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November 27, 2020

TIPS FOR TRACTOR SAFETY

If you own or work on a farm in eastern North Caroling, you are more likely than not to use a tractor and drive down roads to get from one farming location to another. While driving your tractor on the roads, you are likely encounter regular motor vehicles like cars, trucks, and motorcycles. Staying sage is key to preventing a serious or even fatal accident with other vehicles on the roads while operating farm equipment.

At least six agricultural deaths occurred in North Carolina in 2017 according to the North Carolina Health News. At least one of these deaths was due to an SUV making an impact with a tractor. If you operate farm equipment on roads shared by other motorists, you could benefit from reviewing these tips that could provide you some safety information.

PLAN YOUR DRIVE

Before you drive, making place could help you avoid a potential accident. Like some farmers you may not feel safe driving during rush hour, inclement weather, or even at night. You may feel safer putting driving off to safer times such as mid-morning and early afternoons. Planning to drive during times with less traffic could reduce your risk of accidents, and these things should be considered in planning.

SIGNAL WHEN YOU INTEND TO TURN

When approaching an intersection to turn, make sure you switch your turn signal on. Doing this will let oncoming motorists know your intention to turn. However, we know that motorists may not know where to look for a turn signal on a tractor or even know that they have them. So, to take an extra step of precaution, you may want to display a hand signal, which motorists may be more likely to see that the actual signal.

BE CAUTIOUS ON SHOULDERS

One-way tractor drivers can get hurt or killed if their tractor tips over, so because of this, shoulders on the road are an area of concern. If the shoulders are soft or steep, there is a change they may not support the weight of a tractor causing them to tip. Because of this you will want to be extra careful on surfaces that can cause tractors to turn over.

MAKE SURE OTHERS ARE AWARE OF YOU

Motorists may see you simply because of the slower speed at which you are driving the tractor. To increase your visibility, you should consider putting a flat on your tractor. If the road curves, or if the road rises, a tall flag should be tall enough for motorists to see in the distance. Another option is to turn on your headlights while being careful not to turn on your rear spotlights which could make motorists mistake them for headlights and that you are driving towards them.

If you are involved in an accident while driving your tractor, depending on the circumstances, you may need to seek the advice of an attorney. We encourage you to call Hardee, Massey & Blodgett, LLP, our experienced attorneys are available for free consultations if one is required.

November 24, 2020

THE RISK OF ACCIDENTS DURING HOLIDAY ROAD TRIPS

With the holiday season upon us, many people in North Carolina and across the country will be driving to spend time with family and friends. In the upcoming weeks, people may be driving long distances, spending hours on the road. Hardee, Massey & Blodgett knows that more people driving long distances, means there is an increased chance of sustaining an injury in a car accident and possibly suffering serious consequences as a result of a motor vehicle wreck.

It is imperative that you stay safe if you plan to drive during the holidays, because unfortunately, many people are involved in accidents during holiday road trips. These types of accidents occur for many reasons, but speeding, driver fatigue and drinking and driving play a role in a large number of wrecks.

Even if a driver is fully responsible while they are on the road, they risk being involved in an accident due to the negligence of other drivers. During long road trips, the chances of being involved in an accident increases because you are simply spending more time behind the wheel of your car. And sadly, wrecks during the holidays often involve multiple family members, which makes the motor vehicle accidents more devastating and even harder for a family to recover from.

These types of accidents can shatter holiday memories by causing serious injuries or claiming the life of a loved one. Too many people suffer because of holiday accidents. If you or a family member is involved in a car crash caused by another driver’s carelessness, you need to contact a personal injury attorney and take appropriate action to ensure you are compensated for your injuries. Call Hardee, Massey & Blodgett at 252-378-2525 to discuss your rights after a car crash. We are available 24/7 and our consultation is always free.

November 19, 2020

SHARING THE ROAD WITH TRUCKS CARRYING WIDE LOADS

As reported by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, 1 out of every 10 deaths on the highway involve a large truck, and approximately 68% of those killed in the accidents were the occupants of smaller passenger vehicles and cars.

