Baby in cribIn order to protect younger individuals, there are many unique and special rules that apply to legal claims involving minors. If you aren’t careful, it is easy to make a mistake or to miss a procedural rule, which could have a devastating outcome for the minor’s claim. As North Carolina personal injury lawyers with experience handling claims on behalf of minors, we have the experience it takes to ensure that everyone’s rights are protected.

The North Carolina Supreme Court recently considered whether the appointment of a guardian ad litem for a minor removes a disability and starts the statute of limitations for that minor’s claim. A guardian ad litem is an adult party assigned to represent the best interests of a child and to make legal decisions on behalf of that child. In the case at hand, a baby suffered a brain injury during delivery under the guidance of a nurse midwife who managed the delivery. Three years later, a trial court appointed a guardian ad litem for the child for the purpose of bringing a civil claim against the nurse. The plaintiff filed a lawsuit on that same day against the medical professionals involved in the delivery. For unknown reasons, the guardian ad litem eventually dismissed the claim.

Six years later, the trial court appointed the same guardian to represent the child in a similar medical action, which the guardian filed the same day. This time, the complaint named additional defendants. The trial court dismissed the lawsuit on the basis that the statute of limitations for the claim had expired, relying on North Carolina’s three-year limit for bringing a medical malpractice claim.

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Drinks on TrayWhen it comes to the sudden loss of a loved one, there is no amount of money or legal action that can truly make you whole again. It may, however, assist with the financial burden of the sudden loss and help your family get back on its feet after such a tragic and untimely loss. As Charlotte wrongful death lawyers, our seasoned team of professionals is ready to help you ensure that your family receives the justice that it deserves.

Recently, the Supreme Court of North Carolina considered whether the state recognizes an injured person’s first-party claim for dram shop liability and, if so, whether that claim will be barred when the decedent is deemed contributorily negligent. The complaint alleged that the plaintiff and his wife checked into a resort one evening to celebrate their wedding anniversary. The defendant was a hotel company that operated the resort and a restaurant on the premises. After the couple checked in, they had dinner at the restaurant and consumed 24 alcoholic beverages. The wife consumed at least 10 drinks, and testimony indicated that she was visibly intoxicated. The wife was so intoxicated she had to be transported via wheelchair to her hotel room.

The next day, the husband woke up to find his wife dead on the floor next to the bed. Medical reports indicated that the wife died from alcohol poisoning. The man filed a wrongful death action against the hotel, alleging many causes of action, including dram shop liability. He also alleged negligent aid, assistance, or rescue, and he sought punitive damages on the basis that the hotel acted in a wanton, willful, and reckless manner.

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bus in streetWhen an accident involves a public agency or government body, there can be complicated procedural rules regarding how the claim must be filed and which court or agency has authority to hear the dispute. As seasoned North Carolina car accident lawyers, the legal professionals at Maurer Law are prepared to help you ensure that you assert your legal rights through the appropriate channels.

In a recent decision from the North Carolina Industrial Commission, the court considered whether the Commission has jurisdiction over negligence claims that involve allegations about the operation of school buses. The defendant, an educational board for a city, appealed an order that the Commission entered denying their motion to dismiss a lawsuit alleging many different claims stemming from the death of a 14-year-old child who was hit by an oncoming vehicle when she was crossing the street to board a school bus.

Originally, the Commission concluded that it had jurisdiction over the matter, pursuant to the North Carolina Tort Claims Act, to oversee the plaintiffs’ negligence action against the driver of the school bus as well as their claims against certain identified members of the school administration board that alleged negligent design for the school bus pick-up system. These claims also included allegations stating that the school board was negligent in making routes for the school buses as well as in certain training, hiring, and staffing actions.

man in wheelchairThe North Carolina workers’ compensation system can be intimidating for injured workers. This is especially true if you are coping with painful conditions or facing a lifetime of disabilities. At Maurer Law, we have guided many North Carolina workers through the claims process and helped them ensure that they receive the full amount of compensation that they deserve.

In a recent claim, an employer appealed from an opinion that awarded an injured worker benefits and compensation for an injury that she sustained on the job. The man suffered a devastating injury when he was pinned between his delivery vehicle and another vehicle. The employer did not dispute that the injury arose from his work duties, nor did it dispute his claim that he suffered injuries to his right leg and back. The defendant provided workers’ compensation wage loss benefits to the man in addition to medical benefits for treatment that he received following the accident. The man continued to suffer serious health problems stemming from the accident, involving a staggering 390 surgical procedures and the amputation of his leg up to the buttock. He also experienced kidney failure and other medical issues, such as depression, dental problems, elevated cholesterol, and diabetes.

In its appeal, the employer argued that the North Carolina Industrial Commission did not have appropriate jurisdiction over the injured worker’s benefits claim and that it was a reversible error for the Commission to award benefits to the worker. More specifically, the employer argued that the court erred in awarding benefits for attendant care costs that he received prior to the date upon which he initiated his workers’ compensation claim.

