A wrongful death lawsuit following a plastic surgery death won’t be retried after the Georgia Supreme Court ruled the trial court was right in excluding certain evidence helpful to the plaintiff. The case of Robles v. Yugueros resulted in a verdict favorable to the defense. The plaintiff (the deceased patient’s widowed husband) argued that was largely because the trial court excluded testimony that bolstered his claim. Although the appeals court agreed with him, the state supreme court did not.doctor

The facts giving rise to this case begin in June 2009 when the defendant performed a series of plastic surgery procedures on the patient, including liposuction, buttock augmentation, and abdominoplasty surgery. Following these procedures, the patient stayed in the hospital overnight and was discharged on the following day. Two days later, she was brought into the emergency room, complaining of severe nausea, abdominal pain, and vomiting. A physician prescribed her anti-nausea medicine and painkillers and instructed her to come back if her symptoms worsened.

Meanwhile, a radiologist examining the patient’s x-ray off-site noted the possibility of a condition known as “free intreperitoneal air” in the patient’s abdomen. This could be normal, but it could also be a sign of something far more serious. He recommended a CT scan and put this information in the patient’s electronic medical record, which was faxed to the hospital. However, by that time, the patient had already been discharged. Three hours later, she was still in extreme pain and, at the urging of the defendant surgeon, returned to the hospital. She was given more pain medication but no CT scan. It wasn’t until two days later that her surgeon ordered an abdominal x-ray that showed evidence of abdominal free air. Three hours later, she underwent surgery, during which the surgeon discovered her stomach had basically been torn open. The tissue was 95 percent dead. She died hours later.

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North Carolina has a strong legal foundation for the collateral source rule. This means a plaintiff’s receipt of benefits for his or her injury or disability from collateral sources (those other than the defendant) generally isn’t admissible. courtroom

Courts in this state have invoked the collateral source rule to exclude evidence of workers’ compensation benefits, medical expenses paid by an employer insurance benefit, and sick leave pay.

The idea is that jurors shouldn’t be swayed to award less just because the victim had insurance. Typically, the only way courts will allow collateral source evidence to be admitted in tort cases is when it is offered for a legitimate purpose. As the American Bar Association notes, North Carolina hasn’t taken a position on write-downs and write-offs. Each state has its own guidelines when it comes to the collateral source rule. The question in the recent Delaware Supreme Court case of Smith v. Mahoney was whether the collateral source rule is applicable when Medicaid pays for an injured party’s medical expenses.

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One of the first questions potential personal injury plaintiffs ask is how much it’s going to cost to hire an attorney. The good news is most injury cases are accepted on a contingency fee basis, which means nothing is paid upfront. Instead, payment is derived from a percentage of the damages awarded – if damages are awarded. If you lose, you don’t pay the attorney for their time. It’s a gamble for lawyers, which is why they are choosy about the cases they accept. hotel

In most situations, per “the American Rule,” the losing side doesn’t have to pay attorney fees to the winner. (This is in contrast to “the English Rule,” in which the losing side is typically ordered to pay the losing side’s attorney fees.) However, many jurisdictions – including North Carolina – allow a big exception to the American Rule. An unwarranted refusal to pay a claim or negotiate a settlement can be grounds for a plaintiff to assert a defendant should cover attorney fees.

The Florida Supreme Court recently considered a dispute over this exception, following a $1.7 million verdict in favor of a crime victim who sued the hotel where the attack occurred for failing to protect him.

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A man who suffered serious injuries in a motorcycle accident will now have a chance to continue with his appeal of the summary judgment in favor of the defendant. The case highlights just one of the many hazards motorcyclists face on our roads each day. motorcycle

According to court records in Havner v. Northeast Arkansas Electric Cooperative Majority, the Arkansas Supreme Court vacated a state appeals court decision dismissing the appeal for lacking a final order. Parties to a lawsuit typically cannot appeal a ruling unless it is final, and in this case, the certificate of judgment in favor of the defendant was allegedly recorded but never filed, as required by state rules.

The motorcycle accident in question occurred when the plaintiff’s bike was struck by an overhead cable. He had been driving southbound along a highway, with a tractor-trailer moving behind him. As the motorcyclist stopped at an intersection, preparing to make a right turn, a sickle tool on the truck caught an overhead cable. The result was that it caused the cable to come crashing down and hit the front of the plaintiff’s motorcycle. The plaintiff lost control of his bike, and his motorcycle overturned. The plaintiff sustained serious injuries as a result.

