aquariumIn a recent North Carolina trip and fall case, the plaintiff had sued after falling at an aquarium. She visited the aquarium in 2011, and after parking she was walking to the aquarium in a crowd. At a wooden bridge, she fell and fractured her hip, which necessitated hip replacement surgery and physical and occupational therapy. Her medical bills were $22,691.71.

She claimed that the aquarium, through its director, had been negligent in maintaining the aquarium’s common areas and failing to provide warnings about the dangerous condition. She claimed damages of $250,000. When it answered, the defendant denied the negligence claims. It argued that the plaintiff had been contributorily negligent. When a plaintiff is found contributorily negligent in North Carolina, she is barred from recovering any damages.

A deputy commissioner issued an order that found the defendant had breached its duty of care to the plaintiff and that she was not contributorily negligent. She was awarded more than $72,000 for medical bills and pain and suffering damages. The defendant appealed to the Full Commission. The Commission found that the plaintiff was 88 and owned a beauty salon, where she worked more than 40 hours per week until she was injured. She had no prior medical conditions affecting her walking ability, although she’d had an ulcer on her leg in 2011.

open roadIn a recent North Carolina wrongful death case, the defendant appealed after a jury awarded the plaintiff compensatory and punitive damages for his wife’s wrongful death. The defendant was driving on a two-lane road early one morning when she lost control of the car, crossed over into an oncoming lane of traffic, and hit the plaintiff’s wife, who was a pedestrian on the other shoulder of the road. The wife was seriously injured, and a few days later, she died.

During the first half of the trial, the jury considered compensatory damages, and in the second half of trial, the jury addressed punitive damages. The husband put on evidence about his actual damages, including the proof he’d suffered harm before her death. The jury awarded the husband $4.25 million in compensatory damages. In the punitive damages phase, the jury listened to evidence that the defendant was a student who worked part-time, that she drank alcohol early that morning, and that she had a BAC above the legal limit two hours after the accident happened. $45,000 in punitive damages was awarded.

The defendant moved for a new trial, but the lower court denied the motion. She argued that the plaintiff’s questioning of the jury had violated her due process right to a bifurcated trial because the questions involved issues relevant only to the punitive damages claim. The appellate court explained punitive damages can’t be recovered when a defendant isn’t found liable for compensatory damages under N.C. Gen. Stat. § 1D-15. To make sure the jury doesn’t award compensatory damages based on issues relevant only to punitive damages, the North Carolina legislature has granted defendants the right to bifurcated trials that will allow liability issues to be tried separately from the amount of punitive damages. During the trial, the plaintiff isn’t permitted to introduce evidence about punitive damages during the phase of compensatory damages.

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cement truckRecently, a concrete truck driven by a 43-year-old man from Charlotte crushed a van in a North Carolina truck accident, trapping four people inside at the intersection of N.C. 49 and Zion Church Road at around 8:30 a.m.

The concrete truck was fully loaded and driving north on N.C. 49. When the driver turned right, he went too fast and lost control of the vehicle. He crashed into the van, which was stopped in the left turn lane of the road. There were three 13-year-olds and one 44-year-old adult woman in the van at the time. The Fire Department responded to rescue the victims. A crane and two heavy-duty wreckers were used.

Two of the victims were able to be rescued and taken to the hospital quickly. Rescue workers needed to get the concrete truck lifted off the van in order to remove the other two victims. It took an hour and 15 minutes to free them. Over 25 firemen helped with the rescue. A 13-year-old was airlifted to the hospital.

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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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