Shiny Epoxy FloorWhen you are injured at work, you probably have many questions about whether you are entitled to compensation or financial support. One of the most critical aspects of establishing your right to workers’ compensation benefits is showing that your injury occurred as a direct result of your employment. Insurance companies often acknowledge that an employee suffered an injury but deny a claim on the basis that the employee’s injury was caused by some other non-work related factor. At Maurer Law, our knowledgeable and experienced North Carolina workers’ compensation lawyers are ready to help you secure the benefits that you deserve.

A recent claim demonstrates how important causation is for workers’ compensation claims. On the date that she was injured, the plaintiff reported to the building where she worked on the first floor. The basement in the building was undergoing renovations that involved painting the floors with epoxy overnight. A worker who applied the epoxy accidentally left a door open to the first floor, which allowed paint fumes to travel into the rest of the building and to recirculate through the first and second floors. The plaintiff reported experiencing symptoms of lightheadedness, headaches, and nausea after reporting to work. Eventually, the employer advised employees that they could return home. The plaintiff continued to experience these symptoms and eventually reported to an urgent care facility. The doctor there advised her to stay home.

She returned to work, but her symptoms did not subside. She suffered from such severe breathing problems that she reported to the emergency department at times. She eventually was seen by a pulmonologist, who ordered her to stop working for two weeks. The plaintiff was relocated to another building after she returned to work, but she continued to experience problems. She left employment at the facility in May 2014 and reported having to make substantial lifestyle changes to accommodate her symptoms and chemical sensitivity. According to the plaintiff, she is unable to work in any facility outside her home.

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view of hospitalThere are many different medical issues that can take place in a hospital or a nursing home facility. We trust medical professionals to take good care of us and to provide us with the attention and treatment that we require. When we fail to receive this treatment, and we suffer unnecessary and avoidable injuries as a result, the outcome can be devastating. As North Carolina personal injury lawyers, we have assisted numerous individuals and families with understanding their legal rights following a medical malpractice incident.

In a recent appellate decision, the plaintiff filed a lawsuit against a hospital, alleging that she suffered injuries as a result of sepsis while in its care. The jury returned a verdict finding that the hospital was not liable for the plaintiff’s injuries. The plaintiff appealed this decision, arguing that the trial court made a number of errors regarding the evidence that it allowed or disallowed in the proceedings. It also dismissed her claim based on a nursing negligence theory.

The plaintiff’s first argument on appeal alleged that the trial court made an error when it allowed evidence from experts regarding three medical studies that were published many years after the plaintiff suffered the alleged injuries. In response, the defendants argued that the plaintiff did not make an appropriate objection to the admission of these studies at the time they were offered into evidence at trial. In reviewing the appropriateness of admitting the studies, the appellate court first noted that the trial court provided the jury with a limiting instruction regarding the studies and advised the jury that the studies were not indicative of the standard of care in the case. The appellate court found the limiting instruction appropriate and an effective way to mitigate any prejudice resulting from the admission of the studies. As a result, it rejected the plaintiff’s argument on this appellate issue.

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arbitration on typewriterOne of the most challenging aspects of a car accident is dealing with insurance companies. Whether you are having trouble getting your own insurance company to provide you with coverage, or you are having issues working with the at-fault party’s insurance company, a seasoned North Carolina car accident lawyer can make all of the difference when it comes to asserting your rights. In a recent appellate decision, the court considered the suitability of an arbitration award entered in a car accident victim’s favor against an insurance company. The plaintiff and the defendant were involved in an accident in 2013. At the time, the plaintiff had underinsured motorist coverage through Farm Bureau. The policy obligated the insurer to pay compensation to the plaintiff if the plaintiff was involved in a crash with a driver whose coverage limits were too low to cover the amount of damages that the plaintiff suffered.

After the accident, the plaintiff entered into a settlement with the defendant’s insurance company. Farm Bureau provided a check to the plaintiff totaling $35,000, which included coverage for different items. The plaintiff rejected this offer, however, since the parties had a dispute regarding the amount that the plaintiff was entitled to recover under the policy. The plaintiff demanded an arbitration before a three-member panel. It unanimously concluded that the plaintiff was entitled to $110,000. The award stated that the arbitrators did not consider costs or interest in reaching this amount. The plaintiff then filed a motion with the court, seeking confirmation of the arbitration award and requesting interest and costs, which the court awarded.

