(Transcript)

Cindy Speaker: Hello, my name is Cindy Speaker. Welcome to our Facebook Live broadcast. I’m delighted to have with me today, David Daggett, attorney David Daggett of Daggett Shuler Law. Not only is David an attorney, but he is an Iron Man triathlete, which is very impressive to me. He’s competed in 185 triathlons, I believe 27 or Iron Man Triathlons, and seven of them were the Hawaii World Iron Man Triathlon. David, thank you for being with us today.

David Daggett:  Thank you for having me Cindy.

Cindy Speaker: Did I get those numbers right?

David Daggett: Ah, you were close.

Cindy Speaker:  I was close? Okay.

David Daggett: You were close.

Cindy Speaker:  I’ve known you for awhile, and the numbers keep going up. I am so impressed with the consistency of what you do, and the discipline that you have. Really a pleasure to have you.

David Daggett: Yeah, we were both young kids at one point.

Cindy Speaker:  Yeah, that’s right. Many moons ago, many moons ago. Well, today we’re going to talk about a difficult subject, and that is traffic fatalities. Some of the fatal accidents that we’re seeing, and I want to start off with a quote to frame our discussion, and let me get this right. According to the National Safety Counsel, in 2016 over 40,000 people were killed in motor vehicle crashes. Talk to us a little bit about how that number compares to previous years.

David Daggett: Well, that number’s been reported recently in New York Time’s with an article, Wall Street Journal with an article, places like that. The significant part is, this is two years in a row with rather large increases. If you look at the combination of the two years, it’s been 50 years since we’ve had that kind of jump. It was interesting because of that, I went back and looked at the history of highway traffic deaths, which is actually kind of fascinating because deaths on our highways started at the end of the 1800’s, progressed through the 1900’s, reached several peaks through the years. The mid 1960’s, there was a peak. That’s when automobiles were being mass produced, they were more affordable to the masses, and that sort of thing. Then there was a quick drop in the mid 1960’s, do you remember what happened then? Because I remember Cindy.

Cindy Speaker: What’s that?

David Daggett:  Seat belt’s became mandatory in cars.

Cindy Speaker:  Oh, of course. Of course.

David Daggett: Before that we had cars that didn’t have seat belt’s in them.

Cindy Speaker:  Yeah, yeah.

David Daggett:  Seat belt’s became mandatory, and in fact in the 1960’s we got up to more than 50,000 highway deaths per year for a couple years. Seat belt’s get mandatory in cars, and all of a sudden what we saw was the number of deaths started inching down. Then when you and I were young, we’ll recall that we just had one car in a household.

Cindy Speaker: Right.

David Daggett:  There weren’t two cars, and three cars in households. When I was growing up, that just didn’t happen.

Cindy Speaker:  Exactly.

David Daggett: When mom needed the car during the day, we drove dad to work, and she kept the car. It was one car. Interestingly, in the 70’s we then came with two cars, and more per household. A lot more driving, a lot more miles. The number of deaths went up again.

Cindy Speaker:  Yeah.

David Daggett: Then we saw in the 90’s, we saw some safety features coming. We saw antilock breaks, airbags, those sort of things. Then all of a sudden the number of highway deaths start going down again. They went down for quite a number of years, until the 2010’s, 11’s, and 12’s. It started flattening out at the bottom, and then all of a sudden we’ve seen this tremendous spike. Now, interestingly from my point of view- is my monologue too long?

Cindy Speaker:   No, it’s great. It’s great.

David Daggett:  Okay, so interesting from my point of view, what’s a little bit kind of paradoxical is during that same period of time, you’re starting to see safety features on vehicles. What happens is they start on more expensive vehicles, and they start trickling down. Cars don’t have to be real expensive anymore to have most of the safety features. Most cars now have backup cameras. Well, the big thing that’s come out in just the last few years, is cars now have sensors. These don’t have to be exotic cars. The sensors will automatically break for you to avoid a collision, if you’re backing up and something’s coming, the cars will automatically break for you. Cars now have a pedestrian warning system. It will automatically break if it’s going to hit a pedestrian. Lots of cars, Honda’s, have the lane, if you go down the lane, you get a beep, or a buzz, or the steering wheel vibrates to let you know you’re veering out of your lane. Which prevents a lot of deaths when people are falling asleep, and those sort of things.

