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.