Farm Bureau appealed, stating that the court committed an error when it awarded costs to the plaintiff, including pre-award interest and post-award interest when it confirmed the arbitration award. The insurer did not dispute the $110,000 determination. Ultimately, the court affirmed the lower court’s award of post-award and pre-judgment interest, but it reversed the award of pre-award interest and costs. According to the appellate court, pre-award interest is categorized as included in a compensatory damages item for which the underinsured motorist may be liable unless the policy provides for an exclusion on this topic. As a result, the arbitrators have the authority to decide whether pre-award interest should be included as part of the compensatory damages. It is not appropriate for the trial court to make this decision. If the arbitrators do not include pre-award interest, the trial court must affirm the arbitration award as written unless the arbitrators expressly defer the determination to the trial court.

flexing back musclesIf you were injured on the job, there are certain rules and procedures that govern whether you are able to recover compensation and benefit payments. Knowing which documents to file and ensuring that you preserve your rights can be stressful on top of coping with your injuries and inability to work. At Maurer Law, our reliable team of North Carolina workers’ compensation lawyers is standing by and ready to assist you in ensuring that you receive the full amount of compensation that you deserve.

In a recent appellate decision, the North Carolina Court of Appeal considered whether an injured worker filed a back injury claim within the appropriate deadline against a specific insurance company. The plaintiff suffered a back injury while she was employed as a nurse in 2007. She filed a claim seeking workers’ compensation benefits, and the insurer for her employer accepted liability on the claim. The plaintiff sought additional compensation a year later. Throughout the next five years, the plaintiff suffered additional accidents at work that caused her back injury to worsen. The insurer did not dispute whether these were compensable injuries and provided medical compensation until the plaintiff was able to return to work.

Also during the five-year time period, the workers’ compensation insurer for the defendant changed twice. In January 2012, the plaintiff suffered another injury and was diagnosed with recurrent back pain. The current insurer denied coverage for an MRI that her treating physician recommended. The insurer claimed that the plaintiff needed to file a new claim for benefits with the new insurer reflecting the new injury. The insurer overall challenged whether the new back injury was causally related to the original back injury. After additional hearings and proceedings, the Commission concluded that the new back injury was not causally related to the existing back injury. Since the employee did not file a claim with the new insurer within two years after suffering the new back injury, the Commission dismissed her claim for benefits.

Gavel on PaperThere are many important procedural rules that parties must follow when it comes to a personal injury lawsuit. If you do not file certain documents by certain deadlines, or fail to respond to certain documents, you may waive your right to compensation. As experienced North Carolina personal injury lawyers, we are well-versed in North Carolina’s rules and can ensure that your claim is handled effectively and appropriately.

A recent appellate opinion highlights how important it is to abide by procedural rules. In the case, the plaintiff filed a complaint against certain defendants, alleging that she suffered injuries as a result of their medical malpractice. The plaintiff dismissed the lawsuit voluntarily over one year after it was filed. Pursuant to Rule 41(d), the plaintiff was required to pay costs upon the voluntary dismissal of the lawsuit. Roughly one year later, the plaintiff filed the lawsuit again, and the defendant responded by filing a motion seeking costs pursuant to Rule 41(d).

Shortly thereafter, the court entered a Consent Order that required the plaintiff to pay costs to the defendant and noted that failing to pay costs within the stated time period would result in the dismissal of the current lawsuit. The defendant emailed a copy of the Consent Order to the plaintiff and later filed a Certificate of Service for the Consent Order. The payment period lapsed, and a few days later the plaintiff notified the defendant via email that a check for costs was being sent. The defendant received the payment but refused to cash the check, stating that it would seek a dismissal of the action pursuant to the Consent Order. The trial court granted the defendant’s motion to dismiss, and the plaintiff appealed.

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wheel of cheeseIf you were hurt at work, you probably have numerous questions about whether you can receive workers’ compensation benefits and how to go about preserving your rights. At Maurer Law, our North Carolina work injury lawyers have proudly assisted numerous individuals with securing their right to compensation after suffering a painful and disruptive work injury. In a recent opinion, a North Carolina appellate court considered whether an employee who suffered injuries while working at a grocery store should be entitled to receive workers’ compensation benefits. The worker suffered a right shoulder and arm injury when he attempted to lift a box of cheese from a cooler that was not marked with a weight and that was placed oddly on the pallets inside the cooler.

After receiving medical attention, the worker was diagnosed with a bicep tear and torn rotator cuff, along with other associated injuries. He received surgery, injections, and physical therapy to address his injury. During testimony regarding the injury, the worker testified that he had never lifted a box heavier than 15 pounds prior to the injury and that this box was significantly heavier than other boxes he had lifted unassisted. The job description for his position indicated that lifting of 10-pound boxes was frequent and that occasional lifting of 50-pound boxes was necessary. The worker testified that he had not seen this job description when he was transferred to his position at the cheese department from the deli, and he also stated that the description did not accurately portray the requirements of the job.

The defendant denied the worker’s claim for workers’ compensation benefits. After a hearing on the denial, the Commission affirmed the denial, and the plaintiff appealed. The reviewing Commission panel awarded benefits to the employee, finding that the unusually large box of cheese was a deviation from his usual work routine and that he was unfamiliar with the fact that larger boxes of cheese were ordered every several weeks that would require assistance with lifting. The defendant appealed.