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December 22, 2014

Three Children Struck by Elderly Driver

On Friday morning, three Transylvania County children were struck and injured by an elderly driver. According to WLOS ABC News Channel 13, the incident happened at about 7:15 a.m., as the children were getting ready to board the school bus. The driver, 85-year-old Floyd Hipps, failed to stop or reduce his speed for the school bus. Children were crossing Greenville Highway, and the bus was completely stopped with the crossing arm out and red lights flashing at the time of the wreck.

Children from Bus 77 were headed to Brevard Middle School. The bus made a stop near the Connestee Falls subdivision to pickup about five kids when Mr. Hipps drove through. The 2013 Ford Explorer hit three of them and sent two to the ground. School bus officials did report that while the bus had onboard cameras, it did not have stopping arm cameras, so no footage of the incident was captured of the incident.

Two of the children had to be airlifted to Mission Hospital in Asheville, and the third child was taken by ambulance to Transylvania Regional Hospital in Brevard. Thankfully, none of the injuries were life-threatening. One child suffered a fractured femur, a second child suffered a concussion, and a third child suffered a fractured skull. The third child remains in serious condition at the hospital. The other two children have been released. Mr. Hipps was charged with felony failure to stop for a school bus and failure to reduce speed, but there's no word on why he didn't stop. The Highway Patrol spokesperson said that any time a child is hit a child is hit at a bus stop, the criminal charge becomes a felony. Hipps told Troopers that he did not see the children before the impact.

The Danger Zone

After this incident, it may or may not come as a surprise to Asheville parents that the most dangerous part of riding a school bus is loading and unloading. The 10 feet in front of, behind and beside a school bus is considered the "Danger Zone." The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) encourages parents to talk to their children about safe boarding and unloading practices. Not only are children at risk from other drivers, but they're also in an area where a bus driver may not see them. Children who have to cross the street to board the bus or unload from a bus should be instructed to stay well in front of the bus so that they can have direct eye contact with the bus driver. Children should also be told that they must still look in both directions prior to crossing the street, even if the bus' lights are flashing and the stop arm is extended.

Civil Liability Analysis

In addition to the criminal charges, Mr. Hipps also faces the potential for substantial civil liability from this incident. The purpose of the civil justice system is to compensate those who have suffered injury or harm as a result of someone else's careless or reckless conduct. The children who suffered injuries from this incident have the right to assert a personal injury claim against Mr. Hipps and his automobile insurance company. In a situation like this, the liability of Mr. Hipps seems clear, and the only real question would be the value of the childrens' personal injury claims. While the injuries in this case do not appear life-threatening, the injuries are certainly serious.

What Is My Case Worth?

The children in this case would have the right to recover for all of their medical expenses, including but not limited to ambulance, hospital, and rehabilitation costs. The right to recover for these expenses exists even if the children are covered by their parent's private health insurance. The children would also have the right to recover money damages for any permanent injuries and for the physical pain and mental suffering caused by the injuries. Mental suffering can include things like anxiety and post traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD). There is no set formula for deciding the value of such claims. Clients often want to know at the beginning of their case: "what is my claim worth?" At Davis Law Group, we always respond by saying that, "your case is worth what any 12 people off the street could agree on after hearing all of the evidence in your case." There is no way to say what any given case is truly worth immediately after the injury. The reality is that we have to wait and see how the client does during the medical treatment and then also how the client is doing after their injuries have healed and all of the medical care is completed.

Does The Minor Receive Money?

When a minor is injured as the result of another person's careless or reckless conduct, and the minor makes a claim and recovers money for their injuries, the money must go into either a trust account in the Clerk of Court's Office or into a Structured Settlement. A Structured Settlement is a form of an insurance annuity.

If the money is deposited with the Clerk's Office, then as soon as the minor turns 18 years of age, he or she can take all of the money from the settlement and do with it as they please. If the money is placed into a Structured Settlement, then the money will be disbursed to the claimant at certain intervals and amounts, depending on how the Structured Settlement is put together. Often, the parents of the minor decide that it would be better to place the money into a Structured Settlement so that the money can be disbursed in a way that is helpful to paying for a college education. Another huge benefit of a Structured Settlement is that the interest income earned prior to disbursement is tax free and not subject to capital gains taxes.

