Four months ago, hoverboards were the hottest item on the market. In the weeks before Christmas, some 400,000 of them were shipped out of Shenzhen, China alone. skateboards

But today, they’re tough to find. On Feb. 18, the U.S. government issued a statement saying most hoverboards do not meet their basic safety standards.

Big name retailers like Amazon, Toys R’ US and most recently Target have pulled the items from their shelves and refused to stop selling. They are banned for transport on airlines and all public transportation systems. You can’t ride them on the sidewalks or streets of New York City, the UK or in any Disney park in the world.

What happened?  Continue reading

Mining is one of the most crucial industries in North Carolina, where some 6,000 workers are employed with an average income of $60,000. The combined direct and indirect output gain from the mining industry in this state was $3.4 billion, as of 2005. mine1

It’s been long been known in this state, coal mining is not without its risks. There was the 1895 Egypt Mine explosion that killed 46 men. Another explosion five years later killed another 22 miners at the same location. Then there was the Carolina Company mine explosion in 1925 in Coal Glen that killed 53 men and decimated half the company’s work force. 

Even those that survived risked long-term hazards to their health. One of those that we continue to see to this day is known as “black lung disease.” An estimated 10,000 Americans have died form the disease just in the last 10 years, and many current and retired minors are continuing to receive new pneumoconiosis diagnoses.  Continue reading

Damages for emotional injury on its own can be difficult to obtain in North Carolina injury lawsuits. Emotional injury is generally recognized as harm to one’s emotional well-being, resulting from the negligent or intentional act of someone else. sadness2

There is no set statute that addresses the issue, but North Carolina courts have held that emotional injury may be compensable if:

  • Claimant sustains some bodily injury in addition to the emotional injury;
  • Witnessed bodily injury to or death of another person (particularly someone with whom claimant was especially close);
  • The emotional injury can be classified as “severe and disabling.”

For example, a brother who witnesses his sister’s death in a horrific accident could potentially recover for damages, even if he himself wasn’t physically hurt. However, if he only learned about the accident after the fact or chose to watch a video recording of it, he likely won’t be able to recover.  Continue reading

Could a gas station be liable for injuries suffered by two patrons struck by an out-of-control vehicle? It could if the injured patrons can show the risk of such injury was reasonably foreseeable and the property owners failed to take basic measures to prevent it. gasstation

This issue was raised in the recent case of Stanley v. Scott Petroleum Corp., where a vehicle plowed into two women who were standing at a walk-up pay window, buying fuel.

The case was recently before the Mississippi Supreme Court, which reversed an earlier grant of summary judgment in favor of defendants. Justices ruled the trial court should have allowed plaintiff their requested continuance to conduct more discovery before deciding whether defense was entitled to summary judgment. The case has been remanded for further consideration. Continue reading

A woman who suffered serious burns on her face and neck after tripping over in a parking lot and spilling hot coffee on herself has settled with the chain restaurant for $522,000. coffee1

Of course, cases like this tend to get media attention because they bring to mind the infamous “hot coffee” case of Liebeck v. McDonald’s, a 1992 injury lawsuit in which a 79-year-old woman was awarded nearly $3 million in punitive damages after suffering burns after coffee spilled on her. This was spun as an outrageous sum, but firstly, plaintiff only received a fraction of that award. Secondly, the restaurant served coffee at a scalding 190 degrees – despite the fact that industry standards held anymore than 140 degrees was dangerous. Plaintiff was horribly burned, and she wasn’t the first one either. Jurors carefully sifted through all the facts and carefully considered them before deciding on the award. Anyone who cites this as an example of a “frivolous claim” need only look at the horrific injuries Liebeck suffered.