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Although personal injury lawsuits rooted in simple negligence can usually be proven by presenting the facts in a favorable light, claims that are more complicated may require the testimony of an expert witness to prevail. Since expert witnesses tend to receive greater regard from jurors, their qualifications and the validity of their research and hypotheses must be vetted by the trial court judge. doctor

In North Carolina, this is done pursuant to Article 7, Rule 702 of the Rules of Civil Procedure. This rule states that if scientific, technical, or specialized knowledge is needed to assist a trier of fact in understanding the evidence or to help determine an issue of fact, witnesses qualified as “experts” by their skill, knowledge, training, experience, or education can testify in a civil injury lawsuit if:

  • The testimony is rooted in sufficient facts or data;
  • The testimony is produced by reliable principles and methods; and
  • The witness has applied the methods and principles reliably to the facts of the case.

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A plaintiff in Georgia has accused an anesthesiologist in Atlanta of medical malpractice resulting in the death of a patient who had just undergone knee replacement surgery. knee

Courtroom View Network reports that in Smith v. Introna, the 63-year-old female decedent had undergone knee replacement surgery in 2009 and died just days after the procedure. Her husband, as the representative of her estate, claimed the anesthesiologist involved in the procedure proximately caused his wife’s death by not properly medicating her or monitoring her during the surgery, and also by failing to take appropriate action when she stopped breathing.

The plaintiff alleges the doctor prescribed a drug called Dilaudid, which is a synthetic form of the drug morphine. This was prescribed to dull her pain both during and after surgery. This might not have been an issue, the plaintiff said, except for the fact that his wife had a severe allergy to morphine and other types of opioids – a fact that had been disclosed prior to her surgery. The procedure at first went normally, but then, according to the plaintiff, the doctor didn’t order heightened monitoring of the patient after the operation. Nurses discovered her soon after the procedure unconscious and without a heartbeat.

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When you enter a business establishment, you have an expectation that it will be reasonably safe from hazards that aren’t obvious to you and about which the establishment knows or should know. gun

If a business fails to do this, it’s a type of negligence known as premises liability. A specific type of premises liability is called negligent security. It involves the duty of the business to make sure reasonable measures are in place to protect patrons and guests from third-party criminal actions. The key here is that the crime in question is foreseeable. That’s typically proven by showing a pattern of past similar crimes in the same place or same general area.

In the recent case of Goodwin v. Yeakle’s Sports Bar & Grill, the Indiana Court of Appeals was tasked with weighing whether the trial court or appeals court made the right call with regard to a negligent security lawsuit.

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No one throws a party with the intention of a guest being seriously injured or killed. But as we head into the holiday season, it’s important to consider the ways in which a social host can be liable for injuries to those in attendance. beers

The two most common types of liability in these situations will stem from one of two things:

  • Premises liability (a failure to maintain the property in a reasonably safe condition and exercise reasonable care to protect guests); or
  • Social host/dram shop liability (furnishing alcohol to minors or those who are already extremely intoxicated).

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Accidents that result in a serious injury or death are often the result of negligence, or even gross negligence, which is a complete disregard for the safety of others. However, poor outcomes in these cases are generally not, on their own, enough to prove negligence.sandbar

General negligence requires proof that the defendant owed a duty of care to the plaintiff, the defendant breached that duty, and the plaintiff suffered injuries as a result.

In the case of Elliott v. Carter, a boy in Virginia tragically drowned while on a Boy Scout camping trip. His parents sued the troop leader for gross negligence. However, as the Virginia Supreme Court recently decided, the leader’s efforts to save the boy – while ineffectual and inadequate – were enough to overcome the assertion of gross negligence. One justice dissented.

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In personal injury law, establishing the reasonable value of medical care is an important factor in determining how much will actually be paid. seat buckleIn the recent Indiana Supreme Court case of Patchett v. Lee, the court was asked to determine whether discounted reimbursements negotiated between a plaintiff’s medical provider and their private health insurer could be considered in court, as long as the actual insurance isn’t noted. The court had previously held in 2009 that such information was worthy and relevant to measure the reasonable value of the medical care the plaintiff received. The specific issue in Patchett was whether this thinking was equally applicable to discounted reimbursements from government-backed insurers. The court held that it was.

According to court records, the defendant didn’t deny she negligently drove her vehicle into oncoming traffic one day four years ago. In so doing, she struck the plaintiff’s vehicle, causing injuries to the plaintiff that necessitated medical treatment. The defendant admitted she was responsible for the collision and generally agreed the plaintiff received medical treatment that was necessary for her crash-related injuries.

That meant the only issue here was the reasonable value of the plaintiff’s medical care. The ensuing trial was solely a matter of damages.

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