You would think with all those features, some of which have just become sort of mainstream in the last 18, 24 months or so, you wouldn’t expect this spike in highway deaths. The one thing that is happening, is we are all more distracted while we’re driving.

Cindy Speaker:  Right?

David Daggett:  Some cars have two screens. Honda Odyssey Minivan has two electronic screens, one above, and one below.

Cindy Speaker:  Wow.

David Daggett:  Your phone is connected through the car, your GPS systems, all those sort of things. They’re just as distracting as picking up your phone, or putting on your lipstick, or combing your hair, or whatever else you do while you drive. I think as a society, we have to learn to deal with these distractions as we tend to get more and more electronics. As you know and as I know, the electronics we’re dealing with, that’s not going to slow down, that’s going to increase.

Cindy Speaker: Sure.

David Daggett:  That’s going to increase. It was interesting, as you know I’m pretty well connected with our medical school here in town. I was at a medical school presentation on trauma. You typically think of trauma as somebody falling down, or an untold injury at work, or those sort of things. Interestingly, the doctor making the presentation talked about, “We have an epidemic in this country, and it’s an epidemic that nobody’s talking about.” That the biggest form of trauma that’s causing serious injuries, is automobile accidents.

Cindy Speaker:  How about that?

David Daggett:   That’s the largest piece of trauma. I got in trouble once when I use this analogy. I don’t mean this disrespectful at all, but 9/11 was one of the worst day’s in our countries history.

Cindy Speaker:   Yes.

David Daggett:  The numbers and the deaths are staggering, and they really get our attention. On the highways, we have that same number of deaths every month. Month, after month, after month.

Cindy Speaker:  Wow.

David Daggett:  It’s not as startling to- and please, I’m not taking anything away from 9/11.

Cindy Speaker:  Of course, right.

David Daggett:  The thing that happens, is when you have incidents that occur one at a time, our psychologically, and we’re so numbed by the news. I don’t know about you, but I’ve had about had it with the news lately.

Cindy Speaker:  Right, right.

David Daggett: We’re so numbed by the news, that one instant at a time doesn’t quite set off the alarms in our brain. Now, when there’s a school bus accident you’re dealing with a lot of kids, you hear about that, because the multiples connect in our brain. We’ve become so numb as a society to things that happen one and two at a time, over and over and over, that we lose track, and lose attention of it. Highway traffic deaths is a serious issue that we really ought to be aware of. Then on top of that are the many, many times more injuries that occur on our highways.

Cindy Speaker:   Yeah, yeah.

David Daggett:  The other thing is estimates are that a little bit over a third of all of our motor vehicle accident deaths, involve some form of drinking and driving.

Cindy Speaker:  Yeah.

David Daggett: You put drinking and driving, all of our electronics, other distractions that we have. The business of our roadways, and we need to use extreme caution out there.

Cindy Speaker:  Yeah, yeah, and you know it’s interesting …

David Daggett:   I don’t know how long we’ve been on, but that was an answer to one question.

Cindy Speaker:   No that’s great, and you covered a lot of ground there. It’s interesting because- you and I both love technology. I love technology.

David Daggett:   Sure.

