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How to Drive Smart When School’s In Session

As auto accident lawyers we are often asked questions about “the rules” of the road. What is legal, what isn’t. One question I have found myself answering more than a few times is when to stop for a stopped school bus. (See our easy-to-follow bus infographic.)

The better question to answer in my opinion is how to drive safely near schools and when school children are nearby.

When Do I Stop for a School Bus?

If you are unsure of exactly which situations require you to stop for a stopped school bus, you are not alone. During a one-day study conducted by the North Carolina School Bus Safety Web in 2013, more than 3,300 vehicles illegally passed stopped school buses.

The penalty for not stopping carries a minimum fine of $500, as stated in House Bill 428 (Hasani N. Wesley Students’ School Bus Safety Act). Passing a stopped school bus is not only illegal but also dangerous for children who may be entering or exiting the bus.

As a rule of thumb, drivers behind the school bus should always stop, regardless of whether they are in the same lane as the bus or not.

With a couple of exceptions, drivers on the opposite side of the road must also stop for a stopped school bus. Traffic traveling in the opposite direction is not required to stop, ONLY if driving on a four-lane road with a median separation, divided highway, or center turning lane. However, four-lane roads without median separation or turning lanes, and all two-lane roads – with or without center turning lanes – require that all traffic on either side of the road come to a complete stop until the school bus resumes motion.

Driving Near School Busses

In addition to knowing when to stop for a stopped school bus, drivers should take additional precautions when sharing the road with school buses. The National Safety Council (NSC) recommends leaving a greater following distance behind buses than you would behind other cars, allowing you adequate time to stop when necessary.

The NSC also warns that “the area 10 feet around a school bus is the most dangerous for children.” The organization recommends that drivers stop with a generous space between the bus and their vehicles to allow school children to enter and exit the bus as needed.

Keep in mind that because school buses are so large, drivers have limited visibility of surrounding cars and may not be able to see you. You should take this into consideration and yield to school buses when changing lanes and turning.

Look Out for Pedestrians

More than one-third of the children killed in school-transportation related crashes between 2006 and 2015 were pedestrians, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). In North Carolina drivers must yield to pedestrians at all intersections and driveways.

School-aged children may be unpredictable or may not know the specific rules of when to cross a street. Therefore, drivers should use extreme caution and be prepared to stop at any given time when traveling through school zones and surrounding areas and neighborhoods.

The only thing children should have to worry about on their journey to school is whether or not they will pass their algebra test!

NC Personal Injury Lawyers Offer Free Case Evaluation

Getting hurt on the way to school is something no one should have to go through alone. There can be extensive medical bills and issues with the insurance company. You want someone to fight for you to try to recover everything you are potentially due in damages.

If you or someone you know was involved in a school-transportation related accident, contact us or call 1-866-900-7078 for a free case evaluation.

 

I was injured on the job as a result of Hurricane Florence. Now what?

Hurricane Florence recently dealt a severe blow to the state of North Carolina. This storm interrupted many people’s livelihoods and presented severe health hazards in many areas. In the process, there were increased risks of job-related injuries. If you were injured on the job as a result of the unusual hazards presented by Hurricane Florence, or as the result of other forms of work accidents, there are two important benefits provided under the North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Act for job-related injuries:

  • Medical treatments to help you recover from your injuries
  • Payments if you are not able to work because of your injury

3 Steps to Hurricane Florence Workers’ Comp Benefits

Medical treatments and workers’ comp payments can help injured workers try to avoid financial ruin and more severe health consequences. If you are not careful, the requirements of the Workers’ Compensation Act could result in you losing eligibility for these benefits.

If you are hurt on the job, there are three important steps to remember to protect your workers’ compensation rights:

1. Report your injury to your employer

After even very serious injuries, many workers attempt to “tough it out” and avoid immediately reporting their job injury to their employer. This can be the result of many factors, such as job dedication or concern that the employer may retaliate after the report of a job injury. However, it is very important that prompt documentation be completed, such as by an incident report, in a timely manner after a job injury.

The Workers’ Compensation Act has certain forms that need to be completed in a timely manner. The Form 18 is the injured employee’s report of injury to the employer and should be filed with the North Carolina Industrial Commission as soon as possible, including within 30 days of your injury. This form lets the North Carolina Industrial Commission and your employer know that you are requesting to receive workers’ compensation benefits for your injuries. If you do not file the claim within 30 days after the work injury, then your employer and the workers’ compensation insurance company may create additional obstacles as you attempt to receive workers’ compensation benefits.

There is also another form, called a Form 19, which should be promptly filed by the employer after their knowledge that an employee was injured. However, an injured employee should not assume that the employer will file their claim.

We have seen many instances where an employer may be aware of an employee’s job injury for a long while, but never report the claim to the workers’ compensation insurance company or even to the North Carolina Industrial Commission.

We have also seen instances when an employer may then deny, after the claim is filed, that they even had knowledge of the job accident in the first place. These are all issues that an experienced workers’ compensation attorney, like those with the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin, is prepared to handle.

