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New Trucker Regulations for 2017 May Help Improve Overall Safety

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It’s a new year and a new era of regulations for truck drivers in the United States.

The trucking industry is among the most regulated industries in the country, and this year there are even more rules to add to the long list. These rules are designed to make the roads safer for truck drivers and motorists alike.

What are the most important trucker regulations for 2017?

Here are some of the highlights of the proposed new regulations for the trucking industry:

 

  • More training for truck drivers – The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has proposed increased training for truckers. The uptick in training hours is expected to help retain truckers for the long-term, but it also has a big price tag attached. The same agency that implemented the new rule admits that it could cost more than $5 and-a-half billion over the next 10 years. It could make trucking companies implement in-house training programs, which will surely put a financial burden on the industry.
  • More environmental regulations – There are new regulations for truckers and the environment. The rules are designed to lower greenhouse gas emissions and make fuel economy better. It will be up to the trucking manufacturers to bring their products up to the increased environmental standards. That could mean higher costs for trucking companies to purchase the new parts, but the Environmental Protection Agency assures the industry that they will recover those additional costs within two years due to fuel savings.
  • Electronic logging devices – The electronic logging device (ELD) rule is aimed at helping to create a safer work environment for drivers and help to more quickly and accurately track, manage, and share records of duty status. Companies have until December 2017 to start using them, but they should start getting ready for them as soon as possible. An ELD works by syncing up with the truck’s engine to automatically record driving time.
  • Hours-of-service rule – The new regulations also will limit truck drivers to 73 hours of work for every seven days. That will be hard to get around with the new electronic logging devices, which will be able to tell how long the truck has been on the road. That means one thing for trucking companies: You have to comply. When the regulators say drive time, that doesn’t just mean the hours that trucks are driving. If you’re sitting idle and waiting for your next dispatch, or if you’re loading and unloading your cargo, both will count toward your hours of service.

 

All of these new regulations are expected to increase safety on the roads and major highways of America.

Accidents involving trucks are typically more serious than accidents involving other vehicles. That’s why it’s so important that you contact an experienced personal injury attorney if you’re involved in a wreck with a big rig.

Contact Robert Armstrong’s office today for help.

 

Why you should be careful what you tell insurance adjusters

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Anytime you’re in a vehicle accident that you didn’t cause, it’s very likely that you’ll be hearing from the insurance company of the driver who caused the wreck.

It’s very important to remember that insurance companies are for-profit businesses, and the less money they give you, the more money they keep. That means the insurance adjuster’s job is to pay you as little money as possible.

That’s why it’s crucial that you don’t say the wrong things to an insurance adjuster when he or she calls.

What should you NOT say to an insurance adjuster?

Here are some of the statements you should avoid when speaking with an insurance adjuster:

  • In my opinion” or “I think” – It’s best not to qualify any statements by guessing. If they ask you a question and you don’t know the answer, then it’s best to not say anything at all. The adjuster might try to rephrase the same question to try to get you to say something wrong. Again, silence is best in that situation.
  • “I’m sorry” -You shouldn’t let those words leave your mouth when speaking to an insurance adjuster. Also, apologizing for any part of the accident could later get twisted to make it seem like you were admitting fault.
  • “I’m fine” or “I’m not injured” – You might just be trying to be nice and/or cooperative. You might feel fine today, but when it comes to a car accident, it can take days or even weeks to get in to see a doctor and know the extent of your injuries. That’s why you should not tell an insurance adjuster that you don’t have any injuries. If you start to feel pain days later, make sure you see a doctor immediately and don’t sign any medical release forms without consulting with an attorney.
  • Never consent to a recorded statement – If you don’t want what you say to be taken out of context, then you should not consent to having the insurance adjuster record your statement.

Why do you need an experienced attorney to handle your car accident case?

Without an experienced personal injury attorney on your side, the insurance company handling your case is more likely to avoid paying what you deserve.

A good attorney can figure out how much money you need, based on the following factors:

  • Medical bills
  • Expenses you paid out of pocket
  • Lost employment wages
  • Pain and suffering
  • Future loss of quality of life

The first offer an insurance company gives you is likely much lower than what you are entitled to. That’s why it’s so important to contact an experienced car accident attorney.

