The questions on this page were answered by our team of lawyers. The questions are categorized by practice area such as car wrecks, medical malpractice, traumatic brain injuries, etc. If you have specific questions about your situation, contact our firm to set up a free consultation with an actual attorney.
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Does North Carolina place a cap on personal injury damage awards for noneconomic losses?
State law limits recovery for noneconomic damages from medical malpractice injuries to $500,000. Judges and juries in civil trials are allowed to follow this guideline in other types of personal injury and wrongful death cases.
Noneconomic damages are losses that cannot be precisely calculated. They include pain, emotional distress and loss of companionship.
What do “loss of consortium” and “loss of society” mean in the context of a North Carolina personal injury lawsuit?
The simplest way to define “consortium” as a term of art in personal injury law is to admit that it means “sex.” When a reckless or negligent act leaves a person so disabled that he or she can no engage in sexual activity with a spouse or life partner, grounds for claiming monetary damages for loss of consortium exist.
Loss of society is a broader concept that covers diminished capacities to feel and express love and affection, provide care for others and offer advice and guidance. People who suffer injuries in accidents caused by someone else can claim monetary damages for loss of society, as can the spouse or child of an accident victim.
What are noneconomic damages in a North Carolina personal injury lawsuit?
Broadly, noneconomic damages are compensation for losses that cannot be precisely calculated. Medical bills and lost wages are economic losses, while North Carolina laws related to personal injuries, wrongful deaths and medical malpractice list noneconomic damages as
- Emotional distress,
- Loss of consortium, and
- Loss of society, companionship, comfort, guidance, kindly offices and advice.
Which types of damages will be available depend on the facts of the case. Consulting with a knowledgeable North Carolina personal injury attorney will clarify what can be claimed.
What Is the One Bite Rule in North Carolina?
As defined by the Legal Information Institute at Cornell University, the one bite rule
Says that the owner of a domesticated animal (e.g., a dog) will be held strictly liable for injuries caused by the animal only if the owner knew or should have known about the animal’s dangerous or vicious propensities, which have been manifested in the past. The burden of proof is on the injured party to show that the animal owner possessed this knowledge. The “one-bite” rule originated in common law and has been rejected or modified by most states, either by statute or by case law, with regard to dogs.
North Carolina is one of the minority of states that continues recognizing this principle. However, section 67.4-1 of the state code pretty much invalidates the one bite rule by making a dog owner completely financially responsible for any attack that results in a severe injury. That statute also defines a severe injury from a dog bite as one “that results in broken bones or disfiguring lacerations or required cosmetic surgery or hospitalization.”
In practical terms, any dog bite that requires stitches or more should provide grounds for an insurance claim in North Carolina.
What Defenses Can North Carolina Dog Owners Use in Dog Bite Cases?
Dog owners in North Carolina have the following defenses against insurance claims and civil lawsuits arising from dog bites:
- The victim was threatening or abusing the dog.
- The victim was threatening or assaulting the owner or a member of the owner’s family.
- The victim was trespassing or otherwise on the owner’s property without permission.
- The victim was committing some other crime.
- The dog was trained for and working in a law enforcement capacity or was being used in a lawful hunt.
Are North Carolina Dog Owners Liable for Dog Bite Injuries?
Yes, but some conditions apply.
Generally, a dog bite victim in North Carolina will have grounds for filing an insurance claim or civil lawsuit against a dog owner when the attack results in severe injuries or death. It will also be essential that the victim did not provoke the dog into attacking.
Note that minor nips or mild bruising do not count as severe injuries. Section 67-4.1 of the North Carolina General Statutes defines a severe injury as “any physical injury that results in broken bones or disfiguring lacerations or required cosmetic surgery or hospitalization.”
The owner of a dog that is older than 6 months and attacks someone while running free and unaccompanied after dark can also be held liable for injuries.
A final provision of North Carolina state law that makes dog owners financially responsible for dog bite injuries concerns attacks by “dangerous dogs.” By statute, a dangerous dog is one that inflicts severe injuries or that has previously bitten someone or previously attacked another domestic animal.
How serious do my child’s injuries from a car crash need to be to justify an insurance claim?
The most basic question to answer here is whether your child required emergency medical treatment or hospitalization. Insurance companies are completely justified in denying insignificant claims.
Of course, an insurance company representative may try to argue that any injury was insignificant. Enlisting the advice and representation of an experienced North Carolina personal injury lawyer will help a family collect, organize and present the medical evidence needed to substantiate claims on behalf of a minor child.
Does North Carolina’s contributory negligence rule apply to children?
Answering this question requires knowing the age of your child and the details of your potential personal injury case. If he or she is younger than 8 years old, no court in North Carolina will consider your child legally responsible for causing an injuries.
Children between the ages of 8 and 15 years may be found liable for causing their own injuries in certain cases, but not in others. A court will look at all the circumstances and, when possible and appropriate, speak to the child before making the determination.
A finding of contributory negligence on behalf of an older child will invalidate insurance claims. Partnering with a North Carolina personal injury lawyer can help a family counter arguments from the defendant in an injury case that a child contributed to causing the accident.
Can I sue if my child falls in a neighbor's pool and suffers a brain injury?It is well known that children are drawn to pools in their community. If there is a pool next door to you, the poolowner must take certain steps to limit access to the pool when there is no one supervising.
What happens if I wait too long to file a personal injury claim in North Carolina?
If the statute of limitations that applies to your personal injury case truly has expired, you cannot succeed with an insurance claim or civil lawsuit.
But, if you only think you may have waited too long to take legal action against the negligent or reckless party who injured you, it can help to consult with a North Carolina personal injury attorney. The statute of imitations clock does not always start ticking at the moment an injury occurs. For instance, many claims related to dangerous or defective products can be filed from the date on which a medical diagnosis indicated that use of the product caused the injury.