North Carolina Personal Injury Lawyers Blog

Articles Posted in Personal Injury

Government agencies are protected from civil litigation for personal injury by sovereign immunity, which is waived only in certain instances.

However, does this same immunity extend to contractors doing government work? cardashboard

It can. Look at the North Carolina Court of Appeals decision in Pruett v. Bingham et al. This was a case that stemmed from an awful, multi-vehicle car accident in Hendersonville, just 30 minutes south of Asheville, on I-26 West approaching the U.S. Highway 25 intersection.

It was about 7 a.m., and the morning rush hour was just beginning to commence. Plaintiff was driving his pickup truck in the westbound lanes of I-26. At the same time, one of the defendants, a commercial bus driver, was operating a commercial bus owned by defendant bus service. Suddenly, that commercial bus rear-ended a pickup truck in front of it. The pickup truck was then pushed forward and into the back of another pickup truck. As a result of the collision, the bus and the first pickup truck were pushed into the right lane of I-26. That’s where they slammed into plaintiff’s vehicle.  Continue reading

Truck underride guards have been required by the U.S. government on large trucks over 10,000 pounds since 1998. These steel fixtures are supposed to keep drivers who strike large trucks from the rear from becoming lodged underneath the tractor-trailer, which often results in catastrophic personal injuries to those in the passenger vehicle. trucksontheroad

The guards that are in place have been shown to drive down the number of truck accident injuries and fatalities. Still, there is research to suggest they aren’t as safe as they could be. For example, tests conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) in 2013 revealed the guards did not withstand certain minimum strength tests and they were only effective when passenger vehicles struck them straight-on – not at an angle.

The IIHS and others have been petitioning the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) for some time now to institute tougher truck underride guard standards.Last year, the agency finally released a notice of proposed rulemaking to upgrade truck and trailer underride crash protection. In the meantime, those who have suffered as a result of inadequate truck underride guards have taken to the courts.  Continue reading

It is expected by those who own or drive motor vehicles that they will occasionally require maintenance and service. But if a vehicle is not serviced or repaired correctly, it could result in serious safety hazards. mechanic1

Unfortunately, not every repair shop or mechanic exercise the care they should. A seemingly small oversight in vehicle repair or service can have devastating consequences. Some examples include:

  • Leaking fluids;
  • Brake failure;
  • Loss of control.

Those affected by negligent auto repair and maintenance may have grounds to proceed with claims for compensation against the repair shop.  Continue reading

In a ruling that may have important implications for future product liability lawsuits, the New York Court of Appeals (the highest court in that state) issued a ruling in Finerty v. ABEX Corp. rejecting a plaintiff’s argument that despite no basis to pierce the corporate veil, a parent business should be liable for a foreign subsidiary because it was the best situated to impose pressure for improved products. autorepair

While product distributors have been strictly liable for dangerous product defects on the basis of ability/ duty to exert pressure for safer products, this theory for derivative liability had not been applied before to parent companies of wholly-owned subsidiaries. But with the decision, the New York state’s highest court rejected the idea that a parent company in the U.S. should be considered the “guardian” of the brand globally.

Of course, this is not great news for plaintiff in Finerty, who filed the lawsuit after being diagnosed with mesothelioma as a result of exposure to Ford-manufactured asbestos products in the United Kingdom. However, he is still free to pursue his case against Ford UK, which is the entity alleged to have manufactured, produced, distributed and sold the parts in question.  Continue reading

In the recent case of Houston v. C.G. Security Services, Inc., a plaintiff in Indiana alleged negligent security was a proximate cause of her slip-and-fall injury sustained during a New Year’s Eve hotel party. stairs6

The appeal in the case recently before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit concerned defendant’s reported engagement in a pattern of “obstreperous discovery behavior,” including submitting false documentation and impeding the fair conduct of depositions.

