Articles Posted in Premises Liability

I handed the document to my client while the jury watched us. I asked my client, “Can you tell me what this document is?” He answered honestly, “It’s the property damage estimate… prepared by State Farm”.  I knew what was coming, and I slumped. Defense counsel stood up and asked the judge, “Can I take a matter up outside of the presence of the jury?” The jury was marched out of the courtroom so the lawyers could speak to the judge.

At that point, the lawyer hired by the insurance company to represent the person who rear-ended my client made a motion for mistrial.  Mistral means that the trial is so irretrievably broken that a whole new trial must be started. Bear in mind that only the truth had been spoken. The document had been prepared by State Farm, but it also had been carefully redacted by agreement of the parties to remove all reference to State Farm. There was no mention as to who State Farm Insurance Company insured in the case, and it was just as likely that State Farm insured my client and prepared the property damage estimate for him. Furthermore, state law requires that owners have car insurance. Nevertheless, the trial court granted the insurance company lawyer’s motion for mistrial. Days of preparation for that trial were wasted. We will re-try the case, but much will have to be redone.

Continue Reading

With many American households owning at least one canine, chances are you know a friend, a relative or a neighbor who has a dog. Many dogs may appear to be friendly, but it is important to remember that any dog is capable of biting or attacking – even a dog that you are familiar with and have spent a significant amount of time around.

A dog attack is no trivial matter. Victims can face serious injuries such as:

• Deep cuts and lacerations
• Puncture wounds
• Broken bones if you are knocked to the ground by a dog
• Infections
• Disfigurement and scarring
• Loss of limbs such as fingers

If you or a loved one have been attacked by a vicious dog, the most pressing matter is for you to seek immediate medical treatment for your injuries. You may also consider filing a dog bite lawsuit in North Carolina or South Carolina to recover compensation for your injuries.

Dog Bite Laws in North Carolina and South Carolina

Dog bite laws in North Carolina differ markedly from those in South Carolina. Although both states have adopted “strict liability” laws (meaning that the dog owner can be held responsible for injuries caused by the dog regardless of whether the owner acted carelessly), the conditions under which these strict liability rules may be applied are not the same. Continue Reading

The loss of a loved one is one of the most traumatic and psychologically stressful events that a human being can endure. The stress and pain are only magnified when a loved one’s death is sudden, unexpected and caused by the negligent or reckless actions of another person. This can leave the surviving family members devastated. Not only must they say goodbye to their loved one and process their feelings of grief and anger, they are also left worrying about the costs associated with the funeral and carrying on without their loved one’s contributions.

While a North Carolina or South Carolina wrongful death lawsuit cannot undo a tragic and untimely death, these lawsuits can provide surviving family members with much-needed financial compensation to address the expenses and losses they must endure because of someone else’s wrongdoing.

Continue Reading

There’s nothing cozier than curling up by the fireplace with a mug of hot cocoa as fall nights become cooler. Kerosene heaters are also a commonly used option for chasing away the chill in many homes in the mountains of Western North Carolina. Candles, of course, are popular at Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmastime, and add a romantic ambiance during the dark nights of fall and winter.

However, fireplaces, kerosene heaters and candles are all potential fire hazards, so it’s important to make sure you know how to use them safely this fall and winter.

Take Precautions Around Flames of All Kinds

Follow these tips to keep you and your family safe when using fire this season: Continue Reading

The Fourth of July may be over, but the use of fireworks by people on vacation continues in the summer months. If you shrugged off warnings before the Fourth of July about the danger of fireworks and their potential to cause serious injury, you might be interested in a couple of post-holiday news items.

We refer, of course, to reports about two NFL stars who suffered disfiguring injuries in fireworks accidents over the holiday weekend: C.J. Wilson, a North Carolina native who plays with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and New York Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul.

Wilson, who is from Lincoln County and played at N.C. State University, lost the index and middle fingers on one hand, and Pierre-Paul had his right index finger amputated and suffered fractures to his right thumb.

These are two pro athletes, which means they have great reflexes and physical instincts and are strong and physically fit.