If you’ve been in a car accident, contact Robert Artmstrong’s office today.

 

What damages can be sought after a wreck resulting in spinal injuries

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If you hurt your spinal cord in an accident, it’s very likely that your injury is much more serious than most other injuries. That’s because the spinal cord is not able to repair itself, unlike other parts of the body.

Often, spinal cord injuries involve a “sharp blow” that can sever your spinal cord, or even crush, dislocate, break or press the vertebrae around your spinal cord.

Spinal cord injuries can end in partial or full paralysis, and it is most often considered a life-changing injury.

Why do spinal cord injuries cause so much more physical damage?

The spinal cord is simply a group of nerves that connect your brain to your back and allow the brain to send messages to the rest of your body.

Spinal cord injuries get in the way of these messages from the brain to the body. There are two types of spinal cord injuries:

  • Complete spinal cord injury – no physical function left below the point of injury
  • Incomplete spinal cord injury – limited function below the point of injury

What kind of damages can you seek for a spinal cord injury?

One of first things you should do after a spinal cord injury in an accident is contact an experienced personal injury attorney. A good attorney will go after the following damages:

  • Medical Expenses: A spinal cord injury could mean a lot of treatments and surgeries, extended hospital stays, physical rehabilitation, long-term care at home, medical equipment, i.e. a wheelchair, and alterations to your home or car.
  • Lost Wages: Because surgeries, chronic pain and other treatments require you to take time off of work, spinal cord patients often find themselves behind in bills because of lost wages. If your loved one died from a spinal cord injury, a good attorney will seek full lost wages for the victim’s surviving family.
  • Vehicle Damage: If someone hit your vehicle and caused the spinal cord injury, you are entitled to recover the damages to your vehicle.
  • Decreased Quality of Life: If a spinal cord injury causes you to lose mobility or causes serious injury, it’s highly likely that your quality of life will be impacted. You are entitled to recover money for quality of life loss.
  • Pain and Suffering: Spinal cord injuries are very painful and difficult, and you deserve to be compensated for your pain and suffering.

If you’ve suffered a spinal cord injury because of an accident, contact Robert Armstrong’s office today for help. We’ll find the negligent party, and we’ll go after them to make sure you get what’s owed to you.

 

Brain Injuries: When Auto Accident Symptoms Do Not Improve

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If you’re in a serious automobile accident, it’s normal to feel a little out of focus and disoriented at first. But if those symptoms are severe and don’t improve quickly, you might have suffered a traumatic brain injury.

There are several ways traumatic brain injury can happen in a car accident, like if your head hits the steering wheel or windshield. You can also suffer a brain injury if you’re ejected and your head hits the pavement.

What types of brain injuries are there?

Generally, brain injuries can broken down into two categories: closed head injury and open head injury.

A closed head injury could include the following:

  • Concussions – This is a mild brain injury that involves slight swelling of the brain.  The brain is typically able to recover from a concussion, but not always, and sometimes the concussion can cause brain damage if it is severe.
  • Mass Lesions – This could include bruising (contusions), blood clots (hematoma), and bleeding of the brain (hemorrhaging). All of these put more pressure on your fragile brain.
  • Diffuse Injuries – Diffuse injuries are tiny injuries that are dispersed throughout your brain in different places. They’re often hard to find and can end with brain damage.  

What are the signs of a traumatic brain injury?

Your brain is responsible for the following functions, among several others:

  • Attention and concentration.
  • Processing and comprehending information.
  • Remembering things
  • Communicating with others
  • Planning, sorting, and putting things together
  • Reasoning skills, problem-solving, making decisions, and judgment.
  • Impulse control, patience

If you’ve suffered a brain injury, you might have issues with attention, concentration, talking, comprehending and remembering, or a host of other areas.  

Do you find yourself with any of the following problems?

