Articles Posted in Personal Injury – Other

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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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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construction siteRecently, two North Carolina plaintiffs appealed after the defendants’ summary judgment motion was granted in a case alleging negligence, gross negligence, battery, assault, vicarious liability, and reckless infliction of emotional distress, among other causes of action.

This North Carolina personal injury case arose when the defendants started constructing on a piece of property adjacent to the plaintiffs’ home. The construction company’s trucks used the plaintiffs’ driveway as a turnaround for large construction trucks. This damaged the plaintiffs’ driveway. The plaintiff explained to an employee (the defendant) that he’d given some information about their own home and how valuable it was to them. The goal of the plaintiff was to make sure the construction company and its employees understood the importance of the property, since they were turning around on their little driveway, which was made of river rocks. The plaintiff was concerned that the workers were tearing up the driveway and being inconsiderate.

The defendant’s construction workers kept using the driveway as a turnaround. The plaintiff and the defendant spoke three times about the workers using the driveway. The defendant told the plaintiff he had a small crew and would talk to them about it.

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barbed wireIn a recent North Carolina injury decision, the defendant doctors appealed the lower court’s denial of their motions to dismiss based on grounds of public official immunity. The plaintiff started his case against the defendants in their individual capacities and also claimed that the doctors (both employed by the Department of Public Safety) were negligent.

The claims alleged the doctors hadn’t met the professional standard of care for doctors when treating the incarcerated plaintiff. He claimed he started suffering serious back pain in 2012, and he turned in the first of multiple requests for medical care. For 10 months, nurses, the doctor’s assistants, and a doctor repeatedly evaluated him for his back pain. One of the doctors evaluated him nine times and asked for an MRI to be done. A member of the review board, also a doctor, denied the request for an MRI and instead recommended a month of physical therapy. The plaintiff kept submitting requests as he got worse.

Eventually, a doctor’s assistant sent the plaintiff to the ER for treatment. There, imaging showed that the plaintiff’s L3-L4 vertebra had eroded and that he had a spinal infection. The plaintiff claimed that it was medical malpractice for his doctor to fail to treat his condition and for the board member to refuse the requested treatment.

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eyeIn a recent North Carolina appellate decision, the guardian ad litem for a man appealed the court’s decision to grant summary judgment in favor of a doctor and county hospital system. The North Carolina medical malpractice case arose in spring 2015, when the plaintiff sued the defendant doctor and hospital system for medical malpractice. He voluntarily dismissed the complaint in the fall of 2015.

The plaintiff re-filed the complaint and then filed an amended complaint. She claimed that he was born in 1996, and until his 18th birthday was a minor who was under a disability preventing him from suing the defendants for medical malpractice and professional negligence. The guardian ad litem claimed that her claim was filed within the appropriate statute of repose, since the last act that could be considered professional negligence happened in 2012, when their negligent treatment was discovered.

He’d started having vision problems in 2011 and was later diagnosed with a large pituitary adenoma. The guardian ad litem claimed his neurosurgeon negligently didn’t evaluate the nature of the adenoma by not ordering a blood test to decide whether the pituitary adenoma could be treated medically instead of surgically.

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park with pondIn 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.

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barCharlotte, North Carolina is the county seat of Mecklenburg County. In “Operation Safe Streets,” the county’s law enforcement is visiting the parking lots of bars in an effort to stop drunken people from getting behind the wheel and causing a North Carolina drunk driving accident. The officers are in unmarked cars and look at who comes out. They approach people who seem drunk as they go to their cars and ask if it’s a good idea to drive home. They don’t arrest or write tickets as long as the drinker admits he or she shouldn’t drive home and gets a ride home. The program was started to try to think of a way to get drunken people off the streets.

If a driver can’t afford a safe ride home, the county will provide them with the money for an Uber. In the first year of the program, more than 600 drunken people have been intercepted. There are still checkpoints for DUIs around the county.

If you are injured as a result of a drunk driver’s negligent driving, you can hold the drunk driver liable for damages. You will need to show:  (1) the driver owed you a duty of care, (2) the driver breached his duty of care, (3) the breach was the legal cause of the accident, and (4) actual damages resulted. If a driver was cited or charged, you may be able to sue him or her under a theory of negligence per se (negligence as a matter of law).

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football fieldIn a recent North Carolina car crash decision, the plaintiff appealed from a trial court order dismissing his lawsuit. His lawsuit alleged negligent infliction of emotional distress against a county board of education and two others. The issue was whether it was reasonably foreseeable that the plaintiff would suffer severe emotional distress based on the defendant’s negligence, which led to his friend’s death.

One of the defendants was a teacher and varsity football coach at a high school. The plaintiff and another defendant were football team members. The team had access to equipment, including a motorized vehicle. The teacher had authorized the team’s use of the vehicle, even though the team was made up of minors, and nobody had trained them on safely operating the vehicle.

The complaint alleged that the plaintiff, his defendant teammate, and other team players were scrimmaging and doing drills. The defendant teacher told another defendant to use the motorized vehicle to move coolers across the field. The defendant driver traveled at a dangerous and excessive speed across the field. The plaintiff and other players were approaching him, but when they saw him driving straight at them, they moved. However, the defendant driver turned to the right and hit one of the players, trapping him with the hood. The player’s head hit the running track, and he was run over. He was brain injured and only partly responded when people tried to communicate with him at the scene.

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school busRecently, a county school bus was involved in a crash in Greensboro. It was headed to a middle school. A car involved in the crash overturned, and somebody inside was trapped and then taken to the hospital. The bus was full of kids, and one person was moved by stretcher out of the bus, but it wasn’t clear at the time whether the person being moved was a child or adult.

Sometimes North Carolina school bus accidents are results of mechanical problems or defects, but most are results of driver negligence — either the school bus driver’s or somebody else’s. Another reason for crashes is driver fatigue. A driver may be sleepy while driving, particularly on early morning drives. Some accidents happen because of driver mistakes. A bus driver may fail to slow for a yellow light, or a driver in another vehicle may fail to stop and wait when the bus displays flashing red lights. Often, drivers try to go around a stopped school bus, which endangers the kids who are being picked up or dropped off.

It can be challenging to recover damages after your child is injured in a school bus accident. If the bus is owned by a private company, you may be able to sue the driver and the company for negligence. This means you would need to show that the defendant owed you a duty of care, breached it, and thereby caused injuries. Under the doctrine of vicarious liability, the company could be held indirectly liable for the driver’s negligent acts. The company could also be held directly liable if it failed to use due care while hiring or supervising the driver. For example, if a driver had multiple DUIs, but the company hired him without conducting a background check, and then the accident occurred because of the driver’s drunk driving, the company could be held directly liable for negligent hiring.

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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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