North Carolina Appellate Court Reverses Dismissal of Civil Sexual Assault Claim

Personal injury incidences always involve deeply stressful and emotional situations. In some instances, however, they are extraordinarily painful for the victim and his or her family. A common example of this type of case is a sexual abuse incident. Although there is a criminal prosecution component, the victim can bring a civil claim seeking compensation for his or her suffering. Our experienced North Carolina personal injury lawyers are standing by to help you seek the justice you deserve.

Recently, the North Carolina appellate court considered a claim involving alleged sexual abuse against a minor. The victim was a 15-year-old girl raised in a strict household with her mother and her sisters. Evidence in the record indicated that due to her mother’s beliefs, the girl lived a very sheltered life which included not being able to spend the night at friends’ houses and not being allowed outside unsupervised past dusk. The mother needed to leave the state to care for her dying mother and the mother agreed to let the girl stay with a friend under the agreement that the friend’s mother provide constant supervision. The mother was unaware that the family had an adult son who was living at the house and that he had an alcohol abuse problem and history of violence.

One evening, the son and some friends were partying in the backyard. The friend’s mother went to sleep and the friend went into her bedroom, leaving the girl alone with the son and his friends. According to the victim, the son provided her with a beverage containing some kind of drug and ultimately raped her in the home. The girl filed a lawsuit against the friend’s mother and the son, alleging negligent infliction of emotional distress based on the friend’s mother’s alleged failure to protect the girl from her son and to provide support for her after she informed the mother of what happened. The friend’s mother’s insurer defended the action and requested a declaratory judgment stating that it had no duty to the mother or son to defend against the claims. The lower court granted the insurer’s motion. The defendants appealed.

On review, the appellate court concluded that the insurer had a duty to defend against the girl’s lawsuit because none of the exclusions in the homeowners’ insurance policy applied to the facts of the case. Facts in the record could support a theory that the friend’s mother’s actions, in failing to tell the mother that her son lived there and failure to provide assistance to the girl after the fact, were a proximate cause of the emotional distress that the girl sustained.

If you or someone you love suffered a traumatic event, you may be entitled to compensation. Situations involving emotional distress can be complex, which is why it is critical to speak to a seasoned Raleigh personal injury lawyer. We offer a free consultation to help you learn more about your potential remedies and how we can assist you. Call us today at 1-888-258-1087 or contact us online.

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