  • Restlessness, unable to sit still
  • Easily distracted, unable to multitask or finish even one project
  • Issues with talking to people for long periods of time
  • Having trouble coming up with the right word
  • Trouble starting or following conversations or understanding what others say.
  • Rambling or straying off topic
  • Difficulty organizing your thoughts.
  • Trouble with nonverbal communication, unable to show facial expressions
  • Unable to understand or respond correctly to other people’s nonverbal communication.
  • Not understanding jokes or sarcastic remarks

If someone was negligent in causing your brain injury, you are entitled to compensation in several areas. A good personal injury attorney will go after the responsible party for the following, depending on the circumstances of your case:

  • Medical bills, both current and future
  • Rehabilitation and long-term medical care
  • Lost income and lowered earning capacity
  • Damage to your property
  • Pain and suffering

If you or someone you love has suffered a brain injury because of an accident, contact Robert Armstrong’s office today for help.

 

How is liability determined in a motorcycle accident

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Motorcycle accident cases are typically more complicated than other vehicle accident cases, mostly because the injuries for the motorcycle driver are more severe and there are several factors associated with driving a motorcycle.

These elements include:

  • Road hazards: Flying trash, small animals and other everyday road hazards are far more dangerous for motorcycles than they are to other vehicles.
  • No protection between you and the elements: When a person inside a vehicle gets into an accident, there’s a barrier between the person and the road. That’s not the case when you’re on a motorcycle.
  • Less visibility: When you ride a motorcycle, you’re less likely to be seen by other drivers than if you were in a vehicle.

How is liability determined in a motorcycle accident?

Liability in most motorcycle accidents is based on the law of “negligence.”

Someone is deemed negligent when he fails to exercise ordinary care or that degree of care that a reasonably prudent person would exercise. It’s behavior that injures another person. You can be ruled as negligent if you hit and injure the following:

  • Other motorists
  • Passengers
  • Pedestrians
  • Anyone else you might encounter on the road

If a driver was not being careful and someone got hurt because of it, the driver will be held liable.

A lot of motorcycle accidents are the fault of other drivers, but sometimes, the motorcycle rider is to blame.

What are the elements of negligence?

A negligence claim involves four key elements. The plaintiff must prove the following:

  • The law mandated that the defendant (the person being sued) was to act  reasonably careful.
  • The defendant was not careful. That is calculated by basing the defendant’s behavior to that of  a “reasonable person.”
  • Did the defendant cause the plaintiff’s injuries?
  • Was the plaintiff injured? Did the plaintiff have losses (monetary, time off work, loss of quality of life, etc.)? If no one was hurt, then there’s nothing to try to recover in court or through an insurance settlement. That’s true even if the person who caused the accident acted carelessly.

What should you do if you’re in a motorcycle accident?

If you are in a motorcycle accident that was caused by someone else, you should contact an attorney immediately. You should also take the following actions if you are able to:

  • Take notes and pictures: What do you remember about the accident? Write down every little detail that comes to mind: who, what, when, where, why. Who was at the scene? How many police officers? How was the weather? Did you take pictures of the scene and damage to your motorcycle or the other vehicle involved?
  • Log your injuries and losses: You should report your injuries to your medical provider and your insurance company, but you should also keep a personal record of them. Take as many photographs as possible.
  • Record your conversations: You should try to keep a record of every conversation you have that’s related to the accident, whether it’s with your insurance company, the responding police officer or the person who caused the crash.

 

If you or someone you love was in a motorcycle accident, contact the offices of Robert Armstrong today.

 

What factors affect your trucking accident case

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Trucking accidents are one of the most severe and dangerous types of auto accidents a person can be involved in. These accidents can easily leave the victims with major injuries, physical pain, and emotional trauma; in some cases they may even be fatal.

That is why it is important to understand the issues that contribute to the severity of a trucking accident.

Some of the major issues in some truck accident lawsuits are:

  • The qualifications of the driver;
  • The safety training provided by the company;
  • The condition of the tractor or trailer;
  • Hours worked by the driver; and
  • Actions of the driver.

Whenever there is a motor vehicle accident the question becomes who is at fault for causing the crash. That is always the main issue in every case involving a car accident or an 18-wheeler.

