North Carolina Personal Injury Lawyers Blog

Articles Posted in Wrongful Death

Exclusive remedy provisions of North Carolina’s workers’ compensation law prevent injured workers or their families from pursuing litigation against employers for almost all work site accidents. However, third-party liability litigation may be appropriate if another person or entity was at least partially responsible for what happened. sad

This was the allegation in the case of Fleming v. Sanders Lead Co., an appeal before the Alabama Supreme Court.

Tragically, one worker was killed and another severely and permanently brain-damaged when a tanker trailer on the back of a semi-truck backed over them while they were at work. The families of the workers filed lawsuits – one for wrongful death and another for personal injury – on their behalf, alleging that a lead company across the street undertook safety inspections at the work site, and failed in this duty to adequately carry them out.  Continue reading

An Asheville-area man who alleges his leukemia was the result of consumption of toxic solvents dumped into a local stream by a manufacturing plant will have another chance to litigate his claim.sadness2

In Stahl v. CTS Corp., the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit reversed an earlier grant of summary judgment in favor of defense after concluding precedent set by the North Carolina Supreme Court would allow a claim for latent disease to proceed.

Central to the case is the so-called “discovery rule,” which under  North Carolina General Statutes Section 1-52(16) holds that personal injury actions – for which there is a three-year statute of limitation – do not accrue until bodily harm to plaintiff becomes apparent or reasonably ought to have become apparent to the affected person. Statute further states no cause of action shall accrue more than 10 years after the last negligent act or omission alleged.  Continue reading

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit recently affirmed a $3.3 million wrongful death verdict against trucking company giant J.B. Hunt Transport. forklift1

Plaintiffs alleged the firm was liable after a worker helping to unload a truck load of baby chicks died from complications of an injury he suffered when a trucker operating a forklift ran over the worker’s ankle.

The trucking company argued it was prevented from making its entire case because the driver refused to testify in court, despite being issued a subpoena. However, the 10th Circuit panel ruled that trial judges have much discernment in how they run their trials, and that extended in this case to the judge’s decision not to send a U.S. marshal to force the trucker to testify.  Continue reading

Asbestos-related disease does not reveal itself until many years after airborne exposure to the toxic fibers, which were present in a host of construction materials and auto parts in the 20th Century. Asbestos causes a host of serious health problems, including mesothelioma, an aggressive terminal cancer. laundry

In the first waves of complaints that were filed, we were seeing mostly workers who had become ill decades after working closely with materials containing the substance. Today, those cases are still being filed, but we have also seen the emergence of another kind of case: secondary exposure.

This is when another person, usually a relative, of the worker who was exposed also claims exposure via daily contact with the fibers present on the worker’s clothes. Often, these claims are filed by spouses of workers, who often laundered these asbestos-ridden clothes, and children of workers, who greeted their parent with a hug as they returned home, before cleaning up. Continue reading

According to a recent news article form CNN, a shooting at Winston-Salem State University has left one student dead and another seriously injured. The gunman, who is not believed to be a student at the university, has not been arrested as of this time.

ggun1.jpgThe shooting occurred around 1:20 a.m. on Halloween night, and the school was placed in lockdown for the next few hours. All students on campus were told to stay inside and not leave for any reason. There were also many students who had left for the evening to go to Halloween festivities, and they were told not to return to campus until the lockdown was lifted. Authorities say they are still concerned the gunman may still be around campus and have told visitors to stay away at this time.
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Most studies pertaining to medical errors have in the past focused on those that occur in hospitals. That would include things like surgical mistakes, medication blunders or failure to properly clean, resulting in preventable infections.
However what is apparently an even bigger problem, according to a new study, is the problem of diagnostic errors, which frequently occur in doctor’s offices, in laboratories or in outpatient centers.

The new report by the Institute of Medicine, a branch of the National Academy of American Sciences, indicates that most Americans who seek medical intervention, will receive a wrong or late diagnosis at least once in the course of their lives. In fact, this type of medical error is much more common than surgery mistakes or medication errors, yet it’s been largely ignored by the medical community.
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The family of a Clemson University fraternity pledge at the start of the 2014 school year has prompted his family to file a $25 million wrongful death lawsuit against the school, the national fraternity and three of the fraternity’s brothers. The local chapter of the fraternity was initially also named as a defendant, but was dissolved by the time a complaint was filed.
As a 19-year-old political science major at the school in Oconee County (about an hour northwest of Anderson), he had sought membership in the local chapter of the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity. He was on an early morning run with a number of members of the group in September 2014 when he died.

Later that same day, his body was found below the State 93 bridge over Lake Hartwell. A coroner determined he died from head injuries from falling onto the rocks in shallow water. His mother said she always believed his death was the result of hazing, but there hadn’t been any solid proof – until August, when a new witness came forward.
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In any civil tort lawsuit, plaintiffs are required to prove each element of basic negligence.

These elements are:

  • Defendant owed a duty of care;
  • That duty of care was breached;
  • Plaintiff suffered harm as a result of that breach;
  • Proof of monetary losses.

If any one of these points isn’t proven, plaintiffs cannot collect damages from defendant.

In the recent case of Spierer v. Rossman, the U.S. Court of Appeals ruled friends of a missing college student owed no duty of care to her on the morning she disappeared. The court, while expressing deep sympathy for the parents, say there are no decisions under Indiana state law (where this incident occurred) that allows persons to be held liable for the actions of their social peers absent additional factors that aren’t present in this case.

The appeals court ruling was an affirmation of an earlier dismissal by the circuit court.
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An estimated 30 million people in the U.S. are victimized by crime annually, and the consequences of that crime often extend far beyond the individual act. The U.S. Department of Justice estimates victims – and those who survive them – are left with substantial costs for medical treatment, rehabilitation, counseling, lost wages and property damage.
Every year, those costs stack up to $450 billion.

But the criminal justice system is not designed to compensate victims of crime for their losses. True, some cases do result in orders of restitution. But the victim has little control over the proceedings, and the goal of the criminal justice system is punishment of the offender, not restoration of the victim.

This is why many victims of violent crime (and/or their surviving loved ones) may seek justice through the civil court system. In this forum, victims have a greater amount of control. They can seek financial compensation. They can hold offenders directly accountable. They can also pursue action against other third-party responsible parties, such as businesses, apartment complexes and shopping centers that failed to have adequate security. They may also pursue a civil lawsuit even if the criminal action sputters out and fails to result in a conviction.
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A popular blood-thinning drug is widely prescribed to elderly patients across America.
Coumadin and its generic counterpart, warfarin, has been a noted lifesaver for those who suffer certain heart issues or stroke risks. But the drug must be carefully monitored by health care professionals, or else it can quickly become deadly. Too much, and the patient runs the risk of uncontrollable bleeding. Too little, and there is a chance of developing potentially fatal blood clots.

Nursing home patients in particular are at high risk of these complications because, as a recent ProPublica investigation reveals, this population is already vulnerable to the kinds of lapses in oversight that result from poor staffing levels and lack of training.
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