2. Get medical treatment

If you are injured on the job, obtaining prompt medical care is the best way to try to avoid your injury becoming even worse. We have seen many situations where an injured employee may believe that a condition, such as a sore back, is hopefully not that serious, but then becomes much more severe than the employee originally thought. We have seen many instances where clients initially hoped they could “tough it out” and continue to work, only to realize that they only made their health condition worse by delaying treatment. We have also seen situations where the workers’ compensation insurance company then pointed to delay in obtaining treatment as a reason to attempt to avoid paying workers’ compensation benefits. Timely reporting of job-related injuries and obtaining prompt medical treatment are important factors in preserving your health as well as your rights to workers’ compensation benefits.

3. Consult an Experienced Workers’ Compensation Attorney

Of the more than 28,000 attorneys who are licensed to practice law in North Carolina, only a small fraction are North Carolina Board Certified Specialists in Workers’ Compensation law. At the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin, we have six attorneys who are Board Certified Specialists in Workers’ Compensation law.

Some of our workers’ compensation attorneys include former Deputy Commissioners from the North Carolina Industrial Commission and a former state senator who helped write some of the workers’ compensation laws in North Carolina.

Our workers’ compensation attorneys are compensated on a contingency fee basis, which means that there is no attorney fee unless a recovery is obtained for the client.2

For that reason, there is no increased attorney fee if someone obtains legal representation at an early stage, middle stage, or late stage of their case. In light of the complexity of these issues and the important timeframes that apply after job-related injuries, over 20 years of experience has taught us that it is in the best interest of an injured worker to obtain experienced legal representation as soon as possible after a work accident.

Get a Free Case Evaluation From NC Workers’ Comp Lawyers

Don’t become another Hurricane Florence statistic if you were injured as a result of the hurricane. When it comes to trying to get the benefits you may deserve from the workers’ comp insurance company, there is a lot at stake. That is why we urge anyone who has been injured on the job to contact us or call 1-866-900-7078.

We will fight hard for you to try to ensure that all the necessary measures are taken to try to prove your right to benefits.

How Safe Are You at the NC State Fair?

If you are thinking of going to the 2018 North Carolina State Fair you will, quite literally, be one in a million. Over one million guests are expected to line up at the fairgrounds during those 10 days. Many will get their fix of deep fried Oreos before getting tossed and turned upside down by one of the thrilling attractions the NC State Fair offers.

While this may be a family tradition for many, one mishap could quickly turn tragic.

How Safe Are You at the NC State Fair?

Though rare, injuries on carnival rides do occur, and the North Carolina State Fair has not been immune to mishaps.

  • In 2017, a 2-year-old boy was injured after falling off a ride due to user error, as reported by ABC11.
  • In 2013, five fairgoers were hospitalized after falling approximately 30 feet from “The Vortex” due to ride malfunctioning.
  • In 1998, three riders suffered injuries after a roller coaster’s cars collided.

NC State Fair employees, too, must deal with the uncertainty of the carnival rides they operate.

  • In 2013, a worker was taken to the ICU after a ride he was disassembling fell on top of him, as reported byWRAL.
  • In 2009, a similar incident occurred with an employee attempting to break down the “Flying Bobs” ride, according to ABC11.
  • In 2004, a worker was struck and injured by a steel beam.
  • In 2002, a ride attendant was killed after being struck by the ride and thrown from his platform.

Rides and vendors lit up at night at the North Carolina State Fair.

How to Have Fun & Try to Be Safe

A 2010 ABC report attributes the 7,000 annual emergency room visits due to carnival ride injuries in America primarily to three reasons: equipment malfunctions, varying inspection regulations, and user error.

The federal government oversees only the manufacturing of these rides – set-up and maintenance is left to state regulation. North Carolina requires semi-annual unannounced inspections of stationary rides, as well as inspections of mobile rides at the time of set-up.

As a preventative measure, fairgoers should strictly obey the safety guidelines provided by fair attendants. The International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA) provides further recommendations when riding carnival rides:

  • Don’t try to cheat the system: follow the rider age, height, weight and health restrictions.
  • Keep all body parts inside the ride’s vehicle at all times.
  • Secure any loose items (wallets, change, sunglasses, cell phones, hats, etc.) before getting on the ride.
  • Use the safety equipment as it is intended to be used – don’t try to loosen or remove restraints even if they’re uncomfortable.
  • Never force anyone to ride attractions they’re hesitant or weary of.
  • Report any behavior or conditions you believe to be unsafe to authorities immediately.
  • Talk to your children to make sure they understand the importance of following these rules.

These attractions are meant to create an amusing, thrilling, and overall positive experience. The safety measures are incredibly important in order to maintain this light-hearted atmosphere, rather than turning it into a scene of fear and tragedy.

Thank Your NC State Fair Ride Attendants

Behind the scenes of the fun and games are employees who strive to ensure your NC State Fair experience is as safe and enjoyable as possible. When you think of jobs that put their employees’ lives on the line, a carnival ride attendant may not come to mind. However, if they lose control of their rides, they are potentially placed in a very dangerous situation.

Just as passengers cannot predict a ride malfunction, operators may not necessarily know if or when their machine will malfunction. Because of the close contact employees maintain with their rides, they face the same uncertain dangers riders do. They have a lot of responsibility to try to keep you safe. Thank them for helping to keep you safe and for an enjoyable experience.

Get a Free Case Evaluation from NC Personal Injury Lawyers

If you or someone you know was injured at the NC State Fair (or any NC carnival, water park, or similar attraction) contact us immediately or call 1-866-900-7078 for a free case evaluation.