Truck drivers and trucking companies are subject to additional rules and regulations that do not apply to everyday drivers. Truck drivers are professional drivers much like a pilot in that they have the safety of many under their hands.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations provide a baseline safety standard for compliance by both truck driver and trucking company. The regulations also cover duties and obligations of others such as maintenance providers who may provide services to the trucking company.

Additional factors in a trucking accident include:

THE SPEED AT IMPACT

The speed at which the impact occurs is another case of not being able to fight physics. If the big rig truck slams into you at high speeds it’s going to exert a great deal more force than if the accident occurred at slow speeds. If your own vehicle is traveling at high speed as well this could make you more likely to spin out of control and crash into someone or something else.

High speeds are also a contributing factor for the accident to occur in the first place. It is much easier to stop in time to prevent an accident at slower speeds, and similarly it is also easier to take evasive action. High speeds may also make it more difficult to stop in bad weather or dangerous road conditions.

THE CARGO BEING CARRIED

In some tragic cases the cargo that the 18-wheeler is carrying may ultimately end up being what does the most harm in an accident. Heavy pipes and large equipment that are being hauled on a flatbed truck for instance may break loose as the result of an accident and crush the other car. Chemicals such as flammable liquids and gases, or other hazmat and toxic substances can also easily make a bad situation much worse. In some cases these dangerous substances could even prevent emergency responders from successfully rescuing victims.

THE PRESENCE OF SAFETY DEVICES

There is a reason why seat belt laws have been gaining ground and why airbags now come standard in most cars. These safety devices go a very long way toward minimizing the harm and injury that happens during an accident. Many cars are also specially engineered to crumple in strategic places while remaining firm in other places, thereby distributing the force of the accident and minimizing injury to the driver and passengers.

THE LOCAL ENVIRONMENT

Getting hit by a big rig truck is bad enough, but if the impact pushes your car down a steep embankment, or over a bridge or overpass, that will obviously result in an even higher likelihood of serious injury or even death. Dangerous weather conditions, or simply bad traffic, may also delay ambulances and rescue workers. Along the same lines if your accident happens very far from a hospital or trauma center capable of treating your wounds your chances of surviving with minimal long-term damage will likely be much bleaker than if you were mere minutes away from a top facility when the accident happened.

HUMAN FACTORS

Human factors can also go a long way toward minimizing, or exacerbating, an accident. For example, if the trucker is able to begin applying brakes prior to collision then this will at least result in the accident happening at a slightly slower speed. The driver of the struck vehicle may also in some cases be able to avoid hitting another car or object by steering away from it or applying the brakes. Calling 911 immediately or evacuating from a burning vehicle may also be imperative to prevent more serious injury.

Trucking Accident Attorney

Remaining vigilant while on the road and knowing what steps you can take to minimize your injury in an accident are essential. However, sometimes despite best efforts serious injuries and accidents do occur.

When this happens it is important to protect your legal rights and seek the compensation you deserve for your injuries, pain, and suffering.

If you or a loved one has been involved in an accident with an 18 wheeler contact Robert Armstrong today.

Personal Injury Life Care Plans Explained

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There’s nothing that can prepare you for the moment when an accident causes devastating injuries to you or your loved one. But thanks to significant developments in the legal field, there are a number of things you can do after the accident to make sure you lead the best life possible.

That’s where personal injury life care plans come in.

What are catastrophic life care plans?

Life care plans are complex tools that are used to plan for a number of issues that arise after a serious injury, such as:

  • Specific medical care needs based on professional standards
  • Permanent physical or mental impairments
  • The high cost of care that might be needed
  • The length of time the victim will need care

It’s a holistic, long-term approach to living life after a catastrophic accident.

What services are offered through life care plans?

Often, it takes an attorney who’s experienced in this specialized approach to personal injury care.

The attorney can help with several complex areas of the legal field:

  • Injury litigation
  • Estate settlement
  • Medical malpractice and medical negligence cases
  • Expert witnesses
  • Finding all available benefits, both public and private, including Medicaid, Medicare and other public entitlements.

What kind of things will life care plans consider?