Elderly Driver Safety

Although very few details about the crash have been released, plenty of citizens are talking about elderly driver safety. As our friends and relatives continue to age, their ability to safely operate a motor vehicle may diminish. These are not easy conversations to have with a friend or loved one. But, if you're worried about an elderly driver, it may be time to have "the talk." The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) also provides a variety of materials to concerned family members and helpful tips for bringing up the conversation. The team at Davis Law Group, P.A. wishes speedy and full recoveries for all of the injured children involved.

November 20, 2014

School Bus Crash in Henderson County

On Tuesday morning, a woman had to be airlifted to Mission Hospital after she rear-ended a school bus in Henderson County. According to the Times-News Online, there were about 20 children on the bus at the time of the crash. The incident happened at about 7:36 a.m., when a school bus stopped to pickup students at Ferenvilla Drive. Another school bus stopped behind that bus, and was suddenly rear-ended by a small car.

Very few details have been released about how this crash happened. Why didn't the driver stop in time? Could it have been a case of distracted driving? Was the driver unable to stop due to a mechanical problem? At least one child was taken to the hospital for evaluation, and the woman driver's injuries were described as "non-life-threatening." The driver was reportedly charged with failing to reduce speed.

The attorneys and staff at Davis Law Group, P.A. have helped thousands who have been involved in serious motor vehicle crashes involving buses, trucks, motorcycles and cars. The firm's attorneys are glad to answer any questions you have. Remember, if you are involved in a wreck, you should always talk to an attorney before you talk with an insurance company.

October 23, 2014

School Bus Rear-Ended in Henderson County

On Tuesday afternoon, a school bus was rear-ended in Henderson County. There were 22 students from Clear Creek Elementary School on the bus. They were headed back from a field trip at the time. According to WLOS ABC News Channel 13, the driver that rear-ended the bus was looking down at his phone at the time of the crash.

Thankfully, none of the students appeared to have been injured in the crash. The driver of the car did suffer from some minor injuries. Although no charges have been filed, the Highway Patrol is still investigating the incident. Distracted driving puts everybody on the road at great risk. This crash could have been much worse. If a distracted driver has injured you or a loved one, contact the skilled team at Davis Law Group, P.A. for a free consultation today.

October 2, 2014

Children Injured in School Bus Crash

On Wednesday morning, a school bus crash injured eight West Marion Elementary School students. The driver of a sedan crossed the centerline and struck the school bus head on. According to WLOS ABC News Channel 13, the McDowell County collision happened at about 7:30 a.m. at Whitson's Curve.

The impact of the crash sent both vehicles off of the roadway, and the bus ended up in a ditch. Witnesses and emergency responders were swiftly on the scene assisting the children. The driver of the car, 40-year-old Randall Webb, was arrested and charged with DWI, although very few details have been released about the investigation.

Thankfully, none of the children's injuries were initially described as serious. The team at Davis Law Group, P.A. wishes all of the children speedy and full recoveries from their injuries.

September 12, 2014

School Bus Crash in Dana

On Thursday morning, a school bus crash in Dana sent 15 children to the hospital. According to WLOS ABC News Channel 13, the one-vehicle crash happened sometime after 7:30 a.m. on Deep Gap Road. For currently unknown reasons, the Dana Elementary school bus ran off the right side of the road. The bus stuck a culvert and came to rest on its side in a ditch beside the roadway.

There were 36 students on the bus at the time of the crash. At least 15 of those students were taken to the hospital for treatment of injuries. Children were taken to both Pardee Hospital and Park Ridge Hospital. Thankfully, the injuries were described as minor. At this time, the crash is still under investigation with authorities. The team at Davis Law Group, P.A. wishes speedy and full recoveries to all of the students involved.

April 17, 2014

Activity Bus Wreck in Henderson County

Last week, a wreck involving an activity bus happened in Henderson County. According to WLOS ABC Channel 13 News, the crash happened just after 9:00 a.m. on Asheville Highway. First responders with Mountain Home Fire Department were swiftly on the scene, since the crash happened close to their station. Apparently the activity bus, transporting children, rear-ended another vehicle.

No injuries were immediately reported, and WLOS ABC Channel 13 News described the wreck as minor. The children were picked up by an additional bus and taken back to school. Very little information has been released on how this crash could have happened. Also, there's no word on whether or not anybody was injured in the automobile that was rear ended. If you or your child is injured in a crash involving a school bus or daycare vehicle, contact the skilled team at the Davis Law Group, P.A. for a free consultation today.

March 7, 2014

School Bus Crash in Buncombe County

Last Friday afternoon, a Buncombe County school bus struck a car. According to WLOS ABC News Channel 13, there were three children on the bus at the time of the crash. The bus was on Blake Drive, and it struck a car coming out of the Royal Pines community.

