North Carolina Personal Injury Lawyers Blog

Articles Posted in Personal Injury

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

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

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

The Amputee Coalition reports more than 1.6 million people have suffered some type of limb loss, not including fingers and toes. More than 185,000 amputations are performed annually in the U.S., with the highest prevalence among those 65 and older. Diabetes is a major cause and 41 million Americans have pre-diabetes.prosthetic

Increasingly, these individuals have regained freedom of motion through prosthetic limbs. Advanced technology has made it so that the integration between humans and machines more intimate than ever.

This has raised questions in terms of whether harm to prosthetic limbs is property damage or a personal injury. The distinction matters in personal injury law because injury is compensated differently than property damage. Continue reading

Under South Carolina premises liability laws, property owners can be responsible for injuries suffered by lawful guests at the hands of third-party criminals. It depends on the situation, of course, but in general, it’s understood that property owners owe a duty to patrons, residents and guests to make sure the site is safe from foreseeable risks. On some properties, one of those foreseeable risks is criminal activity. opendoor

The standard isn’t going to be the same for every site or for every guest, and that’s why it’s important to discuss the statutory nuances with an experienced injury lawyer. But if you have been victimized by violent crime on property that is owned by someone else, it can be worthwhile to explore. For many victims, it’s not just about receiving just compensation, but making sure the same doesn’t happen to someone else.

In the recent case of Jenkins v. C.R.E.S. Mgt. LLC, plaintiff worked as a courtesy officer for an apartment complex, which provided him with a rent-free apartment. Part of his duties included responding to reports of criminal activity on the property, verifying such reports and, if necessary, contacting the police.  Continue reading

Prior to the adoption of the Equine Activity Liability Act in North Carolina, codified in N.C. Gen. Stat. Ch. 99E, liability for harm to people by horses was determined with consideration for traditional injury law concepts. Primarily, these were assumption of risk and comparative negligence. That is, to what extend did the plaintiff assume the risk of activity with a large animal and to what extent did that person play a role in causing their own injuries. horse1

However, the Equine Liability Act – which has been adopted in some form by 44 states – limits the amount of liability that equine professionals, owners and sponsors would bear in the event of injury or death to an individual by a horse.

The statute protects these potential defendants in cases where person engaged in equine activity suffers injury or death resulting form an inherent risk of the activity. This doesn’t include spectators, and it doesn’t cover potential defendants for providing unsafe equipment, unreasonable failures to make the activity safe or willful or wanton disregard for the safety of participants.  Continue reading

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