When you’ve been seriously injured in an accident, you can’t possibly be expected to know everything you might need to care for yourself or your loved one, things like:

  • Wheelchairs
  • Ramps
  • Alterations to your house or vehicle
  • Nurses (both skilled and non-skilled)
  • Maintenance to your home

It takes medical experts, attorneys, economists, nurses, occupational therapists, physical therapists, life care planners, financial planners, and a host of other professionals to best determine your post-accident future.

What questions need to be answered when executing a life care plan?

In order to implement an effective life care plan for you or your loved one, some questions will have to be answered:

  • What is the victim’s overall condition?
  • What goods and services will the patient need to ensure a high quality of life?
  • How much will those goods and services cost in the long run?

It’s important to note that life care plans have three components:

  • Objective facts
  • Opinions about the best course of action
  • Conclusions based on the facts and opinions

These facts, opinions and conclusions will be based on medical records, personal interviews, examinations, and much more.

If you or your loved one has been seriously injured in a car accident, Robert Armstrong can help. Contact him today.  

 

How does pain and suffering factor into a personal injury lawsuit?

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When you’re in a serious car accident, the likelihood that you will experience some form of pain and suffering is high. We’ve all heard of pain and suffering, but how do those words play into a personal injury lawsuit?

What is pain and suffering?

Typically, there are two types:

  • Physical pain and suffering – that’s the actual physical pain that comes with injuries sustained in the accident. Physical pain and suffering is not just the pain you experienced during the crash and after the crash. It also takes into account pain and suffering that you are likely to experience in the future because of the accident.
  • Mental pain and suffering – This is more of a “byproduct” of the physical injuries. When you’ve been injured in an accident, you might experience a lot of crippling emotions – anguish, sadness, loss of joy, fear, anger, etc. – all of which can have a negative impact on you and your life. Just like physical pain and suffering, mental pain and suffering not only calculates the mental anguish you felt right after the accident, but also the mental pain and suffering you are likely to experience down the road.

How is pain and suffering factored into your personal injury case?

An insurance company, a judge or a jury is going to look a wide range of things when determining pain and suffering in a personal injury lawsuit.

Here are some of the factors they will consider:

  • Consistency – Does your story stay the same every time you tell it? Are you consistent when you describe your pain?
  • Credibility – Do you have a criminal record? Is there evidence that you have lied at any point during the personal injury case?
  • Likeability – The bad part about this factor is that it’s subjective, but it’s still very important when determining how much money you will receive for pain and suffering. If you don’t consider yourself a “people” person, make sure your highly experienced personal injury attorney spends ample time prepping you for trial or depositions. You should be able to speak openly and clearly about your injuries and the aftermath. This is why it is vitally important for your lawyer to get to know you.
  • Doctor support – Does your doctor’s diagnosis consistent with your claims? Because the award must be based on the severity of the injury, you’ve got to have supporting documents and testimony from health care professionals.

How is pain and suffering calculated?

Although there’s no set in stone law on how to calculate the amount of money a person should receive in a personal injury case, insurance companies sometimes rely on two methods:

  • Multiplier – This means the award is determined by multiplying the actual damages, like medical bills and lost employment wages, by a set number. That number is usually between 1 and 5.
  • Per diem – Insurance companies have also been known to use the per diem method in which they pick a daily amount (like $150, for example) and pay you that amount every day from the day of the accident until you have reached “maximum recovery.”

Regardless of how an insurance company values your claim, it may not be the value that you agree with. That is why it is so important to have a conversation with your lawyer about how the injury has affected you at home, work and the things that you enjoy doing in life. You are not stuck with any amount that an insurance company is willing to offer. That is why our Court system is there.

There’s a lot of information out there on pain and suffering, but no amount of research can make up for having an experienced personal injury lawyer on your side. If you’ve been injured in an accident, contact Robert Armstrong today.

 

Why are truck accident cases more complicated than car accident cases

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Accidents involving large trucks are far more dangerous than smaller vehicle accidents for one obvious reason – the sheer size of the truck means injuries are often severe or even fatal.

