September 2009

NHTSA Reports Nearly 6,000 Distracted Driving Deaths in 2008

September 30, 2009, by Michael A. DeMayo

It’s been official for some time now. Texting while driving is dangerous. So why do many people still do it? The risks that come with this bad driving habit are the focus of this week’s Distracted Driving Summit being held by the US Department of Transportation.

At the opening of the two-day conference, Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood provide attendees with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s 2008 distracted driving statistics:

• 515,000 injuries
• 5,870 deaths
• On any day, nearly 800,000 drivers used a handheld cell phone

While drivers under age 21 make up the greatest portion of distracted drivers, there are many adults who text and drive. Our Charlotte, North Carolina car accident lawyers realize that it can be difficult to fathom how texting, a seemingly harmless activity, can be so deadly. But the statistics, research findings, and the number of people whose lives have been destroyed because they were injured or lost a loved one in a cell phone crash or a text messaging accident can no longer be ignored.

Virginia Tech Transportation Institute recently reported that large truck drivers increase their crash risk by 23 times when they text and drive. Merely reaching for communication device or dialing a cell phone increased the chance of a car accident or a truck collision by six times. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety says that more than 1 million auto crashes a year that happen in North American can be linked to driver inattention.

Texting while driving becomes illegal in North Carolina beginning December 2009. There is still no law banning motorists from texting in South Carolina. Unfortunately, even with all the information and new laws, there will be still people out there who will risk their lives and the lives of others to make that cell phone call, send a text, turn the iPod dial to find the perfect song, or surf the web on their Blackberry or iPhone to stay abreast of the latest news headlines.

New Research Finds Increase in Use of Hand-Held Devices Among All Drivers,, September 30, 2009

Texting Trouble: Transportation Summit to Address Distracted Driving, September 30, 2009

Related Web Resources:
Distracted Driving Summit, US Department of Transportation

AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety

Did Gastonia Police Officer Commit North Carolina Police Brutality When He Fatally Shot Man Holding Knife?

September 22, 2009, by Michael A. DeMayo

The Gaston Gazette is reporting that Debbie Keeter is still waiting to see whether criminal charges will be filed against the Gastonia police detective who fatally shot her son in the head. Keeter says that less fatal measures could have been taken to apprehend her son, who was confused and in the middle of a stabbing brawl with men who allegedly threatened to kill him at the time.

Terry Adam Boone died on May 1, 2008 when Gastonia Police Detective Scott Barnes shot him in the head. Boone was holding a knife in his hand and police say that the 20-year-old appeared to lunge at Barnes, who then shot him in the back of the head to prevent the attack.

Barnes was called to the scene of a stabbing. Audrey Lingerfelt, Boone’s girlfriend, told The Gazette that men who were involved in a disagreement with Boone had arrived at her residence and were threatening to beat and murder him.

When Boone arrived at his vehicle, one of the men stabbed him. He stabbed the man back before going into Lingerfelt’s home.

When police arrived at the residence, Boone left Lingerfelt’s home through the back door. She says she later heard the gunshot. A neighbor says that Boone was defending himself when police showed up in unmarked vehicles.

Keeter claims that Boone was injured and his eyes and face were covered in blood. She doesn’t believe that he posed a threat to Barnes. At the time of Boone’s death, his blood-alcohol level was almost twice the legal driving limit at 0.14.

Excessive Use of Force as North Police Brutality
North Carolina police officers are never allowed to use excessive violence when dealing with anyone at any time and the victim or his/her family can file a North Carolina police brutality lawsuit if a cop violates their civil rights and/or causes serious injury or death without provocation or justification. Unjustified shootings, verbal abuse, injuring someone with a Taser when the suspect could have been apprehended in a less painful manner, false arrest, beatings, sexual assault, and intimidation are forms of police brutality and can be grounds for a North Carolina injury lawsuit.

Mother still seeking answers in May 2008 fatal police shooting, Gaston Gazette, September 21, 2009

Gastonia police: Officer shot suspect in back of head, WCNC, May 6, 2009

Related Web Resources:
Gastonia Police Department

North Carolina October 22 Coalition to Stop Police Brutality

North Carolina Child Death Fatality Rate was Lowest Ever in 2008

September 16, 2009, by Michael A. DeMayo

Good news for children 17 years of age and under in North Carolina. The death rate in the state for minors hit its lowest level yet in 2008, dropping 5% from the year before to 71 fatalities for every one hundred children.

According to the North Carolina Child Fatality Task Force, 1,573 minors died in 2008. That’s a definite drop from the 1,649 North Carolina child deaths in 2007.

There are 2.2 million people younger than 18 who are residents of North Carolina. Task force members attribute the decline to better child safety laws and greater spending on the issue of child safety. Other figures revealed by the task force include:

• 39% increase (compared to 2008) in sudden infant death syndrome.
• A 13% decline in the number of motor vehicle-related child deaths (better quality child safety seats and higher gas prices are credited for the decline)
• A 29% drop in fire-related fatalities
• 3 bicycle fatalities
• 18 poisoning deaths
• 58 children were murdered

There is nothing more devastating to a parent than to have a child die in an accident—especially in an accident that was caused by someone’s carelessness or negligence during a Charlotte car accident, a Hickory truck crash, a Raleigh bicycle collision, an apartment fire because a hazardous condition in the building that created a North Carolina premises liability, or another type of personal injury accident.