Authorities stated that the car was seriously damaged. Very little information has been released on the cause of this crash or the extent of the driver's injuries. Channel 13 said that no charges had been filed, but the wreck was still under investigation. Anytime a crash involves a school bus, making sure the children are okay is the top priority. Even though school buses are designed to be safer than traditional passenger occupant vehicles, children can still get hurt in crashes. If you or a loved one is injured in a crash involving a school bus, contact the skilled team at the Davis Law Group, P.A. for a free consultation.

January 29, 2013

Bus Crash Last Night - Did Driver Fall Asleep?

Imagine a city bus full of passengers heading down a busy city street. The bus driver slumps over in his seat. The bus blows through a red light and T-bones a car, sending it spinning around in the street. Just like in the movies, the bus keeps crashing into cars and taxis as it careens through intersections. This scenario happened in New York City last night. The driver lost consciousness while going north on Madison Avenue near East 81st at around 7:05 p.m.

A frightened but quick thinking passenger, Guy Praisler, rushed to the front of the bus, jerked at the driver and grabbed the wheel. hero bus crash.JPG The driver then woke-up and hit the brakes.

Really?? Now the bus driver claims to have fainted. As someone who has investigated dozens of bus and truck crashes, this sounds like a classic case of a fatigued bus driver falling asleep behind the wheel. The statistics would certainly indicate that fatigue is the most likely cause of this crash.

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June 2, 2012

The Feds Shut Down Buses On I-95 Through North Carolina

bus crash.jpgYesterday, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration ordered 26 bus operators to stop transporting passengers. The bus companies carry passengers on Interstate 95 between New York and Florida.

The federal agency closed the bus companies for what it termed an "imminent hazard" due to continuous safety violations. The violations that were discovered included using bus drivers who did not have commercial driver's licenses and who had failed drug and alcohol tests.

Federal Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood described the action as the largest single shutdown in the agency's history.

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November 6, 2010

War Hero Dies After Being Hit By Asheville Bus

Asheville Bus Hit Pedestrian.jpgAfter traveling all over the world and serving his country in three wars, David Stroupe, 86 of Leicester, died Friday while still being treated for injuries he received after being struck by an Asheville Transit Authority bus. The bus collided with Stroupe in the Westgate parking lot outside of Earth Fare.

An eyewitness, Karess Walker, of Asheville told authorities that Stroupe "was just coming out of the corner and he just stopped in the middle of the road." From her view, Walker felt that Stroupe "must have assumed the bus was going to stop. But it kept on going, and I was like, 'Oh my gosh, please don't hit the man.' I thought he was going to stop right before it got to the man. But he just ran him right over."

Stroupe suffered a head injury and a foot injury in the incident. When the bus finally stopped, it landed on Stroupe's foot. EMS transported Stroupe to Memorial Mission for emergency treatment.

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April 27, 2010

Asheville Bus Driver Had History Of Prior Crashes

Ralph Terry Dowdle had a history of minor traffic accidents in his bus prior to the serious crash he caused on Saturday, April 17, 2010 in downtown Asheville. The attached video shows the bus driver slumping over to his right just a few moments before the bus veers left and crashes into a parked car and the fronts of several buildings along College Street.

The accident seriously injured 55-year-old Susan Jane Zakanycz. Her leg was almost severed in the wreck. Unfortunately, the doctors at Memorial Mission could not save her leg, and she had to undergo an amputation.

The Buncombe County District Attorney's Office decided not the charge the bus driver criminally after it was discovered that he was suffering from an undiagnosed medical condition. Officials have said that the condition is what caused him to crash the bus. Strangely, no one has indicated what this undiagnosed medical condition is or how long he has had it. One condition that could cause similar symptoms is narcolepsy. This is the condition that causes one to suddenly fall asleep. We have encountered this condition in some of the tractor-trailer accident cases we have litigated. In the cases that we've handled involving narcolepsy, the at-fault driver was aware of the condition prior to the crash and had not sought medical treatment for fear of losing their job.

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April 20, 2010

Asheville Bus Driver Had Undiagnosed Medical Condition That Caused Loss of Consciousness

Asheville bus crash.jpgLast Saturday morning, an Asheville bus driver, Ralph Terry Dowdle, ran off of College Street, up onto the sidewalk, and struck a woman who was entering the Mediterranean Restaurant. After striking the woman, the bus continued to collide with the entrances of several businesses. The woman, whose identity has not been released, suffered a severe injury to her leg. Hospital officials have said that doctors had to amputate her leg. She is still listed at Memorial Mission Hospital as being in critical condition.

