fireworks-200x300According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, an average of 230 people per day are admitted to the hospital for injuries caused by fireworks in the days leading up to the Fourth of July. Several of these injuries result in fatalities.

Fireworks have been known to prematurely explode and cause severe injuries. Most of the injuries due to the use of fireworks are burns to the head, face, ears, hands and fingers. Even fireworks like sparklers pose a huge safety risk since they can burn at over 2,000 degrees. Using handheld fireworks can be very dangerous and are the reason why so many people end up in an emergency room during the Fourth of July holiday.

Due to the dangers posed by fireworks, North Carolina has fairly restrictive laws. Fireworks that are illegal in North Carolina include:

The summer months are peak vacation time. This means that more tourists are in town, and more pedestrians and cyclists can be seen on crosswalks, sidewalks, and bike lanes. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, nearly 54% of car accidents happen during the spring and summer months. Pedestrian and bicyclist fatalities amount to about 16 percent of all traffic fatalities.

stockfresh_8838038_close-up-of-a-bicycling-helmet-fallen-down-on-the-ground-after-a_sizeS-300x200Some of the most catastrophic types of traffic accidents happen when a motorist hits a pedestrian or a bicycle. Without the protection of being in a car, a pedestrian or a cyclist can easily suffer devastating injuries in a crash.

Bike Traffic Laws

According to a study conducted by Kaiser Permanente, there is a noticeable spike in emergency room visits during the warm summer months. The study showed a 15 to 27 percent increase in visits to emergency rooms from Memorial Day to Labor Day.

stockfresh_1904915_emergency-sign_sizeS-300x142Children made up a significant portion of the increase in accidents and illness, and the pattern of injury was very distinct. This led researchers to conclude that the longer days and increases in popular activities in the summer also put individuals at higher risk of injury.

As summer begins, you should be aware of the top reasons for summer ER visits and how to prevent injury to yourself and your children. Some of the most commonly reported injuries that result in ER visits during the summer include:

Hiking and exploring waterfalls are great ways to see nature, explore, and get some exercise. Enjoying the great outdoors can come with specific risks though. In Western North Carolina and Upstate South Carolina, including popular sites like Table Rock State Park and DuPont State Forest, hikers have suffered serious, and sometimes fatal, injuries in recent hiking accidents and waterfall accidents.

The stockfresh_6602562_waterfall_sizeS-200x300Charlotte Observer reports that the first local waterfall death in 2018 occurred at Western North Carolina’s Catawba Falls in the Pisgah National Forest. There, an out-of-state visitor walked ahead of his hiking group and fell over the edge of a 50-foot cliff while trying to take a picture. In another recent tragedy from April, a man visiting a North Carolina waterfall near Twin Bridges fell nearly 70 feet and suffered fractures.

Failure to follow basic hiking and waterfall safety precautions while hiking and visiting waterfalls could easily lead to serious injury or death. In order to avoid serious or fatal accidents, outdoor enthusiasts should consider the following safety tips:

The 2018 hurricane season has begun and continues until November 30, with the peak season occurring between mid-August and late October. Hurricanes are powerful systems with winds of 74 miles per hour or higher. When tropical storms or hurricanes move onto land, they sweep the ocean inward and cause tornadoes, heavy winds and rain as well as massive flooding.

stockfresh_7830887_city-in-the-rain_sizeS-300x195Not only do hurricanes affect the coastal areas, but they can also affect mountain areas hundreds of miles from the coast. Catastrophic high winds and extensive flooding are real threats. In 2004, Hurricane Frances and Hurricane Ivan struck back to back, dumping parts of Western North Carolina including Asheville with more than 18 inches of rain. In 2017, Hurricane Irma made its way through Greenville and surrounding areas of Upstate South Carolina, causing flooding and heavy wind damage.

Hurricane Preparedness Tips

stockfresh_7660788_ptsd-tiled-letters-concept-and-theme_sizeS-300x218If you need to make a claim because of Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome or PTSD, the VA has a form titled VA 21-0781 which you will need to use. On the form, the VA instructs Veterans to detail any in-service event which may have contributed to the Veteran’s claimed PTSD. In addition to these details, it is in the Veteran’s best interest to include the following information on the same VA 21-0781 form.

