It’s July, so perhaps now is not the best time to talk about icy walkways and snow-slicked floors. But slip-and-fall lawsuits can be filed at any point in the year, and some of the principles that apply to wintertime slip-and-falls can be useful in other seasons too. icewalk

In the recent Iowa Supreme Court case of Alcala v. Marriott Int’l, Inc., a $1.2 million personal injury verdict was overturned after the high court determined the trial court improperly submitted a negligent training theory without first eliciting testimony on the standard of care for worker training and then proving a breach of that standard. The trial court also reportedly made the mistake of instructing jurors that an icy walkway violated the private safety code that violates slip-resistant construction materials, despite conflicting expert testimony.

According to court records, this premises liability action arose from an incident that occurred in January 2010. Plaintiff, a software consultant, was based in Texas but often traveled out-of-state to clients that were having the software installed. On this particular incident, plaintiff was on such a business trip and was staying at a local hotel, owned and operated by defendant. Just before 8 a.m. one morning, she was exiting the hotel to head to the client’s office when she slipped and fell, breaking her ankle.  Continue reading

Earlier this year, South Carolina lawmakers rejected the South Carolina Medical Marijuana Program Act, which would have granted access to caregivers and patients suffering from serious illnesses. Meanwhile in North Carolina, House Bill 983 is pending that would allow marijuana as medicine. Given the growing tide of approval for medical marijuana in the U.S., it’s ultimate approval in the Carolinas seems inevitable, as legal marijuana is one of the fastest growing markets in the U.S. joint

One of the benefits of legalized marijuana is accountability for those who cultivate, process and distribute the drug. Reasonable regulations help patients and customers understand what they are getting and ensure that those who fail to ensure their products are safe properly compensate those who are affected.

Take for example the recent lawsuit filed against Colorado’s largest cannabis cultivator by two consumers over the use of pesticides. As The Denver Post reports, the plaintiffs – one who uses the drug for treatment of brain tumor symptoms – allege defendant LivWell Inc. have been using a dangerous chemical called Eagle 20 to kill pests, but in turn have been endangering users who became sick when they inhaled the drug. They assert that the fungicide, when it’s heated to smoke, produces a dangerous gas about which users were not warned. The consumers are seeking class action status for their product liability claim.  Continue reading

A woman in California is suing SoulCycle for negligence after an injury that followed when an instructor allegedly barked at her to pedal faster in front of her bosses and co-workers. Even as the woman could feel her knees begin to buckle, she tried briefly to push herself harder. She couldn’t keep going. But, she soon realized, she couldn’t stop the bike. She fell off, her feet still strapped to the pedals. According to her personal injury lawsuit, she suffered catastrophic damage to her ankles.indoorcycle

SoulCycle, popular in large cities and among celebrities like Oprah and Kelly Roland, involves cycling while also working out the upper body, either with weights or dance moves. The classes are pricey and the studios are designed to feel elite. Beginner riders are relegated to the back of the classes, only moving forward – and closer to the instructor – once they’ve mastered the moves. This seems a bit counterintuitive, considering less experienced riders would seemingly benefit more from being able to watch the instructor more closely. But again, it has to do with the vibe of exclusivity.  Continue reading

Boating accidents in North Carolina inevitably spike in summertime. There are simply more boats on the water. But that is not to say these injuries and deaths are inevitable. In fact, most are avoidable with proper precaution. boats

The 2015 Report of Boating Accidents and Fatalities by the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission indicates there were 166 boating accidents in the state last year, including 21 fatal accidents. There were also nearly 375,000 registered vessels that year. Interestingly, the number of registered vessels was down slightly from 380,000 in 2014, even though the number of total boating accidents rose from 130. It was the first time boating accidents went up since 2004. There were 215 and 217 boating accidents in 2005 and 2006, respectively.

When boating accidents do occur, it can leave victims and loved ones reeling, unsure of who may be held responsible. The recent Iowa wrongful death case of Estate of McFarlin v. State illustrates how many entities may be involved and the difficulties in bringing action against the government in such cases.  Continue reading

More than a dozen times every single day, a doctor in the U.S. sews up his or her patient with sponges and other supplies still inside the patient’s body. Yet, this type of error is what is known in the community as “never event” – as in, it’s never supposed to happen. surgeon

And yet, here we are, with thousands of people suffering these injuries every year. Many of those cases involve gauzy material known as surgical sponges. If patients are lucky, the mistake is caught early. But even then, at minimum, he or she has to undergo corrective surgery, which is invasive and carries many of its own risks. In other situations, plaintiffs may suffer for years and not know the cause. They may become violently ill, suffer permanent disability and even death.