There are other differences between cars and truck accidents, namely:

  • Maneuverability – It’s just so big. That’s why it can’t swerve as quickly to miss a deer on the highway, and it needs more than twice the distance of a car to complete a turn. And when it does turn abruptly, it runs the risk of “jackknifing” into a V shape.
  • Stopping distance – It’s pretty simple, according to physics: the bigger the vehicle, the more difficult it is to stop it once it’s moving. If another car or truck stops suddenly in front of a big rig, the chances it will be able to stop in time to avoid a crash are greatly diminished. Experts say while it takes a car just more than 300 feet to stop when it’s traveling 65 miles per hour, a large truck can take over 520 feet to come to a stop.

Because there are so many additional responsibilities involved in driving a big rig, it’s important that truck drivers are highly trained and adhere to federal truck driving regulations, including the number of hours they drive consecutively, the number of hours they work in a week, and many, many more.

In 2014, 97 percent of the 3,600 deaths from truck accidents were passengers in a car.

What are some safety tips for dealing with big trucks?

Here are a few ways you can stay safe around semis:

  • Don’t cut off trucks.
  • Make sure they have lots of room to stop.
  • Always pass on the left side of a truck instead of the right side. The blind side on the right is much bigger.
  • Try to stay out of their blind spots.

What are the rules for truck drivers in North Carolina?

In North Carolina, truck drivers must adhere to both Federal and State guidelines designed to combat driver fatigue, since driver fatigue is often the cause for such serious or deadly crashes involving large trucks.

Truckers in North Carolina also are responsible for the following crucial things:

  • Regular truck maintenance
  • Keeping detailed record logs, which include noting the number of hours they are driving and the number of hours they are resting.

However, not all truck drivers follow the strict laws that govern the trucking industry, and trucking companies are often multi-million dollar companies with huge liabilities.

When you’re involved in an accident with a semi, it’s important that you hire a personal injury attorney with experience in 18-wheeler accidents. Contact Robert Armstrong today.

 

Do I need a personal injury attorney?

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Do I need a personal injury attorney? The answer to this question is absolutely, unequivocally yes! Years ago, insurance companies used to handle claims very differently than they do now. A person’s insurance company has a contract with said person. A contract that basically says that the insurance company will defend and indemnify that person against all claims for negligence; even if they caused the wreck!

Whose side do you think that they are on? Who do you think they are looking out for? I can assure you that it is not you! Their only concern is to protect their insured. They are also in the business of saving money – if they can get out cheaply, they absolutely will. It’s their bread and butter, and is what they do best. So how can a person compete against an agency that is actively trying to denounce their claim?

You hire someone who can go toe-to-toe with these companies to be your champion. A really good personal injury lawyer that knows how to:

  • Handle all facets of the case
  • Deal with these corporate giants
  • Protect their client’s interests
  • Get you the compensation you deserve

There are many varieties of lawyer; traffic ticket, criminal, real estate, business, etc. And while some lawyers may dabble in multiple areas – it is vital that you go to someone who specializes in personal injury law. Additionally, you want a lawyer that will be there for you for small and large issues – someone that is going to answer when you call, respond to your texts or emails, and meet you whenever and wherever you need them to. You need a lawyer that will treat you with respect whether your claim is worth $3,000 or $3,000,000.

You may be asking yourself, “That sounds great, but how do I pay for all of this on top of my medical bills?” Short answer? You don’t have to! Most decent personal injury lawyers work on a contingency fee. You don’t pay your lawyer out of your own pocket! The lawyer is paid a percentage of your recovery (typically around 33%). If there is no recovery, you don’t owe your lawyer any fees. You and your lawyer succeed or fail, together.

That’s why it’s so important to choose a lawyer that will be honest about the merits of your case, in order to avoid creating false hope.You also want a lawyer that will not sell you short, but knows the value of the case to you, and will give you sound advice about the merits of settling your claim vs filing your claim in Court and trying your case to a jury of your peers. Your lawyer should be looking out for you and giving you wise, sound advice so that you can make an informed decision about how you want your case handled.

Call 910-256-1233 for a free personal injury case consultation.