Determining the Liable Party in a North Carolina Personal Injury Lawsuit

Under North Carolina law, if a person sustains injuries in an incident that was the result of another party’s negligence, that person can pursue a personal injury claim or lawsuit against the alleged at-fault party to recover financial compensation for the losses those injuries cause. While the law doesn’t require an attorney to file the legal action, the reality is that many personal injury cases have complex factors that do require the skill and legal expertise of a seasoned North Carolina personal injury attorney. A recent accident is a good example of just how complex a case can get and why you should have an attorney advocating for you.

Two Beachgoers Injured

The accident occurred on July 11th at the Duck, N.C. town beach. According to a statement from the Duck town manager, a lifeguard was patrolling the beach on a utility vehicle terrain vehicle (UTV) as part of the Duck Surf Rescue program when the sand collapsed at a drop-off. At this point, the UTV overturned, landing on two people sitting on the beach.

Although the lifeguard was uninjured, the two people the UTV landed on were transported to the Outer Banks Hospital. No information has been released regarding the extent of their injuries.

The Duck Surf Rescue is a contracted ocean rescue service company contracted by the Town of Duck. Both the company and the Duck Police Department are investigating the incident.

Who Is Liable?

The two people injured in this accident will likely have medical expenses from the injuries they received. Depending on the extent of their injuries, they could also have a loss of income if they are unable to work while they recover. These are just two of the types of damages that could be included in any personal injury lawsuit either victim decides to file. Other compensational losses could include pain and suffering, scarring, permanent disability, and more.

The question here is who is liable for these losses? Is it the town that owns the beach, the company the town contracted to patrol the beach, or both?

If it is the town that is liable, another potentially complex factor is added to the case – pursuing a personal injury claim against a municipality has its own separate law than when suing a private individual or company. Suing government entities can be difficult under the doctrine of sovereign or governmental immunity, but a person can sue if the municipality has “waived” their right to immunity by purchasing liability insurance. However, there may be a limit on the amount of damages that can be paid out, and you can almost be guaranteed a denial of your claim if you do not have a personal injury attorney representing you.

In this particular accident, the company the town contracted with may also be liable, especially if the lifeguard was an employee of the rescue patrol company. This could fall under the doctrine of respondeat superior, which holds an employer liable for the negligent acts of an employee if the act occurred within the scope of the employee’s job duties.

This is where the experience of a North Carolina injury attorney is really needed. An experienced attorney is able to evaluate an accident and make that determination.

Call Our Office Today

At Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp, we know that the process of settling a personal injury claim is rarely a simple one, especially when you are dealing with cases with more than one potentially liable party. Instead of fighting with one insurance company trying to deny your claim, you are dealing with two.

If you have been injured in an accident, call our office to schedule a free case evaluation with one of our North Carolina personal injury attorneys. We have been successfully fighting for injured clients for more than three decades, including a $225,000 settlement for one client who suffered extensive and long-term injuries after her car was struck twice by a negligent tractor-trailer driver. Our firm is dedicated to getting you the financial compensation you deserve.