North Carolina Appellate Court Upholds Dismissal of Personal Injury Accident Against DOT Based on Contributory Negligence

There are countless laws that apply to a personal injury accident lawsuit and some of these laws allow the defendant to examine whether a plaintiff acted negligently in contributing to his or her injury. At Maurer Law, we have seen firsthand how disruptive and stressful an injury accident can be for the victim. Our seasoned team of Charlotte personal injury lawyers is standing by to help you explore whether you have a right to compensation.

Recently, a plaintiff in a personal injury action filed an appeal after the lower court denied her claim against the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) seeking compensation for injuries that she suffered when she cut across a grass median and fell into a storm drain some five feet underground. She alleged specifically that the entity was negligent in maintaining and inspecting the storm drain because when she fell into the drain, the grate that would have covered the opening had been removed and was lying on the grass five feet away.

The plaintiff brought the claim under the North Carolina Tort Claims Act. This statute sets out a different set of rules and guidelines that parties must follow when seeking damages from a government entity. Unlike a regular negligence claim against a private person, there are different things that a plaintiff must prove to prevail against a government entity. In most cases, claims against municipalities are more complex and require the experience of a dedicated personal injury lawyer.

The court initially denied the plaintiff’s claim based on a finding that she was contributorily negligent by choosing to cut across the grass median and for not sticking to the pedestrian pathway. The plaintiff appealed this finding, but the appellate court affirmed the lower court ruling. It concluded that there was substantial evidence showing that the plaintiff failed to use reasonable care in navigating the situation and, because she chose to cut across the grass median instead of staying in the pedestrian walkway, she voluntarily put her safety at risk. Ultimately, the plaintiff should have had some awareness that deviating from the walkway onto a grassy median would pose some risk to her safety.

The court also found that the plaintiff did not keep a proper lookout when she decided to deviate from the walkway because she testified that she was distracted by her family who was coming to pick her up.

If you or someone you love has been injured in an accident involving a dangerous condition on someone else’s property, you may be entitled to compensation. At Maurer Law, we proudly serve injury victims throughout Charlotte and know just how important it is for a plaintiff to understand how the legal process works before proceeding with a case. We provide a free consultation to help you learn about our legal team, your potential case, and how we can help you. To schedule your appointment, call us at 1-844-817-8058 or contact us online to get started.