Although the court granted summary judgment to defendant on the issue of liability, it nonetheless imposed sanctions (as recommended by a magistrate), which included ordering defendant to pay $119,000 in plaintiff’s attorney’s fees and $16,500 in plaintiff’s court costs. That ruling was later affirmed by the federal appeals court.  Continue reading

You may know that the majority of personal injury lawsuits never make it to trial. A big reason for that is that many are settled out-of-court before they ever reach that stage.

But there is another reason too: Summary judgments and motions to dismiss. caraccident7

All civil lawsuits have to meet the basic merit requirements before proceeding. Motions to dismiss and for summary judgment can be filed by the defendant prior to trial. Both are essentially requests to the judge to toss the plaintiff’s case. In order to succeed in a summary judgment motion, defendant has to convince the judge:

  • There is no dispute as to the material facts of the case;
  • Plaintiff failed to meet his or proof burden;
  • Defendant should prevail as a matter of law.

Courts are not supposed to hand down a summary judgment if there continue to be disputes of material facts in the case. However, it’s not uncommon for a defense lawyer to file a summary judgment fairly early in the proceedings and set a hearing prematurely on the issue. The strategy is to get the issue before the judge before there is ample evidence to show a dispute of material fact.  Continue reading

A federal jury for the U.S. Western District of Texas has awarded a woman nearly $16 million in a product liability lawsuit against a utility vehicle that reportedly ran her over in 2011, causing her to suffer paralysis from the neck down.doctor8

However, because the woman was deemed contributorily negligent by half, she will only receive about $8 million of that. Not all states allow collection of damages in the event plaintiff is found to have been contributorily negligent (North Carolina, for example, bars recovery in those instances), but many – including South Carolina – do.

In Nester v. Textron Inc., the Rhode Island company reportedly manufactured the kick-off brake system in the E-Z -Go Workhorse utility vehicles. In the winter of 2011, plaintiff was working on her family’s ranch near Austin, TX while driving one of these vehicles. She reportedly stepped out of the vehicle to open one of the gates. While her back was turned, a 50-pound bag of feed intended for cattle fell onto the accelerator pedal. Plaintiff opened the gate and turned around, only to find the vehicle moving full-speed at her. It was too late to move.

When it ran over her, it caused her significant injury.  Continue reading

There are millions of personal care and beauty products on the market – everything from shampoos to soaps to creams to lotion to makeup to deodorant and toothpaste. Most of these promise to make you clean, smell fresher, have fuller hair or look younger. Unfortunately, not only do many of these products fail on these promises, some are not safe for public use.hair1

Some potential effects caused by dangerous beauty products include:

  • Infections
  • Allergic Reactions
  • Burns
  • Irreversible Skin Damage
  • Vision loss

If you have been injured by a dangerous or defective beauty product, you may have grounds for a personal injury claim. More specifically, your claim would be for product liability. Manufacturers and distributors of products owe a duty to make sure the product is reasonably safe when used as directed. That includes not just the manufacturer, but the retail store or website that sold the product or the beauty salon that applied it.  Continue reading

Child care can be a harrowing profession, not the least of which because children – especially those very young – frequently imperil themselves. Proper care requires constant vigilance and caution.toys1

However, as the case of Nielsen v. Bell reveals, it may not be just the child who is at-risk.

In this case, the Utah Supreme Court was asked to consider whether a 4-year-old boy and his parents could be held liable for injuries suffered by his teen babysitter when he threw a toy at her eye. Continue reading

So many South Carolina summer afternoons are spent on decks – either at private residences, hotels, restaurants or other venues. deck1

Unfortunately, these features are far less safe than you might think. Based on statistics from the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), some 224,000 people were injured nationally from 2003 to 2007 due to a deck or porch, and about 15 percent of these incidents were caused by structural failure or collapse.

In particular, outdoor wood decks and porches have been associated with the most injuries and fatalities. In that time frame, structural failure or collapse of decks have resulted in between 3,650 to 4,600 injuries. Other injuries have resulted from problems with railings or stairways attached to the decks. Continue reading

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