North Carolina Appellate Court Reverses Summary Judgment for Defendant in Car Accident Case due to Lack of Adequate Notice

If you are injured in a car accident, the civil justice system allows you to bring a case against the person who caused your injuries to recover compensation. This sounds straightforward, but the process can be incredibly complex. There are countless procedural and substantive rules that apply to how the parties both provide evidence, communicate with the court and communicate with one another. At Maurer Law, our Charlotte car accident attorneys are available to provide competent and diligent legal advice to accident victims throughout the region. We will ensure that your case complies with all of the applicable rules and that you are treated fairly throughout the process.

In a recent case, the North Carolina Court of Appeal was asked to consider whether the procedures that a trial court used to grant the defendant’s motion for summary judgment were appropriate. The plaintiff filed a lawsuit against the defendant alleging that she was injured in a car accident as a result of the defendant’s negligent driving. The defendant responded by alleging that the plaintiff was contributorily negligent and filed a counterclaim against the plaintiff seeking damages.

Prior to the case coming up for trial, the court heard pretrial motions by both parties. At this time, the defendant noted that the plaintiff had not listed any expert medical witnesses in her disclosures. On this basis, the defendant moved to exclude the plaintiff from testifying about her injuries and medical bills unless she provided an expert witness who could provide an opinion about the injuries and their relation to the car accident. The plaintiff argued that she could testify based on her layperson experience undergoing treatment and that medical bills providing information about treatment and cost would be introduced into trial.

The court went off the record for several moments and came back on the record stating that the medical bills would not be admitted into evidence. The defendant had moved for summary judgment and the court allowed the motion over the plaintiff’s objection that the motion needed to be properly supported by evidence. The defendant claimed that without medical expert testimony or medical records, the plaintiff could not prove that the defendant’s conduct was the cause of her injuries.

The trial court granted the motion for summary judgment and the plaintiff appealed. On review, the appellate court reversed the finding of summary judgment for the defendant on the basis that the plaintiff did not have proper notice of the motion for summary judgment and an opportunity to respond. Rule 56(c) of the court’s procedural rules required a party moving for summary judgment to provide 10-days’ notice. The plaintiff did not waive this notice requirement. The trial court remanded the case for additional proceedings.

If you were hurt in a Charlotte car accident, you deserve compassionate and knowledgeable legal counsel to help you recover the compensation that you deserve. At Maurer Law, we provide a free consultation to discuss your situation and whether we can assist you. We will discuss your situation and whether you may be able to receive compensation in a lawsuit against the parties who injured you. To schedule your confidential appointment, call us at 1-888-258-1087 or contact us online.

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