North Carolina Appellate Court Upholds Dismissal of Wrongful Death Scooter Claim Based on Government Immunity Doctrine

When you lose a loved one as the result of another party’s carelessness or recklessness, you can bring a wrongful death claim against the person or company that caused the death to recover compensation. This is often one of the most traumatic experiences that a family or individual will experience in his or her lifetime. Although no amount of money can ever return the loss of your loved one, it can make a difference when it comes to recovering from the severe financial impact that results from suddenly and tragically losing a loved one. At Maurer Law, our Charlotte wrongful death lawyers are available to assist you with exploring your potential right to recovery.

In a recent appellate opinion, the North Carolina Court of Appeal considered whether a wrongful death claim brought against the City of Raleigh was valid. In the complaint, the administrator of the decedent’s estate brought a claim against the city alleging that one of its officer’s patrol cars collided head-on with the motorized scooter on which the decedent was riding. According to the record, the officer was speeding on a two-lane road while engaged in a silent vehicle pursuit. The decedent, traveling in the opposite direction, made an abrupt turn across the officer’s lane of travel without using a turn signal. The vehicles collided head-on and the decedent and his passenger died immediately.

The trial court granted a motion to dismiss from the city and the plaintiff appealed. The plaintiff argued that the evidence presented a genuine issue of material fact regarding whether the officer was operating his patrol car with gross negligence. It also argued that governmental immunity did not apply to this case because the officer was acting in a particularly reckless manner and on the basis that the city waived its right to sovereign immunity. The plaintiff also alleged that its negligent supervision claim was improperly dismissed.

The appellate court ultimately upheld the order for summary judgment on the basis that the facts that the plaintiff put forth did not rise to the level of gross negligence. The officer was justified in driving well above the speed limit because he was in pursuit of a speeding vehicle. A speeding driver presents a public danger and the only way to apprehend a speeding driver is by speeding to catch him or her. It also rejected the notion that the defendants waived their right to sovereign immunity. This doctrine gives the state immunity from being sued except in a few limited circumstances or where the state consents to be sued. But the North Carolina Tort Claims Act protects government officers, employees, and agents from suit when they were acting within the scope of their duties.

If you lost a loved one as the result of a sudden and careless accident, contact the compassionate wrongful death attorneys at Maurer Law today to begin exploring your potential claim. We have assisted numerous individuals throughout the area by protecting their rights and securing the compensation they deserve. Call our office at 1-888-258-1087 or contact us online to set up your free and confidential consultation.

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