When a 13-year-old boy suffered serious injuries after he was attacked by a pit bull, his mother sought to hold several parties accountable. One of those was her landlord. The owner of the dog was both a tenant of the same rental property, as well as an employee who worked as an on-call maintenance and property management services worker. pit bull

This unique situation, weighed recently by the Maine Supreme Judicial Court, meant that claims against the landlord could be predicated on two separate legal theories: Premises liability and vicarious liability/ respondeat superior. Premises liability refers to the duty of a property owner/ manager to ensure the site is reasonably safe for those who are there lawfully. Landlords owe a duty of care to both tenants and visitors. Vicarious liability with regard to the employer-employer relationship is predicated by the doctrine of respondeat superior, which is Latin for “let the master answer.” It holds that employers may be liable for the negligent actions of their employees – even if the employer wasn’t personally negligent.

In this case, plaintiff lived in her apartment with her 13-year-old son, who was invited by his neighbor’s girlfriend’s daughter to come swim in the neighbor’s pool. That neighbor was also the maintenance worker employed by the landlord. Landlord was reportedly aware his employee/ tenant kept a dog, but had no reason to believe the dog was dangerous. When the two young teens went into the fenced back yard where the pool was located, the employee/ tenant exited his rear door to the back yard, alongside his dog.  Continue reading

Duty of care is the basis of any negligence claim. In tort law, it’s the legal obligation imposed on an individual requiring adherence to a standard of care reasonable while performing an act that could foreseeably injure others.backflip

If defendant owed no duty of care to plaintiff or a limited duty of care to plaintiff, it may be very difficult or impossible to prove negligence.

Businesses owe customers a duty of care, though the level of that may vary depending on:

  • The type of business;
  • The specific hazards therein;
  • The age of customers.

For example, a day care business will owe a much higher duty of care to the children in its care than will a grocery store to shoppers. What exactly that level is might be up for dispute in individual cases. Continue reading

Pedestrian fatalities in the U.S. reached the highest they have been in 40 years, according to a new study. Charlotte has not been immune to this trend, and neither have the Carolinas as a whole. crosswalk

The study, conducted by the Governors Highway Safety Association, revealed the total figure of pedestrians who lost their lives last year rose by 11 percent as compared to the year before. There were a total of 620 MORE deaths last year than in 2105. That brings the total of 2016 pedestrian accident deaths nationally to nearly 6,000.

As noted by the study author, this is the second year now that there has been an “unprecedented” uptick in pedestrian deaths. This is not only alarming and tragic, and inspires anger when you consider the majority of these deaths did not have to happen. They were preventable, most often the result of a driver who was careless or reckless. Distracted driving is believed to play a significant role in the increasing number of deaths.  Continue reading

Stem cells have been on the forefront of exciting new research in recent years. However, it seems some clinics have gone too far in promising what stem cell treatments can offer. Of the more than 550 known stem cell clinics nationwide, a significant number offer relief for everything from sports injuries to autism to Alzheimer’s disease to multiple sclerosis. In reality, there is scant evidence these treatments offer any beneficial outcomes for these patients, and worse, in some cases the treatments may result in serious and life-altering harm. lab work

Recently, The Washington Post reported on three incidents at a south Florida clinic that was offering unproven stem cell treatments as a “clinical trial.” Three female patients with visual impairment agreed to participate, in the hope the treatments might help improve their vision. Instead, it rendered them all three completely blind.

This was reported in a recent article in the New England Journal of Medicine, which outlines this as one of the most egregious instances of personal injury involving a stem cell. There are at least a handful of stem cell clinics here in North Carolina, including in Charlotte and Cary. The services of one were recently detailed in The Charlotte Observer, with the clinicians promising non-surgical relief for sports injuries and chronic joint pain. Stem cell injections were touted as a “regenerative” alternative to hip replacement or knee replacement surgery. Continue reading

Parents put a lot of faith in the makers of baby products. We trust that items used to carry, feed and soothe our infants will be manufactured with the utmost care and to the highest standards. Unfortunately, as a recent Reuters Health report reveals, that may not always be the case.baby face

A new study conducted by the Center for Injury Research and Policy concluded a child under the age of 3 is injured every eight minutes as a result of accidents related to baby products, such as high chairs, carriers, strollers, walkers and cribs. On average, that means there are 66,000 injuries a year – and that figure only counts the children whose injuries landed them in the hospital emergency department. The report, recently published in the journal Pediatrics, indicates roughly four out of five of these cases can be attributed to falls.

