Call us for consultation

(704) 243-9444

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Penalties for BWI in North Carolina

When alcohol is involved, waterways can become just as dangerous as roadways. Boating accidents are on the rise every year. As a result, boat operators who are over the legal limit in North Carolina can be arrested and charged with BWI (Boating While Impaired).
Boating While Intoxicated, boating accident attorney
Woman drinks wine while behind the wheel of a boat.
This is similar to a DWI (Driving While Impaired), although the penalties in North Carolina are not as severe as they are in other states. In many states, operating a boat while impaired constitutes the same penalties a motor vehicle operator would be subjected to for a DWI. Of course, much higher penalties can be involved if there as been injuries or property damage. Consider hiring an accident lawyer or injury attorney when involved these types of cases.

In the state of North Carolina, the driver of a motor vehicle cannot exceed a BAC (Blood Alcohol) level of .08%. The same rule applies to boaters. Nevertheless, boaters will not lose their driver’s license when found guilty of a BWI. However, there are still penalties as it is considered a serious crime.

There are three levels of BUI in North Carolina, which is defined is a class 2 misdemeanor. Level one includes no prior criminal convictions and comes with fines and 1-30 days of community service. Level two and three require more community service and could lead to harsher penalties and higher fines. The two higher levels are generally based on the number of prior convictions.

While these penalties may not be as severe as those that come with a DWI, it is easier for authorities to issue a BWI. An officer or wildlife enforcement official can pretty much stop your boat for any reason at all. It is not like an automobile stop where an officer needs to have probable cause.

A boating stop could occur for something as simple as checking to see if the boat is stocked with the proper amount of life vests. A stop could also take place if a boat is going too fast in a ‘no wake’ zone.

Once on board your vessel, an officer could simply use his sense of smell to suspect the operator of being impaired. Some field sobriety tests would follow and if deemed legally impaired, an arrest would ensue.

It is also may be important to note that North Carolina state parks do not permit alcohol. Water skiing and surfing are also prohibited while over the legal BAC limit in North Carolina.

Alcohol can have more of an effect on boaters since outdoor elements such as the sun and wind could lead to quicker rates of intoxication. Someone drinking the same amount on land will not become impaired as quickly as those on water.

BWI remain one of the main causes for boating accidents in North Carolina. Those accidents can often have disastrous consequences. If you have been victim to a North Carolina boating accident, contact the legal team at Hefferon & Hefferon P.A., Attorneys at Law.

We are equipped with an experienced team of attorneys who can stand by your side and make sure you receive justice. Rely on our Charlotte injury attorneys to help with your boating accident or water recreation injury case.


Monday, November 13, 2017

Medical Malpractice Can Be A Lengthy Process

Most people are familiar with the term medical malpractice. It seems simple enough. A health care professional makes a mistake that injures a patient, and the patient receives compensation for that injury. However, it’s far from simple. In North Carolina, there are a number of laws in place that treat medical malpractice lawsuits differently than the typical negligence lawsuit, and that make the process highly complex, expensive, and time consuming.  It is almost impossible to pursue a medical malpractice claim without the guidance of an experienced medical malpractice attorney.

The very first thing you or your accident attorney must do is obtain all the victim’s medical records, including past records not even related to the treatment in dispute, such as primary care records and pharmacy records. Those records are first reviewed by the attorney to determine if there might be a provable case. If the attorney determines that further investigation is warranted, the records must then be reviewed by a qualified medical expert, usually a physician with experience in the same specialty as the target physician or clinic. Such experts can be hard to find and they charge for their time. This part of the review process can be time-consuming and expensive.

Your expert must be reasonably certain, and willing to so testify in a trial, that the target physician “breached the professional standard of care,” that is, that he or she did something (or failed to do something) that a reasonably prudent skilled professional would not have done (or would have done) in the same or similar circumstances.

North Carolina law also requires that the expert be familiar with the medical standards and practices within communities similar to the community where the malpractice occurred. The theory is that standards in small rural communities and hospitals, with less sophisticated equipment, might be different than in large urban centers with access to cutting edge technology. The reasoning behind this requirement is no longer supported by the facts on the ground. The United States is fortunate to have national accreditation standards so that physicians in small communities have access to the same training, information and technologies as those in large communities. Nevertheless, it remains the law in North Carolina.

Also, because pursuit of a medical malpractice claim can be very expensive, the kind of injury sustained is an important consideration in deciding whether to pursue the claim. The potential settlement or judgment value for minor injuries simply will not support the time, effort, and cost involved in pursuing a medical malpractice lawsuit.

