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dark highway

We live in a world in which people are constantly moving about, traveling far and wide for both pleasure and business. Products also travel long distances before they reach the end consumer in many instances.

When a lawsuit arises under facts in which multiple states’ laws could potentially apply, the courts are confronted with a so-called “choice of law” issue. It is not always easy to resolve such issues.

Sometimes, the laws of two states are so different that, under one state’s law, the plaintiff stands an excellent chance of recovering considerable damages, but, in another state, a defense could exist that would completely defeat the plaintiff’s claim.

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city-carHave you thought about becoming a driver for UBER or LYFT in order to supplement your normal income?   It sounds like an easy way to pick up a few extra bucks but did you know that your North Carolina Personal Automobile Policy will not afford coverage for your passengers or for other drivers who suffer personal injury or property damage if you cause an accident?   The following exclusion is written into the liability coverage section of every policy issued in North Carolina regardless of the carrier.
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school buses

It’s that time of year again, when the younger kids go back to school and the older ones head off to college. Moms and dads also spend a lot of time on the road, shuttling young athletes, musicians, and scouts to a wide array of extracurricular activities.The beginning of the school year is a great time to make a safety evaluation of the family car or the vehicle that a high school or college student will be driving during the upcoming school year.

It’s also an excellent time to have a serious discussion with younger drivers concerning the dangers of distracted or impaired driving.

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traffic signal

Depending upon when, where, and how an automobile accident occurred, even a seemingly clear-cut case can grow surprisingly complicated.

This is especially true when a motor vehicle collision occurs when the plaintiff is on the job. In such a situation, it is quite possible that the issue of subrogation will arise, if the plaintiff has received workers’ compensation benefits due to the accident.

If the parties cannot agree on the amount due under the subrogation claim, the issue will be decided by the trial court hearing the car accident lawsuit.

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city intersectionNorth Carolina follows the doctrine of contributory negligence, under which a plaintiff is completely barred from recovery in a personal injury lawsuit (such as a car accident case) if the plaintiff is found to be even partially at fault in the accident.

The result is often very harsh – much harsher than would be the case in a sister state in which the prevailing rule is pure or even modified comparative fault, which may serve to reduce a plaintiff’s damages but not necessarily preclude compensation, depending upon the percentage of fault attributable to the plaintiff.

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playground structureNegligence cases hinge on four primary considerations:  duty, breach of duty, causation, and damages. The element of duty can be very fact-dependent, especially in cases involving premises liability and the negligent supervision of children.

Recently, a North Carolina appellate court was called upon to review a sizable plaintiff’s verdict in a case in which a daycare was sued after two small children ran into each other on the playground, seriously injuring one of the children.

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law enforcement vehicleGenerally, when a person’s negligence causes a personal injury or wrongful death to someone else, the wrongdoer can be held financially liable to the accident victim or his or her family in civil court. However, when the defendant is a government employee, this is not necessarily true.

Under North Carolina law, a police officer can be immune from liability in certain situations, including occasions in which a motor vehicle accident occurs during the pursuit of a suspect. This is a very unfortunate result for the victim or the victim’s family, since it may leave them with no legal recourse, despite severe injuries or a wrongful death.

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police carAt common law, a person injured by the negligence of a governmental entity or an employee of the government could not recover damages for his or her injuries. While this is not necessarily true in the modern era, there are still serious limitations and sometimes very demanding procedural requirements in suits involving the government.

Under the doctrine of “sovereign immunity” (which is based on an old English rule that “the king can do no wrong”), a lawsuit can only be maintained against the government in cases in which the government has consented to be sued, usually via a governmental tort liability act or similar legislation.

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hospital roomIn a personal injury lawsuit, such as a case arising from a motor vehicle accident, the plaintiff has the burden of proving each element of his or her case (duty, breach of duty, causation, and damages) by a preponderance of the evidence.

In some respects, this is similar to building a physical structure such as a house. If any element of the case fails, the entire undertaking will eventually collapse.

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fishermanMost lawsuits involving a car accident begin with an injured person (or the family of someone killed in a vehicular accident) filing suit against the person whom they believe caused the accident through an act of negligence or recklessness. However, sometimes other issues arise that are resolved through litigation that may be filed separately, either before or after the primary accident case.

Recently, a North Carolina federal court was called upon to resolve a lawsuit filed by an insurance company to determine whether it was obligated to provide coverage for an accident that was the subject of a state court lawsuit.

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