What is Personal Injury?
Personal injury law is based on the concept that when a person is negligent and causes injury to another, that person should pay compensation for the injuries he or she has caused. This concept has been a part of the American legal system since the founding of the country, and it is enshrined in the Seventh Amendment to the Constitution which preserves the right to a trial by jury in almost all civil matters.
Negligence is defined as the failure to use ordinary care. In other words, when a person fails to exercise reasonable care for his or her safety or the safety of another person in a given situation, that person is negligent. When negligence results in injury, the negligent party is liable for the injuries and damages that result from the negligent conduct.
Accidents can happen anywhere and at any time, often when they are least expected. It is for this reason that North Carolina personal injury attorneys exist: to help victims that have been injured either directly or indirectly by the fault of another individual or company. North Carolina personal injury attorneys handle many types of claims including:
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Vehicle accidents
- Airplane accidents
- Semi truck accidents
- Boating accidents
- Dangerous drugs
- Defective medical devices
- Dog bite injuries
- Premises liability
- Much more
Understanding Wrongful Death
When someone’s negligent actions result in the death of another person, their actions can be the basis of a wrongful death case. In these cases, which are still a form of personal injury law, a claim for wrongful death can be brought forth by the deceased person’s surviving family members. Usually, these family members must be close relatives, such as a husband or a wife, a parent or a sibling.
Compared with personal injury cases where the harmed person survives, the damages for a wrongful death that can be rewarded are different. For example, after family members make a wrongful death claim on behalf of a deceased relative, they can seek compensation for the cost of funeral expenses and any medical expenses that were incurred prior to their loved one’s passing away.
North Carolina and Pure Contributory Negligence
North Carolina uses the rule of pure contributory negligence in personal injury cases. Essentially, if the injured person had any role in the injury, he or she would be unable to collect any compensation from the other party. For example, if a driver was going over the legal limit and was hit by a drunk driver in an intersection, the driver’s act of speeding could prevent him or her from pursuing a personal injury claim against the drunk driver.
The North Carolina Law Review points out that this rule applies even if the injured victim’s rate of wrong-doing was just one percent. However, there are situations where the courts may not follow this law. In one case, a court ruled in favor of the mother of a 17-year-old boy who died from ventricular fibrillation after he was tased by a police officer. The company that manufactured the taser knew that it could cause such a situation but failed to make any changes in its device or issue a warning to law enforcement agencies, its main consumer. The mother filed a lawsuit against the company and the company presented the pure contributory negligence defense, arguing that the boy was partly responsible because he was breaking the law. The court, however, ruled that in this case, the manufacturer knew of the risk and the product was not in use by the victim. Therefore, the company was liable for the death of the teen.
A North Carolina personal injury lawsuit is an option for victims who have suffered personal injury caused by the wrongdoing or negligence of another party.
A North Carolina Personal Injury Attorney Can Help
If a victim suffers a personal injury caused by the wrongdoing or negligence of another party, he or she may be entitled to compensation for damages resulting from their injuries, including:
- Medical expenses
- Loss of income or ability to work
- Pain, suffering, and mental anguish resulting from an injury
If a victim dies as a result of a personal injury caused by the wrongdoing or negligence of another, his or her family members may be able to pursue compensation for the wrongful death of their loved one. Wrongful death damages can include:
- Mental anguish, and pain and suffering from the loss of a loved one
- Loss of relationship or a loved one’s financial support
- Funeral expenses
- Conscious pain and suffering or a loved one prior to death
People who have been injured due to another’s negligence are advised to seek the advice of a North Carolina personal injury attorney to help them protect their legal rights.