The most unfortunate part of this is that many of the accidents could have been avoided if drivers knew how to share the road safely with large trucks. Although vehicles big and small all follow the same driving laws, it is easy to forget that truck drivers face many challenges each time they sit behind the wheel. Their long hours combined with poor or limited maneuverability make up the perfect storm for a disaster, and only the use of defensive driving techniques can keep everyone safe.

To reduce your chances of being involved in an accident with a large truck, be sure to follow these safety tips for driving near a diesel vehicle.

ALWAYS ASSUME THE DRIVER CANNOT SEE YOU

Most truck, van and car mirrors are designed to maximize a driver’s field of vision. You can actually adjust your mirrors in a way that you should be able to eliminate most, if not all, of your blind spots.

Larger trucks, trailers and diesels however do not have that same ability. These heavier vehicles do have 8 to 10 mirrors to help improve their visibility, however the sheer length of these vehicles means the driver will have blind fields, not blind spots. A typical blind field will sit 10 feet in front of and 25 feet behind the truck. The blind fields may include the area diagonally back from the driver’s seat and the two traveling lanes to the right side of the vehicle.

You should assume that if you cannot see the truck driver’s face, either in the mirror or in the window, that it is likely the driver cannot see you.

YOU SHOULD NOT SHOOT THE GAP

If you are not comfortable driving close to large trucks, you may be tempted to accelerate and try to put some space behind you. You may even try to pass the truck as quickly as possible, sliding into the next available space in front of the truck. You do not want to spend too much time in the truck driver’s rear blind spot, am I right?

However, in your attempts to avoid this, you could put yourself more at an even greater risk than having stayed calmly and patiently in the same lane.

Big trucks need approximately three times more stopping distance than the average car. Drivers leave large gaps between themselves and the vehicle in from of them for safety purposes. This allows them to have adequate time to brake without rear-ending other drivers. When you quickly shoot into that open space, not only are you limiting the truck driver’s available stopping distance, but you are also slipping into the driver’s front blind field.

In an effort to remain safe, you should maintain a consistent speed and accelerate only when necessary. You should give trucks plenty of space when you pass and make slow and steady movements when you change lanes. Do not forget to use your signal early, giving the truck driver plenty of time to respond to your movements.

PLEASE EXERCISE A LITTLE PATIENCE

Trucks with diesel engines are designed for power. They have the ability to haul thousands of pounds over long distances. Many trucks can easily get up to 120 mph on an open road. You may ask, why do they seem to mosey along at a consistent 75 mph, or sometimes a mere 65 mph, when clearly, they have plenty of space and power to go faster?

Many companies install speed limiters on trucks. These safety regulations, limiters, can prevent the vehicle from traveling faster than the trucks air brakes can safely handle, plus it helps the truck drivers maintain more fuel-efficient speeds. Because of the limiters, truck drivers cannot accelerate beyond their vehicles set threshold, no matter how much cursing, honking, or tailgating you do.

Therefore, if you are stuck behind a big truck, please exercise a little patience, and remember the truck driver is doing their very best under the circumstances.

PAY COMPLETE ATTENTION TO THE ROAD

When traveling, truck drivers have a lot to manage. They have multiple mirrors that they are constantly checking. They have endless amounts of gauges that need to be monitored. And, when they are driving in an unfamiliar area, they will also have to watch their GPS system. Most truck drivers do their best to keep track of all their various systems, but they will have to divide their focus from time to time and their response times could suffer as a result of having to do this.

If you want to be safe around large trucks, you should compensate for any shortcomings on the truck driver’s part and pay attention to the road whenever you are driving. Do not text. Do not use your smartphone. Pull over if you need to update your navigation system. Turn down the volume of music and movies in the car that could be distracting.

STAY SAFE ON THE ROADS

If you follow these safety tips along with local and federal driving laws, you should be able to significantly reduce your risks.

However, if you have taken extreme caution when driving, you could still encounter a negligent driver. And, if that happens and you have been involved in an accident involving a large truck, you need to reach out to an attorney experienced in trucking accident law. The law firm of Hardee, Massey & Blodgett is very experienced with trucking accidents and they can help you navigate the complicated legal system to ensure you receive the compensation for injuries and damages that you may deserve

November 17, 2020

SHOULD YOU SETTLE WITH YOUR INSURANCE COMPANY?