The Asheville Police Department (APD) has issued a report that says that the bus driver lost consciousness just before the accident. The loss of consciousness is allegedly due to an undiagnosed medical condition, though officials have not disclosed what that condition is. As a result, the District Attorneys office has decided not to file criminal charges against the bus driver.

Mr. Dowdle works for a subsidiary of First Transit, which operates the public transportation system in Asheville. One can only wonder how a bus driver could have a serious medical condition, that could cause him to lose consciousness, and not be aware of it. In this author's legal opinion, the bus driver, his employer First Transit and the City of Asheville are all liable for the woman's serious injuries. We can only hope that all of the responsible parties will do the right thing and help compensate the injured lady for all of her harms and losses. More often than not, in situations like this, we are told that there was no way that anyone could have known this might happen, and therefore we are not responsible for the injuries. In such cases, litigation is the only way to discover the truth.

Amputations are extremely serious injuries, and there are often severe complications associated with an amputation. Common complications from an amputation include infection, blood clots, pressure sores and phantom pain. Phantom pain is where one feels the sensation of still having the amputated limb, and it is painful.

In cases involving serious injuries like amputations, we often use medical animation to graphically depict the medical procedure. Such animations are helpful to show the other side (defendants and their attorneys) what our client has been through. In contested liability cases (where the other side denies responsibility for causing the incident), we will also often use computer animation to show how and why a particular accident happened.

In a case involving a bus accident that killed a pedestrian at an airport, an accident reconstruction animation was used to show how the accident occurred. As part of the animation, it was demonstrated how a simple concrete barrier could have totally prevented the collision.

At Davis Law Group, we use cutting edge computer technology to help our clients recover the compensation they deserve for their losses and harms caused by the negligence of others. If you or a loved one have been seriously injured because of someone's negligence or recklessness, contact attorney Brian Davis to discuss your situation. Consultations are free, and there is no obligation.

December 8, 2009

Raleigh Bus Driver Causes Wreck with Firefighter - Was She Texting?

Bus wreck f-u.jpgThe North Carolina Highway Patrol has found the Wake County school bus driver at fault for causing the collision that critically injured a Raleigh firefighter last Friday. The bus driver has been suspended with pay pending the outcome of the investigation.

A Highway Patrol spokesman said that the bus driver, 52 year old Sheila Wimbush Hall, crossed the center line and side-swiped an oncoming station wagon on Ligon Mill Road near the intersection of Louisburg Road. The bus brushed off of the station wagon and continued into the oncoming lane and struck a pickup truck driven by off-duty Raleigh fireman Harry "Flip" Kissinger. After the collision, the bus landed on top of the pickup truck, pinning the driver inside. The Highway Patrol says that charges are pending.

As I reported in a previous post, Kissinger suffered a serious head injury in the wreck. He is stil in the intensive care unit at Wake Medical Center. He has undergone several medical procedures related to his brain injury, and he is still not out of the woods. The waiting room at WakeMed is packed with Kissinger's fireman colleagues and family members.

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December 4, 2009

Raleigh Firefighter Critically Injured in Bus Crash

Bus wreck.jpgEarly Friday morning, a Wake County school bus ran into and over a pick-up truck driven by a veteran Raleigh firefighter. Another vehicle was involved in the wreck, and all three drivers were injured. Thankfully, no children were injured. The collision happened in North Raleigh on Ligon Mill Road near the intersection of Louisburg Road. The damage to fireman Lt. Harry P. ("Flip") Kissinger IV's truck was so severe that bystanders were unable to get him out.

When the firefighter's colleagues arrived on the scene, they quickly used the jaws of life to pry off the driver's side door of the truck. EMS workers then began working on the critically injured fireman. About 45 minutes later, EMS workers got Kissinger onto a backboard and transported him to the trauma center at Wake Med. The City of Raleigh reported in a "press statement" that Kissinger had suffered a significant head injury in the crash.

The North Carolina State Highway Patrol came to the scene but have not yet released the results of their investigation. In serious injury cases, where it is difficult to determine exactly how and why a collision occured, we recommend hiring an expert accident reconstructionist. Such experts are engineers and scientists who have special education, training and experience in the reconstruction of accidents. They start with the end result (the crash) and work backwards to determine such things as point of impact, pre-crash speeds, line of sight, and other factors that are critical to determining why a crash occurs and who is at fault.

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