seconds not looking at the road when checking their electronic devices. Not looking at the road for more than 2 seconds can prove deadly. If a truck driver is driving his or her truck at a speed of 55 mph, 4.6 seconds is enough time for the trucker to have driven the distance equivalent to the length of a football field. Think of how many cars, buses, or motorcycles a truck driver might fail to see during that time.

This news is a good wake up call for anyone who may have lingering doubts about how dangerous texting while driving can be regardless of what kind of vehicle you are driving. Large truck drivers especially must take heed because in most cases, it is the occupants of the smaller vehicles involved in a North Carolina truck accident that have the greater chance of getting seriously hurt.

Meantime, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has introduced new large truck braking regulation. Whereas before, tractor- traveling at 65 mph speeds had to stop completely within 355 feet, the new rule requires that they stop within 250 feet. The new standard, which is a 30% improvement of the current stopping distance, will be phased in over a four-year period starting with 2012 models.

The NHTSA hopes that 227 truck accident deaths and 300 injuries will be prevent each year.

Tough New Braking Rules For Large Trucks Will Save Hundreds of Lives Annually, NHTSA, July 24, 2009

Texting and Driving Don’t Mix, The Washington Post, July 29, 2009

Related Web Resources:

Cell Phone Driving Laws, GHSA

FMCSA

Virginia Tech Transportation Institute

Preventing North Carolina Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect: State’s New Rating System is Supposed to Help Families Choose Best Assisted Living Facility

August 6, 2009, by Michael A. DeMayo

North Carolina has unveiled a new nursing home rating system to help families decide which assisted living facility they should admit their elderly or sick loved one to. The new system uses 0 – 4 stars to rate the quality of care provided at each home.

WRAL.com says 585 out of the nearly 1,300 North Carolina nursing homes have received their ratings, which takes into account personal care, building safety, nutrition, supervision, and personal care. Dozens of North Carolina nursing homes received 3-stars. An assisted living facility can only get 4-stars if its been able to maintain a clean record for three years.

Seven of the North Carolina nursing homes received 0-star ratings. Inspectors even moved 30 residents out of one of the nursing homes and revoked its license.

You can view the nursing homes’ Star Ratings on the North Carolina Division of Health Service Regulation Web site (see below).

North Carolina Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect
Although state and federal ratings systems provide useful information to help you choose the best North Carolina nursing home for your loved one, it is also a good idea for you visit the assisted living facility so that you can personally evaluate the premises, the workers, and the services provided.

Not only do you want to make sure that your loved one gets the proper nursing care, but you also want to minimize the chances of abuse or neglect occurring. Nursing negligence can be detrimental to your family member’s well-being and can lead to:

• Bedsores
• Broken bones
• Bruises
• Emotional trauma
• Isolation or withdrawal
• Sexual injuries
• Wandering
Fall accidents
• Deteriorating health
Wrongful Death

While personally inspecting a nursing home prior to admitting your relative won’t guarantee that he or she won’t become a victim of North Carolina nursing home abuse or neglect, it can decrease the risks.

In the event that you suspect your loved one is being neglected or abused, contact our Charlotte nursing home abuse law firm immediately to explore your legal options.

State provides ratings for assisted living centers, WRAL.com, July 28, 2009

Troubles afflict adult care home, NewsObserver.com, July 16, 2009

Related Web Resources:
Star Rating Program, NC Division of Health Service Regulation

Nursing Home Compare, Medicare.gov

Parents File North Carolina Wrongful Death Lawsuit Against Lenoir-Rhyne University and Theta Chi Fraternity

August 4, 2009, by Michael A. DeMayo

The parents of a 19-year-old boy who died during a fraternity event while attending Lenoir-Rhyne University is suing the school and the Theta Chi Fraternity for his wrongful death. Harrison Kowiak died on November 18, 2008.

Kowiak was taking part in bulldogging, a game that involves pledges retrieving rocks in a dark field while fraternity members tackle them. While Kowiak weighed just 160 pounds, a number of the fraternity brothers were football players.

According to the North Carolina wrongful death complaint, Kowiak complained that he was hurt but no one took him seriously until he became unresponsive. The complaint contends that members of the fraternity took him to the hospital but lied about what had occurred.

Autopsy results indicate that Kowiak’s cause of death was blunt trauma to the head.

The Durham County wrongful death complaint also names as defendants the Theta Chi faculty advisor, the university’s fraternity supervisor, and 21 males that allegedly took part in the bulldogging.

Kowiak played golf for the university.

Hazing is illegal in North Carolina. Yet hazing continues to take place on some campuses even though this is not the first time someone has gotten hurt. While pledging a house in the Greek system can be a lot of fun and a great way to bond with people, this initiation process can turn deadly should activities get out of hand that they endanger the well-being of participants. Binge drinking, sexual abuse, verbal abuse, and physical abuse have been known to take place during certain hazing events.

Regardless of whether your son or daughter was injured or killed during an activity that was intended as good fun, if anyone behaved negligently and contributed to causing the accident you should explore your legal options for North Carolina personal injury or wrongful death.

Parents of Lenoir-Rhyne student sue over “hazing,” WCNC.com, August 1, 2009

Tampa Teen Got Fatal Head Injury During Frat Initiation, TBO.com, November 20, 2008

Related Web Resources:
Dangers of Fraternity Hazing, University-College.net

Abuse by Any Name, News & Observer, August 4, 2009

 
 

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