  1. State how long these symptoms have lasted;
  2. State whether these symptoms create distress or limit the Veteran’s ability to function normally;

Miltary Sexual Trauma (“MST”) is when a servicemember is a victim of sexual assault, forced or coerced into sexual activities, or exposed to “repeated, unsolicited verbal or physical contact of a sexual nature which is threatening in character.”[1]  Due to the nature of the military, its esprit de corps, its command structure, and the potential for severe retaliatory action, most sexual harassment and assaults go unreported.

stockfresh_8574877_woman-showing-a-note-with-the-text-me-too_sizeS-300x200Because of the gross underreporting of MST, it can be difficult for an MST survivor to accumulate enough credible evidence that the in-service event occurred to support his or her claim.  The VA cannot use the absence of an MST report in a Veteran’s service record as evidence that the event did not take place;[2] however, the Veteran cannot simply rely upon his or her statements that the event did take place.  He or she must submit additional credible evidence.  The VA details possible evidence which can corroborate the Veteran’s statements in 38 C.F.R. § 3.304(f)(5),[3] which states: Continue Reading

Arthritis and Hypertension are just two common conditions in an extensive list that the VA will grant presumptive service connection for if the symptoms manifest to a certain degree within one year after discharge from service. dreamstime_s_84139689-300x200

Usually, when a Veteran files a claim for disability benefits from the VA, he or she must show three things: (1) a current compensable condition, (2) an in-service event or injury, and (3) a direct link between the two.  With presumptive service connection, the Veteran only has to show that he or she has a current compensable condition and that he or she has met the other requirements for the presumption.  For chronic condition presumptive service, the requirements are[1]:

  1. The Veteran served for ninety days or more during a period of war,
  2. A chronic condition listed under 38 C.F.R. § 3.309(a) became manifest within a prescribed period (one year after discharge from service, except leprosy, tuberculosis, and multiple sclerosis, which are three years, three years, and seven years, respectively), and
  3. This manifestation within one-year has to rise to the level of 10% under the VA disability rating schedule in 38 C.F.R. §4.40-4.150.

Several Chronic Conditions Are Accepted By The VA

The complete list of VA accepted chronic conditions is listed under 38 C.F.R. § 3.309(a) and includes such common conditions for Veterans as, but is not limited to, anemia; arteriosclerosis; stones of the kidney, bladder, or gallbladder; cirrhosis of the liver; diabetes; psychoses; Raynaud’s disease; and gastric or duodenal ulcers.

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It’s all over the news; Bill Cosby was found guilty of sexual assault.  But many people might ask, why was he convicted this time and not last time? Last year Cosby was tried, and because the jury couldn’t reach a unanimous verdict, a mistrial was declared.  So what made the big difference this time? Same victim, dreamstime_s_29662892-300x199same crime, same investigation. One key difference was the prosecution’s use of an expert witness.  What is an expert witness? How are they different than a normal witness? Expert witnesses are people with so much training and education in a specific field that they are qualified to be “experts” in a particular field.  This is important because it allows them to testify to their opinion, rather than just testifying to the facts like is required of normal witnesses.  The expert in the Cosby trial was Dr. Barbara Ziv, a psychiatrist who specialized in the treatment of sexual assault victims and offenders. While a sexual assault prosecutor in the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office, I had several opportunities to work with Dr. Ziv and call her as an expert witness.  In any case, where an expert is called, the expert’s schooling and work history is presented to the jury.  So, Dr. Ziv’s education in becoming a psychiatrist and her work history working in the field of sexual assault would have been analyzed in depth by both the prosecution and defense before the Judge in the case qualified her as an expert witness.  After this Dr. Ziv would have been allowed to testify to her opinion regarding the behavior of sexual assaults victims, combating many pre-conceived notions and myths held by jurors. This education of jurors from the witness stand likely played a critical part in their ultimately reaching the guilty verdict.

It’s not just in criminal cases that experts can mean the difference between success and failure.  In the right case, expert witnesses can and should be used in a personal injury case.  When people are seriously hurt in a car accident or a slip and fall, there are several experts that are used in court.  Calling an expert to testify to the cost of future medical care they will need or calling an expert to testify to the ramifications on a person’s ability to earn a living can have a huge impact on what a jury will award an injured person.  It is essential to have an attorney on your side who knows when an expert should be used, knows those best qualified in their fields, and knows how to present them to a jury.   Just like in the Cosby trial, use of an expert in a personal injury case can have a huge impact on the outcome of a case.  You need an attorney who understands that and who is skilled in their use of experts.  At Grimes Teich Anderson LLP we use expert witnesses when we believe it will help our clients’ case.

Senta Rhodes is a personal injury attorney at Grimes Teich Anderson LLP

As the parent of a teenager, you likely have concerns about their ability to operate a vehicle safely when you are not in the car. Teenagers often feel that they are ready for the freedom that having a drivers’ license can give them, but parents often worry that their kids do not have the maturity, skill, or experience to protect themselves and others from harm on the roads.stockfresh_3258351_young-black-teenage-driver-holding-car-keys-driving-her-new-car_sizeS-300x200

Fortunately, there are steps you can take as a parent to help your teen be a safer driver. Here are some suggestions:

Step #1: Set a good example.

For your teen to be a safe driver, you should make sure to set a good example of safe driving habits. A parent who drives aggressively or impatiently, tailgates, or speeds will have a harder time convincing their teen to practice patience behind the wheel. Be a good role model for your teen!

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