Cindy Speaker:  But there’s no doubt that it has, there’s some unfortunate ramifications of being in such a technologically advanced word. It’s interesting, because another advancement that we see are things like Uber, and Lyft, and soon self driving cars. I’ve used Uber a few times, and I’ll tell you, it just doesn’t seem- it’s interesting because in the early days of Uber, I would get a driver that was holding his cellphone in his hand as he’s trying to navigate. I’m thinking, “I don’t know about this.” Now they typically have a brace, but still. We used to use, I remember when I grew up, my parents got a map out, and they charted where they’re going when we went on vacation. Now people are following a device as they travel. There’s huge distraction that comes along with the wonderful parts of technology. It’s an ongoing problem.

David Daggett:   Well Uber is based on the GPS system in the smartphone. Hopefully the drivers have it mounted just like your GPS in your car is.

Cindy Speaker:  Right.

David Daggett:  That’s still a distraction.

Cindy Speaker:  It is.

David Daggett:  I’ll tell you what I typically do. I just had this last Saturday. I had an Uber driver, I was going to an event, and I had to be there early, and so that my wife and I could ride home together, I took the Uber.

Cindy Speaker:  Okay.

David Daggett:  I gave the driver directions. I said, “You don’t need to look at that, I will give you directions. I know good directions better than what your phone does.” I gave him directions. The other nice thing that Uber has done recently, and this isn’t to promote Uber over Lyft, or visa versa, this is just to inform our viewers.

Cindy Speaker: Right.

David Daggett:  Historically, and particularly after that incident that occurred up in Michigan and those sort of things. People have been real concerned about Uber cars getting in wrecks, and what’s the insurance, and all that sort of thing. Uber doesn’t ensure the vehicle, but what Uber does is purchases excess insurance coverage, that interestingly kicks in whenever the app is activated. When the driver is actually in the middle of a service run, the app is activated during that call. That’s the technology in which Uber’s based. During that period of time, Uber has a policy that kicks in, and provides insurance. Provides insurance up to a million dollars, that’s important particularly in North Carolina, in other places in the country.

In North Carolina, over 75% of all drivers have the minimum coverage, which is $30,000 worth of coverage. Having that kick in at a million’s important. The other important piece of that, is it’s my understanding that the Uber insurance that kicks in, also includes uninsured and under insured motorist coverage. That’s a whole nother topic, but virtually that means if your Uber car gets hit by another car that does not have insurance, you have uninsured insurance coverage that kicks in. If they hit you and they don’t have enough insurance, you have under insured insurance that kicks in, that fills that gap between the coverages.

We can talk about insurance coverages another day.

Cindy Speaker:   Right, right.

David Daggett:  You just want people to know, that I think that the consumer in the marketplace has forced a reaction from Uber to provide that insurance coverage.

Cindy Speaker:   That’s not necessarily a bad thing.

David Daggett:  No, no, it’s a good thing.

Cindy Speaker:  Yeah, right.

David Daggett:  I mean, that’s the way society tends to evolve. That’s the way the legal system tends to help the society evolve.

Cindy Speaker: What we’re talking about here, when you just start to talk about that, these are very complex issues. I think one of the things, and you deal with these types of incidents and accidents everyday. But, talk to us a little bit about, okay you’re in a- your family, maybe you have a family member that is in a fatal crash, or just a serious crash. Every crash is serious, right? What are the steps to take, what do they do? You’ve got to have some help with these things. No average person as myself, could work through all of these complex legal and insurance related issues.

David Daggett:   Now, no. It’s very difficult to work through those issues, and you always have to remember that there’s an insurance company on the other side. The insurance company has professionals that they do this for a living. Not to knock them, but their job is to pay out as little money as possible.

Cindy Speaker:  Right.

David Daggett: We hear all sorts of horror stories in that regard of things that insurance companies might do to pay out as little as possible. The other thing is some of us have either been through a situation, or we just tend to be a little bit more knowledgeable and understand how the system works. We get lulled into thinking that everybody knows how the system works, and most people don’t. These issues are very, very complicated. Just on insurance coverages alone, we could line up books that cross my entire office with the interpretation of insurance laws. It’s very, very complicated. My recommendation is always get a consultation to see what type of situation you’re in, and how complicated it is.