In a case recently out of Connecticut, Cefaratti v. Aranow, a woman sought to hold accountable the surgeon who had left a sponge inside her during gastric bypass surgery years earlier. Although there is a statute of limitations on medical malpractice cases, there are exceptions made when discovery of the problem is delayed because the plaintiff did not realize there was an injury or its cause or who was at-fault. Even then, there is sometimes a firm cut-off date, known as the “statute of repose.”  Continue reading

In many South Carolina premises liability claims, an important element is proving defendant had actual or constructive knowledge of the defect. This means the defendant:

  • Created the dangerous condition OR
  • Was expressly informed of the dangerous condition OR
  • Should have expected it because it occurred with such frequency OR
  • Should have discovered it because it had existed for such a time that, had defendant been using reasonable care, it would have been found. fence1

This element is essential in many cases where it is alleged a business owner failed to protect patrons from some dangerous condition on site.  Continue reading

One of the main things nursing home abuse, neglect and negligence victims and their families look for when it all comes to light is accountability.suittie

Our Winston-Salem personal injury attorneys fight to make that a reality. One of the challenges, however, is first identifying and then pursuing all entities involved. That’s because the way an increasing number of for-profit firms are structured is with the intent of separating those who profit from the facility (often by slashing staff levels and other resources to dangerous levels) from liability when something goes wrong.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reported back in 2009 that, “Nursing homes can use complex management structures that might obscure the entities responsible for delivering care and hamper the ability of residents and families to seek recourse through litigation.” This ability to create a maze of companies and sub-companies and de-centralize ownership and separate real estate from operations – it can make for a very difficult time in properly identifying responsible parties and holding them accountable. That’s why it’s so important to have an experienced legal team on your side.  Continue reading

South Carolina senators voted 7-4 to reject medical marijuana legislation that would have made the drug available for those with debilitating or chronic illnesses. Calling it a “pathway to recreational use,” senators say the negatives outweigh the positives. marijuana1

However, this is unlikely to be the last we will hear of this issue in the Carolinas. And while the drug is still technically illegal, it’s still one of the most widely-used substances in the U.S. Further, even proponents of legalization for medical/ recreational purposes concede the drug is an intoxicating substance that can serve to impair drivers.

So what does this mean for those who share the road with marijuana users? In many ways, marijuana use is treated the same as alcohol use. That is, it is illegal to operate a vehicle while impaired. Specifically, S.C. Code Ann. 56-5-2930(A) prohibits driving under the influence of alcohol or any drugs that would impair a person’s normal faculties to the point it is unsafe to drive a vehicle.  Continue reading

Nursing home neglect is a serious problem resulting in life-altering injury and sometimes death.ballpen

Those affected by abuse and neglect in nursing homes may seek to hold these facilities accountable, and that often involves substantial settlements and jury verdicts. But in order to reduce the chances they’ll have to pay these damages – or at least reduce the amount they will pay – nursing homes have begun making arbitration clauses standard in admission forms. These agreements require patients or their representatives to sign away the legal right to sue. Instead, disputes are required to be settled through arbitration.

Arbitrators tend to decide cases more often in favor of the nursing homes, they aren’t required to follow established case law and when they do decide a case in favor of a plaintiff, the damages awarded are typically far lower than what we would see in civil court. Plus, the outcome in these cases is always confidential, so the nursing home never faces public scrutiny for its actions (or inaction).  Continue reading

The operator of a North Carolina State Fair ride that malfunctioned three years ago, resulting in the catastrophic injuries of a 30-year-old Durham resident, was sentenced to probation recently after last year pleading guilty to three counts of assault with a deadly weapon. fair1

Although the operator made his plea last year, sentencing was held off until prosecutors resolved the criminal case against the ride’s owner, who in February was sentenced to 30 days jail and ordered to pay $22,500 in restitution. The operator, meanwhile, will not serve jail time, even though he knew of the owner’s actions in installing jump wiring on the ride that bypassed safety measures intended to prevent the ride from starting without the safety handlebars in place.

Unsurprisingly, an accident occurred when the right started without the safety handlebars in place, as riders were exiting the ride. A total of five people were injured, including one man who suffered injuries to his brain, neck, skull and spinal cord. He was comatose for a full month after the accident, and now suffers from ongoing seizures. He’s also permanently blind in one eye and has been unable to return to work.  Continue reading

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