wagon trainRecently, there was an accident in North Carolina in which one person was killed, two were injured, a horse had to be put down, and another horse was sent for veterinary care. A pickup hit a wagon train, and a witness said it sounded like a bomb exploded. The wagon train was run by a group of hobbyists, and it crossed the county every Labor Day weekend. There were 18 wagons and 20 horses in the wagon train. Due to the accident, Labor Day events were canceled.

If a loved one is killed in an accident, you may be able to bring a North Carolina wrongful death lawsuit. Each state defines wrongful death slightly differently and has its own rules about who can bring this type of lawsuit. Under North Carolina law, a wrongful death is one that’s caused by somebody else’s wrongful act, default, or neglect. In this way, it’s like a personal injury claim, but the injured person isn’t able to bring the case himself or herself. The decedent’s estate can sue for damages.

The wrongful death lawsuit is separate from any criminal charges that may be brought. While the personal representative of the decedent’s estate files the wrongful death lawsuit, a prosecutor files a criminal case. Both can proceed at the same time, and they can have different outcomes, due to the differing burdens of proof in each. The burden of proof in a criminal case is “beyond a reasonable doubt,” which means a criminal case can be defeated by simply raising a doubt about guilt in the minds of the jurors. In contrast, the burden of proof in a civil case is merely “preponderance of the evidence,” which means the plaintiff needs to show their version of events is more likely true than not true.

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atomiumIn a recent North Carolina wrongful death case, a decedent’s estate appealed from a summary judgment in favor of a building company. The decedent was an employee of a steel company that had subcontracted with a building company to install structural steel at a construction project.

The steel company’s employees left a 700-pound beam of tube steel on steel pads or saddles that were welded onto vertical steel columns. The employees attached the beam to a center mounting tab situated on the columns. However, the workers didn’t weld the ends of the beams to the saddles. The steel company’s employees loosened the center bolts, causing the beam to fall 12-15 feet. The beam crashed into machinery, bounced off the concrete, and hit the decedent in his head, neck, and upper back.

Ambulances arrived at the construction site, and the decedent told the emergency responders that the lower half of his body was numb. The emergency responders took him to the ER, where he was diagnosed with an acute, serious injury to his spine. He was paralyzed below the neck and suffered severe pain. In spite of several surgeries to remove the shattered bone from the decedent, he eventually died.

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pregnancyIn a North Carolina wrongful death decision, the plaintiffs were the parents of a pregnant woman who died. The decedent found she was pregnant with her first kid in 2012. She became a patient of the defendant, a member of an alliance of providers providing obstetrical care. The defendant entity had five physicians who were involved in treating the patient.

The doctors diagnosed her with lupus during the prenatal period. In her third trimester, she complained of cramping, and the doctors found her blood pressure was elevated, and her urine contained protein. She was sent to a medical center to be evaluated for potential preeclampsia. Her doctor at the medical center conducted tests that showed she was suffering from severe thrombocytopenia, hemolysis, and elevated lactate dehydrogenase.

The medical center doctor consulted with the woman’s obstetrician, and they agreed they should induce labor and deliver the baby once her platelets stabilized. She gave birth to a son without complications. That morning, another doctor took over and diagnosed the patient with HELLP syndrome. A transfusion of red blood cells was ordered. The patient’s blood pressure rose, and another transfusion was ordered. A third one was ordered later.

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bomb searchIn a recent North Carolina injury case, a couple and their five surviving children sued a hospital and health system. The case arose because the couple’s son, who died, had PTSD after serving in Iraq as a Marine. He got an Other Than Honorable discharge because of drug abuse and therefore couldn’t get any subsequent care through the VA. He got no mental health or substance abuse treatment after being discharged. He abused alcohol, cocaine, marijuana, and pain pills and began gathering weapons and ammunition.

The family gathered in Asheville days before one of the daughters got married. While they were gathered, the man choked his brother, broke into another brother’s house and beat him, and tried to beat down the door of his parents’ house, while again beating his brother. He also threatened to beat down his biological father when he got into town for the wedding.

They called the police, and deputies came just after he left. The deputy suggested they involuntarily commit the man rather than have him arrested. The family agreed to these actions, and the father executed a petition to involuntarily commit the man. The petition asked for involuntary commitment on the grounds that the son was mentally ill and dangerous and needed treatment to stop deterioration that would predictably wind up being dangerous and that he was a substance abuser who was dangerous to himself and others.

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handsIn a recent North Carolina nursing home case, the defendants appealed a lower court’s order denying their motion to compel arbitration against a plaintiff who brought a lawsuit in her representative capacity as administratrix of her mother’s estate.

The appellate court explained that the plaintiff’s forecast of evidence tended to show that her mother fell in 2007, and due to the fall, she needed surgery. She was admitted to the defendant’s rehab center, where she stayed as a long-term patient under the rehab center’s case.