Continue Reading

Backyard barbecues are a summer staple in American society. As soon as the weather warms, people in the Upstate area head outside to fire up those grills and cook a feast for family and friends. Many people, young and old, have fond memories of picnics around their backyard barbecues.

Fun can be had at these outings, but safety must remain a top concern. Fire and burn injuries are common when propane and charcoal grills are not handled correctly. Inexperience, distractions, alcohol and a wide range of other factors can contribute to serious or fatal burn injuries.

Grill Fire and Injury Statistics

  • According to statistics from the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA): Grilling is responsible for an average of 8,800 home fires each year.
  • Approximately 16 percent of these fires are caused when the barbecue is lit and result from an item or object being close enough to catch on fire.
  • One in five grill fires stems from either a leak or broken piece of equipment.
  • In one recent year, 16,900 people were treated in emergency departments for burn injuries associated with grills.
  • Close to half of all burn injuries involving grills are a result of individuals sustaining thermal burns. Continue Reading

A frequent question from our clients is how do contingency fees work? We do almost all of our personal injury work on a contingency fee basis. That means the fee is a percentage of the amount we recover for the client. Depending on the kind of case, contingency fees can range from 25% to 40%. Also depending on the kind of case, certain amounts recovered are not subject to the contingency fee. There is an infinite variety of ways to structure a contingency fee.

Contingency fees have significant advantage over hourly fees. If you hire a lawyer on an hourly basis, typically they are going to require an upfront payment and then bill monthly. The attorney will expect to get paid monthly. If the client stops paying, then the attorney will stop working and move to terminate the relationship. Most insurance companies pay their lawyers either on an hourly basis or sometimes on a flat fee basis. In a contingency fee case, the lawyer gets a part of the recovery. Said another way, the lawyer doesn’t get paid unless the client gets paid. Often times our cases run on for years, and most clients can’t afford to pay attorneys on an hourly basis for years. Our clients prefer contingency fees because it is financially the best way for them to hire a lawyer to protect their interest.

Continue Reading

Choosing a nursing home isn’t always easy. Many South Carolina families who need to find nursing home care for a loved one are launching the search for the first time. They love their family member, but they’ve never had to choose a nursing home before. They don’t know what questions to ask or how to determine if the nursing homes will provide the care and dignity their loved one deserves. They desperately want to protect their loved one from nursing home abuse or neglect – but where to start?

If this sounds like your situation, start by asking friends and co-workers about their experiences with nursing homes – but then, launch your own investigation. Visit each nursing home on your list and ask these crucial 10 questions:

1. Are you accepting new residents? This question helps you cross potential nursing homes off your list quickly: if they have no space for new residents, they can’t help your loved one. If they are accepting new residents, ask about the application and acceptance process and schedule a tour.

The North Carolina Supreme Court has clarified the issue saying that a dog bite victim must show that the landlord had knowledge that the tenant’s dog posed a danger; and that the landlord had control over the dangerous dog’s presence on the property.

The Incident

The eight-year-old Plaintiff, Joshua Stephens was bitten repeatedly by a Rottweiler owned by tenants of the Defendant landlord, sustaining “extremely severe” injuries to both his shoulder and leg. Although the landlord had, prior to the bite, contacted animal control and inquired about safety of this specific dog and had erected a fence in the backyard and posted signs reading “Beware of Dog,” Stephens was still unable to show that the landlord had any knowledge that the tenants’ dog was dangerous and that the landlord had any control over the dog.

Successful premise liability claims are going to be predicated on the ability of your attorney to establish a strong link between your quantifiable injury and the defendant’s breach of legal duty.

The very first step in determining whether you have a claim is figuring out whether the defendant owed you a legal duty, and then further the legal extent of that duty. Property owners who oversee the operation of spaces open to the general public are going to owe a high duty of care to patrons to ensure the premises is safe for routine use.

In some cases, that duty of care extends beyond simply the property owner. It may involve a construction firm or contractor or even manufacturers of certain products.

Contact Information