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When someone is injured in a Raleigh car accident caused by another person’s negligence, he or she has a right to seek compensation for damages resulting from the accident. Typically, these damages include medical expenses, lost earnings, and pain and suffering.

Under North Carolina law, those who provide medical treatment to a person who has been injured in a car accident are entitled to be paid for their services out of any settlement or judgment received by the injured person from the responsible party’s insurance company. Recently, a dispute arose between a medical provider and an insurance company regarding a lien for monies it was allegedly owed in a car accident case.

Facts of the Case

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Generally, when one person’s negligence results in an injury to another person, the negligent party can be held liable for damages such as medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

However, when the individual who was allegedly negligent is a government employee, this is not necessarily so. In some such cases, the person may be immune from suit through an extension of the doctrine of sovereign immunity for public officials. This does not necessarily mean that the injured person is without a remedy – it may be possible to sue the government directly, if certain conditions are met – but it can be an unwelcome complication in an otherwise straightforward case (and yet another reason to seek the advice of an attorney sooner, rather than later, so that the issues can be properly addressed).

Facts of the Case

In a recent North Carolina injury case originating in Cumberland County Superior Court, the plaintiff was a department of adult corrections (DAC) inmate who filed a medical negligence lawsuit against the defendant doctors in May 2016, asserting that one of the doctors had failed to adequately evaluate and treat his condition and that the other had refused to administer certain medical treatment requested by the plaintiff. The defendants, who at all times relevant to the plaintiff’s complaint were employed by the North Carolina Department of Public Safety, filed a motion to dismiss the claims against them, based on public official immunity. The trial court denied the defendants’ motion, and they appealed.

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pocket watchFiling a lawsuit within the time allowed by the North Carolina wrongful death statute is essential if a family is to have any chance at receiving fair compensation for a loved one’s death caused by negligence or wrongful acts.

Generally, claims not filed within the statute of limitations (and the statute of repose, if applicable) are dismissed as untimely, and the family receives nothing. There are a few, limited exceptions to this general rule. One of these occurs when a plaintiff who filed a timely complaint is allowed to amend his or her pleading in order to add additional parties or claims. However, the burden is still on the plaintiff to prove that the amended complaint relates back to the filing of the original action – and, in many situations, the plaintiff must obtain the court’s permission in order to file the amended document.

Facts of the Case

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puzzle

In a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit in which a victim of an act of negligence seeks to recover monetary compensation for damages such as lost wages, medical expenses, and pain and suffering, the burden of proof is on the plaintiff to prove his or her case by a preponderance of the evidence.

Doing so requires a great deal of skill, effort, and perseverance. Sometimes, despite the plaintiff’s best efforts, an injury or death case may fail for lack of proof as to one or more elements of negligence.

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landscape worker

Sometimes, a car accident case is just a car accident case. Other times, it may also (or instead) be a workers’ compensation case. Recently, the state supreme court considered several issues in a work injury case arising due to a car accident in which a worker was involved while he was on the job.

Not only did the worker have several physical injuries from the wreck, but also he claimed to have depression and other psychological ailments due to the accident.

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basketballA life-changing injury can happen anywhere, anytime. In sports, it is not uncommon for a career-ending event to happen on a football field or basketball court.

Even referees can get hurt, not only from the game itself but also from other dangers, such as an uneven surface along the court.

Facts of the Case

In a recent case originating in the Mecklenburg County Superior Court, the plaintiff was a man who filed suit against the defendant board of education, seeking to recover compensation for injuries he sustained when falling on a “warped and uneven area” near a high school basketball court where he was acting as a referee during a tournament organized by a private, non-school organization.

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Medical malpractice cases are similar to ordinary negligence cases in that, in order to prevail, the plaintiff must establish that the defendant owed a duty to the plaintiff, that the defendant breached his or her duty, that the plaintiff was harmed, and that there was a link of proximate causation between the breach of duty and the damages suffered by the plaintiff. In medical negligence cases, however, the plaintiff must establish these elements through an expert witness who is qualified to testify as to the standard of care in a particular case.

Under North Carolina Rule of Civil Procedure 9(j), the plaintiff in a medical malpractice case must have his or her medical records reviewed by a potential expert witness prior to the filing of his or her complaint (except in cases asserting res ipsa loquitur). If the plaintiff fails to comply with this rule, his or her case is to be dismissed by the trial court.

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gunLawsuits against the government or public officials can be much more challenging than similar claims against individuals or private businesses. This is because the doctrine of sovereign immunity protects the government from liability except in cases in which liability is expressly waived.

This is based on a holdover from the old English common law, under which “the king could do no wrong.”

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desk calendarAs much as we would like to believe that eugenics – an attempt to control the so-called “genetic quality” of a human population, based on factors such as social class and mental health – is something in which only other nations have engaged, this is simply not true. In fact, thousands of individuals right here in North Carolina were forcibly sterilized over several decades in the last century based on “public policy” as determined by local officials.

The State has since enacted a compensation program for those who were affected by the program. There is one “catch,” however – the claimant must have been alive as of June 30, 2013. The state supreme court was recently asked to consider the constitutionality of this rule – or, actually, to consider whether an intermediate appellate court had jurisdiction to answer the constitutionality question in an appeal by the administratrix of a woman who died prior to the “magic date” set forth by the statute establishing the program.

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car accidentWhile the general public has come to expect most dealings with an insurance company to have at least some element of delay and frustration, most people are very unpleasantly surprised to discover that situations in which underinsured or uninsured motorist insurance is involved are often particularly contentious.

Unlike homeowner’s insurance or even property damage to one’s own automobile, the value of an uninsured or underinsured motorist claim can be rather subjective and, hence, may involve a great deal more negotiation that the insured individual expected.

In fact, it is not unusual for uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage disputes to be subject to litigation in the court system, with the insurance company effectively “standing in the shoes” of the uninsured or underinsured motorist who caused the accident and asserting the various defenses that person would be entitled to use.

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