Articles Posted in Motor Vehicle Accidents

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.

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.

Insurance Requirements PaperIf you are injured by another motorist in a car accident, you probably have countless questions about your insurance coverage and whether the other motorist’s insurance will be sufficient to cover your losses and damages. Our dedicated North Carolina car accident attorneys have assisted many victims with navigating the insurance claims process after suffering injuries inflicted by a careless driver. We are also seasoned trial lawyers who are not afraid to take the matter to litigation if that is what is necessary to protect your rights.

In a recent appellate opinion, the court considered whether the primary underinsured motorist insurer can obtain an offset for any liability payments that it made to an accident victim when there are multiple underinsured motorist insurers involved. The underlying facts of the case are as follows. A man was driving his son’s vehicle with his wife as a passenger at the time of the incident. The man fell asleep while driving, and the car collided with a tree after veering off the roadway at a high speed. The man’s wife, unfortunately, died in the crash, and the son suffered serious injuries.

The son had three insurance policies with the same insurer. The policies each provided liability and underinsured motorist coverage in the amount of $100,000 for each person and $300,000 for each accident. One of these policies applied to the vehicle involved in the accident, while the other two were taken out for different vehicles. The man also had an insurance policy through a different insurer that provided similar amounts of coverage. In each of the policies involved, there was the same language regarding underinsured motorist coverage.

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Tree on RoadwayCar accidents can arise in a wide variety of circumstances. One of the most common issues in a pedestrian accident case is whether the plaintiff was contributorily negligent. As seasoned North Carolina pedestrian accident attorneys, the lawyers at Maurer Law are prepared to help you evaluate your potential claim and to assist you with protecting your right to compensation.

A recent appellate decision discussed whether the driver of a vehicle that struck a tree lying across the roadway on which the plaintiff was standing was liable for the plaintiff’s injuries. The plaintiff was driving a truck near Asheville in an evening during October 2015. The plaintiff’s father was a passenger in the vehicle. While driving toward their home, they observed a tree branch that had fallen across the roadway and was hanging off the ground. The plaintiff’s father told the plaintiff to slow down, and they pulled over to remove the branch. They turned on the vehicle’s traffic lights, and the plaintiff’s father contacted his wife to ask her to bring a chainsaw to their location. The plaintiff climbed onto the tree so that he could get across and attempt to wave down any passing cars while waiting for the chainsaw. A vehicle approached, and the plaintiff started waving his arms to get the vehicle operator’s attention. The plaintiff’s father testified later that the plaintiff had been goofing around while on the tree and that he did not get down from the tree as the vehicle approached because they thought it was going to stop.

The driver of the approaching vehicle testified that the sun was shining into his windshield immediately before the incident, making it difficult for him to see the plaintiff on the tree. The oncoming car collided with the tree, and on impact a branch struck the plaintiff in the head and threw him onto the adjacent roadway. The plaintiff was airlifted to the hospital and required serious medical attention.

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vintage carIn a recent North Carolina car accident decision, the plaintiff appealed from an order granting a defendant insurer’s motion for summary judgment. The plaintiff sued a man and woman in 2009. Summons were issued against them, and service was made soon afterward. Summons was then issued to the insurer through the Commissioner of Insurance. The insurer moved to dismiss years later, and an order of voluntary dismissal without prejudice was entered.

Shortly after the dismissal, the plaintiff refiled the lawsuit, and service was made against the defendants and insurer. Towards the end of the year, notices of voluntary dismissal without prejudice were filed. In 2016, the complaint was refiled.

In the 2016 complaint, the plaintiff claimed he owned a Chevy truck, and the defendant owned a Chevy Silverado truck. The other defendant owned a Ford truck. The defendant who owned a Chevy truck was in default on repaying an auto loan that secured his truck. The plaintiff’s employer had contracted with the bank that had given the defendant the loan to buy the Chevy truck. The plaintiff was told the defendant’s truck was on the other defendant’s property. He went with his wife to repossess the Chevy Silverado. After he took it, his truck was blocked by another car and a cable so that he couldn’t go back to the road.

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garbage truckEarlier this month (January 2018), there was an accident involving a sanitation truck and utility van. The North Carolina truck accident resulted in the death of a 45-year-old man. The driver of the van was helicoptered to a hospital. The sanitation truck driver was taken to the Outer Banks Hospital with non-life threatening injuries. He was charged with misdemeanor death by a motor vehicle.

