Boating accidents in North Carolina inevitably spike in summertime. There are simply more boats on the water. But that is not to say these injuries and deaths are inevitable. In fact, most are avoidable with proper precaution. boats

The 2015 Report of Boating Accidents and Fatalities by the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission indicates there were 166 boating accidents in the state last year, including 21 fatal accidents. There were also nearly 375,000 registered vessels that year. Interestingly, the number of registered vessels was down slightly from 380,000 in 2014, even though the number of total boating accidents rose from 130. It was the first time boating accidents went up since 2004. There were 215 and 217 boating accidents in 2005 and 2006, respectively.

When boating accidents do occur, it can leave victims and loved ones reeling, unsure of who may be held responsible. The recent Iowa wrongful death case of Estate of McFarlin v. State illustrates how many entities may be involved and the difficulties in bringing action against the government in such cases.  Continue reading

More than a dozen times every single day, a doctor in the U.S. sews up his or her patient with sponges and other supplies still inside the patient’s body. Yet, this type of error is what is known in the community as “never event” – as in, it’s never supposed to happen. surgeon

And yet, here we are, with thousands of people suffering these injuries every year. Many of those cases involve gauzy material known as surgical sponges. If patients are lucky, the mistake is caught early. But even then, at minimum, he or she has to undergo corrective surgery, which is invasive and carries many of its own risks. In other situations, plaintiffs may suffer for years and not know the cause. They may become violently ill, suffer permanent disability and even death.

In a case recently out of Connecticut, Cefaratti v. Aranow, a woman sought to hold accountable the surgeon who had left a sponge inside her during gastric bypass surgery years earlier. Although there is a statute of limitations on medical malpractice cases, there are exceptions made when discovery of the problem is delayed because the plaintiff did not realize there was an injury or its cause or who was at-fault. Even then, there is sometimes a firm cut-off date, known as the “statute of repose.”  Continue reading

In many South Carolina premises liability claims, an important element is proving defendant had actual or constructive knowledge of the defect. This means the defendant:

  • Created the dangerous condition OR
  • Was expressly informed of the dangerous condition OR
  • Should have expected it because it occurred with such frequency OR
  • Should have discovered it because it had existed for such a time that, had defendant been using reasonable care, it would have been found. fence1

This element is essential in many cases where it is alleged a business owner failed to protect patrons from some dangerous condition on site.  Continue reading

One of the main things nursing home abuse, neglect and negligence victims and their families look for when it all comes to light is accountability.suittie

Our Winston-Salem personal injury attorneys fight to make that a reality. One of the challenges, however, is first identifying and then pursuing all entities involved. That’s because the way an increasing number of for-profit firms are structured is with the intent of separating those who profit from the facility (often by slashing staff levels and other resources to dangerous levels) from liability when something goes wrong.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reported back in 2009 that, “Nursing homes can use complex management structures that might obscure the entities responsible for delivering care and hamper the ability of residents and families to seek recourse through litigation.” This ability to create a maze of companies and sub-companies and de-centralize ownership and separate real estate from operations – it can make for a very difficult time in properly identifying responsible parties and holding them accountable. That’s why it’s so important to have an experienced legal team on your side.  Continue reading

South Carolina senators voted 7-4 to reject medical marijuana legislation that would have made the drug available for those with debilitating or chronic illnesses. Calling it a “pathway to recreational use,” senators say the negatives outweigh the positives. marijuana1

However, this is unlikely to be the last we will hear of this issue in the Carolinas. And while the drug is still technically illegal, it’s still one of the most widely-used substances in the U.S. Further, even proponents of legalization for medical/ recreational purposes concede the drug is an intoxicating substance that can serve to impair drivers.