The most recent coffee injury lawsuit relied on a theory of negligence known as premises liability. Specifically, the claim was the walking surface of the parking lot wasn’t safe for patrons because it contained an exposed spike from a dislodged curb stop. Plaintiff tripped on this spike and spilled the multiple cups of hot coffee she was carrying. In addition to the serious burns she suffered, she also had numerous cuts on her hands and knees. Her attorney also indicated she sustained a back and shoulder injury and had to undergo surgery.  Continue reading

Per N.C. Gen. Stat. 1-15(c) and N.C. Gen. Stat. 1-52(16), the statute of limitations on medical malpractice lawsuits in North Carolina is generally three years, though in certain exceptional circumstances, it could be 10 years. Those timelines are from the date the injury occurs or from the date the injury is discovered (or could reasonably have been discovered) or the cause of injury became known. pregnantbaby

However, plaintiffs need to be aware that the rules are different if the case is being filed under the Federal Tort Claims Act. Why would a medical malpractice case be filed in federal court? The answer has to do with how hospitals and other facilities are funded. If they receive federal grant funding from the U.S. Public Health Services program, the hospital and its programs would fall under the umbrella of FTCA. This means that instead of the three years North Carolina plaintiffs would normally have to file, they’ll only get two years.

In the recent case of Blanche v. U.S., this statutory timeline became the primary roadblock between plaintiff, whose daughter was diagnosed with Erb’s Palsy after suffering a birth injury, and compensation for that injury.  Continue reading

While most falls do not result in injury, 1 in 5 does cause serious injury, such as broken bones or a traumatic brain injury, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). stairs5

One of those was the plaintiff in Perry v. Bakewell Hawthorne, who took legal action against the owner of the property and its former tenant, a bank in Los Angeles, after falling on a set of exterior stairs.

Central to his claim was the testimony of expert witnesses who stated the stairway was in disrepair and in violation of both applicable industry standards and Los Angeles building codes. Unfortunately, plaintiff hadn’t participated in the exchange of expert witness information and did not designate any expert witnesses prior to the close of discovery. On this basis, the court granted summary judgment to the defense.  Continue reading

The North Carolina Court of Appeals made it clear in a recent ruling: Absent a contract delegating sidewalk maintenance, it’s up to the local city or town to make sure these public walkways are safe.crackedconcrete

The decision was handed down in in the case of Steele v. City of Durham, which involved a trip-and-fall accident about 2.5 hours east of Greensboro, outside of Raleigh. The city had argued firstly that it wasn’t responsible for sidewalk maintenance on that particular strip and secondly that plaintiff was contributorily negligent. While in other jurisdictions, contributory negligence would simply reduce the amount of damages a plaintiff could collect, in North Carolina, it bars the claim entirely.

But the appeals court discredited both of the city’s claims, reversing an earlier trial court decision to grant summary judgment in favor of the city. The case has been remanded for trial.  Continue reading

A decline in gas prices is often viewed by the American public as something positive: Some extra money in their pocket to take a road trip or the chance to forego public transportation to work and instead take their own car. But there is a downside: More traffic deaths. traffic10

That’s the conclusion reached so far by researchers at Texas A&M Health Science Center School of Public Health. The trouble is that millions of other drivers are also taking advantage of these lower gas prices, and this ultimately means more vehicles on the road which increases the chances of a traffic-related injury or death.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) pegs the number of annual traffic deaths in recent years at about 30,000. A study currently underway at the school that focuses on the recession, the recent drop in gas prices and the effect these have had on traffic deaths. Preliminary results indicate that when gasoline prices drop by $1 annually, there is a more than 11 percent uptick in roadway fatalities.  Continue reading

The largest nursing home therapy provider in the U.S. – with 43 locations in North Carolina – has agreed to pay $125 million after a Department of Justice investigation revealed evidence of false claims to Medicare. Another $8 million will be paid by operators of individual facilities for similar allegations. elder

According to the DOJ, these facilities routinely performed therapy that wasn’t needed or charged for therapy they never gave.

Kindred Healthcare Inc. and its subsidiary, RehabCare Group Inc., contract with more than 1,000 skilled nursing facilities in 44 states to provide rehabilitation therapy to patients, many of whom are elderly. Continue reading

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