North Carolina Appellate Court Upholds Negligence Verdict Against NC Department of Transportation in Car Accident Lawsuit

Sometimes it can be hard to figure out what caused a car accident even after you have time to investigate and ask questions. Although many crashes happen in straightforward ways such as a rear-end accident or a T-bone accident, other collisions may require a more thorough investigation and evidence gathering process. If you were hurt in an accident and want to learn more about your right to compensation, contact Maurer Law. There are many ways that our Raleigh car accident lawyers can assist you with your case, including figuring out the cause of the accident and who should be held liable for your damages.

In a recent case, the North Carolina Court of Appeal considered whether the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) had enough notice of a dangerous condition to hold it liable for injuries that the plaintiff sustained in a car accident. In the case, the plaintiff was driving with a passenger on a two-lane highway. The temperature was below freezing. Although there had not been any rain or snowfall that day, a vehicle approaching in the other lane hit a patch of ice causing the driver to lose control. The other vehicle hit the plaintiff’s vehicle and caused serious injuries to the plaintiff and her passenger.

Emergency vehicles responding to the accident investigated the source of the frozen water because there had not been any precipitation. They eventually discovered a set of pipes that had burst uphill from the highway causing water to flow downhill and into a ditch that was full of dirt and debris. The water spilled out of the ditch and pushed out onto the road. In their complaint, the plaintiffs filed claims against the owners of the property where the pipe burst, who in turn sued NCDOT as a third-party defendant. The plaintiffs joined the lawsuit against NCDOT and filed a claim against the government agency directly.

The jury returned a verdict finding that NCDOT was negligent in maintaining the roadway. The court denied NCDOT’s motion for a judgment notwithstanding the verdict and the agency appealed. NCDOT alleged that the plaintiffs did not prove each claim of negligence and that they specifically were unable to show that the agency had actual or constructive knowledge of the dangerous condition that the ditch and ice created.

The appellate court reviewed the evidence in the record and concluded that NCDOT had at least six months to discover that the ditch was filling-in and that it was obvious that debris was collecting in the ditch. It sent employees and contractors to mow the area frequently and required its employees to conduct roadway inspections. Employees all have a duty to report potential problems, too. As a result, the appellate court upheld the lower court’s decision.

If you or someone you love was injured in a car accident, contact the Raleigh car accident lawyers at Maurer Law to learn about your potential right to financial recovery. While you focus on healing from your painful injuries, we will work diligently to get you the fair outcome that you deserve. Time may be running out on your case so call 1-888-258-1087 now for a free consultation or contact us online.

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