Fortunately, you can hold the responsible party liable by filing a North Carolina wrongful death claim. If your child was fortunate to survive the injury accident, you can also claim damages with your North Carolina injuries to minors lawsuit.This allows a parent or guardian to obtain personal injury recovery on the young victim’s behalf. This can be very important—especially if your child will have to undergo costly medical treatment and rehabilitation to recover or live for the rest of his or her life with a permanent injury.

NC rate of child deaths falls to lowest level, Charlotte Observer/AP, September 14, 2009

Related Web Resources:
County Level Child Death Data, (PDF)

NC Department of Health and Human Services

NASCAR Driver Jeremy Mayfield Files North Carolina Wrongful Death Lawsuit Against His Stepmother

September 8, 2009, by Michael A. DeMayo

In North Carolina, Jeremy Mayfield, the suspended NASCAR Sprint Cup driver, is suing Lisa Mayfield, his stepmother, over his father’s wrongful death. Terry Mayfield passed away on September 5, 2007. Police and the medical examiner say that he committed suicide by shooting himself in the chest.

His son, however, disagrees. Jeremy Mayfield’s Rowan County, North Carolina wrongful death complaint contends that Lisa Mayfield’s “intentional acts” caused his father’s death.

Jeremy Mayfield says his father confronted his wife about an affair he believed she was having and asked her to leave. Several days after Terry Mayfield died, Jeremy contends that the Lisa’s lover ended his relationship with his girlfriend and went to live with Lisa. Jeremy’s North Carolina wrongful death lawsuit also accuses his stepmother of spending a loan that was supposed to go toward constructing a barn.

Lisa Mayfield maintains that she had nothing to do with her husband’s death. In July, she filed her civil lawsuit alleging defamation against Jeremy in Iredell County civil court.

Wrongful Death
Even if the person or party that you believe is responsible for your loved one’s death is not charged in criminal court, you may be able to file a North Carolina wrongful death case for your loss and associated damages.

Suing someone for wrongful death won’t bring the deceased back, but it can give you some peace to know that the liable party was held accountable for their actions.

Some grounds for filing a Wrongful Death Complaint if your family member dies as a result:

• Medical malpractice
• Premises liability
• Products liability
• Nursing home abuse
• Nursing home neglect
• Car accidents
• Truck crashes
• Pedestrian accidents
• Motorcycle collisions
• Bicycle accidents
• Bus crashes
• Train accidents
• Murder

Jeremy Mayfield Files Wrongful Death Lawsuit Against Stepmother, Sporting News, September 8, 2009

Suspended driver sued by stepmother, ESPN, July 29, 2009

Related Web Resources:
Wrongful Death, Nolo

Police called to Jeremy Mayfield’s house,, August 16, 2009

Lawsuit Accuses Toyota of Concealing Evidence in Hundreds of Rollover Accidents

September 3, 2009, by Michael A. DeMayo

A former attorney for Toyota Motor Sales USA Inc. is suing his former employer for allegedly forcing him to withhold evidence from the victims of hundreds of rollover accidents. Dimitrios P. Biller says that not only did the world’s largest motor vehicle manufacturer make him conceal the evidence from plaintiffs who had sustained injuries or lost loved ones, but he claims that the company then made him resign two years ago.

Biller’s complaint accuses Toyota of getting rid of information in over 300 rollover accidents. He claims the data that was concealed proved that the vehicle roofs involved in the rollover accidents were substandard. He also accuses Toyota of illegally withholding computer-stored data from products liability attorneys and wrongful death lawyers.

Biller’s lawsuit claims that the company’s engineering unit was allowed to get rid of important documents and information that should have been turned over to the plaintiffs. The complaint also charges that Toyota held back records on vehicle roof testing and design.

Biller says that he was intimidated and harassed by Toyota employees even after he left the company. Because of the pressure that he was allegedly subjected to, Biller claims that he has had to undergo psychiatric treatment over the last four years and in 2007 he was diagnosed with major depressive syndrome.

Toyota has responded to Biller’s allegations with a statement calling the attorney’s claims “misleading” and “inaccurate.” The auto manufacturing giant portrays its former managing counsel as a disgruntled former employee who did not like the fact that he had to resign.

If in fact Toyota did withhold evidence in these cases, however, this could result in the reopening of rollover cases that over the past two decades the car maker has either won or settled.

Obtaining recovery for a Charlotte rollover lawsuit usually requires the experience of a North Carolina injury law firm who understands the intricacies involved with proving that an auto manufacturer was negligent and therefore owes the plaintiff damages for products liability or wrongful death.

Toyota concealed evidence in rollover cases, ex-attorney alleges, Los Angeles Times, September 1, 2009

Toyota Accused of Hiding Evidence, CBS News, August 29, 2009

Related Web Resources:
Q&As: Rollover and roof crush, IIHS, January 2009

Roof Crush and Rollover Information Center, Public Citizen


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