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

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

When making a claim of strict product liability, the industry custom and practice may be admissible, depending on the type of evidence and the purpose for which the proponent seeks to introduce that evidence. steering

That was the recent holding of the California Court of Appeals for the Second Appellate District, Division Seven, in the product liability lawsuit of Kim v. Toyota Motor Corp.

The ruling was bad news for the plaintiff, who sought to exclude evidence of the industry practice and custom as it pertained to the manufacture of pickup trucks during a certain period of time.  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

Medical malpractice is generally thought to occur when a doctor or other health care provider does something they are not supposed to – like operate on the wrong leg or prescribe the wrong dose of medication. But in many cases, it’s what they DON’T do that could be considered a breach of the accepted standard of care. mir

One of the most commonly-cited issues: Failure to diagnose. In fact, this is the No. 1 reason people sue their doctors. A missed or delayed diagnosis can result in extremely poor outcomes for patients suffering from acute illness or other serious medical condition. Those illnesses most often missed by doctors:

  • Breast cancer
  • Colon cancer
  • Melanoma
  • Lung cancers
  • Heart attacks
  • Meningitis (in children)

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

Drugs and medications are often the source of product liability claims that stem from patient injury or illness. Although all pharmaceutical companies have a duty to make sure their products are properly tested under U.S. Food and Drug Administration guidelines, the fact that a drug is approved does not shield the manufacturer from liability if the drug proves defective. girlinnature

Many of these cases involve failure to warn. That is, while some products may be unavoidably unsafe (the drug is unsafe no matter how carefully its made, but it still has benefits), the company has a duty to adequately warn users of those dangers. This can be accomplished by directing warnings to “learned intermediaries,” such as the doctor or pharmacist.

Product liability lawsuits are often complex and challenging. Recently, the Arizona Supreme Court issued a ruling that may make it somewhat easier for victims of defective drugs in that state to bring claims against drug companies that fail to make safe drugs or adequately warn of the risks.  Continue reading

A $2 million car accident verdict in favor of an injured plaintiff was overturned by an appeals court in New Jersey recently, after the judge agreed with defendant’s assertion that the amount of compensatory damages was “shockingly excessive.”carcrashinsurance

Beyond that, the court ruled the trial judge had made numerous errors during the proceedings, including refusing to delay the trial when defendant was hospitalized for a medical emergency two days before the proceedings and allowing plaintiffs to make certain factual assertions to the jury absent the backing of an expert witness.

In Berkowitz v. Soper, the Superior Court of New Jersey Appellate Division, the judge ordered a new trial was necessary as there had been a “clear miscarriage of justice.”  Continue reading

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