Articles Posted in Car Accidents

In a recent North Carolina appellate 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.

Continue reading

A 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.

Continue reading

In 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.

Continue reading

In 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.

Continue reading

In a recent North Carolina car accident decision, a plaintiff filed a claim for damages against the North Carolina Department of Transportation under the Tort Claims Act. He asked for damages of more than $1 million. He claimed that the DOT’s employees were negligent in maintaining, designing, and installing the right safety mechanisms or warnings and speed limits in a curve on a road next to a pond.

The Deputy Commission entered a denial of the plaintiff’s claims. The plaintiff appealed, and the Commission amended its decision. However, a majority of the commission affirmed the denial.

The case arose when the plaintiff was bringing firewood to a home at the end of a two-lane residential road in a rural area. There was a short straight section at the start of the road with a double curve around the pond. At the time, there weren’t warning signs for the double curve or the 90-degree turn.

Continue reading

In a North Carolina car crash decision, the plaintiff appealed from a trial court’s judgment that permitted the defendant’s motion for credits and setoffs against the tort judgment received by the plaintiff through their underinsured motorist coverage insurer. The trial court found that the insurer had waived its right to subrogation and didn’t have any further duty.

On appeal, the plaintiff argued that the trial court shouldn’t have permitted the credit, and it was an abuse of discretion not to let the plaintiff depose the defendant’s insurer, among others.

The case arose when the plaintiff sued the defendant, trying to obtain damages after a car crash. The jury found that the defendant’s negligence caused the plaintiff’s injuries, and the damages were $263,000. The defendant filed a motion for setoffs and credits against this judgment. The trial court reduced the award to $230,000.00 after making a finding that the defendant was entitled to credits or setoffs that totaled $33,000.00, based on the defendant’s motion. It found setoffs and credits would need to be applied so that the judgment would be $230,000.00. The order found that the parties had disagreed about whether the defendant should get a credit for what the plaintiff had gotten from their underinsured motorist coverage insurer.

Continue reading

A 44-year-old woman was involved in a Charlotte car accident that resulted in the death of another driver. The accident happened at night on Freedom Drive. A man was making a U-turn on Freedom Drive when the woman’s white Chevy Silverado hit the passenger side of his car and sent it into the outbound lanes. He was taken to the hospital and was later pronounced dead. The woman and the passenger in her car weren’t injured.

The woman was speeding, and after she hit the decedent’s vehicle, she drove off the road and hit a utility pole. Power lines fell, and the pole split. The woman was charged with involuntary manslaughter, careless driving, reckless driving, and speeding.

If a loved one is involved in a car accident caused by someone else that results in his or her death, you may be able to bring a wrongful death lawsuit against the at-fault driver. Wrongful deaths in North Carolina are those caused by someone else’s fault, neglect, or wrongful act. The decedent must have had the right to sue for his own injuries had he survived. A wrongful death lawsuit is brought to put the surviving members of the decedent’s family into the same financial position in which they would have been if the decedent hadn’t died. It is wholly separate from a criminal proceeding for manslaughter or murder that may also be brought by a prosecutor.

In 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.

Continue reading

Recently, 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.

Continue reading

An interesting unpublished 2013 appellate decision related to contributory negligence arising out of a rear-end car accident. The plaintiff sued the defendants, arguing that the accident happened as a direct result of their negligence. She voluntarily dismissed one of the defendants but took the other defendant to trial.

The case arose when the plaintiff and the defendant were driving southbound when the defendant rear-ended the plaintiff. The plaintiff had been driving at about 35 mph when she signaled to make a left turn. She was starting the turn when she was hit on the rear passenger side of her car. The defendant had been following the plaintiff and felt aggravated by the slow speed of the plaintiff, and she said that there was no turn signal when the plaintiff suddenly stopped. The defendant braked and turned right to try to avoid hitting the plaintiff.

After the crash, the plaintiff’s car went to the right of her driveway and moved through her yard before hitting trees and a deck and landing on its side. The impact resulted in the deployment of the airbags. The windshield shattered. The plaintiff’s body was pushed back, while her head moved forward, and she had to be taken out of the car by firemen. She suffered injuries to her neck and back and had medical bills of about $12,500. However, when the accident happened, her driver’s license had been revoked, and she didn’t have a license to operate a car.

Continue reading