The defendants required the plaintiff’s mother to sign a form as a precondition to her admission. The contract designated the mother as the “resident” and the plaintiff as the responsible party. The plaintiff signed the admission paperwork and accepted financial responsibility for the mother’s time at the rehab facility. A Special Power of Attorney form was referenced, noting that the resident had appointed the plaintiff as the responsible party. Additionally, a seven-part arbitration clause was signed.

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rollercoasterNorth Carolina officials are issuing a moratorium on Fire Ball rides. One was used in Charlotte at the Carolina Fair at Park Expo weeks ago. On the Fire Ball, riders are swung up 40 feet and spun around at 13 revolutions per minute.

The ride had been inspected and was certified for the Charlotte location. Our Raleigh injury lawyers know that amusement park rides in North Carolina are supposed to be inspected every time they’re assembled. Recently, however, somebody died and seven were injured when one of these rides malfunctioned at the Ohio State Fair.

The Fire Ball malfunction resulted in people being thrown from the carnival ride. The riders who were injured included a 14-year-old boy, an 18-year-old girl, a 19-year-old man, and others who were older. Ohio’s governor ordered the rides to be shut down pending safety inspections. All of the rides are to stay closed until each attraction can be inspected.

recordIn a recent North Carolina wrongful death case, the 23-year-old decedent was punched in the face by a 25-year-old assailant and taken to two hospitals. In 2010, he died from his injuries. The decedent’s brother sued the defendant.

The two men had gone to a club in September. They were good friends. The defendant got to the club at around 10 pm and called the decedent to tell him so. The defendant planned to talk to the decedent about something that happened months earlier when the defendant’s sister and the decedent had both gone to the same party. The sister had told the defendant that the decedent had made unwanted sexual advances toward her at that party. The defendant didn’t know if this was true.

The decedent got to the club at around 11 with his brother, the plaintiff, as well as his sister, two friends, and the son of one of the friends. The son testified he heard the phone conversation between the decedent and the defendant. While they were on the way to the club, the decedent talked to another man on the phone, which may have been the defendant.

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brick buildingIn a recent North Carolina injury case, the plaintiff sued a university for an assault committed by other students in his dorm. He lived at a residence hall at the university, and the other students pranked him by putting a cup of liquid over the door, such that it would spill when the door was opened. When the plaintiff opened the door, the liquid spilled onto him and the floor. He approached the students he thought were involved, and it turned into a physical fight.

During the physical fight, the plaintiff was seriously injured, sustaining multiple fractures. After the fight, the five students involved in fighting and the prank were suspended while awaiting a hearing before the Student Conduct Board. The plaintiff and his roommate were moved to another dorm, and eventually the plaintiff withdrew from the school and enrolled in a different college.

In 2014, the plaintiff sued the university and its trustee board, asking for damages for negligence and negligent infliction of emotional distress, as well as punitive damages related to the university’s allegedly willful and wanton disregard for his rights and gross negligence. The university moved for summary judgment and asked the court to dismiss the case. The university’s summary judgment motion was granted, and the plaintiff appealed.

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skullIn a recent North Carolina appellate case, the plaintiff appealed after a lower court granted a directed verdict for a hospital on a medical negligence claim. The plaintiff claimed that the hospital’s process for X-ray over-read discrepancies wasn’t up to the professional standard of care for hospitals.

The case arose when a man came to the ER of a hospital, asking for treatment for his pain. He had sickle cell anemia. In the ER, he was treated by a doctor who gave him pain medication and a saline solution and ordered different tests.

The tests showed most of his vital signs were normal. His white blood cell count was high, but his red blood cells were normal, and his body didn’t show inflammation. The doctor found his chest x-ray to be normal and, thinking his vital signs were normal, discharged him from the hospital early in the morning and told him to come back if he got worse. The man did come back a day later, and the ER doctors decided he had acute chest syndrome, which is a complication of sickle cell anemia. He was admitted to the ICU and died early the next morning in spite of getting more treatment.

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dog attackIn a recent incident, a passenger on an airplane was attacked by an emotional support dog. The dog was a mixed lab, and the victim was sitting in a window seat with the dog and his owner, a North Carolina Marine veteran, next to him. After the attack, which happened before the flight took off, the victim was drenched in blood. The police came to the scene, and the dog and his owner were booked to a later flight with the dog flying in a kennel.

Although dogs are beloved pets and often provide emotional support formally, they can act in unpredictable ways or ways not anticipated by their particular owners. The harm that dogs are capable of inflicting is tremendous and may include injuries so severe they are fatal. In North Carolina, you have three years after suffering injuries from a dog bite to file a lawsuit against the owner. In most cases, you will not be able to have your case heard or to recover damages if you wait for more than three years after being bitten to file suit.

Under section 67 of the North Carolina General Statutes, a dog owner may be liable for damages if you can prove it was a dangerous dog and it injured you. Unlike some other states, this law applies even if there was no bite and the injuries were inflicted by some other means, such as the dog knocking you over.

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