If your claim survives this initial and thorough vetting process, your attorney will usually have to file a lawsuit. Very few medical malpractice claims are settled without litigation.  Doctors, hospitals, and clinics don’t like to admit mistakes. Through the litigation process comes the discovery phase. This is where both sides are required to show their evidence to the other side, including documents, records and even deposition testimony of witnesses and experts.

The discovery stage is no short and simple process. It can last years and cost a small fortune. The goal of discovery is to determine whether, when push comes to shove, the plaintiff (you) can prove that the target physician failed to deliver the appropriate standard of care, and whether that failure resulted in an injury to the plaintiff.

If the plaintiff’s attorney, through the discovery process, can convince the target physician’s insurer and defense attorney that they risk an adverse verdict if they proceed to trial, then settlement discussions might follow. Many medical malpractice cases are settled through the negotiation process, but usually only after litigation discovery is complete. However, for a variety of reasons, some medical providers refuse to settle and are willing to take their chances in trial, even when the plaintiff has a strong and winnable case.

If it does not settle, the case would then go to trial before a jury. Medical malpractice trials can last weeks or even months, and the evidence presented is usually highly technical and quite boring to everyone except those with a stake in the outcome. An actual trial would be only a minor fraction of the overall time spent because a medical malpractice claim is almost always a very lengthy, years-long process.

If you or a loved one has fallen victim to medical malpractice, contact Hefferon & Hefferon P.A., Attorneys at Law. You will need an experienced medical malpractice attorney to see your case through to the end.


Thursday, October 5, 2017

Most Trucking Accident Claims Do Not End Up In Court

When most people think of trucking accident lawsuits, they immediately conjure up images of courtrooms, judges and juries. The reality is that many trucking accident claims do not wind up going that far. Most of these claims are settled outside of a courtroom.

Every year there are more than 400,000 truck accidents in the United States. Most of those cases never make it to court. In multi-vehicle truck accidents, it is usually not the truck driver who sustains the worst injuries. It is often other drivers who get injured, sometimes on a catastrophic level.

accident attorney, car accident lawyer, for commercial truck accident
Multi-vehicle accident requiring a personal injury attorney.
There are lots of reasons truck accidents occur but one of the leading causes is driver fatigue. Drivers are permitted to drive for only so many hours per day and week and are required to keep a daily log. Because profit margins are thin, and because time is money, both to the company and the driver, violations of these rules are rampant, with a wink and a nod from the industry. When discovered, these violations could result in large payouts. It usually takes an attorney and a lawsuit to thoroughly investigate these kinds of issues.

For this reason, it is true that many, if not most commercial truck accidents involving injuries to other drivers will likely lead to a lawsuit against the trucking company. In most cases, both the driver and his trucking company can be held liable for negligent operation of a commercial vehicle, but in order to prove liability, a complete investigation through the legal process is often necessary.

Trucking companies and their insurers often immediately send investigators out to the scene of any accident. Their response time is rapid as these investigators will want to speak with their drivers before the police arrive. Coaching drivers on what to say could prove valuable should a lawsuit ever arise.

It’s also important to note that the investigators are not there to impartially determine the truth as to why the accident occurred. They are there to protect the trucking company, and to avoid, or prepare, for a lawsuit.

Another tactic used by trucking companies is to contact injured victims shortly after a crash and offer a settlement which may seem fair at first, but may be far less than what might be received with competent and experienced personal injury lawyer to conduct a proper investigation and guide the client to an actual fair resolution.

Following any truck accident, an insurance company will quickly begin to protect their driver, their company, and themselves by trying to minimize the liability of their driver and by trying to downplay the injuries to third parties . Insurance companies are not in the business of giving away money, and employ many tried and true strategies designed to pay out as little as possible.

However, when they cannot avoid liability altogether, trucking companies and their insurers may attempt to negotiate a settlement before trial. They can control their risk by negotiating a settlement rather than facing a jury that may be antagonistic to large trucks on the highway, and more sympathetic to the injured victim. Most truck accident claims eventually get settled this way. But if you have been injured in a truck accident, you should not assume a settlement will be offered, or that an offer will be fair. Hiring an accident attorney is highly recommended.

The Charlotte trucking accident attorneys at Hefferon & Hefferon P.A. have over 60 years of combined experience representing people and their families who have been injured or killed as a result of a truck accident in Charlotte and surrounding areas. We are Charlotte truck accident attorneys who are experienced with all the tactics used by trucking companies and their insurers. It’s time you had someone fighting for your rights and that someone can be the Charlotte personal injury attorneys at Hefferon & Hefferon P.A. Learn more at
This logging truck collided with another vehicle resulting in a large fire.
This logging truck collided with another vehicle resulting in a large fire.

Website Design, SEO and Internet Marketing by Leads Online Marketing LLC.