What many are likely to find so troubling about this report is the fact that in 2017, with all our quality control standards and federal regulation, we are still having so many infant product injuries. Many of these incidents are head injuries, including concussions and traumatic brain injuries. In fact, this is the No. 1 reason young children wind up hospitalized for product-related injuries. Continue reading

A series of bills aligned with the so-called “tort reform” agenda have been introduced and are working their way through the civil justice system. These measures, long advocated by doctors, and large corporations, would fundamentally alter key protections for plaintiffs in injury lawsuits. supreme court

This “tort reform” moniker makes it sound as if such measures would be fixing major flaws in the civil justice system. In reality, these actions would make it tougher for those injured to obtain justice. Tort reform ideals are predicated on the notion that courts are overburdened with a flood of frivolous lawsuits. Greedy plaintiffs and injury attorneys are simply out to take advantage of businesses and physicians to make a buck. Health care costs and other expenses are out of control, they say, due to litigious patients and customers.

Here’s the truth: The burden of proof to bring any claim is already substantial. For example, it’s not enough that you slipped and fell in the store and were hurt. You have to show you had the right to be there. You have to show the store owed you a duty of care. You have to prove the staff either created the dangerous condition on the floor or had actual knowledge of it or should have learned of in the course of regular options and failed to address in a manner deemed timely or else warned of it. Oh, and if the condition was open and obvious, there is an expectation you should have seen it an avoided it. In North Carolina, if you are found to be even slightly responsible for the incident (a legal theory known as comparative negligence), you can’t win your case.  Continue reading

Many people think of the law as being a concrete, immovable truth. But as anyone who has practiced or studied law for any length of time will tell you, it is actually fluid. It’s constantly evolving as legislatures revisit old texts, and the judiciary brings fresh interpretations to the table. concrete

That’s why our injury lawyers are constantly watching legal developments, both here locally and in other jurisdictions. In the case of state supreme courts, a decision might not affect everyone in the country, but state high courts often pay attention to the rulings that set precedent in sister courts. Sometimes they even use that legal logic to reach similar conclusions when weighing similar sets of facts.

Recently in Kentucky, the Kentucky Supreme Court on discretionary review reversed a lower court’s ruling that failed to consider the state supreme court’s “recent attempts to modernize” a certain legal doctrine as it pertains to slip-and-fall injuries.

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It was one of those injuries that was described as a “freak accident” by local news media. But as is often the case in such matters, such a description shouldn’t be construed to mean it wasn’t preventable. auto mechanic

An auto mechanic in California was retained in 2011 by an auto towing company and its owner to ascertain why a vehicle owned by the company wouldn’t start. Unbeknownst to the plaintiff, the towing company had disconnected the transmission shift linkage in order to tow the vehicle to the company’s property. After the vehicle was towed, the driver failed to reconnect the shift linkage. The plaintiff made sure the vehicle was in “park,” and then he went underneath to determine what was wrong with the vehicle. As soon as he started testing the electrical connection to the starter, the vehicle ran him over and dragged him through the parking lot. His spine was crushed.

The plaintiff later reached a settlement with the towing company and its owner for the insurance policy limit of $1 million. That settlement released all former defendants from liability. The settlement also released “affiliates” of the defendant. About three months after that settlement was finalized, the plaintiff filed a lawsuit against the property owner, from which the towing company had leased land. The property owner operated a used car dealership on the site.

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Nursing home residents who contract blood infections are at dire risk of life-threatening illnesses. One study by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of the Inspector General found that septicemia, or sepsis, was by far the most common reason nursing home residents were moved to acute-care hospitals. Sepsis is a complication caused by the body’s life-threatening response to an infection, which can result in tissue damage, organ failure, and even death. The cause of sepsis is infection. The cost of those transfers as of six years ago was $3 billion for Medicare.needle

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services estimated that quality care problems at nursing homes – including failures to prevent infections – account for hundreds of thousands of cases annually. The agency asserted some 315,000 hospital admissions annually could be prevented among nursing home residents who receive Medicare and Medicaid if nursing homes provided better quality care. That’s the equivalent of three jumbo jets crashing and killing their passengers every single day. Many of those admissions are for sepsis, which most often occurs in people over the age of 65 who have weakened immune systems and chronic medical conditions. Globally, it’s estimated there are 15 million to 19 million cases a year.

Now, a physician in Virginia may have found a way to treat sepsis. His research, published in the journal Chest, reveals remarkable success treating individuals at high risk of sudden death due to sepsis.

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Many of our injury clients are businesses or individuals who sustain an injury as a result of the negligent actions of a North Carolina employee or agency. There are many special considerations that need to be made in these cases, including a close examination of sovereign immunity statutes and timelines for notice of claim. ice pond

Government agencies require those filing a claim for damages to first file a notice of that claim within a certain window, typically 180 days. So even though the statute of limitations may not expire for three years from the date of the injury, a claim can be found invalid if no notice of claim is given within that short window. That’s why it’s so important to seek legal advice just as soon as possible after suffering a serious personal injury.

This was the lesson learned recently in a case before the Maine Supreme Judicial Court, where a college student filed a claim after suffering a slip-and-fall on campus.

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