We do that, we actually give a lot of free consultations. Kind of our mantra that we go by, and this isn’t proper English, but, “If we can’t do more better for you than you could have done for yourself, we just give you free advice on how to handle it and you go on your way.” Typically the issues are much more complicated than that, and you need somebody with expertise involved.

Cindy Speaker: Yeah, yeah. David if someone does have a question, they find themselves in one of these difficult situations, how can they reach your office? What’s the best way to go about that?

David Daggett:  We have our website, DaggettShulerLaw.com. Call us, I think our phone number’s 336-724-1234. I think it’s important, and I don’t want to underestimate the- how valuable important information is. I don’t know if I can bring this up or not, but your family went through a tragedy.

Cindy Speaker:  We did, my father was killed by a drunk driver. We really didn’t know what to do. My mother, as you know. My mother, who worked all her life, wonderful lady. There was no lawsuit or anything like that, because when we grew up, and this was awhile ago, you kind of didn’t sue, you just feel like you didn’t. What I realize now is we should have been taken care of. My father had five children that were left behind, and people are not, they don’t realize that this is part of your rights.

David Daggett:  Right, right. I know your mother, she’s a beautiful lady, hardworking lady, worked her entire life. Had a good life with your father. Not a wealthy family.

Cindy Speaker:  Right.

David Daggett:  But a good life. Then this tragedy occurs, she didn’t know what to do.

Cindy Speaker:  That’s right.

David Daggett:  She was uninformed, basically didn’t do anything. She endured, and her five endured quite a hardship that could have been at least lessened to some degree had she had access to valuable information, [crosstalk 00:18:49].

Cindy Speaker: Well let me tell you something interesting that you may not know, and this really- when I got into the legal industry, it really bothered me. The insurance agent that my family had was one of the, kind of a good old boy, somebody that’d been a friend to the family for years.

David Daggett:   Sure, sure.

Cindy Speaker: Do you know that he came to my mother, and gave her a check for $1,000? That’s what he did. The fact is, he was trying to dissuade her from going any further, cause we’re friends. I think insurance companies, you’ve seen it, they do those kinds of things. They give you some small amount, and then you’re kind of done with the- you don’t even realize that you’ve just signed your rights away.

David Daggett:  Now, no. We’ve heard some horror stories. Some of the insurance companies have what they call, “Quick hit squads.” What these quick hit squads are, is to get out there fast, give a check for less than what the client is worth, get a signed release. It’s over, and the case is done.

Cindy Speaker:   Yeah.

David Daggett:   A lot of people in that situation, they never even know.

Cindy Speaker:   Right.

David Daggett:   That they got taken advantage of. They may still be out of work, and losing their wages. They may be stuck with ongoing medical bills, or ongoing expenses of different sorts. It’s quite a hardship, not just on the person, but their entire family. We’ve seen it where lives are just shattered, both by the emotional side, and then also on the financial side because they didn’t know what to do.

Cindy Speaker:  Well you know, I think it’s great that your law firm, and I’ve seen this over the years. We’ve known each other for a long time now. You’ve done in the past, you’ve done …

David Daggett:  Don’t tell our age.

Cindy Speaker: No, I won’t do that. You’ve done educational materials, just to educate people that maybe are not in a situation where they need to get a lawyer, but they need information.

David Daggett:  Sure.

Cindy Speaker: I really applaud you for that, because you do that all the time. You just give them guidelines, and help them know where to go, even when a lawyers not involved. That is important reason. I’ll tell you, if I lived in North Carolina, which I don’t, I’m in Pennsylvania. Well, it’s interesting because after this we’re going to talk about somebody in my family. You’re always giving me, helping guide us as to what to do. I think that anybody that has any kind of a car accident, or a serious injury, it just makes sense to give your firm a call. It’s very helpful to have somebody that’s knowledgeable about these topics. Whether or not a lawyer client relationship evolves.

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