If you are seeking compensation for an injury caused by a negligent party, in most cases the other party will try to offer you a settlement to avoid having to go to court. Sometimes the offer matches your monetary request for reparations and other settlement terms, but sometimes it does not.

What do you do it the settlement offered does not match your requests? Should you accept the offer, or should you pursue additional compensation by taking your case to court?

Navigating questions such as these can be very complicated. And it is especially difficult to know what to do when your emotions about the injury and possible lasting effects are affecting your judgment.

Every case is unique, so because of that you should seek legal counsel before you decide to settle or go to court. Our goal in this blog is to help you feel empowered to make the right decision by helping you understand the pros and cons of both settling your case and going to court.

Reasons to Settle Out of Court

In a settlement agreement, one party offers to end the dispute by meeting certain terms from the other party, such as paying for damages or negligence. If both parties can agree to the settlement, they can avoid going to court. In fact, most lawsuits are settled out of court. This makes sense because settling out of court does have many benefits for both of the parties involved:

  1. Guaranteed compensation. The upside to settling a case is you know exactly what you will  receive. You are not relying on a judge or jury to side with you and award you what you want. The terms of a settlement are clear in the documentation, and your lawyer can look over the paperwork before you sign to ensure everything is in order.
  2. Saves you time. Personal injury settlements can drag on for long periods of time. If you decide to go to court, you could delay compensation longer. And sometimes even if you win, the appeals process can prevent you from receiving your restitution. But, when you settle, you typically receive your payment from the other party much quicker.
  3. Maintain your privacy. When you go to court, the details of your case become public record. Anyone can request to see documentation. Details of cases settled out of court normally remain private, and some settlements even contain confidentiality agreements protecting the case from being discussed.
  4. Prevent any appeals. Another positive of a settlement is their finality. Once an agreement is made in a settlement, you sign the related paperwork, and then the dispute is over. With a court case, even if you win, the other party can appeal the case to higher courts. Appeals can sometimes decrease the amount of damages you will receive, or they can even overturn the result entirely.
  5. Avoid undue stress. Taking your case to trial can be extremely stressful. You may worry about having to testify on the stand, describing details of the case and facing cross-examination by another attorney – especially when the case is highly personal. Often settling your case out of court can eliminate worries such as these.

Reasons to Consider Going to Court

In some situations, going to court is better than agreeing to a final settlement. The guidelines below do not apply in every circumstance, so you should only use these for a basic understanding of why going to court might be a good choice for you:

  1. Settlement negotiations break down. Rarely do parties involved in a personal injury dispute agree to the very first settlement offer. Instead, there is negotiation of terms until an agreement is reached and approved by both sides. Sometimes however, negotiations fail to produce an acceptable settlement agreement. If you feel the other party is not fairly negotiating or compromising, then going to court could give you a better chance for a fair settlement.
  2. You are suing an individual. Personal injury lawsuits often involve seeking damages from a group or company, for example, an employer or an insurance company. If you are suing an individual, that person’s assets and resources are normally smaller than that of a business. With fewer resources and assets, an individual is less likely to appeal a court decision than a company would be.
  3. When you want to hold out for more damages. When negotiating a settlement, the other party may offer multiple payment options that do not match what you are thinking is fair. If this is the case, you can choose to take the case to trial and hope a judge or jury will force them to pay you a higher amount. You should be careful using this tactic, because going to court does not guarantee you will receive compensation. It is possible the other party could win the case and you could be left with nothing and/or causing you to spend time and money appealing the ruling.

When you are seeking compensation of an injury, you should hire an attorney to help you decide whether settling or taking your case to court is the best option for you. Ultimately, the decision will be yours, but having an experience attorney providing you guidance can help you make the right decision for you. If you have been injured and are considering taking a settlement, we suggest you call the attorneys at Hardee, Massey & Blodgett before signing any final documents.