So what does this mean for those who share the road with marijuana users? In many ways, marijuana use is treated the same as alcohol use. That is, it is illegal to operate a vehicle while impaired. Specifically, S.C. Code Ann. 56-5-2930(A) prohibits driving under the influence of alcohol or any drugs that would impair a person’s normal faculties to the point it is unsafe to drive a vehicle.  Continue reading

Nursing home neglect is a serious problem resulting in life-altering injury and sometimes death.ballpen

Those affected by abuse and neglect in nursing homes may seek to hold these facilities accountable, and that often involves substantial settlements and jury verdicts. But in order to reduce the chances they’ll have to pay these damages – or at least reduce the amount they will pay – nursing homes have begun making arbitration clauses standard in admission forms. These agreements require patients or their representatives to sign away the legal right to sue. Instead, disputes are required to be settled through arbitration.

Arbitrators tend to decide cases more often in favor of the nursing homes, they aren’t required to follow established case law and when they do decide a case in favor of a plaintiff, the damages awarded are typically far lower than what we would see in civil court. Plus, the outcome in these cases is always confidential, so the nursing home never faces public scrutiny for its actions (or inaction).  Continue reading

The operator of a North Carolina State Fair ride that malfunctioned three years ago, resulting in the catastrophic injuries of a 30-year-old Durham resident, was sentenced to probation recently after last year pleading guilty to three counts of assault with a deadly weapon. fair1

Although the operator made his plea last year, sentencing was held off until prosecutors resolved the criminal case against the ride’s owner, who in February was sentenced to 30 days jail and ordered to pay $22,500 in restitution. The operator, meanwhile, will not serve jail time, even though he knew of the owner’s actions in installing jump wiring on the ride that bypassed safety measures intended to prevent the ride from starting without the safety handlebars in place.

Unsurprisingly, an accident occurred when the right started without the safety handlebars in place, as riders were exiting the ride. A total of five people were injured, including one man who suffered injuries to his brain, neck, skull and spinal cord. He was comatose for a full month after the accident, and now suffers from ongoing seizures. He’s also permanently blind in one eye and has been unable to return to work.  Continue reading

Attorneys general for Washington state and California have filed lawsuits against health care and products giant Johnson & Johnson over allegations the company for years misrepresented the risk of its pelvic mesh devices. woman2

According to a new report from CBS News, the attorneys general alleged the company, based in New Jersey, intentionally concealed critical information from patients, doctors and the public about how dangerous pelvic mesh implants could be. The complications are not only severe, but often irreversible.

Many patients who have received pelvic mesh implants report:

  • Urinary dysfunction
  • Loss of sexual function/ extremely painful intercourse
  • Severe constipation
  • Serious and chronic pain

Continue reading

Anyone who engages in a sport or other physical activity understands there may be some inherent risks involved. If you aren’t in shape, you could pull a muscle. If the game involves tackling, you might get knocked hard to the ground. weighttraining

Generally, injury lawsuits prohibit claims where the injured person assumed the risk of that injury by participating. But that doesn’t mean every injury sustained in sports, workouts or other physical activity is covered under this umbrella.

Take for example the recent case of Lik v. LA Fitness, recently weighed by the Nassau County Supreme Court in New York. Here, a patron is suing the gym where he held a membership after falling and suffering injury during a basketball game at the facility in January 2014. The issue was not that he fell during the game, but rather the injury he sustained when he hit the floor. Plaintiff alleges that a floor board on the facility’s basketball court was defective and therefore created a dangerous condition. As a property owner, the gym owed a duty of care to customers to ensure the site was reasonably free from dangerous conditions and foreseeable hazards.  Continue reading

Plaintiffs in personal injury lawsuits are often required to submit to physical examinations of their injuries by doctors chosen by the defense. These exams are sometimes referred to as “independent medical exams,” but make no mistake: The doctor is being paid by the defense, and that is almost certainly how their opinion will skew.parkinglot2

Essentially, any time a plaintiff’s physical or mental condition is in controversy, any other party can serve notice and direct that party to undergo a physical or mental examination by a designated provider.

This was the situation in the recent case of In re H.E.B. Grocery Co., L.P., weighed by the Texas Supreme Court. Continue reading

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