Criminal proceedings brought against a truck driver believed to be at fault for an accident that causes death to another driver are entirely separate from a civil lawsuit that may be brought in connection with the same accident. The criminal case must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt, which is an extremely high standard. Additionally, the criminal case is brought by the prosecutor on behalf of the state. Financial restitution is not always awarded even if the prosecution proves its case.

After losing a family member in a truck accident, surviving family members may face huge changes to their lives, and their only recourse to address their financial and emotional losses may be a civil wrongful death action. While no amount of money can make up for the loss of a loved one, there are practical considerations, such as the loss of contribution of income by the decedent and the difficulties of losing someone who did a significant portion of the work around a household.

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In a recent North Carolina appetreellate decision, a personal injury plaintiff appealed a summary judgment motion granted in favor of the defendant. The North Carolina car accident case arose when the plaintiff was driving a truck east early one evening. The plaintiff’s father was riding in the truck with him. Only a quarter mile from their home, they saw a tree had fallen and was blocking traffic in both lanes. The branches of the tree held the trunk about five feet above the road.

The plaintiff’s father asked him to slow down, and he stopped at most 40 feet from the tree. The father turned the hazard lights on and called his mother to ask her to bring a chainsaw, so he could remove the tree. He also told the plaintiff to get across the tree and try to slow cars down while waiting for the mom to arrive. The plaintiff climbed onto the top of the tree and asked his dad for gloves because he’d gotten pinesap on his hands.

The plaintiff stood on the tree and waved his arms at a car that was approaching. The father would later testify he never got down from the tree and was acting like a teenager because he thought the other driver would stop. The father told him to jump down, but when the plaintiff tried to jump, his pants caught on a tree limb.

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black carA recent North Carolina car crash case arose from a car accident in 2012, involving the plaintiff and the defendants’ cars. The car driven by one defendant was owned by another person, and the only allegation of negligence in the complaint was based on vicarious liability. The investigating officer prepared an accident report that listed the defendant driver’s address, but it didn’t indicate whether the defendant driver had a suffix in his name.

The plaintiff sued, claiming negligence by the defendant driver and alleging that this caused her injuries. The complaint also alleged another defendant owned a car driven by the defendant at the time of the accident. The complaint alleged the correct owner of the car and stated she was also liable to the plaintiff for her injuries. The court issued a summons.

The plaintiff filed an affidavit of service, claiming that service had been completed by mailing a complaint and civil summons to the defendant driver at his address by certified mail with a return receipt requested. Someone had printed the name “Phillip Park Ja” or “Phillip Parker Jr.” on the form.

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manhole coverIn a recent North Carolina appellate decision, the plaintiff was awarded workers’ compensation benefits after a car accident. The appellate court reversed on the basis that the plaintiff had chosen to settle his personal injury lawsuit against a third party without the defendant’s consent and had gotten a disbursement of settlement proceeds. According to the appellate court, this meant he was barred from obtaining workers’ compensation under the Workers’ Compensation Act. The plaintiff asked the North Carolina Supreme Court to review.

The case arose when the plaintiff slipped while working with a manhole cover as a utility technician. He hurt his shoulder and neck. The city, his self-insured employer, accepted his claim for workers’ compensation. The city authorized his treatment with a particular doctor, who restricted him from working for a certain period. When that period concluded, the plaintiff asked for a note to stay out of work because he continued to be in pain.

While going to an office to get the note, the plaintiff got into a car crash and experienced a traumatic brain injury. He was taken to the hospital and asked his wife to call his supervisor and let him know about the accident. The wife contacted the supervisor and told him the plaintiff was in a car crash while going to get a note to stay out of work, and he wouldn’t come into work. The plaintiff also had a conversation with his supervisor, his safety manager, and other coworkers about his car crash.

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car crashIn a recent North Carolina car accident case, an insurer appealed from a judgment confirming an arbitration award in favor of a plaintiff in a motor vehicle collision. The case arose from a 2013 motor vehicle collision. The insurer was the plaintiff’s uninsured motorist insurer. Under his policy, it was to pay the plaintiff compensatory damages if the plaintiff was hurt by a driver who was at fault but had insufficiently high liability coverage.

After the collision, the plaintiff settled with the defendant’s insurer and was advanced $35,000, which included the maximum medical payment and the liability limits. However, the insurer and the plaintiff couldn’t settle on the total amount of damages, so the plaintiff asked for arbitration under the policy provisions.

A panel of arbitrators awarded $110,000. This didn’t consider interest or costs in determining the award. The plaintiff moved the trial court to confirm the award. The lower court entered judgment for $110,000 plus pre-award interest and post-award interest. The insurer appealed.

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